A.G. Newsletter #17: How Banners Are Made, Snack Taverna, Purple Yam, & Recette

Hey Gang,

First things first: check out the new banner on the site, "THE ATTACK OF THE HEIRLOOM TOMATOES!" [Click here and it should load up.]

I'm so lucky to have such a talented illustrator like Lindy Groening (cousin of Matt Groening) doing these pictures. At the end of every month, as the new month nears, Lindy writes me and asks me if I have any ideas for the next month's banner. We brainstorm, then she sends me a sketch.

The banner this month began with an e-mail from Lindy suggesting either a tropical theme or a tomato theme for August. "Maybe with a touch of 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes?'" she proposed.

I told her I loved "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" and said maybe we could make it "Attack of the Heirloom Tomatoes"?

Soon after, Lindy sent me this sketch (which she warned me was "super rough"):

I wrote back that I liked it but that I wanted something a little brighter because it's August. I sent her the following image I found on Google images searching for vintage horror movie pictures:

From that she derived the banner that's now on the site.

Isn't that a beautiful process? Did you have any idea that so much thought went into the banners on my blog? I bet you didn't. Now you must feel like a total fool.

It's ok, though, because I'm a total fool for the Greek salad at Snack Taverna (how's that for a transition?)

Check out this summery work of art:

As I once wrote in a post titled "Greek Salad," I'm something of an expert on the subject.

Well, not a total expert, but I have been to Greece and the Greek salads I ate there looked EXACTLY like the one you see above: no lettuce, just tomatoes, cucumbers and olives (sometimes green peppers too) topped with a big hunk of feta, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano. On a hot summer day, it's something of a perfect lunch.

And speaking of a perfect lunch (another great transition!) we had a picnic in Prospect Park on Saturday with our friends Mark, Diana, Patty & Lauren. Everyone brought something (Mark & Diana: pulled pork sandwiches; Lauren & Patty: potato salad & coleslaw; Me: ratatouille....)

The ratatouille was actually left over from a dinner party I made on Friday night, but nobody needed to know that. (Look for a ratatouille recipe on the blog this week.)

It was a lovely day in the park and nice to be back in Brooklyn. Afterwards, we followed Patty and Lauren back to their 'hood--Ditmas Park--and ate dinner at their local Filipino restaurant, Purple Yam.

The restaurant is a reincarnation of a restaurant I once visited with Patty in SoHo called Cendrillon (see this old post).

That restaurant's no longer there, but many of its dishes survive at Purple Yam. The two best, in my opinion, are the lumpia:

It's basically a vegetarian Filipino burrito: Napa cabbage, leeks and mushrooms in a rice crepe. But the flavors are both delicate and pronounced; the textures are just crunchy enough and the peanut sauce on top gives it real weight.

The other great dish, the one that's not to be missed, is the Chicken Adobo:

That's a truly terrible picture but its terribleness is in inverse proportion to the dish's awesomeness. Think about it: chicken browned in fat (so the skin takes on a deep, brown caramelization) and deglazed with vinegar. Lots of vinegar. So the finished dish is chickeny and zippy as all Hell; I could've eaten the whole bowl.

The 3rd best dish is the goat curry. Don't miss that either.

After dinner, we went back to Patty & Lauren's and watched "The Omen." Have you ever seen that? I hadn't. I wasn't that scared but I was entertained; remind me never to have a baby in Rome.

Finally, yesterday morning, I dragged Craig to Recette in the West Village because I'd read good things. Craig was worried it'd be a rip-off (he's really taken to Good on Greenwich because of the value.) I insisted that all the prices were the same.

For the most part the prices WERE the same and the food was really interesting. Well my food was interesting. I had a PB&J stuffed Pain Perdue:

Isn't that crazy looking? It was this huge half-loaf of bread, stuffed with a layer of peanut butter and jelly and fried in butter. Kind of intense (but tasty; and on the plate was an Earl Gray jam. That made it even better.)

Craig wasn't in love with his eggs, bacon or duck fat fried fingerlings:

In fact, he had to ask for salt for the eggs because they were so under-seasoned.

But the straw that broke the camel's back was the coffee. Craig ordered a cup of coffee for himself; nothing too exciting about that. The waitress brought out a mini French press, as you can see here:

When the bill came, he was charged $7 for coffee.

Now I get that a French press is fancier than a normal cup of coffee and that there's two cups worth of coffee in there. But we both found that a little sneaky and upselly to respond to a customer's request for a cup of coffee with something that costs $7.

That said, I'm anxious to go back to Recette for dinner: I have a feeling that's the time to go.

Ok folks: a busy week ahead. I've got lots of planning and chef lining-up to do before I go to Chicago next week.

Until then!

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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