Years ago when I was first married I enjoyed our weekend trips into Brooklyn and having Sunday dinner with the family. I was born and raised on Long Island where you drove to stores and really enjoyed the contrast of the tight knit community’s of the City. I loved all the little Grocery stores, Butchers and Bakeries and watching the interaction between the owners and their customers was really nice! Most of the owners knew their customers by first names as you had to walk home with your grocery’s, so you frequented the local stores for convenience. One such place was Georges Meat Market in my Husbands neighborhood. It was a Butcher shop that also carried some Italian grocery’s although not too many, as there was Tonys Grocery store across the street and both had their own territory so to speak! One day my mother in law asked me to go get some Black Coffee. She always would say after a big Sunday afternoon meal shall I make Demitasse? She always referred to black coffee or espresso as Demitasse. Another word lost in the shuffle remember when Pasta was referred to as macaroni! Well anyway she asked me to tell them to give me my darling daughters coffee as she thought I wouldn’t remember the brand Medaglia d’Oro Coffee. She was so cute. I walked over and asked for it like she said and they all burst out laughing. I actually thought it was funny too but decided it was better to remember the name for the next time. Several weeks later I went over to the market for a few items for Mama and while on line (it was really busy) I decided to have some fun with the owners son Frankie. I leaned over the counter and in front of a big line yelled out”‘hey Frankie did you say the Italian bread was 4 for a Dollar?” I had seen the sign for 2 for a Dollar but wanted to have some fun teasing him. Well at that minute all the people dove off line to get the Bread. It was so funny to see the look on his face from smiling to shock (OK you know what I mean) and then back to laughing out loud and he said OK we’re even now for all of us laughing at you for the coffee! It was really a great moment that I will always remember that made me feel connected to the store and with Frankie and now considered a regular. Oh and by the way I did offer to pay for the bread that “I” had put on sale, but his reply was absolutely not and I could still hear him laughing as I walked out the Door. After that day whenever I walked into the Shop he would look at me and give me a wink and then wave his finger and said Be Good today! Although George’s shop closed and has since reopened with new owners, on a recent visit as we passed I think I could still hear the laughter coming from behind the counter! Such Happy Memories!
The celebration of Holidays give us the opportunity to look back and appreciate the way things began and then reflect these sentiments to those we love and cherish. It is that time of year when people of all faiths, ages and customs share and delight in their own special way. Each year as I sit down to write my Christmas cards I’m always reminded of three favorite stories. Even though we keep in touch and updated with all our technology today, I still enjoy writing and receiving a pretty card in the mail. You know that phrase reach out and touch someone, well that’s how I feel! Several years ago while writing my cards, I poured myself a glass of wine and put on the Christmas Music and imagined I was up North in the cold weather. I wrote my usual notes and sang along with the songs (I’ve never out grown my quirky ways well anyway…) I finished the cards and got them mailed feeling like I was so ahead of myself. I could tick that off my list to do and move on. Well several days later the calls started coming in and asking what I was doing while writing my cards! I said Singing and having a glass of wine. They all laughed and said that explains why I had signed them Merry Christmas and Happy New York! I still laugh every time I think of it and yet also enjoy that I was caught up in my New York memory moments! Now I could say its in the genes, as another funny story was the year my Uncle Wilbert wrote out his cards and mailed them in New York City. He had the just opposite of my experience , as his friends and family all called to see if he was OK as they hadn’t received a card that year! He was equally surprised as he mailed them in the city and thought they would receive them faster. Well it turns out he had put them in the fancy gold boxes on the poles in New York (somewhere on Park Ave) and they were actually trash bins in the exclusive neighborhoods. He had assumed they were fancy mail boxes! We laughed so hard and realized that although it was like throwing money in the garbage, it actually was a priceless memory that brought a good laugh each year. My third Christmas card story was when one summer a few years ago we were cleaning our garage and found a box with cards in it. We checked the postmark and realized they were from ten years ago.We were about to throw them away when I realized one had not been open. I quickly opened it and to my surprise came money falling out of it. It had been from a very good friend Joe from Long Island. As we picked up the money we were laughing so hard and feeling embarrassed that we had never thanked him and he had never mentioned it. We immediately called him and explained and told him of our plan to order Chinese food that night with the money so we would have a memory that we could enjoy each year at this time! Three mistakes that have brought such laughs and now traditions as well. I have my husband proof read my cards, we mail them at the post office and when we get them, open them right away!
What a great Holiday week it has been! Last week at this time I was anticipating the arrival of my Daughter Stephanie and my nephew Sal. It is hard to believe it has come and gone although the extra pounds I put on are still reminders of all the great food we enjoyed. From the onset of making the pumpkin, mince and apple pies, mince tarts and homemade Blue Cheese crackers and Britalia Way stuffed bread, we laughed and reminisced of years past. The recipe for the Britalia Way bread will be on In the Kitchen above. The stuffed bread combines ground pork with Italian Sausage and Stilton Blue Cheese. The bread is a pizza recipe dough rolled thin and then stuffed. As usual the time passes so quickly and we were up baking pies till 2am! It was then a marathon the next day to get the Turkeys one traditional and one smoked (prepared by my son Stephen) in the oven and smoker and then prepare all the great side dishes while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade then followed by the Purina Dog Show. Now you have to imagine my nephew Sal, a Hyde Park Culinary Graduate trying to maintain a level of productivity by assigning Kitchen stations and prep work while keeping an eye on the clock to stay on schedule. I on the other hand was flying around in my usual whimsical way creating my Britalia Way holiday bread with a Bloody Mary in my Hand! LOL! We all know everyone will be happy and not really care if Dinner is a little late, rather having a fun story to gossip about the following week! We pulled it off and Cocktails and Canapes (OK so sausage bread is not really considered a canape but you get the picture) were enjoyed by all (12 of us)! With lively conversations and a tour of the Garden the day was so much fun! I’ve posted pictures in the gallery for you to check out. A special thank you to Joe for the great cookies and wine Biscuits and Pennsylvania Potato Pudding! Thanks to my Brother Bob for a delicious Caprese Salad, and Sherry for the great Pickled Shrimp and beautiful Peace plant. Thanks Stephen for getting up extra early to get the Turkey in the smoker and making the delicious Oyster Stuffing. I always conclude Dinner with a toast that the meal was only exceeded by the charm of the company and this was so true! Thanks to my husband Rocky, Stephanie, Stephen, Bob, Sal, Joe, Dave, Roy, Mike, Sherry and Terry!
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
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