February 2007

The Best Kept Secret In New York (Del Posto Enoteca)

People, food blogs exist for a reason. A few months ago Ed Levine told you about “The Best Italian Restaurant Nobody Knows About”. He gave you the number and huge incentives to call: celebrity chef, quiet room, $41 tasting menu. So how come on Friday, when Diana offered to take me out as a belated birthday gift, I called that number and we were able to get a table at 9:30 PM on a FRIDAY night? How come when we got there the bar was almost empty and the Enoteca barely buzzing? Why aren’t the people who line up at Lupa, who clamor for reservations at Babbo, beating down the door at Del Posto?

No, not the expensive half that I put down last year; the area by the bar. Because this, my friends, is a secret that shouldn’t be secret much longer. For $41, you get four courses of Mario Batali food in a pristine setting. Don’t believe me? Click ahead.

Hollywood Stargazing

My parents were in L.A. this Oscar weekend and they went, on Thursday night, to dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut where they imagined they’d see a million celebrities. The last time they were there (last year, actually) Tom Cruise walked by as the waiter described different cuts of meat. Who would be there this night? Soon-to-be Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson? Perky Oscar host Ellen Degenerous? Wilford Brimley?

My parents love celebrities, as you may recall from my mom’s photo with Flea and my dad’s moment with Pamela Anderson. They got close to the hostess stand, scanning the room the best they could, and when they reached the hostess they gave their name and waited to be seated.

But the hostess–a hostess who sees thousands of celebrities a night–kept staring at them.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I know this is a really strange question…but does your son have a food blog?”

Her name’s Whitney, she’s an actress and a big fan of this blog. Getting recognized, instead of doing the recognizing, was the highlight of my parents’ trip. Thanks to Whitney for giving them such a thrill.

Life Getting Bland? Make An Indonesian Spice Cake

James Oseland (new editor-in-chief of Saveur) has a spicy new cookbook called “Cradle of Flavor” that’s full of vibrant, exotic recipes from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. When it first arrived, I could’ve made Gado-Gado (a Javanese “potpourri” of raw and cooked vegetables) or The Soto King’s Chicken Soup (Soto Ayam Lamongan) but instead I made cake. I like cake very much, more than most things, and making an Indonesian Spice Cake (Spekkuk) was the thing I wanted to do.

To make this cake you need a tube pan. I bought one a few years ago when I was on a health kick–a health kick that involved Angel Food Cake. The health kick faded and so did the tube pan but it was great to drag it out for this dessert.

This dessert was a big success: the ingredients are simple and easy to find and the ratio of butter, egg, flour and sugar makes for a wonderful texture: crisp on the outside, soft in the middle. A famous Parisian food blogger came over for a bite and gave it a thumbs up. She wrote later, in an e-mail: “That is one buttery, flavorful cake!”

Lately I’ve been typing up recipes I love with the belief that this is good advertising for the cookbook author. As long as I don’t type up the whole cookbook, it creates an incentive–assuming you try this recipe and love it–for you to go out and buy it. If I hear from James Oseland’s people and they want me to take down this recipe, I will. But assuming they don’t write, you can find the recipe after the jump!

Blue Food Contest Extended (& Judge Announced)

I’ve received several creative entries for my Blue Food Contest, a contest with a real genuine prize: two tickets to Blue Man Group (NY) on a date of your choosing. Now we have ourselves a judge, a notable one at that: the co-author of the French Laundry Cookbook, author of “The Soul of a Chef” (and many other notable books) and proprietor of the ever-controversial Ruhlman.com, Michael Ruhlman.

Because we have ourselves a judge of such stature, I’d like to add an extra week to the contest. In case you missed the contest prompt, here’s your challenge: create a dish on the theme of “blue food” that attempts to make the most appetite-suprressing color actually appetizing. E-mail your entries (with pictures hosted on Flickr, please) to amateurgourmet AT gmail DOT com. Please have them in by next Wednesday, the 28th, at 11 PM. Good luck!

Hey, Who Are You?

It’s been a long time since I did a reader survey, to learn more about you–yes YOU–the person reading my site. So, if you’re so inclined, feel free to fill out the form below in the comments. It’ll be great to get a sense of who’s reading my site these days.





Five Foods You Can’t Live Without:

Five Foods You Can Live Without:

How Long Have You Been Reading Amateur Gourmet?:

How Did You Get Here?:

What’s For Dinner Tonight?:


February Is The Kindest Month (August, Palo Santo, Five Points)

I love having a February birthday. If I see the light, some day, and I’m born again I hope it’s in February. Having a February birthday means that in the dead of winter, when it’s cruelly cold outside, you have a big happy day to look forward to. Add to that Craig’s birthday, also in February, and Valentine’s Day and you have a month worth celebrating.

Take this pancake, for example:

I ate this pancake on my birthday. Craig and I went to August in the Village, something we wouldn’t ordinarily do but because it was my birthday we had a reason. And it was a good pancake, a mighty good pancake. Craig loved brunching in the sun room at August (it was his first time there) he said he felt like we were in Montreal. I liked how the pancake was cooked in a wood-burning oven, though–I must say–the inside of the middle of the pancake was undercooked (the batter ran out when I cut in). But it was a dynamite pancake (studded with golden raisins, I should add) and we have February to thank for it.

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