Sunday, October 23, 2011

Best Presidential Foodie Homage Of The Month

Inspired by food writer Marian Burros' Obama gastronomic jeremiad, Eater DC creates the "Obama Dining Heat Map"...
Eater DC, the local edition of the best food & nightlife blog in the US, Eater National, this week introduced the "Obama Dining Heat Map, Fall 2011."   It will track President Obama and First Lady Obama's local dining excursions via Google map tech. Eater DC launched last March, and has only mapped the venues the co-Eaters in Chief have visited since then, but will be updating moving forward. It's fun stuff. (Above: Eater's photo compilation of eateries that have had Obama visits)

The map builds off acclaimed food writer Marian Burro's recently published gastronomic investigative piece for Politico, in which she ate her way through 25 of the local-to-DC dinners Mrs. Obama has enjoyed in the last two years, including ones with the President.  Burros and I are the only food writers in the US--make that the world--who have covered the Obamas and food from inside the White House since the beginning of the Administration.  We've now lasted longer than many White House staffers.  I heard about Burros' Obama culinary jeremiad for six months as Burros fact checked the story here at ObFo, and joined her for one of the more giddy dinners. Burros was a restaurant critic for the New York Times before retiring from the paper, and the piece is an excellent historic document with an analytical angle.

Eat here, not here...
Thanks to her discriminating palate, Burros passed judgement on the Obama eateries she visited; Eater's Heat Map will be advising on availability of reservations, rather than giving out stars. (Above: Eater's Obama map)

Restaurants the Obamas have visited that diners may want to avoid, according to Burros:

"[Mrs.] Obama gets many of her restaurant suggestions from friends, not all of whom have finely tuned palates. So there was Meiwah, where the first lady has taken Malia and Sasha: Chinese-American dishes straight out of the ’50s. And the highly rated (by some) Blue Duck Tavern, where Obama has eaten twice. The chef must have been off during my visit, as he has been every other time I’ve been there. The steaks at BLT Steak were big, like everything else, even tender. What they lacked was flavor, handily disguised with a choice of nine intensely flavored sauces, such as blue cheese and chimichurri. Georgia Brown’s unreconstructed Southern cooking features fried food with a very thick bread coating. Art and Soul, where the first lady dined on seared trout on a bed of vegetables, is far too generous with the salt shaker."

For her investigation, Burros declined to even set foot in Five Guys Burgers and Fries, where both the President and Mrs. Obama have enjoyed the well-done burgers. It got a pass, Burros told me, because the beloved burger joint insists on cooking all burgers "juicy and well done." No-one should have to suffer through a well-done burger, according to Burros. But in my book, that's exactly why Five Guys is now my fave lunch stop: Well done burgers should be national policy, wink wink wink. And the French fries, Mrs. Obama's favorite food, are the best in DC. They deserve the President's favorite commendation when he likes a particular food: "Outstanding."

*Photo and screengrab courtesy of Eater DC