The terrace from the top: perfectly tranquil.
What you don't see or hear is the roar of the new air conditioner. We are fast approaching the troubled terrace season, when we weigh up the pros and cons of eating outside. If we eat outside we tend to turn off the AC, or we sit with its hot blast of air too close for comfort. Not very peaceful. Then the apartment heats up again. And the new unit send its hot air straight up, resulting in a very unhappy climbing Iceberg rose. I had to cut it back quite hard a few days ago. Some of the branches died. And I diverted a gloriosa lily, whose pained expression said clearly, I know I come from the temperate part of South Africa, but this is ridiculous! The previous unit was actually meant for a window, not a wall, with venting at the sides (meaning it didn't cool as well as it could've, too). But after the multiple failed attempts at buying and installing a new one I'm not too sad about the rose. Being hot makes me much sadder.
The vicissitudes of a poorly insulated top floor apartment life in a sticky climate.
Wonderful compensation, however, is grilled shrimp. Cooking over fire, outside, is priceless. I am still sorry that I can't buy entire shrimp, with heads and bodies still attached*. They taste much better. But after marinating in fish sauce and lime and cilantro stems they are pretty good. I made these when I was experimenting with the avocado terrine/aspic that I posted on Food52 (which did not even make the contest's shortlist, ha!). The leftover shrimp are perfect for it.
*Head-on shrimp are available in Chinatown, of course. These shrimp come from Fish Tales, down the road. I haven't shopped in Chinatown for a while. The first time I bought shrimp there they were still alive and one leaped out of the bag back in the kitchen on Flatbush Avenue, when I lowered it to the floor to show the cat. Before I could blink the cat had leaped on the shrimp and swallowed it. Within minutes, though, the cat grew contemplative, and then troubled, and very soon the shrimp was returned, intact, to the floor. The cat looked at it, disgusted.
I keep these shrimp shells, by the way, and freeze them in little bags, against the day when I need to make a strong and rich fish broth for bouillabaisse. Nothing like shrimp shells for flavour.
There endeth the lesson. Happy Saturday. Go forth and grill.