The egg sandwich that saved the day

All the color I needed on an otherwise grey ass day.

“This just isn’t gonna happen for me today,” I thought, as I laid on my back on the floor, still in my pajamas, on the rug in my bedroom. I was talking about working out, which I normally do before work every morning, but really, it turned out to be applicable to so much more.

It was snowing when I woke up, and while I don’t usually mind the snow, today it only added to my general feeling of malaise. When my needy desire for affection got the best of me and I tried to scoop up my cat from the window where she was peacefully minding her business, watching the snow, she taught me another lesson in boundaries and freaked out, flailed, and knocked over one of my plants, breaking the brontosaurus planter it was in and sending dirt and broken succulent bits all over the floor.

“Ok, fine then, Universe. I’ll just shower.”

Under the scalding hot water I hoped would wash away my listlessness, I planned for the workday ahead. I would turn the lights up, diffuse energizing essential oils, play upbeat music, and not wait till late afternoon to make some tea. I was going to be alert, focused and productive, goddammit.

Then the power went out.

But not completely, because that would’ve been too easy, and would’ve meant calling out of work and reading in bed all day, like I wanted to do. Cruelly, one outlet worked in my room, the one near my dresser, where I put my laptop when I need it to be a makeshift standing desk. Nothing in the kitchen turned on. Randomly, the lights in the bathroom also worked.

Motivation was at an all-time low, even by pandemic standards, and by the time it was finally lunchtime, what felt like 12 hours after I’d started work, I was hangry enough to scream if I got just one more email. I put all my layers on, slipped on the snow boots that’ve gotten more use this winter than in the past three years, and trudged through the still-falling snow to pick up lunch at reliable, consistently delicious Golda, a couple of blocks away from my apartment.

There, in addition to a hot, creamy matcha latte with oat milk, I ordered the classic egg sandwich with added avocado and brought it back home, where I ate in my room, sitting by the window where my cat had so unceremoniously reminded me that she will at best tolerate me, not love me. That egg sandwich though, which I’d had before, made everything better. The giant onion poppy seed challah bread felt like a carby cloud in my hands and the whole thing oozed with scrambled eggs, melted cheese, avocado, and a tangy red pepper sauce.

Anyone that doesn’t believe in the transcendent power of food is an asshole, because let me tell you, that big, beautiful scrambled egg sandwich saved my whole day. It was hopeful. It was encouraging. It was so very freakin’ good. and absolutely delicious. It basically told me, “Don’t worry, you’re halfway there. The lights will come back soon, you’ll be able to make dinner tonight, and even if your cat never shows you she loves you, she probably does. Maybe.” That egg sandwich was the hug that I’ve been needing all day, all week, all miserable quarantine.

Home with a croqueta preparada

I have yet to hear a compelling enough argument to make me want to move back to Miami, (especially when I keep reading headlines about the city facing serious climate-related issues and one day sinking into the ocean) but let me tell you, Cuban food always gets the closest.

Cuban is pretty much the unofficial cuisine of Miami and as I’ve said several times here before, I miss it all the time. For as many and as varied as the food options are in New York, there just don’t seem to be that many Cuban ones so I’m often left wishing I had what’s so easy to get in Miami.

But after moving to Crown Heights last fall I’m now just a couple of stops away from a Cuban spot I had been meaning to try for some time, Pilar, the Bed-Stuy restaurant named after the Brooklyn-built boat Ernest Hemingway had in Cuba. (Is that not a great name and explanation?)

The restaurant is cute and laid back, with a mellow vibe and just enough cool factor to remind you that you’re still in Brooklyn, but not so much that you wish you’d worn something different (’cause that’s a thing, for me anyway). The menu hits all the classics: cafe con leche, maduros, Cubanos (as in the eponymous sandwich), ropa vieja and vaca frita to name a few, but I knew what I was getting the second my eyes landed on it, the croqueta preparada.

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It’s a slightly ridiculous thing really: ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and my favorite part, croquetas de jamon (ham croquettes), all smeared with mustard and sandwiched between two pieces of Cuban bread, toasted and pressed together to make one tight, dense, absolutely delicious meal.

Pilar’s croqueta preparada was great, getting the combination of different flavors and textures just right: the crunchy buttery bread, bright, tangy pickles, the spicy bite of mustard, gooey, melted cheese, juicy ham and tender roast pork, and then the soft, breaded (’cause it’s the weekend so I say, yes carbs on carbs!) ham croquetas to round everything off.

I’m not exactly ready to move back to Miami after eating at Pilar, but that croqueta preparada was definitely to make me want to check out flights for a potential weekend there in the near future. And as my mom can attest, it’s not just anything that makes me want to do that.