In my whole life, I’ve lived alone for exactly one month. I was 25 and had just quit my job and moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn, leaving behind my tight-knit group of girlfriends to strike out on my own in a new borough. I moved in with a girl I barely knew; I met her through Craigslist when she advertised a spare room. We had lunch a few times and she seemed perfectly nice. More importantly, I fell in love with her apartment. It was a third floor walkup in the heart of Park Slope with a large sunny kitchen and a bay window, and a tiny nook off what was to become my bedroom where I could set up my desk and write.
It seemed too good to be true. And it was, literally. Two days after the movers unloaded all my stuff, and my new roommate and I had signed a new lease with the landlords, she came into the bathroom while I was brushing my teeth and told me she had made a mistake. She shouldn’t have let me move in. She had met a guy at a bar and fallen in love, and she wanted to live with her new boyfriend. In this apartment. Would I, um, mind packing back up and moving out?
Yes. Yes I would mind. Normally I am a giant pushover, and I tend to bend over backwards to be nice to people. But for maybe the first time in my life, I stood up for myself. I wasn’t leaving.
What basically ensued was an apartment standoff. For weeks we cohabitated, icily and without speaking, each of us waiting for the other to give in. She put all of my cooking equipment in a bottom drawer, I took to wearing my muddy running sneakers inside (she had a strict socks-only policy). And then finally, one day, she was gone. I almost couldn’t believe I had won. I never won!
For one glorious month, before finding a new (and lovely) roommate, I lived the apartment by myself. On my last weekend alone (it was either in October or November), I threw a party. I bought fancy cheese and olives from the Park Slope Food Coop, and baked my favorite gingerbread blondies. I made a special trip to a restaurant supply store on the Bowery, where I bought a case of balloon-shaped wine glasses, the first set I ever owned.
I was nervous that people wouldn’t come, and that I would wind up crying in my party dress and eating all the cheese. I shouldn’t have worried. When I look back, what I remember most from that night is running up and down the stairs over and over, letting more and more guests inside. It got so warm in the apartment that we threw open all the windows and people spilled out onto the fire escape.
I also remember the drink I served, which was this exact spiced pear bellini. It was festive and seasonal, and even though I served it in a red wine glass and not the more appropriate Champagne flute, it still felt exceedingly gown up. I just made it again for the first time in almost 10 years(!) and sipping it took me right back to that crisp fall night in Brooklyn.
Five Ingredient Spiced Pear Bellini
One of the things I love most about food is the powerful memories that it can evoke. This recipe is so dear to me, I hope you have a chance to make and enjoy it this season! You can use any inexpensive sparkling wine in this recipe that you like, just make sure that it is dry, not sweet. You can prepare the pear mixture a few days in advance and store it in the fridge. Garnish each drink with a thin slice of pear, if you're feeling extra fancy.
- 1 bottle pear nectar 33.8-ounce
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 bottles Prosecco or other sparkling wine chilled
Combine the pear nectar, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand at least 1 hour. Remove the cinnamon sticks and discard. Transfer the pear mixture to a pitcher and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
For each drink, pour the pear mixture into a Champagne flute about two fingers high. Top with Prosecco.