Monthly Archives: December 2012

And Then I Met Dorie Greenspan

During my five month stint in New York, the universe regularly uncoiled a humorous turn of events before me. On an almost daily basis throughout my time in the city, I would see someone I knew or recognized from back in N.C (most often from UNCG), someone I had already seen or met in NYC, OR, a celebrity. One week, I had four consecutive celeb sitings and another week, I ran into an acquaintance from school (on my exact section of the train) and then again just a couple days later, I ran into that same acquaintance in a completely different part of the city (again, destined for my train).

At first these occurrences and their bizarre and frequent nature weirded me out. I mean, what were the odds that they would keep happening like this in a city with over eight million people? I’ve heard stories of people who’ve lived in NYC for their whole lives and never once ran into anyone. Here it was happening to me like it was a natural part of my every day routine! But then they just became so oddly normal I adopted the attitude of “who will I see today?!” It was a fun game and an exciting outlook to start each day with.

I kept track in my phone’s notepad—immediately tallying an ongoing, ever-changing number for every time I saw someone I knew or recognized and also keeping a separate list of celebs I’d seen, trying to note when and where I’d seen them. My friends laughed at me, in bewilderment of how this kept happening to me and never to them. I attributed it to my keen observant and curious nature and the vast amount of ground I covered, all over the city for various jobs and adventures. My final count for each, after five months was this:

-25 times I’d seen someone I knew

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I saw the following (random) plethora of celebs: Keri Russell, Luis Guzman, Rachel Dratch, Lena Dunham, Kelsey Grammar, Suri Cruise, Katie Holmes, Chelsea Clinton, Jemima Kirke, Jim Caviezel, Ben Stiller, Jacinda Barrett, Gabriel Macht, Guy Fieri, Julianne Moore (my absolute favorite and the only sighting that really left me in a daze of pure star struck), Jennifer Esposito, Lily Cole, Blythe Danner and Adam Duritz.

 

One of my favored encounters (which was not on either list, because it was a sort of inevitable one), happened on my final day as an intern. My last day as an intern at Time Out was spent running around all over the city, picking up items on lend for the holiday gift guide issue. One of my assigned destinations was the Essex Street Market on the LES—I would be picking up some butter almond crescent cookies from Boubouki. Once I got there, I quickly recalled this market had been on my own personal list of places to visit because pastry goddess Dorie Greenspan had recently opened a cookie stall there—Beurre + Sel, and it was on my radar.  Instead of tracking down Boubouki right away, my eyes scanned the stalls for Dorie’s acclaimed jammers and sables. There before me on a marble slab, stood about five rows of different kinds of cookies, irresistibly poised for purchase and consumption.

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I selected a jammer, a world peace cookie and a butter sable and began chatting with a sweet gentleman with black rimmed frames about Dorie, the shop and her cookies. Then, he interjected, “Oh, speaking of, here she comes now.” I then realized I been talking with Dorie’s husband, Michael. Dorie, a petite woman with a chestnut pixie cut and a vivacious smile came forward and immediately introduced herself and inquired about myself. She asked if I was a baker, to which I replied yes and she asked if I was a writer or had a blog, to which I also replied yes. She asked me the name of my blog and then proceeded to compliment me on its name. We chatted for a few about her cookies, how she came to open her shop and how business had been going, Paris, David Lebovitz, the cover of the new Bon Appetit—(why were there blue sprinkles on the sables?! James Beard would be horrified)!  I told her I’d made her world peace cookies last year and how delicious they were, even though mine were lacking in attractiveness.

I felt guilty and behind for not having ever read one of her books and made a mental red flag to amend that as soon as possible! It was a pleasant surprise to meet the talented woman and James Beard award winner, behind so many esteemed books on baking and her friendly, genuine nature was so lovely. Her cookies were devoured the next day, in the car on the way to Asheville. We particularly loved the jammer, a perfectly round, thick shape cookie with a blueberry jam center, framed by a crumbly streusel. It yielded a gentle, moist crumb that was both soft and crunchy and intensely, buttery.

My Dorie encounter was an appropriately sweet finale to my time at Time Out.

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Heavy Heart

I moved into this little apartment in my sweet Polish neighborhood on a balmy night on July 15th, flustered, excited and overwhelmed and then had an emotional, teary-eyed dinner with Jay at Calexico, scared and unsure of what lay ahead. It seems like it was so long ago but at the same time I don’t know how I am already down to my last week here in New York. Now these once foreign streets and this area I had no grasp of is so familiar to me now. I think it’s impossible to live in a place for almost six months and not feel attached to the people or the things there.

I moved here for an editorial internship for the food and drink section of Time Out New York—an incredibly fortunate opportunity that still manages to escape my mind when I ponder how exactly I got it. I am utterly grateful for it, learned a lot, got some great experience and a good taste for the realm of a fast-paced publication work environment. But my time here has been so much bigger than that internship. So much bigger. I’ve spent endless days and nights exploring this wondrous city, feeling inspired, energized and alive. And I can’t help but think back to a print I have framed back home in N.C that I bought on one of my first trips to NYC. It’s a red and white cityscape that reads “New York the Wonder City,” and that’s just what it is. A city that is truly filled with so much wonder. Every corner I turn, I uncover something fascinating. Whether it be a six-piece acapella soul band, churning out 50’s rock hits on a subway platform, or a man on a park bench in Washington Square Park (one of my favorite places), completely covered with 50 or so pigeons like it was completely natural and they were all extensions of him.

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When I walk around this incredible city and have moments where I just feel so full—overwhelmed and overcome with this wonder and happiness and humanity, I’m reminded of a line in the film New York I Love You, where Robin Wright Penn’s character says, “I like this, little moments on the sidewalk smoking, thinking about life. It makes you appreciate the city. You watch the buildings, feel the air, you can look at the people, sometimes meet somebody you feel like you can even talk to.” Of course I don’t smoke, but otherwise, I relate to this entirely.

I have a former acquaintance turned roommate, whom I can now call my friend. She’s been a wonderful dinner date and fellow explorer, humoring me in my restaurant conquests throughout our neighborhood over these past five months. She’s entertained me endlessly with her endearing nature…her impersonations of the loved ones in her life, her infectious laugh and tendency to display awkward dance moves when she’s either had too much sugar or just one glass of wine. She’s candidly shared such beautiful, intimate songs and stories she’s written and she’s been such a source of comfort and familiarity for me here. She’s a gorgeous human being—inside and out and ‘m going to miss her dearly.

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I have an acquaintance from my time in England, when I studied abroad outside of Manchester during my sophomore year, whom I can now also call a friend. She happened to be in New York doing an internship as well and was already over here when I moved. We had kept in touch mildly via facebook and were fans of each other’s blogs and upon my arrival, we decided to meet up at Smorgasburg. It’s funny because that day was the most we had ever talked and we enjoyed one another’s company so much we decided to hang out again…and again…and several more agains. As luck would have it, we became friends and she is beautiful and has such an endearing affectation for all things American and has the best sense of humor. She too has been a wonderful dinner date and we realized the other night (during our last dinner date for some time), that literally all of our encounters have revolved around food! (Surprise, surprise). One of the best nights I’ve had here was with her, having a late night dinner at Locanda Verde, on a patio outside by a cobblestone street in Tribeca. We laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. Luckily she’s coming to visit me in N.C in a few months and I can’t wait to show her around!

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One of the first jobs I got here (a regular weekend job that I’ve been doing since August), was one I found on Craigslist. A happenstance encounter—one I never realized would play such an integral, influential role in my life until now, when I am having to say goodbye to it. I’ve been working for an incredibly kind, talented, bread baker who is also a wonder woman that inspires me greatly.  She works at one of the best restaurants I’ve eaten—Commerce and I have been helping sell her baked goods at the Brooklyn Flea (in Fort Greene and Williamsburg). I had to get up early. I had to carry and move a lot of heavy things. I had to do it for not much money. But I loved it and in doing this, I’ve met so many wonderful souls—other vendors who became friends that I looked forward to seeing every weekend.

The one vendor who would come and see me every morning for a good roll, which she referred to as a “magic bun.” She’s so tiny and yet can eat like a horse. I’ve gotten to know her husband a little and their precious little boy.

Then there’s the handsome, eclectically well-dressed Cornelius who makes women’s clothes, has the biggest smile and most infectious, distinguished laugh and also shares a passion for good food (we’ve become pros at scouting out the best lunch and snack eats at the Flea). Two of my other favorite vendors are an adorable and beautiful American-Argentine couple that make exquisite handmade soaps, oils and creams…she calls me ‘kiddo,” and he gives me the Euro kiss every time he sees me. They’ve been so generous, giving me free soaps and other things. There are so many familiar faces—regular customers and loyal vendors who come see me every weekend and just adore Heather’s food. I adore them.

I’m also going to miss Peter—the kindest, most reliable, Hatian taxi driver that I became friends with and could call every weekend after every shift, for a ride back to the restaurant. He took such good care of me and one time, took me all the way to Astoria after the hurricane (when transportation was so hard to come by for awhile), so I could get to a walk-in clinic for an infected finger and waited for me for two hours so he could also take me back home after! When I called him the other day, to inform him I wasn’t going to need a ride after work and that it was my last day, he proclaimed, “Oh girl, I’m going to miss you!” My heart broke a little.

I’ve been wildly inspired by a renaissance wonder woman employer who’s an intelligent, driven, talented, generous spirit that can make pies, wedding dresses and counters, can run an entire successful bakery all on her own and she’s only 33. Working for her has provided such insight into the inner-workings of owning and running a bakery. Before I came here, the thought of entrepreneurial-ship and opening a bakery one day was such a far off, dismissible notion and now it is more of a realistic, possibly attainable goal and I owe that to her. I’m going to miss that job and the wonderfully sweet and funny girls I worked with there.

So last night it hit me and I may have had three cocktails on an empty stomach and been a little more emotionally fragile because of them but it was completely genuine nonetheless. I hate goodbyes. It hurts to be hugged so tightly, knowing you might not see a person again. It hurts to have farewell drinks with two women you’ve come to discover you have so much in common with, on the brink of a friendship. It hurts to have to give a hurried goodbye on a subway platform, each going a different way and not knowing when your paths will cross again. My heart ached and I felt like the Tinman when he and Dorothy had to say their goodbyes.

On my teary route home I finally purchased a big greasy slice of iconic New York pizza from the pizza shop on Norman that I pass every single day. I also always looked for the sweet old Italian man with such a stoic face, who surely has to be in his seventies and is there every single day, all day, hunched over the counter, making pizzas.  I always scrunched up my nose at the slices in there as they never appeared to be anything special but still vowed to try the pizza before I left. So last night, feeling tipsy and sad and hungry, I stopped in for a slice of pepperoni to go (the old man was not there). I took it home, took it out of the grease-coated paper bag and devoured it, sitting on the edge of my bed. It was perfect.

So as my time here rapidly comes to a close and I experience a rainbow of emotions, I will mostly feel ridiculously blessed for being lucky enough to have lived here and met the people I’ve met, befriended the people I’ve befriended and for having the opportunities I’ve been given. I could not have wished for a better experience and as sad as I am to leave New York, because New York is not an easy place to leave, I know I’ll be back…many more times and it will forever hold a very special place in my heart. I don’t know what’s next and I’m trying to remind myself that’s not such a bad thing. Such is the excitement and adventure of life, right? To the next chapter…

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26 years and 26 things

In lieu of turning 26 and of recently celebrating Thanksgiving, I’ve thought of 26 things I am thankful for…

This last month has seemed such a whirlwind. Many a mornings beginning at the harsh hour of 5am walking to work in the cold and dark, to bake. Oddly, it’s almost easier for me to get up at that hour versus nine o’clock. Sometimes I think about trying to hitch a ride with the New Warsaw Bakery truck that’s making its morning rounds through the neighborhood. But once I settle into the brisk walk, my body wakes up (because cold air certainly will do that to you). I enjoy the enticing aromas wafting out of the buildings I pass…the Polish bakery that has been awake long before I and fresh laundry smells, escaping out the air vents of the laundromat on the corner I turn. I love those smells.

And there’s something peaceful and intimate about being the only one in a bakery at 6 am and the routine of baking the usual morning suspects—molasses coffee cake, colossal blueberry and cranberry-orange-walnut muffins with crumb topping, orange currant scones and savories (puff pastries: caramelized pear, pecan and gorgonzola, ham, swiss and herbs de provence and fig and goat cheese). I like watching the molasses-laced coffee cake batter rising up through the top layer of crumb topping and seeing how the “topography” looks (as Shea, my fellow baker likes to refer to it), because it is always different. (When the edges are all raised, that’s usually when the topography is at its finest). I’m thankful for these moments and to have had such a fun job, baking at such a charming bakery as The Blue Stove.

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Then there was Thanksgiving, when this lovely girl and I made a FEAST.

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Instead of just making a few things like any normal person would do, we waved simplicity out the window and decided to cook just about all of our Thanksgiving favorites. It was a bit strange not being with family or being in N.C for the holiday but we had a blast and I think our kitchen culinary endeavors paid off, helping remedy any homesickness we both had.

We made:

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and it was delicious. I’m thankful for food like that and friends like Caitlin.

I also just completed my internship at Time Out—my mission these past four months and my purpose for being here. While it may not have been everything I expected, I learned a great deal there and had many new experiences and I am thankful for bylines and for having had this lucky opportunity and the opportunity to live in such an exhilarating city.

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My last day ended with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black and my pick of any two books from their collection (one pick happened to be the brand new Food 52 cookbook which was only just released today!) and I’m very excited about it. So I’m thankful for cookbooks and whiskey too.

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I just had a birthday and was lucky enough to escape back to N.C for a few days and to celebrate the actual day with Jay and my family. I’m thankful for them and for the amazing, unseasonably warm weather we had in Asheville, for the insane birthday dinner we had at The Admiral, (more to come soon), I am thankful for being given another year of life, for cupcakes at midnight in the car while driving home, a support network, Christmas spirit, funny faces,  birthday serenades, The French Broad Chocolate Lounge and cozy elephant pajamas, doggy cuddles, laughter, a new yellow dress, getting to sleep in, for the ones I love helping me brainstorm for my future, the ethereal chocolate brownie sundae I had recently at The Chocolate Room and an awesome homemade birthday fort made just for me by a man I am thankful to love.

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