We stole away to New York City for the weekend. Just a day and a half. A hiccup of a trip lengthwise, but packed full enough to have been a long happy sigh.
Two of our dear, dear Boston friends are natives of the place – well, one is a true native, but the other did live there for a long enough sojourn to have gone native – and basically ever since we’ve known them we’ve been trying to plan a time for this jaunt.
It became an imperative to fit it in this weekend, though, before we must part ways. At least for now.
The two of them are as excited about sharing beautiful, delicious, made-with-care food as we are, so our day and a half was structured almost entirely around that.
We visited as many of their favorite places and tasted as many of their favorite foods as could be squeezed into our packed agenda. We ranged around every corner of Manhattan and tried a little of Brooklyn on for size as well.
We walked and walked and walked, and then walked just a little more, until we could barely stay standing.
I loved it. I love walking. I feel like I truly see the world that way. My burgeoning summer cold felt differently about it though. It’s trying to make me feel penitent now with sore throat and achy muscles and a gurgling cough.
I’m not penitent though. Bring it on cold! I don’t regret a moment of the walking or the food sampling.
We tried treats from this bakery and that, certainly more than one ice cream stop, and enough cold brew coffee to keep a bear awake all winter.
One of the highlights was meeting up with my middle younger brother who recently moved into that big city. He gamely accompanied us through parts of China town, downtown, Little Italy, and back to the village, participating in our destinationless-destinationful wanderings.
I remembered to snap a photo on my phone now and again, but many of the most delicious things remained undocumented. Like the conversation goes silent when the food is so delicious, so too the camera should sometimes.
So I have no evidence of the smoked fish, the Thai flavored sausages, the many types of tacos, the shellfish and smokey paprika flatbread, the piles of fresh vegetables and the humming green market.
Sometimes I just remembered my phone camera in time to grab a picture of some remains. Here (right below) I managed to capture the aftermath of my favorite thing on the entire trip, Korean barbecue beef and kimchi tacos. Unbelievable.
While we’re talking kimchi though, this right here (above) is my favorite breakfast lately: homemade sourdough with a light spread of mayonnaise, kimchi, a slice of salty ham or bacon, and a fried egg. Top with sriracha if you want your breakfast to pack some extra heat. Try it and you just may banish milk and cereal from your morning vocabulary…
But, back to New York. In one of the ice cream shops we went into, there was a flavor labeled “culture.” I asked the scooper, “what is culture?” It’s their frozen yogurt, she told me. A nicely simple answer to a complex question.
The next person who entered the store asked the same question, and so did the next. And so I kept wondering to myself, “what is culture?” It’s a good question for New York City. While I’m there I feel the lure. I’m entranced by the colors, the motion, and the energy. I wish that I could always have such easy access to this food, this art, this fashion, this music…this culture.
But, I also want to run away. I want to hightail it far from the madness of the action, to get out and seek stillness. I need a lot of stillness in my life. In the end, I’m more in awe of trees than skyscrapers, so we’re eventually going to try to make our way towards a life that’s even more surrounded by the former than ours is now. But, I sure wouldn’t give up visiting New York City for anything.
And the food? Well, at least we do eat pretty well at home! And I must say, this salad that I made right before leaving for our weekend trip rivaled almost anything we ate in the city. (Didn’t manage to get the actual camera out for this either! Hence the funky phone photos. After the past several days I’m in danger of becoming an instagram junkie.)
I don’t say that to sound self-satisfied. In fact, I can’t even take credit for the deliciousness. I give that credit entirely to avocado and bacon. Can you use avocado and bacon and not make something that tastes world class?
I probably shouldn’t even call it a salad. It’s so much richer than everything the word salad implies. I love salads, but unless I’m thinking about a cobb, I don’t usually tick off rich in my list of top salad attributes.
But, this melange of fruits and vegetables of creamy dressing and herbs is Sultan or Grand Vizier rich. It’s a little off the charts. But in a wonderful, and actually not terribly unhealthy way. The punches of bacon and the heaped spoonful of creme fraiche do a lot with a little.
In the most recent issue of Food & Wine I saw a photo of a salad made of beautifully bronzed onions jumbled with slices of peach. I thought to myself, “I bet that would be good with avocado.” And so, I proceeded to do what I so often do, which is make my own version of the recipe by making assumptions from the picture. And adding avocado. Those are both things I do often.
The results were fantastic. A satisfying mess of flavors, nutty avocado, smokey bacon, sweet juicy peaches, soft charred onions, and grassy creamy dressing, that together taste exactly like a sultry summer evening.
Serve with grilled fish or chicken and feel totally cultured
Salad of Avocado, Grilled Peaches and Sweet Onion, and Bacon with Creamy Herb Dressing (serves 4-6)
For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons Creme fraiche
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Mayo
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
- sea salt
For the salad:
- 4-5 slices of thick center cut bacon
- 1 large sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla Sweet
- 3 small-medium peaches, ripe but not crazy soft
- 2 ripe avocados
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a bowl adding salt to taste. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use.
- Fry your bacon slices until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel line plate to drain. Cut into bite size pieces.
- Peel and slice the onion into 1-inch thick slices. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Brush the onion slices and peach halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Grill the onion slices and peaches over high heat until they are lightly charred and blistered on the outside and getting pretty tender. The onions should take about 10-12 minutes, the peaches about 5-7. Be sure to turn everything halfway through the cooking process to get them cooked on both sides.
- Slice the peaches into 1/2 inch thick slices. Peel, pit, and thinly slice the avocados. Break apart the onion slices into their individual rings. Arrange everything together, mixed, on a big serving platter. Sprinkle with the bacon, then drizzle with the dressing.
- Serve, passing any remaining dressing alongside.