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Fennel and Fava Bean Salad

Seattle has always been on my list of places to visit because I’ve heard so many good things about the fresh produce in Pike Place Market. Before starting my new job after 4 years at Fast Company, I flew to Seattle and met with my friend Lily, who flew in from San Diego. We ate for 4 days, checking most of the spots I research and culled from Facebook friends and Anthony Bourdain’s recommendations.

Because spring arrived in the west coast earlier than the east, we ate a lot of fiddlehead ferns, pea shoot leaves, and fava beans. I’m pretty sure that I balanced my sushi overload with all the greens I ate.

Starting anew in New York a week later, I wanted to eat healthier so I stopped by Fairway in the upper west side to fill my basket with a lot of fruits and vegetables. This recipe comes from a Food & Wine Magazine piece that uses some pricey ingredients like pumpkin seeds, shelled pistachios, and pine nuts. I didn’t want to spend any more than I needed to, so I ended up using the blanched almonds I already had and toasted them before crushing them with my mortar and pestle.

olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper
1/4 cup fava beans, shelled from about 15 pods
1 small fennel, sliced thinly
a handful of blanched almonds, toasted, crushed
cayenne pepper

1. Make the dressing. In a screw-top jar, shake some olive oil with the garlic and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Shell the fava beans. Open the pods and remove the beans. In a small pot of salted boiling water, blanch the beans for a minute and remove with a strainer to an ice water bath. Drain and shell the beans. The shells should come off easily and the bright green beans should pop out.
3. In a salad bowl, mix the fava beans with the fennel and the crushed toasted almonds. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and then toss with the dressing.

Summer 2006 Getaway Part 3: Stonypoint and Bear Mountain

After several errands on Saturday morning, we finally made it to the car and started our drive towards the George Washington Bridge. Before reaching Harriman State Park, we saw a sign for the oldest lighthouse along the Hudson River and decided to make a detour. The Stony Point lighthouse was built in 1826 to warn ships coming in due to increased river traffic after the opening of Erie Canal.

Stony Point lighthouse, the oldest along the Hudson River

For $5, we entered the Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site and walked around the grounds where the Americans beat the British during a midnight surprise assault. The view of the Haverstraw Bay was beautiful.

The boats on Haverstraw Bay

We then proceeded to the second largest state park in New York. We read that there are over 200 miles of hiking trails but we couldn’t find trail marks except for a gate towards the smaller Bear Mountain State Park.

We walked along the concrete road until we reached an electric tower and found yellow trail marks on the surrounding trees. We followed those up to the fire tower which we climbed to get a glimpse of the man-made Lake Welch Beach down the hill.

It reminded us of the old radio tower we climbed in Sagada. That was the first time I found out the Dr. has some fear of heights. I was ahead of him ascending this tower, too, and he stopped right below me because his “balls were tingling.” I had to stop laughing to keep the the tower still. He stayed where he was and we enjoyed the view from up above separately.

The Dr. stopped here

Man-made Lake Welch Beach dotted with people

The electric tower from the fire tower

Green, green, green!

Through the forest, we skipped over huge rocks and climbed small hills and made our way up to a stone house. We sat there for a while to catch our breaths and enjoy the view of the river. It was the perfect day for a hike because it was breezy and it wasn’t too humid.

Stone house on top

It took another hour to make it back to our car where we ate a Oaxaqueñan sandwich we bought in the morning. We felt that we didn’t really do anything strenuous but that we got enough exercise because of the ups and downs.

George Washington Bridge before sunset

Still, though, we rewarded ourselves by driving to Flushing and eating Malaysian fare at Sentosa.

Summer 2006 Getaway Part 2: Jones Beach, Long Island

On my way to Jones Beach for the first time this season, the Dr. texted and told me that he will be out by noon. He wanted to tag along. This was a big deal to me considering I was there almost every Saturday last summer. So I packed lunch for two–angel-hair pasta, roasted chicken from the Spanish store down the block and some watermelon slices with a big bottle of water–and met up with him at Penn Station. By 2pm, we were on the beach.

We situated ourselves on my usual spot. It’s less crowded because it’s in between the couples with children and the happy gays, two groups who don’t want to be near each other. We rented a big umbrella and ate our lunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon sunbathing and reading clips from The Times while the Dr., well, slept and slept.

Four hours later, we got stuck on the road because of a car accident along the way. The ten-minute shuttle bus ride to the train station took more than an hour. We caught the 8pm train back to New York City and had dinner at Grand Sichuan before we trudged back to Harlem. Our sunny Sunday went as quick as the Boston Kreme doughnut the Dr. bought for me while in Long Island.

Angel-Hair Pasta with Summer Vegetables

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

angel-hair pasta
3 large vine-ripe tomatoes
a handful of grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tbsps lemon juice
fresh basil chiffonade
3 small squash, cut in smaller pieces
a handful of haricots verts, trimmed
a handful of sugar snap peas, trimmed
salt and pepper

1. Using a mortar and pestle, crush garlic with a pinch of salt into a paste. Set aside.
2. Cook beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for less than 4 minutes. Shock in iced cold water to stop cooking. Drain.
3. In another pot of boiling salt water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain.
4. In a large bowl, grate tomatoes using the grater’s largest holes, discarding the skin. Toss pulp with grape tomatoes, garlic paste, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add the vegetables and the pasta and toss some more to combine. Sprinkle with basil.

Summer 2006 Getaway Part 1: Bedford, New York

Let me sleep until 10am and I will drive you wherever you want, was the only request from the Dr. on Saturday night. To honor this, I quietly got out of bed at 8:30am on Sunday, cooked the leftover paneer cheese in the fridge from the Newar chataamari recipe last Friday and concocted an egg breakfast with it and bacon. I made iced coffee to complete. At exactly 10am, I returned to the bedroom, jumped on the bed and woke the Dr. up like it was Christmas morning.

Scrambled egg with crumbled paneer

We’ve talked about using his car this summer for quick getaways until he has to ship it back to Los Angeles but we haven’t been able to plan a weekend together. I’ve been wanting to hike somewhere close by now that Vermont is no longer at the tips of our fingers so I’ve been gathering some driving directions for him to look over during his free time. (I’m the planner, he’s the driver!) He graciously woke up after I made a racket, shot down my idea of a 2-hour drive to Saugerties but agreed to the half-hour drive to Bedford, right along the Connecticut border.

After finally realizing where he parked his car–the Dr. usually has spurts of memory loss when disturbed from a deep sleep by a Filipina girl–we started the drive to the Mianus River Gorge Wildlife and Botanical Reserve. The day started out cloudy but after noon, the sun started to peek in through the tall trees. It was an absolutely gorgeous day for a walk in the forest.

Off the trail was the Havermeyer Falls

The Mianus (plenty of Jackass jokes, I know) River Gorge Preserve was the first Nature Conservancy Project back in 1953. Hemlock, beech and oak grow in the highland areas and mushrooms multiply abundantly. The ground was soft and the moss was all shades of green. We walked about three miles to the top where we were rewarded with clean, fresh air and this view of the gorge:

We continued down half a mile and reached the end of the trail. The water seemed pretty high because of the recent rain but nevertheless, it was a peaceful sight. A total of five miles later, we were back in the parking lot. It wasn’t the green mountains of Vermont but upstate New York served us well.

Formed by the rushing waters of the Wisconsin glacier about 15,000 years ago

Back in the city, we decided to eat a late lunch in the Bronx since we already had the car out. Unfortunately, the market on Arthur Avenue was closed so we ended up eating tacos from a Mexican dive on Crescent Avenue. They were delicious with our Negra Modelos even though the waitress, the owner and the cook were all standing in front of us while we ate at the bar. (They were curious as to what brought two Asian people in their restaurant.)

When we finally made it back to Harlem, we decided to stop by the Fairway on 12th Avenue to stock our fridge with fresh summer produce. I can’t believe I’ve never been there before! Like the other Fairway in the upper west side, the aisles are tight and claustrophobic but the main reason to go is the meat and seafood freezer room where you have the option to wear a jacket to protect yourself from the cold. You push your cart along the rows and rows of nicely cut meat. I had brain freeze just deciding which cut of veal to buy. Unfortunately, the seafood counter is small and they didn’t carry live crabs but every other cut of a cow and a pig were in there.

All kinds of steak; take a pick!

Cheese? How about some cheese?

The summer produce was equally nice. None of the fresh herbs soaked in a pail of water. No showers to make the fruits look shiny. Just in-season fruits and vegetables. I found some beautiful golden beets and haricots verts and remembered a Gourmet magazine terrine recipe back at the apartment.

The Dr. grabbed a bag full of arugula, nectarines and pears and helped me select a shoulder of veal for five dollars. Dinner later that night was delicious. I used this recipe and replaced the frisée with the arugula and substituted the walnuts with crushed hazelnuts. The veal took about eight minutes per side right under the broiler. A bottle of white wine was the perfect match.

Arugula with pear and mustard-sherry vinegar dressing

Veal shoulder tastes like offal because of all the blood running through that part

All of a sudden, waking up before 11am during his rare day off from the hospital was worth it. I can’t wait to make another racket next weekend.