Brothers and sisters, I have seen the light! All these years, these years of reading Calvin Trillin (the poet laureate of dumplings) and fake nodding as my Manhattanite friends (ones who grew up here) debated dumpling dives, I faked an interest that didn’t really exist. You see, I didn’t really get the big deal. What’s so great about dumplings? Aren’t they just glorified ravioli, greasy gut-bombs that you dip in soy sauce and that make you feel gross and un-full and desperate for a salad? This, of course, is sacrilege in the food world but my confession here is a precursor for an absolute conversion that came about because of a little web show called Working Class Foodies.
My friend Clotilde Dusoulier, of the legendary food blog Chocolate & Zucchini and author of several notable food books (including her own cookbook, a guide to Paris and the book she recently translated, the French Joy of Cooking, “I Know How To Cook”) was coming to dinner.
I’ve spent lots of time with Clotilde, we’ve dined together several times in New York (at Babbo and the Corner Bistro and Dirt Candy) and in Paris (at Ze Kitchen Galerie) but we’d never cooked for each other. And considering that she grew up in France, where dining and food are such a deep part of the culture children aren’t just born with silver spoons in their mouths but an entire set of flatware, and I grew up on Long Island and in Boca Raton, Florida where fine dining is limited to the salad bar at the golf club, I knew I was in serious trouble. How could I impress Clotilde? What if she spit her food out into her napkin in disgust? How would I live this down? Would she ever want to see me again? This was the most terrifying dinner guest of all time.
What are you having for dinner tomorrow night?
It’s a simple question, isn’t it? Tomorrow’s Friday night, so maybe you have plans? Are you going to meet friends? Cooking a romantic dinner at home? Going out for pizza?
So let’s say you go out for pizza with a big group. Your group, including yourself, is made up of happy carnivores and as you’re sitting around the table, yelling out toppings, someone shouts out “sausage!” Everyone cheers, “yeah!” and 20 minutes later your pie arrives, glistening and bubbly from the oven, and that sausage looks perfect on there: meaty and brown and substantial. This is food that’ll fill you up.
An easy dinner, one two three
Try it out: listen to me;
Buy some pork chops, one for each
Dry them off like your kid at the beach;
Heat some oil and some butter
Season the pork chops til you hear a sputter….
The original title of this post was: “The Best Pulled Pork Sandwich In New York is at The Gramercy Tavern” but I didn’t want to give it all away in the title; so now I just gave it all away in the first sentence. Yes, that picture you see above is the pulled pork sandwich from the front room of The Gramercy Tavern and it’s not only the best pulled pork sandwich I’ve eaten in New York, but it may very well be (dramatic pause) the best pulled pork sandwich I’ve ever eaten in MY LIFE. (Giant gasp.) I know! But I’m serious. I can’t imagine a pulled pork sandwich being better. First, though, let’s look at two other pulled pork sandwiches I ate recently and then go back to Gramercy for the gold.
You know those tests where they determine whether you’re gay or straight and they attach electrodes to your genitals and flash images in front of you to see whether naked men or women arouse you more? Well this post is like one of those tests, only there’s only one image and it’s the image you see above. We’re testing to see how hardcore you are when it comes to eating. So please attach electrodes to your genitals and stare at the picture: are you aroused? You are! Congratulations: you passed and can click ahead to learn the secrets of a fantastic dish.
Hey! What’s going on? Why does everything look so different? WHAT’S HAPPENING?
Welcome to the new Amateur Gourmet. The people you see above you are the brilliant people responsible for what you see around you. That’s Ben on the left–he’s the programmer who worked the HTML like a maestro–and that’s Leah on the right, the visionary who conceived of this brand new design.
It’s a design that went so far above what I ever thought possible for my blog, I feel like my site just went from being a dingy five flight walk-up to the Taj Mahal. What makes this new design so special? Whereas my old design was basically a generic Typepad blog with impenetrable archives, this new design makes it incredibly easy to access the three-and-a-half years worth of material I’ve created ever since I wrote “my name is Adam and I like to cook.” (Ok, I never really wrote that.) Here are some of the many features that make this new design more special than your own children:
* There is now a menu bar at the top of the screen with six main categories that should make navigating the site a cinch. Not sure what you want for dinner tonight? Click “Recipes” and scroll through salads, soups, stews and entrees and make yourself a feast. Or not sure where to eat out in New York? Click “Restaurant Reviews” and see everything broken down by borough and then, in Manhattan, by neighborhood. (There are also reviews for other parts of the country and the world!) My writings have all been categorized, as have my films and songs. Now my archives are as searchable as Lindsay Lohan’s glove compartment, and you don’t even need a search warrant.
* You’ll also notice that in the Recipe and Restaurant Review sections, every post has been assigned a star rating. That way you’ll know right away what I thought of a particular dish or dining out experience and whether or not it’s worth your time.
* The site now has tags so I plan to go through my archives and assign everything a few tag words so that in the future if you click “clams” in the tags, you’ll see every post that references clams–including that time I dressed up like a clam and tried to seduce Bea Arthur.
* On the upper left you will see “The Daily Specials,” a very good reason to check back on the site throughout the day for as I find and discover interesting food-related links, I will share them with you there.
* You may notice that the banner doesn’t rotate right now but that’s because in just a few weeks we are going to begin something new and very exciting: a new food-related banner every month! Complete with new color scheme, courtesy of Leah and Ben. (Any votes for what should be flying around in September?)
Finally, all the design elements should be far more pleasing than they were before. Look at the colors, look at the fonts! I can’t tell you what attention to detail these two paid to every stitch, every pixel. As Leah says now (she’s here because I cooked her and Ben a “thank you” dinner), “We designed it as fans of the site. We’re both super-fans so we designed it for ourselves, really.”
Well, Leah and Ben, I can’t thank you enough. And for those who are wondering how I thanked them with food, here they are at dinner:
And here’s what I made: a beautiful tomato salad with green and purple basil and Farmer’s Market blue cheese:
Suzanne Goin’s roasted pork loin with haricot verts and mustard bread crumbs (from “Sunday Suppers at Lucques”):
I can’t tell you how great this came out: the key was cooking it to an internal temperature of 120 degrees (oh, and marinating it overnight in mustard and garlic and thyme.) Ben and Leah loved this pork as much as I love their new design. I hope you love it just as much too, even though you didn’t eat the pork.
If you’d like to get in touch with Leah, you can contact her through her blog Pink Leahtard; and if you’d like to get in touch with Ben, you can e-mail him at blim8183 AT gmail DOT com. Thanks so much to them again for such spectacular work. And please let us know what you think in the comments—any bugs you notice, report them there.
Here’s to a new day at the Amateur Gourmet!