A Salmon Sandwich Scandal

I love Alon’s Bakery in the Virginia Highlands. I go there way too often, so much so that the staff eye me suspiciously each time I come through the door.

“He’s back?”

“What’s his problem?”

One employee, though–Cheryl–holds me in special regard.

“Clay Aiken!” she shouts, each time I come through the door.

I duck my head down but it’s no use.

“Hey Clay Aiken,” she says, “are you excited about the new season of American Idol?”

I nod and quickly order my sandwich.

The two best sandwiches at Alon’s are the Chicken Pesto and the Roast Beef. The first comes on really good bread, with pesto (duh) and a slice of swiss cheese. The second also comes on good bread with a really incredible, lip-smackingly good rosemary mayonnaise.

And then there’s the salmon sandwich. The salmon sandwich is good, don’t get me wrong. A piece of broiled or baked salmon (not sure which) coated in black sesame seeds is served on foccacia bread with a Thai peanut sauce. It is the most expensive sandwich on the menu (almost $9, I think) and I order it when I am sick of chicken and roast beef.

Today I was sick of chicken and roast beef. I ordered my salmon sandwich and, after a rousing rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” escaped my adoring fans and went to eat outside.

Here are my problems with the Alon’s Bakery salmon sandwich:

– the bread is so thick and the piece of salmon so small, it’s like you’re basically eating a bread sandwich with a salmon garnish.

– the way they cut it makes the salmon slip and slide around so that, ultimately, with each bite you wedge the salmon out further and further. Today it fell splalt on to the paper in my lap. Good thing I had paper on my lap.

– It’s a terrible value. With the chicken and roast beef you get bang for your buck. Here you get a tiny piece of salmon, some sprouts, and a lot of bread.

In conclusion, when going to Alon’s, stick to chicken and roast beef. The salmon just doesn’t float.

Behind The Scenes: A Flour-Flecked Foto Shoot

As many of you may have noticed, that flour-coated god in the upper-right hand corner of your screen is none other than yours truly, The Amateur Gourmet.

And yet, I’m sure many of you are wondering: are there any more pictures like this? Any more variations on the theme of sexy Jewstud coated in King Arthur flour? Shall we be privy to such pictures?

Alas, you shall. Welcome to a behind the scenes look at the making of The Amateur Gourmet. Please welcome our very special guest host, Tony Danza.

Hi: I’m Tony Danza. You may remember me from such popular sitcoms as “Who’s The Boss?” and “Taxi.”

The photograph you are enjoying in the upper right hand corner of your screen was constructed on the night of January 13th, 2004 by the very drunk, very assertive roommate of The Amateur Gourmet: Lauren S.

“Hair! Let me fix your hair!” she shouted, as The Amateur Gourmet ambled over.

“Is that Tony Danza?” he asked, and I nodded yes.

“Now take this bag of flour,” Lauren instructed The Amateur Gourmet, “and throw some on your face.”

The Amateur Gourmet looked back warily. I snapped a picture.

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“Do it!” Lauren yelled, throwing back a shot of Jack Daniels and cracking a whip.

He did and I took another picture:

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What followed were some of the most disturbing, emotionally scarring moments of my life. Hell, I once walked in on Mona naked during the “Angela Has An Abortion” episode of “Who’s The Boss?” and even that wasn’t half as scarring as witnessing this travesty of photographic injustice.

The Amateur Gourmet requests that you post comments addressing whether he should leave his “god-like” (in the non-Danza sense) picture in the upper right corner, or replace it with one of these sorry specimens. Either way, this is Tony Danzy saying: “Yo Angela!”

And now for the pictures:

Picture One: “Detatchable Jaw”

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Picture Two: “This Tastes Icky”

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Picture Three: “Ooops”

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Picture Four: “Lauren Shares Her Jack Daniels”

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Which is your favorite? Vote now!

Lisa and Olives: Round One

My friend Lisa G. of Cincinnatti, Ohio currently resides in Manhattan, NY and enjoys a diet of vegetarian hot dogs, couscous and little chocolate penguins that I bought her for her birthday. Disturbingly absent from her diet is, to quote Thomas Edison, “the richest gift of heaven”; the sacred staple of Mediterranean cuisine and Martini glasses everywhere: the olive.

Lisa, despite her better qualities, seems to think of this distaste not as a flaw but as a highly unique aspect of her quirky, esoteric appetite. In other words: Lisa is wrong.

I have attempted to engage Lisa in a discussion concerning her and her shameless aversion to mother nature’s nipples. (Sorry, that was grotesque, but it made me laugh). This morning I wrote Lisa an e-mail asking her to answer the simple question: “Why don’t you like olives?”

In her curt and highly offensive reply, Lisa wrote: “I would love to engage in a discussion about olives.¬† At this time, I have some work I should be doing and thus I will not be able to start the process immediately, but when I am home and snug in my pajamas on my futon, I will be more than happy to sign in and start the fun.¬†Thank you for including me in your oliverific endeavors.”

Clearly Lisa’s priorities are out of whack and clearly #2: Lisa is a liar liar pants on fire! As per the first claim: what kind of self-respecting radio executive with her own computer and her own access to the internet chooses to do real work when they can write about olives? And second of all, it is 11:53 PM and chances are that Lisa has already gone to sleep and has clearly not (a) sat on any futon, (b) signed on to any internet, or (c) started any fun.

I believe, unless I am mistaken, that I win round one by default. Olives are good.

Martha Stewart’s Pecan Chocolate Chunk White Chocolate Chip Cookies

So despite my self-proclaimed ineptitude in the kitchen, I do have a knack for all things sweet and desserty. I’m a baker, not a fighter.

One of my favorite cookie recipes comes from America’s most beloved white collar criminals / domestic goddesses, Marthalicious Stewart. Available on her website for no charge (or the occassional insider trading tip) you will find the recipe for some wonderfully delicious cookies. I served these cookies to friends this weekend and their reactions were as follows:

“Mmmm!”

“Ohhhh!”

“Wheeee!”

Clearly, these are some really good cookies. Since posting the actual recipe may cause legal trouble for The Amateur Gourmet (who, despite three years in law school, has no idea how the law actually works), here’s the link:

http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jhtml?type=content&id=recipe3472&search=true&resultNo=3

And, for your viewing pleasure, some pictures:

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The Birth of an Amateur Icon

Are you sick of competency?

Of food blogs run by competent people with flawless track records and no history of salmonella?

Are you tired of not having salmonella?

You’ve come to the right place.

I’m The Amateur Gourmet: a completely untrained, unaccomplished culinary lout with absolutely no expertise in anything having to do with food. I have an immature palate, an understocked pantry and a penchant for purchasing food that’s already been prepared. In my defense, I watch Martha Stewart religiously.

Why, then–you may be wondering–have I sired a website dedicated to food? Mightn’t I have sired a website seeking the removal of the word “sire” from everyday parlance? Removing “parlance” from the parlance as well?

The answer is easy. Despite my lack of knowledge, I have a great deal of curiosity when it comes to all things food related. A piddling passion, so to speak. My friends, unfortunately, think this is silly.

“This is silly,” my friends say. “Can’t you focus on something interesting? Like trashy romance novels?”

[In their defense, my friends have a trashy romance novel reading club. On second thought, that doesn’t really work in their defense.]

But my passion is persistent. Already, I have made several meaningful contributions on established food sites like Chowhound and eGullet. The time has come for a forum of my own. A place where I can hang my hat and say: “Thanks for holding my hat.” And I think this is it.

The Amateur Gourmet (that’s me) has three major goals with his site:

Goal #1: To encourage young people (ages 2 through 7) to dine out at really nice restaurants. Too often, young Americans (David Bowie included) think of fine dining as something their parents do. They don’t realize how exciting and invigorating a really great meal can be. Thus, The Amateur Gourmet will feature a section titled “Youth Culture Out To Dine” in which he takes his unsuspecting peers out to nice restaurants, recounting the experience in great, almost annoying detail.

Goal #2: To encourage young people to cook more. Using my digital camera and my stove, I will serve as your very own private Lewis and/or Clark; stalking my way across the knotty kitchen terrain, attempting recipes your own mother wouldn’t dare and then reporting back. Hopefully, you will be so inspired by my derring-do that you will drop the computer you’re reading this on and go cook something yourself. (NOTE: I am not responsible for any dropped computers).

Goal #3: To become an internet phenomenon. Look, I’m not going to lie. I’m a third year law student without any desire to practice law. When people ask me what I’m doing next year, I stare at them dumbly and mumble hoping they think I’ve swallowed a chromosome. The truth is that the one thing I’m good at, the one thing that I care most about is writing. And this website allows me the opportunity to wrap my words around something that we all care enough about to do several times a day: masturbation. I mean: food consumption. Thus, my third goal is selfish. Love me, love me, love me!

We have now reached the end of my long, eye-numbing introduction. Hungry yet? I hope you will join me in making The Amateur Gourmet the greatest website the internet has ever known. Please post comments in the comments section and forward the site on to your friends. Happy Reading!

Sincerely,

The Amateur Gourmet