And just like that, we roll into our 11th issue, and mark what has been a damn good year of Counter Service.
Over the year we’ve grown up, and grown in size, considerably. Because of that, as we run into our second year of this little publication/newsletter/online zine, we’re making a few changes -- you’ll see over the next couple of weeks, but expect to get more consumable little bites throughout the month. Up first: what we’re obsessed with (and you should be to), what we’re listening to, and what we’re up to (come play with us at one of our parties soon, they’re the flyest).
Late summer always has an air of magic for me -- with the hanging humidity heavy in the evenings, and the temperatures mid-day forcing us all to have that dewy glow, everything seems a little more compelling.
A little more saturated -- gardens and farms with ripe as hell produce, the beaches with speedos and one-pieces and nothing at all. I just have this feeling that we all smuggle a little more into life during these last weeks of full on summer. Burnt pastel pink-orange skies that pour between trees or skyscrapers or brownstones cap the days as we slide into night and find either that iconic Riesling that cuts the stillness in the night air or that dance floor lust that has us giving nothing but shows. Jicama and mango salads after a long surf or tan at the beach and a tecate and it’s now 5 hours later and you’ve met your summer fling.
Whatever it is, late, rich, ripe summer feels like anything can happen, anything that you can imagine can somehow be made into reality.
Obsessions come on strong, fast, and are infectious. We all go through phases where we cannot stop eating a certain thing, drinking a certain cocktail, or telling everyone that comes around us about this one magazine, this one dish, or that one song that I can't stop thinking about... These are exactly those thoughts, feelings, emotions, tangible beauties we're currently obsessed with. And this month, I can't tell if it was the heat or the energy in the air, but we gots a lot to talk about.
Everything. All at once.
Cucumber with garlic.
Soup. Summer soup. Pickled tilapia that's steepped in that crispy broth. Cilantro and peppercorn. Cabbage. Stupid amounts of chilies.
There’s one rule: you slurp too hard, you die.
Bone-in rabbit is an obstacle course. Your tongue and your teeth work to nibble gently. Peanuts soften the heat.
Then a Sichuan peppercorn slips into your mouth with a hard, woody shell. It breaks, in slivers, you feel it. The green pop, followed by the tingle on your tongue.
You push air out through your mouth. Fuck. It doesn’t help. Rice is for pussies? Great, I have one.
You recover with an entire mound of white rice. Then you need more pain.
The charming pain. But you’re numb.
The Torrisi boys have nothing on the table side tossing of Don Don noodles.
Spicy pork and scallion marinate the soft noodles in front of your eyes. You can see the black specs of peppercorn as take a drag on the long noodles.
They go down with a savory punch. 18 second later, you're punched again. This time in the back of your sinuses.
Your nose is running. Tissue? Nope, you definitely don't have tissue. Paper napkin will suffice.
They're gone. All of it. But they’re still present. The meaty kick lingers and you chug a sweet Vietnamese coffee. And breathe.
There you are. Over-caffeinated and drunk with fire.
You’re completely numb. Calm, but sweaty. Under the 37th street glow.
In this wretched heat, the only thing I want to drink is vermouth on the rocks: the perfect balance of bitter and sweet to quench my thirst on those hellish days the MTA keeps me waiting incessantly. This is also how the old lady in me can get away with drinking wine on ice without raising eyebrows. When it comes to whites, "Gentian" vermouth does wonders for a white negroni but "Quinquinas" or "Kinas", created in the late 1800s to make quinine more palatable, I'll take neat. Kinas carry more depth and character than other familiar vermouths such as Cocchi Americano. For reds, anything with chicona bark makes for a great sipper. Whatever your preference, throw an orange peel in it and call it a day.
I’ve loved it as long as I can remember: The Jersey Shore. From Cape May and the older crowd, to the crazy crowds (and questionable life choices) in Seaside, to the nakedness in Sandy Hook -- those 130 miles of coastline are magical.
My obsession with this place starts with the smell of the low tide that makes you stick your head of the window and breathe in some of that sweet salty air as you drive down the parkway. It continues as with the beach dranks and foods -- Clam bars, dive bars, old school Italian spots and dairy bars (ice cream shops) are just a few of my favorites. At least once a day I daydream about drinking a rum bucket, eating clams casino, a jersey tomato salad, fried bay scallops, and a veal parm from my favorite spots.
Say what you will, but the summer on the Jersey Shore is the best.
“Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you’ll have good luck!”
I’m not sure when or why I started picking up pennies. It’s become a bit of a compulsion, I must admit. Any time I see a heads-up penny I dutifully murmur the rhyme under my breath and pick it up - tucking it into a pocket, or even inside my bra. Formal faith structures or belief systems have never quite stuck for me, but for some reason this little ritual has become embedded in my day to day - and I firmly cling to it. So much so that when I see a tails-up penny, I very carefully turn it over (taking care not to let it leave contact with the ground - because what is ritual without a bit of ridiculous superstition?) and leave it for the next person.
I owe everything I know about music, dancing, and getting up at 5am to get on a boat to go find some fairy tale island... oh (!) and how to take a good selfie (#oopsmodeling)... to one of the best humans I've ever met: Laura Zulliger aka LZ aka Tizzle aka Tiz. Every time Tiz takes over the aux chord or spotify playlist, I know that I'm going to love legit everything she puts on it's like damn magic (LAZY PUN WAY INTENDED). She's put together a playlist around magic, including but not limited to the That's So Raven theme song... I'm obsessed.