Another year, another trip north, to the Adirondacks. And now that I’m looking at this year’s photos, I’m also noticing that this trip was in Technicolor!
The Internet has its uses.
You can find love, sex and friendship. You can buy a car, music, a house, new shoes, shampoo and books. You can sell couches, handicrafts, taxidermy and used appliances. You can make yourself sound smarter, look prettier and cook better. You can stalk your ex, find your long-lost best friend and pretend you’re someone else. You can also read this blog.
But of all these miracles of the Internet, I’ve found one consistent failing. Directions.
A few years ago, Isaac and I spent a dreamy, wonderful week in the Finger Lakes. Our first hotel actually had a free-flowing spigot of wine about 11 feet from our room’s door. It was kind of like being a kid in a candy store. It was the most beautiful October New York state has ever had, and we spent it outdoors traveling from vineyard to vineyard, winding through the most picturesque back roads, eating at Diner-aunts and just generally relaxing.
But the trip didn’t start out this way. We set out from New York City and headed north. We followed the directions–printed out from the internet–exactly. But no matter what we did or how many times we backtracked and tried again, we just kept ending up in a grocery store’s parking lot.
After a five hour drive, and with the promise of free-flowing wine, this is not exactly the place that dreams are made of. So we circled the parking lot until one of us managed a very weak signal on our cellphone. “Hello? Oh, yes hi. We’re supposed to be staying at your hotel tonight, but the directions from your website have us ending up in a grocery store parking lot.” “Oh, no! Do we still have the Mapquest directions up on the site? Oh yeah, you can’t trust those.”
It’s been a very easy summer to complain about.
The weather has been dreadful and the hours at work long and exhausting, and that has meant that finding the time to keep the Granny Cart up to date has been nearly impossible. I begin a post and then it sits for a week, sometimes two, until I find the time to complete it. And then, when the post is finally done, it’s nowhere near as good as I had hoped it would be.
So, in an attempt to not dwell on the negative, allow me to paraphrase Juliet:
Swear not about the rain, the near constant rain, that daily changes good dirt to mud, lest my prose prove likewise dour.
In a move that may surprise those that know me in real life, I’d like to stop complaining for a minute, and focus on the good things, because in the rare moments when the rain has stopped, it’s actually been quite an awesome summer.
So, in no particular order, Things I’m Loving, Summer 2009.
The Red Barn‘s Tiny ‘Tinis. 2 oz Martinis. Perfect in both concept and execution.
So sorry to keep you waiting.
It’s happening to me, too. I’m just waiting for Spring to pop. And for our little mini-vacation next weekend, (we’re going to Bermuda, yay!). Waiting for the pear blossoms I’m forcing inside to bloom, for root vegetables to be displaced at the market and for a time when I can stop filling the bird feeders. And right now I’m waiting for my mom to come over, so we can take her out for lunch. And then it’ll be back to waiting again.
At least it’s active waiting. Yesterday I turned over the compost pile. Last weekend I drew up a plan for the beds I want to make in the old garden. Today I’m hoping to draw up plans for the new garden (I’m thinking of turning one bed over entirely to squashes and melons and the other to nitrogen-fixing and super-tasty beans).
There are a few signs of things to come. There’s a little patch of snowdrops, and two tiny, brave yellow crocuses sticking their heads out of the dirt (my mom says the yellow ones are always first). And there are the promises of flowers everywhere; on the trees, on the bushes, in the ground. But still we wait.
Last week I was feeling itchy, I wanted to see signs of spring in the city. So I walked across Central Park to the eastside. I could hear spring. The birds were in full courtship mode, but there were very few flowers.
And yes, Carol, it was MCA.
There were other famous people in the room too, but I’m terrible at identifying famous people. I’ll stand and stare and think to myself, I know that person… But can never figure out how, until weeks or months later when I see them in a movie or on TV and blurt out, Oooooh! I talked to that guy at a party once! The person I most wanted to talk to was Michael Colameco, the über-mensch of New York City public television food shows, but, by the time the speeches were over, I turned around and he was gone. I was bummed.
So where was I? At Chanterelle. It was a launch party for David Waltuck‘s new cookbook. The book is beautiful and the party was swish and the food delicious, but $54 was too rich for my blood. I think I’ll be putting it on my Christmas wish list. And even though I was having a blast, I decided to leave early, so I would be home in time to watch last night’s debate.
As I was walking up Thomas Street to catch the bus, I heard that unmistakable whine and stutter that New York City’s buses make. I looked up, and there it was, the X27 passing by. I broke into a full run, blasted around the corner onto Broadway, only to see the bus pulling away from the stop.
I slowed down, but then the bus stopped, so I took off again at a full gallop. And then the bus pulled away again, but I was already running, so I kept going, and after about five blocks, I finally caught up to it. But let me tell you something… After a handful of hors d’œuvre and three glasses of Pol Roger, five blocks at a full tilt is tantamount to the New York City Marathon. Thank god I wasn’t wearing heels!
I made it home in time to catch the debate (I swear if McCain said Joe the Plumber one more time I was about to lose the very cute, incredibly delicious deviled quail eggs I had gorged on earlier in the evening) and to peek at the winner of Project Runway (I won’t spoil it, but I will say that I’m very pleased).
But you know what? This wasn’t my favorite cookbook event of the week, not in any way. Nope. Last Wednesday, I was able to sneak away from my desk for 30 minutes, to finally meet my bean-guru, Steve from Rancho Gordo. He was in town spreading the bean gospel, signing copies of his cookbook at the Union Square greenmarket. We chatted while he signed my book, a bargain at only $20, discussing beans and cooking and gardening and business. It was the most pleasant break I’ve taken from work in months. And when I walked away, I was inspired.
On Saturday, I made a loaf of Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s basic hearth bread, roasted a chicken (the rest of which is waiting patiently in the freezer for stock making next weekend), and boiled up some beans. Earlier in the summer I went absolutely nuts at the greenmarket buying up, in bulk, every kind of shell bean I could find. I bought pink ones, and blue ones, black ones and red ones, fat ones and skinny ones and one sort that are so beautiful, they look like the night sky. Issac and I spent hours shelling them and then gently tucked them into the freezer.
A few weekends ago I made Tuscan Magic Beans with fresh cannellinis from my stash (I also made the world’s most glorious lasagna entirely from scratch and never told you about it). The beans were a revelation. People always say that dried beans and canned beans are just fine, that nothing is lost in the processing. To them I now must say, malarkey. Fresh cannellini beans have as much in common with canned cannellinis as canned artichoke hearts have in common with spring’s first, tenderest, most beautiful tiny purple artichokes served shaved as a salad in a Florentine trattoria.
The beans I made over the weekend were a mix of Steve’s fool-proof method and my version of the Tuscan magic way. I sauteed onions, boiled beans, and then at the last minute added some raw onion, lemon zest and chopped olives. The beans had an alluring, attractive, secretive aroma that traveled all the way down. They were delicious with the bread and chicken for dinner, but definitely were better the next morning as breakfast, refried, on toast with poached eggs.
And while I enjoyed my rub with real celebrity; I mean, let’s be honest, if someone had walked over to me and said, “Ann, allow me to introduce you to Martha Stewart,” I would have lit up like a Christmas tree. But in reality I found my little chat with a bean celebrity far more fulfilling and inspirational. I just never know what to say to celebrities. I know I would hate having people walk up and babble at me, but isn’t that what being a celebrity is all about? What do you think? Should I have tried to meet Martha?
Head below the jump for the recipe for Perfumed Dinner (or Breakfast) Beans.