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I’ve been in a funk.

It was a cold, snowy week (though, beautiful!), and my mood matched it.

How many weeks can a person write about feeling off center, unsettled and in a funk?  But, there you have it, y’all.  Sometimes those are days in a life.

But then, in the middle of all that, magic arrives.

You know how when you are in a funk, people seem more rude and insensitive and impolite?  Well, I’ve been just on this side of cranky (okay, who am I kidding? I have been fully entrenched in the cranky zone), and every interaction has seemed heightened, so the obnoxious things (and people) have been irritating at a whole other level.

This is when you need to take care of yourself, treat yourself well and plug up the emotional holes so your beautiful and brilliant life force does not escape.

So, I took myself on a date.

My Saturday evening was spent at Shuko, a relatively new restaurant near Union Square in New York City.  I got to know the team when they were at Neta, which I’ve written about on this blog.  Whenever I see them, it’s always a bit like coming home.  Only with better food.

When I sat down, Chef Nick said, “How can we get you to come in more often?” It’s like when my parents say they don’t see me as much as they would like.  Home.

As I glanced over the drink menu, Jerrad, the general manager, walked over and poured a glass of what he knew I liked to drink without me ordering it. Sometimes you don’t know what you need until you get it.  Home.

I sat in front of Chef Jimmy, who was meticulously preparing beautiful and artful bites of sushi, reading on my iPad.  He looked over at me and said, “Where are your magazines?”  I usually bring a magazine to read as I eat, to catch up on things I don’t get to read during my crazy weeks.  He is never offended and sometimes amused by it, making fun of me for reading so much.  Home.

Over the years I’ve learned eating out isn’t simply about having a plate of food you didn’t cook.  It can be an experience—and when hospitality at its highest level, you feel cared for and fed beyond your belly.

The food, hardly incidental, became a vehicle for care.  I lost count of how many courses there were, absorbed in each bite.  I started off taking photos of each dish, but I decided the experience was better left to memory.  See this crab salad with chrysanthemum?  Attention must be paid.

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And with that, a glimmer of joy began to find me.

Wherever you find yourself this week, I hope you feel fed in all ways that are possible.

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

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In this first week of the new year—better known in my world as the “year of me”—I’ve decided how important it is to spend more time on the things that light me up.

As many of you know, I’m a girl who loves food. Over the last year and a half, I’ve written about it far less that I’d originally intended when I started Goodness, Grace and Grub, and I want to focus a bit more on the Grub.  I thought that subject would be better served if I played with my food in a different space.

So today, I’ve given birth to The Goodness of Grub, an offshoot of this blog.  It’s definitely a work in progress, but I hope you’ll follow along on my food experiences.  You can find the first post here.  It’s all about Lenny Kravitz, not being perfect and deviled eggs.

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While I’ll still write about Grub here occasionally (and, of course, continue to share thoughts on Goodness and Grace every week), the new blog will allow me to expand on ideas in food, including sharing recipes I love as well and taking you along with me as I try out new cookbooks and products.

I hope you’ll join me!

xo, with goodness and grace.

I have a few friends who don’t quite understand my love of food.

They don’t comprehend how when we’re out to dinner something delicious will stop me mid-conversation as I take a moment to be one with the dish.  How the camera roll on my iPhone is not filled with cute photos of my nephew, but instead is the keeper of a deep chronicle of the meals I’ve eaten.  How I can recall the exact meal we had at that restaurant when we first went there six years ago, but I cannot remember what I did at work yesterday.

Because of this, I have moments where I question why I’m friends with these people at all.

On the other extreme, I know people who try the latest, newest, hottest places, but are hyper critical of everything, as if they are the only authority on what tastes good.  These folks remind me of the self-proclaimed “foodies” who are now everywhere, the food groupies who think because they have had bone marrow and uni and octopus that now they breathe some kind of rarefied air.

I don’t fall into this category either.

This week I went to a meeting where early in the conversation the person I was talking to said she craved a piece of chocolate. Coincidentally, I’d brought two squares of chocolate with me, so I gave her one.  She proceeded to have an intense meditation with the square, unwrapping it and putting the square up to her nose, closing her eyes while she breathed in deeply and savored its aroma. Then she ate the square as if it were a four course meal, experiencing every single little bite. She had her extended moment, proclaimed that the chocolate was exactly what she wanted. And then our conversation about the business at hand continued.

I aspire to be that kind of food lover.

The truth is, I’m just a girl who loves to eat.  My earliest memories revolve around food: falling into the apartment when I was five and scattering Skittles everywhere, watching my mother make veal parmigiana—my favorite meal when I was eight years old, before I’d heard of political correctness—and bake a sour cream cinnamon swirl bundt cake with regularity, at ten eagerly anticipating the time when I was older so I could help make Thanksgiving dinner.

I will often plan my lunch while I’m eating my breakfast at my desk in the office.  If I’m running an errand in an unknown part of town, I will research the area for a restaurant I can try while I’m there. I just love food.

When I think of food I love, I dream of things like this extraordinary almond croissant from Petrossian…

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…and its airy, flaky, almond paste filled interior…

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I think of Christmas morning breakfast, where my parents and I make scrambled eggs with vegetables, cheese grits and freshly baked biscuits….

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…and of the equally delicious bowl of shrimp and grits (with a fried poached egg!) from Perilla.

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I’d want to hold onto the feeling that the most delicious French Toast I’ve ever had—from Blue Ribbon Bakery—gives me, in all of its fluffy, custardy, almost ethereal beauty.

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I’d salivate over the chicken meatball and arugula salad from Penelope in the Murray Hill section of New York, its mouth-wateringly juicy meat and the simplicity of the peppery greens dusted by a shower of pecorino cheese…

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…as well as the Sweet Corn and Lobster Agnolotti that I had at Balthazar in September, the epitome of a succulent seasonal summer meal.

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I’d want to recommend my favorite lobster roll in New York City from Ed’s Lobster Bar, perfectly dressed and housed in a buttery top-split roll, with no small part played by the supporting sides of perfectly crispy French fries and tangy house made pickles…

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…and the Truffled Egg Toast from ‘ino, its runny and vibrantly yellow yolk enriched by a drizzle of earthy truffle oil.

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Most of all, I’d pay mental homage to the chocolate chip cookie, crisp on the outside and soft, ooey, gooey on the inside. The most perfectly comforting comfort food of all.

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When I think of the food I love, I want to share it.  A delicious dish just elevates life into something grand, with more unexpected pleasures just a meal away.

I love napoleons. Vastly underrated, woefully overlooked thanks to the éclair, cannoli and the tart, the napoleon is a perfect blend of creamy and crunch, savory and sweet.

They are clouds of pastry yumminess.

They are also my unrequited love.  A good one is devastatingly hard to find. This being New York City, you’d think you’d find perfection on every corner.

Not so much. Ironically, every one I try gets compared to the napoleons of my youth, plucked from the bakery at Von’s, a supermarket in the decidedly un-gourmet town of Reseda, California.

The store’s deli also made a mean three-bean salad…but I digress.

The Von’s napoleon was perfectly iced with a white glaze finely drizzled with a hint of chocolate. The sheets of crunchy pastry were layered between pockets of pastry cream that were lightly kissed with vanilla. It was a six-inch rectangle of rapturous bliss, quickly becoming a decadent teenage comfort food. My mother, God bless her, indulged me whenever I asked for one, though she was trying to stretch every dollar to be able to make her own magic in the kitchen.

Years later when I moved to New York, I thought recapturing that memory would be easy. I mean, New York is the food capital of the US. I searched high and low, but found sad attempts designed to improve upon a French classic. Laced with lemon. Nope. Filled with whipped cream. Uh uh. Raspberry puree on top of the pastry cream. Why is that there??

I’d lost all hope until the day I decided to venture up to the second floor of Citarella on 74th and Broadway. I spotted a couple of the familiar pastries in the bakery case. Having been disappointed numerous times before, I was skeptical.

Are they any good? I asked the woman behind the counter.

The best! she replied.

I don’t know, I’ve had lots of bad ones.

Trust me, she said, these are excellent. Just like they make in France.

I was dubious, but decided to try one. I needed to know what the real thing tasted like. I’d only known Reseda.

Victory!!!  Who knew that Reseda had perfectly replicated a French classic? Citarella’s napoleon was blissful and divine perfection; one bite reunited me with my luxurious adolescent treat. The mix of creamy and crunchy textures made me so happy.  No, no, no; not happy.  Rapturous.  It was pure heaven.

Food rapture is a beautiful thing.

It’s time to celebrate!

I’ve been looking for some inspiration.  Overwhelmed by the madness of each day,  I’m longing to look at life through a joyful lens.  Goodness is in every aspect of life, but we often overlook it in the midst ordinary chaos and craziness.  Or at least I do.

Goodness, Grace and Grub is my attempt to embrace the pleasure that lurks everywhere.  It’s my own personal intervention to move away from the mundane and the inane and towards simple pleasures.  It’s time to pay attention.

In this blog, I hope to share the products and other items that bring me joy (goodness); the intangibles, both small and large, that offer pleasure and awe in the everyday (grace), and the food stuff that transports to the island of hedonism (grub).  I promise to write an inordinate amount about  food – my greatest love.

Since I write this on Thanksgiving evening, I think a great start is to share what I am thankful for this year:

  • I am thankful for my family, who have taught me more about courage and love in the past year than I ever thought was possible.
  • I am thankful for my nephew, who demonstrates the joy of laughter and pure fun without even trying.
  • I am thankful to have reconnected with childhood friends this year that I thought about often, but never thought I’d see again.
  • I am thankful to live in a country where anything is possible.
  • I am thankful for bacon.  And for its distant cousin, chorizo, that elevated my cornbread stuffing to new heights tonight.

I hope you will share the things that make you happy, too.  Goodness is a two-way street.

Join me in saying yes to life!

xo, with Goodness and Grace

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