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The Amateur Gourmet

A.G. Newsletter #6: Cous Cous Salad, Birdwatching & Brunch at Perry Street


I'm about to use a very dirty word in this newsletter. You might want to print this out and bring it to a censor so they can black out the following word it's so awful, so contrary to everything I believe in and represent in my day-to-day life on my blog. Ok, here it goes, take a deep breath: DIET.


Ok, let's all calm down for a second. Breathe deeply. Here's the deal: last week, I joined a gym. That's a good thing, right? But after reading a New York Times Magazine article a few weeks earlier about how you can't really lose weight or change your body through exercise alone, that there has to be some kind of accompanying diet, I decided to go on something of a moderate one. Not a severe South Beach Atkins style diet; more of a "no more pork belly or compost cookies at 1 in the morning" kind of diet.

So I cut out late night sweets, I'm eating more little meals throughout the day (oatmeal for breakfast, a frosty berry banana smoothie in the afternoon), and last week, instead of roasting a chicken with potatoes I roasted a chicken breast (skin on, bone in, of course) and served it with this cous cous salad:

It may not look like much, but I made it extra flavorful with olive oil, red wine vinegar, raisins, chopped red onion and parsley. Next time I'd make the dressing with yogurt (the way The Barefoot Contessa does) but I was very happy with this. And I'm pretty sure that it was healthy!

So this "D" thing is our little secret, ok? And we'll see how long it lasts, my track record isn't very good. I just want to be Rocco DiSpirito hot before my book comes out. I have two years, anything's possible!

On a different subject, yesterday our ornithologist friend Morgan Tingley took us bird watching in Central Park:

That's Craig & Morgan looking up in a tree at a warbler. This time of year is great for seeing warblers, migratory birds that make their way through Central Park on their way back north. We even saw a really, really rare one (a Mourning Warbler) that Morgan said most bird watchers would kill to get to see. Actually, I couldn't get my binoculars on it fast enough, so I didn't really see it up close, but I saw it from a distance.

Morgan even sent us a bird report with all the birds we saw on our two hour journey through the Ramble: we saw 34 species including a black-and-white warbler (it looked like a zebra) and a red-bellied woodpecker (it lived in a hole in a tree.) Thanks to Morgan for a really fun morning. Afterwards we went to Cafe Sabarsky for breakfast and I had my first soft-boiled egg ever, which I'll blog about later this week.

Finally, I had brunch with my mom at Perry Street on Saturday. I've been there once before (see here) and really liked it; I thought it'd a be a nice, mellow place to go in the West Village with really good food. And it was!

Here's my mom modeling her new restaurant reading glasses--note that they have LIGHTS on them:

Again, I was trying to watch what I ate so I tried not to drink this whole amuse bouche; a high-end broccoli cheese soup in a tiny cup:

Still broccoli's good for you, right? Please don't mention the cheese on top.

The great thing about Perry Street at lunch (or brunch) is their great deal; for $24 you get two courses PLUS dessert. For my first course, I had steamed asparagus with morels on top:

This was a riff, I believe, on Jean-George's famous dish at Jean-Georges (see here): the one with big fat asparagus and a creamy morel sauce on top. Here the morels were dried morels that'd been rehydrated so it was significantly less decadent; but I was happy at how light and flavorful this was. (By the way, I forgot to mention that the chef at Perry Street is Jean-Georges's son, Cedric; perhaps this was his tribute to his father!)

Mom had a beet salad to start:

I didn't taste it, but she really enjoyed it.

For my entree, I had slow-cooked salmon (apparently it was poached in a vinaigrette) with white asparagus on top:

It was here that I discovered that I really don't like white asparagus all that much. Here it was a bit too limp and buttery; the salmon, on the other hand, was really rich and refreshingly zingy. I liked it.

Mom had a cod dish that reminded me of the famous miso-glazed cod at Nobu:

This was super tasty and definitely the thing to get if you want fish. I really liked the caramelized glaze on top.

Finally, there were only two dessert options for brunch/lunch, both of which were pretty standard (I wished they'd had one less conventional dessert option on the menu). There was the famous Jean-Georges molten chocolate cake:

And this strawberry cheesecake:

I promise, I barely nibbled at these. A few bites, tops. But the cheesecake was harder to resist; it wasn't too dense and the strawberries were a nice, bright, tart contrast.

Again, this is all a steal for $24 a person; though, they have the same deal at the actual Jean-Georges at lunch (one of the best restaurant deals in town). My preference would be to go to the flagship, but if you're in the West Village and want a mellow, relaxing lunch or brunch, Perry Street is the place to get it.

And thus ends another A.G. newsletter. Today I'm meeting a few candidates for the internship position I blogged about last week. Oh, and did you see the collection I assembled of videos of people dropping cakes? The first one is pretty priceless.

Have a great week! Next newsletter, I'll be so buff you won't recognize me.

Until then,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)


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