A.G. Newsletter #143: Australia, Thanksgiving Tips, Goldie's, Garrett M., One Pot Cacio e Pepe, Cracked Lens, Owl Cupcakes & Lolita's New Pal



Why hello there,

It's been ages! Last we spoke, I was on the verge of leaving for Australia--a week in Perth and three days in Sydney--and if you didn't follow along on my blog, you missed pictures from the Sydney Airport, Kanga Bangas on the Beach, the first (and possibly only) helicopter ride of my life, my pigging out at the Fremantle Markets, a trip to an Australian supermarket, an Australian-style burger (with beets and an egg), oyster-shucking lessons, eating bugs (yes, bugs, though it was also my best meal of 2013), and--finally--how I spent 48 hours in Sydney. Here's a picture of that:



See, you missed a lot!

Then, once I got back, I started cooking Thanksgiving food so you'd have some recipes to use tomorrow. In case you don't have your menu planned (and I suppose one or two of you may be in that camp), consider braising turkey legs and thighs instead of making the white meat, improvise a cranberry sauce with my post Cranberry Sauce 101 and finally--and most impressively--make this Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake for dessert. Your guests will rave:



Now, on to newsletter business....

Right before I left for Australia, I joined my friend Nick for lunch at a place in West Hollywood called Goldie's. We both decided to eat healthy, so here's Nick with his avocado toast:



And here's my quinoa salad with lots of buried roasted vegetables (including the carrot tops which were a little unpleasant to eat):



It's hard to judge a restaurant when all you order there are the healthiest things on the menu. So I won't render an opinion here and just say, simply, that I'd like to go back and eat like a pig.

Around the time I was leaving for Australia, one Garrett McCord of the blog Vanilla Garlic was driving down to L.A. from Sacramento to promote his new awesome cookbook, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese. Even though we've both been blogging for years and years, we've never met, so I suggested he come drop off a cookbook at the Village Bakery near where I live in Atwater Village. He was a little zonked from his 9 hour drive, but here he is, the cookbook author himself delivering his book in the flesh:



Thanks for the book, Garrett. Can't wait to cook from it!

Now fast forward a few weeks: Australia happens. I eat a kangaroo. I see Paul Hogan on a T.V. talk show (really, that happens). Then I'm back in L.A., cooking up a storm and on Wednesday night I go do an event at Cal State where I speak to 9 students about my food blog but, really, all they want to know about is what it was like to meet Rachael Ray. Afterwards, I come home and decide I want to make Cacio e Pepe but I don't want to dirty tons of dishes.

So what do I do? I attempt a one-pot cacio e pepe. I boil the pasta and when it's just al dente, I scoop out a cup of the pasta water, then drain the rest in the sink just by holding back the pasta with the lid (don't want to dirty a strainer). Then, in the pot, I add lots of pepper and a pat of butter:



Turned up the heat and cooked until the butter was absorbed and the rest of the liquid. (I ended up not using the pasta cooking water in the mug, but if the pan was dry I would've added it.) At the very end, I added lots of Pecorino cheese and voila, one-pot Cacio e Pepe:



The next day, when I was making all that Thanksgiving food, I went to take a picture of something and my strap got caught on the counter and my whole SLR camera went crashing to the floor. I am now the proud possessor of a cracked lens:



(I joked that this was probably the result of mocking Martha Stewart's food photography on Twitter. That woman has supernatural powers, methinks.)

One thing I love about The Village Bakery (where I met Garrett) is that they make adorable seasonal cookies and cupcakes like Halloween cookies, Thanksgiving cookies, and these lovable owl cupcakes:



The only bad part is that they make you feel kind of guilty as you eat them:



Finally, on Sunday morning I woke up at 6 AM because Craig was annoyed that Lolita was mewling for food, so he did the thing where he pretends to hit her with a pillow to make her skitter away. Only, at this early hour, he hit ME with the pillow and I woke up from the deepest sleep of my life ready to hit him with more than a pillow.

I went to the couch, unable to fall back asleep, and started watching Julia Child on PBS via the new Apple TV app and noticed that Lolita was acting a little crazy near the window. She was breathing rapidly and pawing up at it. Trying to figure out what was up, I glanced outside and saw that our neighbor's cat, Sunshine, had discovered Lolita and Lolita, who hasn't seen another cat in over a decade, was excited beyond belief. Here's a photo of the encounter:



That's all for this week, folks!

Hope Thanksgiving goes off without a hitch for you tomorrow and, if you have any trouble or questions, feel free to ask me over Twitter. Here's a picture of the Friendsgiving I cooked all that food for last week:



Until next time....

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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