I have a love/hate relationship with The Barefoot Contessa.
On the one hand, her recipes are wonderful. Of all my cookbooks, hers produce the best and most consistent results: a terrific roast chicken, a great recipe called Pasta, Pesto, Peas that is as heavy on the flavor as it is the alliteration. Her desserts are buttery marvels: buttery in that they all contain 80 sticks of butter, but well worth it: luscious lemon squares, decadent brownies. You get the idea.
On the other hand, my political leanings make her TV show difficult to watch. Driving around the Hamptons in her BMW, chortling with her high-society friends, and flaunting her own unique brand of entitlement (“I always buy my chickens straight from the farm”) the Barefoot Contessa is a noxious hybrid of classism and greed. Case in point, after a shopping spree, her friend says: “Ina, how could you buy so much?” Ina’s response: “That’s what rich husbands are for!”
Which is all to say that earlier this afternoon I followed her recipe for a Tropical Smoothie. I purchased the following items from Whole Foods:
– 1 mango
– 1 papaya
– 1 cup yogurt
– fresh orange juice
In addition to the items I already had at home:
– Cat (just kidding)
I then proceeded to follow her directions (which you can get at foodtv.com, but after reading this you may not want to) and liquified everything in the blender.
Lauren was my taster and she said: “Mm, it’s good.” But not in such a way that suggested conviction.
I tried it myself and shrugged my shoulders.
In Ina’s defense, she says the fruit must be incredibly ripe for this to taste good. My mango was ripe but my papaya was not. I guess that’s what rich husbands are for.
As some of you may already know, like Batman and Bruce Wayne, I–the Amateur Gourmet–have an alter-ego: Adam the Law Student. This dichotomy rounds out my character to such a degree that Warner Brothers has already purchased the rights to my life story, Tim Burton to direct.
One of the sadder aspects of my life as a law student is the mandate that I take certain “required” classes. One of these classes is a dry, dusty examination of agencies and partnerships called “Business Associations.” The fact that this class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12 pm renders it slightly better than tolerable. The fact that there’s also a Friday morning session that meets at 8:45 am–yes, 8:45 am–renders this class an act of sadism.
Have you ever been up at 8:45 am? I imagine not. Clearly, this ungodly hour is reserved for lunatics and politicians to shuffle back and forth before the rest of the world awakes. I eyed the neighboring cars suspiciously: who are these people? Why are they up so early? Regis isn’t even on yet!
Class today was moderately interesting. I actually like my teacher, he’s an old world business lawyer type: he wears a suit and tie every day to class and he wears his glasses on the bridge of his nose to create a wisened elder effect. Today’s topic was the fiduciary responsibilities of agents to their principals. I spent most of my time thinking about breakfast.
Which is why, when class was over, I hopped in my car, turned up the radio (well, a mix I made with “Raspberry Beret” featured prominently), and pedaled my way over to “The Silver Skillet”–an establishment voted, according to their sign out front, “Best Breakfast in Atlanta.”
Full disclosure: I have been to the Silver Skillet before. Last time was with my roommate who, while she enjoyed it, found the political climate a bit disconcerting.
“Notice the big American flag on the wall,” she said.
“That doesn’t mean anything,” I said.
But at the cash register she pointed out the large streams of conservative political cartoons adorning the walls.
“How do you know they’re conservative?”
This was a fruitless question. The large majority of snippets address the endlessly merry topic of Bill Clinton and his sexual proclitivies. “I’m With Stupid” reads an image on Clinton’s shirt, with an arrow pointing down to his crotch.
“So what?” I sighed. “You can like the food and not like the politics.”
Today I decided to do just that. After perusing the menu for a few minutes,
I decided on a safe choice: cheese omelet (I spell checked that and that’s how my computer spells it, though I feel there should be more ls and ts), grits and biscuits. The waitress had a lot of character. One part Flo from “Alice” and one part Granny from “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
“Arright,” she said, bringing the ticket to the kitchen.
While waiting for my food, I snapped a picture of the counter which, like the waitress, also had a lot of character:
I then, to kill time, whipped out my copy of this week’s New Yorker. Reading The New Yorker at The Silver Skillet might be likened to reading The Communist Manifesto at Joe McCarthy’s dinner table: it raised many an eyebrow.
“You have a lot of eyebrows,” I told the man sitting next to me.
Finally, the food arrived.
Let me be honest and tell you that the omelet / omellette / omelllllettttte wasn’t very good. The eggs had no flavor, it was dry and comparable to any other Diner omelet you’ve ever had except less tasty. The grits, on the other hand, were good. I have no frame of reference for grits. Culturally, I am to grits what Balkie from “Perfect Strangers” is to Lomain. “Cousins?” No, Balkie, no.
Alas, we come to the biscuits. Allow me to wax lyrical on the biscuits. These are the best biscuits I have ever had. They are perfect. Light, fluffy, buttery, flaky: these biscuits melt in your mouth and stay there in your dreams. These biscuits are what biscuits are all about. I am a former biscuit neanderthal, declaring The Flying Biscuit’s biscuits the best biscuits in Atlanta. (Say that ten times fast). Those, however, are biscuit novelties: weird saucerlike structures that taste good with apple butter and look good in dirty photographs. The Silver Skillet biscuits, on the other hand, are the real deal. Perfect, they are. So good, in fact, they even made the omelet taste good.
Breakfast digested, I rose to pay. Near the door are two trophy cases with photographs of the many celebrities who have dined at The Silver Skillet. John Lithgow (who filmed a TV movie there) and Katy Couric (who had her colonoscopy there) are just some of the many who have graced The Silver Skillet’s tables. What caught my eye, though, was an image that sums up The Silver Skillet better than I can in words. Suffice it to say, if you see a professional wrestler on a trophy case near the door of your next breakfast haunt, order the biscuits. They’re the best.
Thanks to my dear friend Josh, you can now download the Burrito song as an mp3. Thus you now have three entirely separate, entirely wonderful “Burrito Song” options. You may want to download all three and play them simultaneously. Just a suggestion.
“Adam – i find it highly offensive that at no point in your attack of the great and all-powerful lisa g did you mention that i was temporarily unable to connect to the internet and that the lack of olive-talk was explained to you in full. Furthermore, i find your spelling of Cincinnati to be hateful and cruel.
Onto the issue at hand… I don’t hate olives for the sake of hating them or just to be “unique.” In fact, i don’t believe that i am in any way alone in my hatred. Look up “hate olives” on Google and you will get over 40,000 responses. There are hundreds of clubs and alliances and discussion groups denouncing the atrocity that is the olive. Face it Adam – they are legitimately disgusting. They are bitter and malicious and destroy every food item into which they are incorporated. And it’s bad enough that they taste like old socks and overwhelm all of the poten! tially delicious flavors in a meal, but they aren’t even good for you. Eat too many and you’re sure to grow yourself a spare tire.
So I’d like to ask you, Mr. Nature Nipple Lover, what good does the olive bring to the world? why is it that you encourage their invasion of my salads and pastas and martinis (which aren’t really that good without olives either, so you can keep them in there if you need a purpose for them)?
In conclusion, I would also like to add that you used to share my hatred for olives, and actually trained yourself to enjoy them so you could be part of the cool (freak) crowd. You know in your heart that they’re evil and you’ve let society convince you otherwise. How ashamed you must be.
I believe, unless I am mistaken, that you lose this round in a big fat way. Olives suck.”
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.
“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.
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.
“Do it!” Lauren yelled, throwing back a shot of Jack Daniels and cracking a whip.
He did and I took another picture:
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!”