I went back to Brooklyn recently to celebrate my cousins 80th birthday. It’s hard to believe my cousins are that old. I’m the baby of the family but 67 is no consolation. Traveling now is a planned event, especially trips that are over 2 hours. From my house in NEPA to my sisters house in Staten Island is a two hour ride, with no traffic. So my plan was to get to my sisters house and kick back for an hour or so, and then ride with them to Brooklyn, which was only a half hour trip.
I have taken the trip from Brooklyn to Staten Island and back hundreds of times since my sister moved there in 1965. It must have been 30 or 40 years since I made that trip so the ride in was all new to me. Staten Island is another city, crowded and congested. I always knew Brooklyn was like that but it was much worse than I remembered. Maybe I’m so used to living in a rural area that I panicked when there were more than two cars on the road at any given time.
We arrived at Sofia’s Ristorante Italiano on 84th Street and 3rd Avenue. Once inside the restaurant it became apparent to me that my cousin Bobby was not the only octogenarian in the room. My sister and brother in law will be turning 80 this year, although when I confront my sister with that fact she insists she only 49. My brother will be turning 74 this year along with my cousin Ralph. We are both sides of the baby boomer spectrum, a generation I’m proud to be part of. I’m finding that this stage in my life it’s more important than ever to have close family ties. Many have come before us and we are all leaving a wonderful legacy in our wake. My boys have grown into wonderful men. I’m proud of both their accomplishments. And now I get to see my granddaughter grow into a beautiful young girl. These are the treasures we can depend on in a life well lived. Few other things are as important. Happy Birthday Bobby, I hope to see you at my 80th.
There is nothing I like better than a simple dish with little clean up and flavor explosions from the first to last bite. This is one of those dishes. A simple peasant dish that will make your house smell like Italy. These are traditional Sicilian flavors that need only to be accompanied by a good glass of red wine and a crisp loaf of Italian bread. A side salad couldn’t hurt.
CHICKEN WITH WINE VINEGAR, CAPERS AND OLIVES
- 4 chicken thighs, 4 chicken legs, or whatever cuts of bone in chicken you like
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 heaping tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup capers, drained
- 1/4 cup pitted black or green olives (I prefer kalamata or oil cured)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, basil, parsley)
- 2 cloves smashed garlic
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Place chicken in a roasting pan large enough to fit. Mix all the above ingredients well, then pour over the chicken. Turn the chicken over in the marinade to coat both sides, then leave skin side down.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes then turn skin side up and cook another 20-30 minutes until chicken is crisp and done. It’s as simple as that. The aroma from the chicken will send the neighbors over so lock the doors and turn out the lights. Enjoy!