Gigante beans (aka massive Giant Greek style baked beans) seem about as Greek and homey as spinach pie or raki (pr: Rah-KEE, Greece's version of moonshine, made from the leftover skins, twigs, and mash from Grapes. They don't waste anything). Every place that had them, they were the star of the meal. For a game, Alicia and I had a rating system of our favorite beans. If you fly into Crete, you'll most likely fly into the north coast town of Chania. Ruled by the Turks and then the Venetians, the history alone paints such a gorgeous colorful landscape here.
Making your way through the narrow streets of Athens, there's something so satisfying about seeing 19th century neoclassical houses smack dab up against ruins and buildings from ancient Greek civilizations dating back to 500BC. The Acropolis, visible from most parts in Athens, stands as a reminder both how old and how modern life is here and the struggles the city has endured. It's a testament to the gumption and survival of the people and their culture. It's gritty but elegant, rough around the edges but steeped in antiquity, rulers, and mythology 500 years before time.
We are back from Greece and the signs of Autumn are in full effect in New York City. In the final week at Comet on Broadway it was difficult to focus on anything else than that shortly my toes would be kicking up pink sand at Grecian beaches, perched on top steep cliffs with roaming goats, or peering out over the shimmering Aegean Sea like Homer in the Illiad. Greece was even better than expected, I can't believe Alicia had to talk me into going. And let me not forget about the FOOD.
Bringing a bottle of wine to your host is of course nice (we are a little obsessed with lambrusco at the moment and love introducing the refreshing tingle of a fizzy cold red wine to our friends) but if you want to take it a step further as a guest, I always feel like pulling something delicious out of the oven for a late night snack is the perfect unexpected treat at the end of a good meal and perfect for socializing around the table. And the leftovers make for the perfect breakfast the next morning. Your host will inevitably invite you back.
Who can say they don't love banana bread? Warm out of the oven, perfect for late night snacking, broken into a bread pudding, or battered into french toast, it might just be my all time favorite bread to throw together and is also the perfect excuse to use up those spotty overripe bananas. Also, whose Mom didn't have this in her cooking arsenal growing up? It's so nostalgic and it makes your house smell lovely.
Last week my friends and I packed up our gear and provisions and headed up to the lush Hudson Valley for the day. I could drive for hours looking at the canopies of mixed oaks, mist coming off the Hudson River and the spruce and birch trees. This time of year is perfect, with the dampness from the rain, the late spring water run-off and the warm sunny 75 degree days. There are so many watering holes and summer hideouts up here it's silly. Today we're headed to one of my favorite spots up here - Kaaterskill Falls. On the short hike in I spotted some young reishi mushrooms growing in clusters up the side of a dead Hemlock tree just off the trail path. Once I spotted one, more and more of the red/orange lacquered beauties popped into view. It was mesmerizing. The damp growing conditions seem perfect right now.