The 47 bars of artisanal dark chocolate, that is, which I have been forced to sample over the past three weeks in the name of good journalism. Around the magazine, we all make daily chocolate runs into Karen’s office where the remnants of a round-up on organic, sustainable chocolates have been stashed for morale purposes. When things get really tense, Karen brings a few - 85% AlterEco Dark Blackout or François Pralus ‘Le 100%’ - to the 10am status meeting, hoping that it’s harder to freak out while eating chocolate. It is.
Then there are the Jelly Belly’s - organic, of course - that I had to taste-test on my first day to write a quippy blurb asserting their superior flavor and texture. There was a steaming pot of thick gumbo at my editor Dave’s house that we spooned out of mugs before bundling up and accompanying a gaggle of kids trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, 1950s-style. There were root veggies I roasted on a lazy Sunday after a trip to the local farmers market and ate with crumbles of goat cheese that turned all creamy when topped with a fried egg (organic, pasture-raised, heritage breed, a topic I now know an infinite amount about after researching a sidebar for an egg buyers guide; forthcoming: Organic Life Magazine, January 2016). Seared scallops and kir royale at Bolete, the best join in town, where I regularly (ok twice, but plan to make it a habit) sit at the bar and chat up whatever stranger sits next to me (middle aged gay business man, hipster craft spirits maker) and read my book (A Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion). (Have you noticed? The parentheses are back! Huzzah!)
There have been trips into Brooklyn for soul-satisfying chicken and waffles that Chul, Adam and I doused in maple syrup and devoured as midnight approached and our day of bar-hopping came to a close. And bbq pork hum bao that I was craving so badly that I walked three miles from Port Authority to Chinatown through empty early-morning streets, only to discover one long black hair hidden behind the first bite.
There has been ramen with old college friends and local wood fired mushroom pizza and mind-blowing veggie pho (that people in these parts still pronounce foe). Homemade apple galettes and caramelized onion kale stuffing to christen my new kitchen, which is a work in progress, to say the least.
There was kitschy Greek fine dining - baked eggplant with feta and marinara - shared with my sort-of coworker and our mutual friend my sort-of roommate while we bitched about work, something I haven’t been able to do in a long time.
The farm-to-table cafeteria - a major perk of working at a company who claims to be the home of the organic movement - whose goat cheese, arugula, walnut pesto sandwich single handedly got me through the past week of trying to ship a magazine while the editor and chief changes his mind at the 11th hour about what should be included in the organic vs. conventional wool sidebar on page 24, among other things. Many, many other things.
That time when coworkers sit around the office table at eight o’clock at night and open a good Sauvignon Blanc, then dive into sour Ethiopian injera housed in squeaky styrofoam take-out containers that - when wrapped around spicy red lentils and braised cabbage and stuffed into your face using only your hands - all but erases the stress of an 11-hour work day.
Those True Blue Mediterranean falafel gyros (pronounced jai-roase) we ordered-in on a Saturday when the most panicked among us came in to steal six more working hours from the ever-ticking-down clock that is marching us straight into an immovable deadline that I still have no earthly idea how we are going to meet.
There’s the “Not Your Father’s Root Beer” (5.7% ABV) that I drank - nay, guzzled - at The Broadway Social Cub before striking up conversation with two checked-shirt wearing bros - a personal injury lawyer (“I’m an ambulance chaser, really”) and a nuclear power plant worker (“I just sit in the office, no hazmat suit or anything”) - and hitting the dance floor until midnight with my 24-year-old boss.
But today, all I have to offer you are these cookies. I made them weeks back - another lifetime ago, really - and took them to my book club, which incidentally meets again today, sans moi. I imagine them sitting around discussing a set of articles by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which I think I may have suggested but won't be there to hear about. There'll be cheese and crackers and wine and wine and wine. I'll settle for some chamomile tea and a little bedtime reading on my own - 3,000 miles away - while I imagine what other meals the future might hold.
Nibby Buckwheat Cookies
Adapted from Alice Medrich
Before you get scared off by the buckwheat, let me assure you these cookies are in no way trying to be a health food. The buckwheat is a flavor flour giving wonderful round, nutty notes. Beneath their skin, these are just sugar cookies. I like to eat them cold, right out of the freezer where I store a batch after baking.
1 1/4 cups (5.6 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (3 ounces) buckwheat flour
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cacao nibs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Using the stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine butter, sugar, and salt until creamy.
Mix in cacao nibs and vanilla briefly
Dump in both flours and combine together briefly with your hands. Then crank up the mixer and beat until flours and just incorporated.
Scrape dough onto plastic wrap and form into log (12” by 2” diameter). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Log will last several days in the fridge or several months in the freezer).
Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice cookies off the log, roughly 1/4-1/2” thick, using a serrated or sharp kitchen knife. The key is to get all cookies the same thickness so they cook evenly.
Bake until cookies are just browning at the edges, 12-14 minutes.
Cool completely before eating. (They taste even better once cooled. I store mine in the freezer and eat them cold).