Category Archives: The Cub & The Cougar

C&C Dinner Party Series: Dinner Party To Go

Besides our shared love of food, the Cub and I share a fascination with other cultures and the travel that takes you there. Years ago as an upstate girl, the local grown hometown boys held no interest. I dreamed international! Another recurrent dream was imagining what was beyond all the trees along the thruway to the Big Apple and farther. Choosing to go to college at Georgetown University located in the very international city of Washington, D.C. was a huge departure from my family. Later, not content with the U.S., I lived in the south of France with my daughters at a moment when I needed the Atlantic Ocean between my husband and me.

Today my travels are limited due to lack of resources and a focus on school.Every negative can become a positive as this forces me to make hard choices about how I use my few travel dollars. I’ve decided that there is no DR in my future but there will be a priority on making visits to reconnect with my friends who live around the world. A huge appeal of travel is the exposure it offers to new cuisines. My belly still remembers the trip to Hanoi with JuJu, eating the best pho at street stalls, squatting as Asians do, around small plastic tables on the sidewalk on child size stools. Personally I’d love to see the Porcupine at such a meal!

I also remember the trip to Morocco for a mechouia in honor of friends’ first born son. Since these very friends live in our building, I wrangled a dinner invitation to their spacious, impeccable apartment so the Cub could talk Morocco, the site of his upcoming trip. C&C made the food; power couple provided the drink from their sizable wine cellar. BM was born in Morocco and spent his formative years there as a “pied noir”. This term refers to people of French (or other European) ancestry who lived in French North Africa, often for generations, until the end of French rule. He reminds me of the French actor Gerard Depardieu in bulk and appetite. MH-M takes a hyphenated last name as she is the real power in the couple and won’t be defined merely by her spouse’s ancestry. She’s German and a powerhouse like a BMW.

What’s nice about this dinner to go on a Sunday night is all it requires is taking the elevator three floors up. Since we were there for Morocco, I wanted lamb on the menu. Have you seen the price of lamb loin chops lately? At $21.99/lb with BM’s appetite and their teenage son (of mechouia fame), I settled on perfectly acceptable lamb kebobs from Whole Foods for outdoor grilling on their balcony. (MH-M prefers her meat organic.) The menu was a reflection of summer as a watermelon salad with feta, olives and red onion rounded out the main course. Despite not really liking watermelon, this salad has become one of my favorites. The lime juice softens the red onion; the feta and olives add saltiness and the watermelon is crunchy and watery at the same time. This is a salad that needs to be consumed asap so don’t make any for leftovers. The Cub contributed dessert in the form of pistachio madeleines and a raspberry clafoutis. Very pied noir as a marriage of French and Morocco inspired menu. BM insisted on adding a cheese course. Mais oui!

The evening was inspiring for reasons besides the food and travel. I have known this couple over the span of my marriage which represents a very long time. What is remarkable is that they have not let their fire go out. When you are in their company, you still see evidence of a spark between them. They are opposites in many ways and use this to tease each other playfully rather than impose change upon each other to conform to their individual expectations. They accomplish the impossible in human dynamics by making their differences a source of delight rather than the source of conflict and strife. They seem to genuinely to like each other and have found a balance between their personalities that most couples never attain.

I certainly missed the mark with this in my marriage. Always futilely hoping that we’d grow closer once the children were grown and money worries diminished, we simply grew apart and he fell into someone else’s arms. It was the children who kept us together and when they left, we fell apart. In truth, we never really had that spark, that dynamic that keeps you interested in another human being as forever fascinating. It’s no surprise they call it the Tinder app because spontaneous combustion between people can happen. Today I’m hopeful in another way more like a tornado waiting to meet a volcano or two force fields of equal energy between two people who come together in strength. Alas, I still can’t imagine him being an American guy, and as the Cub suggested, may have to wait for his appearance when I teach abroad. Apologies to Eminem, but in honor of the relationships that last, that keep on growing and adding to the flame in a positive manner, I offer another song, New Flame. But then again I could watch Chris Brown and Usher dance all day.

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CC Dinner Party Series: Dinner with Miss Universe

Since I am frequently lamenting the lack of a “dinner party” mentality in New York City social life, Brian and I recently decided to entertain “chez nous” with greater regularity.  That this coincided with the onset of colder weather works for us. Since our mentalities meet at around age 40, he was open to my suggestion to have a “Miss Universe Pageant Viewing Party” this past November.  A few of my friends came, those who weren’t otherwise busy having migraines or too tired to walk 5 blocks, so Brian and his betches rounded out the party.

Part of the joy of throwing a party, a bash, or a shindig is the preparation.  I actually love the hustle and bustle of making the apartment ready to receive guests.  Since I love Chiaroscuro, the lighting, appropriately dimmed, gave it all a soft glow, including me. The menu, previously discussed in detail between us, focused on a communal meal to be consumed while gathered together around the TV.  Could you guess that we had cheese fondue? It was accompanied by a simple green salad and a healthy choice olive oil-ricotta cake with concord grape coulis.

Watching The Miss Universe Pageant is actually a tradition that dates from my married days. I’m not sure why this took hold but I think that it was rooted in having other couples over for dinner and the pageant happened to be on.  Those guest in finance and law became characteristically competitive as we wrote lists of our Top Ten, narrowed it down to finalists and gave a running commentary about bust size, national costume, evening gown choice.  It was catty and bitchy and fun which never goes out of fashion.  Those who accurately predicted the winner were a little smug about spotting a real beauty among all those beauties.  Did they feel like Donald Trump (the current pageant owner) who in real life has made a career out of finding beautiful women?

Although it is certain that some of the male species (excluding Brian and those of his persuasion) watch these pageants through the lens of fantasy, that night we women were grounded in reality.  A few of us commented on the irony of happily lapping up bread and cheese, washed down by a dry white, while women with perfect body proportions (surgically enhanced we opined) paraded before our eyes in swimsuits.   We were appropriately snide about Steven Tyler, Tara Lipinski and Melanie Brown’s (oh Spice Girl what have you become?) B-list slide into irrelevance on national television.

At the end of the evening, Gabriela Isler, Miss Venezuela was crowned Miss Universe 2013 and later accomplished her first duty to pose in a ruby cum diamond encrusted swimsuit.  Although it was near unanimous among our group that Miss Ecuador should have won, I noticed that Miss Venezuela owned the crown from the start.  She acted as if she was Miss Universe already and the universe obliged her fantasy.   That should instruct us to think seriously about our fantasies so that we make them come true.

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CC Dinner Party Series: Holiday Fête

With Christmas lights illuminating this already luminous city and frigid weather once again gripping the Big Apple, another C&C Party was necessary to bolster a little holiday cheer amongst betches and cougars alike. It snowed the day of our party which added to the allure of our decorated apartment, filled with smells of baking cookies mixed with Frasier fir and set to the tune of a medley of Frank Sinatra Christmas classics and Ke$ha.

Now it’s established that Nancy and I are overachievers. But we really did outdo ourselves this time. I think we propel each other to be excessive. Surrounded by our mounting dishes planned and executed to perfection, we thought quite simply: our friends are lucky.

To start we had a medley of cheese, nuts, dried figs and apricots from Zabars. Of course we went a little overboard and splurged on 7 French cheeses (most of which was eaten after the party). I made a white bean dip, seasoned with sage and rosemary, drizzled with white truffle oil. Too decadent? To follow, Nancy made a mushroom mousse which was really the star of the night and I accompanied the mousse with sweet potato crostini sprinkled with capers.

But dessert is always my favorite and it did not disappoint. We made stacks of 4 different types of cookies (Peanut butter thumb-print, Mexican wedding, Caramel blondies, and Spicy Gingerbread), a three-tiered Bordeaux red velvet cake, and a tiramisu. Needless to say we had some leftovers.

Of course we had to spice up the evening with a slightly racy Yankee Swap Christmas exchange. I opted for the most sexual present provided by none other than Éva and Nance got an appropriate “Boudoir Diaries” book picked out especially for her. We decorated the tree with Nance’s beautiful Italian crystal ornaments and I of course had to indulge in a few photoshoots.

As we prepped for almost 24 hours before our holiday fete, we thought to ourselves is the dinner party becoming a dying art? How many people in NYC really cook so extravagantly and entertain their friends these days? I suppose I’m just too bougie and too much of an old soul for my age, but I personally enjoy sharing food with my friends. Mind you it can be expensive, but it was my Christmas present to les betches this year, a labor of love for those we love. It may be a dying art but in my opinion it ups one’s personal stock. Until the right man sweeps this cub and cougar off our feet, we will continue to shower our friends with good cooking in exchange for good company and nights well spent.

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Introducing C&C Dinner Party Series: Summer Soirée

To add to our bougie laundry list of things that we have in common, Nance and I are both masters in the art of throwing dinner parties. And it is an art. Make the often elaborate menu, time when each course will be ready, orchestrate what guests are bringing, ensure your invited guests mesh to create fluid conversation chemistry, etc. It must be from the years of helping my mother throw dinner parties for family friends, but regardless, I for one enjoy entertaining the people I love and treating them to fancy fare. You’ll find that even though I’m in my 20s, I have taste that surpasses my age… and salary.

Recently to kick-off the start of the blog, celebrate friendship, and toast to a few other momentous life-happenings, Nance and I hosted a Summer Soirée. The food served was decadent yet lite, the company arrived well-dressed, and wine, champagne, and hard liquor flowed freely into Nancy’s Reidel glasses as we discussed life.

Don’t think that we cater. Both of us could easily add chef de cuisine to our resumés.  While Nancy’s braised Veal Osso Bucco still makes my mouth water, I’d like to think my Nutella Banana Brioche Bread Pudding can change your life. Just to give you a tease: we started the evening with beet pesto served on parmesan crisps, followed by a caramelized garlic-goat cheese tart, finished with a plum and ginger cobbler to keep it summery and fresh… Yes, we’re both single.

As the wine and champagne bottles popped and kept popping, the idea of a game of never have I ever came up. No kings, circa college, just a standard, fingers up, let’s get to know our friends a little better game. After giving Nance a DL as she had never played before, as per always, the game turned sexual almost immediately. Ironically I was the first to get out, less indicative of my sexual prowess and more so of being an easy target. Of course Nance did not fail to upstage my friends… I’ve mentioned she’s a legend and for now I’ll leave it at that. Let’s just say that there a few things that I still need to learn from this cougar.

Nance-Brian dinner parties have been established as re-occurring, wonderfully-bougie events. Who’s up for being on the next guest-list?

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