Post: Part 2 of 4.
Weekend: 4th of July.
Day: July 4, 2008.
Woke up four hours later than planned. I’ve never woken this late in over six months. Might this be punishment for staying up till nearly 4am the night before?
Stopped at Pinisi Bakery on 4th Street to see Andy and his wife. It’s been over month since my last visit, a big drop from the old 2-3 times a week trips when I lived on a steady diet of blueberry strudels and red velvet cake. Ooh boy, those were sugary days.
There were at least a dozen new items in store but only one caught my eye. A plain brown round that looked to be a halfway cross between cake, cookie, and brownie. It turned out to be a flourless apple-carrot cake. Pretty interesting!
Just over an inch tall, the soft, plushy cake made moist with shredded carrots harbored a bounty of sweet apples, sliced and stewed tender. The cake is humble in sight, but taste alone suggests otherwise. After all, it’s the plainest of sweets that always seem to taste best.
Robyn came by, and although she couldn’t stay late enough for afternoon-barbeque-trailing-into-dinner-then-late-night-snack, we did manage to take a short walk over to the newly opened froyo shop, Oko.
I’m a staunch devotee of the froyo from Bloomingdale’s 40 Carrots Cafe, but a sign in front of Oko proclaiming homemade Belgian Waffles was enough to lure us in. We sampled the tart plain yogurt, which was better than most with a pure, clean flavor, but I still prefer 40 Carrots. We split an order of a “fresh” Belgian waffle with their current special flavor, banana. I assure you the banana tastes much better than it sounds.
However the Belgian waffle was a double flop – neither freshly made (they had a large stack sitting under plastic saran wrap) nor warmed up sufficiently. The girl helping us offered to heat up the waffle, and we took her up on it, only to be sorely disappointed as we watched her pop the pre-made waffle back in the waffle maker and warm it for just under 30 seconds. It arrived in our cup a floppy lukewarm. You win some, you lose some. Nonetheless, the space is remarkably clean with a unnaturally upbeat, space-agey design that all these froyo places attempt to emulate.
Back in Don’s backyard, the enormous quantity of meats Don put in the smoker eight hours before was near ready, and lucky me…
Out at 5:00pm
…I always seem to be strategically located near the food. Mind you, by the end of the night my clothes smelled of the ultimate barbeque party, but such is a small price to pay for…
…first dibs on that gorgeous rack of ribs, it positively glows!
The first of many rib pieces to come. Finger food at its best, all eaten while swinging on the newly hung hammock with glasses of bubbly tart limeade in hand. Ahhh, these are indeed the summers found in dreams.
Of course, when it comes to meat – the mooooore the merrier! Pulled pork anyone?
Don’s pork shoulder was done North Carolina eastern seaboard style – applewood smoked then pulled, with a vinegar and red pepper sauce. The leftovers proved to make quite a breakfast the following afternoon :)
Vegetables? Of course we had our greens!
Brussel sprouts seared with Burger’s ham, plenty of whole garlic cloves and bacon drippings in a cast iron pan, then finished with nuoc nam and cilantro…
…string beans blanched and tossed with balsamic and olive oil…
…and potatoes, roasted, and smashed with lemon zest-infused olive oil. Wouldn’t you agree it was quite a well balanced dinner?
I was quite full by this time, having devoured much more than my share of ribs, hehehe. But silly me, how could I have forgotten that there would be burgers a few hours later?
With Don at the grill, Ian was in the kitchen working on the burgers…I’ve never seen someone shape patties so efficiently!
Pineapples sliced, ready for the grill…
Burgers on the grill and…
…tadah, all pau! Pretty awesome, no? Grilled medium-rare with plenty of char, melted Canadian cheddar, a duo of pineapple rings, and a crisp bun…it’s been too long since I’ve had a burger this delicious from the first bite to the last. People always find it strange that I never put pineapples on burgers, “…and you say you’re from Hawai’i?” I’ve always been adverse to pineapple on/with anything (think pineapple pizza), with the exception of li hing mui . This burger proved me a little, or rather, a lot wrong. But I’m betting a little sprinkle of li hing mui tucked between the two rings would make for a splendid touch.
Bellies full but always with room for dessert, we moved into a territory of sweets. Lauren baked an olive oil bundt with a chocolate glaze – the cake was extra moist and rich with double the egg yolks. Savory sweets are definitely the way to go. I first fell in love with olive oil cake at Abraco and olive oil gelato at Otto…is there anything that olive oil cannot do?
Sophia brought a darling Poppy Seed Lemon Raspberry Cake from Black Hound Bakery over on 2nd Avenue. The four layer cake was brushed with raspberry jam and lemon curd, then finished with a white chocolate buttercream. They don’t joke around when they say poppy seed cake – there was definitely more poppy seed than cake going on in this creation!
Another round of desserts, Haagen Dazs’s Green Tea, paired with a few episodes of Law & Order and This American Life…now this is how I like to end a night!