Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When in Rome...Eat Out

Ok I did not really go to Rome, but have been out of town for a while. When we finally got home I was so tired from traveling to cook so we had to eat out a few nights. That is really not true but I kinda liked sounding petty . Truth is we went to Boston and New York for a week and obviously did eat out there each meal. We had wonderful trip and were all almost glad to get home to a more normal routine. As for trying something new and different, well I have been just throwing something on the grill and adding a salad each night. Until last night, that is.

I had my book club over for our monthly meeting. This month we read the book Cleopatra A Life by Stacy Schiff. I would love to post with great delight the varied reactions to the book, however, not one of us finished it. That might say something about the quality of the book, but I think it speaks more to the things going on in our lives right now. Everyone is busy with grandchildren, jobs, house construction, travel, animals and the general duties of daily life. My Beloved Sister claims that March is just a contrary month and nothing goes as it is supposed to. Since she hates March so badly, I feel it is my moral obligation to call her each March 15, pitch my voice as low as I can get it and say slowly "Beware the Ides of March". I have been doing it for decades and it still makes us laugh. I guess it eases some of the tensions associated with the month. And speaking of the easing of tensions... my new recipes for the day are all about erasing the cares and worries of the day.

While in NYC we went to a really nice show/birthday party at Birdland. The show part was intention and the birthday party was serendipitous. We were going to listen to a Louis Armstrong cover band and Louis' record producer was celebrating his 92nd birthday in the club. It seems he goes there every year for his party and invites a number of guests. He extends the invitation to those like us who just want to hear some really good music. The show was a 5 pm show and we had just eaten a late lunch at a Chilean restaurant a few blocks over. Even though there is a cover charge they expect you to order something, so we opted for liquid refreshments. They had a drink that is their house speciality so I thought "Why not?". I did ask what was in it, but was only halfway listening so this is my finished concoction. I am sure it is not exactly how they make it, but the taste is very close. Also I don't remember what they named theirs so to keep it simple I am just going to call this :

Key Lime Cocktail

3 cups Lime Aid
2 Tablespoons Nellie and Joe's Key Lime Juice
4 jiggers banana schnapps
4 jiggers Triple Sec
4 jiggers vanilla vodka
4 jiggers coconut vodka
1/4 lime

Stir together all the liquid ingredients in a pitcher. Pour in prepared glasses ( see below)

Lime the rims of your glasses and sugar them. Add ice , pour and enjoy.

This was enough for 5 of us to have 2 average size drinks each.
( This is made and measured for a crowd. If you want to make it for one, well you do the math)

The verdict from the crowd was more than favorable, with the exception of my Beloved Sister who declared it "OK".

The second part of my NY experience was my attempt to make Momofuko's famous Crack Pie. What is Crack Pie you might wonder. When Momofuko's opened the Milk Bar ( Pastries and flavored milks) they had a pie on the menu known as Milk Pie. After a few days their customers came in and started calling it Crack Pie because once you had eaten it it was like Crack and you wanted more and more.

We made a destination trip to 56th street just to get the pie. Milk (annex store to the original restaurant and pastry shop) is located inside the Chamber's hotel right across the street from the Argentinean embassy just in case you need to make a quick stop there first. ( We didn't but you never know when it might become vital to go there and if you have to be in the embassy, stop by Milk and have some Pie) The Hotel is one of those small boutique places with huge art books in the lobby. I suppose if you are staying there it is required to stroll to the lobby and browse through the books. ( Maybe people just lift them for exercise) You wander through the lobby and follow the sounds of nothing to reach Milk. After spending 8 dollars for a slice of pie you look around and notice there is no where to eat said pie, so you have to go up to the hotel mezzanine to enjoy it or go out and have your snack on the sidewalk. We chose the mezzanine and sat in extremely LOW cushy chairs that tried to devour us. The $8 slice o' pie is in a little folded pie box and comes with no utensil, so we slid it out of its cardboard coffin and held pie perfection in our hands. The entire slice = about 4 bites. The Hub and I shared one piece and declared it to be one of the best things we had ever put in our mouths. I would have liked to have bought an entire pie, but the $44 price seemed a little excessive, so I did the next best thing, I attempted to duplicate it at home.

When you do a google search for Crack Pie make sure you type the name correctly. My first search led me to instructions for making crack pipes. Though I found the construction of said items interesting it is not something I need or will ever use. A new search led me to several recipes printed online, plus a couple of videos of the actual making process. One was a Martha Stewart show and I forget what the other was ( Today maybe?) I watched them both then compared the recipes I found online. The recipe I am posting the link to seemed to fit what they were doing on the videos best. This is the link and I am not going to type out the actual recipe. It would take me too much time plus you can obviously use a computer or you wouldn't be reading this, so just copy and paste the link. ( If you want to google it make sure you click on the LA times recipe)

The flavor is almost exactly what I remember, but the consistency is a little different. The original crack pie is gooey but not the least bit runny, in fact it is a very dense goo. I am not sure how they get it that way, but it does not happen baking for 15 minutes at 350 then lowering to 325 for 10. Also the real pie is so smooth. Baking as the recipe called for did not completely liquify all of the sugar. I think they must heat the cream and add the sugars to get total saturation, then cool it before adding the melted butter and the eggs. Not positive though. Also, the cookie crumbs in the original version are very, very fine. I would recommend crumbing it in the food processor to a consistency of graham cracker crumbs, or you can do what I did last night. I just bought 2 Keebler shortbread crusts. Yes it might be blasphemy, but it worked and saved me time I did not have to dedicate to pie making.

The pie is very sweet and rich so small slices are suggested. After all the recipe makes 2 pies so you can always go back for more.

The verdict was more than favorable, with the exception of my Beloved Sister who said it was fine but she didn't know what the big whooey is all about. Keep in mind this is the same person who said the play "Wicked" is allright.

I will do both recipes again, but I won't do the pie in the new future. I figure there are about 4 zillion calories per bite!

And in answer to my young friend Anna, " Yes it is delicious and No you do not have to walk around dark and scary corners to get this particular crack."


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