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Critic Roundup: London's Jackson + Rye Is American-Style

Critic Roundup: London's Jackson + Rye Is American-Style


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Every week, The Daily Meal rounds up restaurant reviews across America

"Step into Jackson + Rye and you might be entering a restaurant in New York’s Soho," says Bloomberg restaurant critic Richard Vines of London's Jackson + Rye.

This week in restaurant news, Bloomberg restaurants critic Richard Vines says stepping into Jackson + Rye in London's SoHo is like entering a restaurant in New York's SoHo.

"This new establishment in the London neighborhood of the same name has the energy and noise levels you might expect across the Atlantic, together with the willing service that isn’t always the British style," Vines says, mentioning that the menu is full of classic American dishes.

In Washington, DC, The Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema reviews Catch 15, which he says, with its lighting and decor, feels a bit romantic.

"Even at high noon, Catch 15 feels like eight at night.," Sietsma writes. "The long and narrow restaurant is lighted as though OkCupid has a stake in it. The design details — brown velvet chairs, sheer curtains between booths, Sinatra crooning in the background — only heighten the romantic effect, which feels a little weird when it’s just you and a pal from the office out for a bite to eat."

In San Francisco, The San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer reviews Iyasare, where "one dish explains more about a chef than a 1,000-word essay," says Bauer. For him, that dish was beet-cured ocean trout, made with "recognizable ingredients...combined in innovative ways and presented in an explosion of color that made the dish as appealing to the sight as to the taste."

Restaurant Critic Roundup: 2/26/2014

CriticPublicationRestaurantRating
Gael GreeneInsatiable CriticMasa
Devra FirstBoston GlobeWard 8
Tom SietsemaWashington PostCatch 15
Jonathan GoldLos Angeles TimesGuerrilla Tacos
Michael BauerSan Francisco ChronicleIyasare3 stars
Pete WellsNew York TimesDover
Stan SagnerNY Daily NewsAll'onda2 stars
Richard VinesBloombergJackson + Rye6/10 marks
Brad A. JohnsonOrange County RegisterOnotria2.5 stars
Robert MossCharleston City PaperThe Granary
William PorterDenver PostWilliams & Graham2 stars
Scott ReitzDallas ObservorMiss Chi

Click here for The Daily Meal's "Top Chefs Review — and Rate — America's Food Critics."

Haley Willard is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter at @haleywillrd.


The best UK festivals taking place this summer: 2019

London is giving countryside festivals a run for their money this year with its own weekend-long, park-based parties attracting some of the biggest names in music. But does anything really beat venturing out to a distant field and setting up camp for a whole weekend of music, culture, cider and (hopefully) sun?

From boutique campsites to late night DJ sets, we round up the best festivals of 2019.


Roast Pork Round-Up – Philadelphia

Faithful readers of The Feisty Foodie may recall last year’s Cheesesteak Chowdown, where I earned my stripes as both a cheesesteak expert and a total glutton – within a 6 hour period, I consumed 6 half-cheesesteaks (which comes to about 3 cheesesteaks, but given my size, it’s quite a feat also, I like to differentiate that I didn’t eat 3 cheesesteaks, I ate 6 halves from 6 different places). Of course, while Beer Boor and I undertook that task, on our return to NYC, we noted that there were places we wished we’d gone and other sandwiches we wished we’d eaten. We talked occasionally about revisiting Philly to remedy that, but never set into motion a specific plan until late September, when Beer Boor took a Monday off and I “played hooky” from my own job.

That day’s focus: eat roast pork sandwiches , Philly’s other sandwich – those in the know will mention them, but they’re definitely not yet as famous as cheesesteaks – though they’re not exactly difficult to come by in this city either.

Our first stop, then, was Reading Terminal Market (which Beer Boor “politely” corrected my pronunciation – darling fans, it’s pronounced “REDDING” and not “READING” like a normal person might say because of the way it’s spelled – sor ry !), for DiNic’s. I first heard of DiNic’s long, long ago in a Serious Eats post about the market, and have wanted to go for ages, but never went to the market for whatever reason. Well, now I have an idea why: parking over there sucks. After circling around for a while, we finally found a parking spot and headed inside to explore.

When the stall inside the market appeared like a mirage before my hungry eyes, I eagerly grabbed two seats at the counter. The woman manning it was on the phone with someone, and rolling her eyes to us about her friend – at least that’s how it seemed, as she tried to bid her friend on the phone goodbye. She took our order without comment, and wandered off. A root beer and a roast pork with provolone to share, please – we had a lot of places on our list to hit for the day, and I am a big believer in sharing the pain. I mean, sharing your sandwiches (instead of getting one each) to help get them down.

The woman kindly put the halves in two separate baskets, so I foolishly did not take a picture of the whole sandwich. It wasn’t small (nor huge) by any means, but here all you see is half the sandwich in its glory. Hmmm. Perhaps our first misstep of the day? we forgot to ask for greens to be added. In our defense, in all the mentions I’ve seen of the sandwich at DiNic’s (and I imagine Beer Boor as well), it was always referred to as a roast pork & provolone sandwich. I’ve never heard the word greens or rabe mentioned with regard to the DiNic’s sandwich, so it didn’t occur to me – even as I saw a few people around us getting sandwiches with greens on them – that I should get greens. Or that I might need them.

As I began eating, I noted the pork slices were a little dry, though there was ‘gravy’/jus on the bread. The cheese hadn’t melted or really warmed at all, and while the pork was tasty enough, a quick addition of a bit of fresh? horseradish brought it more to life (and at times, made it a little too spicy for me). But I was just… not impressed. The meat remained a little dry, and the flavor just wasn’t there. Even with the addition of greens, it would have just masked the lack of pork flavor, and just been… mmm… meh. Sure, it would have added some much-needed moisture, but at the end of the day, if I need to eat this a certain way for it to be good… well, then, at its base, it isn’t very good, is it?

Even more telling was when I gave up eating, handed the rest of my half to Beer Boor, he took a bite, and his first remark was “Oh, this is juicier than my half was.” If I thought my half was dry, then what the hell was he eating?! Eesh.

At $8.75, this was one of the most expensive sandwiches of the day.

Beer Boor says: I was a little irritated that our order wasn’t taken when we sat down, which I guess threw me off and I failed to order “greens”. I don’t think they would have helped very much. I did avail myself of the banana peppers on the counter, which helped spice things up and provided some liquid, but really, this was fairly dry pork and did very little to make me feel as if we made the right choice in coming here. Still, hunger is hunger, and I polished off all I was given.

Then we wandered around the market, me trying to make room in my stomach to eat the ice cream I promised TC I’d eat on his behalf, and just looking at all the cool stalls. Lots of cool stalls, but Beer Boor rightly pointed out that if I moved to Philly, I’d soon grow tired of this market, too. And then I saw this sign, which just made me giggle hysterically so I had to take a picture.

JOHN YI FISH MARKET
EAT FISH LIVE LONGER

I don’t know why it made me giggle so hard, but it did.

Our next stop was clear on the other side of town – or maybe not, but it wasn’t very close by. We were trying to create a loop on our map but since I stupidly forgot to print out the map before we left, we had to look on my BlackBerry which wasn’t the most comfortable thing to do. In any case, as we walked up, I started to panic slightly as the sign said it was open Tuesday-Sunday, and it was Monday. Well, luckily, despite this sign, the place was definitely open, with people sitting at the counter inside happily eating their sandwiches.

The place was pretty small – a countertop with a handful of stools that were all occupied – but one look at the menu and we knew what we wanted. The Arista, described as “whole roasted suckling pig broccoli rabe Italian long hots sharp provolone”. There was a moment debate about adding a side of potatoes roasted with pork fat, but I quickly dismissed this as I knew my eating capacity has greatly diminished from last year, and I wouldn’t be able to eat too much. Beer Boor gamely agreed, though I know he could and would have gladly eaten whatever I couldn’t/didn’t (which happened anyway).

Funny enough, the reason Paesano’s made the list was super random. When Beer Boor and I first discussed going to Philly, I’d put together a list of places to eat and things to do. I have a habit of checking Twitter or Facebook – just opening the page for either/both – when I’m just sitting at my desk, taking a mini-break from whatever I’m doing. While I was making that list, I happened to open Twitter to see a Tweet about Paesano’s. I don’t even remember what it said or who said it, but what I got from it was “Paesano’s is in Philly and has a good sandwich” – I never Google’d to verify this or even look at the menu. I just slapped it on as a dark horse contender, much like Zio’s from the Cheesesteak Chowdown. So we both walked into Paesano’s fairly blindly.

While Beer Boor ordered, I wandered outside to sit at one of the 2-3 small tables that were on the sidewalk. I’m not that fond of eating curbside on a busy thoroughfare (as these tables were), but it was that or sit in the car and eat, and sometimes… you just have to put side your prissiness for the greater good. This was one of those times. A minute later, Beer Boor exited with the above in his hand knowing my affinity for root beer – especially local ones that I can’t necessarily get in my town (though I’d swear I’ve had Hank’s before, it may have been in Philly) – he picked this up for us to share. It was a solid root beer, but I dislike the inclusion of yucca in the root base for root beer – props for using real roots and not artificial flavors, of course – but yucca adds a little something whose taste I don’t like. This just means I’ll enjoy it when I see it, but I won’t go out of my way to get Hank’s.

But all thoughts of root beer were quickly swept from our minds as this landed in front of us. Oh my stars, look at that beauty.

Here’s a shot of Beer Boor gently pulling the two halves apart. Please note that this is not a small sandwich he just has freakishly large hands. (Well, they’re sized to suit a tall person, which he is.)

LOOK AT THAT BEAUTY. Pork, gently cradled by the bread a bit of cheese, the greens, a slick of something along the outer edge. Oh my gosh.

No… really look. Don’t get lost by staring too hard or long, but look. at. that. beauty.

The glory that is the Arista at Paesano’s is hard to describe. From juicy, succulent pork that melted in my mouth, to the sharp tang of the rabe and provolone, and the heat from the peppers – oh no, I didn’t back down and try to alter the sandwich makeup or ask for it to be less spicy – everything just magically worked to form one big, happy party in my mouth. The heat built up slowly in my mouth to make its presence known, but never was it overwhelming. Instead, it was just deliciousness, all cooperating for happiness. My happiness. And I was not happier than I was when I was eating this sandwich. Holy happiness.

Don’t believe me? Let me show you.

“Hmmm… I think I will eat you now”

Beer Boor says: My hands aren’t much bigger than yours, you know.

This turned out to be a winner. The pork in this sandwich reminded me of very good porchetta (minus all the spices, but plus the hot peppers). I could have eaten two of these. The guy behind the counter was quite nice, too, and the people eating at the counter seemed to be mostly regulars. You can’t go wrong at Paesano’s for pork, that’s for certain.

I noted that there’s a very good beer bar just down the road (Kraftwork), and since then, Barcade Philadelphia has opened nearby. So couple that to Paesano’s and I see no reason to stray into the rest of Philadelphia.

After our back-to-back sandwiches, we decided to go for a quick drink at Mac’s Tavern. Do you know who Mac is? You should. Currently known as “Fat Mac” amongst my in-the-know friends, Mac – or Rob McElhenney – stars on this TV show called It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, or just Always Sunny. Hilarious, I love it in all its debased glory, and two of the stars (Mac & Sweet Dee) are married in real life and opened a tavern – not to mimic the show, just for fun, I think. So we drove over, found parking, and discovered… like many things in Philly apparently, it’s closed on Mondays. BAH.

So we wandered around the corner to a pub that looked interesting, and discovered an extensive beer list inside. Khyber Pass Pub had a beer list to make Beer Boor happy, and a jukebox that confused me, so I wandered off to put music on while he picked a beer for me. My beer on the left – North Coast Red Seal Ale – a cask beer, actually was quite easy to drink and I enjoyed it greatly. My notes say “bitter, drying.” Beer Boor had the Dock Street Rye IPA, which I think he liked. We chatted a bit with the friendly bartender before we went on our way.

Beer Boor says: He liked his Dock Street IPA well enough. Local beer is always a plus. I’d never been to Khyber Pass before, but I’ve heard of it from the usual sources and once I was inside, I recalled its bona fides. It’s an oasis of good beer in a rather touristy area.

Our last roast pork stop was the famed Tony Luke’s. I’ve heard enough about their roast pork, broccoli rabe and provolone sandwiches to last me a lifetime. Whenever I mention about the cheesesteak chowdown, about one in three times, someone will tell me that I should have skipped the cheesesteak here (though they tied for first for best cheesesteak) and just gotten the roast pork, broccoli rabe and provolone. So obviously there’s something here, right?

The prices weren’t on the menu so I don’t know how much this was (BB: $8.25+tax, I think).

This sandwich was way more in line with DiNic’s though – sliced pork, a bit of cheese, a bit of green… but sadly, I felt it fell flat. Don’t get me wrong – it was better than DiNic’s by leaps and bounds, the pork being juicier and slightly more flavorful, and the bread was good as usual, but… I just didn’t care for the overall taste.

This was the point where I realized: maybe I just don’t like that sandwich, the roast pork, broccoli rabe and provolone. Maybe there’s a reason it’s not as famous or as popular as the cheesesteak. Maybe I just don’t like thinly sliced pork, because it tends towards the dry side in that instance.

Let’s face it while the Arista at Paesano’s was the best roast pork sandwich of the day by far, could you really fairly compare that to the other two? The pork was markedly different, and it blew the other two out of the water without even blinking. Hmm.

Beer Boor says: Again, our thinking matches. Dipping the sliced pork in jus certainly elevates this sandwich over blander places like DiNic’s, but when you start with a suckling pig, it’s really not fair to start comparing. But Tony Luke’s gets lots of attention for the Roast Pork Italian, and it’s a very tasty sandwich. I’m sure I liked it more than Yvo, but then I still had a bit of room left for eating.

While I pondered this, our next stop came up quickly. Well, first we went to check out the Italian Market near those two awful cheesesteak places people talk about all the time but guess what?

So we walked to POPE, or Pub On Passyunk East, sat ourselves at the bar, and began drinking. On the right is my Russian River Damnation, and on the left is Beer Boor’s Rammstein Oktoberfest. I enjoyed mine just fine, though Beer Boor, who is much larger than I am and drinks much more quickly, enjoyed another few beers before I got to my next. A Russian River Damnation for him, a Philadelphia Brewing Company Kenzinger, and a bottle of Yards Brawler Mild (seen in the below pictures). The beer selection here is boss.

Beer Boor says: I’ve been to POPE before, and the beer list changes quite a lot. The happy hour prices are ridiculous, though, and even non-discounted bottles are cheap. It’s a no-brainer if you’re anywhere nearby, and if you feel a pressing need to visit Pat’s and/or Geno’s, it’s right around the corner. Yet, it doesn’t get packed with tourists, at least on Mondays, so that’s a plus. The beer is well-kept and the bartender knew her tap list. All big pluses.

After a fair number of beers each, I was in a munchy-mood and decided to order salsa and chips. The salsa was fresh, with no spice kick of which to speak, and the chips were much like Beer Boor’s, though he said “I think these are baked, I’m not a fan of baked tortillas” and then proceeded to eat just as much as I did – or more, ha.

I finished off our stay at POPE with a Lost Abbey Ten Commandments, which surprised both Beer Boor and I by being chewy and malty. I was surprised that I finally understood what it meant for a beverage to be chewy, and he was surprised because when he ordered it for me, he was expecting a different type of beer.

Beer Boor says: Chips are chips, man. I didn’t bring any of mine from home. I completely misremembered the style of the Ten Commandments, and figured it would be a saison. Yeah, not even close. But pretty good, which pleased me greatly, even if it is really strong.

And as we wandered out into the night – me stumbling a bit more than he – I saw this and had to take a photograph. What a cute tap! Sort of.

We drove off into the night to hit one more place, but when we got there, we discovered… no, it wasn’t closed on Mondays, but it closed 15 minutes before we arrived! Damn me for ordering salsa and chips! Booooooooo. So I quickly punched in the other tie winner from the Cheesesteak Chowdown: Jim’s. But this time, I picked one closer to where we were, a relatively new location that’s behind a mall and a bit obscured as you drive up. I couldn’t see it until we turned into the lot, practically… and it was completely empty, which both pleased me (no lines!) and worried me.

Tired from a long day, we decided to order two cheesesteaks to split. I wanted mushrooms but conceded that Beer Boor doesn’t like mushrooms, so we ordered one with Cheez Whiz (the only TRUE cheesesteak!), and one with provolone (not my choice).

I’ve actually never had a cheesesteak with provolone before that moment.

And when the moment of truth came, I could honestly say that I don’t like provolone on this style of sandwich. MEH.

Cheez Whiz, on the other hand, just belongs on this sandwich.

Happily, I would even go so far as to say that this location makes a better cheesesteak than the one on South Street. I’m sad that it doesn’t get that much notice due to its location, but I highly recommend this cheesesteak. The bread is just the right type – soft roll for easy biting – the meat is seasoned perfectly, salt making its presence known without being overwhelming – the amount of Cheez Whiz perfect – the onions caramelized… everything just makes this a fantastic sandwich. I love Jim’s. And this is definitely the better of the two Jim’s I’ve visited now.

Beer Boor says: I hope this Jim’s can stick around, because they definitely would have given Tony Luke’s a run for its cheesesteak money in the Chowdown. Tony’s is still my favorite, but this Whiz Wit was the real deal as well. I like the sharp bite of a good provolone, even on a cheesesteak, but it’s just not the same as the one true use for liquid cheese.

Then we piled back into the car and headed back home towards NYC, full of roast pork sandwiches, beer, cheesesteak, good times, laughs and happiness. Another Philly challenge completed.


Gerard Hemsworth obituary

One day in 1968, the American critic Clement Greenberg walked into an abandoned brewery in south London. This was the Stockwell Depot, taken over as artists’ studios the year before and already gaining a reputation internationally.

One of the Depot’s first residents, a 23-year-old sculptor named Gerard Hemsworth, newly graduated from St Martin’s School of Art (now Central Saint Martins), was out teaching that day. “But I did set up some work in my studio, in the hope that Greenberg would go in,” he said. That evening, he asked a friend how the great man had taken to his art. “He sort of hummed and hawed, so I said, ‘Tell me exactly how long Greenberg spent’,” recalled Hemsworth, who has died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease aged 75. “He said, ‘Well, as long as it takes to walk into a studio and walk out again’.” Hoping to soften the blow, the friend added: “Yeah, Greenberg has got a trained eye.” “And I,” said Hemsworth, “thought, ‘fuck off’.”

It proved a useful reaction. The sculpture department at St Martin’s in Hemsworth’s time there (1963-68) had been in thrall to a formal abstraction of the kind favoured by Greenberg. Its practitioners were the then big beasts of British sculpture: Anthony Caro, Phillip King and William Tucker. (As a student, Hemsworth had worked as an assistant to the last two.) The Stockwell Depot having been largely settled by St Martin’s graduates, the style prevailed there as well. Hemsworth at the time was making floor pieces of cloth and soil typical of their day. After Greenberg’s snub, however, his art changed, becoming less formal and more conceptual. As both artist and teacher, Hemsworth would thus find himself at the forefront of a movement that would culminate most famously in the emergence of a new generation of artists in the 1980s, known as the “young British artists”, or YBAs.

Between Heaven and Hell by Gerard Hemsworth, which won the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition’s Charles Wollaston prize in 2000. Photograph: Thomas Rehbein Galerie

By the early 70s, Hemsworth was working as a language artist, making text-based wall pieces and artists’ books: the first of these appeared in the landmark Wall Show at the Lisson Gallery in 1970. These works, meticulously designed and beautifully crafted, might typically contain a single, gnomic message: one, of 1972, read, Characteristically a Work of Art in Particular a Work of Art. These texts would occupy Hemsworth for more than a decade until, in another moment of revelation, it struck him, as he said to a friend, that there were perhaps half-a-dozen people in the world who would understand what he was doing. In the 80s, he turned to painting.

It was then, too, that he began to teach at Goldsmiths. At the time, this institution lacked the reputation of more august places such as the Slade School and the Royal College of Art. That the name Goldsmiths was, within a decade, to become synonymous with a new kind of British art was in large part owing to Hemsworth’s teaching.

Running what would later become the college’s MA and then MFA courses, he oversaw postgraduate students at Goldsmiths’ early studios in Flodden Road, Camberwell. Replicating something of the feel of the Stockwell Depot, Hemsworth played on the synergies of the various kinds of art his students were making. He insisted that Friday mornings be given over to individual students defending their work to all the others, the chosen student also providing breakfast. Among the artists who would benefit from this blurring of disciplinary boundaries was the Turner prize winner Mark Wallinger, as well as a dozen others, such as Fiona Banner and Glenn Brown, who would appear on the prize’s shortlist. In 2004, Hemsworth was made professor of fine art at Goldsmiths, a position he held until 2011.

Hemsworth’s influence outside of art school was perhaps less well understood. Although he spent the last 30 years working mainly as a painter, his work had its roots as much in the conceptualism of his earlier career as in studio painting. If pictures such as Three Graces Twice (2012) seemed like elegant cartoons, their formal subtleties made a point of defying easy reading.

As in his text pieces of the 70s, Hemsworth remained fascinated by the way the eye organises and interprets: his paintings suggest ease only to dispel it. The painting that won him the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition’s Charles Wollaston prize, awarded to the most distinguished work in the show, in 2000, Between Heaven and Hell, is a case in point, its central motif of a cartoon rabbit being at once cute and unknowably threatening.

Hemsworth’s was the opposite of the statement art of some of his students: it would, accordingly, remain less well known than theirs. Exhibitions such as Live in Your Head at the Whitechapel (2000) and the Laurent Delaye Gallery’s Picture This (2011) went some way towards rectifying this, suggesting a legacy that went beyond the Goldsmiths studio. Placing Hemsworth’s work alongside that of contemporaries such as Michael Craig-Martin, John Hilliard and John Stezaker, these shows traced the lineage of British conceptual art – in the public mind, an invention of the 90s – back to the 70s. They also put Hemsworth at the centre of a movement whose impact had been felt not just in British art but around the world.

Ascension Into Heaven, 1992, by Gerard Hemsworth. Although he spent the last 30 years working mainly as a painter, his work had its roots in the conceptualism of his earlier career. Photograph: Thomas Rehbein Galerie

Hemsworth was born in Tooting, south London, to Irish Catholic parents, Ernest, an electrical engineer, and Mary (nee Corbett), who worked in a department store. He went to St Gerard’s secondary school in Clapham before attending St Martins.

In 1964 he married May Davidson they divorced in 1973. He met and married the photographic artist Susan Ormerod in 1981 in 2010 the couple left London for a converted Methodist chapel in East Sussex.

Susan and their three children, Ruby, Jack and Frankie, survive him, along with his children from his first marriage, Matthew and Jane.

Gerard Hemsworth, artist and teacher, born 27 December 1945 died 15 February 2021


We Did It For The LOLs: 100 Favorite Funny Books

The news cycle is driving us to the edge of madness, so why not switch off, unplug and pick up a book? We know you could use a laugh right now — and luckily, several thousand of you told us all about the books, stories and poems that make you laugh.

We took your votes (more than 7,000 of them!) and with the help of our panel of expert judges — people so cool and so hilarious I'm surprised they even talked to me — created this list of 100 reads designed to make you laugh out loud. Want slice-of-life essays? Loopy poetry? Surreal one-panel cartoons? Blackly comic novels? Texts from famous literary figures? Scroll down — we've got it all.

As with all our reader polls, this is a curated list and not a straight-up popularity contest you'll see that the books are grouped into categories rather than ranked from one to 100.

Summer Reader Poll 2018: Horror

Click If You Dare: 100 Favorite Horror Stories

Summer Reader Poll 2017: Comics And Graphic Novels

Let's Get Graphic: 100 Favorite Comics And Graphic Novels

And, as always, there are a few things that didn't make the list — surprisingly, Shakespeare didn't get enough votes to make it to the semifinals, and our judges decided the immortal Bard of Avon didn't exactly need our help to find new readers. (But read some Shakespeare anyhow, just for the scorching burns in Much Ado About Nothing.) Then there were books that didn't quite stand the test of time, or were so new we couldn't tell whether they'd stand up.

Some of the authors on this list are incredibly popular, and you voted them in over and over again (three guesses as to whom, and the first two don't count, David Sedaris). Because space is limited, we try to hold each author to one spot on the list, but there are some exceptions — in 2015, for the romance poll, we created the Nora Roberts Rule. We've applied it somewhat . flexibly, but it generally means that each year, one particularly beloved or prolific author gets two spots on the list. This year, we used it for an actual Nora, Nora Ephron, which our judges thought was the perfect application.

And speaking of our judges, you will find a couple of their works on the list this year — we don't let judges vote for their own work, but readers loved Samantha Irby's We Are Never Meeting In Real Life and Guy Branum's My Life as a Goddess, so the panel agreed they should stay.

Laughter is the best medicine, or so we hear — so read two (heck, read three) and call us in the morning!

To make navigating the list a little easier, click these links to get to each category: Memoirs, Essays, Comics & Cartoons, Novels, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nonfiction, Kids' Books & YA, Poetry, Classics, Short Stories and . Deep Thoughts (no, really, just Deep Thoughts. We couldn't figure out where else to put it).


'The Cold Millions' Takes On The Dented Dream Of American Social Mobility

Jess Walter's sweeping new novel, which traces the adventures of two vagabond brothers, is set against the backdrop of the free speech demonstrations that erupted in Spokane, Wash., in 1909 and 1910.

This is FRESH AIR. Jess Walter's 2012 novel "Beautiful Ruins" was a best-seller set in Italy and late-Golden Age Hollywood. His other novels have ranged from political satire to literary suspense. Walter's new book, "The Cold Millions," is something else entirely - a sweeping historical novel about the Wobblies and a landmark free speech protest at the turn of the last century. Our book critic Maureen Corrigan has a review.

MAUREEN CORRIGAN, BYLINE: Mention the Wobblies to most Americans today, and they'll likely think you're referring to tremors. The Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW, as the Wobblies are more commonly known, were founded in 1905 as one big union to cut across all trades and industries. The Wobblies have had some notable organizing wins in recent years, but such an expansive union remains a utopian dream. America, I feel sentimental about the Wobblies, declared Allen Ginsberg in his incantatory poem "America," written in 1956.

Jess Walter, like Allen Ginsberg, also feels sentimental about the Wobblies. His new novel, "The Cold Millions," takes place in Spokane, Wash., in 1909 and 1910 and centers on the real-life free speech demonstrations that erupted in that city, pitting police and government officials against transient workers, many of whom identified as Wobblies.

Spokane had instituted a ban on public speaking in response to the orations of Wobbly organizers who were trying to break the grip of corrupt employment agencies in the city. The demonstrations drew some famous participants, among them, the charismatic teenaged Wobbly orator Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, whom the country would come to know as the Rebel Girl. She and more than 500 protesters were jailed before the city revoked the ban, making Spokane an early triumph in the long history of free speech battles in the U.S.

"The Cold Millions" is a novel that's been incubating in Jess Walter's imagination for years, predating his 2012 bestseller, "The Beautiful Ruins." That novel, set in an Italian fishing village, was an exquisite appeal to escapism whereas "The Cold Millions" is politically engaged. Consider the stark difference in setting alone. Spokane in 1909 attracts not a sprinkling of rich American tourists but a flotilla of men looking for work. Here's the Whitmanesque catalogue that opens "The Cold Millions."

(Reading) They woke on a ballfield - bums, tramps, hobos, stiffs - two dozen of them spread out on blankets in a narrow floodplain. Seasonal work over, they floated in from mines and farms and log camps, filled every flop and boardinghouse, slept in parks and alleys. And on the night just past, this abandoned ballfield, its infield littered with itinerants, vagrants, floaters, Americans.

These are the men that don't fit in, to quote the popular Robert Service poem from the same period, or more accurately, the men who can't fit in because the system is rigged against them. "The Cold Millions" magnifies the social criticism that fueled some of Walter's earlier novels, in particular the prescient 2005 novel "Citizen Vince" about an ex-felon frantically trying to cast his vote in the presidential election of 1980. Here, Walter takes individual frustrations with the dented dream of American social mobility and renders them collective.

"The Cold Millions" traces the adventures of two vagabond brothers, Ryan, or "Rye," Dolan, age 16, and Gregory, "Gig," who's 23. Rye and Gig are among that mass of sleepers on that ballfield or hobo nest. Gig is a handsome, hard-drinking autodidact reading Jack London and random volumes of "War And Peace." Rye is a shy, romantic, the quintessential innocent destined to be wised up. When Gig, who's already joined the Wobblies, gets knocked off his soapbox at a demonstration, Rye steps up and takes his place before he, too, gets a kick to the gut. The brothers, along with hundreds of other protesters, are jailed. But because of Rye's youth and because his voice and story have attracted the notice of none other than Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, he sprung from prison while poor Gig honors his commitment to a prison hunger strike. Flynn is one of a bunch of actual historical characters who populate this novel. The plot-heavy structure suggests something else Walter is sentimental about here, namely the traditional historical novel. The lefty political bent and hybrid cast of real and made-up characters in "The Cold Millions" is reminiscent of the work of John Dos Passos and E.L. Doctorow. But Walter's style owes even more to midcult yarns by Kenneth Roberts, Herman Wouk and Howard Fast, tellers of big stories about the forgotten foot soldiers of the past in novels like "Northwest Passage" and "Spartacus."

It's quite a thing when the world is upside down to hear someone say it don't have to be. That's the opening epiphany Rye has after listening to labor men talk. Allen Ginsberg, towards the end of "America," expressed the same moment of hope and possibility differently. It occurs to me, said Ginsberg, that I am America.

DAVIES: Maureen Corrigan teaches literature at Georgetown University. She reviewed "The Cold Millions" by Jess Walter. If you'd like to catch up on FRESH AIR interviews you missed, like our interview with Chef Marcus Samuelsson, winner of multiple James Beard Awards, whose new book is part recipes and partly an appreciation of Black contributions to American food, or our interview with New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos about Joe Biden's life and political career, check out our podcast. You'll find lots of FRESH AIR interviews.

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DAVIES: FRESH AIR's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham. Our interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Roberta Shorrock, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, Heidi Saman, Ann Marie Baldonado, Thea Chaloner, Seth Kelley and Kayla Lattimore. Our associate producer of digital media is Molly Seavey-Nesper. Therese Madden directed today's show. For Terry Gross, I'm Dave Davies.

(SOUNDBITE OF RANDY NEWMAN'S "RAGTIME")

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Rye bread: a real German treat

While crusty French sticks and airy Italian loaves still tend to attract the most attention, Germany is a worthy rival for Europe’s bread champions. They have around 300 varieties of dark and white breads, and lay claim to a whopping 1,200 varieties of rolls and mini-breads too – an achievement worth toasting to, we’d say.

As anyone who’s ever hungrily encountered a hotel buffet will know, bread venerated at the German breakfast table as it is nowhere else. The most important element of the most important meal of the German day, bread provides a vehicle for sausage, cheese, boiled egg, cold meat, fish, jam, honey and other delights, but it’s also a star in its own right. In the rainbow of German offerings there are seeded varieties, wholegrain breads, sweet mini loaves and pretzel rolls alongside more conventional wheat bread and, of course, rye.

A hardy grain that’s closely related to barley and wheat, rye has been grown for over 4,000 years and has been popular across central and eastern Europe since the Middle Ages. Naturally lower in gluten than wheat flour, rye is often lauded for health benefits, including lots of vitamins and minerals, high levels of soluble fibre and evidence that it makes you feel fuller for longer. On top of all that, it’s delicious.

Dense, dark pumpernickel is one of the most traditional forms of German rye bread (as well as being really fun to say), and is typically wheat-free, but does contain gluten. Our 100% rye pumpernickel uses a natural rye sourdough starter and also features roast potato shavings and cane molasses for a slightly sweet, moist loaf that can last for over a week.

Germany’s Scandinavian neighbours are also big fans of dark rye, using thin slices as the foundation of their extravagant smørbrød – open sandwiches topped with smoked fish, seafood, caviar, eggs or pâté. And the famous “black bread” eaten by Heidi in Johanna Spyri’s Swiss children’s novel of the same name would have been rye – although it’s fair to say she appreciated it less than we do now.

Rye is often combined with other lighter flours in mixed loaves too, for a subtler flavour and less-dense texture that still has the grain’s distinctive character. Caraway seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats, barley and cornmeal have all been used to create light rye bread and, in America, wheat-rye mixed loaves are famed in Jewish delicatessens, loaded with salt beef, cheese or pastrami. Put yours to work in a serious mouthful like Jamie’s Reuben-ish sandwich.

If you fancy baking your own, this black bread recipe from Jamie Magazine features coffee, molasses and even dark chocolate for a beautifully rich and fragrant mixed rye loaf. Pop it on the table for breakfast and you might still be tucking in come lunchtime.

About the author

The Flour Station grew out of the basement of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Restaurant. We soon ran out of space and branched out to our own bakery premises. Not long after that, we set up our first stall at Borough Market and since then we've been baking our delicious sourdough breads for top notch cafes, delis and restaurants across London as well as our weekly market stalls.


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