waffle pressed pizza pockets

I take a deep breath when people ask me about the best pizza in New York City. My desk may be an overrun pile of papers, my cupboards an exercise in organized chaos, but my mind is a neatly organized rolodex of pizza, classified according to type (gas oven, coal oven, and wood-fired). So, I’m going to need some clarity on what kind of pizza you want my “best” opinion about. And you need to be willing to travel for it, because I don’t satisfy my pizza cravings based on proximity. Continue reading »

naughty & nice smashed avocado toasts

My mind is a browser with way too many tabs open today. It’s all good stuff. I have an energy, emotionally and professionally, that’s been lacking for a few years now. And, it’s all thanks to him. My moments of insecurity crept in a lot the last few days. Worry of falling too fast, too hard, depending too much on his love to carry me; preparing myself for the moment he, too, disappears. It’s hard to admit that. I want to live in the present, focus on the future. And yet my past haunts me.

In the time it takes to shop for groceries life as you know can fall apart. Do I have the strength to pick up the pieces, yet again, if destiny decides to deal a cruel hand? I don’t know, really.

But I do know that I’m willing to take the chance. I was “all in” from the moment we began exchanging texts. Just thinking about the way he looks at me forces the fears from my head, and makes my lips curve upwards into a smile. Continue reading »

tagliatelle limone

I ate chocolate cake for breakfast two days in a row. I suppose I could call it research and development for work. I mean, it is important to know how many days homemade devil’s food cake lasts exactly, right? Of course, it’s that kind of fuzzy logic that has me wondering why my jeans feel more snug than I’d like.

It’s easy to blame the weather. The temperatures drop, and the needle on my scale rises. Okay, that last bit is a lie. The only scale I own is my OXO one for baking (big surprise!). Years ago, my real scale broke, the needle stuck at 25 pounds, and the kids couldn’t understand why I kept it for so long.

But back to this cake problem, um, I mean work dilemma. Rather than forsake sweets, I tend towards moderation in other ways to balance out my lack of running since the snow started falling mid-January. Salads always find their place at our dinner table, and lately I find myself going back for seconds on them before the main course. My guy isn’t generally a salad person, so I was quite flattered that he’s enjoyed everyone I’ve made so far. There are a couple of basic things that define good cooks, the art of salad making ranking high for me. It’s about texture and flavor, and getting both of these into every bite. Continue reading »

chewy fudge brownies {dairy-free}

In Dorie Greenspan’s new bi-monthly column in The Washington Post she said “you’d have to be a card-carrying curmudgeon to hate Valentine’s Day”. While there’s something to be said for showing your love every moment you can, rather than cramming it all into one day (and paying way too much for red roses), some days we all just need a little extra boost. Those moments when your mind is too heavy, or perhaps your eyes just too tired from lack of sleep (two things that happened to be ailing me yesterday). Maybe that’s how we should look at Valentine’s Day. A bonus love day, of sorts.

It’s surreal being in love again, and I find myself stopping to take deeper breaths. Trying to appreciate the moments, rather than worry about it all going away. I remember talking to my friend David before I moved, wondering if I’d ever be loved again. He told me to stop thinking about it, and it’d happen when I least expected. Well, he was certainly right about the latter. And in a way, I had stopped thinking about. I’d resolved myself to possibly meeting someone who I could have interesting conversations with, and didn’t mind my kids (plus a cat AND a dog). But really, I thought about settling into some corner of the world once the kids were off to college. A small flat was all I needed, along with a little kitchen and a wi-fi connection. I could live out a peaceful, perhaps even happy existence in a bubble of my own making. Continue reading »

the B side

Pot roast. It doesn’t seem like much. The cut alone, chuck roast, is a humble hunk of meat. It needs time, and patience, to be rendered tender. Some aromatics, a helping of sweet vermouth, and homemade stock, and in a few hours you have a pot of meat, tender enough to release it’s hold with the the poke of a fork. It’s a meal filled with depth, a heartiness only the tenets of low and slow can yield.

Pot roast is kind of like love. Time isn’t of the essence; it’s the foundation of it all. A few key ingredients, thoughtful, yet unfussy technique, and don’t over think it too much.

It makes sense that this was the first meal I made for him.

I first heard about him two and a half years ago. A friend and I were making our way from the W Union Square to an event in midtown. Julia told me there was this really great guy I had to meet. I’d just come back from Paris, though, and had reconnected with C. We knew each other from my restaurant days. Simply said, it wasn’t time for us. Not, yet. Life still had some simmering in store for me. Continue reading »

and we strolled there together…

Twenty four hours ago I was walking out of Webster Hall. It was my first time ever going to a gig alone. I don’t think I’d even seen a live concert until I met Michael. He was my muse and mentor, all at once. Some of it is undoubtedly chalked up to the 14 year age difference. Though I suppose at 21, the age I was when we met, there was no excuse I hadn’t seen a live show, except for the fact that music just didn’t have the relevance in my life as it holds today.

I remember the day George Harrison died. I heard the DJ mention it on the radio as I was driving home from running errands. M was sullen, and mournful, when I walked in the door. He was in a funk, and there was no shaking it. I very unthoughtfully told him to snap out of it after a few hours…it wasn’t like he knew Harrison. Why the need to put a damper on our day? It would be years later, and losing part of my own past, to understand what that connection meant to him. The Sunday I woke up to hear that Lou Reed had died, I felt empty and numb inside. I lost something I couldn’t get back the day Reed left this great earth. I lost a piece of my love all over again. He saw Reed many times, but me, I only saw him twice, and both with M. We heard him recite the Raven someplace in the city…I should know that, shouldn’t I (note to self: go look in M’s box of old ticket stubs). We also went to see him perform Berlin at St. Ann’s when it was in Brooklyn Heights, not Dumbo (is it even there anymore?).

I got lost in Lou and Patti Smith when M died. I got lost in all the music he loved when he died. It was my life raft, my arm stretched out, fingertips grasping to him in the distance. Lou’s passing was a reminder that you can’t hold on forever. The tangibles eventually become intangible.

Today I caught up with a dear friend, someone who has believed in me since the beginning, in a way only Mikey ever did. I told her that last night, going to see Patti by myself, it taught me something. For the last few years, and probably long before that, I thought I had no claim to his music. It was his, and I simply liked it by default. In preparation for our move six months ago, I made the decision to sell part of M’s record collection (or is it albums? I never remember the difference between a record and an album). It took three passes before I had a “sell” pile.

The first pass was purely sentimental.

The second run through resulted in a slightly larger “sell” pile, having discarded some stuff I knew I had no interest in (if only I’d known that damn Leonard Nimoy album was worth more money!!!).

The third pass was a ruthless stripping away at the layers. It was no longer about my allegiance to him. The stakes were higher. What did I like (not the Sex Pistols!!!)? What did I think was essential for the girls to have as part of their father’s musical history?

Finally, the pile was whittled down to half, a mere 200 albums. The day the guy from St. Mark’s came, I felt somewhat dirty as he handed me a wad of cash. It felt tinted with betrayal. But the truth is that he had threatened many times to digitize it all, and get rid of the vinyl, to which I always protested “over my dead body”. Guess he won that argument…

Anyway, last night I realized that while I came into my own musically under his tutelage, the ownership of taste is all mine now. So much of our relationship, the first nine years in fact, were quibbles usually about me demanding to be heard and loved for who I was at my core. I may not have been as well-read, and I liked 80s music because I was a kid of that generation. I pushed back at every step of the way in our relationship, screaming (often literally) to just be loved for the person deep down. Back then I viewed books and music as window dressing. And in a way that’s what they represent. They’re the goods that pique your interest. I get that today, and only time and experience can teach that lesson. At 21 we think we know the rules. At 41, I realize we’re just making them up as we go along.

As 2014 winds down, I say goodbye to my sweet love. It is not the first, and I know it will not be the last. This goodbye is a thank you in a way, for the gift he gave to the soundtrack of my life. And these songs are for his journey.

I love you Mikey. See you on the other side. One day.

Music Pairing: Trampin’ by Patti Smith

Video: People Have the Power – Webster Hall 12/29/2014

gingerbread crispy treats

Last week when I told Isabella I wondered what gingerbread rice crispy treats would taste like, she rolled her eyes and said “oh here we go…gingerbread this, and gingerbread that”. It was a page right out of the Michael Perillo playbook. He would’ve teased me incessantly about the tear I’ve been on the last two weeks. I just.can’t.stop.

I won’t stop.

But, I think we covered that with my last post, you know the one where I made a NO-BAKE GINGERBREAD CREAM PIE. Sorry, but that one got me really excited—I had to get that out, and only all caps would do. Can you tell I’m feeling punchy tonight? I’m just feeling a groove I haven’t felt in quite some time, and truth be told—it’s nice to be my own muse, of sorts. I’ve nothing more witty to say about this recipe, just that it’s so easy, and the perfect thing to make when you’re short on time (and who isn’t this week?). Provided you have the ingredients on hand, these treats are ready to eat in about 45 minutes, from start to finish. You can make a tray, wrap it in a cloth, and bring it as a hostess gift (the gingerbread twist ups the ante, making them worthy in my opinion). Last minute class party? It’s great for those, too. Continue reading »

no-bake gingerbread cream pie

The way I see it, we’ve only two more weeks of peak gingerbread season. I was a little sad about the reality of this since gingerbread is one of my favorite spice combinations. Then I was talking to one of my best friends about panettone, a brioche-like cake studded with dried citrus fruits and raisins, and how it’s traditionally only eaten during Christmas time. The same goes for Galette des Rois, a puff pastry cake filled with almond cream, eaten to celebrate the Epiphany on January 6th. It used to be this cake was only available for a limited time. When I visited Paris last winter, it was still in pastry shops, well into the end of January. Something about seeing the cake available well far beyond its intended purpose made it feel less special. Don’t get me wrong—it’s a heavenly confection, when made well (many shops in NYC aren’t worth the hefty price tag). There’s something about the anticipation, though, of knowing that it’s only available for a brief window. Continue reading »

gingerbread chess pie

You know those days, the ones where you do seemingly nothing, and yet you walk away feeling so fulfilled? That was today. It was a snow day, sans the snow. I’m sure any of you watching the weather saw news of a Nor’easter. There was talk of snow, a lot of it, too. There was also talk that the air mass could change temperatures and directions, and maybe we’d just get rain. Well, it was the latter, but combined with below freezing temperatures, it made for icy, slick conditions this morning. The delayed start email came at 5:55am, and I was thankful for the extra couple of hours of sleep. Less than two hours later, a follow up email came that school was cancelled. Continue reading »

and so, the countdown begins

It’s been a while. I wonder how many times I’ve started a post with that sentence. It feels like quite a few in my mind. The last few weeks feel clear, and a blur, all at the same time. The thing about grief is that it catches up with you at the most inconvenient moments. I was well aware that this is a tender time of year, and yet it still doesn’t make it any easier. Perhaps, the right way of looking at is that it makes me more aware. More conscious that I need to be gentle with myself, that I’ll have to dig deeper to find more patience for our daughters, and that I’ll have to find a way to acknowledge my loss, but not let it get the best of me.

In the weeks I was away from here, I had two interactions with friends that left me feeling misunderstood. And it opened the door to a larger question in my mind, that if some of my closest friends don’t get me, will there ever be someone else who can understand me as deeply as the best friend I lost three and a half years ago. The closeness you develop in an intimate relationship is one that can’t be mimicked by even your closest friends. It’s the innate understanding of what you need, and willing to put your own needs on hold at moments when the weight needs to be carried by one, instead of two. Continue reading »