"Robyn, I wanted to give you a first place award for 'Teeth of the Month', but I'm afraid I'll have to give you this instead."
My dentist is a funny guy. But I haven't even gotten to the funny part yet.
I got a cavity. :'( Not just any cavity but the first cavity in my adult teeth, meaning this cavity-ed tooth is going to stay in my mouth until I die (well, I hope I don't need dentures) unlike those "practice" baby teeth that left my jaw along with the signs that I had eaten too many sweets (I had two cavities when I was little). Everything seemed to be alright as Dr. Kent poked around my teeth feeling for cavities (his way of saying you have good teeth is to lament, "Your teeth are dull and uninteresting"). Since it had been two years since my last x-rays, he took some more just to be safe. And that is where the doom was.
"Robyn...you have a cavity."
"A...I do?" But you just said my teeth were dull and uninteresting! DULL AND UNINTERESTING. Can we go back to that?
"Yup. I wouldn't have found it without the x-rays, but it's right here." He pointed to a spot on the side of my upper right molar in the photo that was just a smidge darker than the rest of the tooth. Teeth aren't supposed to do that. Crap.
I suppose if I had to have a cavity anywhere, the upper right molar would be the most likely place. As I said, it was on the side of the tooth, not the...um, the "chomping" side (hey, I'm not a dentist; I can say whatever I want). This seems like the kind of problem that flossing is supposed to prevent. Well, guess what kiddies—I floss! I've been flossing ever since I got my wisdom teeth out since the removal of four teeth unsurprisingly made my back teeth shift and increase the gap between my back molars and the other molars. While I haven't had a problem with the bottom gaps, the top gaps tend to trap a lot of gunk in there. You could dislodge full broccoli florets from there, I'm sure. I floss between every tooth, but I pay more attention to the back teeth. Which makes it even more funny that that's where I happened to get a cavity.
HAHAHA, LAUGH IT UP!
He cleaned my teeth as usual and then got out the fun needle and the drilling tools. I recall when I was little having the entire side of my face drugged into "you could stab a fork in my cheek and I wouldn't feel a thing" numbness, while today it was only the small area around the problem tooth that was numbed. I guess cavity filling procedures have changed in the past 10+ years. [phew] One thing I definitely don't remember from my childhood is the smell of burning tooth enamel being whizzed away by a drill. After today I can shove that pleasant sensation in the ol' memory bank.
Obviously, I'm not going to stop eating sweets because I had a cavity in the most at-risk location in my mouth. Should I eat less? Um. Well, despite whether or not you're worried about your teeth, eating craploads of sweets isn't beneficial to your health. I should eat less food overall, not just sweets.
On that note, let's go on a wonderful journey entitled, "THE MOUNTAINS OF FOOD I ATE THIS WEEKEND". (Other possible title: "OW, MY STOMACH")
My mum and I drove to High Falls in upstate NY (because anything that isn't around Mahattan is "upstate") to spend the weekend at the Arbor Bed & Breakfast. I was entited to a complimentary stay in exchange for redesigning Nancy's website, which I completed a year ago. Annnnd so a year later I finally took the opportunity to spend some time with my mum and relax in a non-Internet laden environment under Nancy's hospitality in her beautiful house.
On Saturday after leaving our things at the B&B, we walked to Chefs On Fire for lunch. The restaurant is in the basement of Depuy Canal House, which has another more formal restaurant on the top floor. Since COF has a large pizza menu, it was obvious what I had to order.
Why does my pizza look brown? Turns out that COF's pizza toppings included brown cheese. Yes, GEITOST! Who the hell puts geitost on pizza? I certainly didn't eat any geitost pizza in Norway. Geitost must be one of the least known cheeses in the US, at least when it comes to a pizza topping. Of course, I ordered it. The base mozzerella and basil pizza was topped with thin slices of geitost (I could've left out the mozzerella, but...er, nah, at least I was sure that I'd like the mozzerella in case the geitost was unpalatable). The result was interesting, certainly not bad, also certainly not something I'll ever crave for in my dreams. Mozzerella is smooth and stringy upon melt-age, while geitost sticks to your mouth and has no elasticity. It's quite obvious why I was drawn to the idea of geitost pizza (I LOVE DEM WEEGIES!); as for why anyone else would be, I don't know. If you're not aware that geitost tastes like savory caramel, you'll be in for a surprise.
Nothing says Slice like an upskirt shot. I think the pizza was better than average, but my biggest problems were that the crust wasn't crispy enough and there was too much cheese. Later I'd find out that Corinne customizes her pizza to be made extra crispy and light on the cheese. Duh, why didn't I think of that? On the plus side, I found the crust to have a pleasant smokey flavor that I don't find in most pizzas.
For no reason, here's Nancy's kitty. Awww, lookit them little white paws!
For Saturday night's dinner, my mum, Nancy and I went to Corinne's and Michael's house in Stone Ridge, tucked into the depths of a forest I would never be able to find on my own. In order for this dinner to not seem completely random, I should give some backstory. Corinne was my teacher during sophomore year for my "food and communications class" ("food journalism" would've been a better name) and after designing the class's project website, she asked me to redesign her website. That job led to me redesigning Michael's (her husband) website as well, and later Nancy's website since she's a good friend of their's. My summer of 2005 was largely dedicated to websites. We're all connected in a big web of digital goo.
Ever since I worked on Michael's site for e-House, I've wanted to visit it. I had to stare at photos of it and read its praises long enough, yeah?
Any house with its own website is obviously more than just a house. It's...THE HOUSE OF THE FUTURE! Seriously, I took that off the homepage. And by "future" I don't mean The Jetsons, but the near future, something you could live in during your lifetime. He designed the house to utilize ecologically sound technologies and materials that may not be out of reach, but aren't used much either. For instance, the floors, some furniture, bookcases, and other parts of the house that could be made out of wood are made out of bamboo (like the staircase in the photo). It looks sleek and natural and feels like awesome. And...uh, it has other benefits. We don't exactly have bamboo forests in the northeast, but I don't think bamboo is used in this way even in places that it is grown.
So...that's just one thing. If you want to learn more about the house, check out the press page. Something that may not be in the press material (I haven't read it all...come on, there's a lot of it) is that they plan on turning the land around the house into a fruit orchard. Imagine waking up in the morning to a sea of fruit trees! Holy crap. I think they may grow something besides fruit, although not so much food that they'll be self-sustaining. They're not growing the food for themselves as much as letting another farm utilize the land to make some profit from the harvest. It's a cool idea, eh? No use in letting the land sit as a manicured lawn.
I mentioned dinner, right? Right. FOODING TIME!
Corinne started us off with this savory tart of soft goat cheese, a layer of caramelized onions, black olives and anchovies. Oh god. The yums. Despite not liking olives, this tart was still awesome (as I do love caramelized onions and anchovies). Corinne told me the recipe for the perfectly flavy crust as something like "a few cups of flour, a stick of butter, and some cold water". Stick of butter—I like the sound of that.
For vegetable side dishes we had whole asparagus spears and (roasted?) eggplant slices. I don't think they were seasoned with much else besides butter and salt. Not that you need anything else. I've rarely eaten eggplant in my life, but if it always comes in savory custard-smooth form, I'll have to change my eggplant eating habits.
The main protein was baked chicken. Lots of it. All I could eat was this one leg. One juicy leg wrapped in crispy skin. ...Trust me, I wish I could've eaten more, but the ol' stomach whined, "Nooo uhu h u uhh huh ow" or something equally incomprehensible.
Actually, my stomach was just keeping an eye out for me so that I could eat the rustic blueberry tart that resembled a blueberry-filled pastry volcano. It oozed with plump blueberries and nectarine chunks bursting with their own flavor, not needing the help of too much extra sugar. The crust, like the savory tart, was flaky and buttery. Corinne used almost the same crust recipe except she replaced the water with egg. After finishing my first large slice, I ate another (smaller!) one depite my groaning stomach. The tart somehow tasted even better the second time around. Did my second piece contain more butter? Ooh yeah.
Don't worry, I didn't go back for thirds.
I don't know the last time I had a homecooked meal like that. Simple, perfect, 1000% satisfying without being starch-heavy. If I get the chance to visit them again in the winter, they'll make pizza in their coal oven thats attached to the fireplace. WHY MUST THEY TEMPT ME SO?!
The next morning after a night of little sleep due to freak mucus explosion (I couldn't breathe through my nose and woke up a few times with an uncomfortable "drier than bone dry" mouth) possibly brought on by being surrounded by so much nature, I was greeted in the kitchen by Corinne, who visits Nancy every Sunday morning to hang out over breakfast. My mum was too tired to come down (I had kept her awake with my nose blowing), which was a huge loss on her part because brunch ended up being another round of awesomely filling home cooking.
I watched Corinne plop two whole eggs into a dish of cream and butter, sprinkle the top with grated parmesan and herbs, then bake the dish in the oven for a few minutes to create shirred eggs. If I knew earlier that there was such a delicious, beautiful, and easy to make egg recipe out there, I would've tried it earlier. My history of egg cooking mainly consists of overcooked semi-scrambled concoctions (which I enjoy eating, no matter how rubbery they may turn out to be).
The egg whites were delicately soft, like clouds. Egg clouds. Jiggly, jello-y egg clouds protected by a nanometer of cheese-egg-herb crust. You could get a runny yolk just by baking it for less time, but I prefer my chicken embryo nutrients solid.
Fruit came in the form of fresh canteloup and blueberries and some jam to go with my toast. As someone who didn't grow up eating toast (my house has never had a pop-up toaster, just toaster ovens), I'm not accustomed to eating browned slices of bread. But that's horrible! Toasting makes bread so much better, figuring the bread isn't freshly baked out of the oven and that you don't turn it into carbon. While jam taste good, I could never prefer them as an accompaniment to toast over soft butter. Buuuttterrrr. I love you so much. And jam is alright. I guess.
Who wants ginger biscotti and banana walnut bread? ME! (Yes, I really nail you with these tough questions.) I ate almost all of this, save for one slice of banana bread that I gave to my mum when she eventually emerged from our room. That's what happens when you don't have anyone to share with. GLUTTONY.
Corinne told us that the house had originally been darkly colored (please, let's not decorate our homes with wood paneling) with carpeting covering up the original wooden floor (this is also a big no-no; think of the wood!). While I didn't see what the house originally looked like, I'm sure Nancy transformed it from something blech into a warm, rustic home filled with colorful refurbished antique furniture.
If you get the chance, be sure to visit the Arbor Bed & Breakfast! When we left on Sunday morning a young couple and their daughter from NYC were checking in. Like almost anywhere outside of the city, it's a nice getaway from omnipresent pollution, air that manages to smell and feel like body fluids and mutant rats that are ten times larger than nature intended them to be. Corinne and Michael obviously figured that out or else they wouldn't have built a weekend house in the middle of "nowhere".
(Oh, of course I love NYC to death! Those rats are a real hoot. As long as they don't touch me.)
I'm lucky to know such great, hospitable people like Nancy, Corinne, and Michael. Oh, and my mum, of course, who I enjoyed spending time with. Also, I couldn't think of anyone else who'd be interested in going to a bed & breakfast with me and could bear listening to me blow my nose all night without wanting to silence me in a physically damaging way.
Check out something awesome: Menutopia! It sounds like a great magical land of menus, but it's actually a website. (Not that you thought it was a physical piece of land. Noooo, who would think that?) The layout and functions work like a dream (for me at least); no eye-raping design here. It could use more menus and reviews, but those things take time to put up. If we all combine our food-loving powers, perhaps we can make it awesomer.
You should check out Z Kitchen, official site of Bryan Zupon's semi-legal food service business. This 20 year old Duke University student cooks up molecular gastronomy influenced dishes like something out of wd-50 and serves them in his student apartment. Z Kitchen is "'not a restaurant or catering service' but rather a 'place where he cooks for guests in exchange for cash donations'" says Jeff Yang in his article about Asian Americans and their part in the culinary world, or something like that. (Good thing I'm not a copy writer, eh?) If this guy is starting a pseudo-restaurant now, where will he be in a few years?
...man, I'm totally doomed.
Another problem with tan shirts: IT'S MOTHER-FUCKING BOOZE TIME. God, I love that shirt. It's so not Robyn. Robyn does not do "booze time". But that's what makes it awesome.