In Which There is Snow but No Mistletoe

Since last week’s blog was so terribly late, this week’s blog is terribly short. Mea Culpa.

After all the excitement of the prior week, Wednesday night was a much needed night in featuring movies, indolence, and plenty of hot cocoa. Since it’s December I’ve decided that I’m entitled a regular dose chocolate and warmth, this entitlement may last until spring.

The following day I left work and headed into midtown to deal with the horrid mass of something masquerading as hair which had taken up residence on my scalp. It was damaged and dry and yet looked even more ridiculous in a ponytail—I was soon to find out that my last hair cut had indeed been as awful as I had thought it might be when the stylist flat ironed my hair before cutting it. You may recall that a while ago I bought a hair cut coupon on Union Square, this was the use of that deal.

So off I went to Fifth avenue where I was greeted warmly, handed a glass of wine, and set down into a chair where a fabulously flamboyant stylist, appraised my hair in horror. Apparently I had a bob with a tail. Some time later, I left the salon with a fresh new bob without the tail and with a rather higher degree of sheen. It was definitely an improvement but the combination of the conditioning treatment and the reduction in length has definitely left me with a much bigger static electricity problem than previously. I haven’t lived in a place with proper winter static in a long time and I can’t say I missed it.

Come Friday, my flyaway filled hair and I headed home from work, wrapped up in all my warmest gear and caught a train down to Prospect Park to test the theory that one never forgets how to skate. There is nothing impressive about me on the rink, but I didn’t hit the ice and I made a good number of moderately paced loops around the arena. We lasted for about an hour and a half before the frigid wind chilled us to the bone and we set off for the warmer pastures of the cafe. We were met by two more colleagues who happened to have a very convenient little nipper of bourbon which made ice rink hot chocolate MUCH more exciting.

After warming up for a while, we wandered back out into the brisk Brooklyn night to find a train into Manhattan for food. We had a vegan on board so we ended up in a very spiffy little joint near Union Square which served very nice and, remarkably affordable vegan goodies including a couple very convincing “cheese”cakes. By the time we were fed, it was past 10pm and I was definitely not in salsa gear so I decided to head back home and by the time I got up the stairs and into my cozy warm apartment there was no way I was heading back into the cold so, best intentions notwithstanding, salsa did not happen.

I had set Saturday morning aside for an indulgent lie in, but my internal workday alarm clock is a powerful thing. So there I was, blinking into awareness at 7:30am and what did I see? A thick fog of snow drifting through the air outside of my window. With the maturity of a five year old I bounded out of bed to peer out my window at the whiteness below. For a few beautiful morning hours the world was a fantasy of fine powdery white, but then the snow turned to rain and the city woke up and in no time at all everything was slush and mush.

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Right about the time that the sky decided to stop unloading itself onto the ground I decided that it was time to get my festive alcoholism going so I headed to Chinatown to gather coquito fuel. It’s a simple formula: coconut milk, coconut cream, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk. Dump in some vanilla and cinnamon and hit the whole thing with a healthy dose of rum and then, after a few hours of testing your patience while it chills, you’re in business. It’s the tastiest way to celebrate the season and someday I’ll drink it in Puerto Rico in the warmth of a tropical Christmas.

Coquito

Coquito

After my little project in liqueur making, I headed back out into the rapidly disintegrating snowbanks for a birthday lunch on Times Square. In the company of an excellent group of ballroom dancers and westies, I ate saucy delicious ribs and talked dance gossip until it was time for them to head off to a movie and me to bounce back home to start a slow process bread making adventure.

After years of being perfectly content with my mediocre sourdough, I’ve finally decided that I should actually figure out how to produce a nice artisan loaf that I could proudly contribute to a fancy dinner party. To that end I am testing new techniques in proofing and retarding my dough and this particular test run entailed an overnight proof. So I kneaded and proofed and folded and shaped and eventually had two passable lumps of loaf to chuck in my fridge. Shortly thereafter I slid into a sparkly top and set off to dance.

The dance in question was the Noche de Descarga Christmas party which featured a simple but delicious buffet dinner (rice and beans, turkey, chicken, potato salad, and fried plantain) and a live band. It was a bit of a mixed night in terms of the dancing, but I was well fed, the live music was pleasing, and I left sometime around 2:30 quite content indeed.

This morning I woke up, baked bread, did laundry, and pretended to tidy the house. The bread is definitely improving but I’d say that the fridge was too cold and the dough a little too effectively retarded. I, on the other hand, was well and truly toasted as the hot gas oven reminded me of just exactly why a strong seal is a good idea.

Come late afternoon, I was about to set off to Grand Central to eat oysters with work friends when we discovered that the famed Grand Central Oyster Bar is closed on Sunday. A quick pivot set us in the direction of Doughnut Plant (right next door to the famous Chelsea Hotel) for another tasty dinner of doughnuts. Now normally we would have just rescheduled, but alas we were all out of schedule. Pia leaves tomorrow! Yes, my wonderful German partner in sightseeing crime is at the end of her time here. I’m losing the motive force behind much of my recent adventuring! I shall have to try to channel my inner Pia and keep the adventures rolling, but to be honest, I’m not sure what I’ll do without her and her wonderful list of things one must do while in New York. We’ve made her promise to return just as soon as she can.

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So now I am lying in bed, glutted on doughnuts and coquito wishing that tomorrow wasn’t Monday, though I suppose I can’t complain too much given that it’s the last week of work before Christmas. I think that’s probably the best bit about working in academia, the University closes up tight as a drum for the holidays so you really can’t be criticized for actually enjoying your holidays and not doing a stitch of work. I am looking forward to the indolence.

Very nearly almost to the holidays,
The Salsa Girl

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