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Posts from the ‘New York’ Category

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

The Hook

It’s hard to know what to get someone for their wedding, so I was thrilled when my friend Achy invited me to guest blog on her site, CityLife: Adventures, Large and Small, In Urban Living, while she enjoyed her honeymoon offline.  A journalist and writer based in Chicago,  I took advantage of the city crawler theme to finally visit Red Hook’s Mercado.  Click here for the complete post. Read more

Blanket Comfort

My sister Carmen has been asking me to make bistec empanizado for this blog  for awhile.  When I wrote about masitas de puerco, my favorite thing to order from Cuban menus, it seemed only fair to write about hers.  Mine came with black beans and hers didn’t, so I’d always pass her my frijoles negros.  This week we made a different deal – I’d finally make the bistec empanizado if she’d write the post.  Here it is and I’m sure you’ll agree it was well worth the beans.

When I was little, the center of the universe seemed to exist at Casablanca.  A bustling Cuban café on 8th street in the then sleepy little town of Miami.  When my grandfather took me for lunch, I loved sitting at the counter where the vinyl covered, revolving stools gave me a 360 degree view of the action.  When my parents took me at night, the same café was usually empty which gave my sister and I the odd run of the place.  We’d feed quarters into the jukebox and play Donna Summer songs as my father talked about what life would have been like/could be like for us in Cuba.  I don’t know exactly why I chose Donna Summer.  I wasn’t crazy about disco (I didn’t want to dress like a that when I grew up) but there was something about her voice that kept me coming back.  It was lonely and defiant.  It spoke of another world I couldn’t possibly understand at that age.  The boldness of it drew me in and it was endless.  Very much like the breaded steak on my plate that I always ordered for dinner. Read more

Summer Streets Break

I realized today that it was August, not that it was much of a secret.  I had a hint of it last week when I went to the farmer’s market to stock up on fruit and there were no peaches anywhere.  I’m sure there will be plenty in the weeks to come, but it was the first sign that end of summer was in sight.  Summer Streets, the three days in August where the city closes Park Avenue to cars and opens it to just about everything else has become my end of summer consolation. Read more

Food is Art

I’ve written about the Red Hook Food Vendors before (click here) but it’s wasn’t until this past Saturday that I visited them on their home field for a tour led by Chef Aaron Sanchez, part of the Food is Art culinary program, a series of lectures, classes and special events curated by Zarela Martinez in conjunction with the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York. Read more

Shaking It Up

Today I took my first steps in what I hope will end with the triumphant crossing New York City marathon finish line and not sleeping through the Staten Island start, crying on the 59th Street bridge, or passing out in Central Park’s closing stretch.  Looking ahead the long Saturday training runs I have planned between now and November, I decided to play around with fresh fruit batidos (also known licuados or preparados depending on the accent). Read more

Catching Up in May

I collect links and articles for my monthly catching up posts every day so it’s not until I sit down to go through them all that a theme emerges.  The New York Times City Room covered the struggles of two neighborhood restaurants.  Due in part to the efforts of community leaders and a last minute fundraiser, Coqui Mexicano was able to temporarily stave off eviction from their South Bronx location but Manhattanville’s La Floridita, one of the last Cuban restaurants left in the area, was forced to close for repairs and faces an uncertain future.  The Village Voice interview with Fernando Ruiz of the Tortilleria Nixtamal, which is doing well, was about mistakes, misconceptions, and underappreciated ingredients — a more interesting read but still.  Even news that Rick Bayless would be preparing the state dinner President Felipe Calderón of Mexico stirred up some controversy both before and after.   On a brighter note, Carolina González wrote for the Daily News about the prominence of women chefs and restaurateurs like Zarela Martínez and Sue Torres in high-end Mexican cuisine.  I thought May would farmer’s markets and spring blossoms but there were some shadows too.

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So Much To Do

After the relative quiet of the last few months, it seems like everyone is ready to celebrate the arrival of summer or at least have a glass of Rioja.  From now until May 27th, 25 restaurants in both New York and Chicago will be offering special lunch and dinner menus for Rioja Restaurant Week.  Lately it feels like restaurant week year around but it’s definitely worth visiting one, or two or three…Click here for a list of participating restaurants. Read more

Asopao de Pollo

A few weeks ago, a friend gave me a list of Puerto Rican classics to try that included asopao de pollo.  As she described it, it’s a Puerto Rican risotto that’s not quite soup and not quite stew.  My soups often go to gumbo by mistake so I was curious to know what would happen if I made it that way by design.  At Jennifer’s suggestion, I checked my Puerto Rican Cookery book first.  I realized after additional searches that there were thousands of recipes for asopao, a one-pot, comfort food solution for family dinners and leftovers.  After reading them over, I finally circled back to Carmen Aboy Valldejuli. Read more

Rites of Spring

In the two years since it opened, the Brooklyn Flea has gone from a neighborhood novelty to something that I look forward to each year.  I knew it would be crowded but made a plan to meet a friend there when it re-opened its outdoor location in Fort Greene’s Bishop Laughlin Memorial High School this weekend.  Slowly working our way through the aisles, I always go with the same hope, that the stands will be full of new (to market) retro kitchen gadgets and that the Red Hook Vendors will be  there selling pupusas, tamales, grilled corn sprinkled with chile, and agua fresca. Read more