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The Amateur Gourmet
A.G. Newsletter #52: BBQ Highlights, Joan's on 3rd, Salt's Cure, and an O.J. Milkshake

Hey there A.G. Newsletter fans,

I'm getting lots of feedback on a post that I wrote last week called "Let's Not Be Paternalistic About Food." The basic thrust of my argument is: everyone eats food that's unhealthy, it's just a question of degree. So we shouldn't judge those who eat their unhealthy food at McDonald's while we eat our unhealthy food at the latest gastropub. It's really an argument about tone--a rant against culinary elitism--that you may or may not want to check out.

To prove my point that everyone eats unhealthy (including me!), I cooked a batch of super unhealthy cornbread--Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread, to be precise--and brought it to my friend John's BBQ. Here's his boyfriend, Michael, grilling up some sausages:



And here's a cake server with a high heel:



It was a fun BBQ for sure and I got to catch up with old writing school friends who all migrated to L.A.

Last Tuesday, I made the mistake of trying to have lunch at Michael Voltaggio's ink.sack. It was a mistake because, after driving there and parking, I discovered it's not open on Tuesdays.

So I frantically Tweeted for help and help came in the form of a Tweet that suggested I check out Joan's on 3rd. And so I did:



If Citarella or Dean & Deluca had a west coast cousin that served sandwiches and had a nice seating area, this would be it. Check out the interior and you'll see what I mean:



Gourmet goodies, cheeses, chocolates, you get the idea.

The sandwich that I ordered was an apricot-glazed ham (how goyish of me!) with brie (doubly goyish: that's meat and cheese, for the non-kosher among you) but mighty tasty:



There are nice tables outside, but I wasn't aggressive enough to score one. Maybe next time, I'll be more lucky.

On Friday night, we had an amazing meal with our friend Japhy at a place called Salt's Cure in West Hollywood:



This is a restaurant that cures its own meat, makes its own bread, its own pickles, etc, etc. Natrually, then, we started with a cured meat & fish platter that included pickles, a homemade pretzel, cured salmon and a jar of "chicken liver pudding" (which, I think, is poorly named; it's really just a mousse):



This made for some delightful eating; everything was flavorful and robust.

Craig ordered a stinky cheese that came with a homemade pepper jelly and two pickled dates (isn't that presentation sort of phallic?):



For our entrees, we shared braised pork shoulder, served brothily over grits:



And duck with a blueberry gravy and a side of oatmeal pancakes:



My one criticism of the meal is a criticism of those pancakes. I think the idea was to do something mu shu-like (you wrap the duck up in a pancake, I suppose) but the pancakes were entirely too sweet and fluffy and breakfasty to make that a pleasant experience. That said, my companions fully disagreed and totally enjoyed those pancakes.

For dessert, which nobody wanted but which I ordered anyway, I chose the Grapefruit Pie because I found the concept intriguing:



Essentially, though, it's a key lime pie made with grapefruit juice instead. Nicely done, though.

Salt's Cure is certainly a winning restaurant in my book. Can't wait to go back.

Finally, on Saturday morning, we grabbed breakfast at the 101 Diner and we noticed all these people drinking what looked like orange milkshakes. When we asked the hostess about it, she said, "They're sort of like Creamsicles. It's orange juice and vanilla ice cream blended up." Then she did a very kind thing; she brought us a sample:



And wowza... that's a winning morning beverage! Maybe a bit desserty, if you really think about what's in it, but isn't most breakfast food desserty? Aren't pancakes basically just cake batter fried in circles in a skillet? So give this a try the next time you serve brunch; or maybe as an afternoon snack.

That's all for this week, folks! Tonight I'm cooking dinner for our friend Mark who's visiting from New York. I'm thinking I'll make this.

Until next time....

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)
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