A.G. Newsletter #19: I'm Back, Book Updates, Blue Hill Stone Barns, Lincoln, The Spot & Bowls

A.G. Newsletter #20: I'm Back! Book Updates, Blue Hill Stone Barns, Lincoln, The Spot & Bowls

Hey Readers,

The last we spoke, back in August, I wrote you a newsletter called "In The Weeds" and I told you that I needed to give the newsletters a rest, for a bit, as I assembled the first half of my cookbook manuscript. That first half was due this past Friday, October 15th, and here she is in all her glory:

Yes that's just HALF of my cookbook; 300 some-odd pages. A lot of it has to do with spacing (each recipe on a separate page, each essay and so forth) but still, it was a lot of work. And I'm really proud of it, so far; I think you're going to love it when it comes out in Spring 2012. But in the meantime, I have a little window--while my editor reads it over--to resume my newsletters and to get back to blogging. So here we go!

First things first, a few weeks ago I wrote a post called "It Gets Better (Cooking For My Boyfriend and Our Families)" that received a really positive response. It was about my parents meeting Craig's parents for the first time; I wrote about it in the context of the recent spate of teen gay suicides and, using Dan Savage's meme, promised any tortured, gay teen readers that it, indeed, gets better.

Well, as if to prove the point, the next night (after the dinner I made of Caesar salad, short ribs, polenta and flourless chocolate cake) we went to Blue Hill Stone Barns, one of my favorite restaurants in the world. Here are some pictures of us walking around. (If you go, make sure to go early so you can walk around the grounds during daylight!)

This is Craig and his mom with some gourds:

A bunch of turkeys fattening up for Thanksgiving:

A sign for pigs (this is now my desktop image):

And my parents:

The meal, as expected, was extraordinary. I didn't photograph each course as I have in the past--see this post and this post--but we overdid it with the 8-course tasting menu. They sent over all these little bites at first and by the end, we had to roll ourselves out of there we were so stuffed. But it was a beautiful evening and the perfect follow-up to the home cooked meal from the night before.

Now, more recently, I went with my parents to a hot new restaurant uptown in Lincoln Center. Jonathan Benno, Thomas Keller's right-hand man at Per Se (see my Per Se post), has struck out on his own and opened his own place, Lincoln. Situated right next to the Vivian Beaumont theater (where "South Pacific" had played until recently), the restaurant is absolutely breathtaking. The kitchen is on full display behind a big glass wall:

Everything that came out of it was top-notch. Architectural crackers:

A briny pasta of sea urchin, crab and sea beans:

A sausage-wrapped lamb chop so tender it defied the laws of physics:

And a tartufo with all kinds of unusual flavors:

The restaurant is a clear winner and now's the time to go, before it gets its inevitable 3 stars from The New York Times (the "business casual" dress code keeps it out of 4-star territory). Why not go before or after the opera? That's what I call a first class date night.

Finally, on the restaurant front, Craig was in Tacoma, Washington and L.A. this past week/weekend (a film festival and business meetings) so I became the ward of our friends Mark and Diana who took me out to our favorite Chinese staple, Grand Sichuan, and then next door to Pichet Ong's dessert spot, The Spot.

Man, this is another great evening: Grand Sichuan for dinner and dessert at The Spot. For $21, you get three fancy, shmancy desserts that rivaled all of the desserts we had at Lincoln and Blue Hill Stone Barns.

Best of all was this tapioca pudding with pomegranate seeds on the bottom and a pomegranate ice ream on top:

I've never made tapioca pudding at home, but now I'm inspired.

Hey! I need new bowls. And new plates. What do you think of these from Sur La Table?

I think they may be a bit too frou-frou for my tastes, but I like that they're warm. My search continues.

On a final note, we secretly launched a "Not Food" page on my site. It's not official yet but if you want to read what I have to say about things that aren't food related, click here.

And that's it for my big return to the newsletter! Thanks for your patience, waiting desperately, as you were, for my next dispatch. I'm going to keep this up for as long as I can until the 2nd half of the book is due.

Until next week....

Your friend,
(The Amateur Gourmet)

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