We love throwing dinner parties. Sometimes we’ll prepare an entire evening based around a particular place in the world. Ryan grew up eating Cuban food, and we have often chosen that theme since we have so many wonderful family recipes. A typical dinner party menu would include black beans and rice, our 20-clove garlicky yuca, a side of crispy tostones, a pitcher of sangria, and the silkiest flan for dessert—a simple classic recipe that Ryan’s abuelita and mother would make when he was growing up. One night a few years ago, we were fortunate to be invited to a dinner party where our friend Sarosh cooked a feast of delicious Pakistani dishes from her childhood. Everything she prepared was so incredibly flavorful that we asked for a few of the recipes and have been enjoying them ever since. These cooler fall breezes inspired us to make this traditional spicy daal the other night and we realized that it had to be shared with the world. So with the permission of our dear friend, we invite you to try this authentic masoor daal, a simple South Asian delicacy here to welcome September with its spicy, warm, and comforting flavors and beautifully appropriate fall color.
I (Adam) remember the day we brought home the new 1977 Cadillac Seville. With a stylish light tan exterior and a dark brown top, it had more space for the family, the beige leather seats were soft and comfortable, it boasted automatic locks and windows, it was our first car with air conditioning, and best of all it had a fancy 8-track cassette deck. I still clearly remember the music collection that my parents kept in that car: there was a bright blue Barry Manilow Live cassette that I would obsessively sing along with until I lost my voice or until my parents couldn’t take it anymore and asked me to stop. My mom worked in real estate, and this was the new luxury car for showing clients around town, an impressive replacement for the dark blue ’65 Volkswagen bug that she had been driving since her 16th birthday. Despite its classy appearance, the Cadillac ended up having lots of problems over the years. When I was fourteen, it caught fire one night as we were driving home through Topanga Canyon. The engine started to make an awful sound, and when I looked out the window, flames were shooting out from the sides of the car. We immediately pulled over, and ran as far away as we could. There we stood, helpless, on the side of the road in the middle of the dark canyon, waiting for the car to explode.
At Thanksgiving, we gather around the table with close friends and family to acknowledge everything we have to be grateful for. And every year somebody mentions that it should become a daily tradition, but somehow it never happens, just like those impractical New Year’s resolutions that slowly fade in the first few weeks of January. The healthy diet goals and daily trips to the gym you envision for yourself in those cold, hopeful, wintry months have now become treating yourself to that extra slice of cake and sipping on bourbon chocolate milkshakes by the pool. But you know what? That’s okay! We are not meant to set up these impossibly strict constraints for ourselves, holding our souls prisoner and preventing us from enjoying the beautiful and sweet things that life has to offer. Balance is the secret, and to approach everything with moderation is key. Of course, there are certain times when this is more difficult than others—and some people handle it better than others. For those of you that have trouble with moderation, especially when it comes to fun and adorable mini-burgers, we have to warn you that reading this post will only tempt you and make you hungry because these fried zucchini sliders that we are sharing today from Jonathan Melendez’s new book The Slider Effect are incredibly delicious and dangerously addictive. Proceed with extreme caution.
Four years ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Japan for the first time. Adam’s band was performing at the Fuji Rock Festival, high in the mountains three hours north of Tokyo. After the last show, the rest of the group went home while the two of us ventured around the country for ten days, falling completely in love with the Japanese people and their inspiring culture. We took bullet trains to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima, and Hiroshima, traveling across the countryside, spending a few days in each city, visiting pristine gardens and ancient Buddhist temples, while learning where to find the best vegetarian meals and how to properly ask for them. Throughout the day, we often found ourselves saying, “watashi wa bejitarian desu,” hoping they would understand that we were politely communicating, “I am vegetarian.” We snacked on inari (sweet tofu pockets filled with sushi rice), we lived off onigiri with umeboshi (white rice triangles wrapped in seaweed with a sour plum center), we found unique tiny restaurants on hidden side streets serving bowls of hot udon noodles, ramen, and miso soup, we tried a savory pancake called okonomiyaki, sampled multiple flavors of sweet mochi candies, and discovered a delicious noodle dish called zaru soba. This light and refreshing entree quickly became our go-to meal in Japan, and since it is served cold, it makes a perfect summertime dinner that is easy to prepare and fun to eat!
Last week you traveled with us to the Caribbean. We gently swayed back and forth upon the warm Atlantic ocean on a private boat while watching a tropical sunrise and enjoying a delicious coconut mojito cake. We love visiting new places and it’s even better when you come with us! So pack your bags and bring an appetite because today we are going to Italy! And with three clicks of our heels, here we are on a romantic Summer evening in Rome. The temperatures have cooled and a soft breeze fills the air, scented with the aroma of sizzling garlic. You hear laughter and clinking glasses as you walk past an old restaurant from the 1600’s built entirely from stone, and out front an older man in a black suit with combed grey hair and a neighborly smile is playing an antique accordion that fills the streets with traditional music, while couples holding hands walk by with satisfied bellies and adventure in their eyes. The night is young, so let’s go exploring, find some delicious food, a bottle of red wine, and see if we can learn a few tricks in the kitchen.