Tag Archives: NY Times

Pig Out

21 Nov

On Saturday morning, I still did not know what I was going to do for Thanksgiving.

I wish I lived here

My mom had made an off-hand comment about the whole family maybe coming down to Brooklyn to dine chez Granny Cart. Even though I was 98% sure she was joking, it lodged a bee in my bonnet. On Saturday morning I woke up and wanted to cook.If the whole Upstate gang was going to descend on my humble home, I was going to be ready for them.

And so for Saturday night dinner Isaac and I had a faux Thanksgiving dinner. No messing around with making up my own recipes, if I was going to cook for a crowd, I was going to make stuff that other people had already vetted. I turned to Florence Fabricant‘s Brussel’s Sprouts & Chestnuts in Brown Butter, Molly’s squash purée, and Flying Pigs farm‘s absolutely, utterly, fantastically, astonisingly perfect pork chops (with the maple & bourbon pan sauce, naturally).

Whaaaaa? Pork chops? For Thanksgiving dinner? Well… As odd as this may sound, on Saturday, there were no (affordable) turkeys at the greenmarket. I wanted meat, so we got pork chops. And boy oh boy were they good. They completely overwhelmed everything else.

I wish I lived here

Molly‘s purée was delicious. FloFab’s sprouts were good but watery (when she says to drain those sprouts, she means it). But the pork! Oh the pork!

This is the best method for cooking pork chops ever! And if, in fact, the whole crew were to descend upon Bay Ridge for Thanksgiving dinner I would have quite the conundrum: To cook a turkey (something I’ve never done) or to cook perfect pork chops (something I can definitely do).

World's most perfect pork chops, Brussel's sprouts in brown butter, and Orangette's squahs puree

Happily, it’s a conundrum I will not find myself in this year. I’ll be spending Thanksgiving day relaxing on our couch, catching up on my reading. What will we eat? The leftover squash and sprouts, to be sure, and I must have stuffing and maybe some mashed potatoes for Isaac (I’ve got my eye on this recipe, I bet the color is amazing).

Maybe we’ll have turkey, it all depends on today’s trip to the greenmarket. I know I’ll have turkey this weekend when I head Upstate for a slightly delayed turkey fest with the whole family, so I’m not all that stressed about it.

Or maybe I’ll just buy some more pork. The pilgrims had pigs didn’t they? No, apparently they did not. Poor pilgrims.



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.

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29 Oct

“Are those people eating butter?”

City Hall Fountain

It was a forthright question, spoken in a unmistakable voice, with a tinge of theatrical horror and a dash of impish glee. I turned to look at the people, and yes, it did appear that they were eating butter, with gusto and glee, in many different flavors and varieties.

I turned to the man who had asked the question and was a little shocked to see a certain gentleman known for his way with lardo, pancetta and other fats, wearing his signature clogs, laughing and looking a bit scandalized. Then the proprietor of the stand put us all at ease. He said that no, in fact, they were not eating butter, rather that it was finally cold enough for him to put out samples of his farm’s ice cream for the masses.

Battery Park Irises

The Boy and I (still giggling) payed for our dairy products and began scouring the market for something to star in the evening’s risotto. We had initially planned on a roasted mushroom and blue cheese risotto, but, alas, the mushroom guy wasn’t there. So we made a few passes through the stalls, me searching for something a little different, the Boy, bravely restraining his annoyance with the crowds and the rain. Finally, I settled on some ugly, grungy roots. Salsify.

Salsify looks like a cross between a dirty parsnip and a gnarly mandrake. It’s long and thin, can have legs and noses and other anatomical protruberances and is a bitch to clean. The cleaning is worth it however, as once it is cooked, it has the most delicate, etheral aroma and a silky smooth texture.

Salsify is otherwise known as Oyster Plant and was very popular in early American cookery (the Shakers were especially fond of it). But why Oyster Plant? Because some people think it tastes like the briny bivalves. Me? I think it’s got more of a jerusalem artichokes meet hearts of palm thing going.

Bay Ridge Waterlillies

To accompany the risotto I had settled on Melissa Clark’s Tuscan kale salad from last week’s NY Times dining section. In fact, I had settled on making this salad on Wednesday morning, but apparently so had many other commuters, because by the time I arrived at the greenmarket every single stand had sold out of lacinato kale. I was not to be thwarted on Saturday though, and so I hedged and went to the super-bodega aka Gracefully on Avenue A where I knew I could find lacinato kale.

Raw Lacinato Kale Salad

Sadly, I hedged wrong. I paid nearly $7 for two bunches in the East Village when I could have gotten those same two bunches at the greenmarket for $3. Sometimes it pays to hedge, sometimes it doesn’t. But you know what? I don’t care. Because I’ve still got another bunch in the fridge waiting to be made into this salad again tonight, because you know what else? It’s that good. She’s right, ugly is beautiful.

Raw Lacinato Kale Salad, Salsify Risotto

Oddly enough, upon finishing the risotto and testing it for seasoning, I swear I tasted the faintest whiff, just a hint of blue cheese, without my having added a single crumble. I was worried that the cheese, a real stinker from Cato Corner, might be too much for the delicate salsify, but no, not at all. It turned out to be exactly what the dish needed to elevate it from comforting, yet bland, into the lofty echelons of what could become a classic dish… On any other evening.

Salsify Risotto

Saturday night, the salad was truly the evening’s star. Raw kale? Who woulda ever thunk it!

Head below the jump for No-Oyster Risotto and Raw Kale Salad.

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