A.G. Newsletter #16: Balthazar Bakery, Bouillabaisse at Pearl, Bar Pitti & Happy Birthday Joe

Hey Readers,

Last week I was in SoHo to get a few more summer shirts (since I'm being photographed for this book I'm doing, I don't want to be wearing the same four shirts in every picture!) While down there, I decided to grab a quick lunch at Balthazar Bakery. That's a good place to go if you're on the run and don't want to spend a crazy amount of money (that's a tough neighborhood for not spending a ton of money); also, there's a nice bench outside.

So I bought a smoked salmon sandwich and a lemonade, as evidenced here:



As I unwrapped my sandwich, as you see here--



One of two chatty girls on the bench next to me said: "Excuse me, but what kind of sandwich is that?"

"It's a smoked salmon sandwich," I said.

"Mmm," one of them said. "We don't get sandwiches like that where I'm from!"

I started to eat. Then as I took a sip of my lemonade, the other chatty girl said: "Excuse me, we're foodie groupies, what are you drinking?"

"Lemonade."

"Ohhhhh."

I don't know why I find this story so compelling; surely there's not a lot of there there. But I like the part where the girl says "we're foodie groupies." I think that's a funny thing to say. At that moment, I was in one of those "don't talk to me moods" because I was hot and hungry and eager to move on. So I may have been a bit unfriendly. If those foodie groupies subscribe to my newsletter, sorry for not chatting you up more.

Now then, I ate something really amazing last week, something that when I think about it I get an instant craving. That's the bouillabaisse at Pearl Oyster Bar:



Behold! A veritable explosion of seafood on the plate. There's a lobster tail, cod, shrimp, mussels, clams--not to mention the obligatory toasted bread with aoili--and, beneath it all, the most intensely flavored seafood broth of your life. This is perfect summer food and an ideal match for the White Burgundy that Liz (the charming, chatty woman frequently behind the bar) recommended.

Last night, after seeing Todd Solondz's creepy "Life During Wartime," Craig and I went to one of our favorite outdoor dining destinations: Bar Pitti. After a weekend so hot and humid, I had to change clothes several times a day, last night's weather was surprisingly, blessedly cool and Bar Pitti was the place to enjoy that.

Both Craig and I got our favorite dish there--the Rigatoni Piti:



It has turkey sausage, which you'd think would be all dry and mealy but which is plump and juicy; it's in this mellow pinkish sauce (fattened, I'm sure, by cream) and topped, at the table, with Parmesan cheese. As a severe pasta lover, this is pretty much heaven.

Finally, my favorite coffee shop in the world, Joe on Waverly, celebrated its 7th birthday this week and I was there. Here's a special cake someone crafted jus for the occasion:



Here you can see a blurry picture of the owners, Jonathan (in the light blue shirt) and his sister Gabby:



They run a truly great coffee shop with truly great coffee. Congrats, guys, on a great 7 years!

Now I've got to start making some phone calls in anticipation of my trip to Chicago the 2nd week of August. If anyone here is friends with Rick Bayless, please let him know I'd love to cook with him for my book!

Have a great week.

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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