[Clownstick] ordered his usual slab of beef in his usual manner, “well done and with ketchup, as if the entree would be accompanied by a sippy cup,” wrote my friend Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post’s restaurant critic. That’s a great line, and just as witty was Sietsema’s call for “a moment of silence for the cow, the condiment and what most chefs would call a forced marriage.”
Forced, yes, but not necessarily unhappy, and certainly not deserving of the gasps and guffaws it drew. A former restaurant critic myself, I fielded a media request for my appraisal of [Clownstick]’s epicurean trespass. “Let he who is without a bag of microwave popcorn in his cupboard cast the first stone,” I said, or something along those lines.
It goes on like that, surrendering the usual guff about how "it pegs Trump’s critics as exactly the sneering elites he says we are" and such like. Listen close, asshole: Clownstick is a fucking elite, by his own reckoning. He lives in a marble-and-gold penthouse, with gold-plated terlets and Louis Quatorze chairs. Yes, it looks like Saddam Hussein's palace decorator had a go at it, but still.
The fact is, if Clownstick were marginally competent and/or sane, the fact that he likes his steak the same way a five-year-old does wouldn't even be fodder for snark. No one would care. But what does it tell you that it gets attention? There is something wrong with someone who takes a New York strip steak -- not the best cut but a pretty good one -- and has it cooked to a crisp, and served with ketchup? Go try that at the nearest expensive restaurant near you. If the chef doesn't come out and berate you for being a culinary retard, he probably spit on it. Not that you'd taste the difference.
But let's address Bruni's bullshit "elitist" comment. I would bet you solid money that a substantial segment of Clownstick acolytes enjoy a nice weekend barbecue. They grill meats, and they take pride in doing it well. Not a one of them would willingly take a cut of meat that generally runs about twelve bucks a pound or so, and cook it well-done. Put simply, it would be a waste of a good cut of meat. You want to cook something to shoe leather and dump ketchup on it, save your dough and get some cheap round steak. Junior will never know the difference.
Again, that is something just about anyone adept at grilling meat -- a working-class avocation if ever there were one -- will tell you. Most people who are experienced at it -- including yours truly -- will tell you medium-rare is the best overall for flavor and texture. As for seasonings and sauces, the rule of thumb is that the better the cut of meat, the less you should have to adulterate it with anything beyond a little salt and pepper, and a side of horseradish (real horseradish, not that fucking cream sauce shit). Prime rib, rib eye, porterhouse, your choice cuts, that's the most you should do. Grill for about two minutes a side directly over the heat (I usually use mesquite charcoal, sometimes with hickory chips pre-soaked in red wine), with a little salt, then move it off for another eight to ten minutes per pound. Take it off, put it in a shallow bowl, cover with foil and let it rest for about ten minutes. Use the juices for dipping if desired, or the aforementioned horseradish. For a cut like New York, I might give it a couple hours in a teriyaki or Worcestershire marinade.
Even a relatively cheaper-per-pound cut like a London broil, you stuff that motherfucker with garlic cloves, maybe marinade and season, and grill as with the better cuts. Turns out great, every fucking time. The idea that a grown-ass man insists on defaming a perfectly good cut of meat by burning it and slathering it with ketchup just affirms what we've always known about him, by the way he talks, by the house he lives in, by the way he treats people -- he's a dickhead, a vulgarian who wallows in his crudeness.
Bruni conflates these sorts of observations with the baser tropes of food snobbery, and at best he's projecting his own neuroses. This has absolutely nothing to do with the level of sophistication or complexity in one's palate; I don't begrudge Clownstick or anyone else getting their KFC or what-have-you on. In fact, I have a pretty simple palate; I despise most vegetables as a matter of taste and principle, and enjoy all the reg'lar snacks and comfort foods that REAL MURKINS are known to enjoy. This is not about that. I would be saying this shit about anyone who ate steak this way. It's just more of an affront that it's a fake rich guy who really does at least have more money than the poor people he pretends to bond with, people who would never consider fucking up a perfectly good steak the way he does routinely.
In short, it's not a deal-breaker; it's just further proof that he the yuge jerkoff we already knew he was. It is not the elitist statement that Bruni needs to pretend it is, but it's entirely possible he actually knew that going in.