Our favorite local restaurant, Bistro de la Gare, served its last meals on Oct. 26, the Sunday before Sandy hit. Mary Ann, the main chef and co-owner, had let us know weeks before it happened that she was probably going to be closing. She gave us a very special bottle of châteauneuf-du-pape on the house with our dinner that evening to thank us for being loyal customers.
At times, it looked like Mary Ann might not shutter BDLG after all. On one of our visits after she told us she was planning to close, she talked about obtaining a line of credit from a credit union. We kept hoping she would ultimately decide to keep BDLG open while, at the same time, wanting what was best for someone we'd come to think of as a friend.
We usually went to BDLG on Tuesday nights because it was half-off-any-bottle-of-wine night. On its last Friday night, I asked Tony if we could go again after having just been there on Tuesday. I had to have the spaghetti with zucchini, mint, and peperoncini one more time.
In a pot that held sunflowers this summer, I planted two little heather shrubs that will bloom in purple until spring and two decorative cabbages.
I was going to put them in the pot Dad gave me after removing the petunias that had finally bit the dust, but there wasn't enough room. I'll probably get some winter-hardy pansies to put around the spiky thing in the middle.
This week's flowers from the Greenmarket: anemones.
I saw these Bluebird plums at the Union Square Greenmarket only once this summer, in early September. They were extra good.
I don't see any references to bluebird plums on the Internets. Maybe the person who wrote the sign made up the name.
On 12/12/12, Tony made the other turkey he had bought at Thanksgiving, a Martha Stewart turkey breast actually, that he seasoned with a lot of cajun spice, like he did last year with our second turkey.
I made Potato and Celeriac Purée and Brussels sprouts. Tony put a little too much raspberry liqueur in the cranberry sauce.
The wine we drank paired very well with the turkey. It was apple scented and flavored and is made from the romorantin grape, which I'd never heard of before.
I'm obsessing over romanesco just as much as I did last year, if not more so. The next night, we had more turkey with Roasted Romanesco With Garlic. And I heated up a big serving of the leftover purée for myself.
Tony has a thing about not eating leftover potatoes. We both had more cranberry sauce.
We drank a very pale pinot noir, the 2011 La Crotta di Vegneron Vallée d'Aoste, that looked like a rosé but wasn't. It was a rather interesting wine but too light in flavor to be satifying with the dinner. It seemed like more of a warm-weather wine.
My new favorite side dish of the fall and winter is sweet potatoes cooked in water and lime juice, puréed with the immersion blender, and seasoned with Penzeys Spices' Bangkok Blend, which consists of ancho chili pepper, garlic, ginger, Tellicherry black pepper, galangal, crushed red pepper, lemon grass, cayenne, paprika, basil, and cilantro.
The combination of the spices, the acidic and tart lime, and the sugariness of the sweet potatoes produces a wonderful flavor somewhat reminiscent of tomato.
The first time I made the dish, on Dec. 4, we ate them with more of the roasted romanesco and burgers with scallions. And, to drink, a bottle of 2008 Francis Ford Coppola Alicante Bouschet, which Tony thought (and I agreed) brought to mind Thai iced tea. The Thai-spiced sweet potatoes and tannic Thai-iced-tea-like wine went so well together. Tracey, who I started getting to like Thai food, with the nephews' help, is getting a bottle of this wine for Christmas. It's probably an acquired taste if you're drinking it on its own, but paired with the right food, it's a fun and exciting bottling.
Our cosmos are hanging on. The plants themselves look crappy, but we're still getting flowers.
That photo was taken on Nov. 17, I can tell in iPhoto, even though it seems like it was only a couple of weeks ago tops. The last part of this year has just flown by! Anyhow, the cosmos still have a few blooms even now, less than a week before Christmas.
'Tis been the season for doughnuts. I enjoyed some exotic-flavored doughnuts (or donuts) from Dough on Sunday and later that night made a batch of gluten-free ones to try out a recipe I plan to make for Christmas.
At about 4:30 on Sunday, Tony and I took the subway to Bryant Park to see the shops and decorations. Christmas-display-loving Game Party host Mark said last year it was his favorite place to go at Christmastime. I didn't make it there last year but was definitely going to go this year.
Tony and I found a present for someone on our list and watched the skaters on the rink that's sponsored by a big evil bank.
The big glaring ball of light to the right of the Christmas tree was generated by a sign advertising that big evil bank. I wish I knew how to skate: ice, inline, and/or roller. It looks like fun.
Bryant Park was beautiful, even in the rain. The main branch of the New York Public Library is an impressive backdrop.
So, as for the doughnuts: I bought a Blood Orange and a Passion Fruit With Cocoa Nibs at the Dough stand in the park. I didn't eat them right away, which was a mistake.
By the time I got around to eating them—one that night, and the other the next morning—a lot of the icing had dissolved, so they were nowhere near as pleasurable as they would have been with their glaze intact. But what flavor I could capture of the icing was delicious.
I hadn't wanted to eat them right away because Tony and I were going to get dinner at Bloom's Delicatessen, a gluten-free-friendly place where Tony has eaten before, including when he came into the city a few years back to look for an apartment and stayed at the nearby Hotel Bedford. That, of course, was pre-Hawley.
I enjoyed my chicken fingers and fries, and Tony liked his corned beef sandwich.
I needed all of that fried and salty food like I needed a hole in the head, but I cleaned my plate. Except for the unripe, pale-pink, hothouse tomato slices and the lettuce underneath.
Tony and I were grossed out by the dirty plates that had been set out for the pickles and salads bar. But we got pickles and dairy-free cole slaw (a favorite of Tony's) from the bar area and put them on our dinner plates.
Here's my Cole Slaw Boy:
When we got home, it was time to make the donuts: Spiced Marble Donuts from Babycakes Covers the Classics. OMG. They turned out so well!
The donuts are somewhat involved to make. You first have to whip up Sugar-Sweetened Chocolate Dipping Sauce (as opposed to Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Glaze, another donut topping recipe in the book) so you can swirl it into the cinnamon-and-ginger-spiced donut dough. I tripled the recipe for the sauce/glaze, because you needed almost twice as much as you make in a single recipe for the swirling and I wanted some extra to put on top of the donuts.
I ended up putting the sauce on only half of the 10 donuts that remained after Tony and I both tried one with the sauce/glaze on it, because Tony found his donut to be too salty, even though he liked it overall. The sauce recipe calls for a half teaspoon of salt for each cup of chocolate chips, which seemed like a lot, but I wanted to follow the recipe exactly the first time I tried it. I took the 10 remaining donuts in to work on Monday, and friend and colleague (not doggy) Missy said she could really taste the salt too, even though she also enjoyed the donut. I didn't find the salt to be as prominent as they did, but I will cut it back when I make them this weekend and I don't think I'll lose anything in the way of taste in the reduction. The donuts were well-received by my co-workers, but there was still one left at the end of the day for Missy to snag for her breakfast the next morning.