Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Chicken Marbella and me

Hello Everyone! Happy Flag Day!

Last night I hosted a dinner for three colleagues to help with the exciting plans for a Low Residency MFA program in Newport RI at Salve Regina College, launching in June 2018 with fabulous poet Jen McClanaghan and me at the helm. As anyone in New England knows, it has been very hot and very steamy here. For dinner I was thinking of cold food--panzanella salad maybe. Corn salad. And I had pretty much landed on Laurie Colwin's yummy mustard chicken when my darling husband suggested I make Chicken Marbella, my no fail recipe from The Silver Palate.

He was in NYC doing publicity for his new book, so he wasn't going to partake in my Chicken Marbella. But I could almost see the twinkle in his eye when he suggested I make it.

Back in 2011, I wrote an essay about my beloved Chicken Marbella for the sadly now defunct literary journal Alimentum, which was dedicated to all food writing. That essay won a Best Food Writing Award that year, and unfortunately that's the only way you can still read it as it isn't available online.

"The Golden Silver Palate" told about my history with Chicken Marbella, and how in some ways it turned me into a cook--mostly because you can't mess it up. I've forgotten the brown sugar, the wine, marinated it too long and too short, and it's always delicious. So the first time I cooked for Michael (well, it was technically the second time, the first being spaghetti cacio e pepe, but that's another story) I was so nervous--I was madly in love! With a chef!--the only thing I could make that I knew wouldn't fail was Chicken Marbella.

So organized was I! I set up the chicken to marinade the night before he arrived. I snipped the parsley for the garnish, measured the brown sugar and wine for the baking, and...

It was terrible. I mean, really really bad. Michael likes to tell the story of how I woke in the middle of the night and said: I forgot the olives! But this was more than that: flabby chicken and tasteless juice.

Almost every woman I know who came of age in the 80s makes Chicken Marbella as her go to dish--BECAUSE YOU CAN'T MESS IT UP. When Michael and I tell about the first meal I made him, when I say I messed up the Chicken Marbella, we always get the same response: That's impossible!

Alas, it's true. But seven months later, at my sweetie's prodding, I made it again. And it came out perfectly. Check out my Instagram at annhood56 or my Facebook page for pictures of its yumminess. I guess it proves no dish is foolproof. Or maybe that you can be so blinded by love that you can even mess up Chicken Marbella?

It's been a truly lovely week, this victorious dish only adding to it. Michael and I drove to Coney Island with Cousin GJ and her beau on Friday night for a walk on the boardwalk and dinner at a new restaurant. Then we headed to Cousin Chippy's beach house in Breezy Point for a weekend of food and wine--pizzas in the pizza oven, long beach walks, lots of vino, lots of cousin love when Cousin Tony and his Girlfriend showed up and Marina arrived too, and our traditional Sunday morning ribs slow cooked all night in aforementioned pizza oven for breakfast. Perfect weather to boot.

I am still knitting away on the Churchmouse Yarns Airport Shawl in alpaca. This week I've been reading A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles.

Tomorrow I'm meeting my beloved in NYC for our friend's art show opening and the performance of the daughter of another friend. On friday I'm on  a panel at Hunter College's Summer Symposium, then we are going to see the play WHIRLIGIG with my theater crush Norbert Leo Butz in it.

And then we are off to northern California for a week for some reading, writing and romance. Looking forward to eating lots of oysters, drinking lots of California wine, working on my new novel, reading Maggie O'Farrell novels, and well...the romance part!

I hope you are enjoying Flag Day wherever you are. And that you are eating and drinking and reading to your heart's content!

Monday, June 5, 2017

I say it just begins to live that day...

Beginning this post with a quote from my beloved Emily Dickinson is fitting today because I just spent three glorious hours making words live. (Full poem is at end of post)

Woke at my beautiful loft in RI with Annabelle beside me. the loft has been (happily!) taken over by Sam and the theatre company he and his friends have formed, What Will the Neighbors Say? (WARNING: proud mom approaching) They are doing a month long residency in RI, bringing the acclaimed play IN HER OWN WORDS: THE DIANA TAPES that played at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh last summer and a new musical for kids, UNTITLED SHAPE SHOW to Providence. I had a great time feeding them all, and playing cards and dancing into the night. 

But today I left them with a fridge full of food to come to NYC for the launch meeting of Penguin Workshop, which my new YA novel, SHE LOVES YOU (YEAH YEAH YEAH) is debuting in! So so excited for this. 

On the train here I reread the 47 pages I have of my new adult novel, THE MUSEUM OF TEARS, and cut 12 pages, four characters, and one sub plot! I love a day like this, lost in words and story. I was able to rearrange and add sentences here and there, all to get ready to bring it to life. Just this morning the story led me to Pablo Neruda poetry, uniforms for waitresses at IHops in 1972, and the Merimekko website. God, i love my job!

When I looked up, ready to take a break and knit (Churchmouse Yarns airplane shawl), I was fifteen minutes from NYC! 

Now it's off to Penguin, and dinner with my wonderful editor and friend, and then a very early wake up tomorrow to catch a flight to Cleveland where my darling husband awaits me. He's doing publicity for his new book, GROCERY, which is selling like gangbusters, and I'm excited to be at his upcoming events at Heinens grocery store downtown tomorrow and on Pepper Pike on Wednesday, as well as his reading at Loganberry Books. If you are a Clevelander, come and say hi!

Thursday we fly back to Providence, ever so briefly, before a family weekend at the beach in Brooklyn. Hopefully the rain will pause (the hole in my ceiling and the leak from it would be especially grateful).

And here, as promised, the full Emily Dickinson:

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just begins
to live that day.
– Emily Dickinson