Image: Summer is full swing.
Dearest Gentle Reader, we have a light read today so you do not need to exert yourself on these hot July days. We checked in on a couple old favorites this week to find they have settled in nicely. The headline economic numbers look good, but bad news on the beer front. So shall we proceed with our weekly recap of dining news?
Updates to D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
China Chilcano – The homage to immigrant influences on Peruvian cuisine in Penn Quarter. Still a good option.
El Sol – The little shop that serves arguably the best tacos in the District.
D.C. Dining News
Barred in DC covers an important issue for the industry. D.C. has a stringent liability laws for bars and restaurants serving alcohol. “In January 2023, DC Councilmembers Christina Henderson and Brooke Pinto introduced the Dram Shop Clarification Amendment Act of 2023. This bill would change and clarify DC law regarding the liability of bars and other places that serve booze when their customers cause harm. Advocates of the bill in the hospitality industry claim that this would help lower the astronomical liquor liability insurance costs in DC, while opponents argue it will make the public less safe and reduce ability of injured parties to be whole. The Council held public hearings in early June where hospitality industry strongly expressed their support, while the DC government (though their opposition is pretty targeted and can be addressed easily), trial lawyers, and MADD (WABA in writing) opposed bill as written.”
Compliments Only has a lot more employees than we realized, especially when it looks like one shift is working during a protest to have the shop recognize a union. Note that the workers are not on strike, so is it really an anti-labor position to “cross the picket line” to grab a sandwich?
Tim Carman covers a conflict in a small Virginia town where, in spite of all the land available, two sides of the cultural divide ended up a few feet from each other.
Beer: An legend fell this week with the news that Anchor Steam was shutting down. This is further evidence that corporate beer and craft beer do not work well together. Apropos of the NY Times news that it is abandoning sports coverage in-house, perhaps we need to think of certain businesses differently than the modern corporate fixation on maximizing shareholder value. Maybe craft beer does not work in a publicly-held company.
Alchohol consumption went up during the pandemic, especially of spirits. It led to an increase in health problems.
In Iran, prohibition leads to dangerous brews. “In the past three months, a wave of alcohol poisonings has spread across Iranian towns big and small, with an average of about 10 cases per day of hospitalizations and deaths, according to official tallies in local news reports. The culprit is methanol, found in homemade distilled alcohol and counterfeit brand bottles, apparently circulating widely, according to Iranian media reports and interviews with Iranians who drink, sell and make alcohol.”
The Emerging Economy: Inflation numbers for June were positive, coming in at 3% year-over-year. Catherine Rampell in the Post says it was the Fed. But the theory of Fed raising interest rates was that it puts downward pressure on the labor market. Employment numbers barely moved, however. While interest rates might have pumped the brakes, it needs to be explained how because it is not how it is supposed to work. It also opens the door to the possibility that a confluence of events in late 2021 and early 2022 led to the spike (supply chain, oil prices) that had to work their way through the system. So maybe the Fed did pump the brakes, but the engines of inflation were running out of fuel on their own?
Groceries on installment plan. The Post business section does a story on an app for meeting essentials on a budget. “She’s using Klarna, a buy now, pay later (BNPL) tool best known for helping people finance Pelotons, laptops and other big-ticket merchandise. But it and other BNPL services are increasingly being tapped for groceries — usage surged 40 percent in the first two months of 2023.”
The Saudis started an alfalfa farm to feed its livestock, but chose arid Arizona.
Media: The Food section does crosspost this from the world news section: “When popular TikTokers started flaunting a “real cheeseburger” — a plain bun stuffed with 20 slices of cheese and nothing else — over the weekend, social media users in Thailand took it as another eye-catching prank. Then the local operator of Burger King announced that the gooey menu addition is the real deal.”
We also note the dramatic decision by the New York Times to end its sports section and contract it out to The Athletic. If the sports sections are vulnerable, then it is not hard to imagine the food sections as candidates for this kind of treatment, especially as they double down on recipes as the primary content and often don’t understand that food journalism is more that recipes. The Times said it would still cover sports issues, “A group on the business desk will cover money and power in sports, while new beats covering sports will be added to other sections. The moves are expected to be completed by the fall.” Which is essentially what the Post did when it hired a reporter to cover the business of food, but put her in the Business section. Just waiting for the Times or the Post to announce a strategic partnership with Food52.
Food and Culture:
In case you missed it, The Bear is a comedy.
Odds & Ends:
In the FT, falling for milk bread over sourdough.