Excellent Pork Chop House

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When going to lunch with a James Beard award winner, it’s best to let them choose the venue.

Such was the case when I had lunch with Rachel Wharton last week. I first met Rachel years ago when she profiled me for The Daily News and we ate lunch at S’Agapo in Queens. I thought Rachel was one of the quirkiest and most spirited food writers I’d ever met and also one of the hardest working. Now her hard work has paid off: she won the 2010 James Beard award for her “Back of the House” columns that appear in Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, beating out luminaries like Colman Andrews and Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl in the food-related column category.

Which is all to say that Rachel really was the one to choose where we’d eat lunch when the lunch date we’d planned arrived last week. I pitched Chinatown and sure enough Rachel came back with a James Beard Award-worthy response: “Excellent Pork Chop House.”

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Chickpea Salad

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Cheap and easy: that’s my new motto (and reputation), especially at lunch. Yes–times are hard, even for your friendly Amateur Gourmet. “But you just went to Momofuku Ko,” you might say and I’d say back, “Yes, and wiped myself clean!” Especially now that I’ve done my taxes: to quote my rabbi, “Oy!”

No more lunches out, then: from now on it’s sandwiches and leftovers. And the occasional chickpea salad like the one you see above.

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Rachel Wharton’s Bodega Beans

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Monday night I went to a friend’s play reading that let out at 9:30. I was starved. I considered grabbing a bite (I was in the No Man’s Land of 35th and 8th Ave.) but then I decided I’d head home and grab a can of chickpeas from the bodega and make bodega hummus. (See here).

As fate would have it, though, on the subway I ran into the unmistakable, inimitable Rachel Wharton of The Daily News who I journeyed to Queens with this summer. Rachel has a degree in food from NYU, so I put her to the test: “Rachel,” I said, “I want to make a quick easy dinner with something I can get from my corner bodega.”

“Beans,” she answered.

“Beans?”

“Yes,” she continued. “Beans. I ate beans all through college. With some onion, garlic, or whatever you have, they’re delicious.”

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