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D.C. as a restaurant town


rhodegirl
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Washington area chefs Eric Ziebold (CityZen), Fabio Trabocchi (Maestro), David Guas (DC Coast and Ceiba) and Morou (Signatures) are featured in a story by reporter Neil Irwin in today's Washington Post business section.

<In a too-hip-to-be-true loft in Soho last week, waiters wearing all black glided around the room, placing in front of two dozen food and travel journalists pristine plates of roasted loin and braised Elysian Fields Farm lamb shortribs with Belgian endive, dried anjou pear and sweet pepper.

The food was prepared by Eric Ziebold, chef at the widely praised new D.C. restaurant CityZen. The point was to convince New York journalists that Washington is a great restaurant town and that their readers need to taste the things D.C. chefs are dishing up.>

The full story:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/artic...-2005Jan30.html

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The story was totally ruined by the last paragraph where the reporter repeated Marian Burros' (who once lived and worked here) slurs without even noting her rave about Citronelle or Laboratorio. I couldn't believe he would end a story like this on such a disparaging note. Or that an editor would let the story run with it.

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<<At both stops, William A. Hanbury, chief executive of the tourism group, made the same pitch. "If you think Washington D.C. is all about politics, think again," he said. "Recently, D.C. has developed a personality beyond its federal core." >>

The racism and ignorance implicit in his second statement is staggering. I am hoping he is being taken out of context. If not, he is poor representative for a city with a rich history that extends beyond our association with the Federal government.

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<<At both stops, William A. Hanbury, chief executive of the tourism group, made the same pitch. "If you think Washington D.C. is all about politics, think again," he said. "Recently, D.C. has developed a personality beyond its federal core." >>

The racism and ignorance implicit in his second statement is staggering.  I am hoping he is being taken out of context.  If not, he is poor representative for a city with a rich history that extends beyond our association with the Federal government.

If nothing else, the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art are a major destinations for anyone interested in art and have been for quite some time.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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<<At both stops, William A. Hanbury, chief executive of the tourism group, made the same pitch. "If you think Washington D.C. is all about politics, think again," he said. "Recently, D.C. has developed a personality beyond its federal core." >>

The racism and ignorance implicit in his second statement is staggering.   I am hoping he is being taken out of context.  If not, he is poor representative for a city with a rich history that extends beyond our association with the Federal government.

If nothing else, the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art are a major destinations for anyone interested in art and have been for quite some time.

Both of these are government facilities.

I don't think it is insulting to our city to say that the government presence is a big tourist draw. That covers a wide range of things -- the 5th grad class trip to the Capitol, cherry blossom season, Civil War buffs, museums, and stick to the mall and see the monuments family outings. Nor do I think it is belittling to try and appeal to different tourism sectors such as the type mentioned in the article. While I disagree with the Burros quote, there were also some very positive things said by Orwoll and Nathan lauding the coninued evolution and improvement of the DC dining scene that mirror many of our own statements on this forum in the past.

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I feel like it's a little sad that some of our best chefs are sent up to NYC to try to convince them that DC is a worthy dining destination. I mean where's our pride!? :wink:

But seriously, it does seem a little demeaning for the chefs. I mean it's sort of like Norah Jones having to go on American Idol to prove herself or something...

I wish people would stop trying to compare DC to NYC, and just love us for what we are -- that is an incredibly diverse city, which happens to host a bunch of politicians and federal employees, with so many amazing restaurants and talented chefs that sometimes I wish I could eat out every night. I think it's fair to say the dining scene has come a long way in the past 10 or so years, and it's great that someone's out there promoting it. I just wish it wasn't presented like we're begging to be worthy of Manhattanite visitors.

Amanda

Metrocurean, a D.C. restaurant and food blog

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<<..."Recently, D.C. has developed a personality beyond its federal core." >>

The racism and ignorance implicit in his second statement is staggering.  I am hoping he is being taken out of context.  If not, he is poor representative for a city with a rich history that extends beyond our association with the Federal government.

sorry folks--my spoken words, upon reading the ending of Mr. Hanbury's quote, were completely unprintable in either a family publication or in egullet.

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<<..."Recently, D.C. has developed a personality beyond its federal core." >>

The racism and ignorance implicit in his second statement is staggering.   I am hoping he is being taken out of context.  If not, he is poor representative for a city with a rich history that extends beyond our association with the Federal government.

sorry folks--my spoken words, upon reading the ending of Mr. Hanbury's quote, were completely unprintable in either a family publication or in egullet.

Not a very illuminating quote but I wouldn't pillory the guy for it. I'm sure that, as head of the tourism council, things that don't draw tourists doesn't exist in his world, and he probably doesn't get out of his bubble very often.

Besides, while googling around (to see if I could find proof that he actually lived in Herndon) I found this. And the group's website does a credible job of presenting the city's neighborhoods as tourism destinationa.

So I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Just this once.

Truth be told, it is not long ago that the city was broadly viewed as corrupt, bankrupt and dangerous. And, in fact, was. Difficult to sell the honeymooners from Ames on a week in DC when there are 400 murders a year and the mayor is under indictment.

As a long-time resident and frequent defender of the District, I am annoyed by condescending New Yorkers as much as anyone, but it is interesting to note that the chefs who travelled to New York all work in neighborhoods that were essentially restaurant wastelands a decade ago (if you count DC Coast as Thomas Circle :wink: ). It's not unfair to say that the ability to market DC beyond the Federal Core has expanded dramatically.

Ironic, though, that "Tourism officials are aggressively chasing the urbane visitors, people who are inclined to catch a play at the Shakespeare Theatre, take in the latest art exhibit at the Phillips Collection ..." given Hanbury's quote: both institutions have been thriving for decades.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Marian Burros' (who once lived and worked here)

Apparently she still does for at least part of the year - which makes her continued snide comments about DC dining even more puzzling. One can only assume she hasn't actually gone out to eat while she's here - or at least hasn't gone to anyplace that's opened in the last 2 or 3 years that might disprove her previously formed opinions.

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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If nothing else, the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art  are a major destinations for anyone interested in art and have been for quite some time.

Both of these are government facilities.

True, but the NGA in particular doesn't add much to the federal quality of DC.

I agree completely that they don't add to the stereotype but have much to offer in terms of a broader view of what the federal quality could be. Think of the potential for hype! :wink:

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"But that doesn't mean Washington's marketers have erased the District's image as a government town, a place of mediocre food and bland cultural offerings."

This is the reporter who volunteered these words, his attempt to describe what Marian Burros noted in her article. I don't remember anywhere, at anytime that anyone has described DC as "culturally bland." Not even Burros. Nor having grown up here do I remember anyone having a negative comment about "cultural offerings" since the '60's when there were temporary buildings on the Mall. In fact Washington usually rates among the two or three highest of all American cities in surveys which track impressions such as these.

I would suggest that the reporter and the editor from the Post think twice about the name that precedes the word "Post." It would be appropriate if the Washington Post, from time to time, thought a little bit more of the city it was founded in and had a bit more pride in it.

Indeed, Washington, D. C. perceived as having "bland cultural offerings."

By whom?

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I thought it was interesting that the article presented Joan Nathan's attendance at the dinner as if she were one of the travel and food writers who needed elucidation about DC culinary expertise. Joan Nathan has lived in NW DC for years--her son graduated from Sidwell Friends School last June.

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Oh god...I wanted to smack her throughout. The "piece" read like one of the Washington Post site user reviews IMO.

Quite a few DC digs in there. "But it's got so much energy foodwise anyway..."

I don't regularly read Food & Wine so forgive my ignorance, but is she a regular contributor?

Edited to add: the blurb is entitled "Urgent Dispatch from an Editor on the Road" so I answered my own question. Wow, that little thing is poorly written.

Edited by JennyUptown (log)
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Ah yes, but in the business we believe that bad press is better than no press

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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Oh god...I wanted to smack her throughout.  The "piece" read like one of the Washington Post site user reviews IMO.

Quite a few DC digs in there.  "But it's got so much energy foodwise anyway..."

I don't regularly read Food & Wine so forgive my ignorance, but is she a regular contributor?

Edited to add:  the blurb is entitled "Urgent Dispatch from an Editor on the Road" so I answered my own question.  Wow, that little thing is poorly written.

Almost all PR is good.

The only bad PR is evidence.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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I feel like it's a little sad that some of our best chefs are sent up to NYC to try to convince them that DC is a worthy dining destination. I mean where's our pride!? :wink:

But seriously, it does seem a little demeaning for the chefs. I mean it's sort of like Norah Jones having to go on American Idol to prove herself or something...

I wish people would stop trying to compare DC to NYC, and just love us for what we are -- that is an incredibly diverse city, which happens to host a bunch of politicians and federal employees, with so many amazing restaurants and talented chefs that sometimes I wish I could eat out every night. I think it's fair to say the dining scene has come a long way in the past 10 or so years, and it's great that someone's out there promoting it. I just wish it wasn't presented like we're begging to be worthy of Manhattanite visitors.

Sadly, I believe the problem lies in NYC, not with DC. NYC is a media center, the most important one in the USA if not the world. This makes that city our key opinion-maker. How people often perceive DC and other cities is filtered through the NYC editorial offices. Making things more difficult is NYC's own perception of itself as where the best of everything can be found.

I know people in NYC who refuse to even consider leaving their city, firm in the belief that everything should come to them. Ultimately, this is a provincial attitude, and nowhere near as cosmopolitan as that city claims to be.

I suppose those of us who don't live in NYC could try boycotting any media that generates from that city...but that would leave us with nearly nothing to read, watch, listen and otherwise gain our information from. Until we find some way of decentralizing where the media control is located, we're stuck with 'em.

We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

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I totally agree with your insightful comments. I would also add that it is not to the advantage of anyone in the industry in NY to grant acceptance to our (or any other East Coast city's) excellence. Chefs such as Roberto, Michel, Bob Kinkead and Jose Andres in a sense sponsor training grounds for understudies who, when they strike out on their own, tend to stay or return to here. (i.e. CityZen) When a chef such as Fabio, who I believe is as talented as anyone in America, fails to win the Beard rising star award two years in a row it sends a signal to many that they are better off starting out or moving to New York. Not here. I also believe that it is outrageous that Roberto and Michel have not even been nominated for the national award while here. Again, for them to be nominated, to win, would be counter productive for the New York based Beard society.

As a native born Washingtonian there has long been a resentment on the part of many of us for a lack of recognition from Manhattanites who look down on anyone living outside of their island. This is not the place for a discussion like this but it IS an element that must be factored in. Curiously, Parisians are very similar as are many in London. I remember a discussion once with a Londoner on an airplane about my liking Manchester and his view of it as a bit better than a third world town.

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Well let's hope that NYC does not go to Jamison's head and he comes back here after his stage-ship :biggrin:

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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