Ethan's off in Minnesota taking Spencer on a vacuuming and lawn mowing odyssey, so I'm consoling myself with the bounty of the Union Square Greenmarket. I exhort anyone in town this Friday to do the same, as the market is now at its absolute peak. Sweet corn, tomatoes, peaches, and plums are all over the place. Here's my haul, modeled by the monsters Park Madmore (L) and Iggy Fats (R).
The watercress and smoked trout are from one of my favorite vendors, whose name I never remember because I just look for the tall guy who both sells and resembles trout. He hawks it sparkly-fresh or applewood-smoked. I think his watercress is the best lettuce for the money at the Greenmarket. You have to apply for a bank loan to buy the mesclun they sell at those organic stands.
"Be careful about this smoked trout," warned the Trout Guy. "It's habit-forming."
The sweet corn is sublime. I always cook and eat an ear as I get home, since the longer corn sits, the more the sugar turns to
starch. If I plan to use the corn off the cob, like in corn pudding or
chowder, I cook them all off, then refrigerate the whole ears. My mom
taught me this!
The grape tomatoes are also sugar-sweet and among the best
I've ever had. I regret having passed on the larger heirloom
varieties, which are out in force now, alongside big, juicy Jersey
beefsteaks and plums. The Brandywines looked especially good. I was
happy to learn that Paul Robeson has an heirloom tomato named after him.
Radishes store really well when you break off the tops and
float them in a bowl of water in the frig. Then try serving them with
top-quality, room temperature butter (Coach Farm goat butter is great,
or a French AOC) and some good salt.
Epazote and cilantro are great to wake up canned black beans, and tuscan black kale is nice slow-cooked in bacon-y, vinegary liquid like collards. I like grilling the baby eggplants whole over my gas burners.
I'll probably stuff the squash blossoms with the fresh goat cheese and then batter them with the Amish eggs
and deep fry them. Recipe to follow. Be careful with squash blossoms,
because they're always really dirty and sometimes have bugs in them. I
find it best to wash them gently and repeatedly in several changes of
Hooligan is a great cheese from the people at Cato's Corner. From their website:
Hooligan is a ripe washed-rind cheese with a soft creamy interior and a
gorgeous orange rind. Hooligans are bathed twice a week in brine to
encourage the growth of pungent, surface-ripening bacteria. The
Hooligan melts beautifully for a fabulously stinky toasted cheese (a bit
like raclette). Sold whole in small wheels with basket lines on the
I took a chance on the ostrich fillet because the Ostrich Guy was so nice and let me hold a real ostrich egg. I asked him if his business has increased since the Top Chef episode featuring ostrich eggs, but he said not really. He also had emu eggs, which were purple. He told me to cook the ostrich 4 minutes on each side. It is very lean red meat with a high iron content, which apparently gives it a slightly metallic flavor, like liver. I think I'll try a peppercorn crust and a cherry gastrique.
From the brochure entitled "OSTRICH: The Smart Choice for the Healthy American Menu" --
...is tender, beefy-tasting and has a unique appeal for the epicure.
---is healthy alternative to traditional meats. (sic)
I'm having fun in NYC in August, now that all the amateurs have gone off to their country homes. (Country Homeowners: The above sentence is what is known as "playa hating" and doesn't mean I would turn down an invitation. I make nice margaritas.)
Anyway, love the place you're with. Our AC is cranking; my desk is newly converted to the Desk of My Dreams, Didi having cut the legs down so it sits a foot off the ground and I can sit cross-legged on a cushion and type; I have a new coffee grinder that makes my espresso extra creamy; there's great sweet corn; and, most importantly, my friends are making incredible art.
Last night I had a sweaty walk into Manhattan and saw Ethan play at Smalls with Mark Turner on tenor, Reid Anderson on bass, and Nasheet Waits on drums. What a great vibe! This was the first time all of these musicians have played together in ten years, and I hope they do so more often. I felt grateful to be there in that room and to share a scrumptious Employees Only burger afterward with Ethan and the lovely Karina.
I love the way great live music works on my mind. Bakhtin said the novel is a polyphonic form. There's something about the moving horizontal lines of an ensemble of improvisers that suggests the way I want to write. I want the lines of my characters to move like that, each with their own voice and integrity, swelling and resolving but never resolving too much. This group plays again tonight and I'll be there unless I'm home sitting Indian-style at my cool new desk.
Friday and Saturday, Ethan and I will be seeing Mark Morris's masterpiece L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato. It is a sublime experience, bringing together Milton's poetry, Handel's music, Mark Morris's choreography, and the beautiful bodies and spirits of the dancers. I can't imagine anyone not liking it, unless they don't like things like ice cream or kittens or life.
Hence loathèd Melancholy,
Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born,
In Stygian Cave forlorn
'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy!
Find out some uncouth cell,
Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings,
Long live my favorite blog, Do The Math, now at a spiffy new url and with a cool new logo.
Whose blog is it?
"BY THE FOUR MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SEVEN THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY-NINE HAIRS ON MY HEAD, IT'S MINE OF COURSE," bellowed a voice from across the cavern. And striding toward them came a figure that could only have been the Mathemagician.
He was dressed in a long flowing robe covered entirely with complex mathematical equations and a tall pointed cap that made him look very wise. In his left hand he carried a long staff with a pencil point at one end and a large rubber eraser at the other.
-- The Phantom Tollbooth
The Mathemagician knows that the way to a woman's heart is through her mind.