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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Still cooking after all these years!

Everyone's blogging, so I might as well join them! I want to share my joy of everything related to food: shopping, preparing, cooking, even reading about it! And all while trying to stay healthy and become slimmer. I am taking advantage of the relative quiet of my summers, which is a much appreciated break from counseling middle schoolers. Although I love my job, it is intense, and during the summer I can concentrate on other interests: travel, seeing more of friends and family, and of course, everything food.

Today I really appreciated living in my corner of New York City, visiting Arthur Avenue ("the real Little Italy), and the farmer's market at the New York Botanical Garden. I am planning a nice birthday dinner for my husband and son tomorrow, so I have enjoyed perusing the Arthur Avenue Market and visiting Peter's Meat Market for their excellent frankfurters, prepared wings, steak and burgers. During my last barbecue, one of my sons bit into the hot dog. The look on his face was priceless when he said, "This is probably the best hot dog I have ever eaten!" After a lifetime of hot dogs from probably the hot dog mecca, New York City.

At the butcher, I asked Mike if they made their own, and he told me that it is made for them, but according to their specifications. The natural skin frankfurter literally bursts with juiciness and flavor...God, it was so good. The same can be said for anything I have tried from Peter's. I also visited Mike's Deli (different Mike) for my favorite Prima Donna cheese... which I can find nowhere else. It is a medium soft, buttery almost parmagiana tasting cheese. It is way expensive but it is birthday time! I also bought a liter of olive oil made in Sciacca, Sicily for my younger, birthday son who is also a food lover...he will appreciate that gift, not many 24 year olds would.

Arthur Avenue, land of the dueling bakeries: My quest was to also find the perfect chocolate mousse cake for the birthday celebration. My son, his girlfriend and I visited the Arthur Avenue Caffe across the street from the Market about a year ago and enjoyed the chocolate mousse cake. They both declared that it was the best cake they have ever eaten and wanted to have it made into a wedding cake. Naively, we both thought that the Caffe somehow baked this lovely cake...and now when I tried to purchase it this week, I was told that 1. they no longer carry it, and 2. it was bought from a wholesale bakery!!! Very disappointing. So I went on a quest to find the perfect cake, but decided to keep my search to this small geographic area. The first bakery I tried was one I always frequent for their excellent St. Joseph's cakes which win the prize for the most creamy and delicious cannoli filled creampuffs, the Sfingi, which is what they are. They are only available during the month of March to Honor St. Joseph. There are also custard filled St. Joseph cakes, called Zeppoles, but they pale in comparison. Custard: BORING! Anyway, the person who owns the bakery is my neighbor, as are most of the people who own them in that area, but she is actually across the street from me...and of course, those St. Joseph's cakes.... I sampled their version of the mousse cake, but it was boring, very light color. After they promised to make a special one for me with all dark chocolate, I impulsively ordered one. Fortunately I did not pay for it as I suffered from (almost) buyer's remorse almost immediately after leaving the bakery.

After wandering around in consternation for about 20 minutes, I entered another bakery, who I avoid as this is my usual bakery's direct rival: they were formerly married! Right in the bakery's glass case, was the holy grail of mousse cakes: all chocolate, dark as could be, shiny dark chocolate icing, more like a ganache, over what they told me was dark chocolate sponge cake and fluffy light dark chocolate mousse. They had decorated it around the sides with thin triangular wedges of dark chocolate, towering several inches over the cake itself. Of course after having a sample I bought this paragon of chocolate... and told a white lie to the rival bakery and canceled the order. I feel bad but Oh, well!

I visited the NYBG's farmer's market to purchase their just-picked corn. I love the way new corn just bursts with juicy sweetness. I wound up buying also winesap apples, fresh onions with greens still attached, and a peach for a snack...amazing, so sweet! I also snacked on one of the winesaps, which is so juicy and warm from the sun. I realize that these were picked during apple season...I guess they keep well!

I must explain something: I also have a bad habit of overbuying. When I see fresh fruits and vegetables displayed so beautifully in their bins, I am a sucker. I also am a sucker for any food advertised in multiples: why get two bagels for one dollar, which is all I need, if I can get a dozen for five? So they go green, or I have to freeze them. Of course I have a problem with Costco...all those multiples and giant packs wind up in my freezer. Both my freezer and refrigerator section are always groaning with food. Since I cannot see throwing out good food, I find myself letting it go bad and then throwing it out! Pretty sick, right? It is definitely a security thing, but more on that another day.


  1. are a natural at this. My only regret is that you live too far away now to mooch some samples! You go girl!!

  2. Have fun with your blog. My daughter in law does one of the children which is wonderful for us, her two aunts and numerous uncles that live too far to see them often. I hope you are going to post some receipes while writing.

  3. I enjoyed your first blog Joanne. I second Denise's request for some recipes!

  4. I will definitely post recipes! Thanks, guys

  5. Loved hearing about Arthur Ave and the NYBG. Can't wait for March to get some Sfingi. Happy Birthday to Chris- today is my bother Joe's birthday too. Looking forward to more of your blog and recipes.

  6. A lot of people are having difficulty posting on this blog. I will try to find out what the difficulty is and give specific instructions. I think you have to sign up to google since blogspot is a google site. Have patience and keep reading! Recipes start tomorrow...

  7. I can't wait to read your entries! Here's a link to where I keep a lot of recipes.

  8. Sounds like you had a great trip. We have 2 peach trees and a fig tree in our yard, and what I like to do with the overabundance is dry the fruit (I bought a dehydrator for this purpose,) bag it and freeze it. What a great snack treat in the middle of winter to have sweet, chewy peaches and figs!