Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just honk and GO!

I am back from a wonderful weekend in New York City with my family. Out of all things to do and to buy in NYC, I went grocery shopping! I was there for almost 3 days and I went to the grocery store twice! I always enjoy going to the grocery store when I am in another country (which is not too often). One of the reasons I like to go is to feel like a local and to get a tiny taste of what it's like to live there.

There was a Trader Joe's a few blocks away from our hotel. I had never heard of this place until my sister told me. Have any of you ever been there? It's amazing and so cheap!! I found my grocery shopping experience just as exciting and fun as sight seeing. As I walked down the aisles, I filled my cart with so many goodies. I had to take a lot of it out. Either we would not have time to eat it or I would not have been able to carry it all back to the hotel. As I got to the cash (after a looong lineup), the cashier asked me if I wanted paper or plastic bags. I asked for the sturdiest one so she replied by saying that she would give me paper bags. She then asked me if one bag is enough to which I replied "do you charge for bags?". (They charge for bags in Montreal). She couldn't help but laugh and quickly asked "Where are you from?" Remember when I said that one of the reasons I like to go to grocery stores is to feel like a local? Well the cashier's reaction confirmed that I was NOT a local. I took my big bag of goodies and made my way back (walking fast like the locals).

I came home with one souvenir from our trip. A delicious jar of Cocoa and Almond spread (and a half eaten bag of mini bagels).

As I was walking down the streets of New York, I was asking myself why so many people (including me) love this city so much. It's noisy, it's crowded, it's dirty, it smells like garbage and urine and the people are rude! Everything moves so fast (too fast!) in NYC. I remember when I was in Times Square, a car was trying to turn on a green light. A stampede of people were rushing by the intersection. Despite his best efforts, the driver was slowing down the already slow traffic. I found it hilarious when the lady who was controlling the traffic was screaming at the driver "Just honk and go! Just honk and GO! SIR... JUST HONK AND GO!!!"

In honor of this beautifully chaotic city, here is the recipe of one of its most popular street foods: Pretzels!

Soft Pretzels

1 cup warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups flour (plus more for dusting)
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse salt
4 tbsp melted butter

Warm milk in a saucepan until it is about 100-110F. Transfer milk to a mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast. Stir to dissolve. Let the yeast soften for a few minutes. Add sugar, salt and stir to dissolve. Add flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic. Let rise at least 1/2 hour.

While dough is rising, prepare a baking soda-water bath with 2 cups warm water and 2 tbsp baking soda. Stir often. After dough has risen, pinch off bits of dough and roll into a long rope (about 1/2 inch or less thick) and shape. Dip pretzel in baking soda-water bath and let it poach for about 20 seconds. Place on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Allow pretzels to rise again. Bake in 450F oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Coat warm pretzels with melted butter, let the butter dry for a minute and ENJOY!

(best if eaten the same day)

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