Even when you wake up at 9am in Vermont, it seems that the day is already inching toward sunset, creating long shadows on the breakfast table. Today, we woke up to temperature in the negatives. Before going on a walk, the only thing to prep us for such condition’s was my mom’s French toast. A couple of days ago, before hitting the unfortunately icy slopes, it involved a crusty sourdough. Today, she sliced up challah from the bakery at Stowe’s Harvest Market. Drizzled in pure Vermont maple syrup and dusted with cinnamon and sugar, each slice was swallowed with a ceramic mug of Green Mountain Coffee.
I’ve let myself go lately. Well, at least as far as the blog goes (and my trips to the gym, but this isn’t about that). Personally, I can’t think of a better excuse than Thanksgiving to get back on board. I’m spending my holiday in Stowe, Vermont, where the only reason I rip myself off the couch is to demolish pints of my boys Ben & Jerry and cook in a kitchen that, on its own, is double the size of my apartment.
Every year, we get grand ideas of freshly baked bread to go along with the whole Thanksgiving feast. We like to do the soft kinds — like challah or potato rolls — and, just in case, we grab a bag of store-bought potato rolls in case our homemade rendition doesn’t make the cut. (Last year, for instance, I forgot to add the eggs, and then proceeded to drop the dense unleavened rocks on the floor). Behold:
This year, however, was different. While the turkey was in the oven, the cranberry sauce was chilling in the fridge and sacks of potatoes sat ready to be boiled, cut and mashed, I made traditional Parker House Rolls (click for Bobby Flay’s recipe). They’re perfect for sopping up gravy, making mini sandwiches with leftovers or just eating on their own. With just a touch of sugar in the dough, these yeasty rolls are best when brushed with melted and sprinkled with sea salt as they leave the oven warm and plump. They’re really the perfect Thanksgiving roll.
Now, I’m just workin’ through this food equivalent of a hangover, knowing that pie is close behind. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
These days, I’m working the nine-to-five grind and living in a new apartment in the Lower East Side. It’s the size of a shoebox but I’m lovin’ it like a new mama does her fresh, alien-like newborn.
When my parents came to New York to help with the big move, we matched our time spent laying on the floor measuring our few walls with food — all of the food. And, in the spirit of getting to know the neighborhood, one of these parental-joined bites was just down the street at Russ & Daughters.
I’m not going to belabor the point about how this place is an institution. Bottom line: the smoked fish is, as we knew, otherworldly. After making a spin-the-bottle decision on the Norwegian Salmon lox, capers, tomato, red onion and a smear of scallion cream cheese, I was on board. And, hey, I got to try my first bialy since an everything bagel wasn’t standing in my way. The bagel delivery man was late — I’ll cut him some slack.
More often than not, I leave the office with two things on the brain: binging on some made-for-Netflix and taking carry-out Tikka Masala to the face. It’s really a waste – a mind numbing, tummy expanding waste. But today was different. Rather than battling the post-work slump with happy hour drinks, my friends Alexa, Jackie and I made our way west, to Pier 63 at the Hudson River Park for a free outdoor showing of Silver Linings Playbook. We stretched out on Jackie’s blanket as the sun dipped behind New Jersey, and I didn’t get through the first mention of “Excelsior” without lunging for a snack.
Luckily, the event had organic Je & Jo ice cream on hand, and that was just the food group I was looking for. The local artisanal company pairs hand-made ice cream with all-natural cookie dough, with flavors like Nutella with Hazelnut Shortbread, Fresh Mint with Lemon-Lavender Shortbread, Local Peach with Cobbler Crisp and so much more. Seriously – it’s a miracle I made a decision. For the steep price ($4 per cup), Je & Jo initially seemed like a disappointing option. Clad in cardboard like one of those Carvel ice creams you give at little kids’ birthday parties, you peel back the top and dig into the ice cream with a little wooden shovel. Looking for something simple, I went for the spartan Vanilla Bean ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough. The ice cream was as silky as they come, and each morsel of unearthed dough had me digging deeper for more. The flavor was a true, resounding vanilla straight from the bean itself. In no way did it reek of the boring, buttoned-up starkness expected out of plain-Jain vanilla.
Alexa, on the other hand, went for the Nutella. Smooth and chocolaty, the pieces of hazelnut shortbread harmonized with each creamy bite. And since the ice cream was individual-sized, we finished in time to zero in on what matters most (Bradley Cooper).
Visit Je & Jo at their storefront, or scout out the owners as they deliver their ice cream to the masses by bike.
I don’t typically accept sweets from strangers, but this was an extenuating circumstance. Zigzagging through Union Square to catch the 6 train, a kind soul placed a complimentary People’s Pop in my tired-of-typing hands. Though I was on my way to the gym, I immediately unwrapped the Cranberry-Apple pop that was, in fact, a frosty promotional tool for the Rockette’s — Christmas in August, anyone? Marketing ploy or not, I got a free designer popsicle out of it, and after a day at the office it was just the relief I needed.
I’ll take a hot dog from the dude on the corner, thrown at my face on game day or griddled up in my own backyard. No matter what, my typical hot dog comes the classic American way, with a glide of spicy mustard, that vital squiggle of tomato red and a sprinkling of finely chopped onion and pickles. Nowhere in that time-honored equation is there discussion of cilantro or pickled cabbage or, praise Heinz, Pâté. That was until I made my way to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn—a weekly foodie festival in Williamsburg, two Saturdays ago.
Attending Smorgasburg on this particular day was the most misguided choice, with temperatures in the upper upper nineties and nothing but light grey asphalt to plunge me into a pre-lunch grumbling sweatstorm. But, we arrived—and we were there to eat. Lunch hour spent at Smorgasburg typically involves milling about, reading menus intently and carefully choosing your samplings. But it was so damn hot on this particular day that there wasn’t a way in hell.
My friend Nelle and I split the beef Vinh dog (pictured above) — fixed banh-mi style with aioli, pâté, cukes, pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro and hot, hot jalepeños. As dogs do, it went down quick, and all I was left with was the piping hot fire of the peppers.
I kept my second dog all to myself, though the first was probably my favorite. The Mel + Steve Dog is cloaked in a magenta Asian slaw, studded with sesame seeds and green onions. These dogs were good, inventive while still staying relatively true to the classic dog. Still, I’ve never appreciated the vanishing act of the hot dog — chomp, chomp, kaput — because I could likely eat these for days, heat and all.
College came to a close more than two months ago. Since I remained on campus since commencement, I’ve resumed the same activities as my collegiate life—without the, well, studying part. I wake up at 11am, go out on Thursday nights and consume the majority of my calories post-2am.
This prolonged sense of irresponsibility has its perks, sure, but I’m finding myself missing the untampered version of my college experience, the one where getting up for class would be painful but staying up late was no problem at all. In that world, my relaxation time felt like something I earned and deserved to relish.
As a post-grad with just a couple of days left till my new job starts, I can’t help but think back to a time when my friends Kosta, Nelle and I spent the remaining hours of post-class sunlight sprawled out on the grass (well, one of us might have been playing hooky). With Bon Me’s blue food truck parked just paces away from us, we scattered cardboard containers alongside our book bags. Chopsticks threaded through our fingers, we dug into Bon Me’s brown rice bowls of Chinese BBQ pork, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, daikon and cilantro. Because, you know, we deserved it.