Don’t you just love the fall? It’s my favorite season for so many reasons. One is the food, all of the hearty autumn produce and soul-warming seasonal dishes. The other is that from ages 3 to 18 I was deprived of this lovely season. You see, I grew up in Chicago, and Chicago doesn’t have fall. They have summer, then September 22nd, and then winter. That’s right we get one day. One day to wear a sweater and a light jacket. One day to go pumpkin picking without wearing a parka. One day where you are neither freezing nor sweating the moment you step outside. Chicago is known for it’s extreme weather, and it doesn’t really “do” the transitional seasons. So when I moved to the east coast and we had two and a half months of September 22nds, I fell in love with the season.
And New York in the fall, well, you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced New York in the fall. You feel like you’re in a Nancy Myers movie. Walking the streets in your jeans and cozy sweater, watching people push baby carriages over brightly colored crunchy leaves, feeling this mildly brisk air wash over you. It even smells good outside.
And the food – acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, apples, pears, pumpkin pie, cranberry bread, hearty soups and stews. It’s like a great big culinary hug. On Thursdays outside the 66th street subway stop they have the most gorgeous farmers’ market set up. It looks like a food stylist (and Nancy Myers) put this thing together. I couldn’t wait until lunch time to go out and pick out a crunchy apple and piece my lunch together using nature’s bounty.
Usually I do a drive by of all of the stands, making mental notes of what looks particularly tempting and then I go back and make my final selection. But today, I was on mission. I knew exactly what I wanted. A big crunchy apple that I would spread with the almond maple butter I had back at my desk, and hot apple cider. I absolutely love a good, spice filled, apple cider. If grilled cheese and tomato soup are the culinary equivalent of sweatpants, well then apple cider is the culinary equivalent of a cable knit sweater. Warm, inviting, refined, yet easy and comfortable. I scored my fall treats and headed to Gourmet Garage to pair my apple-y duo with some yummy soup, although not before being told by a nice gentleman on the street that “Judgment Day” will be May 11th, 2011 – so um, mark your calendars for that people.
Last night, I made a quick trip down to Philly to speak at The Villanova Women in Business Conference. I was on a panel of recent alumnae and we answered questions about everything from living at home vs. living on your own, to how Villanova shaped our career paths. It was so much fun. I got to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones, like fellow blogger (and internet sensation) Caitlin from healthytippingpoint.com. She was the keynote speaker and gave a great presentation on self-confidence and living your life in a positive mindset. She has two uber-sucsessful blogs, and last night she even blogged about “What’s Elizabeth Cooking Now?”… so cool!
Before leaving, we had to make a quick stop at my favorite Villanova restaurant…SUSHILAND. I have a mild obsession with this place and now that I live 99 miles from it, getting my fill is like watching a crack head trying to score a rock. Every time I get within a 30 mile radius of Villanova, I start thinking about it, and then I start asking, “Can we go to Sushiland”? “Is there time for Sushiland”? “Are we going to get to squeeze in a trip to Sushiland”? And if there wasn’t time for a trip, well I’ve been know to travel to Villanova with a mini-cooler so that I could pick up some Sushiland before I left and take it back to New York. I know that I’m insane. I just really love Sushiland. Now I realize “Sushiland” sounds more like a board game for Asian children than a restaurant, but it is a restaurant. A magical restaurant. One that looks unassuming and maybe a little uninviting from the outside (except for the BYOB sign). It’s tiny, maybe 15 tables and a few seats and the bar. It has bare walls, linoleum floors and fluorescent lighting. But you don’t go to Sushiland for the ambiance, you go for the sushi. And if you went to Villanova (and hung out with me) you went ALL the time. Other than earning a degree, Sushiland was probably the most defining part of my college experience. Or at the very least it was the site of these defining moments. From birthday celebrations to awkward dates, to awesome dates (finally), to carry out excursions in 3 feet of snow, not to mention many-a wine soaked Saturday night, Sushiland was the place it all went down. It wasn’t just that it was conveniently located, or that it happened to be BYOB or that for sushi it was incredibly reasonably priced. The allure of Sushiland is that is had (and still has) they best sushi I’ve ever eaten. Yes this little tiny sushi place in Bryn Mawr, PA tops all the sushi I have had all over the world. It’s better than New York, better than Australia, better than California, and although I’ve never been to Asia…I’m willing to bet it can give that sushi a run for it’s money. The rolls are fresh, inventive, and just down right delicious. Last night I ordered my standard favorite…the Honeymoon roll and a new addition to the menu the Cliff House. Both were divine. I’ll be back in Philly tomorrow for a birthday party, and you know I’ll be asking…”Guys…can we go to Sushiland”?