Author: Heather

I love travel, ballet, cats and my hometown of NYC.

A Pre-Season Saturday on the Shore

Ocean City Boardwalk

More beach pics! Several weeks ago, before it suddenly became summer, I felt like I needed a change of scenery, no matter how brief. So I decided it was time for another quick trip to my summer share in Maryland. My goal for the weekend (besides, of course, savoring the time with Mal and Peter) was to spend time on the beach and dip my feet in the ocean–no matter what the weather was like.

I didn’t get the warm, sunny weekend I was hoping for; the sky was grey and overcast. Still, Ocean City was well on its way out of hibernation. Restaurants and bike rental stands were open for business and groups of people ambled down the boardwalk.

Ocean City beachWe headed straight for the beach.

Ocean City beach

I accomplished my mission…

Toms

…and, in the process, dropped one shoe into the frigid ocean and frantically chased it down before a wave swept it out to sea. (So much for not getting my jeans wet!)

M&P, Ocean CityI would have stayed on the beach forever if it weren’t so cold. After about an hour, we brushed the sand off our feet and departed for warmer activities–namely, eating and outlet shoppingВ one state over in Rehoboth, Delaware.

The Blue Crab

On the drive up, we stopped for lunch at the Blue Crab in Bethany Beach. The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside or inside–just wooden booths, checkeredВ linoleum floors and a few framed photos on blue walls. But our meal was fantastic.

Hush puppies

The hush puppies were В amazing–light and crispy on the outside and the ideal balance of sweet and savory. (1,000 times better than the ones we had at Hooper’s!)

Crabcake

I was tempted to get the all-you-can-eat crab feast that most of the patrons were indulging in, but decided against it since it was only lunch. Luckily, the crabcake I ordered was the best I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t heavy, greasy or bready; it was just fresh jumbo crab, perfectly broiled and seasoned.

But next trip: definitely going for the big feast!

Happy Mother’s Day

Meme, San Francisco

My mom is an amazing person and this is my very favorite photo of her.В It was shot at the end of a cross-country trip she took with her sister and cousin during the summer of 1973. They spent three months riding Greyhound from NYC to San Francisco and stopping everywhere from Nashville to Yosemite along the way. I don’t know if I could handle that many hours on buses (only one of many reasons my mom is more awesome than I am), but I’m still hoping to take my own coast-to-coast road trip one day!

Happy Mother’s Day, mom! Love you! вќ¤

Happy Easter

Easter Eggs

How gorgeous are these Easter eggs? Peter’s mother actually hand-painted each one. Every year, she selects a color and decorates dozens of wooden eggs to give to friends and family–who eagerly await seeing the new designs.

Wooden egg decorating

A couple weeks ago, I saw her work station and this year’s eggs in various stages of completion.

Easter eggs

Such a wonderful tradition. Happy Easter!

Homemade Fish Tacos

I don’t know why, but it’s nearly impossible to find really good fish tacos in NYC. (Or Mexican food, in general.) You’d think, with the number of amazing restaurants and chefs here, plus diners’ high standards, someone would be known as “THE fish taco guy.”

A couple years ago, Ryan and I actually went on a quest to find the best fish tacos in NY. We very creatively designated Fridays “FTF”–for “Fish Taco Friday”–and ate at a different Mexican place each week. Over a couple months, we tried out La Esquina, Mole, Mercadito, Pinche Taqueria, Dos Caminos, the now-closed Bonita, just to name a few. And while some were good–at the time, Pinche was our winner–none was knock-you-flat-on-your-back extraordinary. They were always too salty, too bland, too heavy or too soggy (in the case of the fried guys).

It’d been a while since I had fish tacos (I think my FTF experiences jaded me), but recipes for them in Real Simple and Mark Bittman’s column in the Times magazine inspired me to concoct my own.

I made Bittman’s slaw first by slicing a cucumber into half moons and mixing them with half a minced jalapeno, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and 1.5 tbsp lime juice. (I would have made a more authentic slaw using shredded cabbage, but I had just eaten my way through one head the previous week and didn’t feel like doing it again just for this meal.)

Fish Taco Slaw

Then, riffing on both recipes, I brushed a 7 oz. tilapia filet with olive oil, rubbed it with dark chili powder, sprinkled on salt and ground pepper and juiced it with lime. While it broiled, I heated the corn tortillas.

Corn tortillas

I was really surprised at how good the tacos looked when I assembled them…

Homemade fish tacos

…and even more shocked to discover that they tasted better than most of the places we tried on our FTFs.

Weekend Cooking: Jordan Pond Popovers

Acadia National Park

Last summer, I spent a long weekend at Acadia National ParkВ with my then-boyfriend.

Acadia National Park

We hiked to the top of five mountains (which sounds more impressive than it is–the tallest one, Cadillac, is onlyВ 1,530 feet)…

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

…saw the sun rise from the top of Cadillac, which is the first point in North America that daylight hits between October 7 and March 6…

Acadia National Park

…and took a bunch of ridiculous pictures.

Popovers at Jordan Pond House

On our last day, we ate at Jordan Pond House, a restaurant in the park known for tea and popovers. I hadn’t had a popover before, but was pretty enamored at first bite. The warm pastries were chewy on the outside and light and airy in the center–almost like a less flaky, less buttery croissant that had been puffed up. We ended up bringing home the restaurant’s official popover pan and recipe.

I don’t know what triggered it, but a popover craving hit me last week. So on Saturday morning, despite having a full eating agenda on my weekend calendar (Indian buffet Saturday night at Chand Palace and Sunday brunch at Fred’s), I decided to whip up a batch.

There are three things I like about the Jordan Pond popover recipe: 1) It’s drop-dead simple. 2) It only requires a few ingredients that are, for baked goods, relatively healthy (no heavy cream or butter). 3) It makes six pastries–so you don’t end up struggling to eat/give away a dozen for days afterward.

Flour, Eggs, Milk

You mix two eggs, 1 cup milk (I use skim), 1 cup sifted flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a speck of baking soda…

Popover Batter

…fill each popover holder halfway and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then at 350 degrees for another 15-20 minutes. (Don’t open the oven door when changing temperature.)

Popovers

And voila! No trip to Maine required. (Though the view from the Jordan Pond House lawn is a little more tranquil and scenic than that of my Washington Heights apartment.)

The Bubbles

First Maryland Weekend: Crabs and BBQ!

Ocean Pines, Maryland

I went to Maryland’s eastern shore this weekend to check out my summer share help Mal and Peter move into their new digs. Their neighborhood, Ocean Pines, is super-cute and just 10 minutes from the Ocean City beach. It’s basically a sprawling complex of mini communities, each with a theme of sorts. Mal and Peter live in Sherwood Forest, a woodsy area with streets called Nottingham Lane, Camelot Circle, Castle Road and, of course, Robin Hood Trail. (So whimsical!) Other areas,В like the photo above, border canals; those homes have docks and their lucky residents can wallow away their days Copenhagen-style and motor their boats right into the ocean.

I expected the weather to be warm and sunny (because it’s always like that at the beach, right?), but it was rainy and chilly. Given that there was so much settling in to do, that wasn’t a bad thing. The five of us (Mal, Peter, my parents and I) spent the bulk of the weekend unpacking, organizing and shopping for house stuff. Luckily, we managed to carve out some time on Friday to accomplish one of my main objectives in coming to Maryland: Eating crabs!

Hooper's Crab House

Since we were all tired and a bit grubby, we decided to try Hooper’s Crab House, a local-recommended, brown-paper-on-the-tables joint that opened for the season that very day.

Beer Sampler Paddle

The place was hopping when we arrived around 9 p.m. and the sounds of cracking crabs rose above the din. Peter and I decided that after a day of hard work, we deserved beer samplers. Cheers!

All You Can Eat Crabs

We also indulged in the All-You-Can-Eat crab feast. For $28, we got unlimited crabs, plus peel-and-eat shrimp, corn on the cob, fried chicken and hush puppies. The sides were ok–shrimp kind of bland, chicken dry, hush puppies not as soft as I would have liked. But really, they were just wolves in sheeps’ clothing (as we referred to them all night), provided to fill you up and distract you from the main event. Which is why we mostly avoided them and focused on the crabs.

Crabs

I thought they were great. In typical Maryland-style, they were boiled and seasoned with Old Bay. Our batch was pretty meaty, too! And I was proud to see that my crab-cracking technique had improved from my last all-you-can-eat experience that mainly consisted of me bashing crabs on the head and messily ripping them apart. Mal had crab cakes which, she said, were a bit heavy and not the best she’s had down there. My parents, in the meantime, polished off several pounds of snow crab.

Meme and E

About an hour into our dinner, we realized something strange–the place had emptied out and there were just a few stragglers at the bar. Whenever I travel, I’m always jarred to remember that not everyone eats dinner around 9-10 p.m. like we New Yorkers do. I’m hoping that the O.C. summer crowd stays out a bit later!

The next day was also grey and we spent most of it setting up the outdoor area. Mal and Peter have an awesome porch that I expect to spend a lot of time on this summer. To uncountry-bumpkinify it, they hung sheer curtains across the screens.

Porch

We also spent hours putting together the new BBQ grill. Even though it was chilly and getting dark by the time we finished, we still felt we had to break it in by firing up a quick dinner.

Grilling

Pasta Salad

Crabs, BBQ and hopefully long days at the beach–I’m already looking forward to my next weekend there. Congrats on the great new place, M&P!

Mal

Peter