We started our American potluck trip in New York City. Of course. New York has felt like home for decades now. This glorious, grimy gorgeous city has so many stories, so many flavors, and so many people we love. How could we not start here?
Danny and I were jet-lagged, bedraggled, happy, and ready. (Lucy spent the evening with two of her best New York friends, playing princess beach house, thrilled to be around kids after 10 days in Italy with only adults.)
There’s something a little terrifying about throwing parties in a city where you don’t live. Will people come? Will they bring enough food? Will they have a good time? We shouldn’t have worried, of course. Something magic happens when you ask people to gather around food.
It was a fine night, indeed.
The thing about New York food is that it’s every food at once. Many people told us they had great conversations before the party about what to bring. What is New York?
Well, if it’s anything like the scene that greeted us at passport control at JFK, it’s the flavors of Bengal, Iraq, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Singapore, the Basque country, Japan, Senegal, and Israel.
And knishes. Of course, knishes. The extraordinary Jackie Gordon made roasted garlic, schmaltz, caramelized onion, and spinach potato knishes. Gluten-free.
Now that is New York.
It was a fine happy madness about 20 minutes in. There was so much laughter and hands reaching for food across the table that we could hardly hear ourselves think. There was no thinking. There was only celebration.
The wonderful Katie Workman brought kugel (it contained gluten, so no eating it for me. But Danny loved it.). She told us the story of how she made a pan of it with her then-18-month-old son the afternoon of September 11th, when her husband was away and the city was in panicked disarray. It was the first time they cooked together. She has never forgotten it.
Kugel! How could I have forgotten kugel? That’s going in the cookbook.
We are so grateful to the folks at the GE Monogram Design Center, who allowed us to use their gorgeous space for the party. They also provided this lovely spread of cheese and gluten-free crackers, waiters pouring wine and sparkly water, and a most inviting space for us all to gather. Thank you, especially, to Paula Cecere for making this possible, and Maggy Keet, for connecting us.
How could it not be a great party with this guy attending? What a fabulous night.
And there were fall fowl balls with concord grape sauce.
Black and white cookies! Gluten-free.
These were so soft and lovely. Hm. I have a version of these on this site, but I might just have to remake them for the cookbook.
Something shocked me, happily, at this party. We imagined these parties would be full of gluten, since we asked for the originals. We lined up ingredients to make gluten-free dishes to make sure our celiac and gluten intolerant friends would have something to eat.
In New York, the gluten-free table overflowed with food. People, you outdid yourselves!
There was a tiny ghetto of gluten food on the other side of the room. I think there were four dishes.
Knock me down. I was so happily surprised.
There was Filipino chicken adobo, made by our wonderful book editor, Justin Schwartz. That went fast.
The hit of the gluten-free table, however, was this pineapple cheese ball, made by our friend Michelle Buffardi. She has a book of cheese balls, called Great Balls of Cheese, coming out next month. Seriously, buy it. This was delicious!
(It was so good that it later acquired its own hashtag on Twitter: #pineapplecheeseball.)
We were surrounded by dear friends and fellow writers, folks from some of the best food sites and magazines in America.
But my favorite guests may have been this mother and daughter, who drove from New Jersey to attend the party. Barbara thanked me for this site, saying that her girl had been so sick for years she worried she would never be well. When they discovered that Alisa has celiac, they were relieved to have an answer but a little freaked out about how she could live happily. Finding this site gave them relief.
That’s why we do what we do, after all. We hope to remind you how good life can be, gluten-free.
Barbara and Alisa, thank you for coming. Your Cuban black beans and rice were delicious, by the way.
It was an extraordinary few days in New York. We’re on the road now I’m writing this from a hotel room in Morganstown, PA and we already have so many stories to share. I’ll be updating here every day, bringing you photos of good food and people.
But we are so happy we began this trip with the New York City potluck. Where else could we begin?
We love you, New York.
We want to send out a huge thank you and acknowledgment of the good companies that have come forward to sponsor this American Road Trip Potluck Tour for us all.
Thank you to these three companies, as well as the companies that might be joining us, for their sponsorship of this tour.