Dedicating this post to dear friends visiting from far away, chocolate chip pecan cookies with a twist, and Mici lazing around in the background, inspiring smiles and occasional sneezes. And to the kids’ endorsement of my hummus (did mom pay them to say nice things?).
To my favorite pipsqueak from Ramat Hasharon - you are the best darn cookie sous chef out there…. Here is my favorite cookie recipe (of the moment) so your big sister can whip up a batch for the family when you get home. Courtesy of a food blogger with the lovely name of Joy: click here for joyful cookie experience. (And oh, yes, I do cut the sugars a bit — a tad less of the brown and about half of the cane sugar which I sub in for the white stuff.)
Here’s to dessert! And to your beloved Max Caffe. And nutella crepes. And ridiculously slow service that gives us loads of time to catch up. But never enough time. Come back again sooooooon! Or until we meet again…Roma? Madrid? Tel Aviv? Morningside Heights? xoxoxo
Pittsburgh road trip! Back to the place I was born umptyump years ago…and to have a first college visit with the kid. Favorite things: 17-mile triangular bike tour along much of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail that took us by the Allegheny, Mononghela and Ohio Rivers; crossing the Andy Warhol Bridge and the Washington Crossing Bridge (love all those state seals!); the lovelocks display on the Schenley Park bridge enroute to the Phipps; Dave & Andy’s homemade ice cream and their fun hand-drawn comics (true confession: I sampled 3 different waffle cones - albeit ‘small’ size’ — over course of 36-hour visit); and the wacky historic mural of famous Pittsburghians at Primanti’s. Strange surprise: nasty temperament of many cyclists that we passed. What’s with that, Pittsburgh? But I know loads of nice people from this beautiful part of western Pennsylvania so I’m gonna chalk that aberrant stuff up to something nasty in their water bottles that day…
Biked to Riverdale today. Some gorgeous, unexpected and brand new (to me) vistas of the River and northern Manhattan….in the midst of a choppy route that involved some wrong turns and a few turnbacks (Siri was confounded several times in Inwood Park). Afforded me a never-before-seen view of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge as it swung open to allow a boat to pass; it runs below and parallel to the Henry Hudson Bridge.
One highlight was discovering a mile-long stretch of brand new “greenway” just south of the riverfront joint, La Marina. Lined with Black-eyed Susans, it is just breathtaking. But weird, too, since it is a path to nowhere, ending in a turnabout with views down to the GW Bridge. I’ve read there are long term plans to connect this route to the Little Red Lighthouse which would be amazing, and enable cyclists and walkers and others to totally avoid a hairy up-and-down route with stairs that now connects Washington Heights to Inwood on the west side.
I took this videoclip of the flowery bike ride: http://bit.ly/blackeyedsusans
And this bit showing La Marina where a jazz combo played for brunch: http://bit.ly/lamarinajuly2014
The whole point was to find a way to cross over to Riverdale. I eventually found the pedestrian path along the southbound lower level of the Henry Hudson Bridge. And then I reached my beautiful destination: a reunion with my friend, Jane. Brought her granola and we got to hang together in her beautiful new home with leafy views. It was great to catch up and, as we parted, she took a fun photo of me, employing her ‘very kind’ filter - thanks, Jane :) !!
What a treat: bread baking class at Breads Bakery the other night with my friend and former roomie, Nancy. From the moment we were led to the back of the retail shop to the roomy, well-ordered and squeaky clean kitchen in the back, we had big smiles on our faces. We were handed a glass of champagne, along with a red folder containing a pen, three recipes (challah, foccaccia and olive cheesesticks) and a ticket for coffee or tea at breaktime. Later, there were even lovely baked nibbles laid out for us halfway through, along with some crunchy sticks of celery & carrots. Nice twist on school supplies!
After hands were washed and hair nets donned, the bread maestro arrived - the talented, charismatic and charming master baker Uri Scheft. And off we went to our stainless steel tables, working in trios with pre-measured ingredients, mixing and kneading the different sets of dough for the three distinct breads we’d be making that night. Uri kept up a steady stream of instruction, threaded with funny stories, as we worked away or watched him or his assistants ably working their magic. Basic things that were stressed were taking care with measuring, the ways to work with different yeasts (I’d never encountered live yeast before - who knew?!), and that one should never multi-task when making bread: “the dough is the boss!!”
At the end of the evening, we left the shop with bags of delicious foccaccia, challah and olive-cheesesticks. With a piece of the bakery’s signature chocolate babka (made with straight-up nutella plus dark chocolate chips) for good measure. And the smiles on our faces were even wider…
While writing this post, I canoodled around with my google search box and found this fabulous post by David Lebovitz, one of my favorite bloggers, where he talks about Uri’s bakery in Tel Aviv — Lehamin — as one of his very favorite spots.
Now I gotta find live yeast and nigella seeds…
Found some more of those ever elusive sour cherries this morning. Have been told by aficionados that there are sourcherryhoarders out there! I’m not quite at that level, but I do have a couple of pitted pints in the freezer for future use, and will probably add three more the icy mix this week after what may be my last sourcherryhaul of the season. Because I can.
Made it up to the "If You Build It" installation in Sugar Hill this afternoon. 155th & St. Nicholas. Have been cycling by this black & funky residential building on my daily work commute for quite some time - with its irregularly shaped, deep-set windows — watching it emerge from the ground over the last 18 months….my assumption was that it represented more condos in Harlem. I’ve since learned that it will actually be one hundred percent affordable housing stock - complete with an early childhood education center and a new museum of art & storyteling — and the first tenants are due to move in this fall. Meanwhile, there’s an art installation on a few of its floors this summer. There’s a lot of work of wildly varying quality & substance, but the views from the 9th floor are fabulous and the visit to the apartment which houses an exhibit by Dominican York Proyecto Grafico was my hands-down favorite. Those folks are doing some really wonderful printwork. Pictured above is a linoleum cut called “Habichuelon” and serigraph titled “Habichuelas con Dulce,” both by Carlos Almonte. I also had a peek via a storefront window on St Nicholas side of the building depicting a cool sugar city created by a couple of Irish artists. One of the greeters at the show told me they had just rushed off to LA to create another sugar metropolis for a movie out there…
Also made my first baba ganoush in a long time. Thanks to Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, I was inspired to do this version with chopped parsley & mint, garlic, olive oil and salt & pepper. Creamy, slightly charred, nicely tangy and completely satisfying.
Spent a couple of days out by the Delaware Water Gap, all in the name of being in close proximity to the place where the kid is taking glider lessons in Blairstown, New Jersey. We overnighted at a quirky but beautifully sited little hotel. It has a very grand name for a decently maintained joint that is a total throwback to another era - Wolf Hollow at Water Gap Country Club. Set high on a hill with sweeping views of the area, the grounds are sprinkled with Adirondack chairs for taking in the sunsets. In the space of 36 hours, we managed to fit in 3 soaring lessons for the kid, some poolside relax time, some beautiful biking along the Delaware, a chance encounter with a piece of the Appalachian Trail, a tasty egg cream at Zoe’s Ice Cream Emporium at the Castle Inn, a totally unplanned visit to the Blairstown Farmers Market and some good family bonding time (including some fun, loud car fights - our family’s particular specialty).
We are all in awe of the kid’s flight instructor, Jim Angelou. He’s a very talented pilot and gifted teacher and all around great guy. His operation, Yards Creek Soaring, is where T. and the kid are making twice weekly trips (weather conditions permitting) for soaring lessons this summer. My iPhone doesn’t really capture great video of the whole flying experience but we learned of another student’s youtube channel with GoPro footage shot from inside the cockpit and, wow, it’s pretty cool to watch: http://bit.ly/glidersamplelesson
We came home to a kitty who was very happy to see us. After scarfing down two tins of catfood, Mici promptly settled in for a nap in a nest of weekend papers.