12 Nov

Sometimes I feel like the entire city is conspiring against me in some giant act of karmic re-balancing.

Jeff Koons sculpture outside Christie's

Thursday night, after a delightful dinner full of delicious food and laughter at a friend’s apartment, I was walking to the subway when I was very nearly run over by a van while crossing the street (in a crosswalk, with the light). The guy didn’t have his lights on, and I’m not sure if it was my scream, another woman’s scream or a car honking it’s horn, but the driver finally snapped to and skidded to a stop with this much room to spare. The exhaust on my shins felt like dragon’s breath, my heart was in my mouth and I was sprawled across the van’s hood. I looked up at the driver. He crossed himself, and then made a motion shooing me off his hood. I brushed myself off and carried on. When I got home I poured myself a nip of whiskey and had a terrible night’s sleep.

Filipino church in NoLita

I woke up angry. Angry at the guy that tried to kill me. Angry at the city for letting this happen. Angry that I had to go to work. But I made it through to Saturday and was more than rewarded for the effort.

Everything I did, every interaction I had, was straight out of Metropolitan Diary.

Rockefeller Center

Dear Diary:

My boyfriend was out of town on Saturday so I indulged in my favorite single-girl breakfast; the pickle plate and pork neck ramen at Momofuku. As I sat at the newly expansive counter, watching the chefs and reading the paper, I finally learned the secret of their perfect eggs; they’re steamed in ramekins. This alone would have made the visit noteworthy, but as I was reveling in this knowledge, the woman next to me leaned over and asked what I was eating.

The pickle plate I said, it’s delightful! You must try it! And so she turned to her husband and hailed their waitress and a few minutes later their pickle plate appeared. I’m not sure they loved it as much as I do, but the she turned to me again. “Do you know what they’re making there?” I look at the grill in front of me and say with full confidence, “That’s the rice cakes. They’re served in a spicy Korean sauce.” And so she hailed the waitress again, placed her order and turned back to me, “Oh, you must share them with us!”

I was stunned. I’ve never met a stranger that would share the food off her plate with me. And so we talked and laughed and shared the rice cakes and then parted ways. They headed back to North Carolina, I headed uptown with a renewed faith in humanity.

Herald Square Park

Dear Diary:

I found myself in Herald Square Park contemplating the monument to James Gordon Bennet, founder of the now defunct newspaper, the Herald. It’s a stunning piece, Athena with her arm outstretched, her owl and two bell-ringers, Stuff and Guff, forever preparing for the next hour. But my favorite part is the inscription:

A memorial to James Gordon Bennett (1795-1872) Founder of the New York Herald in 1835 And to his son James Gordon Bennett (1841-1918) Through whose visions and enterprise the New York Herald became one of the world’s great newspapers.

I stood there contemplating the hubris of the inscription when an older gentleman came up beside me and said with a wink, “Must nottabeen so great a newspaper after all, eh?”

My feet, in Macy's

Dear Diary:

On the N train one recent weekend evening from Manhattan back home to Brooklyn, I sat across the aisle from a bespectacled, scholarly looking gentleman and his adorable Chihuahua. Everyone in the car was smitten with the dog. He was a brave Chihuahua, not a quivering mass of nerves that one more commonly sees. He sat on the gentleman’s knees surveying the crowd who were all staring back, adoringly, at him.

Somewhere downtown a family with a young girl got on the train. She was instantly taken with the dog. She waved at him and made faces and little cooing noises at him. Finally, the seat next to the gentleman opened up and he motioned for her to sit down and then told her it was okay to pet the Chihuahua.

At first she wasn’t sure what to do, and kind of robotically tapped the dog on the head, who took it in stride. This was obviously not the first child that had patted him before! The gentleman showed the girl how to pet the dog, to stroke his coat in the correct direction, to not hit him too hard. By the time we made it into Brooklyn, both girl and dog were as happy and content as could be. Who knew that petting a dog wasn’t an innate behavior!

Empire State Building

And that was my day. I returned home with a happy heart. I was in love with the city again, and hungry. David Chang’s noodles are spectacular, but there’s no way they can sustain a body for eight hours of walking in the cold, fighting the seething crowds of tourists.

Skating in Bryant Park

I whipped up a pesto of dried tomatoes from my mother’s garden, full of cheese and garlic, and a balsamic and red wine reduction to balance out the bright acidity of the tomatoes. (Yes, yes, I hear the gasps of disbelief… Balsamic reduction? But that’s so, 1987! Yes, I know, but sometimes in our haste to judge we forget that something can be delicious). At the Food Emporium under the 59th Street Bridge, I found this Creste di Gallo pasta. It was the perfect shape, crenellated and humorous.

Presto Tomato Pesto & Pasta

I sat in our big armchair, humming softly to myself while I ate, the picture of contentment. The city had redeemed itself. It had knocked me down, but then it raised me back up.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Presto Tomato Pesto & Pasta.

Presto Tomato Pesto & Pasta

prep time: 5 minutes ~ cooking time: 15 minutes

  • Good, aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • Red Wine
  • Pasta
  • Dried Tomatoes (dehydrated or sundried are fine)
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Grated Cheese

Set a pot of highly salted water to boil over a high flame. Add equal amounts of vinegar and wine to a small pot and reduce over a medium flame by 3/4s. Blend a handful of tomatoes, the garlic, a good glug of olive oil and a healthy pinch of salt together until they form a coarse pesto-like paste. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and return to the pot. Toss with the tomato pesto.

To serve: spoon the pasta into a bowl, top with a generous amount of cheese and a few drizzles of the vinegar/wine reduction. Enjoy!


16 Responses to “Redemption”

  1. izzy's mama November 12, 2007 at 10:05 am #

    Consider yourself exceptionally fortunate. My husband, also at a crosswalk, with light in his favor, was hit, thrown atop car and eventually landed in the middle of the road. He was left with a shattered knee amongst other troubles. This happened 4 years ago and he still suffers terribly. I am so glad that you escaped with much less!!

    Love the Momofuku tale. I have offered to share with strangers when they ask what I am having and how it is. I don’t think anyone has ever taken me up on it.

    By the way, how is the new Momofuku space?

  2. Christina November 12, 2007 at 10:23 am #

    I am glad you recovered so quickly; it’s how restorative a positive day can be! And your pasta dish looks delicious. I turn to pasta when I’m in need of comfort as well! I really enjoyed this post; I’m now ready to face the day!

  3. Marisa November 12, 2007 at 12:40 pm #

    I’m so glad to hear that you weren’t harmed and that the city gave you a wonderful day in return for scaring the bejeezus out of you. The pasta sounds really yummy as well!

  4. Christina November 12, 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    Oh honey: no one was thinking that the balsamic reduction was out-of-date. Don’t listen to the uber-food-trend-meanie in your head. You know what is good–clearly, as you’ve always got winning meals here–and what IS good is good now, was good in 1987, and was good in 1947 too, if anyone knew to make it then.

    I loved your “Metropolitan Diary”-esque letters. This was a very fun post to read. It is clear to me that you had fun writing it too.

  5. Lydia November 12, 2007 at 4:19 pm #

    So glad the city found a way to restore your faith in humanity after such a close call with the idiot van driver. That pasta looks luscious — what is the shape called?

  6. Luisa November 12, 2007 at 6:51 pm #

    Hooray! Loved this post. (So sorry you had a scary near-run-in with the van, though.)

  7. witchling November 12, 2007 at 11:29 pm #

    I hope you’re very satisfied with yourself. I have spent my entire weekend reading your blog rather than writing my paper for my sociology class. I tried to walk away, honestly I did. Your writing is a little bit addictive though.

    You’re personable and funny and honest. All of this makes your blog a delight to read. The beautiful pictures don’t help any either. Of course it’s the food that did me in. How could I turn away with all of that stacked against me?

    Honestly, Alienated Labour didn’t stand a chance.

    However if you haven’t read Isabelle Allende’s “Aphrodite: the love of food and the food of love” I suggest you pop out right away to find it. It’s a delightfully sexy read all about the sensuality of food and filled to the brim with terribly interesting recipes.

    Kayla Amanda

  8. Ann November 13, 2007 at 6:29 am #

    Great post! You really captured the essence of NYC– she will mow you down and then hand you the world. :-) So glad you weren’t seriously hurt.

    You description of your weekend made me miss New York… and I LIVE here!

  9. mary November 13, 2007 at 7:42 am #

    wow – i’m so sorry that you had to go through the downer to get to the upper, but man this was a great post, got me all shivery and then when i saw the skaters i got all nostalgic for nyc -thanks! And that pasta looks like exactly the kind of comfort you needed after all of that. fyi: i’m making a sirloin steak with garlic for dinner tonight and i’ll be deglazing the pan with balsamic before pouring it on top of the steak, which will be on top of a bed of arugula – yum – it does have its place – how else am i going to get that much flavor from a 10 minutes meal?.

  10. ann November 13, 2007 at 8:39 am #

    Izzy’s Mama — Oh, I do! Thanks for your kind thoughts. New Momofuku is fabulous! It’s so much bigger and I would say much, much more kid friendly! They have low tables now at which I saw many families sitting. I bet you’ll love it.

    Christina — I’m so happy I helped you face your day. That makes me fell wonderful :-)

    Marisa — Thanks, and bejezus is absolutely the correct word. I wish I’d thought of that!

    Christina — Thanks, I did have a blast writing it. You writing teachers, you catch everything! ;-)

    Lydia — It’s called Cresto di Gallo “Crest of the Rooster.” Cool right? I’m not sure I would ever cook with it again though, the crest-bit didn’t cook as quickly as the tube-bit, which was both nice and a bit odd.

    Luisa — Thanks! I’m super glad you all liked it too!

    Kayla — I’m so flattered! I was a huge procrastinatrix in college,and so it is the greatest honor to me that my writing continues to abet others at achieving this highest of academic echelons! Just kidding (kind of), but seriously, thanks for the kind comments and the book recommendation. I will absolutely be searching it out now!

    Ann — Thanks! That’s also a huge compliment :-)

    Mary — Aren’t the skaters lovely? I just wish I could join them, but since my back is a little fragile, I have fear of falling, and no one should ice skate if they have fear. Instead I stand and watch and smile. I figure that’s good enough!
    I love (love!) the idea of making a balsamic reduction with steak! Next time, throw in a little wine if you have some lying around. The combination of the two (at least for me) made the grapiest tasting sauce ever. It was quite strange.

  11. Toni November 13, 2007 at 2:02 pm #

    Ann – I have to chime in with Kayla – your blog is addictive! I love the tales, the photos, and then it’s all crowned with a scrumptious recipe! I get to revisit the city I left many years ago and remember my love of it.

    As for the van driver incident – we’re all glad it turned out the way it did! Stick around for a while, OK? You’re a source of wonderful writing and recipes, and the world is a better place when one can indulge in these inspired pieces.

  12. Julie November 13, 2007 at 5:43 pm #

    I’m glad your run-in with the van ended as it did. That seems awfully close.

    But your Dear Diary entries? Loved them! How can anyone help loving New York when they read things like that. And what great comments on this post. Obviously the universe must be working very hard to right the karmic unbalance caused by your near accident.

    BTW, I found salsify at the farmer’s market this past weekend and inspired by you I bought it.

  13. mary November 13, 2007 at 9:22 pm #

    Hey, I’m back. I did try throwing a touch of wine into my sauce, it was excellent. I’ve also been thinking about your harrowing experience all day and I wanted to say again, I’m really sorry you had to go through that, and I’m also glad that you are ok. Looking forward to seeing what you’re going to cook up next.

  14. ann November 14, 2007 at 7:24 am #

    Toni — God you guys are nice! Man, I know where to come the next time I’m feeling depressed ;-) But seriously, thanks, those are lofty words and high praise. It’s like you all knew that I was having a hard time getting a story edited at work!

    Julie — Did you do anything with the salsify yet? Oh, I’m so nervous! I hope you love it!

    Mary — Ooooooh, yay! I’m glad you liked it :-) Next? Oh, just some yummy stuff!

  15. Terry B November 14, 2007 at 12:49 pm #

    Ann, I love Metropolitan Diary. I think of it as a kinder, gentler version of Overheard In New York.

  16. ann November 15, 2007 at 9:27 am #

    Terry — Or maybe Overheard in NY is a more savage, brutal and realistic Metropolitan Diary ;-) I love them both equally!

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