The Grub Street Diet

Bon Appétit EIC Adam Rapoport Is Very Picky About His Sandwiches, Thinks He Says ‘Tasty’ Too Often

“I’m a typical New Yorker in that I do eat out a lot,” confesses Bon Appétit’s brand-new editor-in-chief, Adam Rapoport. “But being married and having a 3-year-old, maybe not as much as I once did.” We would’ve guessed his workload is getting in the way of his dining, too: Not only did he take over one of America’s most established food magazines all of two weeks ago, he’s also been charged with overseeing the editorial office’s move from Los Angeles to New York. That means he’s spending a lot of time flying between the two cities. “There’s a little turbulence,” he says. “But I’m hoping to have a proper office in the New Year.” Yet even with all that going on, he still found time to not only get out in two different cities, but also to keep track of all of it for this week’s New York (by way of Los Angeles) Diet.

Friday, December 3
I like to get up a little earlier than my wife and 3-year-old son, Marlon. So I have like a half-hour to read the sports page and enjoy the morning. I always go to Café Grumpy around the corner on 20th Street and get an iced red-eye. Grumpy’s great, but you have that situation where you’re ordering and they’re like, well do you want Salvadoran or Mexican or Guatemalan? And it’s like, dude. I just want a coffee and to sit here and read the paper.

I eat breakfast at my desk. Like a lot of people I’m a same-breakfast-every-morning person. I do a slice of multi-grain toast with peanut butter on it. I know I’m supposed to be eating the organic stuff, but I’m basically a Jif guy. I like when it gets all melty and shiny on the toast. I can, and do, eat that every day.

For lunch I went to what we call the Japanese Bookstore on 40th and Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bryant Park. [It’s Café Zaiya, above the Kinokuniya Bookstore.] It’s the best deal in midtown or Times Square or wherever the hell we are. It’s this cool little café on the second floor of the bookstore, and they have all the little takeout boxes. I just get the chicken katsu, which is their chicken cutlet. But because they’re Japanese, and smart, they use the chicken thigh instead of the breast, so it’s really moist and flavorful. So you get a chicken cutlet sliced up with some rice and pickled something-or-other and dipping sauce, and it’s like five bucks. It’s a fun little lunch.

That evening I went home and it was Omelette Night in America: I’m a big omelette fan. For whatever reason, Americans think omelettes have to be eaten only at breakfast. The French seem to get that it’s a great lunch or dinner. I got my omelette-making skills from my dad. I know that fancy restaurants want the omelette to be this nice, beautiful, unblemished blonde color, but I like the butter to brown a little bit, so the omelette gets a little more caramelized on the outside. I like to do some caramelized onions, some cheese in the middle, and whatever fresh herbs I have in the house.

I did that with roast potatoes, kind of Italian-style: peel them, cube them, and just use a mess of olive oil, chopped fresh rosemary, and whole garlic cloves, unpeeled. If you ever go to Italy, you learn that the secret to good Italian cooking is just use a … uh, boatload of olive oil and salt. And a simple Bibb-lettuce salad with shallot vinaigrette. And a bottle of Sancerre. That’s a tasty dinner!

I believe cooking is much more about technique than recipes. You should learn how to cook, not what to cook. I learned because my mom was a really good home cook, and then having worked at the James Beard Foundation and Time Out and just being around good cooks — I’ve been very fortunate to have access to so many great chefs. And cooking shows with Jacques Pépin. He’s just the coolest dude ever.

Saturday, December 4
Regular breakfast. Grumpy red-eye and toast. I don’t know if I need to say that every time. For whatever reason, people are creatures of habit when it comes to breakfast. At least, a lot of people are. They want the same thing the same way. And they’re very particular. And if they go out, they’ll say, I want my eggs this way and I want that on the side. If you tried to order dinner like that, chefs would kill you. But for whatever reason, restaurants are tolerant of breakfast neuroses.

It was my son’s 3rd birthday, so we had like fifteen 3-year-olds at the Transit Museum in Brooklyn. Pizza and cupcakes for lunch. I had like three slices of pizza, but didn’t do the cupcakes. I’m not a big dessert guy in the middle of the day.

That night our friend had a birthday dinner at Roberta’s in Bushwick. That was pretty awesome. It’s a very raucous, loud place. They’re cranking a lot of old hip-hop that 41-year-old white guys like myself enjoy. And they have cans of Budweiser for $3, so I like that. I’m a Bud-in-a-can sort of a guy. There were like twelve of us, so we did the preordered sort of a deal. We had a mixed salumi plate. Then we had the Millennium Falco pizza. It was pork sausage and onions. Then there was the Brusselsmania pizza. It’s a white pie with Brussels sprouts. That was pretty awesome. Both were really tasty.

The main course was a big platter of slow-roasted pork shoulder. They just give you a set of tongs and you just have at it. Kind of like Momofuku Ssäm Bar. You just can’t stop eating it. It was basically like lounging in a pool of salty pork fat. So, yeah. That was a lot of fun. And really tasty.

Sunday, December 5
Had the red-eye and toast.

For lunch, I made a ham sandwich and coleslaw while Marlon was napping. It was one of those days where you’re doing your weekend chores, so a simple lunch while watching the Giants game.

Sunday night my parents came over for a Hanukkah dinner and I did a roast chicken. But I guess I do a hybrid version. You brown the chicken on the stove top in a Dutch oven and then take it out. Then throw in a bunch of chopped onions, carrots, chopped ginger, cloves of garlic, and caramelize those. Put the chicken back in the pot. Then pour in about an inch of white wine and water. Then put the top on the pot and stick it in the oven at 325 for about an hour. It’s like a braise. When it’s done it’s super pull-off-the-bone tender. And almost like pulling it apart more than you are carving. Then you’ve got that great sort of gravy from all the chicken fat seeping into the carrots and wine. As the chicken’s resting, you put the pot on the stove top and reduce that sauce so it gets a little more caramelized and syrupy. Pretty tasty!

So I had that and as a side I’ve been getting into quinoa lately. I never thought I’d say that. But I did quinoa mixed with roasted broccoli and some chopped parsley. Chopped parsley is one of the most underappreciated herbs in the kitchen. For some reason, in America it’s got that reputation as plate garnish. But flat-leaf Italian parsley’s awesome. It kind of peps up every dish.

So that was dinner with the family, which is nice to do.

Monday, December 6
Red-eye and toast.

I was flying out for L.A. that day, so I grabbed a quick sandwich at the Condé Nast cafeteria. They’ve got a sandwich bar, which is great, but you’ve gotta keep on the sandwich-makers, or else they’ll spread on Dijon like it’s peanut butter. I don’t need four tablespoons on there! I stay away from cold cuts. You want those feathery-thin slices, like in Italy. I keep bringing up Italy, but they do know how to eat well. And in America we just have those thick, rubbery slices of cold cuts. So I do whole-wheat toast, Cheddar cheese, avocado, cucumber, and tomatoes if they’re looking good. And then mayonnaise. But it’s gotta be Hellman’s. I would never eat Miracle Whip. It’s like Coke to Pepsi: One is far superior. And I hate Pepsi. I’ll go on record saying that.

Got on a plane around four-thirty to fly to L.A. I’m not an airplane-food guy. Weird, bad lasagna or some strange glazed chicken with wild rice — I just can’t do that. So I just snacked on some nuts on the plane.

By the time I got to the hotel and checked in and everything, it was probably like nine o’clock. I was fairly starving and tired. I just went to the hotel bar or dining room or whatever and had a Ketel One soda, which is, besides Budweiser, my go-to drink. And a cheeseburger, medium rare, with fries. It was the Chateau Marmont and it was actually a good cheeseburger. A better burger than I imagined. And they’ve got a nice courtyard, so you can sit outside under the heat lamps, which are L.A.’s greatest contribution to American culture. I always enjoy ‘em when I’m in L.A.

Tuesday, December 7
At the hotel I had double espresso on ice in a rocks glass, with milk on the side. I don’t trust iced coffee. Unless you really know where you’re getting it from, it looks more like iced tea than iced coffee — watery. But if you go with espresso, you know it’s going to be more concentrated and flavorful. Then I had some multigrain toast with cream cheese, tomato, and avocado. I’m kind of an avocado fiend. They’re like nature’s butter.

Then I went into the office. We’re working on the February issue right now. Going over layouts and titles and all that sort of stuff. So that’s going well.

For lunch we went to Loteria, which is the little taqueria in the farmers’ market here in Hollywood. Had three little soft tacos. There was a carnitas, a chicken pipian with a nutty red sauce, and then there was a zucchini sort of vegetably one. And some black beans and a green cilantro rice deal. And you’re sitting outside in 70 degree weather and zero percent humidity. It doesn’t suck.

For dinner I met up with Chris Huvane, who used to be GQ’s West Coast editor and now he’s at Management 360. We went to a screening, then he took me to the Soho House. They just opened one in L.A. about eight months ago. I’ve gotta say: It’s pretty awesome. I guess it’s where all the fancypants folk take their meetings and have coffee with celebrities. We split a plate of burrata with roasted tomatoes. I did a pounded-thin grilled-chicken paillard with arugula and heirloom tomatoes. My Hollywood diet, I guess.

Wednesday, December 8
I guess I was feeling a little hungry that morning. Apparently chicken breasts and arugula aren’t enough to fill me up. So I got soft-boiled eggs with the little soldiers, you know, those toast points. You never quite know what you’re going to get when you order soft-boiled eggs, but these turned out well.

For lunch, I went to Joan’s on Third and had a really good roast-turkey sandwich with avocado and a, kind of, caper-mustard-mayo spread. They sliced the turkey really thinly and don’t pile too much on. That’s another thing that annoys me about American sandwiches. They think it’s all about the meat and they just give you so much meat. But it should be all about the balance. It’s about the whole package. So I had that on a baguette and a cold salad of snap peas and asparagus.

They’ve got really tasty — I’m saying tasty too much, I think — desserts there. So I got some sort of chocolate, coconut, nutty cookie. And a double espresso on ice. If I were in New York, I would never have a lunch like that. I’m a little more monastic in New York, but because you’re in another city you do stuff you normally wouldn’t. You kind of pretend you’re on vacation, even though I’m out here working.

That night for dinner I went down to Osteria Mozza, Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton’s place. I sat at the mozzarella bar by myself. A buddy, Dave Rosoff, is the manager, so I wanted to go by and see him. I had a buffalo mozzarella with some prosciutto. And then I did the agnolotti, the little mini tortellini-shaped pasta. It was stuffed with sausage and chicken and veal and covered with this butter sauce. It’s just very simple, on a plate, and ridiculously delicious. And a couple glasses of Piedmontese white wine. I forget the kind of white wine, but it was a crisp white wine. For dessert, I had to get the bomboloni. Anytime there’s doughnuts on the menu, you can’t really not order them.

It’s funny. I ended up sitting next to two guys at the bar who’d just gotten in from New York, two young dudes who were just in L.A. to hang out with their buddies for a few days. New Yorkers will just start conversations with you. There are no borders. Just, like, “Hey, what are you eating? Those doughnuts look amazing.” I’m a big fan of dining alone. If you’re eating at the bar and reading a magazine, it’s great. Or if you want to strike up conversations with people at the bar, or the bartender, you can sort of manufacture company as necessary. It can be fun, relaxed, and, hopefully, tasty.

Wait, I didn’t mean tasty. Delete tasty.

Bon Appétit EIC Adam Rapoport Is Very Picky About His Sandwiches,