Ten Miles, Two Soups

18 Jan

Did you notice that I only posted once last week?

Bedford Avenue & Avenue Y

And only once the week before that, and the week before that, and the week before that? And that the posts really haven’t been about food?

Our friend Jack did.

Bedford Avenue Window

On Friday nights we like to stop by the bar that used to be our neighborhood local when we lived in the Lower East Side. We go to catch-up with friends, drink beer and laugh, you know, the usual things people do at bars. My job keeps me late on Fridays, so Isaac gets time to play pool and chat and gossip before I get there. Last Friday, Jack turned to Isaac and said, “So, what have you guys been eating? Annie hasn’t been posting…”

The Night Watchmen

I laughed and laughed when he told me this the next morning. It’s true. I had gone into a bit of a cooking slump right before Christmas. But boy, I was out of the gate fast and with gusto in the new year. The kitchen has been in heavy use and some truly spectacular stuff has been flowing out at a steady clip, but I seem to have lost all time management skills.

A Truly Decorative Cabbage

Case in point? This post. It’s at least a week late. But, it was held up for good reason. What’s the reason? Cartography.

Bedford Victorian

A few weekends ago, Isaac and I went on an epic walk. We walked Bedford Avenue from start to finish (give or take a block or two). Bedford is considered by many to be the longest street entirely contained within the County of Kings, a fact gleaned from Barry Lewis on Thanksgiving. Once we learned that, we knew we had to walk its 10 miles.


We awoke two Saturdays ago to a glorious, warm January day. It was time. And so with coffee and bialys in hand, we rode the Q out to Sheepshead Bay, camera in tow. I got a little lost trying to get us from the subway station to Voorhies Avenue, the actual head of Bedford, so we started our trek at Avenue Y instead.

Light, Erasmus Hall High Shool

I know you’re all thinking, “Right, so you guys went on a walk, what do maps have to do with this?” Well… I made you one! Right here. Complete with pictures and captions. I think it puts the trek into a better context. And I did it because I love maps.

Lefferts Roof

We have an entire hallway lined with them in the apartment, right outside the bathroom. They’re those antique reproduction posters of cities like Paris, London, Venice and New York that you can buy in any art store. I love to study them while I’m brushing my teeth. And since I have a penchant for reading slightly trashy historical novels, they often provide insight as to where the characters are living. And, since we’re going to Florence in two months, I’ve been studying that one especially hard.

Studebaker Building

But, enough about maps, back to the walk.

Grant's Horse

We stopped for a “light” lunch somewhere around the midpoint of the walk. The plan was to snack in the middle and to end our trek in Greenpoint with a great, steaming bowl of white borscht like Brooklynguy suggested. Alas. Balboa was too much for us. The curry chicken, oxtail and mac & cheese (Oh the mac & cheese! How have I never thought of eating my mac & cheese with curry sauce until that day?) were delicious and filling enough to carry us through. We wanted to stop for borscht, but it just wasn’t prudent.


But what we did discover is that the trip to Greenpoint is actually quite easy from Bay Ridge, so we’ll be going back Brooklynguy! Don’t you worry! And soon. I need to have a borscht-off of some sort this year, since I failed so miserably at the Great De-Beet 2008.

Water Tank

We were achy and sore when we got home, because no matter how many times you go to the gym, a ten mile walk is still a ten mile walk, especially when it’s ten miles on hard city sidewalks. So dinner was a modest affair. Pasta in a thrown together tomato sauce. But the next night? Oh delicious soup!

The End, Greenpoint

I’m beginning to think there’s such a thing as blogronicity. Two days before New Year’s Eve, as Isaac was in the kitchen cooking up his pot of cauliflower soup, I surfed over to Clumsy‘s blog and found she had just made a cauliflower & leek soup. Monday morning as I was desperately trying to catch up on my interweb surfing, there she was again, with French onion soup, the meal I’d cooked the night before. I find it amusing how two people on two different coasts experiencing vastly different winters can crave the same thing. Funny.

French Onion Soup

So, in celebration of my new discovery, blogronicity, I’ll leave you with our recipes for the two soups, even though I know you’re just really here for the map.

Head below the jump for Isaac’s Cauliflower Soup and Annie’s French Onion Soup.

Isaac’s Cauliflower Soup a la Ripert

prep time: 20 minutes ~ cooking time: 1 1/2 hours spread out over two days

  • 1 large head Cauliflower, washed and roughly chopped into florets
  • 3 medium-sized Leeks, sliced into rings and well washed to remove sand
  • about 6 cups Stock & Water to cover the cauliflower
  • 1 large knob Butter
  • 1 cup Goat’s Milk
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Bacon
  • 1 Preserved Lemon, flesh removed, rind very, very, very finely minced
  • a few sprigs fresh Dill

On the first day, cook the cauliflower and leeks in the stock and water until tender and reduced by about half. Turn off the heat and purée with a hand blender. Pour into a storage container and stash in the fridge overnight.

The next day, bring the soup to a light simmer over a medium flame. Add as much butter as you dare, then add a little more. Stir in the goat’s milk and season with salt & pepper (white pepper if you’ve got it).

Serve the soup in bowls garnished with a few pieces of bacon and allow each person to flavor their soup to taste with the preserved lemon and dill. Enjoy!

Adapted from A Return to Cooking by Eric Ripert and Michael Ruhlman.

Annie’s French Onion Soup

prep time: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: at least 1 hour

  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 6 Onions, not sweet, sliced
  • 1/2 c. Cognac
  • 6 c. or 1 1/2 quarts Beef Stock or a combination of water and Beef Better than Bullion
  • 1 piece of Stale or Toasted Bread per person
  • Cantal or Gruyère cheese, grated

In a medium sized stock pot add enough butter and olive oil in a half-and-half ratio to cover the bottom. Add the onions and cook slowly over a medium-low flame, covered, stirring frequently, until they are becoming deep golden brown. This can take quite some time, 20-30 minutes. The key thing is to take your time and allow the onions to caramelize naturally.

Remove the lid and raise the heat and cook, stirring very often to prevent sticking, until the onions are a deep mahogany color. Add the cognac and cook until almost completely evaporated. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cook 15-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld (the length of time really depends on how hungry you are, 15 minutes is sufficient, but if you’ve got time, why not?). Taste the soup and season generously with pepper. Salt is probably not necessary, but taste to make sure.

Preheat the broiler. Place a slice of bread in an oven-proof soup bowl for each person and place the bowls on a cookie sheet. Spoon the soup into each bowl and sprinkle generously with cheese. Carefully place the cookie sheet with the soup under the broiler and cook 2-5 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden delicious. Very, very carefully remove the cookie sheet from the broiler, turn off the broiler and carefully transport the bowls to the table. Eat with abandon. Enjoy!


21 Responses to “Ten Miles, Two Soups”

  1. Christina January 18, 2008 at 9:53 am #

    Great post–love the writing and the photographs. I am a walker as well, and this walk sounds truly ambitious. Have fun planning your trip to Florence! Don’t know if you have been before, but it’s an amazing place. Now I feel like going on a long walk….

  2. Anne January 18, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    Oh, Ann! Your walk makes me fall in love with NYC over and over again. I think it’s truly one of the best things about living here…the fact that you can go on a walk that leads you to spiced mac and cheese and ends with white borcsht. Yes, you MUST go back and get some.

    That soup you made? Looks dee-vine.

  3. Ann January 18, 2008 at 10:36 am #

    You were in my ‘hood?! Okay, we’re just going to have to have a borcsht meet-up.

    I like to do the “three bridges” walk,have you tried that one? :-)

  4. Clumsy January 18, 2008 at 11:47 am #

    Haha–awesome mapping! Your walk sounds lovely… as do the soups! I’m excited to try out your versions!! :)

  5. Lydia January 18, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    I’ve walked parts of Bedford over the years, but never end to end. What a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing your map.

  6. Julie January 18, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    I just finished looking through all your walk shots on Flickr. Great walk! I love all those great shots of 19th century buildings. It’s amazing what a treasure trove there is in Brooklyn.

    I can’t remember where I first read about this guy (could have been your blog for all I know) who walked every street in Manhattan, but I’ve always loved the idea and it reminds me of the walks you’re doing in Brooklyn.

  7. Miriam January 18, 2008 at 5:21 pm #

    Thank you for that lovely tour – that was brilliant! (I love maps, too.)

  8. mary January 18, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    Oh wow, great post. I love maps too! I have an old classroom map that I use as a window shade in my home office and we have other maps that we’ve framed and put up on our walls. As for the blogcronicity – I just finished taking pictures of my French onion soup before coming here to see what you’ve been up to. Your pictures is better than mine, though, such a cool close up of the onions, so now I’m hesitant to put it up.

  9. ann January 19, 2008 at 10:31 am #

    Christina — I was last in Florence in 10th grade. All I’m going to say is, that was a really long time ago!! But I have incredibly fond memories of my time there, so I’m really, really excited! We’re going to be there over Easter so I’m guessing we’ll have lots of time to walk as most things will be closed. I’d love to hear any suggestions you have as to places to eat, things to do. We’re staying on the “other” side of the Arno (I’m very excited about that).

    Anne — I know! The walking, it makes me so happy! And now, you get to go for walks with little Walt and see the world through his eyes, I bet that rocks.

    Ann — I think I can visualize what the “three bridges” walk might be, but I would LOVE to know more! A route, please!

    Clumsy — Thanks! It’s blogronicity. What’re you cooking this weekend? Or should I just pretend I know already ;-)

    Lydia — It’s a truly spectacular walk. You get to see just about every group of people that have moved to Brooklyn over the years. What parts of Bedford have you known?

    Julie — I looooove that guy! He’s my hero. I’ve been thinking of plotting a map with all the walks we take to see how many neighborhoods we can cover. That would be pretty neat, huh?

    Miriam — You’re very welcome! Glad there’s another cartography fan out there :-)

    Mary — Oh come on! Post your pictures! I want to see! That classroom map as shade idea is brilliant! I hope you don’t mind if I borrow it some time in the future when I have a little country house. That would be okay, right?

  10. mary January 19, 2008 at 10:47 am #

    Borrow away, I have absolutely no problems with the free exchange of ideas. I’ll post my onion soup soon, but first I have to tell y’all about my veal stock adventures.

  11. Terry B January 19, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    Ann—I love the map! Regarding posting once a week, I find that’s plenty for me. Especially when it’s as involved as the posts you and I tend to do.

  12. Christina January 21, 2008 at 7:53 pm #

    Wow, you have another Christina reader. I just noticed that. Man, my name and its frequency haunts me.

    Anyway, woman, you are making GREAT use of your brand new baby. Oh, I love these photos. I get such a sense of the neighborhoods through which you walked. You do such beautiful work.

    You’re going to Florence in a couple months? Well, by golly, so am I! ECG and I will be there for a couple days as part of our whirlwind Italy honeymoon in April. I’m still looking for a hotel–do you have a recommendation?

    Don’t feel bad about posting once a week. Your posts are so great that once a week suffices for your readers, and remember, you do have a life away from the computer.

    Happy day, walking-picture-taking-writing-lady!

  13. ann January 22, 2008 at 8:32 am #

    Mary — Thanks, now I just need a country home ;-)

    TerryB — I would be okay with posting once a week if I didn’t get tired of looking at the old posts! I guess I’m a little fickle and picky… I hate going to my site and seeing the same old photos and words there day in and day out. Such a perfectionist (or something…)

    Christina — Oooooh! I’ll email you a few places we found in Florence. There’s two that look amazing and totally honeymoon-worthy :-) I can’t wait until its warmer out here so I can take pictures that don’t come out blurry because I’m shivering so badly! I don’t know how news photographers do it.

  14. Toni January 22, 2008 at 2:12 pm #

    Ann – I always love your posts and your photos. Thanks for your walk, your photos and your map! I’m considered an oddball here in San Diego, because I’m a walker. Ten miles, though, is more than I’ve done of late. Six to seven is probably the most.

    As for the once a week posting, I’m in Terry B’s camp. It’s enough. I sometimes post more often, and sometimes even less. Let’s face it – life is busy! These posts take time. So you might be bored by seeing same ol’, same ol’…..but for those of us who are fans of your blog, we’d all understand!

    And the soups? LOVE the recipes! I especially want to try the cauliflower one. It’s an underrated vegetable that needs some help getting into our diets more and more!

  15. Cakespy January 23, 2008 at 10:28 pm #

    Dude! That soup (french onion) looks so glossy and delicious. And the cauliflower made me interested in the “albino broccoli”. Love the walk too. I grew up in suburban NJ where I insisted on walking (a mile, not that far) to High School. I was known as “The Walker”. There’s a reason there are no sidewalks there.

  16. ann January 24, 2008 at 8:08 am #

    Awh, Toni, thanks!! You’d love the soup, it’s so unapologetically cauliflower-y. So good. So rich. So delicious! Are there lots of places to hike in SD? I wish there were more hiking places in the City. That’s my one complaint :-)

    Cakespy — Dude, hi! (I love the word dude, thanks for using it!) I love that all the walkers are ending up here, that makes me happy. Thanks for stopping by, I love the artwork you guys are doing. Wicked cool stuff!

  17. Ann January 28, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    The “three bridge walk” is about 8 miles… I usually start on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge for obvious reasons. You walk across the first bridge and into Manhattan and down through the LES (have some pickles!) and Chinatown and then cross the Manhattan Bridge and have a snack in DUMBO before walking down to the Brooklyn Bridge and back across to Mahattan… and then up, up, up to the Williamsburg Bridge again… over it and back home. Then you congratulate yourself and take a hot bath and announce that you are NOT cooking dinner and find the take-out menus. :-)

  18. ann January 29, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    Ann — OOOOOOOOOOH! That is an amazing walk!! Thanks so much for sharing! We’re definitely going to have to do that. I’ve never though of walking all three bridges in one go. Genius I say!

  19. Ellen February 2, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    I just found this blog and want to thank you for the photos. I’m a map addict also and appreciated yours. A very simplistic idea: I take the sticky magnets and cut up old maps, so that I have very small maps of places that are special to me. Those are my refrigerator magnets and it is a mosaic of memory. A bit of Kansas, New Zealand, Colorado, Alaska, France and England. Easier than pie and a pleasant, calming little craft. (I buy up old maps at the library sale and also use them for lamp shades, wrapping paper. I’m seriously over the edge.)

  20. ann February 2, 2008 at 9:56 am #

    Ellen — thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. That’s so nice of you. I love (love!) your map/magnets idea! Now I’ll just have to find a library sale (that sounds like so much fun!).

  21. Ellen February 2, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    Some state tourism offices send out maps for free; I also capture bits of maps in magazines and can print some good ones off the computer. It is sort of like blogronicity – once you realize that is what you are looking for, it pops up in unexpected places. Our next library sale is in April….let me know if you are in need still.

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