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Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Artist Date

In the book, "The Artist's Way," by Julia Cameron, the author recommends those who are in "creative recovery" find time once a week to explore something that interests you on your own. Having read the book at the recommendation of a friend, we have bent the rules to include each other in an annual Artist Date. This time, I broke the rules a bit more by bringing my sons and one of their girlfriends along to New York. Combining a love of art, food, friendship and family, a trip to the Museum of Modern Art has become a cherished memory.

We begin in the Museum at Cafe 2 for lunch. Who can appreciate art on an empty stomach? Guests wait on line and review menus or simply read the large print version on the wall. After placing your order, you find a place to sit with your party and are given a numbered place card - the food will find you. Our orders range from baked salmon, rigatoni, 3 cheese pannini and my selection of mushroom tart. I also ordered a Bellini as a celebratory treat. I simply love the way things are done in New York - we are brought our drinks by an aproned man holding a round tray and it somehow just feels special. Lunch arrives and though I am normally not a fast eater to begin with, today is a day for appreciation and enjoyment and so food is to be savored and truly tasted.

The mushroom tart is served warm, not hot next to a small salad of mixed greens and cheery cherry tomatoes. The tart crust is light enough that it almost disappears on the tongue and though the tart is rich and creamy, somehow, it is not heavy or too dense. I have made my friend Michelle's fabulous tomato tart recipe and am now wondering if I will add mushroom tart to my repertoire - could be a wonderful appetizer or brunch offering.

At the end of the meal we begin our separate journeys. My friend and I are off to the woman's photography exhibit, then photography of 2010 and the Abstract Exhibition. My older son and his girlfriend can be seen breezing through the photography then they are off and on to their own adventure. My younger son makes no attempt to disguise that for him, this trip means he can immerse himself in his love for custom sneakers by visiting Flight Club and the Nike Town stores. To him, these sneakers are more than footwear, they are art.

Discussions about art and life, walking and photographing some of the exhibits, my friend and I decide it is time for a sweet bite and head to Terrace 5. This cafe offers an exhilarating view of the garden and I am further intrigued by a tree which seems to be strung with papers. My friend first pointed it out when I was photographing the Warhol's and we made a list of the sights we still wanted to see after our break. What to order? Simple seasonal fruits, a warm apple tart? No, indulge and have the chocolate tart with sea salt and vanilla ice cream.

The tart shell is chocolate then a layer of creamy caramel topped with chocolate. The sea salt is sprinkled on top to add not only depth of flavor, but it quenches the desire for sweet and salty snacks much like a chocolate dipped pretzel with a more gourmet flare. The lush ice cream rests on a bed of chocolate crumbles reminding me of the crunchy bits that separate the layers in a Carvel ice cream cake. Bliss and decadence.

We weave through the crowds and our day is almost over when we make a wish on the Yoko Ono Wish Tree.

The wishes are simple and loving left by people who mostly want love and happiness. In this Artist Date, I found it long before I left my wish...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ken's Favorites

I remember grocery shopping as a little girl - it was quite a family affair. My mom loaded her full size blue station wagon with her 2 daughters, 2 sisters and mother and off to the only grocery store I knew for most of my childhood. We could pretty much plan on spending the morning as my grandmother would wander up and down every aisle and we would find her in the half of the store that sold toys and clothes. It was the 1970's version of a Super Wal-Mart, but locally owned and operated with locally grown produce because it was practical, not fashionable. The best part? The next day when you opened the pantry and refrigerator and could have almost anything you could imagine to eat. By week's end, our small family of four would of course need to repeat the entire process.

Today, I am surprised by how happy my family is when I bring home their favorites from the grocery store. This week seemed to be centered around Ken and at 22, you might think he wouldn't be that happy to see some fresh fruits and vegetables, but I sometimes wonder if his childhood dreams were filled with luscious produce...

A centerpiece of Clementines - and he grabs one almost every time he walks by...

If melons are whole in the fridge, he will push them out of the way to get other things, but if I take a few moments to cut up watermelon and use the melon baller on the cantelope, he could eat it in one sitting!

Today, he is meeting his new girlfriend to go apple picking and I guess it's a good thing since his favorite apples are Red Delicious, but Mom went for Gala.

So, while the cutting board and knife are out from cutting up fruit, it takes just a moment to put a tossed salad together. He comes in from an early morning at work and we talk for a minute. He samples the melons, tells me he has already had a Clementine and a banana then reaches for a slice of cucumber. Salad with dinner for him is almost a requirement. Ken heads to the couch for an episode of Top Gear on BBC.

A chicken salad sandwich for lunch is a top 3 choice and while I poached the chicken, I was cutting up those veggies for the salad and thought, "It would be pretty easy to simmer a pot of soup at the same time..."

Had a few extra chicken breasts I sliced into cutlets, breaded and sauteed that are now in the freezer. Ziti has been boiled and waits in an oven dish with sauce, ricotta and mozzerella so it may later bake into a delicious main course he loves and his new vegetarian friend may also enjoy.
One Saturday morning puttering in the kitchen...