Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ringing out the summer.

My friend Richard is an all-around fabulous person. He lives a glittering life, full of fashion and fundraising and other sparkly things. He also, as it happens, makes a mean corn salad.

When we headed to Abby & Jason's apartment for dinner a few weeks ago (Abby is Richard's sister; Jason is my cousin.), I contributed a peach-blueberry pie, and Richard brought this incredible salad. It was so simple, but so good. He mixed together raw, sweet corn, red onion, feta, avocado and - though he left a bit out of mine, knowing how I feel about it - cilantro.

I couldn't believe how creamy and salty and sweet the whole thing was. It went beautifully with the steak and potatoes Abby and Jason served, and it was just such a perfect dish for the end of summer. You know how it is - we're coming to the end of the bounty of ridiculously delicious summer produce, and you just want as much of it as you can get.

The version I made at home featured basil instead of cilantro (obviously), and mascarpone instead of feta, since that was what I had. I haven't written up a recipe for it yet - though hopefully I'll be able to soon: I have two precious ears of local New York corn waiting in the fridge.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Easy does it.

Sometimes, you just need a really simple salad. Last week was just such a time. I was overwhelmed at work, busy and home, and generally a bit wiped out. Cooking anything with a measure of complexity was simply beyond my means, and so I turned to one of the simplest standbys I know.

Sliced tomatoes (heirloom or otherwise; just make sure they're tasty and not bland), sliced red onion, torn basil, good balsamic vinegar (it should be a bit syrupy and rich and a bit sweet, not runny and tangy) and sea salt.

It satisfies the tummy and the soul.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mixed feelings.

Nick, Louisa and I enjoyed a lovely breakfast at The Breslin last Friday. The coffee was stupendous, the baked eggs with tomato and chorizo simply glorious, and the service, frankly, lacking. At a restaurant of The Breslin's quality, I shouldn't have to wait ten minutes for sugar for my coffee.

But, man, what good coffee it is. Love you, Stumptown.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A decade.

Ten years ago today, I moved to New York City. My first apartment was on a slightly desolate block of the Upper West Side. Today, there's a Whole Foods a block away, and four high rises have gone up within a two-block radius. Times, you could say, have changed.

I've spent my entire adult life here in Manhattan, and I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. My first few weeks were, obviously, colored by the September 11th attacks. I didn't even have my cable hooked up yet and wasn't due to start work for another week, so I spent the day curled up in my hallway listening to the radio. When I left to walk 20 blocks downtown to Caroline's apartment for company, cable and dinner, I passed Brooke Shields on the street.

That's New York, you know? The gritty reality crossed with the glamour of art and, in this case, celebrity - writ large.

My first forays into grown-up cooking were, to say the least, less than exciting. There were many grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (a trick I learned from my slightly older and much wiser roommate), a lot of bottled marinara sauce, and tons of macaroni and cheese. But always a green salad. I've always been addicted to vegetables.

I spent my money at the bars and skimped on my food budget. A fancy night out was dinner at Big Nick's, an all-night pizza and burger joint on Broadway. I came home most nights by way of the local pizza place, slice in hand. I'd leave it in the oven to keep warm, hop in the shower to get rid of the bar smell (those were the days before the smoking ban, when I'd have to hang my coat on the fire escape overnight to air out the cigarette fumes), then eat the cheesy, greasy goodness while watching a movie on my hand-me-down sofa.

Today, I drink booze with flavor (bourbon or gin, not vodka), the dinners are nicer and the nights (mostly) earlier. The produce is fancier and more local, and the apartment a bit more pulled together. But the joy I feel every time I see the New York skyline, the rush I get every morning when I walk out the door, the satisfaction I take in having made it in this most insane and exciting and glorious of cities - that hasn't changed one little bit.

Thank you, New York, for raising me so well. I love you. Which is a good thing, because we seem to be stuck with one another.
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