As I write this, it’s been exactly one week since my friend Jessica and I sat across from each other at a cafe on Park Avenue, indulging ourselves in what would be our final meal together in New York City. We talked about our lives, which entailed unresolved romances, frequently empty bank accounts, overly crowded subway rides, and unaffordable real estate. And we wondered, is it all worth it? With all the ugliness of the city also came beautiful experiences that were rarely captured elsewhere. For example, we were, at the moment scarfing down oysters doused in hot-sauce and lapping up as many margaritas as our bodies could handle. Happy-hour and half-off deals made these indulgences possible. We sat and chatted and laughed as strangers passed by. The evening sun reflected off of some of the most amazing architecture in the world. The city was ours in that moment. But, is all the exciting decadence worthy of all the hardships and challenges? No, it is not, she decided before we stumbled out on to the sidewalks full-bellied and jovial. All of this is not worth all of that. And so, there I was standing on the sidewalk with a dark feeling of loneliness looming. I knew that I would soon be sending her off, back to her homeland in Canada. I congratulated her on her decision to determine that no, all the struggles in the city are not worth the random and brief satisfactory moments. It takes guts to live in this city, but it takes even more guts to leave it. I congratulated her on her decision to say good-bye, good-bye to all that. And off she went, up north. And there she is, embarking on a new life.
Upon her departure, knowing my love for creating recipes, she thoughtfully left me a book, The Flavor Thesaurus, which inspired the recipe below. It takes a while to realize that, un-like cooking, there are no rules to life and the decisions you make are ultimately your own. You can only experiment with the flavors, some good, some bad and hope that some will better suit you in the end. You take them all, mix them together and hope for the right outcome, without actually knowing what that outcome is supposed to be. There is no “Flavor Thesaurus” for life, so dig in. Because, what else can we do?
Good-Bye to All That: Dark Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream
3 13.5 oz cans of coconut refrigerated milk fat (or 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream)
1 1/2 cups of almond milk (or 1/2 & 1/2)
1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup of diced black cherries
4 squares of chopped 85% Lindt Dark Chocolate
Separate the thick fatty part of the coconut milk. This works best when it is refrigerated for about hour or so. You can skim the thick park off the top, it will be the solid part of the milk. In a saucepan mix together the coconut milk, honey, cocoa, vanilla and almond extracts. Whisk at a low-medium heat until thoroughly blended. Make sure it is warm, but not boiling. Honey will not mix well with chilled liquid so heating the milk is important. Since I don’t like to wait around for the liquid to chill before making the ice cream, once the heated mixture is complete, remove from the stove into a separate bowl. Add the remaining chilled almond milk. This should set the temperature at a cool state again. Make sure the mixture is at least at room temperature and place in an ice cream maker. After about fifteen minutes, once the ice cream is semi soft, add the chopped cherries and chocolate. Mix until complete, for about another ten minutes. Eat. Serves 4-6.