My Grandpa Ronny, a self-made first-generation American and a proud storyteller, grew up in NYC. When I moved to Brooklyn three years ago, I felt compelled to track down some of the places he often mentions in his stories.
First up was McSorley’s Ale House, one of the oldest bars in the city, where the floor is covered with straw and there are only two drinks you can order: dark beer or light beer. Supposedly, Ronny once did a headstand on a table in the back room while drinking an entire beer. Who knows if the story is true, but when I went with my sister we scanned some of the photos on the wall, seeing if his story had made it into the bar’s lore. McSorley’s is wonderfully atmospheric, and I’ve been a handful of times. Good choice for a storied bar, Grandpa.
The other place always mentioned is the Rockaways, the beach retreat where he’d spend summers in a bungalow and became a lifeguard when he was older. Today the 95th street stretch (and beyond!) of the Rockaways has turned into a newly recreated hipster “staycation” destination — the boardwalk has been transformed by a famous fish taco stand, bike rental booths, smoothie stalls, Bolivian street food, and the always popular game, corn hole.
And man is it fun! Today was my first trip there, taking the A all through Brooklyn and eventually coming out onto a lovely expanse of ocean and beach, so different from the New York I’ve grown accustomed to. Gone are the cheap bungalows and immigrant-owned amenities, but still tangibly present is the natural beauty and freedom so easily lost on our forgotten concrete blocks. Pretty sweet for a Thursday. Sorry I didn’t go sooner!
Anyway, in honor of finally visiting my Grandpa’s childhood summer getaway, here is the delicious, garden-fresh summery meal we enjoyed last night. Special thanks to the roommate’s community garden membership for the herbs and tomatoes. :)
“Everything Summer” Garden Kale Salad + A Summer Meal
barely adapted from from A Sprouted Kitchen
- 1 small bunch kale, ribs removed and torn into small bite-sized pieces
- 1-3 T fresh mint
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 T olive oil, divided
- 1 small head lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
- roughly 2 cups freshest possible tomatoes; I used a combination of just-picked cherry tomatoes sliced in half and slices of HUGE tomato (also just-picked)
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, cut in half
- half a crispy apple, cut into matchsticks (although cherries or nectarine slices would be great too!)
- 1/8-1/4 c red onion, diced tiny
- 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
For dressing, mix together:
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 t dijon mustard
- 1.5 T apple cider vinegar
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- s&p to taste
Put freshly washed kale in a bowl. Add mint, roughly torn, and 1 T olive oil, lemon juice, and s&p. Using your fingers, massage kale for a couple minutes, until greens lose their rigidness and turn a richer shade of green.
Add bite-sized lettuce leaves. Pour in salad dressing and mix thoroughly. Then add all the ingredients, give it a good whirly mix, and serve!
We ate this salad alongside:
- In Sock Monkey Slipper’s Herbed Zucchini-Feta Boats. My thoughts: Add cumin and roasted red peppers to the feta-herb mixture in the food processor for a bit of added sweetness. Don’t be shy with the fresh herbs. Use panko instead of regular breadcrumbs for extra crispiness! Needed at least 40 minutes to bake in my oven. Just as delicious with yellow summer squash as with zucchini.
- Smoky Mushroom Toasts: Sauté 1/4 c tiny diced onion in 1 T melted butter. Add 10 oz white mushrooms, cut in half and then very thinly sliced. Sprinkle with pepper, fresh thyme, and smoky hickory salt. Mushrooms will let out juices. Take off heat when juices evaporate and mushrooms are browned, about 10 minutes. Serve atop toasted and buttered bread. I used day-old bakery whole wheat oatmeal bread and it was deeelicious.
- Pine nut couscous (from a box!)