Every summer sure is memorable. Filled with scheduled back-yard cook-outs turned full bashment by sunset, every food and music festivals you can think of that fall on the hottest days here in NYC and my traditional weekly strolls through the city’s green markets. Experiencing the farmer’s market in the summer reminds me of home. Trips to Marabella market, an outdoor market made cool with the large steel beams that hold up its sturdy roof covering about an entire block of vendors. Just one town over from Gasparillo, Ma and I would leave home early Saturday mornings to catch vendors laying the last cassava to complete their cassava pyramids. A level of pride had to be felt after stacking colorful vegetables and ground provisions in attractive heaps adorned with handwritten signs showing its worth that left their hands muddied almost proving how fresh the produce was. Or Ma’s ‘egg lady’ turning the first page of the daily newspaper as she sat high on a stool surrounded by tall towers of crated eggs. I also remember having legit good-ass bonding time and intimate conversations with Ma, or daddy as we went on these weekly excursions.
First stop for the Summer, another James Beard House Event featuring Caribbean chefs. I never thought I’d be eating pig tails, jerk confit duck and sipping on spiced rum with so much beautiful and talented people of color at the Beard House.
One of the many trip to the green market, I love that place!
Another born and raised island girl, an Accounting and Real Estate professional on the go Sarah agreed to meet with me, to bond as we walked and insta-storied our way through the ‘L’ shaped market of colored tents with offerings from local fresh produce, flora, meat and poultry to gin made from sugar beets and the most refreshing white grape juice she and I have ever tasted. Sarah joined in the conversation chorus with my other friends in telling me to push forward and don’t give up on my goals. I told y’all every summer is memorable.
With its highs of travelling back to Trinidad in late June to powwow with my friend Sonya about the two-year anniversary of her roaming, farm-dining pop-up dinners in Trinidad and Tobago–Our Moving Table and my pop-up dinner that was slated to happen July in Wisconsin. To share the news of me starting a new job with my family. Oh, how happy I was to make more money and be released from the love/hate grasp of the public accounting world in hopes of enjoying work/life balance-which to me might be a myth.
To heading to Paris late August to celebrate my 32nd birthday and to recover from the worst six weeks of my professional career at the said new job. So, if you read my post often this was the anxiety forming (appetite suppressing, acne causing and sleepless nights) reason to my short hiatus this summer. My trip out of the country did me good. I didn’t plan on eating my way through Paris and my weekend stay in London though, I am proud of the weight I’ve lost so far and didn’t want to go crazy while being away from reality. I planned on observing how Parisians live, what they eat actually what they cook at home to eat and have my creative juices flow again. Can’t say I was successful in tapping into Parisian home cooking, as I’m sure they, like me can survive on fresh baguettes and good Camembert cheese. Oh, and fresh orange juice that read “made with three oranges” on the bottle’s label, a far better read than “made from concentrate” eh!
I’m happy to have gone to Paris. To me, it doesn’t beat the island hopping I love to do. Though I doubt I’d be able to see Gregory Porter and his full band perform for the equivalent of 36 euros any where else.
I didn’t mind not cooking while in Paris though my friend who hosted me at her hill-top apartment where on beautiful days with clear skies sighted the top half of the Eiffel tower offered to cook up a Tunisian spread. We ended up back at the Creperie visited on my first day in Paris for dinner that night. Even the mornings when I promised to fry the simplest of eggs to have with croissants, those plans changed as I quickly ate the croissant to head out into the street of Paris to explore! Paris was a great place to get my mind right, for five days I walked so much, not only to sight see the historic monuments, famous buildings and try every macaroon in and around the first ten arrondissements of Paris’ 20 arrondissements but to come to terms with how interesting my 32nd year had started and how well I was taking this involuntary but inevitable time off.
Morbihannaise Crepe and Apple Cider from Bretagne.
First course of seared fish
I had no choice but to take setbacks I was experiencing with a grain of salt. I told myself doh study it, I was well on my way to having both feet outside my comfort zone this summer. Scary for me but you know what, it felt really good.
After a whole week of over thinking and doubting my abilities after I answered the call for a wanted chef’s assistant. I sharpened my knives and walked into the kitchen of a popular uptown restaurant to assist Chef and Author Asha Gomez cook for a private dinner at the James Beard House. No biggie I’d be chopping lobster meat for a chef that a week before was featured in the New York Times as they journeyed together back to her birth place Kerala, India to re-discover the delicious food and culture the southern Indian state offers. Yip no biggie.
Chef Asha Gomez and I
Chef Jason Howard from Barbados and Digby Stridiron from USVI. They were just two of the six chefs being honored at the James Beard House that night.
Happy not to have squandered this opportunity for those two days spent with Asha and the other amazing chefs being honored at the private dinner was such an amazing experience. One I had been looking for to reiterate to myself that even though I love single life cooking, I can make delicious grits for the likes of Spike Lee and other esteemed guests, work and learn with award winning chefs too. Asha gave such good feedback to the assistance she received and insight to services I didn’t think of providing. Tons of usies, I formed new friendships and had the best damn curry ice cream I’ve ever eaten. Oh, and that self-doubt thing I was battling with before, we parted ways.
This summer, though with its setbacks had so many high moments. Oh, My God do I have amazing friends or what!!! Can’t tell y’all the countless meaningful phone and video calls, car rides, lunch, dinner and central park dates where we’d speak so about this… adulting thing man, and the yummy foods we’ve eaten along our way to greatness. I’ve had hard conversations with myself, about my career as an administrative professional and chef. Written and re-written short and long-term goals on the large sticky paper on my bedroom walls-they total five altogether. All that jazz to say I 100% believe in myself – no more back and forth, pushing forward, continuing to do the things that make me giddy with excitement and leaves my brain racing with ideas when I should be sleeping. This summer vibes better be an all-year thing because I’m looking forward to closing the year on high.