The most exciting thing that happened to me this week had nothing to do with vegetables.
(Did I just hear a collective sigh?)
This week was super fun because my favorite Danish family was visiting New York City for five days. In case you don't know or remember, I met Gerda, the matriarch of the family, in 2007 when I was studying Polish in Krakow. She was studying Polish, too, because she works as a translator for the EU and is fluent in many languages. At the time, she invited me to visit her home in Brussels where I got acquainted with her husband, Morten and their daughters Anna and Katrine. It was an instant connection. The family has journeyed to New York City two times since then (this trip being the third visit), and they even came to our wedding in New Orleans.
I love these people so much. They make my heart swell each time I see them. Even though I have only known them for a few years and only get to see them about once a year, they are some of the best people I have ever met. I consider them to be my extended family.
This stay in New York is part of a long vacation the Greves are taking that includes weeks in California, Las Vegas, Utah, Arizona and Cancun, Mexico (Oh, Euros and their awesome vacations!) Unfortunately, I am American so I had to work the majority of the time they were here, but I spent every free moment I had with them, making the most of it. On my day off, they requested I show them around Brooklyn.
I am quite possibly the worst Brooklyn tour guide ever. I have no idea what to do or where to go. I walked them across the Brooklyn Bridge, and we wandered around Dumbo a bit. (Is there anything to see in Dumbo? Because if there is, we didn't see it). Katrine, the girl who loves to eat, was concerned there were no restaurants around. So we decided to do Grimaldi's for pizza and then Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, just like the tourists do. I know that much.
The Greve family on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Katrine, probably hungry, taking a breather. She doesn't speak English so we've never really had a conversation, but I have the biggest soft spot for her.
Brooklyn Bridge: What to see in Brooklyn.
We walked through Brooklyn Heights and the promenade. It was quite possibly the hottest day of the summer so far, and I made the rookie mistake of wearing blister-inducing sandals. We took many breaks, and I used maybe 28 band aids Gerda had on hand because they kept falling off. (She's like my mother; I told you we're family). Then we took a water taxi back to Manhattan for a little shopping because that is what we always do when they are in town.
Gerda, enjoying the water taxi.
Katrine and Morten, hanging out at Free People, while Anna shops.
We may not have seen anything in Brooklyn, but we did find the ugliest shoes in the city.
The rest of our time together this week was spent eating. I cooked dinner on the first night. Knowing that I wouldn't be cooking much all week, I tried to plan a menu that used most of the CSA vegetables and the home-grown tomatoes my mom gave me. It was kind of hard to make it cohesive, but somehow it all worked out.
-Two types of bruschetta. One topped with fava beans and the other with tomato and basil
-Melon wrapped in prosciutto
-Lasagna tart with zucchini
-Salad with tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and homemade vinaigrette
-Cherry pie made with sweet and sour cherries with a dollop of vanilla ice cream (our fruit CSA started this week!)
My favorite part of the meal was the Belgian chocolates Gerda brought for us. Heaven!
For the rest of the dinners we shared together, Dan and I tried to offer a variety of neighborhoods and cuisines. The Greves were really good sports about greasy soul food in Harlem (so not their bag!) and pretending that the tapas in the West Village came close to the kind they ate in Spain (not really, but still delish!) On the last night we ate gelato at Amorino, and after we were done, we sat outside on the bench lingering forever because I didn't want the night to end.
We finally said our good-byes and went our separate ways. Not knowing when we would see each other again, I started to cry. I don't mean a few tears, but full-fledged sobbing. Little girl tears. On the streets of New York. Dan tried to comfort me, but to no avail. A man walked by, looked at me with concern and then glared at Dan.
"She's just sad because she said good-bye to some friends," Dan called out after him, just in case he thought Dan was a terrible wife-beater. I am not sure if the guy believed him.
Here's the thing: New York has become a little lonely for Dan and me in the last year. Many of our friends have moved to Brooklyn or New Jersey, and our social life has dwindled quite a bit. We don't see much of anyone anymore. Spending an entire week with such lovely people, and knowing that I won't be seeing them again soon or having that warm feeling that only great friends can bring, made me really sad.
Still, even with the downer ending, it was a great week.
I can't wait until next time. Big hugs and kisses to the Greves!