Sunday, June 29, 2008


A day ahead with nothing to do. A DVR filled with unwatched episodes of The Daily Show, Good Eats, Niglella Eats, Jamie at Home. Jeff makes an 11am pot of Irish oatmeal, thick and chewy and hot. He takes his with honey and cinnamon. I sprinkle mine with mixed nuts, or eat it with a spoon heaped with a blob of peanut butter, the hot oats making it melty.

Oatmeal means we have the time to cook it and enjoy it. Oatmeal means laziness and happiness.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Must-Have Meals

My life is filled with certainties. I’ll always reach for the sky blue version in the t-shirt display. If there is an R.E.M. record in a jukebox, I will surely play it. I would much rather stay home and watch Whose Wedding is it Anyway reruns than leave my apartment.

The same loyalties of course apply to food. Because the single thing I will not eat or drink in this universe is beer, anything goes. Beef, pork, seafood, extra-spicy, raw, creamy, fruity...bring it. I was lucky enough to marry a man who eats the same way (but with a beer on the side for him). Even so, we go gravitate toward certain dishes time and again. The following are our must-haves -- as in, “are you going to get it or am I?” Because one of us has to.

I recently decided that if I were only allowed to chose one meat to eat for the rest of my life, it would have to be lamb. I love games like that.

If you’re dining with us, and spot this spicy lamb sausage on the menu, play the game of “which one of them will claim it first?” Bet on Jeff. While I always tend to peruse the rest of the menu just in case there’s something else I might want more (there isn’t), he’ll claim it and I’ll stamp my foot and demand that FINE, but he better let me share.

I would marry this wide, flat, ribbon pasta if I could. Alas, a signed ketubah prevents me from doing so. I love how it acts as a canvas for sauce and cheese. This is a one-noodle-per-forkful pasta -- you really get to savor its texture and bite. Pappardelle highlights include Pappardelle with Chanterelles and Thyme on the Babbo tasting menu, Flat Pasta, Pulled Braised Rabbit, Graviera Cheese from Kefi and Pappardelle with Lamb Ragout at Noodle Pudding.

We've had many octopus experiences, but two stand out as stellar. One was in Korea Town during a Korean BBQ-fest. We cooked chunks of raw octopus ourselves until it had the slightest char. Simple and delicious. The other was at Kefi again, the Grilled Octopus, Bean Salad appetizer. Octopus is a lot of things, but it's rarely tender. Yes, some are easier to the tooth than others, but never before had pieces been as yielding as these. Paired with chickpeas and a light, springy dressing, it's a dish I think about often.

Nicoise Salad
This one is just me, not Jeff. Crisp green beans, flaky tuna, silky egg white, mushy egg yolk, salty capers and olives, sweet tomatoes…the perfect mélange of textures and flavors. A good nicoise is the perfect salad.

Yes, we like our wine to taste like kicky apple juice, and no I am not apologizing for that.

Banana pudding at Sugar Sweet Sunshine
When will we ever look right past trays of pumpkin, lemon, and vanilla cupcakes (the best in New York, no less)? Why, for The Perfect Dessert. I don’t want to know what’s in it or how they make it. The thickest, creamiest pudding you could ever imagine, starring soggy hunks of Nila Wafer and real banana. If we are within a 20-block radius of the Lower East Side, we are going. No debates.

My goal in life is to get better at calling dibs on ideal menu items. Jeff almost always orders better. I used to be Queen of Calling Shotgun, so I know I can rise to the challenge.