Hudson St. Sandwich

photo by Kristen BlushOn Saturday mornings I used to meet my best friend, Steph, for a two-or-three-hour bike ride, then get lunch at Husdon St. Deli. That enormous sandwich on a whole loaf of Italian bread, with veggies and cheese spilling out the ends, was the real reason we went on those rides. After we devoured it, we’d sit there shivering as our bodies put all their energy towards digesting. We named this Hudson St. Sandwich Syndrome.

I moved away and the original Hudson St. Deli closed years ago. This recipe approximates the glorious sandwiches of my memory. I hope Steph will eat one at the beach with me this summer, and we can sit there shivering in the sun.

 

Hudson St. Sandwich

  • 12-14” loaf Italian bread
  • more mayonaise than you’d think, trust me!
  • brown deli mustard, to taste
  • 1/3lb. dill havarti
  • whole avocado
  • handful sliced pickle
  • handful sprouts
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablspoon vinegar (wine or cider)
  • pinch salt & pepper
  • 1/3 block tofu raw or steamed, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • handful carrot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • handful iceburg lettuce, sliced ¼ inch thick and chopped into inch-long pieced
  • 9 green pimento olives, halved

 

1. Slice the bread open lengthwise, leaving the crust attached on the spine. Spread a generous amount of mayonnaise on both sides, and a squiggle of mustard. Line the bread with havarti. Scoop chunks of Avocado out with a spoon, and place them alongside the cheese on one side. On the other side, place a layer of pickles. Place the sprouts next. Toss tofu and the rest of the veggies with the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Fill the middle with the salad.

2. Squeeze the sandwich closed, and wrap it in deli paper. Cut into sections, and return it to the bread bag.

 

The Traveling Daiquiri

Forget about strawberries and blenders, a true daiquiri is a simple cocktail: rum, sugar and lime. The mildly grassy sugarcane notes of a decent rum and the sharp fragrance of fresh lime taste plenty tropical without the addition of slushy fruit. The daiquiri is the signature drink of Ernest Hemingway and John Mariani (I made one for the latter at Cook & Brown). And as I discovered on a recent vacation you can make a great one with an improvised shaker, dissolved sugar packets (intended for coffee), convenience store rum and lime pilfered from a tree outside your hotel window. When you're not relaxing on an Island, let a daiquiri transport you there. There's no excuse not to make one–wherever you are.

Basic Daiquiri

  • 2 oz golden rum
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup or 1/3 oz rich demerara syrup

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill it to the brim with ice, seal, and shake hard until nearly too cold to touch. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime, if you like.

Quick Sriracha Pickles

I hadn’t thought about what I would do with pounds of cucumbers, but I bought them because they were on sale. The next morning, still bleary-eyed, I improvised these quick pickles while I waited for my coffee-making water to boil. They turned out so delicious that I went back to the market for another sack of cheap cucumbers, and then another.

If I could make these before my first cup of coffee, then the clumsiest novice cook will be equally successful. The sriracha (aka cock sauce) does all the work of seasoning, so you don’t even need to peel garlic! These aren’t the kind of pickles you’d put up for next winter, but I doubt you could resist eating them that long anyway. You might catch me sneaking one straight from the fridge before breakfast.

 

Quick Sriracha Pickle Recipe

  • cucumbers, preferably English, Persian, or Kirby
  • vinegar, white or cider
  • kosher salt*
  • sriracha

*table salt is fine too, but it will make the brine cloudy because it contains anti-caking agents.

Cut the cucumbers into whatever shape appeals to you, I’ve been going for spears. Pack them into a jar, leaving at least half an inch of space at the top. Fill the jar halfway with vinegar, then fill it the rest of the way with cold water, so the liquid covers the pickles but isn’t spilling over the top. Add a heaping spoonful or two of salt, more than you might think. Squeeze in some sriracha: if you like it hot, use a lot. I like just enough to tint the water pink, so they’re flavored but not really spicy. Close the jar and shake it. Put the pickles in the fridge, and wait at least six hours before you eat them.

Ohanami, a picnic for cherry blossoms

pink bike at tokyo ohanami picnicIn Japan, the blooming of flowers is cause for national celebration. When the cherry trees bloom, everyone parties. It’s called ohanami, the viewing of honorable flowers. Soccer moms and bike messengers alike pack picnics, spread out blankets and drink under a snowfall of petals. I partied with them all when my trip to Japan coincided with cherry blossom season.


ohanami picnic in Chiba

I picnicked in a playground with suburban moms and and their toddlers (and one teacup puppy) as the first flowers of the year popped open. While the kids played, the moms unpacked bentos of homemade food, carefully separated by plastic wrap within each container. We sipped sweet plum wine poured from tetra packs: it looked and tasted like the Japanese equivalent of white zinfandel. They giggled and questioned me about my American boyfriend--why I was in Japan, and where was he? Sharing food under the cherry blossoms, I felt at ease with them in spite of how little of each other’s language we understood.

 

ohanami picnic with tokyo bike messengers
At the height of the season, bike messengers invited me to their ohanami under a huge canopy of blossoms in a downtown park. Every way you looked, the ground was covered with picnic blankets and flower petals. The white blossoms and black branches popped against a backdrop of overcast sky. Bike fanatics arrived in waves as they finished a pirate-and-cherry-blossom themed scavenger hunt. They added their tricked-out bikes to the glittering candy colored pile, and sat down to sip beer out of seasonal pink cans. As the day wore on the group got drunk and rowdy, and we took turns going to the convenience store to load up on flower-themed junk food.


Everywhere I went in Japan, I found myself drinking and making friends under flowering trees. Taking part in a national flower party was a foreign experience, but cherry blossom picnics conjure nostalgia for my own childhood in the Pacific Northwest. Wild cherry trees in the woods by my house signalled the beginning of spring, and my mom took us every year to eat boiled eggs on a red blanket beneath flowering trees on the University of Washington campus. Now sweet memories of that month in Japan make ohanami picnics doubly special to me. I won’t let a season pass without packing a picnic and viewing some flowers.

 

flowering wild cherry tree at my childhood home


Here is a recipe for an ohanami snack.