Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The setting is much more compelling than the wanly lit pictures of food I took too early or too late. There was the mahi-mahi, grilled and accompanied with rice and peas when we first arrived at Siboney Beach Club and its restaurant, Coconut Grove. Rum punch immediately encouraged.

At Darkwood Beach we had home-made ginger beer with our fried fish sandwich (me) and curried goat (Liam). Digestive biscuits and water in between. Dinner at Coconut Grove one night was the local rock lobster (Liam) and channa (me) and the next - coconut shrimp, fried calamari, and pina coladas and more rum punch.

We went to Roti King for lunch by way of Trinidad (we had great dreams of the public market but it was pretty dead this holiday weekend) with veggie roti, doubles, banana bread, and more ginger beer (twice).

Dinner our last night at Papa Zouk - a rum bar with 200 flavors (we just had the P'tit Punch, marinated rum drink) - where they narrate the menu to you like a hip Williamsburg joint. Bouillabase, tapas plate (plantains, butterfish fried, some chicken and 3 dips), a whole snapper grilled with pepper vinegar.

Not enough bananas and never the famed black pineapple, but plenty of ginger drinks and fried fish. Not enough vegetables, but toast and tea on our porch each morning and with the sea rushing under our feet yesterday morning.

It already feels like forever-ago.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Favorite Foods of 2009

Both breads to the left - a semolina/raisin/fennel (toasted with butter please) and The Loaf - parmesan on the bottom, fennel on top and something soft in between (like pan de mie but Brooklyn-i-fied).

Cheeses found at Brooklyn Larder - recent finds, Pierce Hill (raw sheep milk - delicious from the first soft bite to nutty aftertaste) and calcagno, a hard Sardinian sheep's milk that is the best thing since parmigiano-reggiano in my book.

Chocolates that I've chronicled all year - Askinosie white chocolate with cocoa nibs (the perfection of it realized on one of those 90 degree July days when it was so warm it melted in goaty, cacoa-y goodness on my tongue) and Mast Brothers - 72% with salt and pepper, or the new ones - a seasonal spiced pecan and/or the Stumptown Bar with coffee beans.

The toasted cheese with pickles on the side at beer table. And while I'm thinking of them - the pickled eggs with jalapeno powder, ricotta on bread with concord grapes and dehydrated tomato chips have been some of the best treats this year. Other neighborhood dinners at Franny's and that homemade blue cheesecake on the cheese plate at Applewood with garlic toasts.

Lobster Rolls. At the Flea. The budget-buster at Brooklyn Fish Camp.

Broccoli rabe for dinner, days of Irish oats for breakfast, three kinds of salted caramels, and yogurt with a favorite homemade granola recipe or good old muesli.

Weekly coffee Haagen-Dazs, often with fresh whipped cream and Ghiradelli 60% chocolate chips for most of the sweaty summer.

Vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting at Union Market (the mini-one).

Decaf cappuccinos at Cafe Grumpy while everyone else drinks this amazing fresh roasted coffee.

A cupboard of teas at home and work, predominantly gen mai cha, bancha, kukicha and sencha, but also a few new gyokuro, a first flush darjeeling, and a bottle of Fairway lavendar in my new "tea stick" from my in-laws.

Thinking ahead to 2010 - soups, beans pre-cooked and frozen, some sandwiches that Liam can make during the week (grilled provolone and rapini), and a winter of whole grains. More on that soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


December dinners have included Liam's famous omelet (best with chard and aged gouda) three times during the week, every version of broccoli (or broccoli rabe) with pasta, Annie's (twice), a huge pot of whole grain chili with feta and olive oil (1/2, then frozen, then the other 1/2), a bagel, toast, Chik Patties (a box), and yes, popcorn (cheese grated on top a la francais).

Standards for dinner diminishing by the December day.

I managed salted chocolate caramels, but after advising Sara on the to-do for them, somehow ended up with a candy thermometer at 255 when the chocolate hit the caramel, pulled them off the stove, and ended up caramel frosting.

5 1/4 hours later I had spoon cookies, but rather than recommended 1/2 strawberry and 1/2 cherry preservers (we always end up with jars for 6 mos after), I used four fruits (strawberry, cherry, currant, raspberry), which gave them an aftertaste of aged raspberry.

I treated myself to Gourmet Today (with sticker for Gourmet included) and a book about Japanese cuisine and paged frantically until I found a recipe for Earl Grey truffles. Even a colleague whose tastes admittedly run from Uncrustables to Hormell pepperoni to Eggos told me they were the best chocolate she ever had (they did taste better the next day).

There has been toast for breakfast and sometimes, for dinner. There have been many bags of Cheerios (even a box from my Secret Santa). Mast Brothers continue to make a weekly appearance in my snack bag and for some reason, boxes of soy milk have seemed the right thing drink. And there was the week of Russ & Daughter's whitefish salad on rye crisps on Monday and a tin of piri piri mackerel on Wednesday, leaving our office smelling like cat food.

Today, with just a brioche bumping in my belly for hours of spa indulgence and two cups of tea, I came home to a box in the foyer fantastically festive. My name was on it in red and green.


Good ones. Really good ones.

From Cookbook Club.

I'm not ashamed to admit I cried. Tears that might be more representative of the work it takes to open a new middle school serving low-income students and preparing them for college, but they were real, and they were falling on the cookie box. Ziploc bags. Notes. Comments. Old favorites (moon cookies, cream wafers) and new (alfajores in chocolate, caramel-nutty-amazing-ness).

I brewed a cup of kukicha, ate some cookies for dinner, and finished packing the bag for Antigua.

I miss time to make South Indian feasts and rural Greek pastas for dinner. I miss leftovers that leave colleagues envious as they queue behind me at the microwave. I miss thinking about what to do with turnips all day and braising them in butter that evening. I miss the time to bake a souffle and prepare apples with caramelized maple sauce on the side.

I miss Cookbook Club. Especially in December.