Five Important Moments From 2005 As Interpreted By Eggs in Lisa’s Microwave

Ladies and gentlemen, gather around, please. The year is drawing to a close. Tomorrow night, in fact, a great ball will drop in Times Square and we’ll ring in a New Year. Before that happens, shouldn’t we reflect on the year that’s passed? News shows do it, so why can’t eggs in my friend Lisa’s microwave? It is with a great sense of honor, then, that Lisa and I present to you: “Five Important Moments From 2005 As Interpreted By Eggs in Lisa’s Microwave.”

To begin with, here is Lisa’s microwave:

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It is silvery and grand and his hamburger buns on top of it: a perfect proscenium for our performance. To witness the eggs in each of their tableaus, simply click the microwaves ahead. It couldn’t be easier or more pleasurable. Let’s proceed, shall we?

Five Important Moments from 2005…

1. Natural Disasters Plague the Planet

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2. The Pope Dies

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3. Kate Moss is Caught Doing Drugs in London

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4. Harold Pinter Wins the Nobel Prize in Literature

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5. Brokeback Mountain Opens

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And that’s it! The five most important moments in 2005. Hope everyone has a great New Year’s, be safe, and I’ll see you all again in 2006!

Hey Mama, Nice Empanada

“What is an empanada?”

This question lingered over Lisa and I like a thought bubble in a New Yorker cartoon. “I think it’s like a doughy packet,” I said. “Stuffed with stuff.” “Like an eggroll?” Lisa queried. “Yes, sort of like an eggroll.”

This was the talk on the way to Empanada Mama, just a few blocks away from where Lisa lives in Hell’s Kitchen:

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On the flight to Paris, I read the Wednesday Food Section (like I usually do) and studied with interest this review by Peter Meehan because the place in question was so close to Lisa…

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Revelations of the Oven Thermometer

The Revelation of The Amateur Gourmet, which his new oven thermometer gave unto him, to shew unto his readers a new way of baking: blessed is he that readeth, and they that readeth will baketh better forevereth more…

For I, The Amateur Gourmet, have seen the light. Many a baker, many a cookbook has told me to purchase an oven thermometer. My attitude’s been similar to that of the lookout at Pearl Harbor who was told “watch for planes.” “Sure, sure,” he probably thought. “I’ll watch for planes.” Well we know what happened to him. He starred in a movie with Ben Affleck and Josh Harnett. Me? I’ve been cooking at the wrong temperature for more than a year now.

Last night I roasted chicken (see post below) and I wanted the oven at 425. I inserted the oven thermometer:

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And turned the oven on to 425.

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I waited til the timer went off telling me it was preheated and I checked the oven thermometer:

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Can you see that? I made the picture small cause it’s an ugly picture. Ok I’ll make it bigger:

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400.

Ok, ok, so maybe it just needs more time. I waited another 10 minutes. Still at 400.

So let me get this straight: I heated my oven to 425 but my oven’s 425 is really 400?

I reset the oven for 450 and waited. The thermometer went up 415. I raised it to 470 and finally the thermometer read 425.

This is the revelation of the oven thermometer: your oven temperature is not what you think it is. Go forth and purchase an oven thermometer and let the light of truth shine, finally, into your oven. The time is at hand.

Ven’ll You Roast Fennel?

The Barefoot Contessa, that wily vixen, she’s just so smart. She told me (via her TV show) to roast fennel and did I listen? Never. “The fennel,” she says, “gets caramelized as it roasts and it’s so delicious.” Did I heed her advice? Not at all.

Until yesterday. Yesterday I was roasting chicken and instead of buying potatoes I decided to buy fennel:

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Love her or hate her, you can’t say Ina’s recipes aren’t user friendly. To roast the fennel: just cut off the stems, slice the fennel in half length-wise, put the cut side down and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Toss on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper, throw in the oven with the chicken, flip the fennel at 30 minutes and another 30 minutes later sprinkle with some parmesan, roast 5 minutes more and you have this:

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Golden, caramelized, scrumptious roasted fennel. It’s surprisingly sweet and yet savory enough to complement any main course, like the chicken I roasted along with it. So next time you’re in the supermarket and you see fennel, why not pick some up? As Ina says: “It’s gonna be really good.”

The Paris Wrap-Up

I haven’t updated much since I got back for two main reasons: (1) I have a nasty cold; and (2) I really liked that the main page was completely filled with my Paris posts and videos for latecomers to graze over. But now that grazing time’s over, I thought I’d do a wrap-up. Mainly this is written to those who wrote or left comments saying they’re going to Paris soon and are using my posts for suggestions. For everyone else, perhaps one day you’ll go and try these places too. It’s not as impossible as you might think. If I were you, I’d keep checking the Virgin Vacations site. The package we were on was $449 for round-trip airfare and 5 nights at a hotel. True, the hotel wasn’t luxurious or anything but it was totally fine and well-worth it for the days we spent in Paris.

Ok, so now for my round up. A few things. This is an idiosyncratic list. Meaning: these aren’t Michelin choices, they’re based on my experiences and tastes. In fact, all five restaurants are quite reasonable money-wise and better for students than, say, Ivana Trump. For the glitterati, go to Joel Robuchon—he’ll turn you away and you’ll love it. Everyone else, follow me!

Adam’s Top Five Favorite Meals in Paris

[Note: to read detailed accounts of these meals, just click through the Ah, Paris archive.]

1. Chez Omar. Recommended by David Lebovitz, this was the meal John desires for his final meal should he ever be executed. I agree. Well. If the meal had to be from Paris, then yes: probably this. Just simple, classic French dishes in a boisterous, authentically Parisian environment. The steak frites had us floating out of our booth on wings of meaty ecstasy. And all very reasonable.

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2. L’As Du Fallafel. When readers recommended I try fallafel in Paris I thought they were out of their heads. “Go to Paris for fallafel? Why that’s absurd!” said my thought bubble. But having been to L’As and having discovered Le Marais, I am converted. In fact, I get hunger pangs just thinking about that overstuffed pita drenched in sauce. With fries on the side and a perfectly tart lemonade, this is a meal you shouldn’t miss.

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3. Au Gourmand. This place is the fanciest of the bunch but it’s also the cutest. They’re so eager to please and the food’s just dynamite. Patricia Wells recommended it and I second that recommendation. It’s on the left bank so this can be your left bank day: see Shakespeare & Co., explore Luxembourg Gardens and then lunch here. And don’t miss the french toast dessert, you’ll cry it’s so good.

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4. Chez Paul. Here’s where David took me for lunch on the day we met. You walk in and the room’s alive, just like it is at Chez Omar only a bit cozier here. This, you feel, is where real Parisians eat and now you’re one of them. Start with the frisee and lardons salad (if you don’t fear choking) and then feast on a pot-au-feau; a meat-lover’s dream come true, steaming in its aromatic broth, presented with coarse salt and spicy mustard. Get a carafe of wine and you’ll be eating pretty.

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5. Le Clou. This one’s more a sentimental choice for me, so don’t go out of your way to eat here: it’s just the place I ate my first (and last) night in Paris right near my 17th arron. hotel. The food’s lovely and the environment’s really friendly, if a tiny bit trendy. Should you be in the neighborhood, check it out. Have the venison, it’s Bambi-riffic.

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And as for all the non-meal places we noshed? Here’s a list for that!

Adam’s Top Five Favorite Bites in Paris

1. Pierre Herme. When pastries die and go to heaven they are judged and if they are judged well they are reborn on the shelves of Pierre Herme. This is the most beautiful, exciting, lavish pastry shop I’ve ever visited. The passion fruit chocolate pop I sampled (you can watch me eating it in the first Paris film) is an edible thesis on the existence of a higher being, or at least a higher pastry maker who can take simple ingredients and explode them into something extraordinary. Not to be missed.

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2. Lauderee. Debates ensue about the best macaroon in Paris, but for my money sitting on the 2nd floor of the Lauderee near the Opera station (there are a few Lauderees) eating macaroons and sipping tea confirmed my belief that deep down in my soul is an old lady trying to break free. Lauderee let my old lady shine and if I’m ever in Paris again, I know I’m going back. Get the macaroon sampler–you get to try them all (though it is a bit pricey. But my old lady’s rich.)

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3. Poilane. Best bread in Paris? That’s what they say. But John’s croissant and my pain chocolat were top-notch. If you’re nearby, stop in and sniff the air, admire the breadwork (there’s a bread chandelier and a bread mosaic on the wall) and buy something to taste and appreciate. Apparently, you can even see the ovens if you ask. In case you don’t know the French it’s: “Voulez vous coucher avec moi.”

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4. Berthillion. I don’t regret going in winter, but should you go in spring or summer you have no excuse not to visit Ile. St. Louis (right behind Notre Dame) to stroll past the stores and specialty shops and then to stop for ice cream at Berthillion. Try the honey nougat or prune armagnac or one of the other unusual flavors. If you’re feeling decadent ask for whipped cream and a feather boa. Then sashay out without paying your check. Just kidding: pay your check and then sashay out.

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5. La Grande Epicerie. If you like shopping, check out Le Bon Marche and then stop into La Grand Epicerie just to see a high-end Paris supermarket and to try one of the pastries from the pastry case right near the front. I had a cannelle and I don’t regret it. Neither will you.

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Hope all of this has inspired you to consider a trip to Paris! Remember: all it took was a whim and a click of a button and John and I were on a plane three weeks later. If you do go, let me know. I know a great hotel…

**WORLD PREMIERE** The Paris Films: “J’Eat Paris” & “David Lebovitz in Paris”

It is with great honor and self-aggrandizement that I present to you two of the greatest films to hit the internet since Pamela Anderson uttered the words, “Tommy Lee, I do.”

Dragging a video camera through Paris takes work and effort, and here is the product of that work and effort. The first film–“J’Eat Paris”–stars John (on the right), his brother Chris, and myself as we eat our way across Paris.

The second film features the renowned David Lebovitz as he treats us to one of his much sought-after chocolate tours, but starting with a tour of his favorite Paris market. The man is a consummate professional.

David expressed concern over my choice of music, but I think I handled that issue nicely. These films, if not future Oscar winners, will certainly survive as my own special, personal souvenirs from a fantastic trip. Hope you enjoy them too.

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