Saturday, June 30, 2007

Manhattan Gardens

I came into the office today - quite nice, actually: very quiet, with the green plane trees in the park outside, guys playing basketball, people reading on benches - a big city Saturday. Wild, hey? Anyway, this is one version of a paddling pool or two small children who are moving with their parents into a newly renovated apartment...I think I'm trying to recreate a kloof pool.

A bench surrounded by local-ish (N. American, at least) grasses

It's long and narrow and has horrid ( I think) terra cotta tiles on the floor, but they have to stay. Plan two, not shown, is much more stream-lined.

My Cicada

Lilium Scheherezade opened this morning. It's not quite my thing, but The Lily Garden pops bonus bulbs into one's order, and this is one of them. Then I saw this tiny cicada inside. I think he may stick around. By summer's end last year I had a resident cicada in the drainpipe, who made a very nice cicada-noise at night before Estorbo walked into the livingroom one night chewing happily. Nice green snack.

This one needs a name.

Brooklyn Braaivleis

Testing another recipe gave me an excuse for a Friday braai: chicken pieces, apricot jam, lots of lemon, garlic, chile and many bay leaves. Hot fire, hot pan, about twenty minutes.

Yes, I know it looks quite black.

"I smell smoke, man! Fire!"

Brooklyn roofsunset. I stuck my hand up over the roof. The black bubbles are my skylights.

Friday, June 29, 2007

I changed the template

I got sick of all that green. I liked it, just wished I could shrink the borders.

Holy Guacamole

Uno: Three avocados, sliced and roughly choppped; 1/4 red onion finely chopped; half cup cherry tomatoesquartered; half bunch scallions, finely sliced; juice of 3 lemons, salt and lots of pepper

Dos: two wooden spoons: stamp up and down on guacamole ingredients in a big bowl. Stamp with respect.

Tres: Then add half a bunch of cilantro finely chopped. And a good shake of red chile flakes, or a whole jalapeno pepper, chopped. Taste for seasoning: you can't really have too much lemon/lime.

Result: Very urban picnic: Sarah D. Roosevelt Park.

Red Lilies

I think I let my camera down. When I went out on the terrace lst night, after getting home from work, and saw these, the reactionwas visceral. They are an absolutely saturated red, with orange ribs on the topside, and anthers in a dense, burned amber. This gives red a new meaning.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Then a Storm

It's impossible to take the right picture of these clouds. They really are something, and massive. It poured and poured and thundered and lightninged.

Fig Crop

Figs and prosciutto. Some things can't be improved upon. I have three figs left on the tree now, and feasted on these last night before all hell broke loose in the form of an electrical storm.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cape Town Dreaming

The Twelve Apostles above Camps Bay.

The other side of the Neck, Cape Town to the north east, with Devil's Peak and Table Mountain above, with the Tablecloth pouring over.

The Neck

Silverleaf trees on the slopes of Lion's Head

Nothing to do with terraces. Last night I dreamed about this coast, as I do every now and then - the Camps Bay road beneath the Twelve Apostles. In the dreams there is always water rushing over the road...

These pictures are from January, when I climbed Lion's Head with my cousin Andrea Weiss and her daughter Mary to see the comet over the Atlantic in the west, to the left of the just-set sun. It was stunningly beautiful, and I repeated it the next night with my parents, when Venus shone at the tip of the sickle moon's arc. We drank red wine and ate our picnic, with people passing us every now and then on the path, some quite unaware of what was about to happen.

Hot in NYC!

90'F says, but "feels like 97'F".

Imagine turning your oven on (a very slow striptease should do it), putting little streets and trees and houses inside, and some unpleasant smells, and then shrink yourself and walk around. That's pretty much it right now. Watering the terrace when I get home isn't even fun because everything is so desperate for a drink. "Waaater!" they scream when I go out there. And then I have to let the precious aircon air out of the apartment while the sliding door is open. The cat is stretched on the floor, naked, with his fursuit hanging over the back of a chair. It's not a pretty sight, man, he should do some sit-ups. And the fur on his head stays on.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mama's Finger Lickin' Ribs

Will came over for dinner on Sunday to help test my rib recipe. I was writing a story on spec for Go! magazine and wanted to make sure what I'd written wasn't a lie. Anyway, he wolfed them very gratifyingly and said they passed. I didn't take pictures! But here are the same recipe in March...he did say that he could see and smell the smoke from the barbecue from Clinton Street. So here are:
Mama's Finger Lickin' Ribs for Two
It is a cure for depression and you can play pick-up-sticks with the bare bones afterwards.
You need:
Two racks pork ribs
¼ cup vinegar, preferably red wine
¼ cup tomato sauce
1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 Tbsp brown sugar
5 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp apricot jam
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Chile flakes to taste
Salt 'n pepper
Mix marinade ingredients and pour over ribs. Leave overnight or for many, chilled, hours. Put on hot, grey coals and cook till they start to char a little. Turn once and cook another ten minutes or so. I leave them to rest under foil for ten minutes, then slice them and stack them. If you are brave, eat them on a salad of: thinly sliced red onion sprinkled with salt, a little sugar and lemon juice; or thinly sliced red cabbage, marinated for ten minutes in red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, then drained.


The Prune Burger: I don't know why it's taken me this long: but this is the Best Burger in New York City. And I've done some research. It's only about 1,000 calories, slathered in butter and garlic (cuts the butter, you know), and every now and then one just gets craving. If you're lucky, Clint will wait on you...

Christopher being rude with the baby courgettes.

Le Weekend...

Natalie and Lucas on Friday night, for champagne and lilies...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Martini envy

To counter various devils, Christopher and I had lunch at Balty's today, starting at 11am and kicking off with champagne. Then these two came in and had martinis, which we wanted, but resisted.

Lascivious lilies and dinner


The smell of cloves in the air - very lovely.

The parsley put to use: handful of parsley, stems removed; some very good canned tuna in olive oil; thinly sliced red onion,; finely sliced radish; vinaigrette of balsamic, garlic, salt, etc.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Roll for Marijke

Please note the mint leaves on the right. Terrace-grown. New York organic. From left: chicken marinated in ginger, garlic, brown sugar, lime, fish sauce, chile, then grilled till sticky and sliced. Coriander/cilantro depending on your continent; shallots, thinly sliced; greenish mango; carrot; then mint. Dip rice paper wrappers in hot water (Mimi says there are two schools of thought in Vietnam: either dip one side, or dip two sides). Actually I just plopped them into hot water, not knowing any better and they were fine. Make a dressing of lime, fish sauce, brown sugar, chile - and use as a dipping sauce once the rolls have been, er, rolled.

Greenroofs bedondered.

This ratty sketch is how the grass will grow on the Irvine roof IF the project happens. NBC is hot to trot and the client is now a little camera shy, if $'s and appearance fees are not involved. Hm. That's not gonna happen - so again. Wait and see.

Below, our greenroof No. 2 in as many weeks. Met these guys yesterday: PSYOP TV saw me on tv... I thought, when I walked into this large, airy smooth-concrete floor room that it was a shared architects' space, with desks rented out, which is a common practise in the city when you're a young architect. But no, said Bernadette, this is all us. Check out their website. Major animation going on. Anyway, the unprepossessing rooftop, baking hot, grabbed me, and I sent back a very quick sketch - far below. They love it and I'm going to develop.

They were very budget conscious and I suggested chopping their existing deck into modules to save money. Each "pad" would perform a functin: barbecue pad, meeting pad, chillpad, with the inbetween islands being prairie grass, a small amelanchier forest (pie!), and a turf island for picnics. I'm excited..this is goign to be fun. Best of all, they like the idea enough to pay more they wanted to in the beginning and are considering putting in a new deck. So new modules all round.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More Lilies. Better this time.

Went out onto the terrace this morning, in blazing eastern light, and here they were...Lilium "China Express".

Serious, sexy anthers...

Lilium "Red Velvet"

I think they're gorgeous. They need a bottle of champagne. Prosecco is simply not good enough.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Marijke's Last Night

So these are Bud and Cyril - part of the final celebration dinner to say goodbye to Marijke before she headed off to Cape Town yesterday. Somehow they got hold of my cellphone and tried the old 911 trick. Shame. They didn't know who they were dealing with...

We drank a bottle of Raats Cabernet Franc, 2003. Nice with a bit of a chill on it.

My parsley crop was chopped finely into some yummy French butter with lime to annoint the Clawed Boys.

My first fig! Very pale inside and absolutely sweet.

Amelanchier Jam

Extra berries waiting to be jam.

Jamming away, 1 lb fruit to 3/4 lb sugar. Juice of one lime/lemon. Usually, at this point, when one makes jam, a lot of frothy, scummy stuff bubbles to the top and needs to be skimmed off if the jam is to be clear. Not this time. My theory: no pesticides, no herbicides. Only good, clean carbon monoxide and the salty breeze off the East River. This is New York organic.

One pot, precisely.

This morning's breakfast.

Berrying in Brooklyn

Amelanchier berries under the Manhattan Bridge on the East River...

I met up with Marijke here, got off at the York Street stop on the F, wandered down the cobbled streets and waited until she pulled up on her bike. Our resolution: pick enough berries for a pie. How wholseome. How American.

We moved from tree to tree - there are probably about eight; we attracted a lot less attention than I had supposed. New Yorkers studiously ignore the weird, the cracked, the unseemly. A couple of women asked us what on earth we were doing and then were brave enough to try some berries. They skipped a little afterwards, like small girls caught doing something forbidden and good. Starlings and pigeons were trying to beat us to it, but there was so much fruit we got plenty. Also plenty sticky. This is a lovely little park, complete with pebbled beach and small waves. Very good for sunset picnics, though the noise from the trains crossing the Manhattan Bridge is interesting.

Our loot in the basket of my bike. The same bike that Marijke rode all over the city, so much so that we wore through the back tyre. OK: it was an old tyre.

The pie later at Natalie's. The weird thing was that it smelled of almond essence, or marzipan, as we were eating it, and I'd added none. Reading up on it later, the wood and leaves of the tree contain quite a lot of cyanide...The pastry was Molly Bolt's (famous in our family for the apple pie recipe we still use). Anyway - we're all alive.