This video is not happy. But, After spending the weekend being squired around Brooklyn’s finest gilded affairs (punchbowls and egg nog, champagne and candlelit dance parties) it occurs to me: New York Holiday Party Season=There is Enough Happy to Go Around. So. It makes total sense that NEXT WEEKEND some very dear friends are throwing a huge Wayne-stock style party called the “Jingle Bell Rockaway”. Live Music. Food. Beer from local breweries affected by the storm (beer unscathed, thank god). The purpose is twofold: a) raise money for Rockaway post-Sandy hurricane relief and b) throw a damn party in a place that loves to party and hasn’t had a good throwdown in a while. There are a few, true heartbreaking reasons to go to this (people STILL don’t have power or heat, where there isn’t still standing water there is now inches thick toxic mold, free food and drinks for Rockaway residents, and the Friends of Rockaway organization puts the money directly in the hands of those affected), but really, it’s going to be a great party. Buy tickets—that include transportation out there AND free drinks, wha??—or, if you’re feeling Claus-y, just donate here.
And it’s Occupy Sandy!! Forget the gravy boats and Tiffany’s china, Occupy has set up an amazing registry here, chock full of the stuff that people affected by the storm actually need. We can attest firsthand that they hit the nail on the head (with one of these hammers– they’ve registered for 40 of them) with what’s needed. The items will be shipped to the Occupy Sandy relief outpost at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Clinton Hill. I was there this morning, and it’s a truly majestic scene in there- a beautiful sanctuary full to the brim with food, blankets, volunteers, and tools, glorious tools (painted pink so they can be identified and shared)! For those of you out of the area wondering how you can help, get the future Mr. and Mrs. Occupy something off of the registry– and get them to the church on time!
top picture from here, bottom pics from my fuzzy phone.
This Saturday, after knocking about the flea for a hot second and trying our hands at brunch, we decided we needed to get out. The city felt like it had a lid on it, and we needed to break away. We headed out to Rockaway, the world opening up for us, turning from grey and stifling still to open and cool the farther we got down Flatbush avenue. It was sweatshirt weather, jeans rolled up, swimsuits stuck into our bags as afterthoughts, hopeful necessities included by our road trip habit (swim every day, just in case). We headed to Fort Tilden, drove by the abandoned barracks and strange decaying outbuildings, and crested the dune to find the beach deserted, the sun slinking sideways, the wind whipping the sand low along in that autumn way that is at once beautiful and a little lonely. After a summer of sun, the water was warm, much warmer than the air, and we decided to go for it. Slipped our sandy feet through our skinny jeans, shimmied into our suits piecemeal, shucked our work shirts and infinite necklaces and went for the double-figure-8-high-five-run-in (if you’ve never done this it’s the best way to get into a chill ocean: start back to back, run half of a figure 8 back to your starting point, meet in the middle and high five, run the other half of the figure 8, meet, high five, and then sprint into the ocean). It was perfect. The air cool, the water warm, the wind blowing rainbow spray back from the ocean crests, the wheeling gulls, the JFK 747’s coming in every 10 minutes.
Getting out, goosebumps and shivers, heartbeats and the golden sun. When we got back home, the sun had gone down, the temperature dropped to 40 degrees. Just like that, it was over. We had gotten the last possible swim of the season, the end of Indian Summer, the start of whiskey weather. But we still had the feeling of wind in our hair and salt on our skin. Perfection.
I’m a sucker for good packaging. When I went to the co-op this week, these concord grapes were laid out like a hot breakfast in their own specially designed little cardstock bag, a squatter version of an apple sack, with a long white stitched handle and perfect Manischewitz-y purple font extolling their delicious and organic status. And, they smelled so very grapey, an olfactory punch powerful enough to create lush sense memories on the spot. I bought a bag and carried them home. By the time I got them back to the apartment, the bag was a crumplety mess, and when I liberated them from their 4x6x4 home it was like a grape clown-car. They just kept coming and I realized I had way more grapes on my hands than I could reasonably eat. Sharp-sweet, tannic, and full of seeds, what to do? Obviously, make Grape Jam. I got out my laminated “making jam without added pectin” chart from the very back of my recipe binder, and went to work. Skinning, seeding, boiling, sugaring, boiling, pouring into jars, putting hot hot hot on toast. Sweet, simple, at once fresh and old fashioned, this jam turned out fantastically, and it’s the most glorious rich dark purple color. Oh boy!Quick jams like this are sort of just about the easiest thing you can make. Have a pot? Can you stir? Good. You’ve got what it takes. If you’ve never made jam before, this tutorial is ah-mazing and has great pictures of each step. This kind of lazy-man’s jam plays fast and loose with canning/preserving requirements, so it will only keep for a few weeks in your fridge (add “the space to store a pot large enough for water bath canning” to my “homesickness vs. wanderlust” chart) but with enough crusty bread and one or two friends who should be gifted a sweet little pick-me-up-in-a-jar and you’ll go through it in no time.
It’s a rainy chill day in Brooklyn. This and the pending expiration of a big coupon to our favorite restaurant has Sweetheart and I playing hooky for an impromptu movie-lunch-day-date. Brooklyn, we love you, even when you’re damp.
rainy brooklyn image from here
Sweetheart and I had the distinct pleasure of going to this benefit concert yesterday. It wasn’t just an afternoon of fabulous music (though the Aoifa O’Donovan-Noam Pikelny-Chris Eldridge-fueled cover of “Don’t let it Bring You Down” really made my day), it felt like the Gowanus equivalent of a barn-raising. Put together by our late-night favorite high-lonesome crooner (and good god-fearing man) Michael Daves, the concert was put on to raise money to replace the coffered plaster ceiling at the Old First Reform Church in Park Slope. The church was founded by our favorite high-lonesome (and good-godfearing-pegleg) Peter Stuyvessant in the 1650’s (around the same time as the Elmendorf Reform Church up in Harlem), and moved around Brooklyn as the congregation grew, landing in its current location in 1891. Loosened over time by the rumbling of the yellow line under its buttresses, the plaster ceiling of the old church started falling, Chicken Little style, just last year:
The whole story- of how the ceiling fell and how it’s being fixed (a little bit at a time) is poetic and human and beautiful. Learn more here, and if you have a few bucks, put ’em in. We’re working on a building.
I simply can’t get enough of the divine and positively louche cheese spread on Saxelby Cheese over at the Selby. She arrived at the Essex Street Market around the same time I started frequenting it, and in one of those weird secret girl-crushes, I think trail blazing cheesemonger extraordinairess Anne Saxelby is one of those ladies that, you know, we’d really hit it off if we ever met in person, you know, just like Zooey Deschanel or Michelle Obama, but with cheese, you know? Here, in typical Selby fashion, her illustration of the ideal cheese cave, why parmigiano is like Elvis, and instructions on how to make something that sounds absolutely incredible, her “bourbon soaked grape leaf cheese wrap”:
As if this life-size statue of liberty face, oysters on the half shell, picnics in big open airy spaces, ferryboats, elegant decay, and views of Manhattan laid out like a hot breakfast weren’t enough, read this article about all of the new upcoming awesome goins-on at Governor’s Island and get excited!
ps. I love my Soludos.
Our little garden is chugging along—presiding over the (spotty) new lawn our landlord insisted on planting on the hottest day of the year—and weathering the stifling New York City heat (made even more mouth-breathingly hot by the hundreds of AC butts panting out the back of everyone’s brownstone, pointed at our zucchinis) surprisingly well. We pulled this ‘lil harvest on Sunday- two sweet knobby cukes, one lone, long red basque sweet pepper, two small banana peppers, and a mess of basil. Our eyes are trained on our one reddish tomato (one!), and anticipate its ripeness by the end of the week. Three meals worth of bounty isn’t too much- but it’s pretty darn good.