Category Archives: Food Bits

A Response To Ms. Thorisson

February 26, 2015 | By Adam Roberts | 56 Comments

[Yesterday, Mimi Thorisson of the beautiful food blog Manger took issue with my Piglet review of her cookbook A Kitchen in France. You can read her full take here. And now for my reply.]

Dear Ms. Thorisson,

Two years ago, my cookbook Secrets of The Best Chefs lost its Piglet battle because–according to the judge–the pages were too white. Too white? I practically turned white when I read those words. So I know how it feels to have something that you worked so hard on (three years in my case, I’m sure a similar amount of time in yours) criticized in a public forum. You took issue with my review, calling my approach “shallow.” But my approach–a comic book format–allowed me to illustrate, quite literally, the elements of both books that both won me over and turned me off. Cookbooks are very much a visual experience; so the image of a spoon with a lighter underneath it in Brooks Headley’s cookbook is as much worth exploring as the image of you in rubber boots and a white apron holding an armful of artichokes. Both convey a message and the comic book format allowed me to underscore my response to those messages. You found my response sexist, but I disagree: if a male cookbook author posed for similar pictures in his cookbook, I’d have the same reaction. Something about those images felt a little false and stagey to me, which is why I took issue with them. Does that make them objectively bad? Absolutely not; I was asked to judge this round of the Piglet and that was my honest reaction. If Anna Wintour had judged this round, she would have championed your good taste and high style and you would be flying to New York to accept your trophy right now. Which is all to say, I offered up my most authentic reaction to what was put before me; and I was being sincere when I said that the food in your book looked fabulous. It truly does, as does the food on your blog. I wish you all the best and may take you up on your offer to come visit your restaurant in Medoc if you promise not to poison my food.

Sincerely,
Adam

Fun with Garnishes

January 28, 2015 | By Adam Roberts | 5 Comments

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Something that annoys me about the food world is the notion of a dish or an ingredient being dated. “Sun-dried tomatoes are so 1986,” some pretentious food person might say. Really? Well I really love them, especially in Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes which doesn’t taste like 1986 to me, it just tastes good. And I suppose there’s a similar notion that garnishes–big gestural ones–are passé. It’s a shame, though, because–as I’ve discovered recently–garnishes can be a lot of fun, especially when they enhance whatever dish you’re serving. Let me show you what I mean.

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Carrot Top, Fennel Frond Pesto

January 14, 2015 | By Adam Roberts | 9 Comments

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Today’s my blog’s 11th birthday. I was going to do a post about that, but there’s really not much to say that I didn’t already say last year (see: Ten Years a Food Blogger). So instead of a navel-gazing post, here’s a produce-maximizing post. It’s a post that came about through necessity.

See, my CSA came this weekend, and after I unpacked it, I was a little angry. Look at the photo above: there were 4 or 5 dinky carrots attached to a huge mound of carrot greens. And a fine bulb of fennel attached to so many wisps of fennel fronds, it looked like Rapunzel. What was a responsible food blogger to do?

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My Favorite Food Moments of 2014

December 23, 2014 | By Adam Roberts | 10 Comments

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Life came at us like a Roman chariot race this year, and what a year it was. Craig’s movie The Skeleton Twins premiered at Sundance in January, and since then it’s taken us all around the world–me as far as Edinburgh and Berlin, Craig as far as Hong Kong–and even now our lives still feel like they’re moving at warp speed. That said, I always enjoy these moments in December when I can look back on the year that was and soak it all in. Normally, I do a ranking of the Best Things That I Cooked and The Best Things That I Ate, but this year I’m just choosing ten of my favorite food moments (chronologically). Let’s get to it.

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How To Make 300 Latkes

December 15, 2014 | By Adam Roberts | 19 Comments

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If you’ve given me a hug over the past few weeks, there’s a good chance you got a whiff of onion and potato and secretly said to yourself: “He smells like a Jewish grandma.” That’s because, since early December, I’ve become a one-man latke factory. It started when I read this post by Kim Severson all about making latkes ahead. Apparently, they freeze very well. Then I read a similar piece on Bon Appetit about making 400 latkes for a latke party. The strategy was the same: make them ahead, freeze them, then bake them for 20 minutes right before serving. Which is how I found myself inviting friends over for a latke party on the first night of Hanukkah and making 300 latkes to serve at said latke party.

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The 10 Best Things That I’ve Eaten Recently That I Forgot To Tell You About

December 4, 2014 | By Adam Roberts | 9 Comments

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Loyal Amateur Gourmet readers, it’s time to come clean: I’ve been a bad blogger lately. It’s been a busy time for me here in L.A. but the hard part is that I really can’t get into why it’s so busy, just trust me that I haven’t really had time to devote to the blog. Can you forgive me? What if I share a bunch of really good things that I’ve cooked/eaten recently, will that make things better? OK, let’s try that. In random order….

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My Thanksgiving Plate 2014

December 1, 2014 | By Adam Roberts | 6 Comments

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Maybe this is a weird thing to be proud of, but I didn’t write any lead-up to Thanksgiving post this year and it felt really nice. So much of the writing about Thanksgiving is unnecessary: seriously, anything you need to know about turkey or cranberry sauce or stuffing has already been written. The fact that it’s a “new spin” on whatever is really just an opportunity to get you to click, buy, forward, ReTweet, etc. So I avoided all that and then went to Boca Raton, Florida where my family lives and where I promptly fell ill with a mini-flu—chills, sweats, the works–and laid on the couch while my mom got me chicken soup from Too-Jay’s to supplement the bagels and rainbow cookies from Way Beyond Bagels. As for Thanksgiving dinner, it was a simple one this year, and that was a good thing. Mom brought in food that I helped heat up and everyone was happy; Thanksgiving really isn’t about reinventing the wheel, it’s about hitting the marks. This meal did that and my plate shows you what you want to see: the turkey, the stuffing (cornbread-based), mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, and vegetables that I infused with a little garlic and olive oil (OK, I didn’t just heat everything up). Here’s our whole family in one picture that my dad arranged with a timer:

In the top row that’s me, Craig, my uncle Mark, yet another Craig Johnson (my sis-in-law’s dad!), my dad, my mom, my brother, his wife Tali, their dog Lulu, Tali’s mom Gila, then moving left my grandfather, my grandmother, and my aunt Ellen. Despite my illness, it was a lovely Thanksgiving and way more fun to talk about after the fact! Hope yours was great too.

With A Little Help From Your Cheesemonger

November 19, 2014 | By Adam Roberts | 58 Comments

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This is Molly. She works at The Cheese Store of Silverlake, one of my favorite places to shop before a dinner party, and recently I decided to go in without an agenda. “Look Molly,” I said, “usually I come in here with a recipe and then just get the stuff I need, but this time I’m putting my fate in your hands!” She gave me a weird look. “What’s the best thing I could possibly make for dinner using the cheeses from your shop?” She thought for a moment and then said: “Ummm…what about spaghetti in a spicy tomato sauce with white anchovies and a raw pecorino?” Umm…what about YES!??!

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