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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Writing class party

I was worried about the "dark days" of winter, so I signed up for two writing classes in January. Travel Writing merely served to confirm I am not cut out for freelancing, but my memoir class was a blast!

I made some new friends, loved the instructor, and am signed up for another session starting in June.

My classmate Melissa threw us a party on her Upper West Side rooftop. She is an amazing hostess!! I made spinach brownies, but they were just a drop in the gorgeous spread she laid out.


Day Drinking in D.C.

Is there anything better than being out on a sunny day for brunch and bloody marys, followed by two hours of "bottomless" mimosas for $10, flirting with strangers and hanging with two of your smart, funny, pretty friends?

Love these girls.

Scotty, this pic is penance for your tardy arrival!!! Hope Matt and the honorable senator from Arkansas are well...

Things to do in New York

My friend Jason (one of my two very favorite videographers from my stint at WCTV) is coming to NYC soon. He put out a call on Facebook for things to I decided to dust off the list that Neil and Nate helped me make last April and see how I've done.
  • Ferry to Governor's Island (summer only -- had an awesome bike trip there on one of the last days of the season in September)
  • Met summer rooftop cocktail party (had drinks there with Travis after the McQueen exhibit, so I'd say that counts)
  • Mandarin Oriental for rooftop drinks (hmm...I ate at Asiate, the restaurant there...I think that counts...but the weather was cloudy, so a return may be necessary)
  • Hiking in Cloisters Park (did a bit of this with Mom, Leigh Ann and Barbara...but could return!) 
  • Staten Island Ferry (rode it in 1999...should do again)
  • Drinks at Boathouse in Central Park (done...and done! amazing dinner there in June for LA's birthday. love that place!)
  • Summer afternoon beers at Bryant Park Cafe (went there at least twice last summer...once on a random blind date)
  • Frying Pan barge on the Hudson for summer beers (awesome time there with Travis on one of the last warm September days)
  • 21 Club for Restaurant Week -- to do!
  • Battery Park for drinks and boat watching -- I jog there all the it. Fun checking out the enormous yachts.
  • Corporate Challenge 5K...hmm, I can't recall what this was, but I am signed up for the Heart Run/Walk on Wall Street around Memorial Day
  • Big Apple Sunset Tour (again, what is this?)
  • Park Slope -- Farmers Market (need to do this...have been to Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg but not this)
  • Ellis Island (must go here!)
  • 11 Madison Park (ditto!)
  • Shake Shack (LOVE)
  • Buddha Khan ("it's quite the scene" -- let's dust this one off)
  • Soba noodles -- Ipudo? (hmm...I should do this)
  • Peter Lugar's (must go)
  • Red Rooster in Harlem (must go)
  • Fashion's Night Out in Sept. (I remember walking on Bleeker for this but am not sure that truly counts...I did go to a fashion show around that time...and that was the night I made the connection that led to Neil and Nate's adoption of Buddy!)
  • Drinks at Gansevoort (done...and done...and done...this is one of my favorite spots to take out-of-towners...though it does get "painfully trendy" after dark)
  • Standard (need to go to their beer garden soon)
  • High Line (love this...part of my standard neighborhood tour!)
  • Chelsea Gallery Tour (have done this several times but can always do more)
  • Dim Sum in Chinatown (did this with Leigh Ann, should do again)
  • Korean BBQ (to do!)
  • Order takeout from Seamless (done)
  • Order groceries from Fresh Direct (to do)
My own recs
  • Rent bikes and ride along Hudson from Battery Park to GW Bridge
  • Walk across Brooklyn or Williamsburg Bridge
  • Get food at Chelsea Market and have a picnic on the High Line or Hudson River Park
  • Ride the Water Taxi and/or East River Ferrys. The water taxi has a deal with the 9/11 Memorial.

Cheers to Patrick and Nick!

A few Saturdays ago, I hopped on an early train from Penn Station to D.C. to toast my friend Patrick and his husband Nick.

They married last fall but decided to wait until the spring to celebrate with their friends and families.
Patrick and Nick first dated when we were in college. They’ve been together through PhD programs, career changes, births of nieces and nephews, regional relocations and more. It was beautiful to see them exchange rings and affirm their commitment to each other. I couldn’t get a good photo, so here's a photo Patrick shared on Facebook when they married.
It was also great fun to get to see a number of my Duke classmates. Shout out to my hostess Caroline and our bride-to-be Angelina!
Patrick put together a fantastic weekend itinerary, complete with a delicious breakfast buffet on Sunday morning. The only thing that wasn’t flawless was the weather. Saturday was gorgeous, but a storm came in late that afternoon, so we didn’t get to make enough use of the Newseum’s fabulous outdoor terrace, with gorgeous Capitol views.
Nevertheless, I made Nate and Neil pose for a photo op!

Wishing these two smart, handsome men a lifetime of much happiness together. Cheers!

Dinner at Tertulia

Thanks to Christine for trying Tertulia with me on a random Monday night. It was nominated for a James Beard Award (Best New Restaurant), so we tried to go on a night when the wait would be more reasonable.

Adam Platt of New York Magazine said, “At Tertulia, [Chef Mullen] finally has a restaurant to call his own, and the result is a rich, deceptively sophisticated menu which does for tapas-style Spanish cuisine what Batali did for Italian pastas and April Bloomfield did for English pub food.”

Here's what we had (cut and pasted from the menu online):

Two bites of smoked pig cheek, quail egg and pepper

Tosta Matrimonio
Black and white anchovies, slow-roasted tomato, sheep's milk cheese, aged balsamic. Loved this and would totally try to make it myself sometime.
Coles de bruselas
Crispy Brussels sprouts, pork belly, mojo picón
Apparently we enjoyed these so much, I forgot to take a photo? They were excellent (it's been a memory is fuzzy without the photo), but the ones I had recently at Alta really rocked my socks!
Huevo Ahumado
Smoked egg, baby leeks, asparagus, lardo Ibérico. I feel like there was something to add a layer of richness on the bottom that is not mentioned??

Grilled lamb breast, creamy farro, cauliflower.
This may have been our favorite! I read somewhere else the lamb breast is cooked three ways...smoked, confit and something else. There was a blob of tangy yogurt to cut through the richness.

Pez Espada
Lightly grilled swordfish, spring peas, creme ahumada
This was just okay. The lamb was a hard act to follow!

Tarta de Chocolate
Dark chocolate and coffee ganache, almond crust, sea salt

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gospel of Love...and Kisses

Today was unusually busy at work, so I didn't look at Facebook until I was leaving around 6 p.m. I saw this from Miss Bunny:

Martha Sapp asked me to spread the word that Carolyn May's funeral is tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 at the Presbyterian Church. Love to all of her family. Carolyn was a shining example of a Christian, and the world is a better place because she lived. Yes, the angels are rejoicing. :-)

My news feed was full of posted tributes to the woman we called MaMay, as if she were our own grandmother. I started to cry, and as I walked into the subway and waited for the E train, I pondered why I was so upset. MaMay had been in poor health for years. It was inevitable that this day would come. And feels like the end of an era.

One of the best things about growing up in Quincy was knowing my friends' grandparents. Slowly, we've watched them slip away. My grandmothers both outlived their husbands and left this world years ago. Ranie lost Miss Mildred last year. Carolyn's other grandparents are already gone. Somehow this passing hit me hard: we kids are now the parents. The parents are the grandparents. The grandparents are the great-grandparents...and now they're gone.

Of course, MaMay wasn't just my friend Carolyn's grandmother (and Ashley and Richard's grandmother and Elizabeth, Hunter, Andrew, Marcelle and John Bradford's). Growing up at RFM, Wednesdays meant Bible. Bible meant MaMay. And MaMay meant cookies.

We live in a world in which there is so little pure goodness. And yet, with her Bible, her sparkling cross, and her inspirational tales from Readers Digest and Guideposts, MaMay felt like pure goodness to so many of us. She had endless patience. She showed endless kindness. She was true faith. 

I think another reason MaMay's death made me so sad is because I've been sad about the church this week. Homosexuality continues to be such a thorny topic. We certainly never discussed that with MaMay in Bible, and I wouldn't be surprised if her views on the topic are similar to the rest of her generation. But thinking about what I remembered from her lessons, I just came back to simple truths: love one another. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

When I got home, I realized I had a few key ingredients on hand: eggs, sugar, pecans and vanilla. I called Leigh Ann and got her to read me the recipe for MaMay's Kisses in the RFM cookbook. Some might call them meringues, but we called them Kisses...and we could never get enough of them. (Yes, the Natchez and icebox varieties are tasty too, but the Kisses were always the most coveted ones.)

Slowly, I beat the eggs with a pinch of salt...added the sugar...folded in the vanilla and the nuts...and baked them on brown paper in a warm oven. I thought with gratitude about MaMay's gentle spirit. And I gave thanks for the gospel she preached: pure love...with lots of Kisses.