I’m Moving!

Well, virtually, anyways.

It has been brought to my attention that my current domain (amateurgourmet.wordpress.com) may be causing some confusion for those looking for Adam Robert’s site, www.amateurgourmet.com, (which you should also check out). So, I’ve switched domains.

Don’t worry! Everything on my site will be the same, it will just being living at AnAmateurFoodie.wordpress.com. And don’t forget, you can always find me at www.AmateurFoodie.com.

Happy Eating.

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Food Photos

Sometimes looking at food is better than reading about it… so please enjoy some wonderfully delicious looking photos of food by Emily Gilbert of E.Gilbert Photography. Check out more of her photos here.

Happy Eating.

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The Melting Pot

There are certain dishes that seem to have been lost in time, destined to stay in a specific decade, never to be resurrected. One my favorites is fondue. A dish that screams 1974, in an olive-green pot over an open flame. However, fondue is actually really good, and if you disguise it by calling it a cheese dip (salsa con queso, anyone?) it can easily be the hit of any gathering.

I recently made an attempt at seafood fondue, preparing it in my mini Crock-Pot. It was very easy (I would dare to say foolproof) and I thought it was really tasty.

You’ll note that I used canned crabmeat and shrimp in this recipe. I normally avoid canned meat, but in this specific recipe, it actually works the best.

Seafood Fondue (Cheese Dip)

  • 2 cups (1 brick) Velveeta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Swiss)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 can (6 oz) crab meat
  • 1 can (6 oz) shrimp

If using a Crock-Pot, combine Velveeta, milk, wine and lemon juice into the pot until they start to melt. Add the seafood and stir so the ingredients begin to combine.

If you don’t have a Crock-Pot, you can use a sauce pan over medium heat, following the same instructions.

Stir occasionally until the cheese has completely melted into a liquid consistency. Lower the Crock-Pot to the warm setting so the dip doesn’t start to solidify. If you are using a sauce pan, serve immediately. Cut a loaf of French or Italian bread into cubes and dip using fondue forks or tooth picks.

If you are feeling really ambitious, fondue can be served in a bread bowl by hollowing the center of a round loaf. The cut out is used to as the dipping pieces and the dip is absorbed by the bowl itself which can be torn and eaten once the dip-able dip is gone.

There are other types of fondue as well, including chocolate, another one of my favorites. Chocolate fondue is often used in the popular chocolate fountains found at parties.

Happy Eating.

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Truly Serendipitous

This is the final installment of the Amateur Foodie Travels… for now at least. I figured I would save this one for last, not because it was a hole-in-the-wall find… quite the opposite in fact. In all the time I’ve spent in NYC, it wasn’t until my most recent trip that I finally ate at the legendary Serendipity 3. I went, not only because it is a NYC landmark, but a favorite of the late Jackie O., whom I idolize.  

If you’ve never been to Serendipity 3, GO… but consider making a lunch or dinner reservation first. 

I know, you’re probably thinking, “Lunch or dinner? Aren’t they famous for dessert?” Well, that’s true, but they don’t take reservations for dessert alone, and if you simply show up to the restaurant (located at 225 E. 60th St, between 2nd and 3rd ave), be prepared for a wait up to TWO hours. (That’s not an exaggeration. When I went for lunch, people who were walk-ins were told they wouldn’t be seated for another hour and a half to two hours!) 

So, in order to avoid such a problem, I made a lunch reservation. Their general menu is pretty extensive. I chose cheese ravioli, which was quite good. The sauce had a nice tang and the ravioli was cooked just right (not overly done, which would cause sticky pasta). 

Frrrozen Hot Chocolate

 

But, the heart of my meal came at the end. I had been told by anyone and everyone that I had to order the “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate” for my dessert. (Yes, that is an oxymoron, but a DELICIOUS oxymoron!) I don’t think I can accurately describe this dessert (which was actually a drink and a dessert in one), other than to say it tasted exactly like a rich, thick hot chocolate… but cold. Hence: Frozen (Frrrozen) Hot Chocolate. 

So, if you’ve never been to Serendipity and you only take two pieces of advice from this post, they should be this: 

1. Make a reservation to avoid a ridiculous wait. But try to plan in advance as there are only a limited number of reservations available. (212-838-3531) 

2. Order a Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. You won’t regret it. 

Happy Eating. 

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The Convert

Yes, this IS the place from the Will Smith movie Hitch! Rice to Riches, located at 37 Spring Street, between Mott and Mulberry streets in lower Manhattan, is a landmark which specializes in Rice Pudding.

Every time I’m in NYC, someone always suggests that we go to Rice to Riches, to which I reply with a big, fat, “NO.” But, I have my reasons…

When I was a senior in high school, I got a job a local nursing home working in the dining room for the independent living residents. We offered a couple of staple desserts every night, one of the always being pudding: Chocolate, Vanilla, and RICE. I’ve been eating chocolate pudding my whole life, and I never really cared for vanilla, but the only association I’ve ever had with rice pudding is ‘nursing home.’ So, you can understand my disgust for a dish that I never actually tried.

But everyone raved how great R2R was, so on my last trip to NYC, I gave in and made a solo trip (so if I didn’t like it, no one had to feel bad about dragging me there).

To say that I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. It was DELICIOUS. As it was my first trip, I tried something basic: chocolate, or ‘Milk Chocolate Only Rings Twice’. Now, I was expecting traditional chocolate pudding flavor. WRONG. It tasted like soft chocolate ice cream. I was mad at myself for not getting a bigger order.

R2R offers a lot of different flavors, most of which change daily, along with a variety of toppings. Something for everyone, if you will. And, on top of it all, the actual restaurant is great, with super modern seating, and snarky signs everywhere (see below). Needless to say, I’ll be back.

Happy Eating.

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Get Lost

Let me tell you a story… 

The Lost Girls: (left to right) Jen Baggett, Holly Corbett, Amanda Pressner

In January 2009, my senior year of college at Syracuse University, I was president of a campus organization which teamed up with another student organization to bring a group of women to campus to speak about blogging and their experiences in the media world. These women, Amanda Pressner, Holly Corbett, and Jen Baggett, referred to themselves as The Lost Girls. The LGs all had great media jobs in NYC, working at magazines and in TV… and all 3 of them quit. Yes, quit these dream jobs that anyone would have KILLED for.

They quit their jobs and left their fabulous NYC lives to travel around the world for a year in search of inspiration and in search of themselves. During their yearlong adventure, they blogged about their journeys on lostgirlsworld.com. The blog gained national attention from places like CNN and The New York Times. It sparked so much interest, they signed a book deal with HarperCollins.         

Following the event we hosted, myself and the other organization’s president were lucky enough to go out to dinner with the LGs and talk to them more about the blog, the book and the world of media in general. They were so enthusiastic and optimistic about everything we talked about, which, at a time when I (and everyone in my graduating class) was having every doubt in the world about my future in journalism, was extremely refreshing and uplifting.         

I kept in touch with the LGs, and even contributed to their blog several times. They have been great mentors and have been so helpful, offering great career advice and guidance. This past fall, when they decided to give the blog a makeover and expand it, they offered me a chance to join their team as an editor. I jumped at the opportunity they gave me to continue writing and editing. I currently work at an office job (following graduation, I gave up an internship at a magazine in NYC for the security of a full-time job in Syracuse) and they gave me a shot I might not have otherwise had.         

So, why am I writing this? Because the LG’s book, ‘The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around The World.’, officially hits shelves on May 11, and I recommend you get it. They have worked extremely hard on this book and have already received positive reviews from their peers.         

Excerpt from the book description:         

“…Along the way, the Lost Girls find not only themselves but also a lifelong friendship. Ultimately, theirs is a story of true sisterhood—a bond forged by sharing beds and backpacks, enduring exotic illnesses, fending off aggressive street vendors, trekking across rivers and over mountains, and standing by one another through heartaches, whirlwind romances, and everything in the world in between. This candid and compelling memoir will speak to anyone who has ever felt the desire to spread her wings and discover the world with her best friends by her side.”         

For information on how and where to pre-order the book, you can check out the link on their website.         

I hope they will inspire you as much as they have inspired me.         

Happy Eating Travels.

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Colicchio & Sons

I’ve said it a million times now, but just in case you missed it: I love Top Chef on Bravo. It is one of my favorite shows, and during my vacation last month, I visited the restaurants of two former contestants. 

Right before I left, I read a review in the New York Times on Tom Colicchio’s (the Top Chef head judge) new restaurant, Colicchio & Sons, located on New York’s west side (85 Tenth Ave, at 15th St.). I planned on being in NYC for a few days at the end of my vacation, and thought about getting a reservation. However, the review stated that reservations should be made at least a week in advance, which disappointed me. But, just to check out what the restaurant offered, I logged on to their website, and discovered the restaurant had a Tap Room (or bar), which served its own menu on a first come, first serve basis. I didn’t make any definite plans to go, but kept it in the back of my mind 

When I arrived in NYC from Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon, I checked into my hotel and showered, and decided I was absolutely famished. So, I decided this was my perfect opportunity to try out C&S. I arrived at 5:30pm (I wished they had an early bird special!), which was when the Tap Room opened for dinner. The restaurant was empty, with the exception of two people at the bar, and one other couple seated for dinner. 

The Tap Room was pretty impressive. There was a wall of cubbies, filled with fire wood (I’m assuming to fuel the restaurant’s pizza oven, but I’m not sure), and the bar was stocked with more alcohol than a liquor store. I don’t have any pictures of the interior, I didn’t want to whip out my camera and make a total idiot of myself, especially in front of the wait staff. (Just a note to all the ladies reading this: it was clearly a requirement to work at this restaurant to be male, in your mid-twenties and look like you belong at model casting. If you don’t want to go for the food, you should go to have something nice to look at.) 

The bar was stocked with beer from all around the world. There were so many options that there was a drink menu as big as the food menu. I decided to try the Ommegang Abbey Ale, brewed in Cooperstown, NY (my home region). While I am not usually a fan of dark beer, this was not too heavy, and it was easy to pick up on the brew’s fruit and spices. 

For my dinner, I went classic bar food, or, at least the upscale version of it: a burger. I know, it seems pretty lame to go to Tom Colicchio’s restaurant and order a burger, but let me tell you, this wasn’t your average burger. The burger was topped with pecorino cheese, balsamic onions and thousand island dressing. It was so incredibly juicy, I almost put on a bib after my first bite. Warning: there is no sexy way to eat this burger. But it was so good, I didn’t care. It came with homemade chips on the side which were crispy with just the right amount of salt, perfectly complimenting the burger. 

I’d definitely love to go back and try the actual restaurant, but if you’re in the city and are looking for a good place to grab a bite without a reservation, I definitely recommend Colicchio & Sons. 

Happy Eating.

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