Pre Dinner Ice Cream
A vacation recap, fancy almonds, and spring in New York
*tap tap* I’m back! Dale and I had such a great trip to Key West. It was full of the right combo of activities (my first time jetskiing, a cat forward tour of Ernest Hemingway’s house, walking around historic Key West) and relaxing (pre dinner ice cream, reading by the pool, and not looking at a computer. I also am obsessed with a Sunday-Wednesday trip. We had Saturday to prep for the trip (laundry, packing, etc) and then got back, worked for a few days and had another weekend. It really made facing Monday easier and it’s a timeframe I’ll be using for future trips. Keep reading for Key West recs if you’re planning a trip!
On Thursday, I’ll be back with the start of a registry series, not tied to marriage but tied to supporting people in your life through various milestones!
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
My go to lunch lately has been an egg sandwich, with sharp cheddar, arugula, and sriracha mayo. I use my cast iron pan to toast the bread and make the eggs (it’s big enough to do both at the same time).
Erica and I went to The Saucery by Rao’s, a popup in Soho with sauce tastings, customized jars, and even bedazzled bottles (I got to make a custom label for my family). It was a great event and I took home some sauce for an easy dinner: mini shells with Rao’s marinara sauce, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese and a side salad of arugula, dates, slivered almonds, and nutritional yeast with a quick balsamic vinaigrette. Weeknight perfection.
I had Lizzi and Leah over and I served olives, wine, and warm almonds. I toasted the almonds with a drizzle of olive oil for about 8 minutes and sprinkled them with flakey salt. It felt so fancy and luxurious with very little effort.
Passover feels so long ago, but we did have a fantastic seder. I brought this for dessert and it was a hit as always (line your baking sheet with both foil and parchment paper because it is sticky). Other highlights were my mom’s vegetarian matzoh ball soup, spring salad, and cauliflower shawarma sans pita. My parents put together a Haggadah every year that addresses current events and ties the Passover story to modern day plagues through symbolic foods and readings. If there’s interest, I can share some of the materials next year in advance of Seder.
Here’s something random: a food blogger and mom I follow, Palak, chops apples into “french fries” for her toddler. I tried it and they’re fun to eat that way.
Something to order:
In New York:
Kendra invited me to the opening of Casa Carmen, a new Mexican restaurant in Tribeca that’s a family affair. The grandmother, Carmen, several restaurants in Mexico City (El Bajío) and is a legend of Mexican cooking. The space is absolutely gorgeous, with a dining room full of plants. We sampled the guacamole and salsa verde and sipped margaritas and will absolutely be back for dinner soon.
Tilden and I grabbed breakfast at Clementine Bakery in Bed Stuy. I love their cupcakes and they also make a great almond croissant (everything is vegan and they have a dedicated GF pastry case).
Julia and I took a Friday afternoon walk that turned into drinks at Common Mollies, which has a bunch of tables outside now. They also have a pizza pop up every Friday that smelled incredible.
Then, Lizzi arrived in Brooklyn from Berkeley and we commenced a greatest hits eating tour. First stop, Lighthouse for labneh and sourdough, hummus, the big salad, grilled zucchini, the best fries, and mussels. I also bought a loaf of their sourdough bread to slice and freeze.
I made an Ops reservation right after Lizzi booked her flight and we wound up at the same table as her birthday dinner a few years ago. We had the salad, the special pizza with asparagus and olive tapanade, the Juno with broccoli rabe and potato, and a classic margherita. As always, the wine selection was incredible, it’s a great place to ask questions and try new things.
Finally, we had a family dinner with my parents at Barano right by the water. I had the linguine with clams, which were so good (and had a generous amount of clams).
In Key West:
We flew to Key West via connections (DC on the way there, Chicago on the way back) and the airport is small and easy to navigate—it’s one terminal. Our hotel was on Stock Island, which is a separate island that’s still part of the city of Key West. Being outside of the main downtown gave us more space and the hotel ran a reliable hourly shuttle to and from the downtown area. We used that daily without any issues. The hotel facilities were great and they have tons of water activities (kayaks, paddleboards, jet ski tours) on site. I didn’t love the food (it’s hotel food) but we only ate two meals there.
Take a guided tour of the Hemingway House (it’s included with your ticket and the museum is cash only). He had a polydactyl cat (cat with 6 toes) and that cat’s descendants still live there. There are 58 cats at the moment and they were a major highlight. We got to see the house and the grounds, including the pool his wife built out of spite when he cheated on her, and his writing studio. We walked to the Southermost Point and got coconuts from a stand on Duval Street (it was hot!).
Our favorite dinner was at 915 Duval. I loved the clams, with fennel, tomato, and white wine, and Dale had steak with a cone of fries that I ate half of. We both got a refreshing cucumber gin cocktail. For dinners, we made reservations the day before, but it didn’t require much advance planning.
Our favorite lunch was at Moondog Cafe (got the blackened tofu or mahi tacos), which we actually went to twice. It’s right by the Hemingway house.
We also enjoyed Blue Heaven, which has a huge backyard, great breakfast and baked goods breakfast at Pepe’s, a historic spot open since 1909—the food is simple and the space is really cool, and dinner at Santiago’s Bodega, a tapas place with really good burrata and a nice wine list.
Something to read:
Want more where this came from? I share additional reads in Thursday’s newsletter for paid subscribers.
Ghost kitchens are everywhere—this local diner sells food under multiple brands on delivery apps. They love the arrangement and customers usually don’t realize.
Why Bon Appetit’s latest cooking video is being called “extremely dangerous.” Brad Leone makes pastrami without proper curing techniques (or hygiene) and following the recipe could allow botulism spores to grow!
In Mexico City, vegan al pastor tacos are a growing part of the taco scene. “Mexico is also the country with the largest vegan and vegetarian community in Latin America, with 28 percent of the population not consuming meat and 9 percent living on a plant-based diet.”
Amelie Kang, owner of Málà Project, on breaking into the food industry at a young age. A location is opening soon in Greenpoint!
There are no accidents. Fires and car crashes and workplace accidents have systemic causes and the word accident can obscure that.
If you’re starting a composting habit this spring, here are all my tips!
For Vinepair, I wrote about bartending competitions and their role in the industry. I loved hearing from bartenders, brand ambassadors, and more.
This week, I’m thinking about entertaining and this charming article about bringing dessert (the comments are full of ideas). It’s an item that often gets assigned to a guest and I’m curious: what’s your go to dessert if someone asks you to bring one? I usually do cookies or blondies because they’re easy to transport! Reply to this email and I’ll share the answers next week.
I’ll be back Thursday with registry thoughts and services, more reads, and an advice column for paid subscribers and next week, we’ll have a special guest for the Monday newsletter! Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it!
And if you’re looking to brush up on some knife skills ahead of summer cooking, Erica and I have a class for you on May 19th!
Have a great week!