Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ending a new beginning

Sunday, we arose at 3:30 a.m. to send our houseguests from last week back to southern California. Since last Tuesday, Pua and her two daughters, Averie and Caris, had been staying with us while Averie interviewed in the city.

While we've known Pua for some time and gotten to know her well through her comments on her blog, other friends' blogs, and eventually our own, we'd never met her in person. We really liked her, though, and felt as though we knew her already.

So we began talking about what Pua and the girls would like (or not like) while here. Jess gave them expert opinions on things to see and do, places to eat and fun stuff in general. For me, it was more about the food they liked because, you know me, I am all about the food.

We had discussed before they came out that Caris loved pickles and bloody marys and Averie loved cupcakes and margaritas; all things I could do well.

So before they came, I was busy in the kitchen; I made some German Chocolate cupcakes and some banana cupcakes, both of which turned out very nicely. The banana cupcakes, which were my first attempt at banana cupcakes, were rich, moist and very banana-y, if a bit over-spiced. The frosting was the best: a butter and powdered sugar base had just a bit of cream cheese base in it, mixed with mashed overripe banana.

On the drive home from the airport, Caris, Averie and I had conversations over food, discussing condiments (Caris and I share a love of all things condiment), pickles, potato and macaroni salad, and more. I knew this was going to be a fun trip.

When we got home that evening, I knew that they would be hungry, having been on planes all day, but they would have to go to bed shortly after we got home, so I prepared a light salad of lettuce and spinach leaves, with mandarin oranges, pineapple, slivered almonds and grilled chicken. I think they were impressed that they had six types of salad dressing to choose from. Gotta have those condiments!

The next morning, we're getting ready and the coffee is being made. Caris opens the cupboard to get out a coffee mug. As she reached for one of our more unusual mugs, she exclaimed, "Look, Mommy, they have the same coffee mugs as you do!" I just loved that. Just one of many things we would learn that we had in common.

A box had been sent to us by them ahead of their plane trip and we waited on them to be here in person to open it. A set of two beautiful tiki martini glasses, a great Hawai'ian bartending book, coasters, napkins and drink parasols greeted us, along with a CD of beautiful music by Israel "Iz" Kamakawiwo'ole and some scented soaps. We loved all of it! The drink book was full of interesting libations and Jell-O shots that I will have to try, as well as some racily-named ones: Dirty Sanchez, Red-Headed Slut, MILF, and Rough Sex among others.

They all were big fans of the dogs, and the dogs loved them. It was a doggie love fest. Now that they're gone, it's a doggie sulk session.

Wednesday and Thursday were the interview days, so each morning Jess dropped them at the train and they would make their way into the city. We'd pick them up in the evening. The second night they were here, I made Cheddar Burgers with Red Onion Jam, which went over very well in spite of how long they took to prepare. Thanks to Pua, who proved to be an expert bun-toaster, we ate that night instead of the next day! I later learned a couple of shortcuts to preparing the herbs and the burgers took less time the second time around. Note to Brad: you would love these!

Friday night, we had a little party at the house and invited bloggers from around the area who knew Pua. Jess and I had taken the day off Friday so that we could clean and prepare...and we did. Jess planned to grill burgers and dogs, and I made several dips as appetizers, to be served with chips and the FlipSides crackers that Brad had gotten us hooked on when we were in Kansas. Jess had asked Pua and the girls to pick up a cake at the Black Hound Bakery on 2nd Ave in the East Village. We only needed one cake to feed all the guests, but they said that when they got there, they couldn't decide which to they chose THREE of them! Holy cow. There would be cake!

I surprised myself with how well the guacamole turned out, and the watermelon, mango and jalapeno salsa was also a hit. Pua took one taste of it and rolled her eyes. "This is so good...and it's not even hot!" That's because the jalapenos were mild. Maybe too mild. I would have preferred just a bit more heat, and next time, I will probably make it with serranos and jalapenos.

Caris was in the kitchen just before the guests arrived. Sampling the guacamole, she said, "This is delicious. Is there taco seasoning in it?" I laughed and explained that the chili powder and cumin that I used probably made that impression since both are ingredients in taco seasoning. A few minutes later, Averie came in and Caris was encouraging her to try the dips. Averie tasted the guacamole first: "Wow, this is really good. Is there taco seasoning in it?" We had a good laugh over that.

As Averie was tasting the watermelon salsa, Caris was explaining to her what it was. "This is watermelon? No way! We never eat watermelon." It was quite good, if I do say so myself. I'll give you the recipe at the end of this post.

Jess grilled the burgers and dogs to perfection and the food was devoured. I mixed up margaritas, bluberry mojitos and blackberry cosmpolitans to go with it. Caris helped me butter the buns for toasting. The party went very well. Probably one of the most fun parties we have thrown since we've been in this house!

Saturday morning, after a breakfast of light chocolate chip pancakes, we piled into the car and headed east on a tour of the Island. As we do with most of our guests, we wanted to show them all the things that Long Island has to offer, and so we drove out to the south fork of the island, up to Sag Harbor, taking the ferry to Shelter Island and then to the north fork, showing them the charm and history that the east end of the Island has to offer. We stopped in Cutchogue at Pindar, our favorite vineyard, for a wine tasting, which everyone enjoyed. Caris and Averie frolicked in a patch of sunflowers on the grounds of the vineyard. It was a fun afternoon. Leaving the vineyard, we drove on to Modern Snack Bar in Aquebogue, another favorite stop, where we had a delicious dinner. For me, their meat loaf beats about any restaurant's. I think everyone ate too much. I know I certainly did.

Arriving home at about 8:00, I set about to make some homemade ice cream to go with the leftover cakes from Black Hound. But wait! In all this time, I hadn't gotten to make Caris a Bloody Mary! And I make the best Bloody Mary! I asked her if she'd be up for one. She was too full. I can't say that I blamed her. But I was a pest and asked if I could make her a small one, and she obliged my pushiness. She was impressed. Hooray!

I made chocolate ice cream. This was only my second time to make chocolate ice cream in my large freezer, but it was incredible. Way, way better than last time. I think it had something to do with who I was making it for...I was really hitting on all cylinders.

These ladies were such helpful guests, too...each night, they were asking what they could do to help us, they kept things very was just the easiest hosting job. They were so polite and thanked us for each meal, for picking them up and dropping them off at the station, for each trip we made. It was just so...refreshing.

Of the gifts that Pua, Averie and Caris gave us, the two that I especially liked were the glasses and the CD. They were two special gifts of aloha that we will always treasure because they will remind us not only of Pua and the girls but the Hawai'ian spirit that Pua and her family embody.

And so, sending them back, it was the ending of the beginning of a wonderful friendship. We miss you, and we hope you come back soon. And we hope we get to meet Charlie on the next trip!

Watermelon Mango Jalapeno Salsa
2 cups (1/4-inch dice) cubed watermelon, seeds removed
1 cup (1/4-inch dice) cubed peeled ripe mango
6 oz. pineapple tidbits, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded jalapeƱo pepper (about 1 pepper)
1 teaspoon finely minced serrano pepper, seeded, ribs removed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Mix all ingredients together and chill. Serve with white corn chips.


At 12:47 PM, August 16, 2009, Blogger zach518 said...

Sounds like a great weekend. You are makin' me hungry!

At 6:35 PM, August 16, 2009, Blogger Marc said...

WHOOO-HOOO! Brad and Bob can comment now!! Glad to be of service, I'll always love making people hungry...and then satiating them!

At 10:19 AM, August 17, 2009, Blogger Pua; Bakin' and Tendin' Bar said...

The girls and I are STILL trying to work off all the good food you prepared for us! You'd think that all of that walking and walking in the city would have done it, but I think we were all feeling the seatbelts on the plane were a little more snug leaving NY than when we arrived. I went on and on to my sister (the Salsa Queen) about your salsa. When I see her this weekend, we're going to try to attempt it. Wish us luck!

Marc, I love it that you put the okina (the little ' mark) in all the right places when describing the island items AND also in Bruddah IZ's name. It's such a small thing I know, but big to an island girl. It says that you're a detail person and that you pay attention. But then again, after spending time with you and Jess in your world and in your home, that is no surprise to me.

At 9:21 PM, August 25, 2009, Blogger Marc said...

Hey, I am nothing if not a detail person. I am glad you noticed! We are so happy that you enjoyed the visit.

At 9:49 PM, November 22, 2009, Blogger Averie Joy said...

I'm not sure how I missed this! What a sweet blog! Thanks, Marc!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home