A.G. Newsletter #29: The Return of The Newsletter, The Flu, Chennai Garden, Kin Shop & Compost Cookies on New Year's

A.G. Newsletter #29: The Return of The Newsletter, The Flu, Chennai Garden, Kin Shop & Compost Cookies on New Year's

Hey Strangers,

Remember me? Your old friend The Amateur Gourmet?

Yes, I know I've been neglecting you, my newsletter-reading audience, since December. I have a few reasons for that:

(1) I was traveling! I went to Portland (see this post), Seattle (see this post about Archie McPhee's) & Bellingham (see Craig's dad's legendary prime rib);

(2) I got a terrible flu (more on that in a second);


(3) I recently switched to a new ad network, BlogHer, where I get paid based on my blog traffic; so I'm trying to update my blog more often. Therefore, subjects that would formerly find their way into my newsletter are now finding their way on to my blog. I think that's a good thing--I am, first and foremost, a blogger after all. But that doesn't mean I'm giving up on YOU, you loyal newsletter readers. All it means is that I probably won't send this out on a weekly basis. I'll wait for newsletter-worthy material to build up and when I have enough material to write a newsletter, I'll send it out. Sound good to you?

So let's get to it....

About that flu. It was terrible! I woke up on a Monday morning completely stricken and couldn't move. Craig kindly bought me chicken noodle soup from Citarella and Gatorade:

I spent my time in bed reading Patti Smith's memoir "Just Kids" and, I have to tell you, that's an incredible book. It won the National Book Award and totally deserved it. Definitely check it out.

After two full days in bed, on Wednesday, I had an intense craving for a meatball hero. It was very strange. People on Twitter (follow me!) told me that it was because my body was craving energy; and so, I listened to my body, and after my friend and Twitter follower Kenny Mellman suggested that a place near me called "Out of the Kitchen" has meatball heros and delivers, all I had to do was pick up the phone and there it was (I love New York):

Was it a good meatball hero? No, I have to say, not really. The meatballs were a bit mealy. But, frankly, I didn't care: it totally hit the spot. And I liked the salad and Balsamic dressing that came with it. And hours after eating this, I felt well enough to finally leave the apartment! So thank you, Kenny Mellman, for being my meatball hero hero.

* * * * *

I thought I'd try that asterisk thing where you divide your newsletter up with asterisks so people who are just scanning can scan to the next subject. It's very professional!

* * * * *

Now then, I had a bad experience last week at a restaurant called The Breslin in New York. My friend D.J. Dan Fortune invited me and Craig and a few other friends to Johnny Weir's book launch party which he was providing the music for. When these friends--our friends Morgan and Phil & our friend Chris--asked where we should all meet for dinner, I suggested The Breslin because it was close to where we were going.

When we showed up at The Breslin, Morgan had already approached the hostess stand where they took his name told him 20 minutes.

"Wow," I said. "That's awesome. Usually the wait here is hours long."

We waited the 20 minutes, chitting and chatting amongst the crowds of people storming in. At the 25 minute mark, I approached the hostess stand at Morgan's urging.

"Hi," I said. "Just checking on our table." I gave the name.

"Oh ya," said the hostess, "I told your friend it would be 20 minutes but that's when we had one of our communal table open. But now that table's taken so it's going to be another hour and a half."


I was really mad (Eater picked up the story after I Tweeted about it) because they totally wasted our time. (If they had said 90 minutes when we walked in, we would have left instantly and held no grudges.) But to have us stand there like idiots for 25 minutes when we were told 20 and then, unapologetically, tack on another 90 minutes is totally ridiculous. It'll be a long time before I go back.

But the story has a happy ending: we wandered a few blocks east to one of my favorite kosher vegetarian Indian restaurants in New York, Chennai Garden (here's an old post of mine from 2004 about it.)

There's Morgan and Phil on their side of the table:

And here's Chris with Craig (don't you like Craig's new sweater?):

As for the food, I let Morgan and Chris do the ordering (when it comes to Indian food, I really like it all; I'll scoop up a big bowl of almost anything with my naan.) Here's all the food we ordered, don't ask me what it was:

But it was all delicious! Next time you go to a Johnny Weir book party, don't go to the Breslin first, go to Chennai Garden.

* * * * *

Funny enough, the night before, I'd made Indian food for dinner myself. The dish? Floyd Cardoz's Bombay chicken curry, the one from this old post:

Looks pretty tasty, right? And it's really not that hard to make. I served it with naan I bought at Gourmet Garage and reheated in the oven.

* * * * *

Last week, I met my friend Patty for lunch at Harold Dieterle's new restaurant, Kin Shop, which was given two stars in The New York Times.

As we negotiated the menu we devised various scenarios ("You order the duck salad and I'll order these noodles") until we decided the fairest and simplest solution was just to each order the prix fixe menu. That menu came with a salad featuring Asian pear, roasted squash and a nicely exotic pungent dressing:

The entree was wonton noodles with sausage and broccoli rabe:

'Twas tasty! Patty and I agreed that the best part was the sausage, which, we both felt, was homemade. Patty, who's traveled in Thailand (see this old post, "Patty Eats Thailand") says that sausage is a big part of the cuisine there. So this dish was the real deal.

Finally, the prix fixe menu comes with ice cream. They were out of kaffir lime leaf ice cream (one that we ordered), so we shared Thai iced tea ice cream and calamansi sorbet which, we learned, is a Thai citrus fruit that tastes like a cross between a lime and a tangerine. Here's Patty modeling both options:

Both were tasty. The Thai Iced Tea was more decadent, the calamansi more refreshing. Choose accordingly.

* * * * *

Finally, let's rewind a bit to New Year's Eve. Did you have a good one? We ended up at a dinner party at a friend of a friend's apartment and it was my job to bring the dessert. So, that day, I made compost cookie batter (recipe here), froze the scooped cookies on cookie sheets, put them in a freezer bag and baked them later at the party:

They were a big hit! So that's a good thing to keep in mind if you're ever bringing dessert to a dinner party; remember my Revelations of the Kitchen Freezer. The freezer is your friend. Here's Craig with a sparkler:

Hope you all had a good New Year's too!

So, as stated earlier, I can't promise that I'll see you back here next week, but who knows? Actually, I do know: next week I'm traveling to Atlanta for my cookbook so I definitely won't see you back here next week. But I'll see you soon. And, if you're bored, why not check out my blog? It's how you met me in the first place.

Have a great week.

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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