While waiting for a friend the other day I got a chance to go into a bookstore that I have always wanted to peruse - McNally Robinson (52 Prince St). Not only do they have a little cafe with handsome baked goods (unfortunately I had just had breakfast so I didn't get to try any), but they have a well organized selection of books and magazines.
The periodicals were already looking good from afar with a couple of my favourite titles such as COLORS, the visually arresting, socially conscious magazine and Adbusters, the Canadian quarterly that is "concerned about the erosion of our physical and cultural environments by commercial forces." But the display featured a few titles I hadn't heard of, including a new-ish publication called Diner Journal.
Apparently the adage "good things come to those who wait" holds true in this case; I was waiting, and a good thing appeared. Diner Journal is a delightful small-scale quarterly published by the staff of Diner and Marlow & Sons, two restaurants in Brooklyn. Unusually, Diner Journal is committed to showcasing the restaurants' own recipes and sources for local, seasonal food. Highlights in the current Spring issue (No. 3) include maple syrup stories, an interview with Guy Jones of Blooming Hill Farm, and recipes featuring asparagus, ramps and rhubarb. Although they are not written for the novice cook, these recipes will inspire you to head to your local farmers market and try something new. Although I haven't cooked directly from the journal, I did use their advice about ramps ("use them in everything as you would garlic") inspired me to put them in an asparagus and lemon risotto to great effect.
Diner Journal is not technically a zine since it is a commercial venture, but the layout and typography (and handwriting) and limited distribution (as far as I know DJ is only available at McNally Robinson or by subscription) of the publication place it in the middle ground between independent zines and bigger restaurant mags. The BLT restaurant empire has recently come out with BLT Living, a high-gloss quarterly complete with full page advertisements which is given to customers at BLT restaurants free, as reported in an article by Florence Fabricant in The New York Times. Diner Journal has no advertising (but has a cute grocery-style price tag of $7.50 on the inside cover) and comes with three hole punches down the side to help you store and reuse it.
A short piece in New York Magazine also contrasted Diner Journal with BLT Living, but likened it to Chez Panisse publications, which I have never had the fortune of reading. There must be many more small, worthy food publications, so I'm on the lookout.