Archive for the ‘Magazine Articles’ Category

State Plates: Connecticut/Yankee Pride

from Saveur Magazine, May 2009

THINK CONNECTICUT is one big suburb? Think again: its diverse immigrant communities, fertile farms, and vibrant university towns full of forward-thinking chefs add up to as rich a culinary landscape as that of many states three times its size.

Connecticut’s bounty is deliciously apparent on the menus of its most innovative restaurants. At the Dressing Room at the Westport Country Playhouse, the chef Michel Nischan offers classic dishes crafted with local ingredients. Our favorite: the chicken pot pie with jerusalem artichoke sauce.


Whether hooked in the state’s rivers or coastal bays, Connecticut’s fish and shellfish draw crowds. Native delicacies include quahogs, the hardshell clams that star in New England clam chowder; plump bluepoint oysters; and bluefish from the Long Island Sound. In spring, Connecticut River vally residents welcome the season with shad bakes, at which the spawning fish is deboned, spread on oak planks, and roasted with salt pork over an open fire.


New Haven’s Wooster Square has been synonymous with pizza (or as locals say, “appiza,” pronounced ah-BEETS) since 1925, when an Italian immigrant, named Frank Pepe opened a pizzeria that turned out thin-crust pies topped with just tomato sauce, oregano, and anchovies, perfectly charred in a coal-fired oven. In time, Pepe’s pies (shown above) became the gold standard in Connecticut (and, depending on whom you ask, the world); today, the signature version is topped with clams and chunks of garlic. Continue reading


Mexican Chocolate

from Saveur, April 2009

ibarraTraditional Mexican chocolate, with its intensely tannic, spicy flavor, is an essential ingredient for complex moles, or sauces, like the ones chef Rick Bayless makes at his Chicago restaurant Topolobampo (see page 70; a recipe for his pork with mole negro sauce appears on the previous two pages). Unlike European-style baking chocolate, traditional Mexican chocolate is never conched (rolled together with vanilla, sugar, and cocoa butter until it becomes smooth). Instead, the cacao beans are coarsely ground, toasted, and combined with cinnamon and ground almonds; then the mixture is molded into cylinders or disks. While the best Mexican chocolate is still handmade on a grinding stone, there are several good commercial brands widely available in the states. The most popular is Ibarra ($4.25 per 18.6-ounce box). –Ben Conniff

Agenda: Delmonico’s Opens

from Saveur, April 2009

1902December 13 Anniversary: Delmonico’s Opens

New York City, 1827

Italian immigrants John and Peter Delmonico helped introduce fine dining to America when they opened their first cafe, Delmonico and brother, at 23 William Street. Their Empire grew to nine locations but could not outlive Prohibition. The restaurant was raided by “dry” agents in 1921 and 1922; by 1923 it could no longer afford to operate.

The Morning After

My transition from senior to citizen

Smithsonian magazine, April 2008

By Ben Conniff

At Yale’s commencement, graduates traditionally smoke clay pipes and then trample them to suggest that the pleasures of college life are ended. I participated in this tradition not long ago, but the symbolism didn’t hit me with full force until the next morning. At 7 a.m., I punched a time clock and entered the working world. While my peers were off to grand pursuits—backpacking trips through Europe, banking in New York City—I was beginning a two-week stint as a Yale custodian. Thus it came to pass that I was paid to haul out the pleasures of my college life with the trash.

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We’re Number…Huh?

The sidebar to the Playboy Interview with Fareed Zakaria in the May 2008 issue.

All For a Few Perfect Waves

The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora

a book review for Playboy Magazine, May 2008

Miki Dora hated the spotlight. But the sotry of the iconic surfer and scam artist who ruled Malibu in the 1950s and 1960s and spent the 1970s on the lam is too good not to be told. Playboy Contributing Editor David Rensin weaves quotes from more than 300 interviews with Dora’s friends (and enemies) into a candid portrait of a rebel who cruised the world’s best beaches on bad checks and forged credit cards. This book isn’t just about surfing; it’s about risking it all for complete personal freedom.                                  –Ben Conniff


Playbill, May 2008

from the contributor page of Playboy Magazine, May 2008

This month’s Playboy Interview with Fareed Zakaria began at a New York restaurant. But long after that first meeting, Contributing Editor and author of Beautiful Boy David Sheff just couldn’t stop telephoning the razor-sharp Newsweek columnist and foreign-relations expert. “Zakaria makes really complicated issues understandable without dumbing them down,” says Sheff. “So much happens in the world every day that I could have kept calling him for updates until the day the interview went to press. In fact, I’d love to call him right now.”

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When to Hold ‘Em

from the afterhours section of Playboy Magazine, April 2008

How to Count Cards

It Isn’t Rocket Science, But That Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy

Dustin Hoffman counted cards to win at blackjack in Rain Man. Kevin Spacey and a gang of MIT whizzes will count cards in 21, a film based on Ben Mezrich’s book Bringing Down the House. But how exactly do you do it? Here’s an explanation from Semyon Dukach, who was president of one of the MIT blackjack teams that won millions from casinos in the 1990s and who today runs Blackjack Science seminars:

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Potpourri, April 2008

Here are a few of the product write-ups I wrote for the April Issue of Playboy Magazine.


Few things are more depressing than watching your paycheck tick away at the fuel pump. Make the switch to a Vectrix electric scooter ($11,000, and you can bypass gas stations permanently. Though designed more for getting around town than going cross-country, this is no sewing machine with wheels. It boasts a top speed of 62 mph, and its tight handling lets you weave through traffic jams. It goes 35 to 55 miles on one charge, and if you run out of juice, just plug the on-board charger into any electrical outlet and you’re golden. Plus, the scooter’s simple construction (250 parts compared with 2,500) for a gas scooter makes it a low-maintenance proposition. No gas, no oil, no problem.

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Next Month

From Playboy Magazine, March 2008

I wrote the Next Month Page for the latest issue of Playboy. Here are a few highlights.

Men Who Hate Hillary–Right-wing male biographers continually attack Hillary Clinton’s appearance and sexuality. Author and cultural theorist Laura Kipnis turns the mirror on the candidate’s critics to show how the diatribes reveal more about them than their subject.

Wailing Shall Be In All Streets–In a previously unpublished account of the firebombing of Dresden, written early in his career, an angry, anguished Kurt Vonnegut revisits the horror and takes the first steps toward a masterpiece.

Charm City–Comely strangers don’t usually offer to buy Frank Bower drinks. When a mysterious woman does just that, a bit of philandering turns into something far more sinister. American master Robert Stone crafts a study in evil for April’s fiction feature.

The Gambling Seminoles–Tribal chief James E. Billie is a legend: he has wrestled alligators, battled the Viet Cong, and gotten the credit for coming up with the tribal casino concept. Yet for all his accomplishments, Chief Billie has been expelled from the Seminole nation. Pat Jordan finds out why.