Now that I’ve eaten chicken feet I’m worried that there’s not much left for me to experience in life. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, so I’ll back up to the days before I indulged in this delicacy.
Just after Christmas the five of us left for our annual trip to New York City to visit Aunt Lulu and Uncle P. In true Glamore fashion the week ended up being a series of exotic meals punctuated by other activities, some successful, some not. The first order of business was to arrange ourselves in the studio apartment, which was markedly easier a couple of years ago when the boys were smaller.
The apartment has a bed, which Bill and I share, and we’ve purchased a blowup mattress that Porter adores. Finn commandeers the sleeper sofa. You’d think that Drew could join him there, but both of them reject that idea. Apparently boys can’t sleep in the same bed after the age of six.
Sleeper sofa extended taking up the entire floor
Blow-up mattress arranged “rocketship” style; design by Porter Glamore (sofa cushions not included)
Fortunately, Drew has an affinity for small spaces, and sleeps on the floor in the space between the front and back of the sofa where the mattress and cushions stay when the sofa is in its usual state.
We don’t know how he wedges himself in there, especially after a meal, but he does and we don’t hear from him again until morning.
Unless I bug him by trying to take a picture.
Deodorant and retainers galore.
One day I took our teenager downtown to look for cool threads while Bill took Drew and Porter to the Apple store and FAO Schwartz. They returned with some “new” toys they couldn’t get enough of. You heard it here first– the Rubik’s Cube is making a comeback, but now you can get on the computer and watch a YouTube video to learn how to solve it.
Meanwhile, the folks who thought up the hackysack have refashioned it by changing its shape and the rules. Voila, the myachi! Instead of gathering in a circle and listening to “Sugar Magnolia” while passing the hackysack, kids today hop on the subway and toss the myachi under their legs or across the seats to each other, being careful not to touch it with their palms. Setting your iPod on “I Kissed A Girl” is optional.
Crowd at FAO Schwartz watching the myachi dudes
Metrodad had given me some restaurant recommendations that we were thrilled to receive because I only let the boys repeat one restaurant from a previous trip. If you’re in the city and need a romantic spot to take a date, Alta would be a wonderful choice. Unfortunately, we had three boys with us, so Bill and I had to sneak in a romantic moment by sending them to the restroom to wash their hands and smooching at the table while they were gone. Although we had a good time with them, we would have had a better time at this particular restaurant without them, given its glowing candlelight, lovely wine list, and overall atmosphere that was more conducive to googly eyes than to breaking up paper football contests.
Alta is a tapas restaurant, and one of the weirder yet delicious dishes was Spaghetti Pepperoncini, Bottarga Di Muggine, dried bonito and shrimp oil and peppercress. We ordered it only because the waitress seemed like she might cry if we didn’t. We didn’t know what Bottarga Di Muggine was, and it sounded menacing, like the head of a crime family, not something you want to twirl on your fork and slurp with noodles. Now, with the benefit of google, I can tell you that it’s dried gray mullet roe, and it looked like thin slices of pink bubble gum perched atop the spaghetti. We loved it so much we ordered another serving. The spicy lamb meatballs were yummy, too.
Some things must be replaced from time to time, and underwear is one of them. The boys sat calmly inside Bloomingdale’s, eating pretzels and playing myachi while Bill and I bought him new underwear and undershirts. We had scarcely set foot in Victoria’s Secret, however, when they engaged in a group freakout, during which Porter slapped his hand over his face and said, “I can’t look while I’m in this store. This is maximum weirdness.” The teenager complained that he wouldn’t be caught dead in a panty shop, and only Drew tried to sneak a peek of the mannequins as we marched the boys to a quiet corner between the elevators and the flannel pajamas (lucky us–who knew?) and instructed them to face the wall and give us five minutes.
“Mom means give her five minutes, because I’m like you. I don’t know what we’re doing in this panty store,” Bill said.
He sat with the boys and discreetly pointed out underthings that caught his fancy, and I snatched them up and paid in record time. That didn’t prevent the guys from complaining about this particular stop for far longer than necessary.
One snowy morning we headed down to the lower east side and were captivated by Guss Pickles on Orchard Street. They had barrels of pickles of all varieties, quarter-sour, half-sour, and so forth. Bill was amused when a woman came up and ordered as if she were at Starbucks.
“I need a quart of half-sour with half half-sour juice and half full-sour juice,” she said.
“That’s quite a pickle order,” Bill said.
“Yeah, my dad loves them this way, and it’s his birthday, so I get them for him as a present,” she said.
We could only think of one person we know who’d be satisfied with a variety of pickles as a gift.
I looked down the street and saw a familiar sign that said “Kaufman,” and something stirred in the back of my mind, and I told the guys to continue eating pickles while I checked it out. Sure enough, it was A.W. Kaufman, a lingerie shop, and I had been there several times with my mom, years and years ago. I walked in and it was as if time had stopped. It’s a narrow space lined with plastic storage bins marked in black writing with brands and sizes: “La Perla 36 C.” I remembered sitting in the one folding chair while my mom tried on nightgowns and it was too much for me, and I cried hard by the counter near the robes. Miriam, who was running the store, got me water and claimed to remember my mom, but she was probably just being nice.
Everything else on the block was posh. Miriam said Fine & Klein, one of my mom’s purse stops, had gone out of business, and she was one of the oldest stores left.
We had other good meals– Italian, sushi, and pizzas. Pam Real Thai was a budget-friendly pre-theater restaurant, where we had crispy duck and crab fried rice, which was one of the highlights of the week. Appetizers, three entrees and drinks for all (including wine) was under $90.
I also insisted on picking up some food off the street one night, for reasons both budgetary and adventurous. That’s how Bill and I ended up leaving the boys in the apartment and walking to 53rd and 6th to pick up some chicken and lamb with rice. I’d read that this particular stand had some of the best street food in the city, and I was determined to sample it. As it turned out, the line down 53rd Street was over 100 people long when we arrived, so we didn’t just “pick it up.” Bill waited for over an hour, making calls and sending emails, while I walked around the block to stave off hypothermia.
That yellow umbrella in the distance is the Holy Grail.
We bought a bottle of wine and brought it all home and chowed down.
We ordered a mixture of lamb (the darker meat) and chicken. It came with rice (it looks like cheese here) and each container had one small piece of pita bread. We also got red and white sauce. It was yummy, although I preferred the lamb to the chicken. I’d recommend that someone purchasing this also buy some pita bread. We bought four containers of chicken and rice and that fed five of us for dinner, three of us for lunch and Porter for breakfast for two days. We still had some left over. At $6 per container, it was a deal.
I may have the only boys in Alabama who are enamored with chopsticks. I cook enough Asian meals that I figured we could invest in something nicer than the wooden ones they’ve stolen from the Japanese steakhouse. That’s how we ended up at Pearl River Mart, where each boy got to pick out his own pair of chopsticks. Porter’s are light blue, and Drew’s are black with a red stripe, and I haven’t washed the others yet. We’ll be using them tonight, though, as I’m whipping up Elise’s Sweet & Sour Chicken so they’re coming in handy already.
Every trip has its pitfalls, and sadly, ours was one we had been quite excited about. Metrodad suggested dim sum at Jing Fong, and we made our way to Chinatown and gave it a go. It was the boys’ first experience with dim sum, and they found some shrimp dumplings and fish balls and pork rolls, but everything was cold and tired. I think we hit the restaurant as they were transitioning from lunch to dinner, or else we didn’t know how to order, or maybe it just really isn’t very good. However, Jing Fong had some impressive chicken feet which were apparently fried and seasoned with five-spice powder. They looked exactly like you would think chicken feet would look:
I remember hearing that maybe chicken don’t have teeth, and I guess I was thinking that meant they’re short on all kinds of bones but I’m here to tell you that’s not the case with their feet. Those toes were crunchy and after I ate one I concluded I’d had enough roughage for an entire week even though I’ll be forty-two in less than two months. On the up side, the meal gave us good reason to say “Dim sum bad eats” for the rest of the day and giggle like maniacs.
New Year’s Eve was the high point. We cooked dinner at Aunt Lulu’s and hung out with her boys, one two and one two weeks old. A cold snap had settled over the city, and Bill and the boys were determined to run in the race sponsored by Emerald Nuts at midnight at Central Park. They’ve run the last two years, when it was relatively balmy out. Cheers to Bill, Finn and Drew for running four miles at midnight with a wind chill of 6. They reported that the champagne at mile two was the consistency of a slushy. Porter and I got in bed and ate chocolate. I didn’t photograph the runners because I didn’t want to lose my shutter finger to frostbite.
And that’s it. I apologize for the inadvertent blog silence. Both computers broke, the refrigerator broke, and I cannot blog on a Blackberry. I’m back up and running now.
Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Glamores Hit The Big City