The email I just sent to my mom:
Hi Mom! Holy Hannah, what a whirlwind weekend! So so so much fun. The Levys say hello. We got to see everyone: Tom, Val, & kids; of course Dot & John; Bartley, Maud & Natalie; Andrew & Rishia; and lots of time with David, Etta, and Stacey. The food truck event on Sunday night was a BLAST. The AZ Canteen truck was a huge hit! So fabulous! Here's a link to the article Joy wrote for City Pages - yes, Joy was there too, got to see her several times! Attached is a pic of David, Etta, Stacey & me.
How are you feeling?
Love you, S
I realize that I sound about 16 years old in that email but it pretty well captures my enthusiasm for the weekend. CRAZY FLIPPING FUN! The best part was the time spent with friends and family, particularly my brother David and two sisters Stacey and Etta. With Stacey and me living in Minneapolis, and David and Etta living in NYC, the four of us only get together a couple of times per year.
I hated to say good bye.
John and I are lucky that his parents still live in the city. We always have a lovely place to stay and time to hang out and chat with my in-laws, who rock. That's my father-in-law John making his famous gumbo. He's a fan of a dark chestnut roux (not the darkest dark) and loads of mussels, clams, andouille, langoustines, and shrimp. No oysters. Okra fried a bit crisp before simmering. Heavenly, heavenly stuff.
Maybe some day he'll give me the recipe...?
Friday lunch John and I met his high school friend Michael Clurmen at Le Bilboquet. I can't imagine how I haven't met Michael before, but I'm awfully glad I have now. He's a riot AND he recommended a dish I wouldn't have otherwise ordered: Poulet Cajun, a dish of blackened Cajun chicken with frites. I'm pretty sure I haven't had a blackened Cajun anything since 1989 but oh my goodness...quite possibly my favorite dish of the weekend. What? I know! But it was absolutely delicious, butter tender and spicy (of course), served in a butter sauce, with perfect frites and crisp greens, meant to all be eaten together, on each forkful, for maximum salty-spicy-crusty-crunchy-tender-crispness. I don't know what I'm saying, I'm still confused by the Cajun. All I know was that it was just damn tasty.
(Ah ha! A little search for Le Bilboquet's website, which apparently doesn't exist, revealed that I am not alone in my love for Poulet Cajun...the dish made Eater NY's list of 12 Epic Chicken Dishes to Eat Before You Die. Hey cool. Eleven to go and I can check out.)
After lunch John and I hopped on the subway to visit my baby sister Etta at the Soho office of DuJour Magazine. Etta is the photo editor of this stunning new lifestyle magazine. I am her ridiculously proud sibling. Go Etta!
On Friday night, still full from lunch, we feasted a bounty of pork & pickles - I know, you must wonder if I ever tire of pork & pickles, but the answer is most certainly no, never - at Momofuku Ssam Bar with the Levys and our friends the Bryts. Highlights for me were the barbecue pork buns, a giant bowl of pickled vegetables that I pretty much ate by myself, raw oysters, and of course the house specialty: the glistening, fall-apart-tender Bo Ssam pork shoulder roast, served with rice, lettuce, kimchi, and their massively addictive scallion sauce.
Saturday morning John and I took a crispy, sunny walk through Central Park, to walk off about 1/1000th of the previous day's indulgences, just in time to...
...eat more. We met a couple of Levys as well as Joy Summers and Eric Tollefson at Le Charlot, another sweet little bistro, because I needed more frites. I very much enjoyed my crab avocado salad, but their frites couldn't hold a candle to Le Bilboquet's, not that I didn't eat plenty of them anyhow. Still, we had great fun pointing out examples of good and bad plastic surgery and taking enough pictures of each other for my mother-in-law to point out we were being rude.
Sunday morning I lay around reading and it was AMAZING. (I'm just about done with The Snow Child, a terrific read.) I could have felt guilty for not stealing another stroll through Central Park. Or catching a fabulous museum exhibit. Or breakfasting in some sunny, sparkly spot. But I didn't! I shrugged off the pressure to cram in New York experiences and fried up some leftover Bo Ssam, topped it with with a poached egg, sipped some bubbly, and relaxed. So good.
And then I slowly got myself ready for the big show, the real reason we were in town, to attend the New York Wine & Food Festival's Trucks & Train event, hosted by Andrew Zimmern to raise money for Share Our Strength. Andrew's AZ Canteen food truck was at the event and since my husband John is a partner in the AZ Canteen venture, we were nervous and excited to see New Yorkers' reaction to cabrito butter burgers. The verdict was...they loved them! There were 24 trucks at the event, but the longest lines were at AZ Canteen, and it warmed our Minnesota hearts to hear passersby raving as they stuffed their faces with pretzel-bunned goat.
My sister Stacey's friend Michael got us off to a grand start, snagging Venezuelan plantain sandwiches, Cubano sandwiches, AZ Canteen butter burgers, and arepas before the doors even opened.
Andrew introduced John and me to Food & Wine Magazine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin, who is as petite and lovely in person as she is in photographs. I'm quite sure I failed at not seeming utterly star struck.
I ate about 20 of these crispy little plantain sandwiches, stuffed with tender chicken. Look for a blog post soon, I can't wait to try my hand at them. Gluten-free goodness, much appreciated.
I am kicking myself that I didn't get a picture of Joy Summers' face when she laid eyes on this bare, bumpy butt parading around the event. This lady damn near stole the show!
Joy and I had a blast eating, drinking, and snarking our way through the weekend and event. That girl is 100% smarty pants fun. Love.
My in-laws had a great time at the event, eating and dancing with the best of them.
My cool sisters. Apparently we all like Ray Bans. Hey.
That's Andrew, backstage while Train brought down the house.
John, Joy, Eric, and I said goodnight to Andrew and his wife Rishia and the whole of Team Zimmern and then grabbed a Chinese feast at Chin Chin because we're crazy. Monday morning we all flew home and...
...here we are, digesting, reminiscing, and planning for the next trip. I'm still full and I can't wait!