Monday, January 12, 2009


Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise is the story of Ruth Reichl's time as the New York Times restaurant critic. This book is a great read. Ruth is a very good writer and has a great story to tell.

She is, of course, very descriptive of the food she critiques and the restaurants she visits. But when she is dressed-up in full disguise the story is fascinating. The specialized treatment she receives when the restaurant staff knows that it is Ruth the Critic versus the treatment she receives in some of her aliases is eye-opening. I don't know how much of that sort of thing happens in our local restaurants--I think in Mesa, Phoenix, and Scottsdale treatment of customers is pretty fair and decent. Especially now when they are just grateful you walk in the door.

But in New York City, Ruth the Critic is treated like royalty from the moment she walks in the door down to the larger raspberries they put on her dessert plate. She is credited with changing the way NY restaurants treat its patrons. She also focused more on fun little ethnic food joints. When she arrived at the NYTimes she started visiting these quirky little places instead of the 4 and 5 star french restaurants her predecessor was known for.

There are a few recipes sprinkled throughout the book. I missed those since I listened to her book on CD (Ruth is the narrator and her voice is great, too). So I've ordered a copy of the book from one of my favorite book sites, Abe Books. There is a recipe for classic New York Cheesecake that looks good. As soon as I bake it I will report back.

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