Episode 176: The All-Food Episode

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The show's even better than butter!/Art by Somsara Rielly

This week: It’s an ALL-FOOD episode stuffed with tasty goodness. Gail Simmons of TV’s “Top Chef” survives internship hell… We reheat the history of the microwave, then get zapped with a custom cocktail… Dick Cavett, Michael Ian Black and others tell their favorite dinnertime tales… A free-range serving of The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik… Chef/Memoirist Gabrielle Hamilton on sweetbreads and sweet success… Philly band The War on Drugs supply a soundtrack for your next feast… and Rico doesn’t eat Turkey, he goes there. Plus, History’s forgotten utensil, Ireland’s answer to the crepe, and a meaty joke from actress Alison Pill.

Icebreaker: Alison Pill
Actress Alison Pill’s acting career has legs…even if her joke doesn’t. Catch her in Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” and Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love

Small Talk: Richard Lawson
Richard Lawson, culture editor at The Atlantic Wire, tells us about the most frightening invention since chicken McNuggets — a new robot that could help make them.

A History Lesson with Booze: Microwavable History and “Spencer’s Sour”

Back in October 1955, the average home kitchen changed forever. You can thank Raytheon’s Percy Spencer – and the candy bar in his pocket – for being able to nuke your leftovers. Hear the radioactive history of the microwave, then get toasted in no time at all with this custom cocktail:

“Spencer’s Sour,” as cooked up by Bob McCoy of Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston, MA – home of Raytheon corporation:

Into a Boston shaker (no ice) add:

  • 1 1/2 oz. chocolate-infused Cognac, via Dave Arnold’s nitrous-oxide technique
    • 1 oz. Demarara syrup (raw sugar syrup)
    • 1 oz. lemon juice
    • 1 egg white

Shake to emulsify egg, then add ice and shake again. Strain into your favorite chilled glass. Add some chocolate shavings to the rim. Zap it down, instantly defrosting your tastebuds.

Main Course: Boxty

By this point, we’re all pretty familiar with St. Patrick’s Day cuisine: Guinness…and another Guinness. With maybe a chaser of Shepherd’s Pie. But there’s a delicious and far less well-known Irish dish called “Boxty.” Picture a crepe — or sometimes a latke — with an Irish twist. Rico samples boxtys with chef (and Irish expat) Geraldine Gilliland, who features an entire boxty menu at her Santa Monica gastropub Finn McCool’s… a place she literally shipped over from the old country.

Etiquette: Mealtime Memories

In many editions of our etiquette segment, we ask our honorary guests this question: “What’s the most memorable get-together you’ve ever been to?” Here are four of our favorite replies… from legendary ad man George Lois, columnist and talk-show legend Dick Cavett, satirist Fran Leibowitz and comedian Michael Ian Black. Here’s to your next unforgettable party…

Eavesdropping: Gail Simmons

Most of us know Gail Simmons as the smart and spunky judge on TV’s Top Chef. But before her TV gig, she navigated odd jobs, chef gigs, and ultimately landed at Food and Wine magazine. She writes about it all in her memoir “Talking with My Mouth Full.” this week we overhear her reminiscing about cutting her chops under Jeffrey Steingarten, the formidable (occasionally fanatical) Vogue food critic.

Chattering Class: Adam Gopnik

New Yorker magazine’s Adam Gopnik is an unashamed Francophile, especially when it comes to food. In his most recent book “The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food,” Gopnik tackles questions like who invented restaurants, why we eat our meals in a specific order, and how foodie culture today is not so unique to our times. He regurgitates all of that into our ears so if you sit next to a foodie at a dinner party, you’ll be able to talk their ear off.

Special: Stick a Knife in It

Why do we even bother eating with utensils? Rico found out from Russell Hartman, Senior Collections Manager at The California Academy Of Sciences — where they have a huge collection of centuries-old dining devices. In this excerpt, Russell explains why you probably didn’t want to dine in the royal courts of 17th-century England.

Guest of Honor: Gabrielle Hamilton

Celebrated chef Gabrielle Hamilton gets raves for the food at her East Village restaurant, Prune. Now she’s getting the same for her memoir, “Blood, Bones and Butter,” the James Beard award-winning tale tracing her life from idyllic childhood, to shattered family, to culinary salvation. She tells Brendan about her aversion to fame, her lifetime of dish washing, and the truth about sweetbreads.

Main Course II: Turkish Delight

Last year, Rico headed to Istanbul, Turkey and tasted the 18th-century confection known as Turkish Delight. Writer and food guide Megan Clark of Istanbul Eats points him to Altan Sekerleme, where four generations of Turks have been making the stuff since the 1800s. How’s that for old-school?

Dinner Party Soundtrack: The War on Drugs

Philadelphia rock outfit The War on Drugs revels in languid riffs and lyrical storytelling; think of them as troubadours in the 21st century. Their sophomore album Slave Ambient debuted to raves last year. Groove to frontman Adam Granduciel’s dinner party soundtrack, and then hear how the songs inform his slow-burning gem “Best Night” (below).

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”