Thursday, January 13, 2011


I'm alive! I'm alive!

My goodness. I thought I'd have at least banged out a handful of posts by now. But with all the eating during the holidays, and then watching show after show of people eating (what seemed like mostly massive amounts of meat and grease) on TV, I got a little numb to it all. And then upon returning to the city, my computer made several trips to the Apple store and is now basically brand new inside, but left me internet-less for over a week. The horror.

All this to say, I'm back, full steam ahead.

So last night Chris and I watched Obama's eulogy/sermon/inspirational speech and it was so nice to hear him speak when he wasn't on the defense. I found it quite moving. And it seemed to tie in with a post I've been writing in my head for weeks now. 

A couple months ago a friend of mine packed her bags for another country to get out of the city for six months, shake things up, stir the pot, keep pursuing her dreams. Before she left New York, she made up a list of things she'd never done but had always wanted to, and went around town crossing things off. I was delighted to join her for the New York City Burlesque Festival, my first time too, which was a raucous good time filled with lots of sequins, buxom busts and be-donk-a-donk rear-ends shaking at speeds that could power Brooklyn. (Did I mention this before?)

It's not like my friend is never coming back to New York. I'm sure there will be plenty more opportunities to see girls twirling their pasties, but why wait? At least I think that was her thinking. You only live once right?

Then the holidays came upon us and with age, gift giving seems to have lost it's luster. I know what's under the tree for the most part. And that's fine. In fact that's great! Because who needs more stuff? Especially stuff you don't need.

I want experiences. 

Obama spoke a lot about the little girl who was killed over the weekend and encouraged the nation to look at the world through a child's eyes in pursuit of a more perfect union. 

Be adventurous, be kind, work towards the common good. Sparkle.

Last year was rough, my grandmother passed away, a mentor of mine died of pancreatic cancer and lots of doors seemed to be closing in my life and in the lives of those around me. So many good, bright people struggling.

So, when my mother came for a visit just before the holidays we decided our gift to each other would be to experience as much of the city as we could. Maybe banish some of the hardships of the year in pursuit of time spent together, doing the things we love. 

We went to the circus and laughed at clowns, we pampered ourselves a little, we slurped down gorgeous, briny oysters and martinis (which could have been a little splashier) at The John Dory Oyster Bar, we ate plates of bright, delicately plated vegetables at Le Verdure in Eataly. We sampled salty sea urchin and squid tentacles at Hasaki in the East Village. Ate what I think are the best cupcakes in New York from Dean and Deluca, devils food with chocolate peanut-butter-frosting dusted in gold, classic red velvet and a delicate, citrusy, creamsicle garnished with orange zest. And finally, on a cold, unusually busy Wednesday night we squeezed our way to the back bar of Hung Ry to eat big brothy bowls of hand pulled organic noodles with tender duck, and the best fried calamari served with a rich, earthy pumpkin seed and chili pesto.

With each adventure and flavor, the struggles of the past year softened and we could for the first time in ages really catch up. Mother and daughter. And maybe even sparkle a little by the end. Food is healing in so many ways. A gift for which I am very thankful.

Here is a recipe from David Tanis' A Platter of Figs. It's a classic, old fashioned Ambrosia. A little zinger for the new year.

May you all sparkle.


4 pink grapefruits
6 navel oranges
8 blood oranges
one 6-ounce can of crushed pineapple or one cup fresh
8 cumquats
sugar if necessary
1 cup organic coconut flakes (sweetened or not)

With a sharp serrated knife, cut off the top and bottom of the grapefruits, navel oranges, and blood oranges, then peel, making sure to remove the white pith. Working over a bowl, section the grapefruits into wedges, cutting between the membranes. Before discarding the grapefruit carcasses, squeeze them over the wedges-they will yield a cup or two of juice. Slice the navel oranges and blood oranges crosswise into 1/4 inch disks and add them to the bowl. I add the crushed pineapple mostly for nostalgia's sake. If you wish, use chunks of sweet fresh pineapple.

Slice the kumquats into the thinnest possible rounds, then mix them with the other citrus, to avoid breaking the fruit. Taste the juice, adding sugar only if it seems too tart. Transfer the compote to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for up to several hours.

Just before serving, sprinkle the coconut over. Sweetened flaked coconut is traditional, but it's nice to use unsweetened too.

I took this recipe and did my own thing with it, throwing in some tangerines, left the pineapple and cumquats out because I forgot them, used shredded coconut. And I think it would be good with a splash of Champagne right before serving. Whatever combination you choose, it's delicious and refreshing.


  1. Erica,
    I read your post just now and am moved to tears. :)

    I'm so happy you had such a lovely time with your mom. Embrace as many of those times as you can and Enjoy! Love you, sweetie!

  2. I'll say it again. I am the luckiest mother alive. We had fun, didn't we. Let's do it again!

  3. holy, moles. I would take that over ice cream any day! Okay, well not any day, but most :) Happy New Year!

  4. i've never had ambrosia before - heard of it but never actually knew what it was! looks delicious. love the photo of the peel.

  5. Thank you for the comments everyone! Natalie, I'm glad you've never had Ambrosia before because what most people think of is a bowl filled with marshmallows, maraschino cherries and canned mandarin oranges and pineapple. I don't know if David Tanis' mother's cousin invented this version of Ambrosia or if it's really the classic old fashioned way. I just know it's delicious.

  6. That peel photo is gorgeous. Would you mind sharing your camera model? Am in the market for a new one, and half my pictures are of food!

  7. Hi Tina, I'd be glad to. It's a Canon Power Shot A2000 IS camera 10.0 mega pix. It's a great little camera!

  8. I like a splash of Grand Marnier on ambrosia.

  9. A very moving post, so glad you shared some wonderful sounding foodie moments with your mom over the holidays.

  10. Erica, you will be proud to know, that last night and tonight, I made my first two dishes from the Joy of Cooking...which has bought me some confidence, and steared me away from pizza :) You inspire me to be healthier and feed my body the way it should be fed. Thank you for that.

    I hope to see you soon!