23 July, 2007

WICKED!






































Oh, yes! We went to "Wicked." I must say, I have been almost dreading it, just going along to chaperone Avery and Cici as our birthday gift to Cici. Why dreading it, you ask? Oh, only because for the past four or five months Avery has been insisting on playing it in the car on the way to school, on her iPod to which she sings along, making drawings and puppets and stories, talking about it incessantly with her best friend Anna. Overdose! I would challenge you to enjoy anything to which you've been so completely overexposed as to need an antidote.

But... it was fabulous! I have not been to a play or musical on Broadway, actual Broadway, since something archaic like "Miss Saigon" or "The Phantom of the Opera," just because when you actually live in New York, you (or at least I) are woefully inadequate at doing any of the things that bring other people to New York. And when I say other people? Can I just say how many TOO MANY of them there were in Times Square! It was a mercifully cool and pleasant day, but even so, walking, no wading, through the masses of tourists was simply overwhelming. Have you been to Times Square recently? Don't go! You will be trampled.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. We drove down from the barn on Saturday after Avery's riding lesson, and John dropped us off at the rather unremarkable but acceptable Cafe Un Deux Trois for lunch, while he headed down to Tribeca for lunch with a friend. Why Cafe Un Deux Trois, I wonder? I think we have an ancient memory of a nice kid-friendly dinner there with friends years and years ago, and remembered that it was a nice, calm place to take children. In the end, of course, I didn't reckon on how extremely elderly the children were that I was taking with me (isn't it shocking how grownup they are! and how beautiful), and we could have gone somewhere really elegant. But in the end they quite enjoyed drawing on the paper tablecloth just as much as their much-younger counterparts at other tables. And the soaring ceilings and lovely old tile floors made for a nice, classic atmosphere. So do go with your little ones, if you can stomach the prices for very average food (a forgettable salade nicoise for me, an unmanageable and unwieldy chicken sandwich for Cici, and very dull ravioli for Avery, but completely edible and priced out at about $70 for the three of us, ouch).

From there we emerged into the crowds and held onto each other's hands like children lost in a forest. And indeed, it was a forest of people. Every nationality known to mankind, overwhelming shiny billboards, scalpers selling tickets, people selling water, little tiny yellow taxicab toys, sunglasses, sunscreen, and everyone in an impossibly jolly mood. Honestly, you wouldn't think such a place could exist on the same planet as Red Gate Farm. I often compare Times Square to Oxford Street in London, when people ask what it's like. Never again! Chalk and cheese, as they say. Nothing in London could possibly be as tacky (and yet peculiarly quite marvelous) as Times Square. Everything seemed about one hour old, as if it would change again in the next hour to the REALLY modern version. I am such a fuddy duddy.

To the theater where we ensconced ourselves and waited for the big event. I confess to nearly falling asleep before the show started, but then... it was just amazing. I tend to forget that famed things, and places, and events, are famed for a reason! Of course when you can gather the absolute best at everything in one place, it's going to be amazing. Winnie Holzman's story was really entertaining, the choreography perfect and precise, and the singers really enchanting. And perversely all that overexposure from Avery meant that I could really enjoy it, having memorized every song a hundred times over. There is nothing like the obsessive attention span of a ten-year-old to make every family member fully engaged with the current topic, I'll tell you that.

We waited outside afterward for autographs, and they got them! All three leads. Very gracious and sweet. I have to say: it was very expensive, but it was a pleasure. Would you believe: evening performances are sold out until February?!

So home again, in the glow of other people's achievements. And to an unexpectedly delicious dinner at our local eatery Julio's, which we normally treat as an emergency "don't have time to cook" destination, not as a source of gastronomic delight. But I had a salad of arugula (it's considered something of a delicacy still, in America, rather than the ubiquitous green of all London plates) and sauteed scallops. Well done, Julio's!

Sunday saw us hosting Jill, Joel and Jane, along with Anne and David, for flank steak on the grill. I have to confess I went to the grocery store to get a fillet roast, no matter the cost. I really was in the mood to roll it in some herbs and freshly ground pepper, as we did in Iowa, and grill it to perfection. Happily, I was saved from this ruinously expensive goal by the sheer fact that there wasn't an unsliced roast at the store, just little steaks. So I picked up a number of flank steaks and figured I would marinate them and they'd be fine. Well, not only were they fine, they were gloriously delicious! And they provided divine leftovers for an absolutely splendid Asian dish the next day. Here you go:

Grilled Flank Steak with Ginger and Lime
(serves 8 with lots of leftovers)


3 flank steaks weighing 1 1/2 lbs each
2-inch knob ginger, peeled and minced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
juice and zest of 2 limes
2 tbsps sesame oil
3 tbsps soy sauce

Mix all marinade ingredients and slather over the flank steaks on both sides. Grill at a medium-high heat (375 degrees on a propane-fired grill) for 7 minutes per side for medium rare. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing thin; lots of juices will accumulate. And here's a hint: after you slice it, serve with the accumulated juices poured over the top.

Baby Red and Yukon Gold Potato Salad
(serves 10)


4 pounds potatoes total (if you can't find the tiny ones, use new potatoes)

dressing:
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup sour cream
juice of 1 lemon
large handful dill, chopped
6 green onions, sliced (both white and green parts)
1 red onion, minced
sea salt and fresh pepper

Steam or boil potatoes for 30 minutes or until piercable with a fork. Depending on the size, halve or quarter them. You're after bite-sized pieces. Toss with the dressing and serve at room temperature-ish.

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These two dishes were perfect together, if I do say so myself. And my dear brother in law brought his appetizer that I first had a week or so ago, and it deserves a second appearance here. We both think we'll try adding crabmeat sometime.

Joel's Artichoke Dip
(serves eight)


1 cup artichoke hearts (fresh or from a jar), chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Mix well and place in a 9 x 9 baking dish (non-stick sprayed to make life easier), or several individual ramekins if you want to place them around an appetizer table at a party. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-3- minute or until bubbly and brown on top. Serve with toasted baguette rounds or crackers.

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But the true glory, I must say, was the little luncheon dish Avery invented today. She's gotten to be such a useful person to have around the kitchen. She thinks spontaneously about what might be good together, throws out ideas, and then I implement them! Today I said, "How about some leftover flank steak for lunch?" And she said, "Didn't you mention tossing it with some bean sprouts and soy sauce? Well, how about adding those Asian noodles I like so much?" So I did. We all simply gobbled it up; I wish I had made more. And you know what? I will tomorrow. What gets me excited about a dish like this is its sheer economy and total ease. I will own up to something that you all have probably noticed: I do thrive sometimes on expensive, clever, labor-intensive recipes, and then every once in awhile it's glorious to make something effortless and CHEAP. Give it a try! You'll be very popular in your kitchen, and you can hoard the secret knowledge that you didn't put much effort into it at ALL.

Stir-Fried Flank Steak with Bean Sprouts and Noodles
(serves four if you serve yourself fast)

a good chunk of leftover grilled flank steak: perhaps 1 pound?
1/2 half Vidalia onion, sliced in large slices
1/2 package Asian noodles (labelled "for stir-fry"), cooked and drained well
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 handfuls bean sprouts
2 tbsps peanut oil
2 tsps sesame oil
3 tbsps soy sauce

Slice your flank steak into bite-sized strips and set aside. Heat the two oils to nearly smoking, then throw in everything at once. Toss very well; the noodles will tend to stick together, but the oils and soy should separate them. Stir-fry while tossing with tongs for about 3 minutes over high heat. THAT'S IT.

I'm now thinking the obvious: you can double this recipe and use up all of every ingredient: the onion, bean sprouts and noodles. Try it: you'll be a star.

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