Monday, May 28, 2007

Picnic in the Park - FB2B, part 58

Not only has the weather started staying consistently nicer, but it seems to have gone from a pale imitation of spring, right into summer. What a rare treat for the holiday weekend to have three nice, picnic-perfect days in a row. Fortunately, I was able to get together some friends I haven't caught up with in a while for a lazy holiday Monday in the park.

It wasn't until I moved to this city that I realized that picnicking is, in itself, a separate level of planning. It's almost like working out the movements of a small army: organizing logistics for food, drink, blankets, plates; exchanging coordinates for where to meet in the park (behind the backstop on the west side closest to the ice cream cart); swapping cell phone numbers and sorting out just whom will camp out at the chosen site until the other guests get there. Still, it's all worth it in the end, I feel, to get outside in the cool green solace of the park.

Doubtless that Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux didn't have my social life in mind when they put together the design for Central Park, but New Yorkers have enjoyed the respite from their overheated apartments there for years. There's a series of concerts, plays, even the opera and the Philharmonic put on productions in the park during the warmer months. It's an annual rite of passage: bringing food and drink and eating alfresco.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Eating with Visitors - FB2B, part 57

My folks came to town last weekend for the Mother's Day holiday and just to get a dose of the Big Apple. They hadn't been up here for a while so it was great to spend time with them and to run around the city doing different activities. The great thing about when they come to visit is that we generally eat very well; it's sort of a common, shared hobby, this interest in food.

In fact, the trips of anyone in my family are usually planned around when and where to eat, and even though we didn't go to anyplace entirely new this visit, we did get to do the rounds of some great standbys. We also got to check out the changes that had taken place at a couple of places that we'd been to before. These are each, in their own way, some of my favorite places to eat in the city.

There's just one big caveat to these listings. You'll notice that I didn't take any pictures of the dishes that we ate. There's been some chatter on the blogs about whether or not it is appropriate to take photos in restaurants, with quite a few votes on the nay side. While food doesn't generally fidget around like squirmy children, it can be just as difficult to get the right, publishing-worthy shot with the lighting and shadows, and constant flashes can annoy other customers. I've decided that, henceforth, I will not be taking pictures in restaurants unless I really feel that it would not be a detriment to others' enjoyment of their meals or the setting is conducive to it. Instead, I invite you to try these places so that you can see their wares yourself.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Springtime Treat – FB2B, part 56

Not often, but sometimes, I’m a bit of an impulse-shopper when it comes to food. I’m very much attracted to bright, colorful displays and piles of fresh produce. This can be really helpful when trying to eat seasonally and to try to get more fruit and veg into my diet.

Springtime is when asparagus come into season. My inner clock just knows when the time is right to seek out these green gems. Truly fresh asparagus are an amazing treat. I know that it seems as though they are available year-round, but the spring is their real, natural season around here.

Compare the prices for what you might buy in December versus April-May. You’ll also feel the difference in your pocketbook when they are at their freshest. Their taste is another measure, as well. The season is short, there’s just a few weeks when they are at their peak, so you’ll have to act quickly to get them at their best. Farmers’ markets are the best place to get them.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cinco de Mayo Part Dos - FB2B, part 55

You know me, I can’t keep from tinkering with things. That’s why, sometimes, it’s such a struggle to write down the recipes I put on the blog. It's not always easy to capture on paper (or computer) the tastes I like or want to share. Being a bit lazy, as well, I also like to try to adapt recipes that I already have to make them into something else.

So, I had the other half of the tomatillo salsa left over from last week’s recipe, and I needed to put it to good use. When I’d been reading and doing research for the Chilaquiles I made last week, some recipes articles pointed out that this is actually more of a breakfast dish. Aside from just being a huge brunch fan in general, I love getting huevos rancheros, and this seemed like it could be a bit similar.

Hmm....maybe this would become my new favorite. The only change I made from the recipe on last week’s post was to omit the chicken. Instead, I layered the tortilla chips, cheese, and salsa and baked it in the oven. I even had some left over black beans and rice that I could serve on the side.

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