A.G. Newsletter #55: Georgetown Cupcakes, Father's Office & A Radicchio/Fennel Salad

Hello there newsletter friends,

Behold the mighty porchetta!

Yes, I made a porchetta at home last week for our friends Emily and Billy and it really was a major event. See how I did in this post I just posted: Porchetta at Home.

At that same dinner party, I served a radicchio/fennel salad (yes, I realize that's the 3rd thing listed in the subject heading but I've changed my mind and decided to write about it first). It's loosely based on a salad in Melissa Clark's new book:

Essentially, you just buy a few heads of radicchio (two should work for four people) and slice 'em up. Take a head of fennel, cut out the core, and slice that thinly too. Take a big handful of walnuts, toast them in a dry skillet until fragrant, then chop those up and add them to the bowl.

For the dressing (and here's where I depart from Melissa Clark's recipe, kind of doing my own Caesar salady kind of thing) I ground up two fat cloves of garlic and 2 anchovies in a mortar and pestle. To that I added a good amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a spoonful of mustard, so it'd emulsify. I whisked that together (with salt and pepper) as I drizzled in olive oil slowly; until I had a nice emulsified dressing.

I poured the dressing over the salad and tossed it all together with handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan. That's really the key ingredient here; it binds everything together and makes the salad a cohesive experience, rather than a bunch of disparate parts. The end result--with the bitter radicchio, the sweet fennel, and the garlicky dressing (plus umami from the anchovies and Parmesan)--is a great way to start a meal.

At that same meal, I made my favorite almond cake for dessert. But our friend (and dinner guest) Billy kindly sent a dessert our way too--cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C.:

Yes, those cupcakes traveled all the way from Washington, D.C. Apparently they're frozen first then shipped with ice packs all around to keep them cool. The cupcakes, when we ate them, were mighty tasty; mine had some kind of candy bar crumbled on top. So thanks, Billy, for that!

This Saturday we finally ate at a restaurant I'd been hearing a lot about since moving here--Father's Office:

There are actually two Father's Offices here in L.A., one in Santa Monica and one in Culver City. We went to the latter which is next to a really cool furniture store called H.D. Buttercup.

The set-up at Father's Office is a little tricky. You order your food at the bar, take a number and then find a place to sit. We got there early so didn't have too much of a problem; but as the night ticked on, it seemed like crowds of people were eyeing tables aggressively, like hawks waiting to pounce.

And while servers bring you your food, don't expect them to refill your water glasses, etc. For that, you have to go back to the crowded bar yourself.

So, yes, in terms of the set-up, I wasn't crazy about it. But in terms of the food...wowza. This place has much to recommend it.

I mean, look how we started our meal---that's bruschetta with lardo and sea urchin:

(Sorry for the flash pictures; the room was so pitch black you wouldn't have seen anything if I didn't use it. Normally I'd never take a flash picture in a restaurant, but this was more of a bar-like atmosphere with so many people jostling about, I knew it wouldn't bother anyone.)

Anyway, that sea urchin toast was intense. The lardo was a bit much--Craig couldn't finish his--but I finished mine and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

What we really came for, though, was the famous Father's Office burger (some say it's the best in L.A.). I think those who say that may have a point:

If you study the burger you'll see it's topped with a reddish brownish glistening concoction---that's what makes it taste so good. It's some kind of hickory sauce (mixed in with cooked onions?) that takes the burger on to a different plane of existence. And those fries weren't half bad. (We also ordered a side of Brussels sprouts which came with fried ham on top; this is not a place for dieters.)

The only thing I really did not enjoy was the dessert (which I'd heard about too). That's beer--Old Chub Scotch Ale--poured on top of maple bacon ice cream:

Although I knew what I was getting--beer mixed with ice cream--I wasn't prepared for the first bite which I positively hated. I couldn't explain why, but it tasted like rotten cheese mixed with beer. What I think I was tasting was the fermented quality of the beer mixed with the lactic creaminess of the ice cream; and those flavors got confused in my mouth. The more I ate and sipped, though, the more I started to appreciate the weird mix of flavors. Would I order it again? To quote Jessica Lange's daughter on "American Horror Story" when asked if she's a virgin: "HELL NO."

That's all for this week, folks! Check the blog later in the week for a post about Sidecars (which Craig learned how to make from the new P.D.T. book) and a post about Ricky's Fish Tacos.

Until next time....

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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