Category Archives: Meta

Bye Bye Junior Year: Oven-Barbecue Brisket, Collard Greens, Beans, Gluten-Free Cornbread

Freddie Gibbs and Tupac were bumping in the suite. The kitchen was filthy from three months of tough love. My friend Frankie and I were getting ready for an end of the semester blow-out. We wanted to cook a big piece of meat as a parting gift to our trusty oven. After I suggested brisket, collard greens, beans, and cornbread followed in quick succession. Whatever my lack of technical expertise in the kitchen, I do know how to make barbecue. My credentials: a childhood in St. Louis, plenty of meat and threes and pit roasts in the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. But in the oven? I shall speak no secrets. (No seriously, it’s not that hard to do.)

In the final analysis, it was a very good year. I accused Red Farm and Rouge et Blanc of colonial politics, wrote about two wonderful Caribbean restaurants, Freda’s and Sisters, and decried Epicerie Boulud and Untitled’s sandwich nostalgia. At Poseidon Bakery, I found baklava fit for Homer. At RUB BBQ, the city’s best ribs. I had a chat with Schatzie the Butcher, talked Fuzhou food, and walked to East Harlem for tacos. One Saturday morning, I slurped borscht at Streecha. I looked at Mister Softee thirteen different ways. From a licorice shop in the West Village to Per Se, I enjoyed a thorough education outside of the classroom. I went to Flushing. A lot. In Branson and Nashville, I took the classroom into the restaurant. My academic interests—in New Historicism, postcolonialism, Modernism, and American regional literature—crystallized and inflected my food writing, probably beyond the tolerance of many of my readers. Whether you’re my friend, family, or a stranger, I want to extend a sincere “thank you” (and a recipe or three) for reading. I look forward to another year of criticism. Continue reading


Filed under College Life, Columbia University, Meta, New York City, Recipes, Restaurants

The College Critic On Youtube: Hot Maple Corn

Check out our new Youtube channel here!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be producing a series of short videos for Alimentum. My brother, a more artistically inclined individual than myself, will handle the videography and editing. I’ll take care of the writing. To boost our production value, we bought a new camera and boom microphone. Here’s a sample we shot of barbecuing at home—we wanted to test out the camera and practice putting clips together in a coherent fashion:

My hot maple corn experiment didn’t turn out as expected—the syrup and cayenne pepper imparted little flavor to the corn, because they failed to percolate through the inner husks. Instead of grilling the corn with the other ingredients, try making a buttery spread for the table.

Hot Maple Corn: Continue reading

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Filed under Meta, Recipes, Video

It Was A Very Good Year

The College Critic was born in a 100 square foot dorm room, empty except for overstuffed suitcases, a laptop, and a stripped-down mattress.

On May 9th, 2010, I finished my finals and wrapped-up my last Spectator work before the summer. Half-way through a bag of beef jerky, I realized that I needed a venue to practice writinga safe space to experiment with form, to publish otherwise unpublishable rants, to flirt with longer essays and photography. I’d maintained a few other egoistic blogs before; I thought I knew what I was doing. Over the next two weeks, the original concept mutated—my brother, photographer extraordinaire and budding human resources director, signed on for the long haul. While we were road tripping from Rhode Island to Ohio, traveling in Spain and Germany, and hanging out in our neighborhood diner, we started soliciting submissions from our friends. Today, The College Critic has expanded to more than a dozen universities. We’ve been featured on New York Magazine’s Grub Street, NBC New York’s Feast Eater NY, The Village Voice‘s Fork in the Road, and Zagat Buzz. The following sentiment is saccharine, but that doesn’t mean it’s hollow: the past year has been an fantastic journey. And we couldn’t have done it without you: our contributors, our readers, our family and friends who continue to support this project and believe in its mission. The College Critic gives college students a forum to express themselves about food. Whether fine dining or a burrito joint or a fast food chain, The College Critic is there, helping students make informed dining decisions. I truly believe that college students deserve a voice when it comes to dining out and dorm room cooking and cafeterias and the challenges of eating well in an increasingly politicized food world.

In case you missed them the first time around, here are my five favorite posts from the past year:

5. Remember It, It’s Chinatown: Lately, I’ve been interested in combining restaurant reviews with history, ethnography, and personal narrative. In this essay, I discuss Nom Wah Tea Parlor and Mei Li Wah Bakery.

4. Too Sweet for a Funeral: Watching my brother develop as a writer has been exciting—almost as satisfying as a slice of his funeral pie.

3. Sushi Yasuda, Hold the Yasuda: Restaurant reviews are a common feature on The College Critic. Yasuda’s departure from New York was a surprisingly emotional experience for me. I documented my impressions of Sushi Yasuda in this piece.

2. Tour de Hamdel: Smash Mouth Edition: Tour de Hamdel has been a Thursday mainstay all year. This is one of my favorite installments.

1. The Dirty Side: From Cooperstown to Buffalo, I take a look at what it means to eat dirty. “Dining is about digging deep, whether on a social, psychological, or physical level. Eating on the dirty side is the only way to eat.”

And here are the five most popular posts: Continue reading

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Big Changes For The College Critic

As another school year rapidly approaches, big changes are coming to The College Critic. For example, I’ll have substantially less time to cook, but I’ll also be back on the New York restaurant beat. With new spots sprouting up all over Morningside Heights and Harlem, the next few months will prove. . .interesting, if not exhilarating and downright combative. But besides the annual evolutions of my personal culinary life, The College Critic will be adopting a new format for a new year. We’re going big. We’re going national.

Employing around a dozen correspondents at campuses across the country, The College Critic will be providing information on the restaurants, stores, dishes, and drinks that make your college campus tick. Every week, we’ll offer new restaurant reviews, interviews, and testimonials from college students. From Duke to Princeton, Washington University to Wellesley, The College Critic is coming to a college near you. Never dine without info again.

Maybe you’re the expert on your college dining scene. You’re the go-to-guy (or gal) on cafeteria deals, cheap eats, and  parent appropriate dinner choices. Or maybe you happen to have something to say about food on your campus, in your college town, or in your big city. Contributing to The College Critic is easy: simply email us at Required time and effort: minimal. Contribution to your college community: questionable, but probably significant. Best of all, we already reach a national and international audience, so this is a chance to get your voice heard. Love the Burger King up the block because they always give you an extra patty? Think the best fine dining restaurant in American is up the street from UC Berkeley?  Let us, your friends, and thousands of other college students know.

The College Critic is about to make a major mark on campus dining; no longer must we stand by and accept mediocre food, waste money on overpriced cafés, or suffer another poorly prepared coffee. Join us and the other college critics. Because there’s not just dorm food anymore.

-The College Critic(s)


Filed under College Life, Meta, Miscellaneous