A.G. Newsletter #4: Xie Xie, Luke's Lobster, Brunch at Smile

A.G. Newsletter #5: Xie Xie, Luke's Lobster, Bombay Chicken Curry Take 2

Hey Everyone,

So the cat's finally out of the bag. In case you missed it, last week, on Friday to be exact, I was finally able to announce the big secret project I'm about to start: a cookbook for one of the best cookbook publishers out there, Artisan.

And, as if that weren't exciting enough, this morning I was on the CBS' Early Show (see here) for approximately 4.3 seconds. It was kind of funny, actually, because the producer and camera operator spent almost 6 hours in my apartment to get that clip. TV is a very weird business.

On top of all that, I'm developing a new web show for Food2.com (this will be more of a weekly video blog), I'm doing some final work for the class I was teaching for Gotham Writer's Workshop and, oh ya, I just joined a gym. Does anyone know how to clone a guy? Because I think I need another me to undertake all that I'm about to undertake.

But no complaints here! I'm pretty happy with the way things are going. And eating pretty well too.

For example, a week or two ago, Craig and I were going to a party in Hell's Kitchen (a RuPaul's Drag Race finale party, if you must know) and looking for a quick, cheap place with good food. I turned to Twitter and Twitter suggested Xie Xie:

At first blush, Xie Xie (9th Ave. btwn 45 & 46th) didn't look like much. But once inside, the blurbs on the wall--including one from Alain Ducasse!--were enough to get me excited for the food. Craig and I shared the sweet glazed pork on a Chinese bun:

These were so outrageously delicious, they were an absolute bargain at $8.50.

We also shared the Fish Chaca La Vong with Onion Jam Sriracha, Mayonnaise and Dill:

Again, another total knock-out. There was so much flavor going on here, I was convinced that Xie Xie was an undiscovered gem. It was more than half-empty when we were there at 7:30 or so; maybe it gets more of a lunch crowd?

No matter when you go, don't skip dessert. The "1000 Year Old" Ice Cream Sandwich (with Chocolate Cookie Black Caramel")....

...boggled the mind, it was so good. What made that caramel so black? I don't know but it certainly wasn't burnt. It just had this deep, profound flavor and in combination with the ice cream and cookie outer layer it was a masterpiece. Now we have an ideal, cheap & fast pre-theater dinner destination (though the space itself is a little drab; my only critique.)

Luke's Lobster (7th street between 1st & A) has gotten lots of buzz since it opened. I liked the idea of a lobster roll joint with a cheap lobster roll (my favorite lobster roll in the city, at Pearl Oyster Bar, is a lobster-lover's dream come true, but not something I can afford more than once or twice a year). Here's the exterior of Luke's:

The place was absolutely packed; and it was 12:30 on a Wednesday.

Without a place to sit, I ordered a lobster roll ($14) and when it arrived I used a lobster trap for a table:

So okay, this is a certain kind of lobster roll. It has no mayo. It's seasoned with lots of Old Bay and dressed with butter. Theoretically, this presents the lobster in a purer way, unadorned and straight-forward. But I missed the mayo you get in Pearl's lobster roll. That mayo makes something of a sauce, extending the lobster flavor, and transforming something very good into something extravagant. I take my time eating a Pearl Oyster Bar lobster roll, but at Luke's, I scarfed it down in a few bites, shrugged my shoulders and walked out the door. Still, there was a lot to like about the place and maybe if I'm having a pure lobster craving I'll be back.

Finally, those of you who follow the blog know that the best chicken curry I've ever had was this one that Chef Floyd Cardoz made for me in a food2 video. I also confessed that when I attempted to make it, that same day, my sauce broke. I advised readers who wanted to try the curry to learn from my mistakes: to stir the coconut milk until it's homogenous and to keep the heat really low and to stir while it cooks so the sauce doesn't break.

I'm happy to report that I took my own advice and made a pretty killer Bombay Chicken Curry last week:

Served on white rice, this is a really filling, satisfying weeknight meal that has the patina of authenticity without the requirement of too-exotic, difficult-to-find ingredients (but don't skip the Garam Masala, it's important).

Ok, troopers, I'm off to do all the things I have to do before the end of the day. Thanks for all the book congratulations on the blog and if you see me running down the street, in a tortured sweat, don't worry that's not me, it's my clone, fetching my groceries.

Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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