Don't Contain Your Glee
Finding moments of fun and cheese that won't spoil
I have a confession to make. In high school, I was an avid fan of Glee, a Gleek if you will. I hope I haven’t lost you with this. I see clips from the show, which feels like a fever dream, on TikTok and I often watch them all the way through. It feels a bit like time travel and I still know all the words. It wasn’t cool then and it’s not cool now, but it’s my truth.
On Friday, I spent the evening with friends at Brandy’s Piano Bar, where very talented singers and musicians also serve drinks and take song requests. Going there is always a reminder of how special New York is. We befriended the woman at the table next to us who was celebrating a birthday. She was turning 60 and told us we reminded her of being young (she defined young as the 30s and 40s, which I loved) and bought us a round of Pinot Grigio. Hannah got the pianist to do a special birthday song. They performed Faithfully, a Journey song featured on a critical episode of Glee, and I felt full circle glee for my teen self and my almost 30 year old self. Does this count as inner child work? I think so. Related: joy is not meant to be a crumb, even in January.
Paid subscribers got a delicious pesto pasta recipe last week and this week, you will get a behind the scenes look at how food events work. I love sharing behind the scenes bits like if I get a lot of free food, and how publishing a print magazine story works.
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
In my quest to finish the container of ricotta in the fridge, I made ricotta toasts with various salads. One had dressed arugula and the other had shaved carrots with good olive oil, salt and pepper. Lemon would be great too. Season both your ricotta and your vegetable toppings for best results.
Grocery prices are out of control and I am buying all the frozen vegetables. When it comes to cheese, one that lasts a while is the best. Feta in brine is a strong entry in this category—the brine keeps it from molding and drying out and you can use it in salads (I made a lovely one with kale, pumpkin seeds, feta, black beans, and carrot). I served it with a slice of sourdough, which I buy in a loaf, slice, and freeze. Feta is also so good in shakshuka or whatever version of baked eggs you have the ingredients for.
On Sunday, I made a pantry meal with crispy tofu, rice, and string beans (from le freezer). What saved this from being boring was a char siu BBQ sauce from Bowlcut, a new brand of Asian American sauces inspired by the founder’s childhood. They sent me some samples to try and they are so good. I topped my bowl with the sauce and some yuzu mayo and it made an easy dinner so special.
Something to order:
Rebecca and I got drinks at Great Georgiana in Clinton Hill and the fries were great. I had just done some ketchup related Instagram stories and I had to satisfy the craving. This is a good spot to meet friends who all live off the G.
Isetta, a PR firm I love working with, had a fireside chat series with speakers from Omsom, Sanzo, Graza, and more. It was great to put faces to names and kick off the year with an event. After the panel, Oset and I grabbed dinner at K’Far at the Hoxton Hotel. We were able to walk in and the food was really good, especially the mushrooms with spicy squash. I need to come back for their breakfast menu.
Emma and I caught up over coffee at Bakeri, which has really good croissants. The Williamsburg location is tiny, which I love. You can watch baked goods get made and it smells so good (the Greenpoint location has lots more seating).
Pre Brandy’s, we got dinner at Flex Mussels, which recently moved into a bigger location uptown (the downtown location remains a great spot for happy hour). It’s a fantastic group dinner option—definitely get the whipped ricotta, a gulpable white wine (ask your server for advice), and a few pots of mussels. I love the fra diavolo and the parma. We rotated the pots around the table and the prices are very reasonable for what you get. Then head to Brandy’s for the show and arrive early to get a table. At Brandy’s, wine is your best bet for drinks and there is a two drink minimum since there’s no cover. You can tip the performers with cash or venmo.
Alicia and I caught up over bagels at Nook, a very cute coffeeshop in Bushwick. It’s a good spot to work, sketch, catch up with friends, or read.
Dale wanted wings from Clara’s so I accompanied him and got a surprisingly good mushroom quesadilla (they do have takeout but Dale says the wing quality suffers in delivery). I mixed the salsa and sour cream and was very happy. We also split a side of tater tots with spicy mayo.
I went to a yoga class in Greenpoint (I’m liking Lucent so far, thanks for the recommendations) and then met Leah and Erika for lunch at Cafe Alula, which has lots of outdoor seating and a little indoor seating. Leah and I split two sandwiches, one with halloumi and egg and the breakfast burrito. Erika’s mushroom sandwich was also delicious and I would absolutely come back (I’ve been to the Cafe once before for an event but they had a custom menu so I hadn’t tried the regular stuff). After lunch, we strolled over to Big Night to browse.
Something to read:
The Thursday newsletter always includes additional reads!
Your next baked potato should be a yukon not a russet
The quality of everything really is getting worse
What Are You Cooking for Lunar New Year? We Asked 18 Chefs and Writers
As orange wine gets more popular, people are learning more about wine
I talked to Ashley about making delicious soup without stock for Taste.
This olive oil company messed up. Here’s how they apologized to customers
Affordable child care is good for our collective wellness.
Loved thisconversation about coffee and climate change with Karla Boza, a coffee farmer in El Salvador.
The industrial pollution in New York City is alarming and of course, oil companies deny its impact while longtime residents see health consequences.
Gwen Stefani said some wild stuff (she feels Japanese) in this interview and the author handled it so well.
Spoon theory: What it is and how I use it to manage chronic illness
Ina Garten’s best meatless meals
How ‘Body Positivity’ Got Hijacked by Brands and Influencers
“Man on the street” TikTokers are a public menace. Agree
Quinta Brunson and Sheryl Lee Ralph on the Joy of Dreaming Big
The time has come to retire the Glee Curse
Trying to live a day without plastic
Now, let’s get into Gentle January and how you’re doing it! Remember, the only rule is to keep it gentle.
Julianne is leaning into fewer plans: Gentle January has meant starting the month with a clean slate: no plans and no travel. It's been so nice to have free time and get to casually see people I love in a not stressful way (the last 4 months of 2022 were really packed, for me and it felt like for everyone I knew!). For example, having last-minute drinks and dinner with you--something that used to feel normal but lately would require a lot of planning--I loved that for us!! I would like to make this aspect of Gentle January a "tradition" going forward, it's just so good for me, especially with so much going on in my 2023!
Natalie is enjoying sumo citrus season: I bought a sumo orange at tjoes today after seeing this subject line and also watched the latest abbott elementary tonight after making julia turshen's sesame tofu w/ rice & quickles & peanut sauce -- incredible <3
Erica needs romance recs! Leave them in the comments: My Gentle Jan indulgence of choice has been romance reading! Books but also fan fiction. I've been doing an hour of reading most mornings and evenings and loving it. Slow burn enemies to lovers recs very very welcomed!
This week, I’d love to know how you’re handling grocery shopping these days! Frozen produce is my friend right now and I was pleased to find 89 cent canned beans and eggs under $10 at Wegman’s yesterday. Reply to this with your strategies and I’ll share them next week!
Thanks for reading and have a good one!