Green Almonds

On the cover of the Zuni Cafe Cookbook you will see three nectarines, several slices of prosciutto, and there, at 9 o’clock on the plate, a handful of green almonds, two of them split open, their kernels separated on to the black plate. This image, to me, has always evoked a precious, inaccessible other world–a world where a person might harvest green almonds as easily as one might buy peanut M&Ms from one of those machines you crank in diners or movie theaters. It’s a world I thought I’d never know and, frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know: I kind of liked my almonds aged and musty in their plastic containers from Key Food. When would I ever get to experience a green almond? Probably never. That is, until, last week when I stumbled upon them at Fairway in Red Hook.

Dinner at Fairway Cafe

My friend Lisa recently moved to her own apartment on the Upper West Side and before I left for my trip, I went uptown to see the place, to give it my blessing (I smashed a bottle of Bartles & James on the door), and to join her for dinner.

“Where should we go?” asked Lisa, smartly deferring to me because of my strong opinions regarding food and restaurants.

“I don’t know,” I replied coyly, wanting to appear open-minded and non-domineering.

“We could go to–”

“FAIRWAY CAFE,” I shouted, creating an awkward moment that took a few minutes to dissipate.


“Regina Schrambling always writes about The Fairway Cafe on her blog,” I explained. “It’s upstairs at Fairway.”

“I know,” Lisa replied, a bit irritated at my know-it-all-ness. “I’ve been there for brunch.”

“How was it?”


“Awesome,” I said. “So let’s go there.”

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