Tag Archives: marcus samuelsson

23 Reasons to Love My Readers

Today on Alphabet City: As the countdown to the new Poptimistic blog begins, Jon Paul looks back at the 23 Most Popular Alphabet City Posts of 2010.

Thank you to the thousands of readers from around the globe who have spent time in Alphabet City.  You’re a diverse bunch with varied tastes—from eco-friendly travel to gay hook-up apps—there’s been a little bit of something for everyone in 2010.  And you’re always surprising me—I mean who knew there were so many Glee fans in Brunei?  In case you’ve missed some of the favorites, I’ve pulled together the Top 23 for you—a little primer on what your fellow Alphabet Citizens have enjoyed.  Why 23?  Because it’s a funny number.  Let me know—did your favorites make the cut?

#1 40, Love: Glee Bargain I’d like to think that my take on Fox TV’s hit show Glee and the producer’s difficulty in portraying Kurt in a more realistic light hit a nerve with the blog-o-sphere.  But judging from the Google searches that linked to the post, I honestly think folks were searching for pictures of cute gay high school student Blaine.  Maybe a channel dedicated to my thoughts on the show is in order?  I think I’d call it KurtiousGLEE.

#2 40, Love: Hello, Meat Grindr No surprise that sex sells, especially to gay boys on the prowl.  My humorous take using the hook-up site during jury duty is one of ABCityblog’s perennial favorites.

A chance encounter with photographer Jamie Beck lead to my favorite Alphabet City publicity shot!

#3 BizSavvyBlogger’s Peek-A-Blog: From Me To You Out of a chance encounter in the blogosphere—courtesy of Whole Foods—blossomed a fun friendship with phenomenal photographer.  The result has been spectacular pictures of me, Chef and our home.  This post gives a peek behind her stylish blog.

#4 Alphabet City’s Episode 1: Whoopi A crazy cat and a mishap with her Oscar, make my encounter with Whoopi a perennial favorite—and the perfect opening to Alphabet City.

#5 BizSavvyBlogger’s Peek-A-Blog: PerrinPost.truth.travel For years travelers have been religiously following the advice of Condé Nast Traveler’s Wendy Perrin.  In this post, I get my longtime friend to dish about how her print job keeps her from blogging 24/7 and what that means for PR folks.

Another Jamie Beck captured moment

#6 40, Love: Tattoo Police I’m an exhibitionist at heart, so I take every chance to show off my tattoos—even on the blog.  According to Google, many people are worried about being “booked” in this tattoo database.

#7 Alphabet City’s: One Night in Bangkok Okay, I’ll admit that I was pandering to my readers with, shall we say, more prurient interests by posting this scandalous excerpt from Alphabet City about a gay sex palace in Bangkok.  But it has one of my favorite comic lines, ever.

#8 Green Globe Trekker: Blue Bahama Mama Thankfully, my readers have rather diverse tastes—especially for eco-travel.  In advance of my panel at Condé Nast Traveler’s World Savers Congress in Singapore, I get the green scoop on The Atlantis.

#9 Kitchen Knightmares: Something Fishy Moroccan Halibut and Carrots from a Bon Appétit recipe is the star of this post—the top viewed recipe related story.

#10 Alphabet City’s Alpha-Beltway This entry is the most-read post related to the Alphabet City Book Tour. While in DC, I get an insider perspective courtesy of old friends, have nauseating John Boehner sighting, and wonder what happened to my favorite Rosalynn Carter outfit.

#11(tie) Tex and the City: Lela & BA Café MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts makes a guest appearance in this post, sharing a picture of his taxi driver’s name Ram Amandeep.  Read it aloud.  That name has become the #2 Google search directing traffic my way.  The first?  “Glee Blaine.”  There’s a joke there, but for now, I’m going to refrain.


40, Love: Virgin Queen My first time with a woman—first time getting a tattoo, of course.  Next to sex, tattoos sells.  I guess they are related in a way.

#13 Kitchen Knightmares: Kiss My Grits After meeting Chef Marcus Samuelsson at a Kraft-sponsored event, I’ll admit developing a little crush.  Will his next restaurant be in Washington Heights?

#14(tie) Alphabet City’s Even Jesus Had a Publicist A rejection from a literary agent who thinks the general public won’t know what a “publicist” does provides an opportunity to excerpt from Alphabet City.


Alphabet City’s Episode 4: Tyra, And Nothing But the Truth Before she was America’s next top media mogul, she was grazing the breakfast buffet and quizzing me about my sexuality.

#16 Alphabet City’s First Excerpt from Episode 13: Happy Soul The online encounter that changed my life.

#17 40, Love: Justice Jo(h)n Paul Unearthing a letter from his father’s papers, I pay tribute to Supreme Court Justice John Paul.

#18 Alphabet City’s First Excerpt from Episode 14: And Baby Makes Three A heartbreaking farewell to a special cast member.  Pet lovers won’t be able to read without crying.

Outside Hanoi's Golden Cock

#19 Green Globe Trekker: iPho Vietnam—Motorbikes & Golden Cock While I’d like to think it’s my lovely description of Viet Nam that makes this post a standout, I believe the name of Hanoi’s gay bar is what calls out to many in their Google searches.

#20(tie) 40, Love: Share, and Cher alike AND Kitchen Knightmares: The Premiere The launch of my cooking show with a nightmare of rancid pork is as compelling to readers as my fighting with neighbors and their kids at the local CSA food pick-up spot.

#22 Tex and the City: The Parent Trap Confronting the question of “are you guys going to have kids?,” I turn to theater reviews for help.

#23 Green Globe Trekker: Costa Rican Eco-Luxe Many of the travel industry’s most pressing sustainability questions have been answered by the Costa Rican trendsetting company Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality.

Jicaro property


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Kitchen Knightmares: Kiss My Grits

Today on Kitchen Knightmares: An unusual invite from Kraft leads to Jon Paul’s first recipe exclusive.  Guest star: Chef Marcus Samuelsson.

When the cat wasn’t devouring my baby food, I mostly subsisted on a diet of chicken fried steak, peanut butter, and fried chicken growing up in Texas.  But on occasion, my palette veered into the exotic, enjoying delicacies unusual for many kids.  Slurping oysters at S&D Oyster Bar was a favorite Sunday afternoon treat.  And I never had enough of Aunt Shirley’s spicy gumbo with slimy okra bits since tasting it required a seven-hour car trip to Lafayette, Louisiana.

Years later, when my partner Chef began cooking for several Big Apple families, I was surprised to hear stories about the picky eating habits of NYC kids.  I had wrongly assumed that growing up in an urban jungle where exotic ports-of-call are represented on every street corner would have lead to a sophisticated—and expansive—palette.  Instead, Chef found himself cooking one more round of crowd pleasing chicken quesadillas sans cilantro.

Chef Samuelsson seems to be everywhere--including my subway stop

Thus my suspicion when an invitation to a brunch sponsored by Kraft heralding the kid-friendly recipes of Top Chef Masters Season 2 winner Marcus Samuelsson.  It was part of a new collection included in Kraft’s iPad app called Big Fork, Little Fork featured.

Now, I’ve been a big fan of Chef Samuelsson practically since I moved to New York—blown away by his global infusion of flavors into Scandinavian cuisine at Aquavit.  But what was a chef known for exalting exotic flavors doing with a solidly middle American food giant like Kraft in an effort to promote kids involvement with cooking?  This couldn’t be good, or successful.

Having briefly worked on a PR campaign for an international snack giant, I’m generally suspect of food companies and their efforts.  But, hey, I was impressed that Kelli, one of the publicists on Kraft’s team, had researched NYC food blogs and writers, and targeted me.  Besides, who am I to cast stones?  I of all people know that in this day and age, writers and chefs need support of major marketers to advance their messages and agendas.  My own Chef might have a book coming out soon, and this would give me a chance to see up close and personal how a chef that I admire navigates the often times tricky world of corporate partnerships.

Chef Samuelsson authentically balances Kraft's messages

Turns out, the charming and clever Chef Samuelsson manages it with ease, helped by the fact that Kraft isn’t over reaching here.  As the company executives explained to me, the idea behind the app is to give busy families some fun tools for easy cooking.  Sure, each recipe features at least one Kraft product—maybe some cheese, salsa, or taco shells—but the special recipes developed by Chef Samuelsson add in exotic flavors.  “We don’t have time to cook like in my grandmother’s age,” Chef Samuelsson said as he whipped up some flavorful chicken tacos.  “Not many people are going to make their own salsa or their own taco shells, so you’ll use these good options from Kraft.  But the rest of it you can cook yourself.  This application is about striking a balance between store bought and fresh.”

The recipes all have complete nutritional breakdowns, which is great, but made me wonder if Kraft was missing the mark.  Shouldn’t they be attacking the obesity problem in America?  As if he was reading my mind, Chef Samuelsson interjected, “Maybe in the next round we can address obesity, diabetes.  But this is a first step of getting kids involved in food.  It’s great for Kraft to be part of the solution.”  Point taken.  At least Kraft is doing something, even if it is subtly marketing their food products.

And just as I was starting to snicker that Chef Samuelsson was cooking a pretty easy recipe of chicken tacos for a room full of snobby food bloggers and writers, he once again whisked away my skepticism.  “I grew up in Sweden.  And all over the country on Friday nights, the entire country eats tacos.  Surprising, right?  Not what you think of as authentic tacos.  But Swedish tacos with all sorts of unusual fillings.  And I realized that tacos are a great way to incorporate different types of ingredients and flavors for kids.  Light chili pepper, or paprika.”

The dish on the brunch display I was most taken by was the Red Grits.  In the South, grits are a gateway food to a heart attack.  But Chef Samuelsson’s concoction tasted more like a side dish at an upscale Italian restaurant.  I commented to one of the Kraft executives that I would love to feature the recipe, and she told me they were exclusive to the iPad.  I pressed, and she said she would see what she could.  A few minutes later, she returned with Chef Samuelsson in tow, explaining that it was up to him to give permission.  When I told him my childhood love affair with grits, he lit up, “That’s it.  Grits are really a food that kids eat in some form around the globe.  So they are a wonderful way to introduce kids to vegetables like tomatoes.  Of course you can have the recipe.”

And then he smiled, and my heart melted.  Because I knew that in his heart, he was doing the right thing.  Fighting the right battles.  Marcus Samuelsson is as passionate as Jamie Oliver, but way more palatable.  And he’d just given me my very first Kitchen Knightmares exclusive.

Kitchen Knightmares Exclusive

Red Grits by Marcus Samuelsson (adapted from Kraft’s iPad app Big Fork Little Fork)


1 Tbsp, olive oil

1 tsp, tomato paste

1/8 tsp, smoked paprika

½ cup, grits (old style, NOT instant)

1 cup, chopped tomato

1 cup, tomato juice

1 cup, fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth

¼ cup, Kraft shredded Colby & Monterrey Jack cheese

2 Tbsp, chopped fresh basil

To Make:  Cook first three ingredients in medium saucepan on medium to low heat for 1 minute.  Add grits; cook and stir 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes; cook and stir 2 minutes.  Stir in juice and stock; simmer 10 minutes.  Top with cheese and basil.

JP’s notes: I like a little heat and spice (fancy that living with a Mexican Chef), so would add more paprika or even a hint of chili powder.  The fresh basil definitely gives it an important flavor punch, so keep that in mind when you taste for seasoning—you don’t need to over salt because the basil will give it a kick.


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