Birthday reflections, hosting tips, and oysters
I turned 28 last Thursday and have spent much of the last week celebrating. I believe getting older is a privilege and am so lucky. One thing I did on Instagram was raise money to stock Cooper Park Fridge, the free fridge I’ve been involved with since last fall. You all sent me nearly $400, which I’ll use over the next few weeks (I visit once a week). Thank you so much for your generosity. So far, I spent $196 to stock the fridge and pantry with produce, dry goods, summer things, and cake mix, in case someone visiting was a Virgo. If you’d like to contribute to stocking the fridge at any time, my Venmo is @Abigail-Koffler or you can donate to North Brooklyn Mutual Aid more broadly here.
The TNHS community got to gather in person for the first time in 18 months. We had a wonderful happy hour at Tuffet and it was so much fun to meet and catch up with so many of you. I’m planning more before winter hits so let me know your favorite outdoor venues.
A scheduling note: Due to Rosh Hashanah and Labor Day, there will be no Monday newsletter next week. Instead, next week’s bonus newsletter will go to everyone on Thursday.We’ll be back to a regular schedule of two newsletters the following week. If you need Rosh Hashanah recipe ideas, check out last year’s menu and the ones from 2019 and 2018. Shana tovah to everyone celebrating!
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
On Friday, Julia and Julianne surprised me with a day of activities. After the beach, we cooked dinner at Julia’s apartment for a slumber party themed night (we wore tie dye shirts we made last year, listened to throwback music, and watched Raise Your Voice). On the menu: pasta alla checca, salad, garlic bread, and brownies from a mix (the best brownies, we added flakey salt). It was such a cozy and delicious night.
I don’t live near a Trader Joe’s but I am a fan, and decided to make the trip to get some party snacks. Their cheese selection is so affordable and I was able to put together a fun spread (Erica did a more beautiful version of this at her birthday and I took inspiration from her). On the board: manchego, unexpected cheddar, and brie with dried apricots, salted Persian cucumbers, and strawberries. I got two types of crackers and had bowls of rosemary marcona almonds, peanut butter pretzels, and tzatziki, plus Red Clay Hot Honey, which is so good with cheese. Almost everything got eaten and I loved getting to use all of my mini bowls. If you have vegan or GF guests, you could tweak this spread accordingly.
For drinks, St. Agrestis sent over a bottle of their Paradiso Aperitvo and it was delicious. It’s comparable to Aperol, but less sweet and more complex (I also love the brand’s bottled negronis). We made spritzes all night (1:1 aperitif and bubbly, topped with seltzer and an orange slice), which are an ideal summer party drink. We also had Spindrift, Lacroix, and plain old water to keep everyone hydrated. I did a last minute liquor store run and the cashier recommended Teremana tequila. I didn’t realize it was the Rock’s tequila brand until I got home but it was nice and smooth. Next time, I want to get a Mexican owned tequila, like La Gritona.
One final hosting tip: burn a candle in the bathroom. I used this one and got many compliments.
Something to order:
Isa came to town for a few days and I got to take her to one of my favorite places, Lighthouse. We got oysters, fries, and burrata and drank orange wine with Pau. It’s a great place to catch up with great friends.
The Tuffet’s backyard was the perfect spot for happy hour (it’s my third time hosting there). The Tuffet team is opening a pizza spot in Greenpoint and they are serving the pizzas at Tuffet now. They’re so good: thin square pies with various toppings. I got the pepperoni for omnivore guests and a veggie one with arugula that I could not stop eating. The drinks are great as well—I rarely drink frozen drinks because they’re typically so sweet, but I love Tuffet’s.
For a birthday ice cream cone, I stopped by Sundaes and Cones. Their ice cream is well balanced and they have “classic” flavors as well as options like corn, ginger, and wasabi.
Julia and Julianne and I went to the Rockaways on Friday (I’m trying to go as much as possible this summer) and our first stop was Tacoway Beach. Their salsa is incredible and you should get an extra one to go. I got the plantain and black bean tacos and we all split a pineapple mint juice (their juices are huge).
On the beach, we got nutcrackers from the Beachtender, who uses real fruit and always has new flavors (we had a peach one that was so good). Anthony, the Beachtender, has a small team, so look for people with the logo and grab a few.
On Sunday, Dale and I got breakfast burritos at the West and sat in the backyard. For a while, it was only window service, but now the space is fully reopened. We sipped hot drinks in jean jackets and ran into a friend. Brunch is fine and good but there’s something special about breakfast at a coffee shop.
Something to read:
Eisenberg’s will become Eisen Coffee Shop from the Court Street Grocers team. I will certainly be visiting for a grilled cheese with a pickle.
From 2015 but still true: how snobbery helped take the spice out of European cooking
How cotton totes contribute to the climate crisis (alternate title: not everything needs a bag).
Online businesses are opening storefronts thanks to TikTok (the story of L’Appartement 4F is so cool)
My Food & Wine story on special glassware is online to read! If you see a print copy, send me a picture on Instagram.
Love seeing Dominique Drakeford in this cover story on women in sustainability
I read Seven Days in June in just a few days and really enjoyed it. Now, I want to read more of Tia Williams’ books.
Thank you for the birthday wishes and for sharing some of your birthday traditions.
Rebecca’s birthday cake works for all dietary restrictions: Personally, I'd go with carrot cake or funfetti cake for my own birthday, but my family requires me that I make my famous ice cream cakes! (I use normal dairy ice cream and crumbled Enjoy Life double chocolate cookies and chocolate syrup for the crunchy layer). I riff off my own recipe for them to make it more "mainstream, haha!)
Julianne is right, our surprises are incredibly special: I love that it's become tradition for you, me, and Julia to take a day off to celebrate The Birthday, just the three of us, separate from birthday parties. We go SO hard and I so appreciate just how seriously we take love and celebration in our circle! Can't wait to celebrate you this week, you deserve every ounce of this!
Jen sounds like a great host: My birthday is in December, so I love to have a cozy evening where I make a big dinner and a cake and invite some friends over for a movie night (obviously I missed this a lot last winter). I always choose three: an animated movie, a teen movie, and another live-action movie, and let people know in advance what time I'll be starting each film in case they can only make it for one— December's a busy month!
Chrissy has a great birthday attitude: I love birthdays, especially mine! I like to celebrate both publicly (throwing myself a big backyard party, going out to a fancy dinner) and privately (writing my yearly time capsule, honoring my body with a good sweat). Getting older as a gift, and we're incredibly lucky every year we get to do it.
Marcella, a fellow Virgo, is also a great baker. Happy birthday to you!: Happy birthday my fellow Virgo! I bake myself a cake every year and cover it in edible flowers. Pansies, violas, chamomile…whatever I can get my hands on. This was last year's cake. I share it with friends, neighbors, or whoever is around. I'm so excited to make another one in a few weeks!
This week, I’d love to hear your favorite hosting tips! I barely took photos at both events and think being present is the most important tip. Share yours by replying to this email and I’ll share in two weeks!
Enjoy the long weekend and thanks for reading!