“I’m pretty upset that today was the first time I’ve had a proper Maine lobster.” This was the text I sent my parents after lunch in Kennebunkport, ME two weekends ago. Yes I know, #firstworldproblems indeed. But I was drunk off of sweet corn, clam chowder, and freshly-caught lobster, so I felt some guilt tripping was warranted.
The ochre shade of a red clay tennis court beams especially bright on summer days. In New York City we’re surrounded by so much silver, blue, and black that other colors seem to pop out of nowhere – like the red chile oil in Chinese food or the green meadows in Prospect Park. The Riverside Clay tennis courts on Manhattan’s Upper Westside provide a burst of orange that catches every runner, driver, and cyclist by surprise.
Saturday, June 10th was one of those bright summer days, and we both had red clay fever.
I took a big trip recently. Two weeks to Seoul, Kyoto, Hakone, and Tokyo. My first time traveling to Asia and my first time traveling abroad since college . The two weeks went by surprisingly quickly, as they always do. And now I’ve been back in New York for two weeks neglecting Pig n’ Pie (and all of our loyal fans!) and still reflecting on my trip. It’s taken me so long to sit down and write something because 1) we don’t actually have oodles of loyal fans patiently waiting (if you are reading this, thank you) and 2) I’ve been ashamed to admit that I made some blunders and embarrassing decisions while traveling. I ate western food more than once. I went to Starbucks (but not McDonald’s, never that). I only had one meal devoted solely to sushi. Navigating the foodscape in Korea and Japan was hard! I didn’t anticipate the struggle. And I’m not always the best dealing with the unexpected.
In the past, not being able to find that restaurant on the 8th floor of an unmarked building in Shinjiku would drive me crazy. I’d be wandering past many totally acceptable dining establishments, moronically set on finding the restaurant I read about in the guidebook. I didn’t do that this time.
I let go a little bit and I let Korea and Japan humble me. You can’t fully experience Korean and Japanese cuisine in your first visit! That’s crazy talk. Both of these countries have incredibly rich, thoughtful, and historical approaches to food. So maybe I’ll pull a Dev alla Master of None, but instead of Italy move to Tokyo to master the art of sushi making. But more seriously, I am going to take more risks cooking, without cursing myself when the results are subpar. And I’m going to make kimchi! Very unoriginal of me to choose the archetypal example of Korean food, but I’m starting with the classics. Plus, I’ve already listened to a podcast, which in millennial speak means I’m basically an expert.
The Thanksgiving holiday offers us the chance to see friends and family while gorging on the usual spread of turkey, mashed potatoes, yada yada yada. This year, however, it wasn’t the meal on Thursday that brought me the most pleasure. On Wednesday afternoon, I decided to skip the pre-Thanksgiving fast and walk to Cosmi’s Deli in South Philly for a Italian hoagie. Philly has recently gotten a lot of love for its pizza, fried chicken n’ donuts, and – yes, New York, even bagels. Most trips home I’ll head straight to Washington Ave. for Vietnamese pho, vermicelli, and hoagies aka bahn mi. Something must’ve been in the air this time around because I was craving the most quintessential Philly food I know. And, no it doesn’t begin with Cheese.
Admittedly, I have exclaimed on more than one occasion that I make the best Italian hoagie in the country. This is complete hubris, because although my version is pretty damn good – the guys at Cosmi’s will show you how it’s done.
I won’t leave you with a recipe, but I will give some instructions.
- Walk, bike, or drive down to 8th & Dickinson streets
- Go up to the counter and say, “Can I get a Italian on a seeded roll, lettuce/tomato/onion, roasted peppers, oil/vinegar, salt/pepper/oregano.”
- Grab a bag of Herr’s chips and a can of soda
- Pay for everything + a couple bucks tip
- Find the nearest place to enjoy the best meal Philly has to offer.
NYT beat us to the punch last week when they posted a short feature on one of our favorite places in Brooklyn. Ever since we started to explore all foods Indian and Middle-Eastern, Sahadi’s has been been our go-to place for ingredients. This Atlantic Avenue landmark has been around for ages and continues to prosper despite the TJ’s across the street. We come to Sahadi’s whenever Ottolenghi asks for 1 TBS of some obscure ingredient or to buy staples like oregano and cumin in bulk. While we might have enough cinnamon sticks and cardamon pods to last a 100 curries, there’s always something else we can pick up at Sahadi’s.
Sundays are for walking. Whether it’s to Brooklyn Bridge Park in steamy July or a loop around Prospect Park in bone-chilling January, Hillary and I are devoted to our Sunday walk. With perfect weather this past weekend, we were inspired to log some major steps. After watching Creed on Friday evening, our hearts and stomachs longed for Philadelphia. What better to fulfill that taste of home than a classic Italian hoagie. We headed to Cobble Hill on Sunday morning for the essential hoagie ingredients, and made a detour to Gowanus for some pie slices.
- Paisanos Meat Market for Hot Soppresatta and Genoa Salami
- Union Market for a tomato and wedge of cheese
- Caputo Bakery for a seeded Italian roll
- Four & Twenty Blackbirds for 2 pie slices: Salted Honey and Salted Carmel Apple