Wednesday, June 22, 2011
The Dance and the Drink: Wealthy in Friends, Part 2
We had come from a salsa club where it was too loud to talk, but if you watched well, you could follow entire conversations in which partners exchanged no words. Near the front, our table offered a view of half of the club, and the people we could see dancing ranged in age from 22 to 72, appeared to be many different ethnicities, and to have come from different economic strata. A woman celebrated her birthday at a table next to us. She wore a belted saffron dress, the swingy kind of dress that a woman who dances should wear because the dress becomes part of the dance.
A man, approaching from the back of the club, slow-moving but confident, asked the woman in the saffron dress to dance. She agreed. And her dance told a story of humor and grace and sweat. She smiled the whole time, sometimes tipping her head back in a deep, full-bodied laugh. Dancers around this woman showed off their moves; they could spin, bend over backwards, and move their bodies to a perfect rhythm. But, the woman in the saffron dress didn't even seem like she was trying or thinking, for she had become music. Her dancing was honest.
Though we could have watched her for hours, I hadn't come to New York just to watch people. I had come to be with people I loved. My friend H nudged me to leave. As we passed the woman in the saffron dress's table, I stopped to tell her it had been a pleasure to watch her dance. She grasped both of my hands with both of hers—both hands!—and thanked me. Sometimes in a short exchange, it seems as a part of each person passes to the other. I hope I carry that contagion of moving joy with me forever.
H and I left, high on beauty, and started walking north. She told me she had a place that was quintessentially, classically, historically, and in many other ways New York. We walked to Grand Central, through Grand Central, out one side, then in again, climbing dark red carpeted stairs. We entered The Campbell Apartment. A young woman in a pearls and a black cocktail dress that defied era greeted us and led us to a banquette next to the fireplace.
At 10pm on a Monday night, the place was quiet in a good way. Other people sat scattered throughout the room, and though I could hear the murmur of voices, the vaulted ceilings and dark wood kept secrets. Zelda Fitzgerald could have raised herself from the dead and walked into the room, and her beads may have caught my eye, but I wouldn't have been surprised. In the corner, H and I talked, each enjoying a drink. Our conversations are always good; we have known each other since we were 16, but our conversations aren't stuck at 16. They have evolved as we have.
She is pretty, my friend H, and as we sat in the light of old chandeliers, her hair sparked gold and her wit bubbled like her pink champagne. She is at home here: the salsa club, the streets of Brooklyn, the old money of The Campbell Apartment, the dark greens in church gardens tucked between brownstones. When I visit her, I get to be home in this grand city as well.
Kentucky Ginger Sorbet
At The Campbell Apartment that night, I ordered a Kentucky Ginger, a drink that in its basic form is ginger ale and bourbon. But, this was no ginger ale, and this was one hell of a bourbon. The drink was strong, spiked with fresh pineapple juice and a house made ginger syrup. The bartender had muddled the mix with a sprig of fresh rosemary. I was in heaven. H had a sip. She said, "This can be a sorbet." Absolutely. A very delicious, fresh, heat-busting sorbet.
You will need:
1 pound fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 inch sprig rosemary
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons bourbon
To make the sorbet:
Pour the sugar and water into a medium saucepan with the rosemary and ginger. Place on medium heat, bring to a boil, boil for a minute or so, turn off heat, and let the mixture steep as it cools. This will be the simple syrup that will both sweeten and add mystery to the final product.
In a food processor, whirl the pineapple chunks until you've created as fine a puree as you can. Pour the cooled simple syrup through a strainer into the food processor. (If you really like ginger, as I do, feel free to add one or two of the slices of ginger.) Pour in the bourbon. (I know you're going to be tempted to add more bourbon, but don't. Hard alcohol isn't going to freeze in your freezer, and if you add even a little too much, the mixture will be perpetual slush rather than sorbet.) Cover the food processor and whirl again.
Pour the mixture into a container, lid it, and place it in the refrigerator for at least three hours to chill. Once chilled, follow the directions of your ice cream maker to turn the mixture to a sorbet.
Eat the sorbet late on a warm night. Enjoy the city.