Monday, May 21, 2012

Traveling Light

The subtitle of this blog is "adventures in food and travel" - For the most part  I talk about food with a description of an occasional side trip to NYC or Cape Cod or another town within a 50 mile radius of my present home in Hudson - but it usually involves food of some kind or other.  It has occurred to me that travel need not be defined as getting on an airplane and going to a country where the mother tongue is a language other than English, or going to a hot little island in the midst of a snow storm, or even going to a place inhabited by cartoon characters and It's a Small World..plays ad naseum.  Travel can simply mean going beyond your usual daily routine.  A little vacation of the mind .   I  managed to combine travel to an exotic spot and a change of atmosphere the other day when I went into NYC.   Friends from Italy were in town and I wanted to greet them right away (as I had done for so many years when I actually lived in that city) and there was a very special party thrown by Minimal Cucine on the roof top of their office building in way west Chelsea.   My breath is regularly taken away each time I walk on the Highline (the best thing to happen in the city in decades) with its spectacular views and native New York plants - but when it's viewed from 8 stories up aglow in the rosy sunset it's a whole other experience - so forgive my blurry photo, but hope you get the idea.   Walk to the other side of the roof and there you have the very same majestic river that's given my new hometown its name.

Back in Hudson I participated in the weekend's New York Heritage Weekend by visiting the.
Dr. Oliver Bronson House and happily took the very thorough guided tour.   I was fascinated by the many details; brackets, gingerbread trim, octagon rooms within octagon rooms, a staircase to rival all others, windows, wallpaper, beautiful blue paint (or what remained of it), intricate moldings especially those that included rope molding, views where you could only imagine the Hudson River - that view now completely  concealed by tangles of green, remnants of fireplace mantles, (and even the sense of humor of a former resident - or, intruder?) - ah the glory that once was. Currently the house is being thoughtfully, and carefully stabilized.

I still have to eat - and nothing is quite as satisfying as a really good salad.  Sue Decker, out at Blue Star Farm in Stuyvesant makes the possibility of that good salad an easy task.  Her delicious mixture of 11 different leaves comes washed (the most annoying part of making a salad is washing and drying the leaves) and ready to dress.  Her little packets of sprouting cress, and other sprouting, spicy leaves is just the right punctuation for a gratifying salad.   

I usually dress tender leaves, simply, with  peppery extra virgin olive oil, rice wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice, and flaky sea salt.  Basta.

When using sturdier, bitter leaves like chicory or young kale I like to make this dressing:

makes 1/2 cup

1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon pure honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 rounded tablespoon sour cream
freshly ground white pepper

1.  In a small bowl, whisk all the ingrediients together to combine fully.  Use immediately.

For salads that are combinations of quickly blanched vegetables - such as sugar snap peas that are just about to appear - I like this one:


makes 1 1/4 cups

1 rounded tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon powdered Chinese mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
grated zest and juice of 1 small lime
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 cup pure olive oil

1.   In a small bowl, mix the ginger, Dijon mustard, Chinese mustard, soy sauce, lime zest and juice, and rice vinegar.
2.   Slowly whisk in the olive oil to create a smooth creamy emulsion.  the vinaigrette can be stored for up to 2 weeks, refrigerated in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Whisk before serving.


What do you say about a dog who picks his own strawberries?  Blue Star Farm's resident hound, Boonie does - ripe or not.  You say he's very smart - and very handsome.

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