Things I Love: Brooklyn Chocolate, Slow Food, Great Writing, Good Governance, Pudding
Come love children, gather 'round. Lots to be passionate about this week. Your Valentine's cards should be piling up on your desks by now, your FedEx packages full of chocolate downstairs in the lobby, your dinner reservations confirmed. I will likely be staying in this Valentine's Day, finding the most comfortable spot on the temporary furniture in my new permanent home, reading either The Introvert's Advantage or Salary Tutor.
Meanwhile, before the holiday gets started, let me share the love. Herein, a litany of lovely things:
I would say that I love Brooklyn, but apparently Brooklyn is already over, the death knell of gentrification already sounded. I'm too late, my story of reverse migration too obvious. When I was a twenty-something Manhattanite, I was met by the most incomprehensible rage and terror from my grandmother when I called to say that my cousin and I were staying in Brooklyn later than planned one night. She was convinced we'd be killed or brainwashed or turned into zombies. "But you're from Brooklyn," I remember professing into my pre-smart phone mobile device, to no avail. Of course, many of these neighborhoods went through some unambiguously bad times, a mix of economic decline, racism, and misguided intentions chronicled with great insight by novelist Jonathan Lethem. But I'm telling you, the passage in Fortress of Solitude about recording "'(Did You Press Your) Bump Suit' by Doofus Funkstrong" is just beautifully accurate and absurd. The thing is that my great-grandfather who immigrated from the Ukraine owned this building where I live tucked behind an unnamed corner of Prospect Park, and then my uncle, and now my cousins. We've all got it there somewhere. Family. Continuity.
And I love Brooklyn chocolate: there's Cacao Prieto, there's Tumbador, there's Nunu, and there's lots more where that came from.
I love smart chocolate, and smart food. I'm delighted to join Slow Food NYC as a new member of the board in 2013, and I hope I'll have a chance to do something unexpected and exciting with programs like Slow U while raising money for local school gardens. I'm all abuzz from the remarkably productive chatter at the Roger Smith Cookbook Conference last weekend, a sort of blizzard-inundated SXSW of food writing where academics and entrepreneurs, self-publishers and 21st-century mega-agents spoke together on the same panels and drank the same Spanish wine in the bar downstairs.
I love lists of favorite things, reverent or irreverent, all the better with pretty pictures. Along with newsletters from Anthropologie, the model I hold up is Heidi Swanson and the simple grace of the favorites lists on 101 Cookbooks. I love the boundlessness of food blogging. Thanks to Chocolate and Zucchini and David Lebovitz and Smitten Kitchen and The Wednesday Chef for pioneering and professionalizing the project, for being good foodie business people and good blogging citizens.
I love democracy even if I don't love everything about my country. Yes, gun control, immigration reform, living wages, equal pay for women, equal rights for gay families--get it done!
And I love pudding! Along with the rest of the media and the crowds trolling the East Village, I've discovered Puddin' by Clio on St. Marks Place. I'm there about twice a week, and Clio is very accommodating. She makes lemonade for neighborhood kids, and answers any questions no matter how busy she is. Last time I walked in, she was making the lewdish little icing hearts pictured above, and she generously agreed to share a prized recipe with me.
Puddin' Chocolate Pudding:
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp corn starch
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
5 oz Noi Sirius or other "chocolaty" (not "fruity") 70% dark chocolate
Combine the cocoa powder, corn starch, sugar, salt, cream, egg yolks, and milk in a 3-quart saucepan and whisk thoroughly.
Place over medium heat and whisk constantly.
Once the mixture starts to get hot, add the chocolate and continue whisking for 10-12 minutes, until the pudding is thick and starts to bubble.
Strain into a bowl, cool to room temperature for 10 minutes, then chill for 2 hours. And enjoy!
Serves a few, or one indulgently.