c o u n t e r  s e r v i c e

Issue Eight: Smoke


Issue 8: Smoke

My first introduction to what regular, methodical, habitual smoking was, was in Italy. Reinforced in France. And taken to another level in Korea. On an evening promenade along the Arno to the Piazza (how goddamn stereotypical, but simultaneously iconic), the couple would pass each other cigarettes and pause to strike a match. Tucked in the side streets of Montparnasse, waiters taking a break between shifts or tables or drinks to have a slow cigarette, letting their heads fall back, eyes close, as they exhale. Or after dinner, as you wander the halls and rooms of a restaurant designed like a home and find a hide-away door in a wardrobe to a smoking room: an after dinner room. After a proper grill-in-the-middle-of-your-table-don’t-touch-it galbi session with da-kimchi-joo-saey-oh, lean back and pass around the two dollars and fifty cents pack of cigarettes in place of a digestif. Now although I’m not saying I partook in these lavish moments, what I am saying is that these are the moments that I saw.

These moments with smoke aren’t everything when we talk about smoke and food, though. In this issue we’re not talking smoking in a... digestif, relax your mind, post messy-sheets sex kind of way. Honestly we’re not trying to encourage anyone to have a cigarette, because…. that shit kills you. We’re talking about smoking teas and seeds to activate them. How activated charcoal is now a… consumable thing. The smoke and mirrors that life really can be.

XO... you smokeshows.



New month, new sign, new obsession. We all go through phases where we cannot stop eating a certain thing, drinking a certain cocktail, or telling everyone that comes around us about this one magazine, article, or show. These are exactly those thoughts, feelings, emotions, tangible beauties we're currently obsessed with. XO

“The Most Exciting Restaurant in New York isn’t even a Restaurant” GQ’s Lili Goksenin writes about Joint Venture, the project helmed by Danny Newberg. And I’m obsessed. I’ve been for a little while now -- from his pop ups in Bovina to jump offs at Alameda in Greenpoint to Scribe Winery to Cala in SF, Danny and his team are killing the game. We interviewed him a few issues back but let me just get you up to speed: Joint Venture pops up in collaboration with restaurants or spaces to put on the dopest seafood driven nights. It’s exactly what we need right now and I can’t be happier to have them getting the recognition they deserve.   

-- Josh Hamlet



Graphic by Louisa Durkin

Graphic by Louisa Durkin

Smoke Signals
Nicolle Borrero


I’ve made it to 28.  Now older than my mother was when she brought me into this world, I struggle to wrap my head around what my life’s trajectory looks and feels like. How and with whom am I spending my time? Why? Am I becoming more patient? Or am I rushing through life? In my early 20’s, I certainly tried to rush through most things; a few fragile things that required much more care and consideration than I was prepared to expend. My marriage was one of those things... the most fragile, probably. Now entering my late 20’s and facing the advent of my peak years (that’s what everyone says about your 30’s right?), I find myself mostly concerned with attention to detail in every form. From the work I do, to the friends I keep, the people I sleep with, how and why I eat, drink, write, speak. What are the patterns in my life? In the spirit of “saying yes more” and “leaning in,” I am making an effort to pay attention to all patterns. If I see something, I’ll say and do something. But it doesn’t always have to be so... heady!!



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Its tentacles open
A portal go-in
Hurtling through suctionable snyapses
To a space where worlds can cleave
With purpose to perceive
Here lies the edge to all that is.
That beckons reconciliation
By the fire of imagination
Piercing through membrane of hidden fears
go knit tentacles into an understanding
so you can return back
Newly being here

Gerardo Gonzalez, Devonn Francis, and Andy Baraghani at Lalito in Chinatown, New York City. 

Gerardo Gonzalez, Devonn Francis, and Andy Baraghani at Lalito in Chinatown, New York City. 

10 questions with gerardo gonzalez and andy baraghani
words by devonn francis // photographs by sarah boisjoli

This story is an ongoing conversation that started by reaching out to people in the food industry about the politics of queerness and race as it pertains to their own personal and professional histories. I wanted to shed light on day-to-day circumstances in the kitchen or in the workspace that make it next to impossible to feel seen, heard, or valued in the work that queer, black, and/or brown people do. I remember coming to New York at 18 years of age and feeling misunderstood in my goals and creative pursuits. I'm hoping that by sharing our collective experiences we can pave a better road ahead for marginalized individuals and at the very least, let those who feel like they are struggling on their own know that they have friends and allies in many sectors of the community.

I met Gerardo while he was running El Rey. I would come in for coffee dates with friends, immediately falling in love more and more with the cozy and colorful vibe of the space. On my first visit to his new restaurant, Lalito, Gerardo pushed additional plates of food out to me and my dinner companion because he not only wanted our opinions but also valued what we might have to say. Gerardo and Andy have been friends in the food world for many years and it's always nice to see camaraderie between peers.

Andy and I met while we were both working at Estela in its beginning years. He spent his early days working with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse before making strides in New York's food scene. Now a Senior Food Editor at Bon Appetit Magazine, Andy has taken liberties to bring his ideas of food and culture to an eager audience of readers.


Fire + Ice
Louisa Durkin

Photos from the NY Public Library

Photos from the NY Public Library

Life Drawings
Sophie Miles

An LA hitmaker who writes music for Justin Bieber
came up with a list of ten rules that make

a pop song good. The seventh rule
is silence. This relates directly, I think

to my lifelong belief that nobody can hear
me talk, even if they pretend otherwise.

The silence he’s talking about is all the gaps in
Sandstorm, the breath before the kick drum

in Total Eclipse of the Heart. A quick shock
to make sure you’re still paying attention. My silence is

the air inside of the inflatable tube guy
whipping around in front of the car dealership.

In this analogy, I’m the car. More advice:
my high school art teacher says

that when you draw something you should pretend
that you’re running your hand over the surface of it.

By reverse logic, today I’ve made drawings of the steering wheel,
that dog’s back, a door as it opens, cold and hot water,

the underside of a dinner plate, smoke that was making
a drawing of fire, my own counterfeit face.

Puebla, Mexico
Quinn Rose Levine

Back a few years Quinn headed south of the border to Mexico to go check out Puebla and Mezcal making. I have to say... I couldn't have been more jealous. A work-trip down to Mexico to go learn how the smokey cousin to Tequila, Mezcal, is made? Ideal. Iconic. Classique.  Here's her email when she got back, circa 2015, and a the photographic proof that she did more than just hang loose with some TASTEY beverages and foods. -- XO Josh

On Mar 5, 2015, at 9:54 AM, Quinn Rose Levine wrote:

Hey guys!
I wanted to send some photos from the Palenque where we saw the whole mezcal making process. It was amazing. 

Everything was done by hand (or horse). Espadin piñas being brought off the truck to be axed in half. The rocks have been heating for days and smoking up a storm...The piñas are huge! And very heavy.

The Stall
Jeff Byrne 

Stagnation appears in all forms across our lives. Passion projects fizzle, conversations trail off into “so...anyways…”, a job really becomes just that -- a job. Complacency’s reign can be long and unjust. Expanding to our natural surrounding world, trees cycle between growth and stagnation. During warmer months, trees suck up atmospheric CO2, stripping off the oxygen, and assembling the carbon into its wooden lattice. This annual cycle of growth and stasis forms the trees rings, building upon one another, oscillating between expansion and stabilizing further the entire structure. Even in barbecue, the familiar plateau shows up again.

Big cuts of meat go through what is called “the stall”, a point at which the internal temperature of the meat stops increasing, sometimes lasting hours.  The reason for this prolonged lapse of progress is likely due to a process called evaporative cooling. Once the meat gets hot enough moisture begins to pool on the surface, taking some heat with it when it evaporates. In this moment, the guidelines that dictate progress (or, science) start to work against themselves resulting in simple water treading.

One handy technique to beat the stall involves wrapping the meat in foil once the temps start to flat-line. The Texas Crutch, it’s called. A quick foil wrap creates a thin buffer of high humidity air which culls evaporation. The crutch comes with drawbacks, of course; the thin buffer cuts off the smoke supply, so make sure the meat has had enough before wrapping or the flavor train never pulls into flavor town.

The low and slow process is a balance between many forces and flavors: time, heat, smoke, and moisture are all playing off each other. If fortune is to be found here, it surely favors the patient and the curious and dedicated. Try different wood, try higher temps, try lower temps, wrap early, maybe brine, maybe dry brine, put sugar in the rub, put a water pan in the grill, fill it with beer instead, use chips, maybe soak them first, maybe don’t wrap at all. Ultimately the results will be delicious, just don’t let the stall spook you. Keep feeding the fire.

Photo by  Will Foster

Photo by Will Foster

Smoked up
Christopher Golden



Christopher Golden is the epitome of calm, cool, and collected. In this playlist he serves up hip swerves, some head nods, and a whole lot of lean all the way back and let that beat consume you moments. XO

Teenage Fever -- Drake
Chess -- Petite Noir
Chanel -- Frank Ocean
Cranes in the Sky -- Solange

Check the rest out here on Spotify