Comfort me with corn bread

Part of the deal I worked out with the devil in exchange for my boyfriend living in New York with me is that every year, for at least a couple of months, I have to release him back into the wild, back to that intoxicatingly ass-backwards boot-shaped country he calls home. (Kidding about the devil part, by the way.) He goes back to see friends and family and usually to go on some incredible vacation with the rest of Italy when they all go on their usually-month-long holiday in August. (Bastards.) In short, it sucks and I hate it, and part of it, truth be told, is because I’m always just a little scared that he won’t come back. (Yikes, this suddenly feels so much more “Dear Diary-ish” than I meant it to. Food’s coming though, promise.)

As we wind up our last couple of days together before another obnoxiously long (two and a half months to be exact) time apart, I’m squeezing in as many reminders that America, New York, and I (duh) are all awesome and very much worth coming back to.  As part of my plan, I wanted to eat something really great, something I knew he couldn’t get back in the Old World, something to remind him that home was here too: comfort food.

Who needs Tuscany when you have this delicious corn bread? Not this girl (or at least that's what I'm telling myself.)

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Sunday brunching with a Mexican twist

And on the seventh day, God created brunch.

Sundays, lazy ones that start when you roll over in bed and marvel at the restorative powers of sleeping in, are made for brunching. In New York, where the options are limitless, brunch on a rainy Sunday morning/afternoon is a wonderful thing. No one’s in a hurry. Everyone wants to rehash their weekends. And almost everyone can go for a bloody Mary or mimosa. It just makes the impending blow of Monday that much easier to deal with.

So when my friend Holly, who was in from out of town visiting her old roommate, told me they were going to brunch, I happily tagged along. There was talk of an all-you-can-drink special and the food being good, but I didn’t need much convincing. They had me at “brunch.”

While I typically associate brunch with the standard American breakfast staples like pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausage, I also welcome variations. This Sunday, our destination, as Flaneur and I huddled together underneath a too-small umbrella and made our way down to Alphabet City in the East Village, was Mercadito Cantina.

Pineapple and mango mimosas

A small but cute and cheery taqueria, Mercadito Cantina’s brunch menu had classics like eggs (scrambled, benedict and sunny side up) but dressed up with spicier,  more exciting ingredients like habanero peppers, roasted garlic and pico de gallo. Even the mimosas had a little more pizzazz, and so that’s exactly where I started.

The mango mimosa I ordered came in a champagne flute but unlike its orange counterpart had a little spice at the end of each sip, courtesy of a bit of green chile added to the orangey-yellow drink. The mango, which already has a strong, tropical sweet taste, felt even more exotic when it was mixed with the fizz of the sparkling wine and the subtle zing of the green chile. Continue reading