Food by VICE

Today's Special: The Michelin-Starred Restaurant Accused of Serving Deadly Mushrooms Has Reopened

Plus, even the owner of the twice-named "best pizzeria in the world" puts pineapple on pizza.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Mar 14 2019, 7:58pm

Photo: Xinhua/Song Wen via Getty Images

Welcome to Off-Menu , where we'll be rounding up all the food news and food-adjacent internet ephemera that delighted, fascinated, or infuriated us today.

  • Last month, RiFF in Valencia, Spain, voluntarily closed after more than 30 people were sickened and a 46-year-old woman died after eating at the Michelin-starred restaurant . According to Food Safety News, RiFF has recently reopened, although Spanish authorities are still unsure what happened.

Although there were scattered media reports that morel mushrooms from China caused RiFF’s customers to become ill, owner and chef Bernd H. Knöller says that the restaurant bought its mushrooms from a distributor in Leon, Spain. “With regards [to] the cases of mild poisoning, I wish to add that the health authorities have, for the moment, not found a cause. We do not know whether it was the morels or another product,” Knöller tweeted. “The restaurant has passed two health inspections. The second, and most recent of the two, was in response to a request from us. I wanted to be 100 percent certain (though I have realised that no restaurant can absolutely guarantee 100 percent safety). The health authorities have assured us at all times, since the first inspection, that there is no reason for the restaurant to remain closed.”

  • If you believe the internet, everyone is in agreement that pineapple pizza is THE WORST, right behind all of the Fyre Festival attendees, capitalism, and Star Wars: The Jar-Jar One. But some people are willing to give tropical fruit-topped pies a chance—including a man who’s legit the world’s best pizzaiolo. Franco Pepe, whose restaurant has twice been named the best pizzeria in the world, has made his own version of pineapple pizza, one that involves prosciutto-wrapped pineapple, whipped grana padano cheese, and a dash of licorice powder. He rolls the entire thing up into a cone, and deep-fries it, a presentation that I’ll allow because dude seems to know what he’s doing. If you want to try it, you’ll have to book a flight to Italy, Switzerland, and China, which are the only places where he’s serving it. Not Iceland, though? Probably a good call.
  • On Sunday afternoon, Rabble Coffee in Indianapolis held a naloxone (the generic form of Narcan) training session, where representatives from the Indiana Recovery Alliance spent two hours teaching the shop’s customers how to use the drug Narcan to save someone’s life (or how to save themselves) in the case of an opioid overdose. Rabble’s founder Josie Hunckler paid attention. Later that afternoon, several customers watched a car pull up to the Burger King across the street, dragged an unconscious man out of the vehicle, and left him on the pavement. “I wasn’t sure if this was an alive person or not but I grabbed the Narcan and ran across the street,” she wrote on Facebook. “He looked completely dead but was still breathing. I administered one nasal [dose of] Narcan and called my friend Jes with Indiana Recovery Alliance while I opened the second one to make sure it was safe to use two so close together.”

Her efforts worked, and when first responders arrived, the man was able to get into the ambulance with some help from those on the scene. “This is why you should have Narcan/naloxone,” she said. And it’s why more coffee shops, bars, and restaurants should probably take Rabble’s lead.

  • George Washington loved hair powder, strategic military retreats, and active breeding (OF DOGS… of dogs!), and he was also a big fan of beer. Much like your brother-in-law, G-Dub was way into home brewing, and even took a few minutes from serving as colonel of the Virginia Regiment to write his own beer recipe in the back of his journal. “[Washington] has this sort of dual personality of being a sort of militaristic person, but also a benevolent Founding Father and so the beer recipe, I think, can be used to show his human side,” Thomas Lannon, the assistant director of manuscripts, archives, and rare books at the New York Public Library, told Atlas Obscura. And, much like your brother-in-law, Washington’s beer sucked. His low-alcohol brew was called a “small beer,” because it was served mainly to on-duty soldiers, servants and children. The recipe requires boiled bran hops combined with molasses, and then he suggests “[letting] this stand till it is little more than Blood warm,” before adding yeast and leaving it alone for a day. Or, for best results, leave it alone forever and just buy yourself a beer. Maybe even one that you wouldn’t give to a child.
  • Patricia Sánchez and her family have lived in the same house in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles for the past 25 years, and probably thought they’d be there for another couple of decades, too. That changed when Tyler Wilson, the owner of decidedly pricey hot dog restaurant Wurstküche, bought her home, served her with an eviction notice under the Ellis Act, and told her she had a year to find a new place to live. (The law is complicated, but it essentially allows landlords to take their rental properties off the market so they can evict tenants and—surprised Pikachu face—this is often a way that unscrupulous owners can ditch low-income or rent-controlled residents).

Sánchez told Los Angeles magazine that since Wilson bought the property, she’s had her security fence removed, someone has repeatedly called animal control about her two chickens, and she says the address for rental payments has repeatedly changed, making it almost impossible for her to pay on time. Some locals and members of the LA Tenants Union have responded by picketing Wurstküche, demonstrating in front of the restaurant, and launching the website WurstkucheSucks dot com. (Wilson isn’t helping his case by allegedly saying that Sánchez “won’t talk to me in English”). Regardless of the guy’s rental practices, he is guilty of describing the restaurant as a “Purveyor of of Exotic Grilled Sausages.” They’re tube meats, Tyler. Tube meats.


  • The Wall Street Journal has taken a long, greasy look at the Instagram accounts that obsess over slices of pepperoni that curl up at the edges, forming tiny cups of ‘za juice. “Pizzerias that use cupping pepperoni tend to use a lot of it, with the cups sometimes nesting two or three deep,” the Journal wrote. “The reason for this, many agree, is Instagram, where people showcase the little meat vessels.

There are even Instagram accounts devoted exclusively to cupping pepperoni, like @little.peps (which has over 23,000 followers) and @ronicups (14,000).” Congratulations, Instagram. You’ve made me hate pizza.