Rob and I just got back from the Azores, a magical string of Portuguese islands that are just a five-hour flight from New York. I’d never heard of them until my friend and travel guru Brandon raved about his trip there, describing them as “Portugal Hawaii, but with cooler weather.” They’ve also been compared to Iceland because of their extreme natural beauty and relative closeness to the States. We had high expectations but were blown away by the landscape—ranging from volcanic craters to craggy oceanfront cliffs to verdant jungle—as well as the simple but delicious seafood-heavy food and charming towns. We’re already scheming to go back with my parents and Lilly and her new baby brother in tow. Here’s my trip doc if you are thinking about a visit.
Next on my list: figure out the rest of the summer. I can’t believe it’s almost July, and know the next two months (and the rest of this pregnancy) are going to fly by. I’m tamping down my anxiety but doing what I do best: planning, making lists, and making more lists.
Limpets, a Portuguese shellfish that is somewhere between a mussel and an escargot
Here are some fun things to help you close out June.
Post-travel green things: We ate many delicious things in the Azores (including life-changing fried mackerel), but very little in the way of vegetables. Potatoes don’t count, despite what Rob says. As soon as we got home, I stocked our fridge with green things. The beauty of summer is that you can just toss everything on the grill (or in the oven if you have decent A/C) and add a great sauce. Lately I’ve been marinating vegetables after cooking them, and one of my favorite combinations is grilled zucchini with red wine vinegar, mint, toasted walnuts, and ricotta salata. For sturdy veggies like broccoli, green beans, or snap peas, I love a simple tahini yogurt sauce (literally: tahini, yogurt, salt, lemon juice—or here’s a recipe).
RIP Gourmet, long live Ruth Reichl: I was always an enthusiastic eater but it wasn’t until I read Ruth Reichl’s first memoir, Tender at the Bone, that I started to think about food as something that was multilayered, cultural, and worthy of careful and thoughtful scrutiny. I got a job in magazines because I loved—and aspired to work at—Gourmet. When the magazine folded I took it as a cue that I should pursue a career elsewhere. When I picked up Reichl’s new memoir, Save me the Plums, I was a little worried it would give me flashbacks to some of the frustrations of working at Condé Nast. While there was definitely some of that, it is also a lively and joy-filled account of what it was like to build a beloved brand, surrounded by some of the food world’s most people. I smiled through much of it, and immediately pulled out some of my Gourmet back issues to revisit stories like Anthony Bourdain’s account of cooking on a luxury cruise ship and David Foster Wallace’s famous “Consider the Lobster.”
Summer reading, cont.: I read American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson, while we were away and it was excellent. It’s about a steely, sharp woman who is enlisted by the CIA to carry out Cold War missions in Africa, but also about family and race. It’s both plot-y and literary and perfect for your next trip.
Cooling down: It’s hot hot hot out and I’m already nervous about how I’m going to survive the rest of the summer. Answer: Air conditioning, breezy dresses, and salted watermelon juice. We had a ton of watermelon left over from Lilly’s birthday party so I froze it and have been whizzing it up in the blender whenever I need a pick-me-up. My other go-to drink, especially when everyone else is cocktailing: fancy tonic (Fever Tree is my favorite) with lime and bitters. Close your eyes and it’s almost like drinking a G&T.
Brow rehab: Every makeup artist I’ve ever met has stressed the importance of great brows (and when you see a before and after picture, you really get it). I’ve been lazy about filling mine in but recently picked up Beauty Counter’s Brilliant Brow Gel (upon recommendation from Nandita and Rachel, obvi) and it’s so quick and easy that I’m back on the bandwagon. Unlike other gels I’ve used, it doesn’t crisp up when it dries and has impressive staying power.
Studying up on 2020: One of my goals this summer is to spend more time engaging with the news, including getting to know all the (many, many) potential Democratic presidential nominees. I thought this NYT 18 questions feature was excellent, and a great survey of their positions, and left this New Yorker profile of Elizabeth Warren deeply impressed with her intelligence and force of character. And during this week’s debates, I found the NYT live chat pretty interesting, as well as this tidy recap.
Rough-and-tumble sunglasses: I’ve basically given up on fancy sunglasses because I either lose or break them. But I also don’t want to just trot around in novelty shades, which is why I love Izipizi, a French brand that makes sturdy, stylish sunglasses that look cute and can stand up to a fair amount of abuse. Thanks to Hayley for turning me on to them!
Renting my way to 9/9: Pregnancy is a very good use case for Rent the Runway, and I’ve been using my Unlimited membership to keep up with my growing belly without investing in new pieces. Rachel (who is due in just two weeks!) also started this genius IG account with honest and useful reviews of all the pieces she’s rented throughout her pregnancy.
Last thing! If you’re not afraid to turn on your oven, highly recommend locating some key limes and making Alison Roman’s Key Lime Pie – it’s a little more advanced than the version I made growing up in Miami but worth it and perfect for the beginning of summer.
See you after the Fourth!