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What to buy in case of a hurricane:

  • Water
  • Wine
  • Nutella
  • Popcorn
  • Truffle oil

Now, I know what you may be thinking.  “Oh gracious one, you forgot the dark chocolate!”  Why, yes I did.  That’s on the list for the next storm.

I look at it this way:  If the end of the world is coming, I will forgo unappetizing canned food in favor of yummy treats.  So, as storm-mageddon approached this weekend, I gave serious thought to what I would want to eat if the lights went out.

I thought back to a couple of months ago, when I met a friend for a post-work outing at the Museum of Modern Art, on 53rd Street in midtown Manhattan. After checking out the art, we made our way to The Modern, the restaurant next to the museum for a bite to eat and some wine.

What happened next blew my mind.

The bartender put a small bowl of popcorn in front of us.  “That’s the last of it, so take your time with it.”  The heavenly scent of truffles wafted through the air.

I was in love.  We devoured it.

Periodically, my mind wanders back to that bowl of truffle popcorn.  I challenged myself to make it at home for provisions.  So I did.

Now, you can microwave bagged popcorn and then add truffle oil to the finished product, but I’ve learned that making popcorn the old-fashioned way is so simple.

You just need a few ingredients:  popcorn (for one serving, I measure just under 1/4 cup, but you can increase the portion accordingly), olive oil (or truffle oil), sea salt and truffle butter.   I’m using white truffle oil and black truffle butter because that’s what I had on hand, but use whatever you’d like.

Pour about a teaspoon of oil into a pot and add about four kernels of popcorn.

With the burner on medium heat, cover the pot.

Meanwhile, put a teaspoon or two of the truffle butter into a bowl.

Melt the truffle butter.  I microwaved it for about 20 seconds.  Then add coarse sea salt to taste.  Initially I had challenges with getting the salt to stick to the popcorn when I added it directly the the popped kernels at the end, but I find that adding it to the butter works very well.  If you have truffle salt, by all means feel free to use that.  But now you’re just showing off.

Once you hear the kernels pop after a few minutes, the oil is hot enough, so uncover and take the pot off the burner and add in the rest of the kernels.  Cover the pot again.  Shake it so the oil gets distributed among all of the kernels.  Then, reminiscent of Jiffy Pop popcorn-making from our youth (well, some of us, at least), shake the pot over the burner as the kernels begin to pop.  This keeps everything moving so nothing stays long enough at the bottom to burn.

Once the popping has slowed to few seconds in between each pop, take it off the heat.  Wait a few seconds for the popping to stop completely, then uncover.

Pour the melted truffle butter over the warm popcorn.

Then enjoy the goodness.

And that, my friends, is how you ride out the hurricane.  If the popcorn lasts that long.

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Hurricane Irene did this weekend what nothing else has ever done: it shut down the city that never sleeps. Luckily, my neighborhood – like most of New York City – was spared any severe damage.

This morning, while I awakened to see sheets of diagonal rain, gusts of wind blowing trees and piles of leaves on the city street in front of my window, I felt overwhelming gratitude.  Within that feeling lives a deep appreciation for the city officials who took precautions to keep us all safe, for my parents who brought me D batteries when there were none to be found, for the blessings of friends who checked in to be sure I was out of harm’s way.

The glorious cup of coffee that warmed my being this morning was a beautiful way to start the day.  And, the sky is now brightening with the promise of sunlight.

May your day be filled with beauty and grace.

The plan today was to hang out in the air conditioning, read a book on the couch and catch up on the DVR.

But there was a food festival that lured me outdoors.

Normally picky about where I eat, I wouldn’t have gone near a food truck for a meal a few years ago.  Somehow a handful of food trucks have brought me over to the parked side.

With over 30 vendors at the festival, I definitely needed to pace myself, but I managed to indulge in some of my favorite food in New York City, from a truck or otherwise.

I started with Taim, the mobile outpost of the diminutive West Village eatery.

They make the tastiest falafel I’ve ever eaten.  Perfectly crispy, yet still tender and herbaceous inside, the falafel balls are accompanied by a cucumber tomato salad, pickled cabbage, hummus and tahini sauce.  Happiness in a pita.

The Strawberry-Raspberry-Thai Basil Smoothie isn’t bad either.  It was perfectly refreshing on this hot summer day.

Moving on to the line next door, Mexicue offered a delicious selection of tacos and sliders that marry two popular styles of cuisine:  Mexican food and barbeque.

Yes, please.

The special Elote taco – filled with roasted corn goodness that epitomizes summer – and the BBQ brisket slider made leaving my air conditioned apartment worth it.  Worth it twenty times over.

The Red Hook Lobster Pound offers classic seafood conjuring up warm beach days, even when you are stuck in the asphalt jungle.

The Connecticut style lobster roll, served warm with butter(!), is the order of today.

My stomach couldn’t take much more, but I had to save a little room for dessert.  The Coolhaus ice cream truck sent me to the edge of nirvana.

First you choose your cookie, then pair it with the ice cream of your choosing.

I chose the Maple Waffle White Chocolate Cookie and the Brown Butter with Candied Bacon Ice Cream.  Heaven.

Lucky for me, I ran into my friends Judy and Peter, who are fellow food lovers.  He chose the classic Chocolate Chip Cookie with Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream; she had the Maple Waffle White Chocolate with the decadent Pistachio Truffle.

And now, I’m off to take a nap.

To find out where you can experience any of the delectable treats above, follow the vendors on Twitter for current locations:

Taim:  @TaimMobile

Mexicue: @Mexicue

Red Hook Lobster: @lobstertruckny

Coolhaus: @CoolHausNY

This year for my birthday, all I wanted was a moment of peace and quiet.

So, I gave myself a full day.   It began something like this:

When you live in a metropolitan city, sometimes you need to flee just to maintain your sanity.  I escaped to Montauk.  About three hours outside of New York City, Montauk is on the edge of Long Island and the more laid back sibling to the tony Hamptons.  The beach offered a respite from my city life.

Afterwards, I checked into my room at The Surf Lodge.  It was very cool.

The room was small, but chic…

…with modern touches throughout the space…

…a chair in here…

…and a chair out there…

…they offered a welcome opportunity to take a load off.

Every room sits on the edge of Fort Pond, and mine was no exception.

Venturing outside and exploring later, I discovered little nooks of fun on the property.

Now, The Surf Lodge is supposed to be quite the party scene, the place to hang out in Montauk.  But on this day, it was mellow and peaceful, for which I was very, very grateful.

My gratitude led me to settle in to some cucumber water and a glass of wine…

…and I took in the view in front of me…

…and to the left of me.

The sky was mostly cloudy, with mist off the water lending a mystical air to the day.  The view was at times breathtaking.

It also made me hungry.  But what else is new?

Perfectly seared scallops with crispy garlic chips and pickled shallots brought me joy.

I consider myself a lobster roll aficionado, and this was quite possibly the best one I’ve ever had.  The lobster was simply prepared…and poached in butter.  The fries weren’t bad either.

A tart but sweet key lime pie topped it all off.

After dinner, I ordered a nice chilly glass of rosé and planted myself on a strategically placed chair to take in the view of the water.  The sun made an appearance after being absent all day, and it blessed those of us on the deck with a sunset.  It wasn’t fairy tale perfect, but it was beautiful.

After the sunset and a few more glasses of wine than I was used to drinking, I was pooped and turned in for the night.

The next morning, I woke up to this.

A view of the Pond and a hammock calling my name.  So I got in.

The Surf Lodge, www.surflodgemontauk.com.

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