My book comes out next month. Remember that book I worked like a lunatic on last year? Yeah that one…
Posts from the ‘Food’ Category
One of the things I’m really enjoying about suburbia is entertaining. In New York, people hardly ever have friends over, partly because their apartments are so cramped, partly because they work so hard, and partly because they’ve never learnt to cook. Instead you spend your social time in restaurants and bars and coffee shops where as soon as you’ve finished your food and drink you are expected to move on. You get used to catching up with people in one-and-a-half hour blocks. And to never having to do the dishes after dinner. But that’s not how I roll.
I’ll tell you one thing that sucks about New Zealand: the ethnic food. Not all ethnic food. Thanks to its proximity to Thailand and Malaysia there are amazing curries and laksas to be found*, but you really have to hunt for them. And while you hunt, you have to eat a lot of average, overly-sweet, under-spiced dishes.
Almost everyday someone asks me, ‘How are you adjusting to New Zealand?’. Sometimes they have the most pained expression on their face that I want to give them a hug and tell them not to worry so much. Sometimes I just let them bang on about their own horrendous/traumatic/ongoing return to New Zealand after years overseas (for you ‘foreign’ readers, almost all New Zealanders venture overseas for a few years in their early adulthood – it’s pretty much compulsory). Always I tell them I’m fine.
I’m trying to get a taste of the country as much and as often as I can here in NYC. That’s why I’m walking in the park so much (and avoiding the subway wherever possible). And making the most of neighbourhood farmers’ markets that are full to bursting with amazing summer produce at the moment.
Yesterday I found one just a street or two away from where I’m living. I stocked up on all sorts of things, including these:
One thing I’m really enjoying about being back in the Big Apple is getting back to dining out. My appetite for it has changed thanks to my time living off the land, and I no longer want to eat in restaurants seven nights a week. Instead I want to make my own meals, dishes that are much more simple than what you get when going out, most of the time. But I haven’t lost the urge to have other people cook for me completely. So I’m heading out to restaurants two or three times a week and loving it.
Slowly I’ve been making my way around all of my favourite haunts. I’ve had meatballs at The Meatball Shop, and fish steamed with ginger at Szechuan Chalet. I’ve stood outside my long-standing favourite Japanese joint in the East Village and stared miserably at the sign that says it’s shut down. I’m yet to get to udon noodles or to the Upper West Side for Mexican. Or to the depths of Queens for Thai. And I’m compiling a list of new places I want to try once I get through the old faithfuls.
But I’m not sure anything will beat this dish:
I had it at Recette in the West Village – one of the best casual bistros serving fine-dining quality food – last week. It might not look like much, but it was sensational: a summer corn and crab soup that was thick and sweet and delicious, topped with a stuffed zucchini blossom and garnished with a shaving of black truffles that had come all the way from Australia. It was the best thing I’ve eaten in the past year.
It’s gone on my Death Row Dinner plan. If I were facing the gallows (and while we’re on the subject, no one should ever be facing the gallows; that the death penalty is legal here is one of my biggest problems with the USA, but I digress) I would like this as my appetizer. Then one of Mum’s roast dinners. And then some sort of pavlova.
What’s your Death Row dish?
I don’t want to go on like a broken record about how expensive New Zealand is, but now that I’m back in the land of cheap and cheerful I am even more gobsmacked at what it costs to live there. So gobsmacked that I have to do a little price comparison to make my point.
Yesterday, I made a quick run to the supermarket, which in New York is like playing an Olympic sport. The good stores – Whole Foods, Trader Joes – are always packed with neurotic New Yorkers who pay no mind to trolley etiquette or manners, or the fact that they are actually out in public dressed like a scarecrow, as they make a beeline for non-fat, non-dairy frozen yoghurt or whatever other weird non-food food item they are subsisting on that week. To survive the whole experience you have to limber up, resolve to stare straight ahead and reach your goal (e.g. the chocolate aisle) without allowing anyone else to get you off-course, and steel yourself for a lot of ducking and diving down crowded aisles, one or two arguments with lunatics, and a lot of queuing at the end of it all. Even if it’s 11 p.m. and you only popped in for a loaf of bread.
Anyway I was after basics only as I’m on a diet this week. And:
- A dozen free-range eggs cost me $2.19 US. In New Zealand the same would cost me $8.88 US.
- A small bottle of water was .17c US. At home that would be $3 US. A markup of about 3,000 per cent.
- A small chocolate bar (I told you, I’m on a diet) was .90c US. It would be more than double that at home.
- A thingy of Greek yoghurt was $1.69 US. I’m not sure, but I think it would be at least $4 US in New Zealand.
- Three bananas was .90c US. That’s three breakfasts – for less than a dollar.
It confirms for me that New York City may be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but it’s relatively easy, once you’ve paid the astronomical rent, to live cheaply. That is not possible in New Zealand. I really do not know how entire families manage to eat in New Zealand. Or rather, eat well. Kiwi readers, how do you do it?
I’ve been meaning to write this ever since I got back to NYC, but it’s been a bit manic as only the Big Apple can be, and it’s made it hard for me to sit down and concentrate and be serious about anything.
Anyway, I’m going to make myself knuckle down right now and run you through the things I’ve learned from the Disco Farm experience because I have a mountain of work to do and if I don’t tackle this now it will vanish under a pile of assignments about restaurants.
I haven’t posted the last couple of days because I’ve been frantically trying to get on top of all I have to do before I leave tomorrow – yes, tomorrow, argh! That means saying goodbye to everyone here, packing, cleaning, and getting a whole lot of work loose ends tied up. I’ve been fairly unsuccessful: with less than 24 hours to departure I am yet to pack my suitcase or complete cleaning up the cottage, which is most unlike me and giving me heart palpitations. So, I’ll keep this brief.
I’ve been going to dinners all week at various friend’s houses, which has been so lovely and a bit sad as I don’t really want to say goodbye to all of my new friends. Last night I went for a last-ish supper at friends Rhonda and David’s house. They pushed the boat out with a Mitford-slash-Bon-Voyage-themed dinner. There was a chicken pie, complete with American flags and a chook, and an egg, made out of pastry on top: