Friday, November 16, 2007

My Favorite Day

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The year I graduated from college, I insist that my family celebrate Thanksgiving at my place. I recently got into cooking, and I was confident I could prepare the Thanksgiving meal – all by myself.

I do my research. I plan exactly how to prepare my turkey - brined in salt, sugar and citrus - then stuffed with garlic, lemon and herbs, and slow roasted. I find the most decadent garlic buttermilk mashed potato recipe. The cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and pear crostata are accounted for.

On Thanksgiving Day, Dad’s job was to bring the wine. He shows up at 11 a.m. with the mixings for sangria, two six packs of beer, and half a case of red. (I'm pretty sure I don't put down my wine glass until after dessert was served... Amazingly, I'm able to cook and the entire dinner with only one hand.)

Despite my intoxication level, when Mom shows up to help cook, everything’s done. She is shocked and beside herself, so I let her make the gravy (with strict instructions that she must deglaze with good white wine).

Around 4 p.m, dinner is on the table. Rave reviews for the turkey… “Moister than mom’s has ever been.” “So flavorful.” Even my picky sister exclaims: “OMG, the mashed potatoes are sooo good.”

Dad keeps the wine coming and by the time dinner ends, I am piss drunk. That’s right, piss drunk on my glorious Thanksgiving Day. Luckily, mom comes to the rescue and ensures I don’t wake up with my kitchen a total disaster.

That was the best thanksgiving ever. Since then, mom lets me make the Thanksgiving turkey. And the sweet potatoes. And at least two desserts.

This year will be my first Thanksgiving away from my family. I’ve invited a bunch of “orphaned” friends over to celebrate the day. This year’s menu is:

Champagne Pomegranate Cocktails
Red Onion and Gorgonzola Flatbreads
Pear and Sage Crostini

Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Brined and Slow Roasted Deistel Turkey
Artichoke and Parmesan Dressing

Herb Mashed Potatoes
Brussels Sprout with Pancetta
Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Guinness Stout Gingerbread Bars
Orange and Mascarpone Pumpkin Pie
Caramel Pear Tart (my thanksgiving signature)

Oh, and lot's of red wine.

I’ll miss you, mom!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Authentic Oktoberfest

I throw keg parties. I list microbrew tasting as a hobby. My default birthday gift for my friends is a six-pack of their favorite beer (or my favorite beer if they have an under-developed palate).

As a lover of all things beer, four days in Munich for Oktoberfest 2007 is the highlight of my imbibing career.

Just what you’d expect from the Germans, Oktoberfest is a well orchestrated festival embraced by the entire city and all of Bavaria. It’s a giant party sponsored by the city! It’s like throwing a raging house party, where the entire neighborhood shows up and the local cops work the door. Oh, and I should mention, this raging house party has really, really good beer.

I drink side-by-side with the Munich locals dressed in lederhosen and dirndl, the authentic Bavarian attire. We raise our liters of beer, prost (German for cheers) and drink. Surrounded by people that love beer as much as I do, I fall in love with the city of Munich. After three liters, what’s not to love?

Oktoberfest is celebrated all over the world this time of year. And by all means, partake. Partake and be merry. But know this:
Nothing beats the original.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hello Summer

Hello Summer

The first Sunday of September, my friend Spencer and I pick up two bottles of chilled French rosé and head to Baker Beach in San Francisco’s Presidio. I laugh at Spencer for wearing swim trunks. It’s a rare day in San Francisco that gets warm enough to get in the water.

It turns out to be one of those days. By the time I pour my second glass, Spencer is in the water. Laying on the warm sand, a clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge, a glass of wine in hand… can it get any better?

It can. Into the water. Sans bathing suit.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Good at Life

Two years ago I made a self-discovery - I don’t have a comfort zone. If I’m comfortable, it means I’m bored and restless. I prefer chaos, adventure and randomness. However, I recently made another discovery - I need a comfort zone. Perhaps it doesn’t need to be a safe and familiar haven. Perhaps it’s not a single place at all. Maybe my comfort zone is the realm of new discoveries – a city view, a neighborhood café, the back roads, Boston in the fall or a new recipe.

Finding balance, nourishment and comfort in ordinary and extraordinary days, this is a record of my attempts to be Good at Life.