This is what it looks like when you’ve just eaten a raw oyster from your home waters. Very, very good. Growing up in the Virginia lowlands, of water stock, I actually never really understood the sense of place in an oyster. They just tasted like oysters. It wasn’t until I was long out of Virginia, a New York veteran of a few years, meeting McKay and Cakes at Marlow for one of those hours long dinners that meeting those girls at that place requires, that I saw a James River oyster on the menu and ordered it. Oh man. Just the taste of that dusky brine and I was immediately transported to summers on the Mobjack bay, wearing white rubber watermen’s boots and traversing the mudflats like they were my kingdom. Tidewater, in an instant, a taste. I bet the old salts around the bar in Montauk feel the same way about their super saline Long Island Blue Points, but the fact is they’re the exact same oyster species as my fat and sweet-salty Virginia half-shell, they’re just tempered differently by the water they’re in. Per usual, a parable. Back in Virginia, for my big birthday, I was lucky enough to have two bushels brought to me directly from the coast, just a little over 400 oysters. The plan was to roast most and shuck some. Lucky for me, my dear friend Rob came straight from the banks of the York river bearing his oyster knife, super shucking skills, and intimate knowledge of the oyster crab. The little yellow-orange jewel here is a tiny soft-shelled crab, a lady, who is symbiotic with the Virginia oyster. They are friends, and are only found in the best and healthiest oyster beds. The New York Times wrote two separate articles in the early 1900’s on the little buggers- here and here. The Times suggests frying them or covering them with a mayonnaise lightly colored pink with beet juice, but Rob told me to just eat it raw. Incredible. It was the first one I ever found, and I felt so lucky to have had it in Virginia, on my birthday.
On my last night before returning back to the country for my own EPIC PARTY PREPARATIONS, all of my dear ones who won’t be able to make it down south for my own Jubilee birthday all got together to have a big celebratory, adventurous Sichuan dinner in Bay Ridge. After sweet peppered ginger duck, prickly hot red-oil dumplings, salt and pepper shrimp, and (my favorite) the Chengdu softshell crab— a glistening pile of shining red chiles and clovey brown peppercorns dotted with fried softshell crab omigod— we decided to go on a little adventure. After all, we were already on 86th street, just a hop and a jump away from Dyker Heights and its fabled Christmas Light EXTRAVAGANZAS. Trumpeting Angels, Two-Storey Santas, Nutcrackers riding life-size-mechanized-rearing-stallions… all with a belly full of flavor. Everything you could possibly want from a New York Christmas whirlwind. So far so great.
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.
Sandy is coming and New York City has effectively shut down. No transportation, No work, everyone preparing for wine-soaked candlelit mid-day dinners. Soooo, is this the best thing ever? Not sure… Sweetheart’s dad sent us this quick snap from Rockaway this morning (mandatory evacuation be damned), storm surge already coming up and over Beach 134th and Cronston. Oh My. Us? We’re ok.
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.
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