It’s Autumn After All

At least my new banner thinks so! After my last post where I made a summery dish in October, it’s time for a seasonal intervention and what better way to do that than with an autumnal banner image by the brilliant Lindy Groening. It’s been a while since we rotated the banner–over a year, in fact–but the time has come to shake things up again. Thanks, Lindy, for doing such an awesome job. If any of you don’t see it yet, try clearing your cookies or opening the site in a different browser; don’t worry, it’ll kick in eventually. [See Lindy’s previous work here.]

A Fresh New Look

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For the past few weeks, my fearless website designer Raphael Brion has been slaving away trying to make this site look even better. And, if you look up, look down, look left, look right, I think you’ll have to agree: Raphael hit this one out of the park. My blog was the dowdy girl with glasses at the beginning of a makeover movie; and now it’s Olivia Newton John at the end of “Grease.” What exactly did he change? What’s different? Let me break it all down for you.

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April in Paris

Clear your cache and behold this month’s beautiful Parisian banner. Thanks, once again, to Illustrator Erin, Designer Leah and Web Guy Justin for all your work. Fun Fact: I once had a babysitter named April Lynn Paris!

Is this better?

For those of you who told me to resize my pictures, my wonderful design team–Leah & Justin–walked me through the process and now we can compare the results. This is how a picture used to appear on my site:

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And this is what it looks like when I resize it in iPhoto to have a 425 width before uploading to Flickr:

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Is the second one better? To me they look exactly the same–but I’m not very image savvy.

And in case you’re wondering what you’re looking at–last week I made a vegetarian chili I found on Epicurious (recipe here) and served it with Dorie Greenspan’s magnificent cornbread muffins, a recipe I almost made again today (which you can find here on Serious Eats).

The Britney Banner

Even a food blog can’t avoid the Britney zeitgeist: to enjoy the Britney banner, clear your cache (for help on that, go to your browser help) and then re-load the site. Thanks to Erin The Illustrator, Leah The Designer and Justin The Web Guy for making it happen, y’all.

This Month’s Banner

I just want to say how much I love this month’s banner. If you can’t see it, clear your cache (ask a techie for help) and then re-load the site. The banner should be dark green, the sides light brown. I’d like to thank my illustrious illustrator, Erin; my indefatigable designer Leah and Justin my competent computer intern for making my dream of de-winging a gingerbread man come true.

The New Amateur Gourmet

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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:

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And here’s what I made: a beautiful tomato salad with green and purple basil and Farmer’s Market blue cheese:

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Suzanne Goin’s roasted pork loin with haricot verts and mustard bread crumbs (from “Sunday Suppers at Lucques”):

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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!

A New Design Is Coming

What’s that whisper in the wind? Voices are calling, they’re singing out: “A new day is here…a new dawn for The Amateur Gourmet.” What will this new day entail? What’s going to happen to the site? When’s it going to happen? Will it be today? Tomorrow? It may not be until the middle of next week. But when it happens your whole world will flip on its head. Be excited. VERY excited.