Prospects Rising

26 Mar

I’m going to go out on a limb here. I think spring has sprung.

Croci are blooming, Roger Clark has shed his ugly green jacket, and my mother tells me the vultures have returned Upstate (she swears this is a surer sign of spring than the return of the robins).

Prospect Park Croci

But what’s the surest sign of spring, chez Granny Cart? Yep, you guessed it, a very long walk.

12 miles to be exact, and with three distinct goals.

1. To show the boy Prospect Park at a time other than New Year’s Eve.

2. To have brunch at Prospect Heights’ jealousy-inducing Beast (I wish we had a spot like this in Bay Ridge).

3. To go to Fairway.

Prospect Park Entrance

We entered from the south through the horse tamers’ gate and headed around the lake.

Prospect Park Geese

Idyllic isn’t it? Until you notice that gigantic styrofoam cup.

Prospect Park Water Fowl

There was a little girl throwing bread crumbs to the birds. That swan was one foul fowl. I have a healthy fear of them, having been bitten (beaked?) by one in my teens.

Prospect Park Arch

There’s that guy that’s always getting in the way of my pictures.

Prospect Park Elm

This is the Camperdown Elm. Apparently it was planted in 1872, has a genetic mutation which causes it to grow outwards rather than upwards and is resistent to Dutch elm disease. That’s some tree!

Prospect Park Water Fall

Doesn’t this scene remind you of a Bob Ross painting?

Prospect Park Bridge

Retreating glaciers left little ponds and rills in the park which Olmstead and Vaux worked into their plans.

Prospect Park Meets The 'dacks

They also designed parts of the park to remind you of the Adirondacks. This nearly-hidden pagoda certainly did.

Prospect Park Trees Love Kites

It was a beautiful breezy day, perfect for flying kites… But the trees will always get one or two.

Prospect Park Snakes

One of the stranger design conceits are the large Grecian urns lining the park’s wall that feature intertwined snakes as handles. They’re rather realistic, and just a little bit creepy.

Grand Army Plaza

I love any park that sandwiches its north/south entrance with grand monuments featuring horses. This arch sits at Grand Army Plaza, home to a wonderful Greenmarket on Saturdays.

By this time we had about 6.5 miles under out belts, on empty stomachs. It was time to stop and refuel. Two beers, two coffees, two poached eggs, Beast’s incredible roasted potatoes, some polenta and a grilled vegetable sandwich later, we headed west.

Ah, The Majestic Gowanus

Someday, just maybe, the Gowanus canal will be beautiful. But for now? Not so much.

Smith St. Pussy Willows

I was absolutely gobsmacked to see this pussy willow tree growing in the middle of industrial Brooklyn, directly below the Smith-9th St. subway station.

Smith St. Pussy Willows

It’s such a misnomer to call this elevated platform a subway station, as it rises 91 feet into the air and is the highest one in the system. The views are incredible.

Carroll Gardens Church

Eventually, we finally made it to Fairway. Why was getting there so important? Because I have been suffering from a major squid joness. Why? I read somewhere that Atlantic squid are at their most tender and flavorful in the late-winter/early-spring.

Squid & Cockle pasta

I kept trying to get them at our local fish shop, but I was always late. And then I’d see them at the Greenmarket, but would always be doing something later that evening that made carrying around a pound or two of fresh cephalopods a little, well, inconvenient.

And so finally I decided that if I couldn’t get fresh, local squid at Fairway, I’d give up. Thankfully giving up was not a necessary option.

Squid & Cockle pasta

Fairway had them. They also had the most beautiful New Zeland cockles (yes, I know, totally not local, but they’re delicious, so ease up) and gorgeous, aromatic sweet limes.

Squid & Cockle pasta

In fact the squid were so fresh one still had dinner in its belly. Kinda gross, but I took it as a sign of quality.

Dinner could not have been easier. Chop some French shallots, some garlic, sautée, squeeze a lime, add some vermouth, pop in the cockles, toss in the squid and then serve over top of radicchio pasta.

Squid & Cockle pasta

I don’t know if these noodles are available everywhere. I got mine the same place I got the farro curlicues. There’s not much of a raddichio flavor, but the color is lovely and the texture is simply out of sight. They cooked up to an almost ridiculously perfect al dente.

Our only misstep was not having any bread around to sop up the sauce. It was sweet and luscious and perefctly briny.

Squid & Cockle pasta

Oh, well, next time.

Good thing I’ve still got some squid stowed away in the freezer.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Squid & Cockle Pasta with Alliums Three-Ways.

Squid & Cockle Pasta, Alliums Three-Ways

prep time: 30 minutes ~ cooking time: 12 minutes

  • 1 lb Cockles, well scrubbed
  • 1 lb cleaned Squid, well rinsed and cut into rings
  • 1 large French Shallot, minced
  • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Sweet Lime, juiced and about 1/4 tsp zest
  • Vermouth
  • Scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 lb Raddichio Pasta

Set a pot of heavily salted water to boil. When it is boiling begin the sauce.

Add a healthy glug of olive oil to a large sautée pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and the garlic. Cook a few minutes until fragrant. Add the juice and zest of the sweet lime and about 1/2 cup or so of vermouth (should cover the onions by a hair). Allow to cook down a minute or two.

Add the cockles, stir to coat and cover. Allow to cook a minute or two until beginning to open.

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water.

Add the squid to the sauce. Stir to coat and cover and allow to cook until the pasta is about 2 minutes from being done, then uncover, push the squid to one side, and center the burner under the side with the liquid. Allow to boil vigorously to try and cook the sauce down a bit.

Drain the pasta. Portion onto plates. Turn off the heat under the sauce. Stir, and spoon healthy ladelfuls over the pasta. Garnish with the chives and season with salt & pepper.



19 Responses to “Prospects Rising”

  1. Lisa (Homesick Texan) March 26, 2007 at 10:20 am #

    Wasn’t this weekend glorious? I think the lamb of March may have finally arrived!

  2. moveablefeast March 26, 2007 at 10:22 am #

    Wow! What a great post with lovely photos and a great recipe. Those cockles look delicious!

    Phil @

  3. Lydia March 26, 2007 at 1:36 pm #

    Crocus in New York City? Wow! You are a couple of weeks ahead of us here in RI, but I did notice that the first of my chives have shown a bit of a green sprout this weekend!

  4. sher March 26, 2007 at 4:09 pm #

    What wonderful pictures, Ann! I agree with you–swans have a fearsome disposition. It’s best to just watch them. Loved all the pictures, but the one of the kite over the tree was particularly nice for some reason. :) Maybe I was a kite in some prior life? The squid and cockles looked delicious!

  5. ann March 26, 2007 at 7:29 pm #

    Lisa (HT) — From your lips to the weather gods’ ears

    Phil — why thanks! I hope it was as lovely up north of the border. Judging from that cottage cheese bread, I’d say it was at least as enjoyable in your kitchen!

    Lydia — HA! I saw some wild onions in the park that I picked and nibbled on. The boy thought I was crazy.

    Sher — I was thinking of you when I agreed to the trek. I kept thinking; must take pictures for Sher, must take pictures for Sher. I’m glad you liked them! I do love that kite one as well. Thankfully there were no bawling children…

  6. Julie March 26, 2007 at 9:07 pm #

    You do some serious walking. Twelve miles is pretty impressive. You got some gorgeous pictures too. The blue of the sky beyond the church steeple and the Grand Army Plaza memorial is unbelievably beautiful, and I love the picture of the pussy willows in front of the subway track trusses. Looks like a great spring-day trek.

  7. Terry B March 26, 2007 at 11:52 pm #

    An amazing post, Ann! Even without the recipe. Although after a recent recipe in the Times by Mark Bittman, I’ve been jonesing for squid too. And I love that somebody else uses the term gobsmacked.

    A sign of spring here in Chicago is the return of a mating pair of Peregrine falcons to the fire escape of the Uptown Theater. We’ve already been by a couple of times to see them.

  8. Toni March 27, 2007 at 1:21 am #

    Ann – Your post made me homesick for NY. In southern California, we don’t get winter. People move here from all over the country because of that, but what they don’t seem to realize is that if you don’t get winter, you don’t get spring.

    Your post was fabulous! I was gobsmacked by it! LOL! Thanks for the whole thing – even the recipe. Would have loved it even without…..

  9. Susan in Italy March 27, 2007 at 3:56 am #

    I love the park photos; it would be great so see some of the same shots in summer and then again in fall, especially that crazy fabulous elm tree.

  10. ann March 27, 2007 at 6:41 am #

    Julie — Thanks! the sky was glorious on Sunday! I’m glad someone else loves those pussy willows. I wish I’d taken a longer shot of where they were growing because it was just out of control. A barren rock & brick strewn abandoned lot abutting the icky, polluted Gowanus Canal. I can’t believe anything could grow there, let alone something so pretty and delicate and springy.

    oooh, Terry B, what are their names? We have a fairly famous pair of Red Tailed Hawks here named Pale Male & Lola. Peregrines are amazing. I got to see one hunting up close once and it blew my mind. They are SO fast. Those dumb pigeons don’t stand a chance.

    Toni — As much as I bitch and moan about winter, I don’t think I could do without it. That said, I’d love to feel “dry heat.” Humidity is so unnecessary.

    Susan — I hear a challenge, and I accept it.

  11. Terry B March 27, 2007 at 5:06 pm #

    Ann—I’m not sure our falcons have names. Of course, they didn’t take up residence on Woody Allen’s building either, so they’re not quite as famous. But they do have a loyal following, and the people in the Uptown neighborhood are proud and protective. Do you know about the Pennsylvania Falcon cam? There is a breeding pair in Harrisburg well documented from multiple angles. Right now, pictures are refreshed every two minutes. But as the season progresses, they go to live coverage. Pretty cool!

  12. Glenna March 27, 2007 at 11:29 pm #

    What a fantastic post! I felt like I’d spent the day with you. Thanks so much for sharing Prospect park and your lovely dinner with us. I could almost smell it. Btw, loved the pussy willow. That is amazing, isn’t it, how plants will thrive anywhere. Kinda like people.

  13. ann March 28, 2007 at 7:53 am #

    Terry B — How on earth did you know about my weakness for animal themed webcams?!? they keep me from imploding at work when all the technology goes kerflop.
    My all-time favorite is Roebling, the Brooklyn Bunny –

    I also looooooooove the cams at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – – when they had that female Great White Shark in captivity I got my entire office obsessed with watching her cam. It was awe inspiring.

    So, thank you for Falcon cam. I’ll have to share with my mom, we’re both crazy bird obsessed!

    Glenna — If only my houseplants shared your theory of thriving ;-)

  14. tijen March 28, 2007 at 8:16 am #

    Hi Ann,
    I came to your blog by chance and felt kind of a ‘deja vu’. I arrived NYC on the day you posted and yesterday (on the 27th) I walked about the same places, I saw the same trees, same crocus (may be?).
    If you could check my blog at you’ll see what I mean.
    Enjoy the coming spring. Magnolias are blossoming too! I saw few pink flowers at the Prospect Park.

  15. Cate O'Malley March 28, 2007 at 8:57 am #

    Finally saw a robin yesterday – hoping that Spring is finally, really, here.

  16. s'kat March 28, 2007 at 10:00 am #

    First of all, I’m so jealous that you can take those long, lovely walks, not to mention the killer meal at mid-point!

    But the squid- just perfect. This is why one should always keep a couple of frozen rolls/slices in the freezer.

  17. jenblossom March 28, 2007 at 2:06 pm #

    Your dish looks delicious. I’m not squeamish about squid, but I never think to work with it at home… I’m definitely going to have to now!

    Also, Roger Clark is one of my favorite things about New York. :)

  18. ann March 28, 2007 at 3:01 pm #

    Tjien — I did check out your blog and it’s WONDERFUL! I love Turkish food but don’t know that much about it, I can’t wait to take a moment and really comb through your archives. Welcome to NY!

    Cate — Here’s hoping!

    s’kat — Yeah, I guess we are kinda lucky that way, but you can get away to the beach easier! and you have better barbecue… it’s all relative :-)

    jenblossom — he makes my mornings worth living. I love the back and forth he hast with Pat Kiernan. I’m always a little bluer on the mornings Kristen’s on, not that she’s bad or anything, I just really love the Pat v. Roger tet a tet. Oh and I should have thanked you for even putting cockles on the radar for me. If you hadn’t posted about them, I never would have thought of them, so I guess we’re even!

  19. Linda March 29, 2007 at 7:30 am #

    i miss prospect park so much — i dont think i’ve been since at least November! Wow – I didn’t realize it was that long. I want to go this minute. It’s the most relaxing place I’ve been able to find in our beautiful NY.

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