Wednesday, July 9, 2008
As I've moved from one part of the the city to another throughout the years, I've learned that with each borough and neighborhood you cross, you experience the city in a different way. In the the Village, everyday was a party, the streets lined with tourists, natives and noisy party goers alike, at all hours at all hours of the day or night. Chinatown was a carnival of color and a festival for the senses; the smell of fried dumplings at lunchtime, the incessant ramble of haggling tourists in the afternoon, and sidewalks lined with neon green radiator fluid in the mornings, were all daily reminders that I was close to home.
These days I've been learning to appreciate Hell's Kitchen. Having originally moved here just after a major snowstorm in the dead of winter, I must say that it took some time for me to begin experiencing the nuances of my new neighborhood. As springtime rolled by I learned that once I passed that creepy block behind the Port Authority and elbowed my way past several awestruck midwesterners, Hell's Kitchen had it's own distinct feel. The diversity of the neighborhood is still staggering to me. Just during my 15 minute walk to and from work I hear at least 6 languages and spot a new type of restaurant every day. During my summer walks home I get to breath in the warm summer air, thick with the scent of melting asphalt. As I walk further west towards home and closer to the water I can feel a warm breeze cut through the sticky July air. Nearing 10th Avenue, I can see the sun shining off the Hudson and I'm thankful to be just a few seconds from waking into a blissfully air-conditioned apartment.
It's on days like this that it's hard to muster the strength to stand over a hot stove or stick my face in front of a burning oven. So, I make sure and have a few no-cooking-necessary dinners ready to help me out. Cooking seasonally is a great way to avoid a lot of stove time, since the fresher the ingredients, the less you have to do to make them taste great. This week I made a wonderfully delicious and ridiculously easy salad of melon, mozzarella and prosciutto. You don't even have to bother scooping the ingredients into balls if you don't want to, they can be squares, or you can even buy the pre-done bocatini (but the salad is a lot cheaper if you do it for yourself). It's a classic Mediterranean pairing of ham and melon with the added bonus of salty cheese, fruity olive oil and bright lime zest. There isn't really a recipe today, just the general method of how to construct the salad.
Melon, Mozzarella and Prosciutto Salad
Toss equal quantities of melon, mozzarella and prosciutto (the idea is to have one of each in every bite) with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Top with lime zest. Enjoy!