I flew to Asheville this weekend to hang out with my parents. The lasting impression I have is that it’s a foodie haven. My mom and I walked along Broadway Saturday morning for a place to eat and ended up at a tapas restaurant called Curate. Below is the drink I ordered. We also got a salad with eggplant, roasted peppers, onions and micro greens and tortilla espanola (one of my favorites).
For dinner, we went to a vegan restaurant called Plant my parents patronize whenever they visit. The desserts were sublime: key lime parfait and a trio of Mint Chocolate Chip, Thunder Road and Banana-Macadamia soy ice cream.
So the summer began a few weeks ago, but during the June 21 (my birthday) – July now period I have been reading the first twenty pages of books and books. Among them:
Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
They are all on the final summer list, though I suspect I’ll be taking some liberality with the designation “Summer” when it comes to Pynchon’s book. Like maybe next summer…
I have read two works since planning this post (since Wednesday… what day is it now?):
Sarrasine by Honoré de Balzac and
The Model World and Other Stories by Michael Chabon
And now, the plan:
Franz Kafka’s complete story collection
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Vladimir Nabokov’s complete story collection
Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia
Tinkers by Paul Harding
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
And, of course, the four mentioned above.
I’ve solicited suggestions and am open to more. Have a lovely summer reading, all, no matter what you choose. Here are the books I currently have. I must have left Duffy’s collection at work…
My Aunt Ginny’s birthday party was last weekend, and my mother and I (and several amazing helpers) concocted and executed a menu for 25 people:
Mini Sandwiches: Egg salad, Tuna salad and Avocado-Cucumber
Potato Salad (contributed by my lovely Aunt Darlene)
Shrimp and Orzo Salad (contributed by my lovely Aunt Candace)
Arugula Salad (my mom made this is and it was far and away the most popular dish; almonds, green apples, fresh Parm, evoo and s&p – adapted from a Whole Foods salad)
Poached Salmon w/ Avocado Sauce and Dill-Tomato Sauce
Tuna Salad Sandwich Rounds (20-24 rounds)
2 cans tuna in olive oil, drained
3 tbsp mayo
1 large roasted red pepper bottled in oil , rinsed, drained, and finely chopped
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon (I used less)
Salt and pepper
Unsalted butter, softened
24 thin slices whole grain bread (or whatever kind you like; we used a mixture of white and wheat)
Small bunch fresh parsley, very finely chopped
Mix the tuna and next 3 ingredients in a bowl; season to taste. Chill for 15 minutes up to overnight. When ready to prepare, Scoop salad onto rounds of bread, top with remaining rounds and lightly butter the edges of the sandwiches. Roll in fresh parsley. Stack, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Egg Salad Pita Pockets (20-24 pitas)
8 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and chopped finely
4 tbsps mayonnaise
2 tbsps Dijon mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
24 mini pita pockets (we used a mixture of white and wheat)
unsalted butter, softened
watercress sprigs for garnish
Makes 6-8 kebabs (we quadrupled this recipe… it was epic)
1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 zucchini, sliced very thinly lengthways
6–8 metal or wooden skewers or sticks of fresh rosemary, lower leaves removed, tips kept on
1 handful of fresh coriander
1 handful of fresh mint
3 cloves of garlic
6 spring onions
1 red chili
zest and juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and place in a bowl. Blanch the zucchini strips in salted boiling water for 30 seconds then drain and allow to cool.
Blitz all the marinade ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor, then loosen to a paste with a little olive oil. Add the marinade to the chicken pieces and mix well. Allow to sit for up to an hour. Then weave the zucchini strips in between the chicken pieces on the rosemary sticks or skewers. Grill for around 8 minutes, turning regularly, until cooked.
If you need to keep warm, sprinkle with a bit more oil and cover loosely with foil.
**Recipe from: JamieOliver.com
Poached Salmon with Dill-Tomato Sauce
Sauce (for 1lb salmon)
1/4 cup light mayo
1 tbsp low fat milk
1 tbsp minced fresh dill or 1 tsp dill weed
1 tbsp lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 small tomato, diced
Gemelli with Tomatoes, Olives & Ricotta
8 ounces gemelli (or fusilli or penne)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
10 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed (optional)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/3 cup fresh basil, torn
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain. Drizzle with just enough oil to coat, so the pasta doesn’t clump.
Pulse sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, capers, and garlic in a food processor. With machine running, add oil in a slow, steady stream, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss together pasta, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, grape tomatoes, olives, basil, and salt. Transfer to serving plates. Top with a scoop of ricotta, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with pepper.
**Recipe from: Zested (the picture here is prettier than mine… check it out)
It was a wonderful party. I got to see my cousin Anna for the first time in years, and our two new baby cousins were there looking precious and perfect. And my Aunt Ginny, who has been there for me my whole life, was I hope at least a little surprised that we were all there!
It’s almost summer and I’m almost 25 years old… and I’m slimming down. Enjoy the new theme and let me know what you think!