With all the attention Brooklyn’s food world has garnered over the past couple of years (yes, yes…much of it from The New York Times), a backlash of sorts was inevitable. Not surprisingly, some of the more curmudgeonly of our city’s old-school food writers have begun slinging mud from their Manhattan towers both across the East River and at the Grey Lady’s coverage of Brooklyn’s ever-evolving food culture.
Famously cantankerous food critic Jeffrey Steingarten got things started way back in the dog days of August when he mused on the dangers of Brooklyn ‘Boosterism’ in a piece featured on Grubstreet.
photo by Cynthia Chung
Steingarten writes: “I find it a very dangerous thing to be a Brooklyn booster. It’s dangerous for friends of mine who work for the New York Times — I’m not naming any names — but the food editor for the magazine, who is one of our best food writers, and the restaurant reviewer of the newspaper all live in Brooklyn, and they are relatively uncritical of things in Brooklyn the way that sometimes — but not often — Frank Bruni became a little uncritical about things on the Upper West Side.
Last week, The New York Post’s surly Steve Cuozzo sounded a similar concern while lashing out at Williamsburg’s restaurant scene.
Cuozzo: “Williamsburg. Please. Its restaurants wouldn’t receive one-sixteenth the attention they get if so many food writers and bloggers didn’t live there or nearby. Fatty Cue is not Fatty Crab. There are better places to eat in Red Hook, Downtown Brooklyn and in unfashionable Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge. The stomping ground of subsidized slackers who spend fortunes trying to look poor, Williamsburg needs a one-year media blackout. Maybe it will encourage restaurants to prepare themselves for real-world scrutiny.”
According to Sheraton: “I think the whole Brooklyn thing must be greatly exaggerated…I’m from Brooklyn, but it would take a lot to get me there for dinner. When Lundy’s was Lundy’s, I’d be there. When Gargiulo’s was Gargiulo’s, I went. I certainly went to Gage and Tollner. There were one-of-a-kind things there, but so far anywhere I’ve been to there has not been worth the trip from Manhattan. I haven’t been to Al di la, because you have to wait on line, and I’m not going to Brooklyn to wait on line…The Times has certainly been very exaggerated in its Brooklyn coverage, because most of them live there. They begin to see it as being better than it is because it’s so close to them. I would go to Brooklyn if it were exceptional.”
And finally, this morning while making an appearance on MSNBS’s Morning Joe, NBC’s Brian Williams sardonically suggested that The New York Times’ “discovery’ of Brooklyn was the ”media event of 2010″.
“I think the media story of the year of 2010 was the New York Times’ discovery of Brooklyn. Once a day, there’s a story about all the riches offered in the borough. There are young men and women wearing ironic glasses frames on the streets…There are open air markets, like trading posts in the early Chippewa tribe, where you can make beads, simple beads at home, and trade them for someone to come over and start a small fire in your apartment that you share with nine people…Artisanal cheeses are for sale in the streets…There are roving wagons that will make you sandwiches…It’s just fantastic. It’s like Marrakesh over there!
I’m leaving here to go to an artisanal market that just opened up today. It’s a flash artisanal market – It’s the newest thing! ”
We actually usually like the New York Times’ (and particularly Mr. Sifton’s) forays into Brooklyn’s food world. But of course we must be biased because, you know, we live here too.
Can anyone out there help us get Andy Rooney’s take on all this? We’d really like to get his opinion.