Everytime we go somewhere we’ve never been, I always seem to find a restaurant or cafe that I want to take back to New York with me. On Sanibel Island, that place is Jerry’s. It’s a supermarket with a restaurant in back, and they happen to serve some of the best pie I’ve had in a lomng time.
The key lime was the perfect mix of tart and sweet, and a good consistency. The custard wasn’t too starchy. They also make a chocolate pie which was really amazing. Again, it wasn’t too sweet, which I noticed is a trait of desserts on the island.
We’ve been to Jerry’s every day on our trip, either for groceries or to wat in the restaurant. As we were driving over, my husband remarked that it’s funny how we came all the way from New York just to hang out at the supermarket. Since finding new food is a big part of the reason I travel, I don’t find it so odd. It may be a little odd that I saved Jerry’s website on my computer, so I can have a pie shipped if we’re in the mood.
My favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas, was on TV last night. Nevermind that I have it downloaded on my computer. There’s something special about this time of year when I turn on the TV, and there it is on AMC, commercial breaks and all.
It is a little strange to be watching it when it’s eighty degrees out. We’re on Sainbel Island, and despite the heat, the town is decked out. Late yesterday afternoon we went for a ride to Pinnochios, a shop that makes homemade Italian ice cream. Anytime one of those last few words appears in a sentence about food, my ears perk up. Put the four of them together, and you will find yourself next to me on an impromptu car ride to the farthest reaches of the island in search of it.
The ice cream at Pinocchios has several elements I love: It’s not too sweet, the add ins are shaved, so they blend in your mouth better when you lick them, and some of the flavors are Pinochios’ own invention.
I tried the Sanibel krunch. Here’s how it’s described on the website:
Our own recipe for homemade Vanilla ice cream with toasted coconut enrobed in Chocolate and Gourmet Mixed Nuts. Yes. There are some other ingredients too but we can’t give it all away!
The ice cream was good, but there are two things that gave me pause. First, please don’t spell krunch with a k. Also, if you want me to trust in your product, why won’t you fully disclose what’s in it? Seriously, is there something artificial you don’t want me to know about? Or are you afraid I’ll tinker around in my kitchen, come up with my own version of Manhattan Munch, and open an ice cream shop that competes with yours? Which is it?
I also tried the Italian Wedding Cake. They were upfront about the ingredients in this flavor, vanilla ice cream with almonds. “It tastes like a tortoni,” the woman at the counter told me. It did, sort of. I remember tortoni being much sweeter.
The portions are so big, we took home most of it. That’s how I found myself on the couch at eleven o’clock last night watching White Christmas while the air conditioning blasted, and I finished the last of Luci’s strawberry kiddie cup. It didn’t matter, I still got teary the first time this season I heard Bing and Danny, Vera-Ellen and Rosemary croon about snow.
Here is something funny about me. Living in New York, we see celebrities all the time. I usually don’t recognize them, but after we pass one on the street my husband will say, “Did you just see Cameron Diaz?” and I will turn around in time to catch a glimpse of blonde hair. He never points them out on the approach because he doesn’t want to be obvious. Turning my head and asking “Where?” kind of loudly probably defeats that purpose.
There is one celebrity I see all the time, and whenever I do, something possess me to become all mommy and paparazzi about it, and I have to take his picture. This celebrity is Mario Batali. I know, you were probably expecting me to say Leonardo DiCaprio or something. I have to tell you, I probably wouldn’t take his picture, (though I may mention to my mother that I saw him), but Mario Batali is a different story.
It’s not just because he’s so recognizable. I mean, do you know anyone else who matches the color of their crocs to the color of their hair? I don’t even know anyone who can work that color orange. It’s also that Del Posto is probably my favorite restaurant in Manhattan. My husband threw me a surprise birthday dinner there and the food was so good, it was a gift in itself. Oh luna piena with whitetruffle butter, I still have erotic dreams about you.
This may be why he inspires the food stalker in me. Today I was at Gristedes, and there he was, standing in line buying eggs. Eggs. Does that surprise you? What would you think Mario Batali would be buying in a grocery store? I would’ve thought he had a secret place where he procured eggs that taste better than any other egg in New York, or maybe he knows a guy who sells special eggs out of his trunk, but no, there he was standing in line buying regular eggs.
I tried to take a picture surreptitiously. It was hard because the line wasn’t long, and if he turned around, my intentions would’ve been obvious. Truthfully, I was also afraid I would blurt out, “I dream of your piena!” so I stayed hidden.
Luci has a spy camera, and when you look through the lens it appears as though you’re looking straight ahead, but you actually see out the side at the person next to you. With this concept in mind, I stared in front of me at a rack of potato chips, while holding my phone away and snapping a picture when he walked by.
I immediately texted it to my husband, Before I could add a “Guess who?” caption beneath, he texted back, “Mario!” He knows me so well.
Every winter as I was growing up, our family went to Florida to visit my father’s parents. There, on warm December days, you would find Jewish girls from all over the country sitting on chaise lounges and applying sunblock. At night, my new girlfriends would invite me to their grandparents’ condos, and that was the first time I got a glimpse of how people of my own culture who grew up in different cities welcomed Friday nights and celebrated the same holidays. As it turned out, there were songs and recipes I learned on our family vacations, that I wouldn’t have come to know otherwise.
Jamie was one of my favorite vacation friends. Her grandmother was originally from Chicago, and everyone loved having dinner at her place on Friday night because she made a blintz souffle. Jamie’s grandmother did not try to pass off the recipe as something that was handed down through generations. She told anyone who asked that the recipe was right on the Golden box.
Given that we had Golden blintzes in our freezer in Maryland from time to time, I was surprised I hadn’t come across this recipe myself. I started making it for break fast at Yom Kippur, and for Hanukkah dinners. It’s a perfect dairy dish that can be a main course or a dessert. The souffle itself isn’t very sweet, and the orange juice gives it some tang. The blintzes hidden in the middle are a bonus, adding rich flavors of cheese and doughy crepe, that blend with the sour cream and eggs in the batter.
I doubled the recipe and used two packages of cheese blintzes but you can use fruit too. Cherry blintzes are delicious in this recipe, and add some festive color.
Bring all your ingredients to room temperature for a smoother batter.