The coffee-cured brisket, one of the restaurant’s most celebrated offerings, is an accomplishment any old-school pit master would be proud of. But it’s also more than that: a multi-dimensional dish with a bittersweet undertone and an acidic edge. It improves on the classic salt-and-pepper brisket without appearing to rebel against it. Nobody tells you that five different kinds of chili were ground that day for the rub, or that the dark espresso was chosen for its umami depth, or that cooks are trimming and re-searing and re-seasoning the meat at multiple stages of the process. All you know is that it’s great.
Susan Carey reviews Patrick Smith’s Cockpit Confidential (content restricted)—how many times are we going to cash in on Bourdain’s classic title? It reminds me of every book Mario Puzo wrote after The Godfather—they all used the same exact font. In any event, Smith “answers queries such as why planes don’t carry parachutes for the passengers (impractical), whether cabin air is filthy and germ-laden (no), and how dangerous are collisions between planes and birds (not very, but they can be).”
And then there’s the review by Tom Fort of Richard Ellis’s Swordfish (content restricted). These fish are equal parts amazing and terrifying: “Its colossal blue eyes, warmed by heat-producing tissue in the head, enable it to feed in the deep darkness and respond to phases of the moon. It can grow to 1,500 pounds and more and attain a length of 15 feet, a third of it made up of its mighty sword, or bill.” They are also difficult to study because swordfish are loners.
A Journal reader makes this observation to Dan Ariely: “I work as a waiter in Waikiki, and sometimes to pass the time I conduct mini-experiments with customers, altering my behavior and attitude from day to day and seeing if it increases tips (in case you were wondering, seeming sad nets the most tips). I have noticed that those paying with credit cards leave bigger tips, but it varies by card: American Express users tip the most, those with Visas a little less. Discover card users are by far the worst. I can’t quite figure this out. —V.” Makes sense to me.
Meanwhile in the Washington Post, Tim Carman has a lengthy essay on the family feud over at the Tabard Inn, a small hotel and restaurant on N Street in D.C. Those of you not in the city won’t care—but if you’re a fan of the Tabard (excellent cocktails and food, right down to the cookies), you’ll devour this story.
Finally, Jonathan Yardley has a vicious review of Barbara Perry’s Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch. Kennedy lovers beware—Yardley takes no prisoners!