What I Ate During Hurricane Irene

This weekend on the East Coast, many of us prepared for and then endured a hurricane. How badly we endured it depended on a variety of factors; for those of us in the West Village, things weren’t too bad: some downed branches, a few giant puddles here and there. But before it happened and while it was happening, we didn’t really know what to expect. And during that time I did what many others in my position did too: I ate.

I’m very lucky to live in a building (well I’ll live here for two more days) surrounded by friends. Two of those friends, Rob and Kath, invited me over for dinner on Saturday night, the night the hurricane was supposed to hit.

As I walked across the courtyard to their place, I was convinced that 12 hours later that same courtyard would be flooded (it gets floody during a rainstorm, so this seemed like a foregone conclusion). But that never happened. Instead, dinner happened. Rob and Kath made this delicious pasta from the new Ottolenghi cookbook, Plenty.


In case you’re trying to figure out what’s in there; that would be yellow squash and zucchini fried in a skillet and then tossed with penne, chunks of mozzarella and edamame. Sounds like a strange combo, but it works. And Rob roasted some broccoli rabe on the side; an interesting alternative to The Best Broccoli of Your Life.

For dessert, we had ice cream (an important thing to do in case the electricity went out; we wouldn’t want that ice cream to melt!) My favorite was an ice cream they’d scored from Dean & Deluca: Goat Cheese with Cognac Figs. It’s as good as it sounds:


We’d heard a rumor that Commerce, a restaurant near us, was open during the hurricane and, sure enough, it was. At 11 PM or so, when mayor Bloomberg was telling everyone to stay indoors, we scampered over to Commerce for drinks. Maybe it’s a little obvious, but I had a Dark & Stormy. Here we are toasting:


That night, going to sleep, I was convinced I’d wake up to the sounds of glass shattering and tree limbs blowing all around my apartment. Instead I woke up Sunday morning to a slight rain and a few gusts of wind.

Our downstairs neighbor, Dr. Rob (who you may remember as The Culinary Cardiologist), invited us over for breakfast.

My biggest hurricane fear was that there’d be no coffee; but Rob had a pot already brewed. For that, I am leaving everything to him in my last will and testament.

Also, he made omelets to order. To order! Mine had tomatoes and avocado and bacon and all kinds of good things. If he’s this good at omelet making, Rob can operate on my heart any day:


He also had an array of hot sauces on the windowsill, should any of us want to pep things up:


After breakfast, the wind picked up a bit but the hurricane was officially over.

I took a walk in the late afternoon and that walk eventually became a quest for dinner. I wandered past The Spotted Pig, thinking that maybe post-hurricane the line wouldn’t be tremendous. It still was.

I walked over to 7th Avenue, thinking Five Guys might be open. It wasn’t. I thought, “Ooooh, Taim.” But Taim was closed too.

My feet took me to Greenwich Avenue and walking along there a big bright yellow light called to me:


Lyon! I’d read about it in The New Yorker a long time ago and made a mental note to check it out. This was the moment.

They had a limited hurricane menu (see lead picture) which I admired; it means they only wanted to use ingredients that were still good instead of trying to recreate all their dishes with whatever might be lying around.

I ordered the “roast chicken” which was a bit pricey at $24. And when it first came out, I felt a bit cheated by it. That’s not a “roast chicken” that’s a roast leg and thigh:


But, I have to say, eating a forkful of the chicken with the chicken sausage and the broccoli rabe, dipped in a jus that tasted like it was made with Sherry, I felt incredibly nourished. And accompanied by a glass of crisp white Sauvignon Blanc and a basket of bread (mediocre, but serviceable) it was a peaceful ending to what, for many people, was a violent hurricane.

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