Friday, March 16, 2018

Three Tall Women and Eden Local

My friend Terri makes everything happen. She suggested we see Edward Albee's Three Tall Women in previews (it opens March 29), and eat first at Eden Local. I first saw Albee's play in 1994, when Marian Seldes played the older version of Albee's mother. That was a thrilling performance. This recent performance with Laurie Metcalf, Glenda Jackson and Allison Pill, was even better. Or maybe it's just that I wasn't a mother when I first saw the play, and now I am, and Albee's portrayal of his own mother, at three crucial phases of her life, is withering, powerful and will set your teeth on edge. You definitely don't want your children remembering you this way, but the play is brilliant. Albee called the play "an exorcism." The performance lasts 90-plus minutes, with no intermission. Run, don't walk, to see this play.

Before the play, we went to eat at Eden Local. We shared the pickles, smashed potatoes with thyme and paprika, sprouts and brussels Caesar salad, and roasted cauliflower steak. Everything is organic, much of it is gluten-free and it is all delicious. Go hungry!
510 West 42nd Street, NYC510 W 42nd St. New York, NY 10036

Jennifer Weiner's Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love and Writing

Jennifer Weiner's book of essays, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love and Writing is one of the best books I've ever read. Weiner writes about her middle aged mother coming out, her child psychiatrist father's mental illness, getting thrown off the crew team at Princeton for weighing too much, her experiences with Kurt Vonnegut and John McPhee, her writing process, her grandmother, her ex-husband, her daughters, her pregnancy, her weight, her passion for and arguments on Twitter, her miscarriage, and in one of the final chapters, uncovering secrets about her once loving father she'd rather not know. She is as funny, candid and sharp as Amy Schumer. I just bought two more copies for people I love. Thank you @JenniferWeinerwrites.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Shrimp, Sausage and Polenta

We were in Miami Beach last week and I had a hankering for shrimp and grits. My husband doesn't love that combination and since we were splitting dishes at dinner,  I went without. When we got home, I saw that David Tanis had this wonderful recipe for shrimp, sausage and polenta in the NYT. Are you a David Tanis addict? I am.  His recipes work, without fail. I can't say that about all the food writers I love to read, but I can say that about him. This dish took about an hour to prepare. It tasted great Monday night, I was still eating it for lunch Wednesday and my husband ate it for lunch Friday and I finished it up for dinner Monday night (a week later!). So, it keeps.  I substituted almond milk for creme fraiche, regular Italian sausage for spicy sausage with fennel, and the dish was still magnificent. You will not be sorry.

Polenta and Shrimp: A Marriage of Land and Sea


  • 2 cups polenta
  •  Salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ¼ pounds large shrimp (about 24)
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 8 ounces hot Italian fennel sausage, casings removed (I used regular Italian sausage)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  •  Crushed red-pepper flakes, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary or thyme
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup tomato purée (passata) or chopped tomato
  • ¼ cup crème fraîche (I used almond milk)
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • 2 teaspoons chopped capers (I skipped)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest


  1. Make the polenta: Bring 8 cups salted water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk in polenta, continuing to whisk as mixture begins to thicken, about 1 minute. Turn heat to low and let polenta cook slowly, whisking every few minutes for about 10 minutes. Turn heat to very low and continue to cook for least 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. If polenta gets too thick to stir easily, add a bit of water to obtain a porridge-like consistency. (When finished, there should be no raw cornmeal flavor.) Taste a cooled spoonful, then correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Turn off heat, whisk in butter and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the topping: Heat olive oil in a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add shrimp in one layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, until lightly browned. Using tongs, turn shrimp over, season and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. (Shrimp will not be fully cooked.)
  3. Add onion to pan and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add sausage meat and cook, mashing with a large spoon to let sausage crumble into rough half-inch pieces. Continue cooking for 5 to 6 minutes, until mixture is lightly browned. Stir in garlic, red-pepper flakes and rosemary, and cook for 1 minute more.
  4. Add wine and tomato purée. Simmer for 1 minute and stir in crème fraîche. Turn off heat and check seasoning. Warm a large serving platter. In a small bowl, mix together scallions, capers, parsley and lemon zest.
  5. To finish, turn heat to high. Add reserved shrimp to sausage mixture and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through and sauce has thickened slightly.
  6. Mound polenta into middle of platter. Spoon shrimp and sauce around polenta. Sprinkle with scallion mixture and serve. (Alternatively, place a large spoonful of polenta into individual plates or soup bowls and top with shrimp and sauce.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Eating in Miami...

LogoWe went to Miami last weekend and ate extremely well, thanks to my friend Terri, my brother Mike and our cousin Ben's recommendations:

Kyu Miami, the best Asian fusion barbecue restaurant in the free world. I think this is the best meal we've ever eaten and the mixed drinks were spectacular. My brother recommended we go hungry.  We ate crunchy kale, tuna tartare, sliced hamachi, and beef tenderloin with kimchi (truly extraordinary). Check out the gorgeous murals in Wynwood Gardens while you are there.  I posted a pic of this on Instagram and chef @chefmikelewis commented we should have also ordered the fried chicken. Next time.

Bertoni Gelato: Mind boggling how good this gelato is. I had the dolce de lece and the chocolate hazel nut. My husband and I split the cone. We should have each gotten our own.

Yard Bird: Not for the gluten-free. The most extraordinary buttermilk biscuits served with sweet butter, Llewellyn's fine fried chicken with honey hot sauce, and Brussel sprouts. Go hungry. 

Three Palms Cuban Coffee: Small but powerful cups of sugary coffee. 

We stayed at the Eden Roc. Beautiful hotel on beach with several pools, great gym, surprisingly good, free exercise classes in yoga and "surfing," excellent lunch food outside (try the Brussels sprout salad with salmon), a delightful wait staff, and of course, the great Japanese restaurant Nobu inside. Rooms are lovely and spacious too.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Two of my students mentioned  Washington Black  by Esi Edugyan  in class. One asked the other, "Do you like it?" The other nod...