(blog mame moje cerke)
Every year, New Year's Day slams into me like a brick hitting a wall, and I don't even have a hangover. It's not the quietness of the city that bothers me on New Year's Day. There's a deeper feeling - it's like temporarily crossing a narrow strait without direction. Maybe that's why so many people drink the night away.
On New Year's Day, my friend Lady E. agreed to meet for lunch. We decided to eat North Indian food at Dhaba, on Lexington Avenue between 27th and 28th streets. Apparently, Dhaba is part of a group of several Indian restaurants in NYC. The decor had a larger-than-life quality. It was very modern, all bold reds and purples, with elegant booths. We declined to sit in the window, and regretted our decision for the meal's duration. Every time the door opened, whoosh, a blast of cold air blew in. The chai tea was served in glasses. We were tickled to get sugar, but no spoon for stirring. We used our knives to mix in the sugar. Dhaba offers several kinds of Indian street snacks called chaat. We selected one called Purani Delhi Ki Papri chaat. It came with semolina, flour chips, chutneys and was sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. We also ordered Aloo Gobi Samosa. Samosas are a triangle of dough filled with mashed potato and spices. When I was a child, my mother would make samosas for us to eat during long road trips in Nigeria. Lastly, we shared a mild curry with chicken, green peppers and onions, with an order of Poori, a big puffed, whole wheat bread.
Midway through lunch, I had a mini anxiety attack, but kept it to myself. Afterwards, when Lady E. invited me to join her and friends to see the movie, The Day The Earth Stood Still, I declined. It felt little too close to my truth, but I didn't say that. Little one was with Carl, visiting a friend in New Jersey. Big Daughter was in Belgrade.
During the holidays, New York City can feel unkind when family is not nearby. It is a humbling feeling. By contrast, New Year's Eve was low-key. It was nice to stay home and read. After finishing some errands on New Year's Eve, little one and I stopped for roasted pork sandwiches at Porchetta. Located at 110 E. 7th street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, it's a few blocks from the E. Village apartment. In late October, I tried to visit with Carl, but was put off by the crowd. True to form, the small storefront (recently voted No. 1 in New York Magazine's Where to Eat 2009 issue), was bustling. People spilled out of the space, into the doorway and onto the street. To escape the crush, we stood outside, amidst miniature, swirling snowflakes, while we waited for our sandwich. Through the window, a man eating inside at the counter, smiled periodically at us. After awhile, little one was cold. We went back in, and found seats at the counter. I was amused to see that 7th street is developing into it's own little foodie destination. After ordering, several patrons, headed over to Butter Lane, a new bakery specializing in cupcakes with really creamy frosting. The frosting is like a cloud of sweet cream. As they left Porchetta, several of them said "cupcakes", with a question mark. I pointed them across the street, almost to Avenue A. I had stopped in at Butter Lane and purchased one cupcake to go, the Thursday that Big Daughter ended up in the E.R. at St. Vincent's Hospital. After we returned home from the hospital that morning at 1:30 a.m., she was thrilled to eat the cupcake, and pronounced it "amazing." Once our sandwich was ready, little one said she liked the ciabatta roll. I liked the pork. We were content. I didn't mind spending $9 for a sandwich on New Year's Eve.
Little one expressed a wish to watch the ball drop at midnight. When I returned home at 8, after seeing two clients, she was fast asleep. Carl had come over to watch her. At our request, he kindly brought Carr's crackers - (my favorite), cheese straws for little one, along with cheddar cheese, salami and one 8 oz bottle of sparkling apple cider. He was worried that he bought too little cheese. Bazzini's, in Tribeca -where he bought the food - drives him crazy. He remembers when they were wholesale, Tribeca was like a desert. I was upset that little one and I would not be able to toast the New Year with that single bottle of apple cider. In the spirit of graciousness, I kept quiet. Sure enough, the cider was finished when I returned.
Carl had a New Year's Eve party to attend. He agreed to return in the morning and help me recycle the Christmas tree in Tompkins Square Park, before collecting little one. While she slept, I read Under the Tuscan Sun, by Francis Mayles. My mother had mailed the book to me in late October. It was surprisingly comforting to lie on the couch, and read Ms. Mayles' account of a house restoration, interspersed with recipes and musings on eating porchetta. I'd been planning to make a ragu when Big Daughter gets home, and here was not the recipe.