I’m sitting on a bench in the West Village, waiting for Craig to finish editing, and since I have some time to kill I’m going to tell you a story about something that happened to me a few weeks ago. I was at a party in West Hollywood on the top of a building and Craig, and several of our friends, had made their way up to the roof. I’d just poured myself a plastic cup of red wine and wasn’t sure what to do, so I put the plastic cup in my mouth, biting the lip, and started my way up the ladder. At some point, I wanted to see how much further I had to go, and–like a modern day CARRIE–I lifted my head up and completely doused myself with cheap Pinot Noir. I had to walk through a room of attractive strangers searching for paper towels while dripping purple/red fluid.
The moral of the story is: never leave home.
I’m a big fan of Simply Ming on PBS (in fact, I’m just a big fan of cooking shows on PBS in general).
But Simply Ming seems to be one of the only platforms on TV where real, heavyweight chefs can come and showcase a dish (Daniel Boulud and Shaun Hergatt were recent guests). And he always starts the show with a cocktail, usually something simple and elegantly-made, which he offers to the guest before they get cooking. When pastry chef extraordinaire Johnny Iuzzini was on the show recently, Ming made him one of his favorite cocktails–a cocktail that Johnny said he always orders at a new bar to see if they make it right–a simple daiquiri with white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup.
Something about that combo really intrigued me (and also the fact that it’s a classic cocktail) so the next time I was at Barkeep in Silverlake, I picked up a bottle of white rum, the one you see at the top of this post. I had the limes, I had the sugar and water, I also had (foreboding music) the cocktail shaker.
My friend Ryan O’Connell is one of my favorite people. If you don’t know who he is, hop on to Amazon now and check out his book, I’m Special, and come back here once you’ve bought it and read it. Not only did he write that book, but now he’s writing for fall’s most anticipated TV show: the reboot of Will & Grace. So Ryan’s a talented guy who has great taste in wine and even better taste in dinner parties: he loves my cooking. For his birthday, I told him I’d make him a dinner and he could choose the menu. He thought on it and came back with “spaghetti and meatballs, because I know you’ll do it really, really well.” His boyfriend Jonathan loves my Caesar salad, so we added that to the menu. Later I e-mailed to query about his favorite desserts and he wrote back: “My fave desserts are chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, and strawberry shortcake.” I combined a little from Column A and a little from Column B and chose my favorite dinner party staple, this flourless chocolate cake.
Everyone (Ryan, Jonathan, and our mutual friends Lara, Graydon, and Kyle) were all set to come over on Saturday night at 7:30 PM. So on Saturday morning, I set out for Gelson’s to get started on my food shopping when I had an idea: what if I documented the whole thing, from the food shopping in the morning to the moment everyone leaves at the end of the night? Sort of a timeline of how I pull off a dinner party? Wouldn’t that be an epic, potentially useful post for people who want to pull off similar dinner parties? Well, either way, I did it, so without further ado, I present: a timeline of how I pulled off Ryan’s Birthday Dinner.
I’ve been really into tomatoes this summer. Every Sunday I’ve been going to the Atwater Village Farmer’s Market, buying some juicy heirlooms, and using them in sandwiches, salads, tomato baths, you get the idea. You might think that now that August is over, tomato season is on the way out… but you’d be wrong! Most chefs agree that the best tomatoes come in September and October. We’re entering PEAK tomato season.
So why am I sharing a recipe for a soup made with canned tomatoes? Answer: sometimes, even in peak tomato season, you feel a little fresh tomato fatigue. Just the words “farmer’s market” and “heirloom tomato” sound annoying on a Sunday morning when you’re hungover, laying on the couch, and happy to be watching PBS cooking shows while pretending to read The New York Times. When dinner rolls around, you don’t have anything except a few cans of tomatoes, an onion, garlic, and that leftover bread from a few days ago. That’s when PAPPA AL POMODORO comes to the rescue.
If you had trouble loading up the blog this week, that’s because, in my naiveté, I thought I could just tear everything down without any consequences. Turns out: I screwed something up with the server and the blog stopped loading for most people. BUT! Now we’re on a new server and things should be working great. So get ready for that soup that I promised.
Recently, I revived (and redesigned) my Hey, Adam Roberts blog, the blog I created when, two years ago, I got my first job as a TV writer and decided to throw in the towel as a food blogger. I wrote a post called “Blogging in 2017,” linked to it on Facebook, and suddenly got this huge gush of support from readers who’d been crouching in the dark, waiting for just such a dispatch. Turns out, people missed my blogging voice. That was very nice to hear. I resolved to keep blogging on Hey, Adam Roberts.
The next post I was going to write was, in fact, a recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro soup. I was all set to type it up and everything and then I remembered something: I have a food blog. A blog that I created (back in 2004!) to share just such recipes and cooking experiences and all other things related to food. Why would I put a recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro soup on a not-food blog? That wouldn’t make any sense!
I’m no oatmeal expert, but I do make a lot of oatmeal. OK, maybe I am an oatmeal expert.
For a while, I was toasting the oats in butter (a trick I once wrote about here) which kind of makes the oatmeal taste like buttered popcorn. When I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll cook Irish oats and old-fashioned oats in a combination of whole milk and water, à la April Bloomfield’s English porridge. Lately, though, I’ve been keeping my oatmeal healthy: just water and then a few flavor-enhancing ingredients that make it feel special without making it too sugary or fatty.
Mushrooms are scary. Eat the wrong one, and it can kill you or make you think you’re Jesus (luckily, if you think you’re Jesus and it kills you, you can raise yourself from the dead). As a child, I absolutely loathed raw mushrooms in salads at pizza restaurants. That was my first impression of mushrooms: these spongy, weird, white things that ruin a very crisp experience. Blech.