A.G. Newsletter #15: Freezing Cherries, Central in D.C., Popbar, Pam Real Thai & Billy's Bakery

Hey Readers,

Let's rewind the clock for a second. Last week I wrote about my trip to D.C. and our lunch at mini-bar, but I forgot to mention two things that happened the night before Lizzie the photographer and I left for our adventure. 1: Craig and I saw The B52's in concert:

Craig's been a lifelong B52's fan (as mentioned in this post about Kate's Lazy Meadow) but he'd never seen them in concert; I enjoy their music, but I wasn't sure how excited I was. Turns out I should've been really excited: they put on a great show. If you haven't seen them live, you definitely should when they come to your town. (Now I run around the apartment singing, in my Fred Schneider voice, "WHAT'S THAT ON YOUR HEAD?" That's from the song they opened with, "Wig.")

2. I froze cherries. "Say wha?" you're probably thinking. Let me explain. I'd bought sour cherries from the farmer's market a few days before I left and now that I was leaving for another three days I knew I had to do something to save them. So I read up online and saw that you can pit cherries, put them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, stick them in the freezer and a few hours later they'll be frozen and ready to store in a freezer bag. See:

Now I have a bagful of frozen sour cherries in my freezer that I don't plan to use until wintertime when it's cold and miserable and just the idea of a sour cherry dessert will melt the frost off my nose. It's a good trick to know.

Continuing with our rewind, in my eagerness to tell you about mini-bar, I forgot to tell you about another great meal we had in D.C. at Michel Richard's Central.

We met up with Craig's cousin David (a student at Georgetown) and the kind-hearted souls we were staying with, Robin & Vaughn, and ate some terrific food. Including these gougeres:

These had a great texture; almost like a cross between a biscuit and a cheese puff.

I ordered the famous lobster burger ($29) which was a remarkable feat of engineering:

Apparently the burger is bound together with a scallop mousse; I loved the crisp exterior and the large meaty pieces of lobster inside. A great new addition to the burger lexicon.

The dessert, however, was out of control. The waitress recommended her favorite, the banana split, which comes "in little compartments in the kind of tray you get at a cafeteria," she explained. She wasn't kidding (except for the "little" part):

Looking at that picture, I don't think I need to tell you how good this was. The bananas and whipped cream and two sauces were in that top compartment; all the ice cream in their own separate compartments. This is a better reason to visit D.C. than The Smithsonian!

Let's return to New York now. The other day, I was on 6th Ave. and I was hot. So I popped into a popsicle store near Carmine called Popbar. Here are the popsicle choices:

I choice a grapefruit popsicle which was very refreshing and fresh-tasting; just a simple combination of grapefruit juice and sugar, a great combo on a hot day.

On Friday, a big group of us went to see "Inception" which I enjoyed (though wasn't it weird how stiff it was for a dream world? Why weren't there any naked people; there are always naked people in my dreams!) Afterwards, since we saw it at the Ziegfield, we needed a place that could seat a big group of us. So we found ourselves at Pam's Real Thai.

The funny thing about the menu at Pam's Real Thai is that various dishes are blurbed in a red font with either a "New York Times Recommended," a "New York Post Recommended," or a "Village Voice Recommended." See:

I chose a New York Times recommended dish; the Yum Crispy Duck which comes with chili paste and lime juice and pineapple pieces.

This was so good it was TOO good; each piece of duck was so crispy and rich it tasted like a piece of bacon. So I ended up eating only half and using rice to sop up the sauce which was terrific on its own. Yum indeed.

Finally, after dinner with Craig a few days ago at Company Pizza (where Craig took me for my birthday this year), I insisted that I still had room for dessert and dragged Craig to Billy's Bakery. Billy's doesn't just have the best cupcakes in the city (at least I think so) but the best atmosphere. When we were there, they were playing the soundtracks to "Annie Get Your Gun" and "A Chorus Line." Could a bakery get any better? Here I am with my vanilla vanilla cupcake:

The look on my face is the look of "am I really going to eat this after eating a giant meatball and bacon pizza?" I'll let the psychics among you figure out the answer to that question.

And that's all for this week! Until the next one....

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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