Pizza at home in 10 easy steps!

Step 1: Spontaneously ride bikes to Brighton Beach on a gorgeous, summer-into-fall afternoon. Drink imported, ice-cold beer and eat shrimps, pickled cucumbers and herring plus mystery meat dumplings on Brooklyn’s Russian Riviera. Nap on the bay beach. Ride The Cyclone and cycle on home.

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Step 2: Pick up a portion of pizza dough from the local pizzeria. Investigate contents of refrigerator and select a range of vegetables and meats and cheeses. Thank your lucky stars you have pizza toppings on hand.

Step 3: Preheat oven to as stinking hot as it’ll get – place pizza oven on top rack so the top and the bottom cook and crisp within the same space-time continuum. Let it get good and hot – 45 minutes if you can wait that long.

Step 4: Generously flour (I say this in a Monday morning quarterback kind of way) a wooden pizza oven paddle thingy.

Step 5: Introduce a little physical comedy. Toss that lightly oiled dough high in the air just like the professionals do. No problem!

Step 6: Place your stretched free-form pizza dough on the (heavily) floured wooden paddle thingy and add toppings. We went halfsies… blanched and sauteed broccoli raab on one side with garlic and caramelized onions. Julienned zucchini on the other (salted and squeezed of excess water). Olive oil and mozzarella cheese for everyone. Pepperoncini! Beautiful. IMG_5386

Step 7: Slide the pizza – doh! – slide the pizza dough – oh shit! – wait, just pull it. Here, this way. No! Fuck! Shit! Oh man. OK… slop the pizza dough on the surface-of-the-sun-stone while another person in the kitchen holds the rack with well worn pot holders and a third hungry soul pokes at it with a spatula while you silently cry hungrily in the face of the escaping 500F heat.

Step 8: Shove the mess in the oven and try not to make eye contact with anyone in the room. Take a long, slow, sad sip of your beer. Uncomfortable silence. Laughter. We’re up, we’re down, we’re up again!

Step 9: Open the oven door 10 minutes later to find a piping hot mess vaguely resembling pizza sizzling away on the stone. It ain’t pretty but the doughy blob where everything got smashed together tastes like a giant garlic knot with zucchini and broccoli raab and melty cheese. Randomly find some salami in a bite and gasp with joy, “I forgot we put salami on this thing! This is great!”

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Step 10: Polish off entire pizza and a cold bottle of vino bianco and marvel at how something gone so very wrong could taste so very right.

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Pizza at home in 10 easy steps!

Saturday Sangwiche

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BGBLT (blackened grouper, bacon, lettuce, tomato)

Sometimes a sandwich reaches out, touches you, holds you, whispers sweet, tasty nothings in your ear and never lets you go. Today that happened. It really, truly did and it was beautiful. Thanks stuff between pumpernickel bread. We really had something special this afternoon.

Oh yeah… and cold, fruity beverage, you were mighty alright too. Gulp. Swill.

pom drank
PILS (pomegranate, ice, lime, seltzer)

Saturday Sangwiche

Juicy fruit

I love it when someone takes something already familiar to you and then blows your mind open with a new way to approach it.

So without further ado (and with many thanks to a fellow lover of life’s simple things: the inspiring, effervescent, knowledgeable and ever-curious Negar Esfandiary) I give you: the Iranian way to eat a pomegranate.

Buy some Peruvian lilies in full bloom and uber-blue ceramics for the ultimate background shot. Wait. No. Just get yourself a ripe pomegranate.
Find the hard ridges on the side and as long as you’re not manning a camera as well (not recommended) overlap two thumbs over these ridges and press down firmly to break the juicey jewels inside.
Make your way around the whole pomegranate in this fashion relishing in every ripple of crunchy sounds signifying that you’re succeeding…
Until you’re left with a liquid laden leathery sack…
Pierce the bottom of the pom with a knife if you’re an urbanite without a washing machine and a fear of irreversible juice stains (or if, like Negar, you’re a little girl in Tehran in the seventies and you’ve already asked your Great Uncle to do the hard pod pressing work… now just bite into the bottom with your teeth and the juice is yours!)
Drink your heart out Capri Sun! Squeeze until you can’t squeeze no more… and the juice runs dry.
Give thanks to your new friend, nature’s little leather juicebox.
And if you’re like me… slice that deflated nectar giver in half because you 1. really like the idea of cross sections and the symmetry of fold and squish paintings of your youth and 2. you just have to know how many of those exotic ruby pods are still waiting for you inside.
Juicy fruit

Olympic Eats

I tried to watch the Opening Ceremony here in New York. I tried real hard. Unfortunately NBC completely forgot that live television is possible in 2012. Thankfully I was entertained in real-time by a steady stream of WhatsApp commentary from a veritable united nations of UK friendos reporting from their respective sofas (and a handful from Hyde Park):

LA: Why have they put a ‘shire’ in the middle of the Olympic stadium? Here comes the cast of Sleepy Hollow!

TW: It’s going to get better. Just wait.

LA: It IS getting better!! The Queen is so nubile.

KP: Yayyyyyy Greece!

KK: Cammmmmmembert! V for Victory!!!

VH: Braaaaatwurst!!!! Nice outfits! (was a joke of course)

NY: Go Chinaaaaaaa! Hoi sin!

LRW: Aussie Aussie Aussie!!! Oi oi oi!!!

And all throughout this gripping live coverage I kept wondering… where’s FM?

Over to the Olympic (Diner) Pavilion where we have the first heat of the Gold(en Burger) competition about to begin. This year’s course is looking rather challenging indeed! Is that LOBSTER on top of that all-beef-patty?!
Smooth execution but he’ll lose points for not sticking that landing. Sloppy on the finish. If he can regain his focus he just might edge out the competition for Silver. Stay tuned.
Olympic Eats

Ohhhhh it’s a jolly ‘oliday with Mayreeeeee….

After nine years on these fair British Isles, my English accent is sadly as bad as Bert the chimney sweep’s. I can’t really carry a tune either. Neither of these facts has stopped me from running, skipping, swinging and jumping around the UK in search of fun while very genuinely humming along to the Mary Poppins soundtrack of my youth and experiencing first hand the joy that movie brought to me as a child.

  • A walk through Primrose Hill = Let’s go fly a kite
  • Countryside adventures or off-island escapes = Jolly Holiday
  • Cycling past the steps of St Paul’s = Feed the birds
  • Bankers, bonuses and general bad practice = Fidelity Fiduciary Bank & A British Bank
  • Impromptu dance parties at the neighbour’s = Step in time
  • Any number of breakfasts with the most family-like of friends = I love to laugh

And now in honour of my recently published Mr & Mrs Smith review of The Pig in Hampshire (to the tune of Chim Chim Cher-ee)…

Pig pig-it-ee, pig pig-it-ee
pig, pig, sou-eee!
This pig is as lucky, as lucky can be!
Ohhhhh it’s a jolly ‘oliday with Mayreeeeee….

47 Sutherland Avenue Residents’ Association

It’s one thing if you meet nice people from time to time.

It’s another thing if those nice people happen to live in your building (which, save for Markus residing in the room next door to mine, has been pretty much barren of nice people for our entire existence in the UK).

And then after nine wonderful years you somehow make the heart-wrenching decision to leave one home for another (London for NYC) and suddenly all these nice people populate the whole darn place. What’s up with that?!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Just seems crazy that I haven’t been able to enjoy the company (and services) of these fine folks for longer.

There’s the Afghani couple and their small, oh-so-quiet, toddler in Flat 6 just below me… who knew that Monsieur drives a mini-cab and could’ve been zipping me off to Heathrow all these years at just the knock of a neighbour’s door?

There’s Rosangela in Flat 5: petite with a powerful persona… post pints-at-the-pub, impromptu pizza-maker from the North of Italy. Her effervescent enthusiasm for discovering the world is infectious enough to inspire even this old weathered traveller. Once upon a time her father gifted her a photographic travel book entitled something along the lines of Meraviglie del mondo.

Oh wonderous world!

And after years and years of faithfully pouring through its pages her papa gave away this prized possession without permission while Ros was away at university. When she nostalgically describes the book as ‘just so (splaying her hands to establish size), with blue pages and white writing and, and, and…’ it breaks your heart just a little. But onward and upward she’s got her replacement (a book so oversized it takes a sweep of the arm in an outstretched arch to flip a page) and goddamnit, she’s going to see these marvels of the world. Ticking them off each year, one by one, and planning the next adventure as soon as she’s unpacked.

Then there are the newest kids on the block. Maria y Emilio, a young couple from sun saturated Seville who have just bravely and recently relocated to this fine city to launch their London fashion debut. They work from home in the raised ground floor flat, tapping away on their laptops and glancing out towards the front steps to keep an eye on things at 47 Sutherland. For a Brooklyn kid raised in a classy co-op, it’s comforting to have Spanish-speaking doormen again after so many years abroad. And then on Wednesday gone our entrepreneurial porteros invite us to preview their new collection. Perfectly tailored, wonderfully wearable woolens, cottons, silks, and jewel-toned velvets fly off the rack and on to our persons as we preemptively bid on natty threads not yet available to the public. The clock strikes 11pm and just as you begin to think the night is over the nocturnal natives of Andalucia roll out the cerveza, cava and charcuterie.

Tip top tapas

Turns out Maria is the environmental fashion designer whizzkid and Emilio is the business man with a career past rooted in the family business which is, oh god! Can it be true?! Ibéricos de bellota. Acorn eating piggies of porcine perfection. Luxury crack ham, cured for a mean 36 months.

I can’t believe my luck: people to collect the post AND purveyors of primo pig products. Holy jamón batman!

My cup runneth over in this colourful quilt of global grandeur.
47 Sutherland Avenue Residents’ Association