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Friday, May 27, 2011

Imagine the Lasagna

Once again, it is time for the Book Club to meet. A hot night after a series of rainy days. Everyone is grateful the rain at least is not snow, but we ache for a bit of sunshine. One of the book club members has planned our meal and though it is a hot night, she remains cool and conversational as she presents her friends with a fabulous meal.

A glass of Prosecco adds a bit of sparkle to any event, but with a few cubes of watermelon, the decadence is also refreshing. Bubbles, sweetness, an opportunity to chew the perfectly ripe fruit and we catch up on life.

I regret that I have come to our meeting without my camera and have to rely on my cell phone camera. Apologies for the lack of clarity. The smells of shrimp, butter and garlic greeted one of the members as she walked down the grassy path to the front door and when the heaping bowl was placed on the table with a bowl of bread, our salivary glands kicked in.

We spooned the succulent goodness onto our own plates so we could sop the juices up with our bread without shame or concern for decorum.

We talk a bit about work, a bit about traveling and vacations, a lot about life and seek each other's opinions and thoughts. As the meal progresses and our conversation twists and turns, it is understood that after the main course we will eventually talk about the book. This month, "Where the Heart Is," a story about Novalee who gave birth to a baby girl she named Americus in a Wal-Mart. Of course the story is a slice of life, a bit of her background and a portion of her journey.

First, a fresh mixed green salad with watermelon, fresh berries and toasted walnut pieces. Cleanse the palette and savor the season.

Unfortunately, the camera phone simply did not capture the main course and so perhaps it is best to imagine its appearance from description. Lasagna. The sheets of pasta are perfectly al dente, firm yet yielding to the bite and between the layers are a flavorful tomato sauce, luscious, smoothly melted cheese and a mix of hot and mild crumbled turkey sausage for a modern light twist. Each bite brings the group closer to the end of a wonderful meal and the conversation does eventually turn to the book. Until next another member's house, a different menu, more about life and a new book - what will it be?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Judgment Day on the Hudson River

We weren't planning a Judgment Day or end of the world activity, but rather like most of our dates, fell into one. Saturday, May 21 was slated by a few religious zealots to be the Rapture and so we set out for the Walkway on the Hudson for a walk. The span is just over 1 mile and on this cloudy, mostly cool day, was filled with a variety of folks from all demographics and some with a wide variety of canines. A perfect sampling of our population.

From the Walkway, which is noted as the world's longest pedastrian bridge, it is an easy view to the Mid-Hudson Bridge on one side and an arial view of the famed, "Mariner's Harbor" restaurant on the other. We remember my sister's graduations from Marist College and having lunch with my family to celebrate her accomplishments. Not very end of the world-ish.

So after our walk, we decide to venture down to the restaurant of our memory and though we are a bit put off by the sewer service truck on the side of the building, we are seated fairly quickly and prepare to dine al fresco. From our table, I take a photo of the walkway and the Mid-Hudson bridge.

I watched a waitress bring a couple a pina colada and a beer and I felt a twinge of jealousy. My stomach wasn't behaving and alcohol would probably have finished our date faster than judgement day so I had a ginger ale. Looking over the menu, I tipped back and forth between not being sure what to order for the way I was currently feeling physically and wondering if the menu simply did not have as many items to offer as I thought. My husband seemed a bit hesitant as well and finally decided on the Airline Chicken with the New England Clam Chowder to start. I asked for a seafood salad (no not the processed fake seafood drowned in mayonnaise, but a salad of greens with real seafood) as an entree.

The chowder arrives and we agree to share though I am concerned about the heaviness and creaminess of the soup and how well it will be received by a stomach that is already a bit "put off." The flavors are unique, but satisfying and as the breeze blows and the water laps against the sides of our outdoor dining terrace, everything seems blissfully as it should be.

I am most pleased with my dinner choice. The greens are slightly bitter and lightly dressed. If given my choice, I prefer no dressing even on a good day as I would rather taste the ingredients. I was also relieved the shrimp, lobster and crab meat were not tartly drowned and though chilled maintained their individual sweet notes.

The beauty of the Airline Chicken lies in the cut of the breast to include the wing. My husband's first thoughts were concern that the plate simply did not hold enough food to fill him. However, he politely offered me tastes and I must say, each component of the dish was succulent and tasted purely how it suggests it would from eye to taste buds. The carrots may have been pushed aside by some but we sincerely appreciated the tenderness, the potatoes were not whipped into a puree like consistency, but yet were smooth on the tongue. The chicken itself was moist and flavorful and the sauce, ah, the sauce... When asked about dessert, we both claimed to be full and so the serving size was enough for my husband and I know it would have been more than satisfying for me.

The meal ended and the first problem truly began when I wanted to pay a quick visit to the ladies room. I was told it would be "about another ten minutes" and for me, this represented a pretty big problem. No other businesses are nearby that would offer a rest room. A lady facing the same predicament offered she would watch the men's room for me if I stood look out for her. Not the best situation, but a suitable substitute. After paying the bill and driving home, we realized we had survived Judgment Day and created an entirely new memory of Mariner's Harbor.