A Mouthwatering Work of Culinary Genius

So between my birthday (last month) and Tim’s (yesterday) and the book contract, we had the opportunity to do some serious celebrating.

Not far from us is one of the very finest restaurants on the East End. We’ve eaten there twice before (well, three times if you count the time we went only for dessert) but only during ‘Restaurant Week,’ during which they feature a different menu with smaller portions.

Each time was nonetheless thrilling–to put it in the form of an analogy:

GREAT HOME COOKING : NORTH FORK TABLE’S FOOD ::

is as:

is to:

The food at the North Fork Table is kind of in a different category from other food. There are a lot of reasons why that’s so, but all I can say for sure is that when I eat it, I’m thinking, “this is so good that it can hardly be for real.”

And this time–with the fuller menu–it was, if possible, even better. It’s almost embarrassing to admit how enjoyable this is because I think our culture doesn’t allow us to speak lyrically about food without branding us ‘foodies’ or ‘snobs.’ Improbable though it may seem, the atmosphere and presentation is unfussy. It’s just really good food.

And without further ado:

the atmosphere is beautiful...the champagne is beautiful...even the menu is beautiful!

tuna tartare for tim
house-cured charcuterie for a between-course treat
a second course of squab on butternut squash for tim
and a second course of locally caught striped bass atop brussells sprouts and parsnip puree for me
long island duck for tim
and humanely raised veal for me
I forgot to take a picture of the dessert before I decimated it...
and they sent us home with house-made mallomars.

One of the things I love about going there is how serious, yet joyful, everyone is about their work. They’re artists, and creating things of beauty–even if those things are edible and consumable and fleeting–consumes them. I love that. I’m grateful for them. I’m grateful for the bounty of where we live.

I’m grateful to the Giver of All Things.

The Newest Fad Diet VS. The Vegetable Volunteers

Well, WOW. I would not have guessed that yesterday’s post about a wacky fad diet would’ve garnered so many page views. But it did, and I can’t help but wonder why. I rather hope it is because people are looking for a reason not to follow the latest “should & ought” from the newest guru. Nearly every day, it seems, someone tells me of some new approach to eating or not-eating or exercising or not-exercising and all I can say is this:

If I were still in the grip of disordered thinking and behavior surrounding food and body, the Internet would be a living hell. HCG diet! “The Plan”! “Paleo”! The Primal Urge Diet! HELP!

And yet? And yet–there is this:

My compost pile. An occasionally smelly, sometimes-ugly, always buggy home to the biggest, juiciest worms on the North Fork. The place where the scraps from our table become the food for next year’s food. Nothing goes to waste here. It takes care of two big problems:

What to do with trash?

and

How to fertilize the garden?

in one easy move. In this pile go the eggshells, coffee grounds, burned slices of toast, and forgotten leftovers. Here’s where I put the custard that didn’t come together quite right, the bread that went stale, and the yogurt that got moldy.

Here, everything, even the most putrid, vile stuff, is reborn into something new: dark, rich soil that feeds the garden and brings forth new life. And so it goes on.

And sometimes, there are unexpected graces:

This pretty little butternut squash grew from a forgotten seed discarded in the compost pile last autumn. There that little seed rested all winter until, come spring, it grew into a plant that bore another beautiful fruit.

In this ugly, forgotten corner of the garden (where the compost pile was located previously) a number of vegetables “volunteered”–they sprang forth from scattered seeds and persevered to bring something beautiful and edible and life-giving.

Oh, these little events–“random” butternut squashes, potatoes, and tomatoes growing from compost piles–don’t get much press, I know. But to me, they point beyond themselves to a story that’s much, much greater: it’s the story of beauty from ashes, a promise that somehow, the crazy, smelly, wasted and mixed-up bits and pieces of this world can be transformed, redeemed, into something that’s at once totally different from and organically connected to what’s come before.

Yes, indeed. There are glimpses of grace within and among and emerging from the confusing bits and pieces of this life, and they are worth holding onto.

Apples! And watermelon! And a distended belly! (and lots of adorable pictures)

This is such a weird time of year. It’s technically autumn, but the leaves haven’t yet turned and it’s warm and muggy most days. Our watermelons finally became ripe and ready, and yet it’s apple picking time. I find myself wanting to wear wool and hoodies, yet I’m still getting mosquito bites regularly. In fact, I can hardly focus on writing this post because of the brand new bite on my left arm. I find myself mentally drafting letters like these:

“Dear Mosquito: you’re welcome to drink a bit of my blood. But why, oh why, do you have to inject poison, too? I’m happy to share, but when you hurt me in return, I feel sad because I’m needing itch-free skin. Let’s work this out. Best, Rachel”

Yesterday, my boys and I enjoyed a couple of lazy hours in the orchards of Wickham’s Fruit Farm, courtesy of our friend Amy. (Thank you, Amy!) What fun! My only regret was that we did not make it back from the orchards in time to sample the homemade donuts and hot apple cider. (The boys and I mourned this the whole 15 minute drive back home.)

Here are some pictures of the happy time:

The first apple, picked by an overjoyed Aidan.

 

we spent some time contemplating how this apple had become an ant-home. very cool.
and no outing is complete without the obligatory chase-and-tackle of Mom.
Tasting was encouraged, but Graeme took things overboard.
He lifted up his shirt to demonstrate how full his tummy was.

And we asked, “Graeme! How many apples did you eat?!” His proud reply?

“Three!”

(“The toilet is going to be aching tomorrow,” he said.)

I swear, I cannot make this stuff up.

And then, our grief over the Dearth of Donuts was assuaged by our very own watermelon:

And there you have it! A perfectly mixed-up seasonal day.

 

 

 

 

goat farm

No, they aren’t worshiping the goats. They are letting the babies nibble their hair.

Nothin’ like getting nuzzled by baby goat lips!

My guys. They love the goat dairy. I do too.

(And goat cheese! My goodness–it was delicious!)

Moment of Joy

Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule’s {this moment}, I’m following a Friday ritual: posting a single photo–no caption, no words–from the week capturing a moment or an idea expressing something related to {family, faith, food; joyful justice & bread of life} —a Moment of Joy. If you would like to do the same, leave a link to your photo in the comments!