This past week has been full of travel. I was in Los Angeles for a bachelorette party, where I visited Disney Land for the first time. Now I’m on Cape Cod with my cousin who is just twenty-eight hours older than me. (She was a bridesmaid at the wedding.) To see some recent travel images, take a look at Instagram.
For now, here are a few themed haikus and limericks constructed with my cousin this morning:
There is much debate
about which lobster roll reigns;
I like Sir Cricket.
Here I am on beautiful Cape Cod
Where there is an abundance of scrod
I like the catch of the day
But oysters would make me sway
I think I have lost my hot bod
On the Cape there is much entertainment
To play minigolf I am hell-bent
Let’s hop in the car
I’m hoping for par
Will I beat the Frenchman, probablement
This cake is soft and tender and studded with strawberries. I could eat it on its own, sans frosting, any time of the day.
The recipe is adapted from The Flourishing Foodie‘s Coconut Cake. I’ve made Heather’s Coconut Cake several times; it’s delicious, and especially impressive for birthdays. I sometimes fill the layers with jam or citrus curd instead of the frosting, and I’ve poured cajeta over the top of the cake, or covered it with fruit. Makes 12 cupcakes.
We spend Christmas, my fifth with the Frenchman’s family, in Lanzarote–the easternmost island in the Canary chain. I eat the best pulpo of my life. I’ve developed a tan.
The island is largely covered by volcanic rock, remnants of an eruption as recent as 1730. In December, the sun shines bright and warm, but the constant, insistent wind carries a chill, and sometimes it’s necessary to change from a bathing suit into many layers in a matter of minutes. The island is stippled with cacti and aloe plants. There are palm trees too; not the willow-trunked variety–these are low, compacted trunks, as if hunkered down again the wind. For days at a time, a film of sand blown in from the Sahara blankets the sky–calima, it’s called–and hazes the atmosphere. Driving in the car, past villages, each building white-washed, low, and square, each door and shutter painted the same, gem olive green–we pass unusual vineyards: vines winding through volcanic gravel, each plant protected from the wind by semi-circles of black rock.
I’ve passed the time here uncharacteristically disconnected from all my electronic devices. Meals with the Frenchman’s family are communal events, and we play games after dinner, or walk along the water. I’ll have a small glass of wine with lunch. My French and Spanish is all jumbled together now, and I have to pay attention not to weave both languages into sentences. I’m grateful for this trip–it’s been restful in a way I forgot was possible. For once, my mind isn’t running one hundred miles per minute. I give myself over to books for hours at a time, and writing isn’t just another item in a long list of to-dos. I have time to let the words roll around, time for them to percolate. It’s a joy.
In and around Labor Day, the Frenchman and I finagled six days off for a road trip to Maine. We passed long car hours listening to Radiolab, and then long nature-hours playing B for Botticelli (or, B for Butter and Jelly, as we call it). We filled our days with the rush of dark trees. We considered the secret depths of lakes. Mostly though, we stepped outside our normal routine, and paid attention to the quiet.
We also explored many charming port towns, and drank our share of local beer. And we ate well, of course, we ate well.
If you’re planning a trip to Maine, I hope this day-to-day guide–and the subsequent extra recommendations–will prove useful. We loved our time there, and hope to make it back soon.
* I will mention as a disclaimer: I was only in Maine for six days; I’m sure I missed so many gems. I only included the spots I really loved and would recommend without reservation. This is as much a record for myself as it is a guide for others. If you live in Maine, I’d love to hear your opinions about my finds (or better yet, what I didn’t find) in the comments. This is where I went and what I saw in August 2014; if you find a broken link sometime in the future, I apologize. Finally, thank you to the many generous people who made recommendations for our trip.
I live in the city, a fact I’m acutely aware of from the moment I wake up (to the sonorous pounding of multiple high-rise constructions) to my subway hop home (look! a host of sparrows eating….an old piece of pizza?) There are many things I love about my neighborhood of Brooklyn (this, this, and this, to name a few), but the urban reality also means that whole months go by when I forget what silence sounds like. I forget that the sky is really a wild, open, spangled thing, and not always doled out in tetris patches.
This push and pull is noisiest in late summer, when the city’s muggy and farmers’ markets are ripe with peaches. I get restless. By August, weekends become little islands of opportunity. And so for two years now, we reserve the first weekend of August for Kinderhook Farm.
This year we traveled to Ghent, New York with friends, and the most stressful thing I did all weekend was lose a game of Scrabble. Otherwise, we made power-relaxation our raison d’être. I cooked quite a lot: spaghetti with melted tomatoes, corn, and mozzarella I hope to share with you here soon. Grilledpizzasand corn on the cob. Cheeseburgers made with ground beef sourced from the farm. And s’mores, the Frenchman’s first.
It was such a pleasure. Two days of concentrated time with friends is a gift. And nothing makes me happier, absolutely nothing, than cooking with and for those I love. It’s an easy, immediate joy.
I also love the place itself, for its restorative properties. I love how Kinderhook contrasts my everyday life, and the feel of the barn’s wooden planks against my feet, almost warm. I love the fire pit and the technicolor chickens pecking wherever they please. Keys are obsolete. We wander the pastures and lounge in hammocks pitched at the edge of the yard. We buy local beer by the growler. The only noises are nature-made: bleating sheep, violining crickets, the rustle of wind through leaves. If you’re a light sleeper, roosters announce the new day. It’s tonic for the spirit.
We recently spent three days in New Orleans–a first visit to the city for both of us–and that lucky thing happened where a weekend can feel like a proper escape, like a proper break. We walked across great swaths of the city, and in between we ate and drank like princes. The Frenchman exhausted his business-accrued hotel points and rented us a room bigger than our Brooklyn apartment; we basked like lizards. One muggy afternoon we traded site-seeing for the hotel pool, and I fulfilled a childhood dream and ordered a strawberry daiquiri from one of the passing waiters. (The daiquiri tasted more like red-flavored corn syrup than actual strawberries, but never mind. Isn’t it glorious to be an adult sometimes?)
I was told, and it’s true: New Orleans is a bit magic. It’s not a tidy city, but then–those massive tufty trees, like something out of a fairy tale, looming and mossy and colorful bead-dappled. And the sound of brass instruments ringing from the insides of one dark bar or another. The intricate, woven iron balconies, festooned with bright and hanging flowers; the promise of so many ghosts. An oppressive heat informs a checkered past–a history that takes in origin, culture, and religion–and gives New Orleans a character all its own. I have never seen a place to match it.
During our sojourn, we saw as much as two people can manage in three days, but I know we left stones unturned. Next time, I’d like to return in the company of friends who know the city well; I have a feeling there are experiences waiting below the tourist surface. New Orleans seems to me a lady with many faces.
A couple weeks ago, the Frenchman and I flew to Los Angeles for a quick long weekend. It was my first visit, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was desperate for a little sunshine, though, and really looking forward to seeing old friends. True to fashion, I also compiled a laundry list of restaurants I wanted to try.
We managed to pack quite a few activities into a short span of time; nonetheless, the trip was brief, and I feel like we only scratched the surface. I am still unpacking my thoughts about LA, but I wanted to share my impressions, experiences, and favorite places to eat, in the hope that this information will prove useful to future visitors. (Also, these travel records are useful for myself—-I have the memory of a guppy, and I don’t want to forget!)