Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Call it Book-lyn

When someone informed me on Sunday that the Brooklyn Book Festival was right down the street from our house, I raced down to Cadman Plaza to check it out with visions of myself walking away with armfuls of books. Turns out I didn't quite have the right idea--this wasn't a book sale, this was a literary occasion. There were tents set up with authors signing books, publishers giving away literary magazines, signs advertising readings of of newly published work, and masses and masses of people. I had to get a picture of the crowd on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall listening to a reading.

While wandering around wishing I had money with me to buy books to be signed by authors whose signatures might someday be worth a lot on Ebay, I discovered I was acquainted with one of the authors giving a reading that afternoon--a Brooklynite and soccer buddy of my husband's whose new novel has been on my wish list for a while. Couldn't miss that!

Ash was kind enough to save me a space in the queue, leaving me free to wander around before the reading taking pictures of all the literati (or so I thought of them).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Plum Delicious

It could not have been a coincidence. In one week, I twice read about a mysterious creation called a "buckle." No, not a belt buckle, or the type the pilgrims supposedly wore on their shoes--this buckle apparently involved baking and fresh seasonal fruit. I'd been in the mood to get back into the kitchen and try whipping up something with the last of summer's fruit ever since I tried Amy's nectarine pie. The buckle double-whammy (first reading about it on Alissa's blog, and then on The Wednesday Chef) was clearly a sign.

I chose a recipe for an Almond-Plum Buckle from that got four-fork ratings across the board, and got down to business. I omitted the almond extract and added a little extra vanilla instead, and I used just four plums rather than the recommended eight (the creator of the recipe must have been working with some pretty tiny little plums), but other than that, followed the recipe to the letter. It was easy as pie! (Or perhaps I should say "easy as buckle.") Just a standard layer of cake batter on the bottom, some plum slices on top, and pop it in the oven. The fruit literally "buckles" under the cake batter, creating a nicely patterned top. Unfortunately I got a little antsy at the end when the top wasn't browning and decided to pop it under the broiler. Bad call. I hid the overly browned (not quite burnt) area under a dusting of powdered sugar, and fortunately the taste didn't suffer at all.

I had some today with my coffee. Fabulous! The plums were soft and delicious and the crunch of the ground almonds added just the right touch of texture to the cake. I'll be making this one again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Seattle Part 2: Farm Fresh

What with all the recent activity, I haven't followed through on my intent to post more pictures from my recent trip to Seattle. No I haven't forgotten. After all, there can't be a Seattle Part 1 without, at the very least, a Part 2.

Yes, I'm back to the farmers' market photography at Pike Place market--where else could one find such beautifully arranged and photogenic produce?

All the vegetables were so colorful, it almost didn't seem normal. Can you believe the brightness of these chili peppers? They were strung up in long rows out on the street, giving everything a very festive air. (What one would do with such massive amounts of fresh chili peppers, however, I cannot imagine.)

In addition to the produce there was an abundance of fresh flowers to be found, and I was appalled to discover that a beautiful bouquet, the likes of which would run about $40 in New York, could be had for a mere $6.50. No kidding. I do believe I could see myself living in Seattle surrounded by flowers and chili peppers.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

View From the Top

The other night we had a chance to catch the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open--Djokovic vs. Moya. The first couple of sets were quite close, and the excitement in Arthur Ashe stadium was palpable, particularly during the silent moments of play when all you could hear was the ball being hit back and forth (and one very enthusiastic Spanish fan shouting "Venga Carlos!"). Djokovic eventually took control and plowed over Moya to finish the match in three sets, but it was thrilling nonetheless! I caught this wide-angle shot from our seats up in the nosebleeds. (Truly, we were not as far away as this picture makes it appear!) After the quarterfinals were over we caught the first set of the exhibition match between Martina Navratilova and Jana Navotna and then ducked out to catch the subway home before it got too too late on a work night.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ariana in the City

I have to take a break from posting my Seattle photos to share some shots from the past week. We were thrilled to receive a visit from Maziar and Tina and our adorable and incredibly mischievous little niece, Ariana.

Ariana seems to be a natural New Yorker. She was thrilled to be touring the City on the shoulders of her daddy and uncle, pointing out dogs and babies whenever they passed.

She took to the streets with confidence, made friends on the subway, ate all manner of fancy food (she was all over those truffle fries at Bette), and had waiters eating out of her hand at every restaurant we went to.

Their visit was an opportunity to spend time with many good friends, and Ariana reveled in the undivided attention of all those grown ups. We all vied with one another to entertain her and sang countless rounds of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, which inevitably led to smiles and giggles and requests to sing again.

Maziar, Tina, and Ariana left for Singapore on Saturday, and the house seems awfully empty and dull now that they are gone. Where are the bottles, diapers, children's songs, and "Ariana, no no no's" that we became accustomed to? Clearly we need to make a trip to Singapore.