Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Trip Down Memory Lane.



Any parent who says they don't occasionally, maybe-just-a-little-bit, miss their former child-free lives is lying. You can quote me on that. The honest ones just admit it with a wistful shrug and get back to the business of parenting. The self righteous ones can deal with it in therapy down the road, I guess.

When I think back to what I loved about being sans kids, I recall nights spent eating out in restaurants, sleeping in late, lounging around on a Sunday, reading the paper from cover to cover, exploring new neighborhoods in the city, travelling. That's a pretty long list. I suppose there are probably some parents out there who manage to do each and every one of these things routinely with a whole passel of kids to boot. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. We do pull off some of these things, some of the time. Or rarely. But nothing is taken for granted, and it's always a major production.

Sometimes the kids surprise me though. Take this weekend, for example. In a totally spontaneous move, Jeff suggested heading into Brooklyn on Saturday. He had some work to pick up in Manhattan, but thought we could head over to a former haunt on Atlantic Avenue for some Thai food. Part of me cringed at the thought of dragging our two kids to this once trendy, once-tasty place. Would it be overrun with people, would it be loud, would there be anything there they could eat? But, I was hit with such a wave of nostalgia for this restaurant and the neighborhood. I used to work close by, and would often meet up with my husband for dinner there. My mind began conjuring up images of that spicy red curry, those noodles, the shrimp, and the drinks.

In a rare moment of abandon, I said, "sure, let's go."

The restaurant was too crowded to wait. But, seeing as we were already high on crazy, we decided to be even more daring and try another old Brooklyn favorite - Alma, down in Red Hook. We used to eat out a lot, apparently. In the immediate vicinity, I could think of at least three other restaurants I would love to revisit.

But, this one turned out to be perfect.

Once upon a time, back when we lived in Brooklyn, this area was just on the cusp of becoming gentrified. Friends more in the know than us, turned us on to this very cute Mexican place, with awesome views of the city, and an even more amazing rooftop dining scene. These days, the restaurant has been discovered by the urban yuppie set. Toddlers, infants, pre-teens and others were all there. There were even high chairs, for crying out loud. Sure, there were a few whippersnappers, eating with their friends and trying hard to look as cool as their twenty-something selves could allow. The rest of us were just parents, eating with our kids and trying to enjoy the company.

Our kids behaved, tried a few bites of quesadilla, chips and guacamole, and entertained themselves long enough for us to hang out, chat with Grandma who came to visit, and enjoy the view. It wasn't quite the same as eating as a singleton, downing margaritas and stuffing my face with guacamole (sadly, those days are over. Too many weight watcher points to contemplate.)

But, I was able to pause long enough to appreciate the trip down memory lane with my new travelling companions. And, I appreciated the irony in seeing former hipster types juggling their own little screaming bundles of joy, in graphic t shirts, no less.

Youth. Wasted on the young.

My favorite guacamole recipe - when I'm feeling indulgent. My kids have been known to take a bite or two.

Guacamole with toasted cumin - by Suvir Saran, chef, writer, and owner of Devi (another favorite restaurant I might one day visit with the kids).

4 avocados, halved, pitted and chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
1 jalepeno, chopped - keep the seed if you want it spicy
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground peppercorn
1/8 teaspoon toasted cumin (he gives another recipe for this, but in a pinch, regular store-bought cumin toasted lightly is just fine)
juice of 2 limes

tortilla chips to serve

Place avocados in a large bowl. Add the tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, salt, pepper, cumin, and lime juice. Combine with large spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning.
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