Keith’s Lamb
I haven’t had better lamb than that grown by Keith Martin outside Pittsburgh, but until now the only place I could taste it was the French Laundry and Alinea, which would amount to a lot of dough if you just had a hankering for a good chop.  It’s now available in NYC at Graces and, I believe, Jefferson’s and Dean and Deluca.

So why should a Cleveland boy who doesn’t shop for food in New York City care?  Because it bodes well for good food in this country, not to mention small farmers.  I wrote this column about it for a trade mag called Restaurant Hospitality.

People have asked what I thought of the Beard Awards results.  I didn’t see any surprises in the books category, or any categories for that matter. Maybe the Ducasse win over the CIA Pro Chef edition and Michel Richard’s book, which I posted about last year, but I haven’t seen the Ducasse book. Glad to see Richard win best chef, and a couple of long time chef-nominees win in their regions, Des Jardins out west and Frank McClelland in Boston. I wish Michael Symon would have won for Midwest, but can’t argue that category, won by Alinea’s Achatz. And David Leite’s taking the best internet site category is worthy.

Another reader asked if I would accept a Beard Award, given what I’ve written and if so, has told me to stop being a hypocrite.  He raises an excellent point.  I hadn’t thought about it because I wasn’t nominated. I’d have to think about whether to decline an award. I have obligations to my publishers, who seem to think it helps book sales (debatable); they’d be pissed if I declined (and maybe already are for even talking about it). Also the awards and the organization with which I have a problem, are now separate entities. Also, it’s fun to win awards whether they mean anything or not (sadly I suppose).

But yes, it would have been difficult, and hypocritical, this year to accept one, given how out of touch the .org still is and my public feelings about it. Did anyone read the letter by a Carole Wurster in the Times Wednesday, referencing the Nick Fox article?  That’s exactly the sort of attitude that makes the place stink.  See Michael Rosen’s comment in the previous post and weigh it against the letter.  Yeah, I’d have had to refuse.

Now, Elaine Cicora won a journalism award for her profile of me in a Cleveland tabloid, and this delights me for Elaine’s sake (I was also glad in a subversive way to be a small part of the awards even if I wasn’t invited). So I still get pleasure from the awards themselves and respect the people nominated. Maybe we need to think not aonly about the cult of the celebrity chef (which more than anything has fueled the foundation) but also about the cult of awards in America? What DO they mean?

I was in the city during the Beard’s for other work I can’t go into just yet, but I spent almost all my time at Landmarc, the new incarnation of Marc Murphy’s Tribeca restaurant.  Good solid neighborhood food, just like downtown, I’m told, French and Italian bistro fare, straightforward, no frills.  It’s open till 2 every night.  Big comfortable room.  But I’d never wine sold the way this place does.  No wine by the glass.  Lots of half bottles.  And yet the prices are virtually at cost.  So you can get a half bottle of excellent wine for less than you’d spend on a glass at most other places.  Or if you want to try a great wine, you can do a half bottle and not break the bank.  A Quintessa Meritage for $63, for instance, a Bourdeaux-grapes blend from the Napa Valley (a full bottle retails for $150). It’s got to one of the best places in the city, if not the best, to drink wine. For someone who’s wine bill typically out paces his food bill, this is going to be a place I return to.


23 Wonderful responses to “From the Week of 5/7”

  • Angela


    When you were in NYC, did you by any chance get to visit Adam Shepard? I’ve tried to follow him via the Internet, but then I lose him, find him again, lose him again.

    Do you know how he is doing? Well, I hope.


  • fiat lux

    Landmarc is right near my sister’s place, I’ll have to drag her there next time I’m in town.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Oh thank goodness it’s been eleven days since I have read anything of true value…I was afraid u were going the way of the “chod-o-blog”. Elaine Cicora painted a clear vision of just who you are and it is a very impressive picture.

  • Claudia

    I’ll have to check out La Lunetta and report back, Angela!

    Re: The Beards – I’m with both Michaels on their take. Can’t argue with Michael Rosen, who actually had been there and done that – for what?

    And Michael Ruhlman – I bet the phrase “model handsome” had you blushing when the article came out (heheheh!), but it is quite true (for those who haven’t met MR in the flesh) – but you deservea MUCH better picture (!!)

  • Tags

    It would be no more hypocritical for you to accept an award from the Beard Foundation than it was for Dana Carvey to accept a White House dinner invitation from his favorite target, George Bush first iteration.

    Just as Dana’s satirical portrayal of GHWB wasn’t meant to crucify him but to improve the discourse between politically polar opposites, so your criticisms aren’t meant to eviscerate but to demonstrate what you believe to be a better way.

  • Angela

    No, Michael. I haven’t heard a thing. I keep looking for him in New York Magazine but nothing yet. You know, the hipster mag, etc. Every week I expect to see him in it.

    He’s right, btw, about the acid + sugar. Yum-o (g,d,r)

    I’ve been his Secret Cheerleader from your first book. I like him and don’t even know him personally. But I wish him all the best. If I ever catch sight of him, I will let you know.

    BTW, do you have the address for La Lunetta? I know some people who might have free time in Brooklyn once they disembark from the QM2 that might be hungry. IOW, I would love to be a fangirl and recommend a hungry traveller visit there.

  • Lisse

    Award ceremonies have become the new marketing opportunity for any kind of organization. Whether they are used to promote a group or send a political message, with so many out there, any true expression of appreciation has been lost.

  • Tags

    Anybody who gets NJN (PBS) in NYC, Philly, or NJ can see (or tape) Niman Ranch on Mark Bittman’s “Best Recipes in the World” at 7:30 PM Saturday night. The episode name is “On the Hoof”

  • lipsmackin

    The best Berk out there is comming from Eden Farms in Iowa,The marbeling of a loin is that of a prime ribeye.

    Also take a look at the Jamison lamb out off Penn, the ribs are so tender you can snap them with your fingers, you don’t need a knife to french the racks

  • cathelou

    Michael, reading that article, I cannot tell you how relieved I was to discover that your potatoes scorch sometimes too–even if you are the kind of person who rises virtuously at 5:30.

    As an aside, the article also brought back memories of taking Milton with Reynolds Price, probably a couple of years after you took that creative writing course. (I graduated in 1987.) It was one of the best classes I ever had–but that’s getting off-topic. Unless Reynolds Price has any cooking tips for lamb?

  • Nick

    Here’s an interesting fact. Thomas Keller’s Per Se serves Wagyu beef grown in Australia from a Japanese cow!

  • Marcy

    Michael, just FYI, several restaurants here in Pittsburgh, a mere jaunt from your Cleveland home, serve Elysian Fields lamb…so come visit!

  • Claudia


    La Lunetta
    116 Smith St
    Brooklyn, NY
    Phone: (718) 488-6269

    Cross Street:
    Between Dean Street and Pacific

    Tue-Thu Sun 5:30pm-11pm
    Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am
    Directions (Subway):
    F or G to Bergen St


    (from, which will also give you a street map)


    Obviously, it was Ruhlman’s big blue eyes that “had her at hello” (!)

  • Berry

    As far as your publishers go, declining an award with sufficient fanfare might be as effective at increasing sales as winning the award.

  • NancyH

    My first post here (though I’ve been enjoying this blog as a lurker).

    I have to “second” Jamison Lamb. Cleveland’s Lolita recently did a dinner featuring the Jamisons and their product. A report on the dinner, with photos of the dishes, is at

    All of us who partook agreed that is was the best lamb we’d ever tasted. fire on Shaker Square and Cleveland’s Lola are also using Jamison lamb.

  • patrick guilfoyle

    any one have an idea on how to buy elysian fields lamb in los angeles?

  • French Laundry at Home

    Michael: have you ever cooked lamb from Niman Ranch? If so, I’d love to hear about how it was. I know I’ll be doing a baby lamb soon as part of the French Laundry at Home experience, so any advice you have is very much appreciated.

  • ruhlman

    patrick, i don’t know that it’s available yet in LA but I know keith wants to expand his business.

    FL at Home: haven’t tried niman lamb. good for you for doing the baby lamb, it will be a great education.

  • Veron

    hmmn… I wonder if my local butchery can get his lamb.
    Anyway, I was disappointed that Michel Richard’s book did not win in its category but like you I’m glad he won the chef award. I had the opportunity to dine at Michel Richard’s Citronelle 2 weeks ago and let me tell you that was one of the happiest dinner experiences ever… his jovial personality certainly shines through in his creations!