Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Charles Street Inn

Like Countess Olenska in The Age of Innocence the man I loved married another and I could not show the world my heartbreak. Condolences towards my grief were not to be offered or appropriate to accept. I had to watch and celebrate as the bride and groom danced under a perfect night sky: smiling at their wedding knowing that their happiness could only be achieved through my hurt.

Surviving that night with put-on joy depleted my soul and I needed a place to mend. Someplace special, private and pretty to retreat and refill my will to live passionately – I found it at The Charles Street Inn.

When I stepped into the Edith Wharton room, tired from sadness, the irony of the theme made me gasp but I stood strong in the entrance way and passed the first test that let me know my healing had begun.

The Inn saved me, it was the warm private hug I needed. I spent my time there cuddling with the pillows in the large soft bed as the shadows of fireplace flames entertained me with their dance. I soaked for hours in the warm bath adding soap for bubbles and being soothed at the idea of bath jets muting the sound of my crying. I felt the morning sun from the bay window and watched as the changing light through the day altered the shade of yellow that covered the walls. It was a perfect room, a feminine cocoon in which to heal.

The staff smiled whenever they saw me and if they detected my sadness they left me alone to feel it only occasionally checking in gently while delivering pots of hot tea with scones and jam.

Years have passed since I was at the Inn and in such sadness. Looking back, I smile because I now have the perspective of time that makes such memories refreshingly ridiculous. Healing did take longer then a weekend but I know my time on Charles Street was my first step on the path to my ability to smile today.

I am grateful to the Inn and congratulate it on ten years of service to its guests. The Charles Street Inn is a beautiful place that gave me the room to heal in, and the next time I visit I will experience it through happy eyes.

This essay was the 2nd Place Winner in the Charles Street Inn Celebrating Our Tenth Anniversary Contest.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I’m Making Deviled Eggs Part 1

I don’t cook. I don’t boil. I sometimes steam, occasionally nuke, and I do chop (I make a great cruditĂ©) but what I do is order or visit friends who do cook.

So, when I was invited to Easter dinner and my contribution to the meal was assigned as deviled eggs, also known as eggs mimosa (even if I have never heard them called eggs mimosa I like that name) I new I was either going to succeed, end up ordering them from a restaurant, or hopefully be forgiven as the source of the food poison.

I looked up the basic recipe and as simple as it seemed I immediately saw my first problem - I don’t have a pot to boil these eggs in. No worries, the deli around the corner (and even my gym cafĂ© for that matter) sell hard boiled eggs to the protein packing patrons of Chelsea. So I will forgo the pot and buy the eggs already hard boiled…or will I? That seems like cheating. No, I will MAKE from beginning to end deviled eggs. It’s not near the accomplishment of making every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking but I’m committed and I would be happy if Amy Adams played me in the movie.

So first step – find a kitchen. I made an emergency call to one of the few people I know who has a kitchen with things like counter space and ovens. The bonus is it’s luxurious enough for more then one person to fit in at a time. I explained my predicament and I bribed her with the promise of an afternoon of cheap wine and all the left over deviled egg ingredients she could eat and with that a bargain was struck and the time set for my arrival – well lets be clear…I also asked if she had any ground dry mustard, I only need a ½ teaspoon. The other ingredients on the list I could possibly…maybe…occasionally see actually using in the future, but not the mustard. Lucky she has some (I told you her kitchen was great).

And with a kitchen and pot secured I headed to the grocery store. I was there less then 30 seconds when I remembered why I don’t go in grocery stores. Is there ever a time of day when its not packed? Or is it simply that the isles are so narrow and the place so stuffed with twelve versions of everything that it feels crowded? No matter, I will rant on the nutritional value of chocolate cheerios another day. In this moment I tell myself to take a breath and ask myself, if I were white vinegar where would I be?

Vinegar – found. Salt and pepper – I can steal my roommates so I don’t need to buy that or maybe I have enough of those little packets that come with take out, I’ll have to check my junk drawer? Paprika, I had a fleeting memory of seeing paprika once in my cupboard, behind rice cakes and numerous boxes of tea. I wonder, how long has it been there? I never bought it. I suspect my previous roommate bout it but that may have been sometime in the 90’s. Either way, I think I have that. Eggs, the recipe called for eggs that are a week or two old, so I proceed to annoy every single person in the refrigerated section by pulling out and looking at the dates of every carton. Ya, the poor stock guy was watching me as I undid what he had probably spent most of the day doing - sorry. I thought the older eggs would be to the front, but nooo I found just one carton buried in the back and it’s only a week old so they will have to do, (note to self: I need two weeks lead time the next time I try this, if there is a next time, or I have to garbage pick when the grocery stores toss the expired stuff, maybe that’s why these eggs are called deviled?).

Then I notice the item next on my list that I suspected may be my downfall – mayonnaise!!!

I hate mayonnaise. What is mayonnaise? If eggs are involved why is it not refrigerated? The smell, yuck. The texture, hello snot! The color, should a food be that white? I do not like mayonnaise and there I was starring at jar after jar of it. Plus, I had no idea how expensive that stuff is. I’m glad I don’t like it, buying it would take away from my wine fund.

I was not going to buy Hellmann’s I wanted to punish Hellmann’s for ruining all those great potato’s over the years. I love pasta, I love potato’s I never understood why drenching either amazing carb in white, sour smelling goo was considered tasty. But this is NYC and there is always a very expensive alternative and I found it: All Natural, Garlic & Herb Lemonaise! Ta-dah! It even says on the front “Instead of Mayonnaise” and that is exactly what I wanted something instead of mayonnaise. So I paid $6.24 for a small jar but I thought the extra cost was worth the mental comfort of knowing I would not be consciously consuming mayonnaise.

Ingredients purchased I am now in prep mode. A trick my deviled egg recipe outlines is for me to rest the eggs on their sides over night, it will allegedly center the yolks which in turn makes the egg whites sturdier to pick up and handle. Really, who took the time to notice that? But alright, I will make a little bed for the eggs in the fridge and tuck them in on their side for a good nights rest – maybe I should have also gotten an baby monitor just incase the eggs wake up in the middle of the night and need a soothing rub to reassure them the monster is not in the crisper drawer. These eggs are already getting more love and attention then I get on dates.

Day Two - time to transport the eggs and ingredients to my borrowed kitchen. Right, how am I going to do that? If I put them back in their carton my yolks wont be center. And I have gone through all this trouble I want centered yolks damn it! I’m no heathen with insecure egg whites. So I need to make an egg carrier.

Remember in Jr. High when you were given an egg baby and you had to make it a carrier to keep it safe, the lesson being if your egg baby broke you clearly were not fit for the responsibility of children. Ya, well I made egg baby beds for my tuned yolks. Snuggled together in take out containers swathed in paper towels I had batches of sleeping egg babies ready for the journey to grandmas.

To be continued…