Ever have a week where you feel like you lived a lifetime within its confines. Well not quite a lifetime but maybe a few years? I moved into Monday April 15 and attended to its usual needs: Article and meal planning, supermarket run. Carpool. The Boston Marathon Explosions. I drove through drop off in a light funk of shock, surreptitiously listening to the news, while chattering absently with the kids. Little League was spontaneously ditched we learned soon after game time. What was happening? Hub and I were glued to the television. I was watching the bomb blast on a loop and having a conversation via Messenger with a College flat-mate who heard the explosions from his office in downtown Boston. It felt just like the conversations I had with my brothers in Israel after bus blasts, restaurant explosions a few years ago. Shock, confusion, anger, helplessness. Defiance.
Thankfully our lives went on as planned, I celebrated being spared from this round of chaos with routine and normalcy. I made the Chermoula Salmon that I served at our second seder and have been promising to post ever since. The ridiculous ease of this bright, exotic, and satisfyingly full-some dish is not even the best thing about it, and that is saying a lot.
Then I had an article due for Mother’s Day/Shavuot. Bread Pudding, sweet and savory, was what I came up with. For the sweet: a chocolate-chip almond bread pudding with a dark cherry sauce. For the savory: a pizza bread casserole. I coined a word in that piece: challeftovers- the odds and ends of challah after Shabbat. I’m always looking for something to do with all that gluten. Bread puddings are a great (economical) thing to serve on Sundays.
Soon after forwarding the piece with pics to Heidi, my editor. I hopped on the train bound for the big City. It was my second visit to Breads Bakery the Manhattan outpost to the Tel Aviv Bakery. And as soon as I saw the sesame sprinkled Financiers at the cash register, my pulse started to quicken. The classic French cookie/sponge cake with a middle eastern twist…Now we’re talking!
The coffee was so great I had two cups! Which made me bright and alert. Maybe a little too much for the low-key Manhattan-ites who were just in it for their morning fix, hold the ode-to-baked-goods, thanks. After my meetings, I walked for a bit, sucking in the flow and energy of the city in great big gulps. I stopped for a Cucumber Labneh sandwich at some precious little French Boulangerie, whose Femme de Counteur (counter-girl) was a precious snark. Which kinda ruined an otherwise decent sandwich. And an hour later I was deposited back into my Mom Life. Still no new info on the Boston marathon terror explosions, but just as much coverage.
I went back to New York the next morning to have breakfast with Jessica. I met Jessica when I responded to her ad for an apartment share on the 103rd. I was honest with her about my limitations as a roommate, but she offered me a room regardless. After I moved in with my cat, Fitz, I realized how lucky I got. Not a cat person, at all, she welcomed in Fitz and even fed him all those times that I was too wrapped up in my life and boyfriend (now Hub) to pay attention. Long story short (don’t you hate that bridge, it’s so not true…) Jessica is moving from NYC to Chicago on Monday. I wanted to take her out for a last delicious NY blast.
As soon as I saw Norma’s menu online, I knew I had to go. The menu is a fanciful and completely decadent take on breakfast, my most favorite meal of the day. The orange juice itself was a victory of sweet, fresh and pure simplicity. The coffee was smooth and bitter and rich, and smelled like dark chocolate. Jessica ordered crispy French toast that I will do my best to replicate right down to its heartbreakingly perfect caramel sauce. I ordered Artychoke Benedict. Man! …Wow! I could tell you about the artichoke heart that cradled the perfectly poached egg, covered in a truffle-porcini hollandaise sauce, that covered the cubed roasted potatoes, but who cares? You can’t taste words. I’m not 100% sure what the word resplendent means but I’m pretty sure this meal was resplendent.
I skipped onto the subway downtown and noticed that I was dressed as a real live New York girl with my black skinnies and colorful flatties. Funny how trends are, I thought as I walked into the light, spacious, uncluttered House of Cupcakes that opened for business that day. The cupcakes behind the walls of glass display cases, are impeccable. They are a civilized size (ie normal), and are frosted and decorated generously, but with restraint and moderation in mind. I was compelled to buy a six piece box as it was their first day of business. I shared them with a few avid cookie girls, and we were most impressed by their version of a hostess cupcake.
My resplendent Norma’s breakfast/cupcake interlude was intruded upon by the very real reminders of the dangerous world we live in. The police presence was obvious on the streets, avenues, and subways of Manhattan. It returned me to the days after 9/11, and the understanding that things had changed. That night the FBI released the video of the suspects. Hub remarked how the one in the white, turned-back hat looked like a friend-of-a-friend from our City days. I said he looked like the Russian janitor that used to work at my gym. I wanted to do something. Make something, I was feeling a little nervous. I remembered the boston cream pie donut I used to get from Dunkin’ Donuts when I was in college in Waltham, right outside of Boston. I made mini-boston cream pies based on a solid recipe from the kitchn, and really, it’s true, nothing brings naïve happiness, and goofy excitement more than a homemade sweet treat. Hopefully I’ll remember this on my trip to Houston, where on tuesday I’ll be making all sorts of fun and yummy stuff at the Day School all day-long. In a bitter, sour, harsh world sometimes even a drop of sweetness and positive enthusiasm can go pretty far.