Desmond Tutu said it best: "A person is a person through other people." I could not agree more. We need each other. But with that said I had a lot of exquisite moments and meals alone this summer. Of course there were plenty of times spent with others in revelry or eating beautiful food too. Here are the highlights.
Montauk. I had never been to Montauk or the Hamptons before so I took the Hampton Jitney for a day trip to Montauk. For starters the Jitney was the most pleasant bus ride I've ever been on. Once you board and get your seat, there's the equivalent of a flight attendant who sells you your ticket and then goes around handing out beverages followed by your choice of muffins or granola bars and then she hands out newspapers to everyone on the bus. Then she puts on this video about how no one is allowed to use their cell phone for the whole trip and you proceed to have the best bus ride ever on the way to Richlandia.
From what I could see most of the Hamptons look like the Upper East side but by the beach. The towns were super cute and packed with chic stores and perfectly manicured lawns and lots of landscape design shops. As I rode past Bridgehampton and East Hampton and Amagansett I wondered if Montauk would look the same. I was glad to see the landscape change--I could see the ocean and the building looked smaller, less manicured and more relaxed. After three and a half hours the bus made its final stop, I got off and walked right to the beach. I picked a spot immediately, spread out my picnic blanket and took out my goodies to eat: roasted vegetables, salad greens, sliced roasted pork loin, cheese, olives and a baguette. I ate enough so that I was full but had leftovers for later then I took a snooze. I really didn't do much that day except read, eat, look at the ocean and people watch--but it was so satisfying and relaxing. I'd go back to Montauk anytime. When I returned to Manhattan later that night I had a light meal, went to bed and had one of the best night's sleep ever.
Afropunk festival. Quite the opposite of soothing Montauk--Afropunk was packed full of sounds to make you dance and sing. My first night there I saw Erykah Badu and Mos Def. The next day I went back and ended up hanging out with friends and watching Toro y moi, Jonelle Monae, and TV on the Radio. All awesome.
Atlanta and Serenbe Farm. I went with my family to Atlanta--one of my former hometowns--and we stayed at a friend's gorgeous Victorian oasis in this city. We also went to Serenbe Farms for brunch and a stroll and I had the best biscuits and fried green tomatoes and catfish. Southern food done right. I bought some of the delicious preserves like Peach butter and strawberry lavender and hot pepper jelly to take home with me.
Other highlights include going to Melvin van Peebles' 80th birthday party, seeing Shakespeare in the Park, and reading the amazing novel Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Besides wine, my drink of choice this summer has been my own homemade Strawberry Liqueur. Here's the recipe.
1 to two pints strawberries
4 cups Vodka
2 cups sugar—plus 2 tablespoons a week for a total of 4 weeks
2 16-ounce mason jars
1. Hull your strawberries. Rinse or brush them and place them in a clean mason jar.
2. Add the sugar to the jar followed by the vodka.
3. Seal the jar and place it in the refrigerator.
4. After a week remove the jar from the refrigerator. Get out the second clean mason jar and pour only the vodka into it—keeping the strawberries in the original jar.
5. Put a lid on the jar with the vodka and put it back into the refrigerator.
6. Add a cup of sugar to the jar with the strawberries. Put a lid on that jar and place it back in the refrigerator. Over the course of the next week the sugar will extract more liquid from the strawberries. Let the strawberries sit in the fridge for a week.
7. Once seven days go by take out both the jar of strawberries and the jar of vodka.
8. Strain any liquid from the jar of strawberries into the jar of vodka. Keep the strawberries in their original jar. Once you’ve pour the new strawberry juices into the vodka—close that jar and put it back into the refrigerator.
9. Keep the jar with the strawberries open and add another tablespoon of sugar. Close the jar and place it back in the refrigerator for a week.
10. Repeat the straining of the strawberry juices into the jar of vodka and the addition of one cup of sugar to the strawberries one more week.11. At the end of this four week process the strawberry liqueur is complete