It’s hot in the city. I think concrete sidewalks make the temps seem even steamier. That’s the downside of summer in New York City. The upside is that many locals (especially the richer ones) have left town. They are out relaxing in the Hamptons, New Jersey seashore, Adirondacks, Cape Cod and Maine coast.
What makes me happy about that? Reservations! Those written-up-impossible-to-get-into restaurants become charmingly happy to see you on an uneventful August evening. Oh, but do call for reservations, no matter what time of year.
Here are a few restaurants I’ve been to lately and loved. And, if you haven’t already guessed, I am a fish lover.
New Yorkers eat out in restaurants a lot, usually 2-3 times a week. I think the reason is that most of us live in small apartments with tiny kitchens. We dine at hole-in-the-wall faves to fancy places as well as beloved neighborhood spots, which for me is Cocina near Union Square. Is this my go-to place because Jean-Georges himself came up to my table and asked how I liked everything? Not in the least. I would go back for drinks and the crispy chickpeas any day of the month.
As a true New Yorker (lived here longer than in any other city), I adhere to the local tradition of wearing black no matter the season or weather. I admit black is heat-enhancing. Truth be told, I iron linen blouses every Sunday evening so I don’t appear too wrinkled at the start of each day.
When summer starts sizzling, this Witch needs to cool off. I like to do it with an artistic touch of class. Here are my picks for Manhattan cultural spots that have AC.
Metropolitan Museum of Art The cafeteria has a salad bar with specials for kids. Chicken fingers in a taxicab container work for your pre-teens? metmuseum.org
Museum of the City of New York There is a tiny snack bar that will quell immediate hunger pangs, but not give long-term satisfaction. mcny.org
Food and art sums up my August focus. I am incredibly happy not to be doing recipe testing during the heat of August. I feel like a Disney character saying, be happy about small things. I’ll soon be back from Copenhagen with tales to tell.
I know it’s hot and baking might not be high on your to-do list, but you might need to bring something to a party this August. Here is my recipe for Cranberry Blondes.
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups dried cranberries
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Grease a 9” square baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add the egg yolks and mix until well combined.
Measure the flour and salt and then sift directly into the batter. Mix gently until no trace of the dry ingredients remains.
In a small bowl, stir together the cranberries, sugar and orange zest with a fork. Add the batter and mix by hand with a wooden spoon.
Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan, using clean fingers to press it down lightly and evenly.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only crumbs. The top will be golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack for 1 hour; Cut just before serving.
Makes 12-16 bars.