Soup and Bread

S&B Tour 2011: NYC

On November 17, we landed in Brooklyn. You would never know we were an hour late!

We took off from Philadelphia as early as possible — after we did one last load of laundry and cleaned spilled squash soup off of the back seat of the car. It looked distressingly like a we’d given a ride to a queasy baby there for a while.

But, soon enough, we were off, winding north through Bucks County. We took the scenic route, along route 611, so as to make a quick stop in Riegelsville, PA — where my Grandma grew up. I miss her and wanted to say hi.

Hi Grandma!

OK. Back in the car.

We snaked through the Lincoln Tunnel and charted a ballsy course across Manhattan at midday, then zipped over the 59th Street bridge on the vertiginous outer roadway and skidded up to the door of Long Island City’s Tom Cat Bakery around 3 pm — in time to pick up the bread donation we’d nailed down scant hours earlier. Back in the car and off to Prospect Heights, where we dumped our personals at Sari and Josh‘s and then, again, back in the car and a swoop around the park to Littlefield. Which we had to circle the block several times to find, but once we did it was perfect.

As our soups warmed, we heard reports that Occupy Wall Street had shut down the Brooklyn Bridge a mile and change away; I got multiple texts that night from friends on the bridge who couldn’t — and didn’t want to — leave. But some of them did make it to Littlefield later, to join the friends and the curious who came out to sample soup from an all-star cast of cooks. Above, from left, are food writers Raquel Pelzel, Cathy Erway, and Dave Klopfenstein, with Caroline Hahm — most recently of M. Wells — and Alexis (crap. last name?) from Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village.

Saveur web editor Helen Rosner made a tasty carrot-ginger soup, and dished it up alongside Anna Wolf, proprietor of My Friend’s Mustard, who came bearing a dill havarti-potato-beer soup with mustard garnish ….

… with optional bacon. It is now officially a tour meme.

In general, we seemed to have had some trouble getting the word out to our New York people this trip. Where last year 200+ jammed the Bell House, this event was more sedate. Why? Who knows. Maybe we used up our allotment of New York publicity last time around? Maybe EVERYONE was on the Brooklyn Bridge? Maybe the message was muddled? (One New Yorker exclaimed, with delight, “I didn’t know there would be free food at this thing!”)

What we do know is that everyone who did come was aces. We raised a tidy $350 for the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and the whole night provided the perfect party balance of old friends and new, with just enough enthusiastic strangers to keep us on our toes. Thanks so much to everyone who turned out! Pictured above: Good Fork co-owner Ben Schneider and the fabuloso Amy Warren, both escaped Chicagoans now moving and shaking in New York City.

Best of all was the news that plans for a truly New York Soup & Bread are in the works, courtesy of the super Caroline Hahm. Possible hosting venue: Trophy Bar, scant blocks from my former digs on what was, in the early 90s, the very wrong side of the Williamsburg tracks. It’s a work in progress, but I so hope it comes together. If it does, I’m totally coming out to eat soup and watch someone else do the dishes.

After the back-to-back push of two events, we took a break. The rest of the weekend was spent seeing friends and relaxing. We still didn’t get much sleep, but it was worth it. We hooked up again with Wes and the King Charles Trio at City Winery; we checked out the new brunch menu at the Good Fork. I went for a run in Prospect Park and took a walk on the High Line, pictured above. (Note to Chicago: Get it together. We can do this.)

I made a few sales calls as well, stopping in at Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg and, with Sari, at BookCourt in Cobble Hill. Buyers at both were instantly on board, picking up, respectively, 10 and 5 copies on the spot. New Yorkers, please patronize these lovely establishments! We want to see the Soup & Bread Cookbook on the BookCourt bestseller list!

And then, it was time to go home. On our way out of town we stopped in Bushwick for a live chat with Cathy, on her Heritage Radio show Let’s Eat In. This was the most adorable thing ever: A radio station housed in a shipping container, on the back patio of a local, sustainable pizza joint. We talked soup and ate pizza and I don’t think I embarrassed myself too badly. Here: You can judge for yourself.

After that, thoroughly charmed, we hopped back in the car and started driving west. Though I did make Sheila stop at the clog store on our way out of town. C’mon. It was TOTALLY on the way.

So long, New York. We miss you. But we hope to be back very soon!

Posted: Sunday Dec 4,2011 01:14 PM In S&B Cookbook

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