Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Last Yap

Although this appears as a new post, it's actually my last comment on the previous post. Stupid eblogger has a character limit on comments, so I had to make it a new post instead of sticking it where it belongs. Please feel free to comment, one and all, but I do have to move on. I have 3 briskets from Triple S Farms in the cure, and I can't wait to cook them sous-vide and see if that brings me one step closer to the ultimate pastrami. Stay tuned!

Jason, thanks to Stewart I'd already seen that post about a chef in Oregon head-butting the organizer of a pig cook-off because some of the pigs used in the event hadn’t come from local farms. Wow, talk about giving local foods a black eye!

Seth, while I don’t think opinions posted on a blog are required to meet the same rigorous standards as a news outlet, with editorial oversight, etc., I do try to be accurate and thorough, so I regret the suggestion in my original post that Black Dog had never bought meat from Triple S Farms, and I have owned up to it here and directly to Mike.

But to demand that I take responsibility for errors that you have simply made up or misread into what I’ve written is a little crazy. You say I “call[ed] Mike a slacker and a LIAR.” Care to cite one shred of evidence for this irresponsible claim?

As I’ve already said, giving the barbecue at Black Dog a score of 6 out of 10 is not an attack on anyone’s “work ethic,” and it certainly doesn’t translate into a letter grade of a “D-“ as you claim. A 60% on a test might equal a D-, but that’s only because 0% to 59% are all lumped together as one grade, an F. That’s actually a five-point scale, whereas I’m clearly using a ten-point scale.

So a 6 would translate instead into a letter grade of C+/B-, which, as I said, is not at all bad for $5, not at all bad considering that the restaurant is still new, and not at all bad considering, as I said, that my scale is based on all the barbecue I’ve sought out between Chicago and Clarksdale. If having points of reference outside of Chambanoy is enough to “come off as snobby,” I think that’s more of a reflection on the provinciality and insecurity of my critics. My ambition has never been just to blend in with the pack and to Yelp in unison. As Mike indicates in his comments, high standards are what keep you from settling for anything less than the best you can do.

Nor do I ever call Mike “a LIAR.” Instead, I report honestly that my server told me that Black Dog was buying pork from Triple S Farms, and I reported, honestly, that a number of people I know were under the impression that a significant portion of the meat on the menu came from local farms. As Jason spells out, since early coverage of Black Dog emphasized the local meat story, it’s not surprising that this impression could persist after Stan’s meat was no longer on the menu.

So is it “dogging it” for an employee to say that the restaurant is still buying meat from a local farm, when, in fact, it hasn’t bought any in six months or more or is it simply an honest mistake? I dunno; I admit I hadn’t done the research to give a definitive answer – and that’s why I posed it as a question instead of making it an accusation.

Seth, it’s not “misinformation” to report accurately what you were told and to point out the limits of your information. My information was limited, I admit, but it was not “misinformation.” The only point on which I was misinformed was in thinking that Black Dog had never bought meat from Stan, when it turns out they hadn’t bought very much and none recently. Readers can decide how big a difference this difference makes. In any case, I regret the error.

If you want to know what misinformation looks like, look no further than your accusation that I “call[ed] Mike a slacker and a LIAR.” Now that’s a perfect example of irresponsible extrapolation and “dangerous misinformation . . . intended to do damage.”

Instead of calling Mike a liar, I appreciate his honesty in setting the record straight and saying, “The percentage of locally-raised meat we use is low,” even while he wishes it were higher.

You claim I “botched the whole Mike-fucked-over-Stan-with-an-order part of the post.” First of all, I never said anything so boorish. Second, what I reported is that Stan had some meat custom processed for Black Dog, and by the time it was ready to deliver they no longer wanted it and Stan was stuck with it. I know, because I finally took the meat off his hands. Anyone can ask him, and he will tell them the same; Stan’s that kind of forthright guy.

If Mike doesn’t remember this incident, I’m confident that he’ll follow up, ask Stan about it, and try to make it up to him if he was at fault. He sounds like that kind of guy. Seth, if you’re so confident it never happened, can we assume that you’ve done some basic legwork and at least talked to Stan? Doesn’t sound to me like you have. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I immediately followed up with Stan about his initial collaboration with Black Dog, and he supplied further details about why he feels “burned” by the whole experience.

In short, Seth, the things that you accuse me of – being “boorish” and irresponsible, being so overconfident of my own interpretation of things that I don’t bother to do “an ounce of research,” and putting out “dangerous misinformation . . . intended to do damage” – all seem to be more true of your comments here than anything I have written.

If you feel like you understand me, declaring that you “suffer the same problems,” maybe it’s because you treat me like a screen on which you simply project your own problems. Illuminating, perhaps, but not in the sense you intend. It’s like a clip out of America’s Funniest Home Videos: watching a dog go a little crazy, barking at its reflection in a mirror of its own making.

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