Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Meeting Arden Out of the Kitchen

Last spring, Stephanie, the brilliant mind behind Dispensing Happiness, sent out request for one of her Blogging By Mail (BBM) events. The theme of this BBM, was "A Few of My Favourite Things". Now, something you should know about Stephanie and BBM, she has this uncanny ability to pair up people with each other for BBM and have those people end up really, really liking each other! That was the case with me and J of Have Fork, Will Travel; who sent me that fabulous package of English goodies (of which I am still in love with the little espresso cups and spoons). Happily, I get to report that was also the case with me and the person I got send my package to, Arden of Uit de keuken van Arden (In the Kitchen with Arden)!

Over the past several months, Arden and I have exchanged emails and recipes. I've tried some of the breads she bakes on her blog, she tries some of the ones I bake. We report back to each other how our tries went because our flours and ingredients sometime differ. In other words, we have become friends. So, I was super excited when I learned she and her daughter were coming to New York City this month! When she learned how close I live to NYC, we decided we had to meet.

This past Saturday, we met at Grand Central Station at Penzey's Spice in the Grand Central Market. After Arden and her daughter had bought the spices they can't easily find in Holland, we wandered through the marketplace and then went to have lunch together at Junior's Cheesecake in the Dining Concourse.

After chattering about why blogged and how she and her daughter were enjoying NYC, we dug into our food. Both Arden and I ordered the Rueben Sandwich.

Arden's daughter had the cheeseburger and we shared the pickles and slaw that Junior's is famous for serving on the table.

Of course, we had to have cheesecake for dessert. It would be sacrilegious to go to Junior's and not have their world famous cheesecake! We had three pieces that we split so we could sample each of them: blueberry, chocolate swirl, and my favourite, plain.

Arden's daughter was pleasantly surprised how good the cheesecake was since she had only had poor imitations of New York Cheesecake. I also came out with a new favourite, the chocolate swirled.

While we were waiting for our cheesecakes to arrive, Arden and I exchanged some gifts we had brought for each other. I made a boule of bread with my potato sourdough starter. And look at the wonderful Dutch food stuffs Arden and her daughter brought me!

I have to admit, I already broke into the licorice and the Dutch windmill cookies. The chocolate sprinkles they explained are eaten on buttered bread in the morning. I have the perfect loaf of bread right now on my counter to try these with and the lovely little dish is filled with coffee flavoured candies. Arden's daughter picked that out specially for me, I can't wait to try them! Best of all though is they brought me real Dutch farmers cheese! This stuff is heavenly. I was in heaven on Sunday night when I made a toasted cheese sandwich with it.

After we had lunch, we wandered up stairs where did the tourist thing of standing on the mezzanine stairs overlooking the Grand Hall and the famous clock to have our picture taken

before wandering down 5th Avenue to do some window shopping and real shopping. In Barnes and Noble, Arden bought the Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook so she could try her hand at making one when she returned to Holland this week. While we enjoyed our dessert, we had talked about what types of cheese they could find in Holland they could substitute for the cream cheese used in the US for cheesecake. I think we came up a few good ideas and I can't wait to see how they turn out.

After showing Arden's daughter that Saks 5th Avenue is not Macy's, in the best of ways, it was time for me to depart downtown to meet with friends for dinner in The Village at The Village and for Arden and her daughter to finish up their afternoon of shopping and go see Chicago on Broadway.

It was wonderful meeting Arden and her daughter and now I can't wait until I can travel to Holland to meet up with her and her family again.