Cookouts are a novelty in New York City. Growing up in Atlanta, I completely took it for granted that we had a grill and private outdoor space, where we could gather together to eat, drink, and laugh to our hearts’ content. Here, however, I can count the number of people who have the luxury of a patio or backyard on one hand. My friends Emily and Mike are some of the lucky few — in fact, they not only have a terrace but also a killer view of the Hudson River from their place on Riverside Drive. And fortunately for me (who is starting to go a little stir-crazy in this hot city), they invited a group of us over for dinner last night.
After some wonderful strawberry-lemonade cocktails that Emily made, we sat down to a meal of lime-cumin-and-coriander marinated lamb chops that I brought from my stash, an herb-and-balsamic couscous filled with fresh parsley and basil from Emily and Mike’s flower pots, and some yummy sea salt kettle chips. We’d decided upon a pinot noir pairing: Bo brought a bottle of Au Bon Climat, while Alexxa and I both brought a Mark West from Sonoma County.
To shake things up, we decided to chill one of the West’s. The wine professed to have lots of bright cherry and raspberry notes, which were present in the chilled wine, but it wasn’t until we drank the other bottle that we noticed its spicy, dry, and dusty qualities (fairly common characteristics of Sonoma wines, I’ve found, especially their syrahs): in both cases, the wine’s high acidity went beautifully with the meat. Then, when we popped the Au Bon Climat, we experienced the real treat of wine themes – it was a totally different wine, light, fruit-forward, and with this beautiful black pepper finish.
As the sun was setting, we dug into Mike’s homemade ice cream sandwiches (apparently a theme this summer): M&M and chocolate chip cookies, with coffee ice cream in between. We sat around the table a bit longer, savoring the warm summer breeze and watching the red moon as it rose, before we all headed home to our stuffy apartments for the night. These moments make me love New York — this city reminds me how much joy the little pleasures bring, when you take the time to notice them.
Lime-Cumin-and-Coriander Lamp Chops
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 2+ Tbsp olive oil
- 21 (1/2- to 3/4-inch thick) lamb chops
Whisk together garlic, cumin, coriander, lime juice, salt, pepper, and oil and transfer to a sealable plastic bag large enough to hold the lamb (or to several individual bags). Add lamb and seal bag, then make sure the lamb is evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature, turning bag occasionally, for about 45 minutes.
Heat charcoal grill and cook lamb in batches about 3 minutes each side for medium-rare. Transfer cooked lamb to a plate and let sit, covered with aluminum foil. Let the meat rest about five minutes then serve.
Recipe adapted from Gourmet.