1.29.2010

Barbacoa


mexico city, mexico

There seems to be an unwritten law that going on honeymoons is like joining the Masons... secret and mysterious, and the fewer questions asked the less embarrassing for everybody. ~Martha Byrd Porter, Straight Down a Crooked Lane

This time last year, András I were on a plane bound for Mexico City, en route to our honeymoon. When we arrived, we checked in here, in a plain but perfect room flooded in light with an old footed tub in the middle.

The next day, our friend Nick had arranged for his cousins {and now our friends} Mary and Ro to take us for a day of authentic eating, starting with barbacoa at 8 o'clock am Sunday morning. From what I had read, barbacoa was something like barbecue, though that description hardly does the trick. Mary and Ro took us on a drive 30 minutes to the far side of the city {which side I couldn’t tell you} through unkept residential roads and alleys far from chic Condessa. Soon we were standing before the scene above ordering steamed, simmered hunks of meat lifted from a maguey leaf-lined pit, chopped on a smoothed old wood stump, weighed and served by the pound.

We hadn’t told them András is a vegetarian, though it didn’t matter. Barbarcoa is served with dozens of hot corn tortillas made by the magic of young hands that move like a dance over hot cast iron barrels, releasing the steamy golden disks into stacks.  Our appetite for masa awakened ravenous gratitude for their craft. We returned to their barrels over and over to watch and to refill our emptied basket, washing it all down with salsa, cerveza and hot-sweetened coffee. 





The moment was as unfortgetable as the meal, an ancient tradition seeped in the colors of Diego Rivera’s Mexico, the steam that soaked the air with stewed meat and the painterly quality of it all that appeared on film through the old camera I’d taken with us, leaving us with a longing for Mexico, with all its secrets and mysteries.

1.21.2010

B is for Brooklyn {and beer}



brooklyn, ny

Last night, on north 11th street in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Brewery released the latest in their Brooklyn Brewmasters Reserve Series, Cookie Jar Porter, a smooth malty brew rich with the familiar flavors of oats and raisin. I'm not sure what I enjoyed more, the taste on tap or the actual cookies they were inspired by {from Feed Your Soul Bakery}. Both were DE-licious. The truth is I never met an oat I didn't like. If you're not careful, I'm likely to put oats into parts of your meal you never dreamed possible. But I still believe they they are most at home on the sweet side. Last month I dreamed up an oatmeal bark with a dark chocolate coating, layered it with bananas and an oatmeal-infused cream fool-style and called it Fool of Oats. Get it? Full of Oats? Anyway, the Food Network Magazine, where it appeared in the current issue, called it a parfait. Call it what you like, you can get the recipe here.

Oats aside, my favorite part of the the Brooklyn Brewery is their collectables -- bottles that date back to when Brooklyn brewed the world. Brooklyn was once home to almost 50 breweries, the first of which made its home there in 1822. Sadly, the industry went flat by 1976, when every brewery, including the 11 on a 12-stretch block from Bushwick to Williamsburg called Brewer's Row, had closed. But local brewers like Brooklyn Brewery, Six Point Craft Ales and Kelso of Brooklyn are giving the borough and its beer culture a welcome revival. And with all those grains {oats, wheat, barley}, that's a revival even the most health conscious among us can get behind.

1.11.2010

{icebox}



porva, hungary

After our lagzi, when we had hand-washed all of the dishes, eaten the last of the goulash, simmered the remaining sour cherries and said our goodbyes, we prepared to close up the house for the summer. Just before we left, I went to pull the plug on the refrigerator, but realized there was still some fagyi {ice cream} left in the freezer.

“We should empty this, save energy while we’re gone,” I said.

But András, knowing his parents would be coming and going as guardians of the house while we were away, convinced me to leave it running.

A few months later, I headed back to Hungary to begin working on my citizenship, and check in on the house. After a day’s work in the yard, planting cherry trees and trimming the windows in paint, I headed into the kitchen for a snack. I opened the freezer door, hoping to find some leftover fagyi, but found instead a dozen little frozen, pale pink packets in a shape I couldn’t quite make out. I reached in, and my hand made a quick recognition of a little backbone. Mon Dieu, the csirke! I shut the freezer, swallowed hard and forced a smiled at András mother who was looking on; then returned to the yard where the csirke once roamed to find pulyka {turkey} prancing in their place.

Such is farm life.

1.06.2010

Country Chicks, City Chick


porva, hungary

Csirke, which means chicken, was the very first word I learned in Hungarian. I'm not sure how or why, since between András and I, we eat chicken rarely to never, but by the time I made my first trip to Hungary with him, this word was planted firmly in my vocabulary.

On that first trip, we visited András’ nagymama {grandmother}, or Mamma, on her farm in Porva, next door to the tiny house that would become ours. I fell in love with her, her strudel, her land which she farmed by hand in the late afternoons, and the csirke that ran around her backyard showing off their clean coats like pompous city pups. Their presence gave this land that to me seemed to me more fairy tale than working farm an unmistakable authenticity.
Since that first trip, I always visit the hens, happy as larks laying their eggs for our table, and whisper them thanks. We owe much to them.
Nine months after our wedding in Virginia, András, his parents and I hosted a Lakodalom {wedding party} or Lagzi in our backyard in Porva just yards from the little chapel where we laid Mamma to rest earlier that week. At dinner, her csirke ran around clucking beneath our wedding table of kolbász and parikas, Tokaji and goulash ladled from the family bogrács that bubbled over a live fire. Just before dessert, I picked up one of her csirke and tucked it into the silk of my dress, now well worn from two of the happiest days of my life. András' father snapped this photo, which turned out to be one of my favorites of the day, which nods at the dichotomy between the city and country life we both adore, and our shared love for those who cultivate life on the land, including Mamma, whom we dearly miss.
Some of our other favorite photos from this day are featured today on The Brides Guide, the Martha Stewart Wedding blog, and we're deeply honored. And I’m sure from time to time, you’ll hear more about that day here too.
As for the csirke, stay tuned.

1.05.2010

le menu {esküvő}


{click menu to enlarge}

Like every bride who loves food, I put a tremendous amount of thought into the meal that would become our first supper as husband and wife. Each recipe had a meaning –Baba Ganoush and labne for the first meal András and I shared; radishes with Kerrygold butter, for my love of France and Ireland; leg of lamb, Dad's favorite on visits to NYC; Potatoes Anya {mother's potatoes} for the meal we eat every time we go home to Hungary; and old-fashioned chocolate layer cake, a nod to Mom's famous birthday cake.

But, no one put more thought into the details of our wedding than my sister, Jenny Goddard, designer, curator of style and creator of Sponge Cake Press, who styled our wedding to a tea. She beautifully crafted our custom {esküvő} logo, our webpage, invitations and these menus which are one of my treasured mementos from this day. One day soon, I'll share these recipes with you. Until I do, may these serve as an amuse bouche.


I do {the first supper}

, Ta





If I could eat every meal in a popular grove in Virginia on a warm October night, sitting at a single table under a canopy of lights with everyone I’ve ever loved, I would. If the table were lit with candlelight and lined with vintage napkins, little boxes of whoopie pies and pleasantries, even better. If could drink champagne and eat stuffed artic char and artisan cheeses and charcuterie and simmered carrots with caraway and chocolate cake with chamomile cream, I would do that too. And if I could sit and talk with András, my siblings, our parents and our dearest friends as the sun fell out of the sky, I would be the happiest girl on earth. But it happened only once. This was our wedding day.
There are dozens of treasured moments and memories tied into every detail of our wedding, from the minute we arrived at the Berry Hill Estate, to the moment we stole away after our last goodbyes to eat our leftover cheese and cake on a blanket somewhere deep on Berry Hill's back 40.
When I think back on that day now, I taste the blackberry cobbler and pickled peaches of our rehearsal dinner that we ate under the sky watching A Knight’s Tale in a courtyard full of boxwoods; I hear dad counting “one, two, rockstep” as we practiced our dance up in a grand old room just hours before he led me down the aisle;


I see the blur of the sparklers that spun in circles in the giddy hands of my nieces and nephew who twirled and whirled barefoot in the dance floor; I feel the world swirl to a stop at the sound of András’ voice telling me “I András, take you Sarah…”

But it is at the table that our life truly began.
One hot summer Saturday in August just a few years ago, András showed up at the front door of my apartment on 21st street. When I called looking for someone to come have a look at the piano I’d been given, I expected someone forgettable. What I got was quite the opposite, a man who before long was sitting across from me at my table eating my homemade babganoush and labne, laughing and lighting up my little world, sending a wash of peace over my bachelorette’s abode. But that is a story for another day.
The proposal happened deep in a forest full of ferns on a Sunday afternoon in May, high in the Hungarian hills near Porva where András spent his summers as a little boy. We celebrated, around his mother’s table, where for the next 6 days the planning began.
In those first days, we didn’t think to much about where we would say I do {Hungary, Illinois, New York?} only about a table, long and loving enough for all of our nearest and dearest to sit side by side as we had our first meal together as husband and wife. It seemed symbolic—the first supper. We talked about what we would serve and why, about who we would want to be there, and mostly about the importance of breaking bread with the people who would come as a show of support for our vow to love, honor and cherish each other.

It’s impossible to get a girl to sum up her wedding day in just a few words. To me, a wedding is made of up many small, magical moments pieced together by minutes and hours that past far too fast and are held dear by the grace of friends and family who humor you when you’re still talking about it a year later. They are preserved by the generosity of curators like Martha Stewart Weddings, who is honoring us today by including our wedding in their Real Weddings gallery.
A wedding is, at the end of the day, a perfect memory. The marriage, on the other hand, we hope goes on on on, moment upon moment, dream upon dream, meal upon meal, starting with this, our first supper.
P.S. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Like so many details of our wedding that were created or borrowed from someone we love, we got the idea for the table from our friends Josh and Doris, who wed the summer before us, and have since moved on to other things {baby}. And, the vintage napkins and candlesticks came from them too. How wonderful to have friends who share.
P.S.S. This is our first dance.


{wedding logos and styling by Sponge Cake Press. images by James Bowman and Nick Pironio.}

1.01.2010

Twelve Grapes {Nochevieja}


hunter, new york
In Spain, revelers bring in the New Year by stuffing 12 grapes into their mouth, one for each of the 12 chimes that sound at midnight from the bell in the town square as the next year begins. It’s folklore that either started as a way to boost grape sales in the bountiful harvest year of 1909, or a way to mock the nobles who consumed their grapes as cava. The gut-laughter it induces is followed by chubby cheeked kisses, bidding the previous year adios. The custom is topped only by the feasts of fish and seafood, capon or lamb for which a Spanish family will spare no expense to mark the year’s end.
In the village of Hunter, New York, two Spaniards, two Americans, one Hungarian and a baby {half Spanish, half American} brought in the New Year with 12 grapes, bad champagne and Martinelli’s sparkling cider around a roaring fireplace at the local inn. Our feast was a mix of Turrón blando {Spanish almond candy} and home-cured pork lomo, courtesy of the Spaniards’ abuela {grandmother}, and Peanut Butter Pandemonium ice cream picked up at the Stewart’s where we made a pit stop on our way into town.
In Spain, families dress to the nines in their own home, sparing no detail of their lavish celebration. At the Hunter Inn, where we hosted our fiesta after a roll in the snow and dunk in the hot tub, attire was pj’s and pearls, inspired by the last minute whimsy of one American who never travels without cocktail jewels and faux furs.
One day, I would love to spend New Year’s in Spain. Until I do, I want to spend every New Years from here to eternity in pearls and pajamas, drinking Martinelli’s cider, stuffing my face with grapes and getting ridiculous with friends whose love knows no pretense.
By the way, that is the baby, Lola, who only looks like her cheeks are stuffed with grapes. She was asleep for the grape stuffing, pjs and pearls, but I'm pretty sure she's cuter than the rest of us. Plus, András says my pj pictures are too skimpy to post here.


My Photo
New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.