A.G. Newsletter #31: A Recipe Testing Bonanza, The Grey Dog, Amy's Bread for Dessert & Cowgirl for Brunch

Hey Newsletter Subscribers,

I'm sitting at my desk, in my avocado-colored bedroom, and right above me, taped to the wall, are three sheets of paper. At the top of the left-most piece of paper it says "Recipe Testing Schedule" and right below that it says "Friday March 18th, 2011" and below that are four dishes listed.

And so it was that this past Friday, I cooked those four dishes. Then on Saturday I cooked the Saturday dishes (there were three of them.) Sunday was supposed to be my day off, but I caught up on two dishes I'd missed from the week before.

All of last week I cooked three to four dishes a night and I'll be doing that until Sunday, April 10th when I'll cook four dishes and call myself done. But I won't really be done! Then, after I turn the manuscript in on April 15th, I'll re-cook any of the dishes that didn't come out perfect the first time.

This, my friends, is what's known as recipe testing and I'm deep in the thick of it. You won't believe what a machine I've become in the kitchen: dishes get prepped, cooked and everything gets cleaned up before you can bat an eye. I almost feel like I'm running a restaurant, except if I were running a restaurant I'd actually be making money. As it is, I'm spending money out the wazoo on ingredients!

But it's all to serve a large goal: to write a very awesome cookbook that you will use and use and use and you'll say: "Oh, Adam, how did you get the recipes to work so good?" And I'll have a copy of this newsletter printed out in my pocket and I'll hand it to you and send you on your merry way.

So that's 99% of my life right now. 99.99% of my life.

Otherwise, I ate this tuna sandwich at The Grey Dog last week:

I've never really enjoyed The Grey Dog. I like the atmosphere, which instantly transports you to your favorite college coffee shop, but the food is too expensive for what it is. Like the tuna sandwich I had, which was, admittedly, humongous, was $10 with tax. And I could make a much better one at home.

Plus I was sitting next to this creepy woman who was working intensely on her laptop and kept giving me dirty looks. I couldn't wait to get out of there.

* * * *

On Saturday, after I tested those four recipes, we went with our friends Mark & Diana to see Laurie Metcalf (Aunt Jackie from "Roseanne," one of my all-time favorite TV shows) in a play called "The Other Place" at the Lucille Lortel Theater.

It was an excellent performance in a pretty-ok play. Afterwards, we wanted to get dessert and coffee so we could pick the play apart, but Rocco's--the Italian pastry shop on Bleecker--was jam-packed. I've never seen that place so crowded.

Diana had the idea to go across the street to Amy's Bread. I almost always think of Amy's Bread as a place to grab a sandwich at lunch, but, actually, it's a good place to pop-in for dessert. Look at the cakes and decaf coffee we enjoyed:

On the left, that's a perfect slice of yellow cake with milk chocolate icing; Mark & Diana shared a banana cake. Here's Craig and Diana with their desserts:

Craig washed his cake down with a ROOT BEER. Talk about a sugar rush!

Finally, yesterday I broke a recent trend of cooking every weekend brunch at home (it's so much cheaper and more satisfying than standing in crazy lines and spending exorbitant amounts of money on food you can make easily yourself), saying to Craig that it'd be nice to go somewhere and have someone else cook the brunch, after all the cooking I've been doing.

So we tried to go to The New French, one of my favoriter places in the neighborhood, but there was a wait. So we went across the street (hey, this is a pattern! Amy's is across the street from Rocco's!) to The Cowgirl Hall of Fame where there wasn't a wait.

Cowgirl is a fun place and there was lots of sunlight streaming into the room where we sat. My only complaint is that in a gigantic room of people, there was only one waitress working that whole room. I liked her a lot but I felt bad for her. I also felt bad for myself because I really wanted a mug of coffee. But it came eventually, as did this breakfast of eggs scrambled with cheese and topped with a tomatillo salsa:

The biscuit that came on the side was slightly soulless, even moreso when I added the jelly from one of those square plastic jelly containers you get at a diner. But did I have to cook any of this? Not at all! So I was happy.

Ok, folks, don't forget to check my blog. Remember that post I did last week about chili salt and pickle juice in your beer? I got an e-mail from someone who works for Zak Pelaccio who confirmed my suspicions that it WAS originally lime juice and chili salt! But the pickle juice still tasted good.

That's it for this week.... have a good one!

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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