Sometimes it’s fun to try on a different life. It’s probably part of the reason I love travel so much. Last week I pretended I lived in Brooklyn. Staying solo in a friend’s apartment helped. I had context for the space, I knew a few stories about the meals that had been eaten at their table and the life of the person who calls it home. Armed with a list of recommendations from the true resident, I wandered around Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens reimagining myself and my life as a New Yorker.
Even though I was there just a few short days I had my routine. I’d wake up to white walls beginning to turn blue in the early morning light each day. I’d read in bed, something Montana Tori never does. I’d think about running for a while and finally I’d go running. (Ahh, New York Tori and Montana Tori have something in common). Mostly I ran along the Brooklyn Piers eventually crossing the bridge. Sometimes I ran to Prospect Park. I’d return home and make breakfast. Toast. Always toast. I made avocado toast and toast with local labneh and cherry tomatoes–no peanut butter toast for New York Tori. After, I would shower and think a lot about coffee.
It was hot in New York. Like 90˙F hot. Everyone was outside and everyone was smiling in the surprising spring heat. The friend whose life I borrowed for the long weekend, recommended I look for Ethan Hawke at Blue Bottle on Dean Street. I went there almost everyday alternating between the creamy, syrupy New Orleans iced coffee and a mocha. I just can’t quit milky slightly sweet coffees. I’d sit on the bench in the sun and read some more and spy a little into the lives of the New Yorkers around me. A mom and her daughter dressed in a matching color palette. A student disappointed that she dropped out and now works 7 days a week. A man much older, surreptitiously admiring her. A fellow artist drawing in his journal.
After coffee, I would return to the apartment to work. When it was lunch time I would make a giant salad from all the vegetables I had purchased at the greenmarket. Usually, I had a glass of wine too. I was living on the 4th floor during 90˙F weather but I had the good fortune of making friends with the owner of the wine shop across the street. He suggested, rather urged me to drink a semi-sparkling Greek orange wine in that weather. He was right.
At the conclusion of lunch it was back to work until my mind reached it’s limits for the day. I’d venture out into the buzz of the city evening. One night I had dinner with a friend. Another I tried a vegetarian tasting menu. I cooked too. But more than once I found my way to a neighborhood wine bar for wine. I would sit at the bar imagining my Brooklyn life. Was I writer? A photographer? The doctor I once wanted to be enjoying a glass of wine and a deep breath after a long shift? Was I someone’s partner? A mother? All of these things, perhaps. From my seat at the bar, I watched rosy cheeked patio diners laugh and smile and sip their wine beneath the glow of carnival lights. I envied them a little. And I felt content because sometimes I too am them, just not that night. Another night, a salad on the menu piqued my interest. I knew I should enjoy the beautiful vegetables waiting for me in my fridge but I was intrigued by the combination of romaine with tahini, and I really wanted a second glass of wine. Tahini isn’t even my thing. But as I sweat in my barstool I couldn’t think of anything more delicious sounding. I ordered it. And I fell in love with the salty tahini dressing and the hint of licorice–was that tarragon? I ate it slowly. I drank my wine even slower. I watched the sky turn bright orange between the heights of the buildings through the windows. I read my book about love, true New Yorkers sitting outside under the carnival lights around me. And then I thought about ice cream.
- 1 heaping tablespoon tahini
- juice from ½ a medium to large lemon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt*
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 head of romaine lettuce, local if you can get it
- ¼ of a large English cucumber
- fresh mint (about 8 large leaves)
- fresh tarragon leaves (about 1 large stems worth)
- cooked chickpeas (optional)
- toasted sesame seeds
- thinly sliced radish (optional)
- Combine ingredients for dressing in a small dish and use a fork to mix and thoroughly break up the tahini so that you have a uniform dressing.
- Taste and add more water or lemon to thin. It should be salty.
- Tear romaine leaves and heart into large pieces and chunks and add to a medium bowl. You want them to be on the larger size but not too big to eat.
- Cut your cucumber in half and deseed with a spoon that you scrape along the center. Discard the seeds or you can add them to the romaine, which is what I did to reduce waste.
- Cut each cucumber half into thirds lengthwise. Then cut into thirds again on a slight angle. Again, you want bigger chunks here for both texture and so that you get bursts of the fresh cucumber flavor as you eat your salad. Add to the bowl with romaine.
- Give your mint and tarragon leaves a rough chop and add to the bowl.
- Add a handful of chickpeas, if using, to your bowl.
- Pour about half the dressing into your bowl and toss to evenly coat. Taste and add more dressing as needed, you will likely have extra left over.
- Serve in a large bowl topped with toasted sesame seeds and radish slices if using.