Sunday, December 14, 2008

To Do


1. read all the books I've been meaning to (esp. the stack by the bed)

2. make a tart Tatin (this one I'm carrying over from the 2008 list, though I did learn how to make pate brisee last week)

3. travel to Chile

4. visit NY, Tennessee (Trish), and Alabama (Karina)

5. write a short story

6. take ballet lessons

7. visit Griffith Observatory and The Museum of Jurassic Technology

8. keep working on my posture

9. renew my subscription to the New Yorker and read less fashion magazines

10. listen and observe more

Monday, October 27, 2008


For the last ten years my dearest friend Lizanne has been a loyal partner-in -crime. Although we've always known of each other, since we both grew up in Puerto Rico and shared some friends, it wasn't until we were both living in New York that we realized how many things we had in common. Besides sharing a love for books, cheese grits, clothes, Von , and the Latin crooners of our childhood like Jose Jose and Camilo Sesto, we also shared a love of crafting. Upon discovery it was only logical that we would get together and craft.

Crafternoon was born at her kitchen table on 8th Street one Sunday afternoon after brunch. It seems like only yesterday we were making tiny flower cookies no bigger than quarters and drawing elaborate maps of our dream island hideouts. Ours has never been an orthodox craft.

Lizanne moved to LA before I did. Soon after I arrived crafternoons followed. There were simple crafternoons were we learned how to make a Pimm's Cup and took lots of photographs and more complicated ones like when we decided to make dress forms using old t-shirts and paper tape.

Recently the crafternoons have lagged but that all seems to be changing. A few weeks ago we made gnocchi, a dish that always seemed complicated and thus deemed a food craft. But what had once seemed so daunting turned out to be little else than two baked potato, an egg, and some flour.

We followed a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis' Everyday Pasta and served them with both pesto and tomato sauce. Delicious! The only caveat was that the dough felt slightly wetter and stickier than we thought it should and we added a tiny bit more flour to half the dough as an experiment. This made for a less fluffy, denser, doughier gnocchi that was still tasty but not spectacular.

Gnocchi with Thyme Butter Sauce

Adapted from Everyday Pasta, by Giada De Laurentiis

2 baking potatoes, such as russets (about 12 ounces each)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

To make the gnocchi, bake the potatoes at 375 for 50 minutes or until tender.
While the potatoes are still warm, cut them in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Discard the skin. Using a fork, mash the potato well. Stir in the egg, salt and pepper. Sift the flour over the potato mixture and stir until just blended.
Scoop out a large spoonful of gnocchi dough. Roll each scoop on the work surface into a bout a 1/2-inch-diameter rope. Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough over the tines of a fork to form grooves in the dough. Set the formed gnocchi on a baking sheet while you form the rest of the dough.

Working in two batches, cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water until they have all risen to the surface, about 3 minutes. Scoop the gnocchi into a colander with a slotted spoon while you cook the second batch.

Monday, September 15, 2008

With my brain still on vacation

I'm having a hard time getting back into this. I was gone two weeks but it feels longer. It was a whirlwind of a trip with stops in Puerto Rico, New York, and Connecticut, and I'm still savoring and reliving all the fun moments. Here are some of the highlights:

First stop, San Juan, home.

Sleeping in the same room I used to sleep in when I was six.

Eating dinner with my family at a restaurant shaped like a shell.

Meeting up with my some of my oldest, bestest friends for drinks.

An impromptu road trip to an ice cream shop that makes plantain, avocado, corn, sea grape, guava and rice pudding ice creams.

Looking out my mom's bedroom window.

Stopping for delicious, greasy alcapurrias on the way home from the beach.

Eating a favorite high school breakfast of mallorcas, cafe con leche, and fresh-squeezed orange juice at La Bombonera.

Staring at Puerto Rico's Maxfield Parrish skies.

New York, a couple of days spent with my dearest friend, Kathy.

Running into an old art school friend shortly after saying, "I wonder if we'll run into anyone tonight. If we do I hope it's someone interesting."

Walking to catch a cab, later that night, and coming across what has to be the world's longest cart.

Licking my Prosecco inflicted wounds the next day, at the Oyster Bar, while Kate Bush played over the speakers.

Taking my little sister to college, in Connecticut, with my dad.

Helping set up her room.

Buying Japanese pastries, later that day.
Then having a martini with my dad at the Rainbow Room and seeing one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen.
Sadly, I did not have my camera with me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Fig, my love.

Last night was Fig's birthday. Our small decadent celebration at Hatfield's was one of the loveliest meals we'd had in a while. Our reservation was at nine but Fig was stuck at work and by the time we got there it was almost closing time. Never mind that all the other tables were eating dessert, we got our table and the service was impeccable. We weren't rushed or discouraged from ordering the seven course tasting menu. So we did. (This might come back to bite me on Friday when I close at work.)

One peach basil cocktail later the day was left behind, the bubbly was popped, and the celebration began. First there was a cold corn soup in a shot glass and a tiny deviled quail egg. I'd never had a quail egg before. By size alone I loved them before I tasted them. Eggs, in my opinion, are nearly perfect food. Sealed in their own package, endless in use, comforting, delicious, and always in my refrigerator. Quail eggs are, bar none, the cutest food. Sorry, zebra tomatoes you have been dethroned.

The parade of food was endless, and though I tried to document our entire meal tiredness, hunger, and champagne got the best of me.

This is what I remember. The magical feeling of eating late at night in a nearly empty restaurant in LA. The giggling that ensued when the actor sitting at the table behind me bragged about himself in a way that seemed perfectly in-sync with one of the characters he played on SNL. The belly laughs when, for a brief moment, it felt like someone had turned the heater on high, and we meltingly blew on each other as we joked that they were trying to kick us out though only one course had arrived.

Everything was tasty but my favorite parts of the meal were the fried quail egg on top of a "croque madame" and the corn agnolloti with dungeness crab and white truffles. Dessert seems like a blur, which given my sweet tooth says a lot about how tired I was. All I remember was a tiny malted vanilla milkshake that came with a beignet and the bite-sized chocolate cupcakes with espresso meringue that came with the check.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Very Lucky Girl Indeed

It's been almost six years since I
moved from New York to Los Angeles. About a year after I moved one of my best girls, Nai, came west and moved to Napa. Since her arrival I have driven the 6 hours from my home to hers many times. Nai knows how to ply a girl with cheese, shrimp, and saucisson. Not that there's much convincing to do when you live where she lives.

On my last visit we shopped for her wedding gown in San Francisco.(The first one she tried was the perfect one!) Then the next day along with my darling friend Darlene, a girl who has herself inspired many a trip, we visited one of the most spectacular places I've been to in a long time, Kuleto Estate, a winery in St. Helena.

It was there where after taking a few pictures, including some tipsy self-portraits in the bathroom mirror, I decided that a) I needed to take a Napa trip with my dad and b) I needed to start the blog I'd been thinking about. Notebooks and gluesticks writings on food and other things I love.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

To me new year's resolutions are more a list of things I want to do in the coming year than attempts at lifestyle change. Some years I've made them on my birthday others on January 1st. I love making lists so really it's more an excuse to make a great, big list of activities and wishes.

New Years Resolution #3: learn to shuck oysters

Since the very first one it was love at first slurp. There was something about their salty-sea, creamy-sweetness that was just so lovely. For years I tried eating oysters whenever possible and often thought how wonderful it would be to have a dozen every day for lunch. That is, until the time I got horribly sick after eating just six during a spring-break trip to London my junior year in college. After that I didn't touch them for years. Then I was taken to Nobu on my 28th birthday. Nobu. Omakase. Oysters. Enough said. The flames in my heart were fanned once again.

Last year after a particularly delicious afternoon with Fig at The Hungry Cat I decided I needed to learn how to shuck my expensive habit. My only attempt, when I was 22, had been a complete disaster. Four oysters, bought at Dean & Deluca on my art school budget, to go with a bottle of champagne that my dearest friend, Karenin, had given me on my birthday. After taking first a screwdriver and then a hammer to them I abandoned the oysters in the kitchen sink and opened the champagne. In one last wishful, futile attempt I came back to the kitchen, half way through the bubbly, and banged the oysters against the floor.

Yesterday, I learned that opening oysters is actually a lot easier than that experience. What I didn't know then but know now is that banging the oysters will make them shut tight. Instead of trying to crack them open I should have scrubbed them clean with a brush. Then one by one, held steady and flat side up with a kitchen towel, taken an oyster knife on a diagonal at their hinge. Turning the knife like a key until the shells popped open. Now thanks to Corina, the chef and one of the owners of the restaurant where I work, I know.

In what can only be described as oyster heaven I stood with Corina in her brother's beautiful sunny kitchen shucking close to two-hundred oysters with two other friends. Passing out dozens in ice filled plates with a mignonette made of shallots, pepper, and prosecco at a rowdy pool party .

It was so simple and the best part, eating breaks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Watermelon Lemonade

5 cups watermelon juice (from 1 non-spray seedless melon)
1 cup lemon juice (about 10 lemons, depending in size)
1/2 cup agave

Cut the melon into 2" to 3" pieces. Puree in a food processor. Pour the pureed melon through a sieve. Keep cold.
Squeeze lemons. In a pitcher combine the melon and lemon juice with the agave.
Pour 1 part vodka over ice to 3 parts lemonade.