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Posts tagged ‘Celia Cruz’

Down to the Wire

This is a last minute post about last minute shopping.  Pressed for time and more importantly money, it’s tempting to play it safe.  Buy something you know they want, a gift certificate to a store they love, or the safest of all – not picking an item or even a store – just a pre-paid tab anywhere Master Card, Visa  or American Express is accepted.  All are good options and if any of them is waiting for me under a tree – thank you, I love it!  But if you’ve waited but still want to find something bigger than an envelope and smaller than a bread box (or an actual bread box), I scouted out a few stores in my neighborhood that have never failed me.  With little time to spare, I want to know that I can still find something thoughtful, unique, or beautiful whenever possible.  Here are just a few stores where I found all three.  If you can’t make it Smith Street before Christmas, they’re definitely worth a visit soon if only to use those handy gift cards. Read more

Tiger’s Tale

Like most people, I’ve been overwhelmed by the perfect storm of holidays we’ve had this weekend.  Being stared down by Cupid, I could barely make out the Metal Tiger and Abe Lincoln standing behind him.  Throw my birthday into the mix and I barely have enough time to get my guilt in order before Ash Wednesday.  Nevertheless, I wanted to commemorate the Chinese New Year in some small way.  When I first came to New York for school, Chinese-Cuban restaurants were my link to authentic Cuban food.  Chinese staff speaking hyper-speed Caribbean Spanish serving roast pork with bean curd or fried rice with maduros over Cuban map placemats.   I realized this winter that the reverse was also true.  When I was considering buying some heavy tropical fruit to bring back with me from Miami, I realized I’d be better off looking for the same items closer to home in Chinatown. Read more

Cooking with Celia

This past week was my older sister Cami’s birthday, so I have been wound up planning an informal, low-key picnic in Central Park for 40 people.  When I sent out the evite, I was worried that people wouldn’t be able to make it.  When the RSVPs climbed, I was worried they all meant it when they said they were.  I did my best to anticipate any logistical problems – were the bathrooms at the Delacorte Theater open, were leashed dogs allowed on the Great Lawn, were you allowed to hang a piñata from Central Park’s look-but-don’t-climb trees?  (Answers: Yes, Yes, and Not if they see you). I prayed for sun but when I woke up to a gray Saturday morning, I was overwhelmed by the enormous number of things left to do for a picnic that was so obviously going be awash in early afternoon thunderstorms and soaked donkey piñatas.

I wanted Cami to have the classic Cuban spread – cangrejitos (crab-shaped puffs filled with sweet ham), crispy croquetas, meat filled empanadas, bocaditos (small white bread sandwiches filled with flavored cream cheese), and pastelitos de guayaba. Armed with 4 sheets of puff pastry, 3 bricks of cream cheese, ham and picadillo fillings, and the last of the homemade guava paste I’d brought from home, I set to work.  To add a further complication, I was also settling in my mother and Chiqui who had arrived the night before for a two week stay (Chiqui being the 8 pound chihuahua who has replaced me in my mother’s affections).

The few hours I had given myself to prepare evaporated between finding extra closet space, outlets for chargers and rolling out emapanada dough.  With just an hour to go, it seemed hopeless, and I started weighing the evils of less food versus having friends wandering the park looking for a spot that hadn’t been staked out.  Then someone, probably Chiqui, set my  iTunes to Celia Cruz.  Now while listening to Celia cannot solve every problem, it does make unhappiness almost impossible.  Somewhere Between Cao Cao Mani Picao and Oye Mi Rumba, time slowed enough for me to finish my first empanadas and my mother to cut the crusts of my sister’s favorite tuna bocaditos.  By the time I climbed up the subway stairs to 81st Street & Central Park West with a box full of Cuban treats and five minutes to spare,  I could finally see the blue skies I first felt when Celia started singing.

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