Tag Archives: Driving

Searching For Directions

16 Jul

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.”

Head below the fold for a Massachusetts adventure that starts badly, but ends very, very well.

Macro-Micro

12 Sep

New York City is never more beautiful than when it’s seen from afar after dark.

Seeing its pulsing, sparkling lights, flowing and dancing at a languid, dreamlike pace from a plane coming in for a landing at JFK can bring tears to my eyes.  And the city is never more alluring than when seen from the Triboro Bridge or the BQE, as it plays a glittering game of hide-and-seek between the monolithic, brutalist shells that pass for housing along the highways of the outer boroughs.

Since I don’t love driving in the city after dark, Isaac has been pulling the return leg of our upstate forays, allowing me to sit and gaze out on the view of the city I love the most.  When the sun has set and the lights are on, all the hard edges and drab grayness fade away and New York becomes the city of dreams and possibility.

Each tiny apartment, lit up like a Russian egg, glowing golden with the light over the kitchen sink or silvery cool from the television, is a little bastion of hope and exertion, a refuge from the hurly burly that is daily life in New York.

Because, it is this daily life that makes New York so hard to crack.  Even once you’re inside the city, walking through its hallowed halls, standing upon its celestial corners, it’s still the dream city.  It isn’t until you live here, really live here, that the trials begin.  The scrimping of money, the oppressive noise and heat, the long, dark, cold winters, year upon year of toiling, hoping it’s enough and waiting for that big break or genius stroke of luck.  That’s when New York becomes the fabled she-lion that gobbles you up and spits you back onto the streets, naked, shivering and lost.

It’s a giant, heroic struggle, pushing against a Herculean tide of people, time and ambition, locked in constant battle with hope.  Life in New York is big and diffuse.

My yard is never more beautiful than when seen just before the sun sets.

In the country, I’m finding that my cares exist on a far more granular level.  I forget about work and ambition and our noisy neighbors, about the herds of NYU students that have invaded my favorite ramen joint, about the crazy lady who sits on the corner near my office and sings, about where the markets are going and why.

Up there, the little things are what I care about.  The tenths of inches my kale has grown in a week, the tenacity of the spiders to not be vacated from their cozy corners, the miracle of a day lily blooming before the deer decided to make it a delicious afternoon snack.  This is what occupies me when I’m 200 miles north of New York.

It’s like splitting my time between the two halves of my favorite New York treat, the black-and-white cookie.

Which brings us to food.  Shopping for dinner upstate is so much more fun than down here.  It’s the same farmers with the same produce as I see at the greenmarket in Union Square, but up there, they seem much happier, too.  There’s time to answer questions and chat about the weather, to swap recipes and discuss pest control.  The farmers seem less guarded, less tired.  Perhaps it’s because they’re not being stalked by magazine writers, chefs and foodies.

This past weekend we made our first foray to the Kinderhook farmer’s market. It was wonderful, despite the threat of rain.  I was seduced by gorgeous yellow beets and a sour cherry tart.  Isaac fell for potatoes and corn.  Rounded out with delicious chicken from Olde Hudson Gourmet, and we had ourselves an epic meal of locally grown and produced goodness.

We cooked the beets and potatoes together and then mashed them and stirred in some delicious garlic, local butter and the beet greens.  I roasted the chicken and made a sweet-sour Anaheim chile relish that was as good with the chicken as it was stirred into the mash. And we ate it all with a salad of the world’s pepperiest, most delicious arugula ever.

And while I love cooking simple food made from simple ingredients and padding about in the grass, I miss spending weekends in the asphalt jungle a little bit.  So I’m looking forward to next weekend when we’re going to stick around in the city.

Now, if only I could decide which side of the half-moon cookie New York is.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Beeten & Mashed.

Continue reading