after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Debating Barbuzzo and James Beard …

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t says: Barbuzzo’s a seminfinalist for a James Beard award.  Hooray for them!  I can’t wait to see how they do!

Now, I’m a huge fan whenever any Philly restaurant is nominated – it’s a very nice accomplishment, and they deserve the recognition for their work.  And as you know, we do like Barbuzzo … a lot (go ahead and search our blog for it).  But to be honest, I’m not actually sure if they’re going to be able to bring it home … our friend, a, decided that I am indeed mistaken.  And so here we begin the debate …

I’ll let a go first, with the question: “Do you think Barbuzzo can win?”:

a says: Honestly, yes. Looking at the list of competitors, I see nothing I’ve heard considerably more about over the past few months (realizing I live in Philly). Also, the James Beard Awards seem to be very fluid in that they move with current food trends to keep them relevant. The current trends are f-t-t, ingredient-focused kitchens, and unadulterated final products (noting that the WD-40 trend has slowed). Currently, I think no one in Philly, and especially no one new, is doing this as well as Barbuzzo.

t says: Well then what about JG Domestic?  They’re probably sticking closer to the prevalent food movement than Barbuzzo?

a says: I’m not surprised JG was omitted because it’s not as polished (they overcooked my burger during lunch; your adsz title is “Growing Pains“) nor is it as inventive. f-t-t is their main shtick but I don’t feel (yet) that they add a lot of value to their dishes, which is not how I feel about Barbuzzo.

t says: Ok, well then I’ll give my take on their food (I’m going to ignore the very weird warm-wine-issue; a interjects: the wine program needs work but this is their first non-byob).  I think I agree with your take on the goodness of the food … for the most part.  Barbuzzo has the flavors, and their execution is usually spot-on (their pasta’s a little too al dente – but they fixed it on our second outing at our request).  Overall, the food is bold and fun and makes you want to eat more!  In summary, my brain feels like Barbuzzo is the food equivalent of the show Stomp … or a Lady Gaga video …  From the moment it starts, it sucks you in.  It’s whiz-bang, it’s engaging, and when it ends, I’m even a little disappointed that there wasn’t any more (of course, I’m usually full by the end of the meal, so it’s ok).  So, overall, Barbuzzo definitely has “good food” and I’m happy to go back to Barbuzzo any time to eat …

But for me, I feel like food can do more than just entertain me.  I’m looking for food that will move me.  I want something that will take my breath away.  I want it to make me ponder the meaning of food.  Does that make me weird?  I have no idea, but right now I’m the one at the keyboard – muhuhahaha!  Are these attainable goals?  Sure!  I recall a short rib ravioli at the old Django, and quite a few dishes at the old and new Talula’s.  Of course, there’s Bibou which consistently delivers such an experience (and they were a James Beard finalist in the past – and Pierre’s up for another!) and newcomer Fond with an amazing pork belly and foie gras (and a nomination for their chef!).  That said, if Bibou couldn’t pull it off and bring home the medal last year, then I suspect that Barbuzzo’s superficially good food (my new terminology) will only at most get them to be a finalist, which is still a fantastic accomplishment, but is certainly not a medal.

a says: Superficially good? Good, is good. Can you make sheep’s milk ricotta & fett’ unta or those meatballs at home? And even if you can, would they be that good? I don’t think a place should be penalized for using amazing ingredients and bold flavors to reconceptualize food people are comfortable/familiary with (meatballs, pizza, etc.). Morimoto or Vetri or Lacroix may seem more mysterious and intriguing because they use exotic/odd ingredients – to us. In Japan or Italy or France, I doubt people would have the same experience but the restaurants would still have outstanding cuisine deserving of recognition. I think Barbuzzo just happens to have food that we have “tasted before” but when you get down to it, has it ever been that good?

And on that note, I’m heading to Barbuzzo for lunch …

t says: I suspect you and Barbuzzo are in cahoots …

g pops in from nowhere: who cares as long as blackfish isn’t winning?

t says: zing!

g says: not that i have a problem with blackfish, its acclaim is just putting philly restaurants into a pissed-off depressive mood. and that is the last thing we need, sheesh…

Written by afterdinnersneeze

22 February 2011 at 5:54pm

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