For the last six years Michael and I have been tagging along with his mom to go shopping on Black Friday at King of Prussia. For those unfamiliar with the Philadelphia area, the King of Prussia Mall (broken into the Plaza, the Court and the Pavilion) is the largest mall on the East Coast, and the largest in the country by leasable space, and to willingly go there on the biggest shopping day of the year usually connotes some degree of insanity or bravery on the part of the shopper. To be honest, though, we tend to not run into many issues–traffic outside of the parking lot is light, and the biggest crowds tend to be in department stores, Old Navy, Best Buy, and one of the several Gamestops scattered between the various properties–and because none of us actually has a death wish, we manage to split up, shop for a few hours, and eat lunch by 11 or 11:30 with little to no difficulty.
It’s what we do after lunch that can create a little friction in our group, depending on how tired everyone is feeling: making a venture to Crate & Barrel.You see, part of this tradition is parking the car at JCPenny for most of the morning, then packing up all of the purchases and driving over to C&B. While walking there is possible, it’s both really far and kind of dangerous because you must depend on the kindness of suburbanites in large SUVs to pay attention to where the crosswalks are, and that day in particular, with their eyes half-drugged with exhaustion and the high of scoring a deal on that flat-screen TV, is not when I like to take my chances. This means that someone is stuck circling the parking lot around the store for a good ten to twenty minutes while they wait for someone to spot-stalk while the truly C&B obsessed (i.e. my mother-in-law and I) start browsing in the store.
This was precisely the scene that transpired a few months ago–MIL and I got out of the car to start shopping, and Michael and his sister were left to look for the next available spot. It was then that I found a great surprise for Michael for Christmas: Antojitos, a cookbook filled with Mexican small plates. You know how much we love our small plates around here, and the prospect of trying some authentic recipes that went beyond tomato salsas and beef tacos appealed to me instantly, and I knew that Michael would love it as well after seeing some recipes that included braised lamb and duck. So I excitedly gave it to my shopping partner, and she quickly secreted it under some kitchen towels, and Michael was able to get a really nice surprise a month later on Christmas morning.
When the in-laws came back with us to New York, we flipped through the book while on Amtrak and quickly compiled a shopping list, got the ingredients we needed at Whole Foods (as I wanted to show them the awesome cart escalators), came home and got to work.
We placed my father-in-law in front of the television with a small glass of limoncello, and the rest of us took turns helping Michael out in our teeny kitchen. Everyone was utterly starving as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so we first whipped out the pizza bianca in order to sate everyone a little, and started to dote over the unfamiliar recipes.
We ended up making a big batch of tomatillo salsa that went with both our tilapia tacos and red cabbage slaw and the Queso Fundido con Chorizo (basically a Mexican fondue with turkey chorizo in lamb casing from Whole Foods) that was served in warm corn tortillas. While both were fairly indulgent, the fact that we were all sharing them helped, I think, in preventing any of us from overindulging too much. More importantly, though, we managed to make a meal that was out of the ordinary for sure, but still satisfied everyone and then some.
That trip on Black Friday to Crate & Barrel was totally worth it.