Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Food Medley

I've been jumping around from couch to couch in and around NYC the past few weeks, staying with good friends and family for two or three nights each, spending Good Quality Time with the people and the city I love.

It's weird. When I got back to NYC, I wasn't overwhelmed with nostalgia or haunting memories like I have been when returning to other cities. It just felt like I'd been out of town for a weekend, and here I was, back where I know how things work, (back where people know my name and they're always glad I came) back where people think like I do, but then also, where people don't think like I do at all and people thinking in so many different ways is a great thing.

This was weird because when I left NYC just seven or eight months ago, I was so ready to leave, felt so disconnected, didn't feel like I loved NYC at all. Yet, despite all the couchsurfing, coming back for this visit didn't feel anything like one. It felt like I was home. I guess it's true what they say: NYC is a city you never truly leave.

I've collected a lot of food stories and impressions over these weeks, so instead of posting about each of them separately, I give you here, a food medley:

(The pictures are of all different qualities because I didn't have my camera with me and kept borrowing phone cameras and even computer cameras from friends throughout...)

My first day back in the city, I had made plans to go out for burgers with some friends. I dropped my bags off at my brother's place and was going to hang out with him and his family for a few hours before I met up with the friends. (If it seems like I have an implausible amount of brothers, it's because I do.) My brother+family were just on their way to a new Shake Shack that has opened up on the Upper East Side. I have a such a soft spot for Shake Shack, that, even though I knew I'd be getting burgers later, I couldn't help myself from getting the whole spiel there: burger, fries, a black & white shake (Magnificent! Fantastic!) and showed up at the dinner at Five Napkin Burger with a sheepish grin on my face. Too stuffed to get a whole new burger, my friend shared some of her's with me, and gee wiz, Magnificent! Fantastic! Pricer than Shake Shack, but oh, you just gotta try these too. Just don't get both in the same day. Cause you'll get a tummy ache.

There are two friends I have with whom the most incredible tradition has been created, which is that whenever we get together, we cook dinner, whilst drinking wine and eating cheese. I couldn't see both of them at once this time around, one lives in a Philly suburb, the other in Jersey, and both work a lot and couldn't get away. I saw each of them separately, though, and made sure that tradition was duly respected. I was still on my zucchini kick around then (still am, actually, always will be, I think) and with friend 1, we cooked up this fantastic zucchini, summer squash, sweet pepper, tomato, onion, red wine sauce with veggies from my step-mom's garden and her friend's mom's garden and with vegan Italian sausages from Whole Foods. With friend 2, we made Chicken Zucchini Mushroom Onion Quesadillas with homemade guacamole (with tomatoes, sweet corn, garlic, and lemon! See recipe below). Yum for tradition!

Friend 1 + tradition
If you're ever in Jersey City around brunch time, GO TO MARCO & PEPE! They have french toast made with CROISSANTS topped with fresh berries! They sprinkle their eggs and ham with manchego and melted brie! They have the most fantastic atmosphere! You can thank me later.

Marc & Pepe eggs and ham over sweet portugese roll. You're welcome.

Mention Korean food, and my eyes will light up. I have my former boss to thank for this, who introduced me to it, and who would very generously share her food with me whenever she ordered it to the office. (She got a kick out of seeing my eyes light up like that, I think.) You can't get Korean food in Oslo that I know of, and seven months apart from it was getting to be a bit much for me to bear. So my tummy was extremely happy the night my former boss took me out for Korean while I was in the city. We went to her (and now my) favorite spot in Koreatown, Kunjip, where they smile when I use the only Korean word I know: kamsahamnida (thank you). Although I guess I know kimchi, chigae, bibimbap... but I just start drooling when I try to say them.

That shine on the chigae is the reflection of my eyes lighting up.

The first day I got to NYC, it was chilly, seriously fall weather chilly. I started complaining, saying this isn't what I came from cold Norway to NYC for. I shouldn't have, because for the remainder of my trip it was so hot and humid, it was just silly. On one of those silly hot and humid days, a friend of mine and I decided to trek all over Brooklyn (Park Slope to Downtown BK for the Brooklyn Flea, lunch in Fort Greene, then to Williamsburg for a backyard concert.) Within 5 minutes, we were soaked through with our own sweat, and we very nearly fainted towards the end of it, but it was a fantastic day. We were planning to cook when we got back to my friend's apartment, but we were so uncomfortably hot that the thought of turning the oven on was just impossible. Instead, we took cold showers and went into Manhattan (hooray for aircon on the subway!) to a cute little French place, Jules Bistro, where we had fantastic salads and listened to jazz. I got their canard confit salad: duck, grapes, string beans, pine nuts, frisée, truffle oil. Yum. See, no heat!

I wish I had known about Soundwalks when I was in Beijing, I would've loved to do one of them. People who are from or have a connection to different neighborhoods in certain cities around the world talk about them, from an insider's perspective, on tape. The tours are downloadable to any MP3 player and take you to parts of these neighborhoods you probably wouldn't know about had you just gone there to take a look around. We were going to do one about the Lower East Side, the history of which has always fascinated me, but it's currently being updated and wasn't available. So we downloaded the Meatpacking District tour instead and set on our way. Since we got a late start, we stopped for lunch before we started at 'sNice, a super-cute vegetarian café with amazing sandwiches. I had a curry cauliflower/brown rice wrap with mango chutney and my friend had a gorgonzola, walnut, and apple sandwich. YUM. The walk through the Meatpacking District was interesting, this artist type who had inherited a huge loft space (which we went to during the tour) was narrating and as we were looking at street upon street of posh designer stores, she described in detail about the stench the blood dripping through the streets used to bring about. It's crazy how much a place can change in a short period of time.

My last day in NYC, I told everyone I know that I'd be hanging out in Prospect Park from noon until I had to leave to catch my flight, and a bunch of people showed up to hang out. The weather was perfect for a picnic, the heat and humidity finally let up, and it was sunny and pleasant. We all sat around and talked and played frisbee and munched on snacks we had brought. (I brought peach-mint roll-ups: recipe below!) A great end to a few great weeks with great friends in a great city.

Peach-mint roll-ups

New York, I will most definitely be back... Wait for me, will ya?


Yummy Guacamole

2 avocados
1 tomato
1/2 cup sweet corn
1 garlic clove
1/2 lemon
salt and pepper

Squish avocados in a bowl, chop up tomatoes and garlic. Mix tomatoes, sweet corn, and garlic into the avocado. Squeeze lemon over and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Peach-Mint Roll-ups

1 package lavash (or any other type of flatbread you want to use)
1 pack cream cheese
1/4 cup honey + extra for drizzling
1 lime
2 peaches
a bunch of fresh mint

Mix cream cheese, 1/4 cup honey, and juice from half a lime in a bowl. Cut peaches into slivers, roughly dice mint. Spread cream cheese mixture over the lavash, then make a row of peaches on the short end, then drizzle mint, lime juice and honey over. Roll into lavash, then repeat twice more before sealing off at end with cream cheese. Cut roll into pieces.

No comments: