Citizens of America, it is my duty to inform you about something unholy, something sinful that is going on in that wicked city known as New York. Deep in the bowels of a village known as “West” is a veritable Sodom & Gomorrah of chocolate whose creator, a Frenchman!, is trying to tempt our children into evil with a contraption known as the “cookie warmer.” This sick device results in the dangerous, corrupting specimen you see above!
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No it’s me, The Amateur Gourmet, blogging to you live from Delta flight 2243, en route to Atlanta, Georgia.
Yes, this is an absolute first for me, my first blog post written from a plane. And I choose, as my subject matter, a dessert that I made back in December, before it got wicked cold out. And it’s a cold dessert so you might be thinking: why would we eat something from the freezer when it’s 0 degrees on the thermometer? Patience, people, I have my reasons.
It’s pretty comical to come to Bellingham, Washington for Christmas. Comical because, for this Boca Ratonian Jew, it’s like stepping out of a noisy deli into a Christmas card. I’m writing this right now in a coffee shop with a Yule log burning on the fire and several people sitting around me who look like Santa Claus. Last night, when Craig and I stepped out of the car after driving up here from Seattle, a crowd of people stood around a bonfire singing Christmas carols. He’s not even dead but I’m pretty sure the rabbi who oversaw my Bar Mitzvah is rolling around in his grave.
Above you’ll see the first video in my latest video series for Food2.com. I got the idea for this show while reading Kim Severson’s book “Spoon Fed.” On pg. 49 she writes, “To understand good chocolate, you have to know bad chocolate, and you should experience them side by side. It’s a method that has helped me through the years, whether I am tasting water, salt, milk, ground beef or any other food that might not seem to have much variation.”
And thus the idea for this show: a show where I taste three foods (all of the same kind) side-by-side to compare and contrast them. The above episode features chocolate (I can’t tell you the brands yet, but I may be able to in the comments once approved by F.N.) Future episodes include salt, peanut butter, Chardonnay, honey, and 20 other exciting topics. If you have ideas for taste tests you’d like me to try, let me know in the comments!
The Baking Bug isn’t a ladybug, it’s a wasp: once it stings you, you’ve been stung.
Such has been the case with my friend Josh Hume, director of my show on Food2 and a recent convert to the world of baking. He loves it. He calls himself Man Martha because of his love for Martha Stewart’s recipes and, most recently, he represented me at a Bon Appetit Magazine blogger bake-off. (Check out his bouche!) It’s no surprise, then, that Josh approached holiday baking this year with a fervor; not only did he bake cakes for several friends’ birthday parties (big, elaborate cakes) but he planned an enormous Christmas cookie exchange and assigned each person a different cookie to bring. My assignment? Pfeffernussen.
One of the highlights of making our Amateur Gourmet show for Food2.com, was the day we got to visit the kitchen of Le Bernardin–one of the nation’s, if not the world’s, great restaurants–to learn how to make a chocolate souffle from revered pastry chef (and blogger!) Michael Laiskonis. What follows is the video we made, with step-by-step instructions that result in a chocolatey souffle that’s as ethereal as it is delicious. Hope you enjoy! [For the full typed-out recipe, click here.]
Before I left for Barcelona, two weeks ago, I created a three-ring binder of essential information. The first tab said “Hotels” and there I printed out the confirmations for the Hotel Banys Orientals, where we’d stay for most of the trip, and Hotel Coral Playa, where we’d stay when we went to Roses for dinner at El Bulli. (Note: both hotels were great choices, thank you all for your tips.) The second tab said “E-mails” and there I kept all the direct e-mails I received about where to go and eat in Barcelona. Tab three was “Comments” and I printed out all your comments from this post, highlighting the most commonly reoccurring restaurant suggestions, and then, in Tab Four “NYT,” I printed out profiles of those highlighted restaurants from the New York Times Barcelona page. Suffice it to say, I arrived in Barcelona fully prepped and ready.
Food people are my kind of people. That’s why so many of the people I’ve met since I started food blogging have become good friends: they’re generous, they’re insightful, they’re creative, they’re smart and they have good taste. So friendship was clearly in the stars when a longtime reader named Rachel Zoe Insler informed me that she’d opened up a chocolate shop in New York called Bespoke Chocolates. I promised Rachel that I’d be in right away to sample her wares and then totally flaked out; I did include Bespoke in my NY Scavenger Hunt, but I never scavenged there myself because, frankly, I didn’t understand where it was!