The season has been full of friendship related events. Some dear friends have left New York, while others have visited from foreign countries, the West Coast, and we even went to New Jersey for a visit (that zipcar is taking us faaaar!!!). We've celebrated birthdays, weddings, farewells and visits.
We've also been able to enjoy some museum visits.
I took my daughter to The Met, and as we went into Tomas Saraceno's Cloud City on the museum's roof, she asked me if we could come back again some other day. "No," I said. "This is not a permanent exhibit. We have to enjoy the installation now, while we're here." She looked at me and said, "OK, then I will never forget it." And I just loved that!
After the roof, we walked through different wings in the museum, bumped into friends, took pictures (and by that I mean my daughter took my phone and photographed every single Impressionist painting, and now my phone can barely respond, it might be intoxicated with the pleasure of the art...) and sketched a bit. As it always happens to me, I fell back in love with NYC. The Met does is for me. It sweet-talks me and convinces me all over again that every pain in this City is worth it, just because I can walk into it any day (but Mondays, as I once learned the hard way...).
Yesterday, and after a couple of attempts (another one of those masochist NY moments of waiting in a line that goes around the block on a 100 degree late morning), I was finally able to get us tickets to see Fireflies on Water by Yayoi Kusama at the Whitney. I took both kids to this one, as my son was done with camp by then too. The light installation takes place in a tiny room, so visitors are only allowed to be in for 1 minute at a time (children go in with their grown ups). The three of us were mesmerized. In awe for 1 minute. They loved it and once more, I hope they can remember those 60 seconds forever.
But yes, this blog is generally about food (OK, and everything else I make you read some times...), so please don't be disappointed if I got carried away. Eventually, all roads take me back to eating. I'm not giving you a recipe on this post this time, as we're taking a plane tonight and the apartment is overflowing with suitcases, boxes, trash, and an empty fridge, but will share with you some of my favorite kitchen friends, those loyal, trustworthy, likable ingredients that don't spoil easily and that you should always keep around. They make everything better, they are good for your health and they elevate a regular dish into a piece of flavorful art.
-Extra virgin olive oil is my go to oil for almost everything, including roasting, dressings, and yes, baking (ah! and it's a wonderful hair conditioner, and I rub it on my kids' skin before removing a band aid). I'm fond of the unfiltered Fairway brand, as its mild taste harmonizes with most dishes, But yes, I do love strong tasting ones when I want the olive flavor in the food I'm preparing. Like wine, olive oils reflect their terroir, and end up being incredibly interesting according to their origin. As far as the health benefits, you know how it goes: extra virgin olive oil can help prevent inflammation, can protect the digestive system (against cancer and bacterial infection), is good for the cardiovascular system and can help prevent certain kinds of cancer.
-Toasted walnut oil is my latest obsession. For people blessed with no nut allergic reactions, this oil makes a great finishing (not cooking) seasoning do drizzle on carpaccios, pasta, lentils, fish or salads right before serving. Should be kept in refrigeration, and it's a good source of Omega 3s.
For that je ne sais quoi that imparts deliciousness, I always have these three:
- White miso paste and tamari- which keep forever in the fridge. Visit here for more details.
- Nutritional yeast- This hippie seasoning is made of deactivated yeast (like the one used in bread making, but this one wouldn't make the dough rise, as it's killed with high temperatures). The yellow flakes are rich in glutamic acid, which is one substance needed to produce the umami flavor (when the yeast cells are killed, the protein that forms the cell walls begins to degrade, breaking down into amino acids, and glutamic acid is one of those). Nutritional yeast isn't only a great flavor enhancer (that tastes a bit like cheese, but is vegan), but is high in complete protein, fiber and vitamins from the B complex. It's often commercially enriched with vitamin B12, a common deficiency amongst vegans, although you need to read the ingredient label to know if a particular brand has had B12 added to it.
SPICE IT UP
- Smoked paprika and chipotle chile powder: mainly, high in vitamin C and in fabulous phytochemical capsaicin that fights inflammation, a shake or two on any food makes it way more interesting and exciting. Smoked paprika gives the dish a nice smokiness without the heat, while chipotles bring in an addictive punch. On fish, rice, beans, sushi, chicken, beef, eggs, sauces, veggies and even fruit, life isn't quite as interesting without them.
Keep them near you, as true friends, they'll prove to you they are good to have around!