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Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Years ago, when my kids were just tiny specs of what they are now, a best friend of mine would drive from her house, nearly an hour away, just to cook dinner for me.

 

At least once a week.

 

She invited herself of course, as all good friends do. In my state, it never would have entered my mind to entice another person into my varying vortex. When it began, I had only a single child. The task was fairly uncomplicated at that point, but even when the total of tots quickly rose to three, she, somehow, was not deterred.

 

She would arrive to screaming babies, scattered Cheerios and mounds of laundry piled in the hallway. There would often be a sink full of dirty dishes, a forgotten diaper gracing the table or me, crying in a corner.

 

But, week after week, in the door she’d burst with an arm full of groceries and a funny story to tell. Out would come the pots and pans and commence would the chopping, slicing, stirring and simmering.

 

My husband was traveling a lot then and with three children under five, her visits meant the world to me. Raising kids—being housebound for long days on end—can be very isolating and as decadent smells, (these being anything non-urine or spit-up related) started to permeate the air, I’d often reflect on how having someone go to the magnitude of shopping, commuting and cooking for me was much like a good dose of vigorous CPR.

 

She didn’t have any children at that time and I wish I could say that now that she has had two of her own, I’ve been as worthy a friend as she. I’d always intended to return the favor, but as it turns out, tiny tots transform into taxing teens and there is somehow even less time now than there was all those years ago.

 

Over the days, weeks, months and years that this went on, we, okay she, concocted many recipes that the two of us shared a love for. One of these favorites was fresh Crab Cakes with, made from scratch, Chipotle Sauce.

 

And I’ll tell you, having it made for you when your children are five, three and zero is truly wonderful, but returning home to find a serving of it in your mailbox when they’re eighteen, fifteen and fourteen is a true lump-in-the-throat moment.

Because sauce is my favorite

Because sauce is my favorite

 

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Despite the fact that it’s 2 degrees, cool is not the weather it’s the style here in NYC. That’s right folks, Hazy is in the Big Apple; a place where they have shops with names like Mint Julep, Belly Dance and Shoegasm. Ladies, be honest, you’re hot for all three. Men…well, maybe just the last two.

A city where nothing cramps creativity…unless you happen to be wearing super long, phony, glue on nails like me.  Please excuse any typos, but they do look super fab…the nails, not the typos.

I can’t put my finger on it, but this city is validating; makes you feel like you will attain whatever it is your little heart may be yearning for. Different is distinguished, quirky is quaint and weird is wild which subsequently makes for a vivacious vibe.

We should all experience that. We should all feel invincible. We all need a little New York…or maybe just some really good pasta every so often. That’s totally doable, isn’t it? Failing that, a Shoegasm would be a close second.

Alana at Bistecca Fiorentina

 

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“I know, right?” She agrees, clicking her tongue.

I try, but I can’t stop staring at her mouth. Her teeth are so white now, they’re almost blue and the effect makes her lips and tongue look like cream soda drenched cotton candy.

Am I missing something? Either I’m imagining our conversation or, all of a sudden, I’m in need of hearing aids. Either way, I cannot believe she’s ordering what she’s ordering. I grit my teeth as I hear her say;
“I’ll have the tomato salad. Ah, is there sugar in the dressing?”

“Yes,” says our server.

“Dressing on the side, then please. Actually, no dressing. None at all. And, oh! No avocado. I know it’s good fat and everything,” she flutters her polished nails, “but I’m completely fat free right now.”

“Yes, M’am.” Patiently accommodating, he explains; “I just want to make sure you realize it will basically be tomatoes then, with a little bit of vinegar, salt and pepper.”

Yes, yes, fine,” Tasia agrees. “Wait, no oil, right?”

“That’s a given. M’am.” he says, head down.

I’m caught off guard. Only moments ago, we’d discussed chicks who want burgers but order leaves, ladies who ask for side dressing and use the whole portion anyway, women who only drink Skinny Girl cocktails…by the dozen.

Our waiter glances at me and I flush, instantly wanting to change my order. My medium rare New Yorker with sautéed garlic prawns now seems a tad excessive.

But, almost as instantly, I regret my brush with backpedalling.

I want the steak dammit, and the prawns. I don’t want to pay just as much for tomatoes with salt as I will for a real meal.  I do not want to be a fake bitch that drinks Skinny Girl. I mean, if I’m gonna drink Skinny Girl, I’m gonna mean it; a three cocktail cut-off, for sure.

“I’m good,” I tell him. I’ll live with whatever kind of fat I’ve ordered.”

“Yes, Miss. Excellent choice.”

“So, anyway,” Tasia starts the moment our server turns his back. “What have you been up to?” Her big, black-lined eyes tilt up and away from her Pellegrino, flickering over various parts of my being.

“Well, the shop keeps me…”

“Did you hear the waiter, by the way? I mean, he pretty much insulted me by complimenting you. Not cool.”

“I don’t think he…”

“He will not be getting a good tip from me,” she continues. “Not cool at all.”

I attempt to distract her; “You know, work, I’m consumed with trying to…”

“Oh my God. I forgot to tell you. Paul and Maxine? They split!” She almost looks happy announcing it and I feel a little sick.

“Weren’t they, I mean, married for like, ever?”

“Yeah, crazy, huh?” She manages to sip her bubbling water and maintain a smug look at the same time.

“Don’t they have kids? How many kids do they have…?”

“Two, three? I don’t know, God. I’m just trying to tell you, they’re done. He found someone else…had it going for a while, like, a couple of years while. So typical.

 

The corners of her super pink mouth are frothy, cream soda foaming over the side of a cup and I focus on that, not wanting to say regretful things.

“Sad.” I mumble.

Our meals come. Well, my meal and her salted tomatoes.

“Do you have bread?” She questions the waiter.

“Of course, yes,” he replies. “But I thought…”

This is simply tomatoes. I need a little more substance.” Tasia looks to me, expecting empathy, but I shift my glance to the topiary tree behind her. I decide it looks like it’s growing out of the top of her head.

“Definitely,” he replies. “I’ll bring the bread right away.”

“Whole wheat. Light margarine.”

My food looks delicious and the steam rising up, infusing my pores is mouthwatering. The garlic, the butter, the meat…all divine.

Oh my, can you smell the grease? Insane, right?

What’s insane, I think to myself, is that you’re commenting while slathering even more margarine on top of that already thick layer.

“Maxine,” I interrupt. “Is she okay? Are they, you know, going to try counseling?”

“God, no. Are you crazy? He cheated on her, Em. You don’t recover from that.”
“Well, their history, the kids…anything’s…”

“Ugh! This vinegar is so bitter. How do they get away with this?” She moves her plate to the middle of the table and takes out her phone.

I think back to high school and lunches with Tasia. We haven’t seen each other in years, but not a lot has changed.

“Save me a seat!” she’d shout down the hall the period before lunch, already knowing I would. Just like she knew I’d give her money when she forgot her wallet, like she knew I’d rush to my locker, throw in my books and fight the desire to organize them to save a few seconds, like she knew I’d hurry to the dining hall to snag two stools side by side.

Like she knew I’d wait.

I’d wait while she chatted to Mel and Sean, wait while she flirted with Mr.Polson and wait while she butted the line to get her lunch ahead of mine, fanning the tenner I’d lent her earlier in Troy Danning’s face while she fiddled and fluttered.

“Ah, you’re such a sweetie!” she’d exclaim approaching our table. “Like Sawyer; always waiting for me. You just need a tail to wag. You’re the best, Em.

And with a flip of her ponytail, my head would sink as she’d plunk down her tray, straddle the stool and delve into whatever gossip was happening around us. I was sure to throw my sweater over my own spot, knowing she wouldn’t shoo anyone away if they tried to take it while I lined for lunch.

Looking up from my plate, I see she’s still tapping at her screen. I eat my grease in silence and, I have to admit, I enjoy every bit of it, the calories, the quiet and the calm.

“I bet he wasn’t getting any.” Head still down, she continues. “You know as well as I do, she’s a total prude. Remember when …?”

Wiping my mouth with my crisp, cloth napkin, I, possibly for the first time ever; cut her off;

“I really don’t want to get into it. We don’t know the first thing about their marriage. Speculating is definitely not fair.”

“Well, all I’m saying is…”

Instead of looking surprised when I stand, she squints, her huge, round eyes melding into selfish slits.

You’ll have to pay, Tasia. I forgot my wallet.”

I swear our server gives me a nod of approval as I fling my purse over my shoulder and walk out the door, head held high.

Tomatoes

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Well, it’s pouring.  No, let me change that to bucketing.  For some, a depressing downer of a wet day, but for me, a perfect opportunity to hole up fireside and delve into post number fifty-one.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to come to this place and point for inspiration.  After all, I love this lady, her story, her blog and her wonderful book.  She came highly recommended by a friend of mine a few years ago and let me tell you, one taste and I was hooked.

A ‘foodie’ I am not, but I do eat the stuff and I find it’s much, much better when delicious.  (Simply picturing me winking here is sufficient because when I actually do it, I look a bit like my back just went out)  I digress…

This Superwoman does it all; blogs, cooks, writes books, snagged a husband is a wife, runs businesses, grows babies, photographs all of the above and looks fabulous while doing it.

I’d like to say I adore this (insert one specific thing about her here) the most, but I can’t.  The whole package is just crazy palatable.  Her writing style is seducingly smooth; her subject matter, quite literally devourable.

Spending endless hours in the scullery, or simply eating what comes your way, this master of many trades will arrive at your heart’s doorstep whether she journeys there mentally or digestively.

The site: Orangette, the heroine: Molly Wizenberg.

Molly started her blog in 2004 and published her book in 2009.  Her blog is still going strong and her book is a must-read.  She connects food, dishes and recipes with reflections and her descriptives will have you salivating.  The cuisine is undeniably delectable but honest accounts of her days in Paris, her father and his passing will have your heart aching.

Her very first blog post is here and a glimpse into her book can be found here.

This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t acknowledge her grace and generosity.  In March 2011, I emailed Molly, asking if she’d meet in an alley at Delancey (which she happens to own) during one of the nights I’d be in town.  I never expected an answer, but thought it would be a good story, me explaining the nutty thing I’d attempted to pull off.

As luck would have it, she replied.

Within an hour…maybe less…I had an email from Molly Wizenberg saying; “Sure.”

I was ahh-mazed, ahh-stounded and ahh-bsolutely freaking out.

*Side Note: I am in no way encouraging anyone to follow my lead.  This was over a year ago and ‘Mrs. Wizenberg’ has since started a second book, had a baby and opened another bar/restaurant (named Essex, FYI) and is, presumably, much, much busier than she was way back then.

I was very touched by her kindness and will never forget the evening or the experience.  If you ever happen to read this, oh great one, I thank you from the bottom of my writer-reader heart.

By the way…the food just happened to be top-notch.

Molly and Hazy hangin’ Delancey style.

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