This week’s blogger in the spotlight really doesn’t need much of an introduction if you’ve lived in South Florida for even a month I’m sure you’ve picked up The New Times to use as a guide as to where to eat and play. The New Times is famously, infamous for its direct, humorous, and tongue-in-cheek way of telling and reporting a story.
This week we’ve turned the spotlight around on the Broward/Palm Beach New Times Editor Eric Barton and grilled him a little on the finer nuances of his demanding job as the Editor for Clean Plate Charlie and his food life outside the demanding walls of The New Times restaurant review and story deadlines.
It’s The New Times….there really is isn’t much more to say. So without further ado read on about this week’s great food blogger in the spotlight The New Times Editor, Eric Barton. (and I do believe that is a McGriddle the famed Editor is eating!)
South Florida Food and Wine: How did you start food blogging/writing?
Eric Barton: As an editor, I usually get to writing based on this thought: “OK, none of the writers have filed anything this afternoon, and I can’t seem to get them on the phone. So I guess I’d better write something.” So I’m guessing my first food blog started with something like that. Plus heartburn.
South Florida Food and Wine: Do you do anything else other than blog/write about food-wine-beverage?
Eric Barton: We’ve got four blogs here at New Times, and I frequently write on three of them (Bob Norman’s blog is the exception). I do mostly food nowadays – I eat way too much, so I have a lot of research material.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about blogging/writing?
Eric Barton: It’s inscribing the stone tablets. Here at New Times, our blog software is essentially stone tablets that are scanned into the internet. That’s how everyone does it, right?
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the greatest opportunity that has come from blogging/writing for you?
Eric Barton: There’s an amazing connection with your readers. With print, you never got this kind of immediate reaction, aside from the crazy callers. We still get those, but the comments section definitely changed journalism, giving readers a voice for the first time.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your most memorable blogging/writing moment?
Eric Barton: Bob Norman’s Scott Rothstein coverage was just nuts. He got 1,000-plus comments on some of his posts. And the best part was all that came from simple, old-school reporting. Back when that story was breaking, I felt like one of the editors in All the President’s Men — along for a very exciting ride.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
Eric Barton: Something involving bacon. Lot’s of bacon.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the best food advice you have to share?
Eric Barton: Learn the mother sauces. If you can make them well, the techniques will teach you everything. That and buy a damn fine knife.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one obsessive kitchen habit?
Eric Barton: All cooking must be done with my dog beneath my feet. I guess that’s not my obsession as much as hers.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the one “staple” food you always have in your cupboard?
Eric Barton: I’m originally from New Hampshire, so I guess that’s why I love maple syrup. But it is the world’s best sweetener — it’ll liven the flavor in sauces and, if you haven’t heard, goes great on pancakes.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your beverage of choice?
Eric Barton: I dig on the bourbon these days. And it doesn’t even have to be good. Jack Daniels (while not technically a bourbon) is damn good.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite comfort food?
Eric Barton: Mac and cheese. I’ll take the foofy kind with truffles and lobster, or just a box of Velveeta’s with Tony Chachere’s sprinkled in.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your culinary claim to fame?
Eric Barton: I make a mean banana’s foster, and I have not burned off any eyebrows yet doing it. But I’ll keep trying.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the best culinary gift you ever received?
Eric Barton: My mother-in-law bought me a stone mortar and pestle. My wife chopped up that pestle pretty good in the garbage disposal once, and it’s stained yellow from fresh tumeric root, but it’s still a champ.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most extravagant food or beverage item or culinary tool you spent money on?
Eric Barton: Lunch at the French Laundry. One lunch, the equivalent of two car payments. But I took photos of every dish, and they’re in one of those multiple photo frames, the kind you’re supposed to use for your family, hanging in my dining room.
South Florida Food and Wine: Where was the best meal you ever had and where?
Eric Barton: Even after spending that kind of dough at the French Laundry, I had the best meal I’ve ever had down the street at a burger joint called Taylor’s Refresher. Amazing burger, onion rings, fries, and a chocolate shake. A meal doesn’t get better than those simple things.
South Florida Food and Wine: If you could have dinner with anyone who would it be and why?
Eric Barton: The late-in-life King Henry VIII. I’m thinking we’d sit at a room-length table of turkey legs, boiled potatoes, pheasants, bowls of gravy. I don’t know that the food would be great, but we’d probably just eat all night, drink wine from goblets, and throw food all over the place. Which is actually how I usually eat.