I’ve been hit by an attack of laziness since finals ended. After pulling three all nighters, sifting through thousands of pages of research, writing 40 pages, completing an exam and working at baked through all of it, I kind of feel like I’m allowed to be a couch potato. I was really looking forward to vegging out at my parents’ house in Connecticut, drinking lots of tea and spending time with the friends I grew up with—people I don’t see all that often but feel like family. I’d also see my actual family—parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and lots of cousins. Then after Christmas, I’d head out for the highlight of my vacation: a return to South Africa, where it’s hot and summery right now, and more friends, family and good food await.
Well, I got to see some of my extended family, and some friends as well. I had an amazing Christmas Eve dinner at Ferme, a restaurant where my friend Ian is the sous chef. But when the weather reports confirmed that we were going to get hit hard with the blizzard, I packed up my bags, skipped my big family Christmas and headed down early to NYC to avoid getting snowed in. And I’ve been here since then, holed up in a hotel room in Brooklyn. I did venture out into the snow yesterday with Jing, grabbing a quick bite to eat and visiting some of my favorite Brooklyn spots from my old neighborhood (specifically Café Pedlar and Pacific Green Gourmet) and some new spots (Brooklyn Fare, which is not quite what I expected but is a welcome addition to the neighborhood anyway). We retreated, though, when the wind gusted to 50 mph and it approached full-on whiteout conditions. I’d never seen snow this bad before, and it didn’t bode well for my flight. My initial departure was delayed, giving me a two-day holiday in Amsterdam before I’d be able to get on the next flight to Cape Town. Then that flight was cancelled, and an alternate flight was found that would depart the same night and keep my Amsterdam mini-break intact. When that was cancelled, the next best option was for me to fly out of Boston on Wednesday, two days after I was supposed to leave and a few hundred miles away from where I’m sitting right now. Tomorrow I’m packing up again, heading back to Connecticut and then up to Boston. So much travelling! In the meantime, though, I’m in my hotel room, everything around me closed, all of my books read, and going slightly crazy from lack of things to do. Not that I don’t love writing here at POR, but it’s been a bit more brain power than I’ve felt like exerting over the past few days … until now, because I’m out of options to distract myself (and rapidly exhausting even this one. Damn).
I give you, then, tomatillo and fuyu pico de gallo. Inspired by a craving for pico but a genuine fear of winter tomatoes, I decided to use some other ingredients that aren’t quite as unappealing during the colder months: fuyu, which are actually in season now, and tomatillos … whose growing habits I know absolutely nothing about but always seem to be around the grocery store. Pictures are scant because I made this at night when the lighting is very bad, but also because I didn’t think I’d post about this until I served it with frijoles negros, brown rice and avo the next day for lunch and was surprised by how nice it looked and tasted. You could just as easily do this with shredded chicken, pork, shrimp (other meats will be too intense for the delicate flavors of pico and fuyu), or even tortilla chips, but I was in need of an actual meal, feeling lazy (do we sense a pattern here?) and meat averse. I was so lazy I didn’t even cook my own rice, instead buying the frozen packets from Trader Joe’s, which I have to say are phenomenal. The warm beans and rice, plus the heat from cayenne pepper, are all welcome in the cold, but the bright notes of citrus and fuyu add a clean, fresh element to the meal that helps to alleviate the short, grey days without making you feel weighed down.
Well, I’ve stretched out this post just as long as it’s going to go before boring all of you to death. I promise, PROMISE that photographs of food and drink from South Africa are forthcoming—we have a picnic lined up at Boschendal that is definitely worth writing about, and I’m not lugging my camera and laptop halfway around the world and back again for nothing. Until then, wish me safe, on-time, hassle-free travels—and the same to you!
Tomatillo-Fuyu Pico de Gallo
4 medium sized ripe fuyu persimmons, diced
4 ripe tomatillo, diced
1 medium shallot, diced
juice of 1-2 limes (fresh)
approx 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (could also use fresh chilies/jalapeños but I didn’t have any)
salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary.
I served mine over warm brown rice and frijoles negros, with ¼ chopped fresh avo.