Saying Farewell to NYC with Flowers in My Hair

Well this is it - my final post from New York City - the concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh, there's nothing you can't do, when you're in New York. (Be forewarned, I have loaded this post with lyrics. I can't help myself). I have procrastinated about writing this post for weeks. Writing a post about what I'll miss most about NYC is one of the more daunting tasks I have faced. How do I start? Where do I end? Do I include peoples, places, AND things? What about sounds, smells, or overall feelings? Do I list my tried and true favorites or new and recent discoveries? Should I include New York institutions that appear in most travel guides? And who, besides the paid editors of NYmag, has the time?! This post has been haunting me to the point of numbness and nonaction. I have started it, stopped it, deleted and saved, brainstormed and baffled. So I decided that it would be more accurate and sane to postpone my 'what I'll miss most about New York' post until I actually leave it. Until I actually miss it (sniff, sniff). So when I'm so homesick I can't sleep, I'll find comfort in writing about the city that never sleeps either.

My bags are packed, I'm a-ready to go - except unfortunately I am not leaving on a jetplane - I'm leaving in a gently used Honda CRV - queue laughter - and I actually do know when I'll be back - October - for a wedding. So I won't make this more dramatic than it has to be, but start spreading the neeews, I'm leaving todaaaaay. (I can't stop). The hotrod is packed with all the necessary accouterments: maps, hiking boots, guide books, gossip magazines, box of wine, book on tape, ipod and one highstrung pitbull - now you understand the boxed wine.
Our first stop is Powell, Ohio to visit family, which is 10hrs from NYC, through the glorious state of Pennsylvania. After Ohio, our itinerary is (loosely) the following: Kansas City, Denver, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley Idaho, Crator Lake Oregon, and finally, my new home: San Francisco! I have never been to any of these places - including San Francisco, though Scott McKenzie says I'll meet some gentle people there. He also suggested I wear flowers in my hair, which will be an improvement as I accidentally packed my hairbrush AND hairdryer in the moving van. It actually feels liberating having most of your possessions stored elsewhere - living out of a car and a suitcase. Just me and the road. Yea, we'll see how poetic that sounds about two weeks from now.

The hardest part about this move is unarguably leaving my friends and family behind. My parents remedied that by throwing a fabulous going away party this past Saturday. Nothing like good grub and a lobster pot of mango margaritas to dry up your tears! (Too many margaritas has the opposite effect, which we discovered thanks to a particular attendee - xoxo). The theme was backyard bbq and the menu was fresh and fantastic: pulled bbq pork sandwiches with grainy mustard coleslaw, brined, rubbed then barbecued chicken, black bean and corn salad, mock 'Rice-a-Roni' salad (orzo instead of that abominable stuff), arugula-watermelon and feta salad with fresh mint and a shallot vinaigrette and a multitude of delicious desserts: fresh fruit salad, banana chocolate chip bread, cherry cheesecake and even more margaritas. The mango margaritas were homemade and stored in our lobster pot for easy pouring. Fresca soda added a touch of carbonation and mango nectar eliminated the need for any additional sugar.

Corey's Mango Madness: (technically serves four, but not in my house)
  • 4 ounces silver tequila (we used Milagro Tequila)
  • 2 ounces triple sec (we used Pride & Clarke)
  • 1 can Fresca or grapefruit soda (orange soda or seltzer can also work)
  • 1.5 cups Mango Nectar or 1 1/4lb fresh mango pureed (fresh mango works better for frozen ritas)
  • Lime wedges
  • Ice
  1. Combine tequila, triple sec, and mango nectar in a large pitcher and stir to mix. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
  2. Add soda to the mix right before the party starts.
  3. Serve over ice and garnish with lime wedges.
  4. Have a designated driver - these puppies are potent!
'If I can make it here I'll make it anywhere!' - thanks for the vote of confidence, Frank.
- The Heat

P.S. I already have my welcome back song keyed up. And don't worry, my family is leaving nothing to chance:


Love and Lobster

This past weekend I attended a wedding in the Bush-friendly, resort town of Kennebunkport, Maine. From the start it had all the signs of a great wedding: beautiful weather, picturesque seaside setting, great friends, and boatloads of crustaceans. Based on my current state - complete exhaustion, a sore scalp from bobby pin torture, and freshly scraped knee - the weekend was a great success. Before you all start making assumptions of debauchery, I'll have you know that I scraped my knee pre-cocktails, thanks to a graceful digger off the top step of our trolley. Luckily our photographer came prepared for such occasions with an ample supply of tissues and a flask of Jim Beam. Can't take me anywhere.
The highlight of the weekend, besides the beautiful display of true love and vows of holy matrimony, was, of course, the food. Lobster to be exact. Lobster salad, lobster rolls, lobster bisque, lobster quiche, lobster pot pies and of course, steamed whole lobster.  I was one bite away from having to use the Jaws of Life to get out of my bridesmaid's dress - and it was totally worth it. I'm a little embarrassed to admit my favorite dish of the weekend. I'd feel better about myself had it been the steamed lobster in all it's delicious simplicity. Instead I choose arguably the most complex, diluted and undoubtedly gluttonous version: the Lobster Pot Pie. Imagine taking something as rich as lobster meat, adding butter and cream and then topping it off with a freshly baked biscuit. A bit much? Maybe. But not for me. It was the first thing I'd eaten all day and I still had blood pouring down my shin. Perhaps context is everything, but suffice it to say I was a very happy girl. Never one to be shy, I shoved the biscuit rather crudely down into my soup - and voila! - a giant, lobster soaked crouton. My knee stopped hurting immediately.
That's not to say there were any real losers this weekend. I generally enjoyed every single bite of lobster I had, whatever the form. But I wasn't the only critic in town. The Travel Channel was in Kennebunkport filming their hit show: Food Wars. The contenders were the dueling lobster rolls from The Clam Shack and Alison's. The show's official winner won't be announced until later in the season, but for those sitting at the edge of their seat, our wedding party did it's own extensive research and crowned The Clam Shack as favorite, finding Alison's too mayo-y for our liking.

Back home in NY, we have a similar food war going on. Where can one buy the best lobster roll? Pearl Oyster Bar? Mary's Fish Camp? Luke's? Ed's? Montauk is battling it out too: should I go to Duryea's or Lunch? And though I too have my favorites (Mary's and Duryeas's - no contest), lobster is meant to be loved, not judged and I will have a big, fat smile on my face wherever I am.
Speaking of love and lobster, my fellow bridesmaid and long time friend has a tradition of preparing this Lobster Cobb Salad with her boyfriend every Valentines Day (salad for dinner, how L.A. of you two). He kills the crustaceans, she chops the veggies. Ain't that cute. Since I am moving to Cali in a mere 15 days, I figure it's time to lay off the pot pie's and embrace my new culture. When in Rome:

Lobster Cobb Salad: (Serves 4-6)
For the Vinaigrette:
  • 1.5T Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (apprx 2 lemons)
  • 5T good olive oil
  • 3/4t kosher salt
  • 1/2t freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1.5lbs cooked lobster meat, cut in 3/4" dice
  • 1.5t kosher salt
  • 1/2t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2lb lean bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 3/4 cup crumbled English Stilton, or other crumbly blue cheese
  • 1 bunch arugula, washed and spun dry
  1. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. For the salad, cut avocados in half, remove the seed, and peel. Dice into 3/4 inch pieces and toss with lemon juice. 
  3. If the arugula leaves are large, tear into smaller pieces.
  4. Put the lobster and tomatoes in a bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and toss with enough vinaigrette to moisten. 
  5. Add the diced avocado, crumbled bacon, blue cheese and arugula and toss again. Serve at room temperature.
Post bobby pins and startin' to feel the knee again...
I think I'm going to need more lobster,
- The Heat