Lost in a Pancake

Person: Martin
Location: Kalmar, Sweden
Recipe: Swedish pancakes with summer fruits

There was no question about it. Martin was lost in a pancake. The dwarf clown, Rainbow, had promised him a ride from San Francisco to Austin, Texas. Only now she was reneging. Something about the weather being off-kilter as predicted through the smoky, glass window of her Magic 8 Ball. A few too many clouds portended a dangerous trek.

He’d found her on Craigslist. Being from Sweden, he figured it was like Couchsurfing, safe and all. But Rainbow was a bipolar midget, 4′ 3″, with short, red hair as bright as a child’s balloon, talking a blue streak and emptying bag after plastic bag from the trunk of her Ford Escort, so they’d have room for other passengers.

At Rainbow’s group house, one of her housemates pulled him aside to set him straight. “She’s whack,” he whispered through a mouth half-covered by dreadlocks. “We all know it. But we put up with her. She pays half the bills.”

Martin was a producer at a theater company. Six months earlier, he’d asked for time off to travel and recharge his creative batteries; perhaps come back with ideas for a new show. That’s how he’d found himself in California, the place where ideas gush forth like geysers from an Icelandic spring.

But as he sank down in the crumb-laden cushion of a futon couch in an apartment in the Mission District to consider his fate (and whether Rainbow could be roused from her cumulonimbus funk), his mind drifted back to Kalmar. It was night. Lights were slowly rising on a stage. A man with a guitar was walking to the center of the stage. After a few moments, the audience began clapping its collective hands in anticipation; a performance was about to begin:

http://www.youtube.com/user/byteatern#p/u/3/cMc0vzcie0s

By the time he came to stay with me in New York though, Rainbow had relented. Maybe she consulted some cards or something; Martin couldn’t be sure. With the car now re-packed, they headed south along Highway 1 to pick up the other passengers. Kids just like him, who hadn’t known what they’d gotten themselves into either.

As they drove past L.A. and across Highway 10 through San Bernadino, Rainbow’s quirks continued. Fearing she’d running out of gas, she’d pull into a gas station whenever the arrow showed the tank half full. Martin wondered if he’d ever make it to Austin, let alone the East Coast.

He closed his eyes and began dreaming of a Swedish TV show from the 1960s, Vilse i Pannkaken (Lost in a Pancake), the one in which an innocent Swedish boy (played by an adult), falls into a giant Swedish pancake, only to find himself in an upside down world from which there’s no escape.

As Rainbow drove, headlong, across Arizona and New Mexico and deep into the heart of Texas, Martin comforted himself with thoughts of Swedish pancakes. The strawberries would be bursting just then and his mother (he could almost see her now as a haze of heat rose from the car’s roof into the clear, blue sky) would be standing at the counter whipping cream, transforming the cold, white liquid into light, airy peaks. Next, she’d take an iron pan and fill it with the golden batter. A few moments later, pleasure. Warm pancakes filled with summer fruit.

He could almost taste it. Like he could taste the dust against his tongue through the open window. Eventually, he’d make it to New York and my apartment. And one night, as we sat together, a harsh rain stirring up the sky, just as Rainbow had predicted, he made me pancakes, and all was right with the world.

Visit the Website of Martin’s theater company, Byteatern: Kalmar Lans Teater.

Recipe: Swedish Pancakes with Summer Fruit

Ingredients:

2 cup whole wheat pastry flour . 254 grams
1 cup whole milk . 200 millilitres
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt . 4 grams
5 – 6 tablespoons of butter . 84 grams

1/2 pound strawberries . 454 grams
1/2 pint heavy cream . 236 millilitres

Episode I: Strawberries

1. Cut strawberries into small to medium size pieces.
2. Place in saucepan and cook over low to medium heat, stirring to prevent sticking.
3. Allow to soften and warm slightly before placing inside pancakes.
4. Optional: Add honey or maple syrup as desired to sweeten.

Episode 2: Whip Cream:
1. Using hand mixer, whip cream to form stiff peaks.
2. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Episode 3: Pancakes

Add flour to 1 cup milk. Whisk to combine.
2. Add second cup of milk. Whisk again.
3. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt.
4. Add eggs to make a thin batter.
5. Heat 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat in an iron pan.
6. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into pan to form a circle.
7. Cook until the edges turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
8. Flip with spatula and continue cooking an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
9. Serve warm, filled with fruit and topped with whip cream.

And for music to cook by, check out the band, Pipes You See, Pipes You Don’t’s CD, Lost in the Pancakes:

Advertisements

Christmas in July

With New York City (and much of the U.S.A.) in the middle of a brutal heat wave, we need a little Christmas. Right this very minute! We need a little Christmas now!

And so to help alleviate the heat, the Couchsurfing Cook was inspired to write a song.
It’s sung to the tune of Mel Torme and Bob Wells’ heartwarming 1946 classic, “The Christmas Song” and is sure to put a smile on your otherwise red-cheeked (from the humidity) face.

Now I can’t promise that this song will prevent sweat from dripping down your brow and into your mouth as you stand broiling on a rush-hour subway platform, but perhaps humming it while lying in bed at 3 a.m. with a window fan blowing furiously at your naked body while you curse the used air conditioner you bought last summer on Craigslist (because a couchsurfer broke your new one) that’s so weak you wonder if it’s even worth the electric bill**, will make you feel at least a few degrees cooler.

**This is happening to the CS Cook right now!

With apologies to Mel Torme, the CS Cook presents “The Christmas in July Song”:

Piglets roasting on an open fire.

Piglets roasting on an open fire.

Sausage stinking up your clothes.

Sausage stinking up your clothes.

Ice cream cones, being sold from a truck.

Ice cream cones being sold from a truck.

That song will stop, with any luck.

Everybody knows cannoli and some funnel cake,

Everybody knows cannoli and some funnel cake.

help to make your clothes fit tight.

Help to make your clothes fit tight.

Hyper kids, with their mouths stuffed with sweets,

Hyper kids with their mouths stuffed with sweets.

will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know more food is on its way.
Like cotton candy spun around as if hairsprayed.

Like cotton candy spun around as if hairsprayed.

And every parent there is gonna cry,
when they learn corn costs five bucks to buy.

When told an ear of corn's five bucks to buy.

And so I’m offering this lemonade.

And so I'm offering this lemonade.

To locals and to tourists too.
Although you’ve been warned many times, many ways,
New York’s summer’ll make you brew.

Stay cool everyone!

Watermelons in red and green Christmas colors.

And for the strangest version of “The Christmas Song” you’re likely to see, click here.

The Couchsurfer Who Changed Everything

Marcel as I imagined him...

Ah, romance! The dirty, little secret of Couchsurfing. Sure, sometimes it’s all kumbaya, joining the world’s diverse peoples in a platonic group hug. But other times, CSers just wanna have fun, at least with people whom they know have already pre-booked their ticket home.

Yet I can state unequivocally, that in over two years of Couchsurfing, no man (or woman) has ever broken my Bristol-Palin like chastity.

That is, until Marcel.

From the moment we met, I knew Marcel was different: gentle, funny, willing to share the tiniest details of his life as if we’d known each other forever.

Initially, I swore I wouldn’t “out” our love on the blog. But now that I’ve changed my Facebook status to “In a relationship,” I’ve decided it’s time to let the world experience, as I did, the man – and day – I’ll never forget…

____________________________________________________________________

After Marcel and I awoke (he on his air mattress, I on my off-the-ground, queen-size bed). I suggested we hit the Lower East Side for breakfast at Panade, a “puff” cafe known for their sweet and savory choux pastry concoctions.

Panade girls staring at Marcel and me.

Marcel, having never experienced “puffs” in his country, the name of which I can never remember, took delicate bites of the cheese and rosemary and declared it better than the leaves he usually eats.

Choose your puff.

From there we walked to the Union Square Greenmarket, a perfect spot for people watching, as well as purchasing fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat, all by local purveyors, and at sizes even Marcel could chew.

Foolishly oblivious to the difference in our heights (did I mention Marcel is rather small?), I noticed his feet were worn to nibs by the time we arrived at the market! Helping steady him with my hand, we momentarily touched and, just then, something ineffable passed between us; at that moment, I knew our connection was much stronger than merely our mutual love of sleeping for free in other people’s homes.

After sharing a handmade Dutch pretzel (was he imagining us entwined?), he asked if we could stop at the Apple (PRODUCT PLACEMENT) store, to send an email. Immediately, my mood deflated. Was he writing to his girlfriend in his unpronounceable country to share with HER the fabulous day he was having with ME?

My hopes for love dashed, I sulked off to check my own email when, strangely, one from Marcel magically appeared on the screen: “THANK U FOR THE MOST PURR-FECT DAY OF MY ENTIRE LIFE!! I’M FALLING IN LOVE WITH U!!##$$, MARCEL!@#$%”

Our eyes locked across the crowded Apple store. We rushed into one another’s arms, the other guests too immersed in their iPods (PRODUCT PLACEMENT) to notice. After that, there was nothing, not even the fact that Marcel’s country only sells PCs, that could come between us.

Marcel and I relax at Sanctuary T.

Exhausted from the Apple store – and the excitement of our newfound love – we decided to recharge at Sanctuary T. There, in the dimly lit, Asian-influenced room, Marcel and I sipped mood-enhancing teas, grew tipsy from tea-infused cocktails, and ate tea-dusted main courses, secure in the knowledge that whatever herb or caffeinated beverage we imbibed could only further stimulate our feelings towards one another.

But just then, a dark cloud of recognition jolted us from our reverie: our day of love was nearly over, and soon Marcel would have to return to his difficult-to-locate-on-a-map country. Could our love withstand the oceans, mountains, hurricanes, mudslides, tsunamis, and occasional locust infestations, that routinely pummel his impossible-to-spell nation?

Teas and tea objects on display.

But there was no time to ponder, as night was upon us, and it was time for dinner.

Amazingly, Marcel had taken the initiative to read the New Yorker in the bathroom of my apartment earlier that day, and recommended we check out Millesime, a restaurant that had recently opened in a former no-man’s land (the East ’30s) that had begun trending hip.

Tiffany roof at Millesime.

There we found the Carlton Hotel, a Beaux Arts-style building built in 1904, recently renovated into a fashionable boutique hotel and now home to Millesime and the downstairs M Bar. As we entered the airy restaurant with its Tiffany glass sunroof, red leather banquette, marble bar, and candle-lit tables, it was as if – not only Marcel and I but the entire room – was aglow!

The dinner only heightened the exquisiteness of what we believed would be our last night together, beginning with the perfectly chewy yet crusty bread served with wine and olive tapenade, moving on to the perfectly prepared lobster on a bed of ice with house-made cocktail sauce and aioli, and ending with a simple yet elegant dessert consisting of a honeycomb square paired with a salty, French cheese.

The dining room at Millesime.

It was only then I saw Marcel crying.
“Why are you sad, my love?” I asked, barely able to contain my own tears.
Because,” Marcel squeaked, “We’re at the most romantic restaurant in New York, and I have something to give you.
He lowered his already small body down further to the ground and knelt on one knee.
Will you marry me?
Before I could answer, the wait staff burst into applause.
“Say, ‘Yes!'” they shouted.
And I did, amid tears and laughter, as a waiter lifted Marcel from the ground and carried him in his hand for all to see.

Downstairs at the M bar, we celebrated and danced, snacking on lamb chop lollipops and Basque-style popcorn, while the DJ spun songs from the ’50s, because Marcel said it reminded him of home.

____________________________________________________________________

Now that we’ve caught our breath, Marcel and I have decided to divide our time between New York and the land mass he calls home. Happily, we both still love couchsurfing and continue to host people when they come to visit. We do though still sleep in separate beds. After all, I don’t want to crush him.

Marcel was kind enough to make this video to share himself with all of you. I think you’ll agree, he’s just as described!
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To recreate my perfect day with Marcel, we encourage you to visit our favorite places:

Panade: 132A Eldridge Street
Union Square Greenmarket: From 14th – 17th Street between Broadway/University Place and Union Square East. Open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Sanctuary T: 337 West Broadway
Millesime and M Bar: 92 Madison Avenue

Cooking Like a Couchsurfer

My Brooklyn Kitchen

Where the Magic Happens

I don’t own a TV so therefore I don’t watch cooking shows.   I guess it’s ironic then that I’m about to start one.  A cooking show that is.  I mean, I do cook.  I like to cook.  Sometimes.  But other times I’m lazy and the idea of washing dishes sends me straight to my phone to order in Chinese.  So why would I want to start a cooking show? Online? Because I’m also a couchsurfer.  And I love hosting people from all over the world.  And when they’re here, I like to cook with them!

That’s right, starting May 12th.  I’ll be hosting couchsurfers in my one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn and cooking with them.  Dishes they like and make at home — or ones their mother or grandmother or uncle makes — specialties from around the globe.  And I’ll be interviewing them.  About their home country, what they eat for breakfast.  Anything really. And you can send in questions too.  I’m game for anything.

What’s different about the show?  Well, for starters, there are no star chefs here.  Just real people.  So you’re likely to see mishaps.  Maybe lots of them.  Stuff may spill.  Things could burn.  But that’s reality.  In the kitchen.  My kitchen anyway. Stay tuned!