Every weekend my mom calls and asks, with all the hope she can muster, "So....did you go out this weekend?"
She's still holding strong to her belief that bars are the place to meet future husbands.
And I still strongly beg to differ.
We've agreed to disagree.
(Well...I've agreed to disagree. She's agreed to keep calling and arguing with me about it. Sigh. Moms. Can't live with em, or without em.)
Normally my answer is no. My crazy first year of med school aside, I actually don't really like drinking to the point where I have no idea what my middle initial is and I hate waking up the next morning feeling like death epitomized. And let's be honest...hangovers only get worse as you get older.
In college, I used to be able to party until I didn't remember any of my initials. And then wake up and go get dim sum the next morning. Who.Was.I?
Anyway. In the New Year, I'm working on saying yes. Yes to social outings. Yes to social drinking. Yes to letting my guard down just a little. Yes.
So on Friday, I mentally prepared myself to socialize to the extreme, make vapid conversation with strange men, and dance as if I were in the privacy of my own bedroom. And went out.
It was one of my friend's birthdays and he had made reservations at this bar called Milk & Honey that was styled after a London speakeasy. They only took reservations for a max of five people and so we just split the party up, with my roommate and I on one reservation and the other five guys on another, thinking we'd be able to mix and mingle with each other as we pleased.
So we go. I'm wearing a silver sparkly tank top that my mom gave me for Christmas (along with the push-up bra she also threw in my stocking. Leopard print. Yes, mom. We get the message.) and the skinniest of skinny jeans, ready to meet and mingle and give out my number to random strangers.
Only to discover that this is possibly the most anti-social bar of all of New York City's liquor-serving establishments.
There are rules against speaking to each other. Actual hard and fast rules that you'll only discover when you try to walk across the bar to your friends' table and are chastised/basically blockaded by the waitress. It was worse than trying to get through Customs with real serious Italian focaccia smuggled into your carry-on. I should know.
If this experience is foretelling of what's going to happen in the rest of 2012...I think it's safe to say that this will not be the year I meet my future husband at a bar. Again.
No matter how many sequins my mother tries to infiltrate my wardrobe with.
It might be the year of really great salads, though, if this salad has any predictive value.
Roasted butternut squash and brussels sprouts are tossed with some smoked paprika and cumin and then roasted until they are sweet, smoky and just a bit spicy. Mix em all up with earthy lentils, bitter arugula, and a really seductive goat cheese. And there you have a miracle in a very large and filling bowl.
Perfect for just about any meal, but especially if you did happen to forget your middle initials the night before. You'll be needing some really great detox food. And this has most certainly got you covered.
Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils, Brussels Sprouts and Goat Cheese
Serves 4, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 3/4 cup black or green lentils
- 1 kabocha or butternut squash, cubed
- 1 lb brussels sprouts, quartered
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 7 oz baby arugula
- 1 cup soft crumbed goat cheese (I used a maple walnut flavor)
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash cubes and brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet and roast 20 minutes. Flip pieces and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Cool.
- Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water, then drain and cool.
- Combine lentils, squash, and brussels sprouts with arugula, half of goat cheese, and mint. Drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle with remaining goat cheese.