One eye (ok two) flutter open for a brief instant. Despite the fan overhead, a flicker of heat passes over my body. Now a slow, languid wave of nausea laps me up like a hot sticky afternoon spent too long at the beach. You can practically smell it. I close my eyes wishing - wishety-wish-wishing that it would go away. It doesn't. I lean over by the side of my bed to pick up one of those big bottles of Perrier that litter the places I loiter. There are three beside my bed. Two empty- but Bingo! - one's full. Thank god. I drink deeply. Lukewarm fizzy water; magic medicine for hung-over girls everywhere. Think of it as the amuse bouche of hang-over breakfast.
It's way, way, way too early - 5:30 a.m. What is this? I try to go back to sleep. But that's not the way punishment works now is it? No, you have to be awake. You have to have the full experience. Cue headache. I want to throw up, but no. No relief for you. I sleep a little. It's 6:30. Get up. Again with the can't throw up. Cold water now and 3 ibuprofen. Turn on NPR. Back to bed. Doze. 7:15. More water. Finally its past 8:00.
I realize this isn't getting better anytime soon so I gather up a book, 2 Vanity Fairs, and 2 New Yorkers. I figure I'm going to be here a while. I pick up the book. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl. I start to read and am immediately charmed. Ruth's book (we're close personal friends now) recounts her years as the New York Times food critic; the food she ate, the disguises she wore, and the articles she published. A perfect oasis for the day that is unfolding before me, but certainly no stand-alone hang-over cure.
The time has come for the food part of hang-over breakfast. Tea & buttered toast. I feel bad, but not completely ruined - so I dismiss the thought that I can lay in bed and eat my buttered toast and drink tea. It will only mean crumbs and having to change the sheets later. I cannot begin to contemplate that much activity.
I pad into the kitchen and reach up for my box of chai green tea. Out. I forgot. Ok - it has to be tea I bought at the Fairmont Empress last year (a truly horrific vacation, but I won't subject you to that). What kind of tea is this anyway? It says right here "top seasonal quality tea from Kenya, South India, Assam, Sri Lanka and China". Well now - I'm thinkin' that will be just fine. Thankfully, I remember that this tea gets too strong very fast.
A quick aside. I love food and drink, but am no expert filled with knowledge. I'm always learning new things which is usually a pure delight. However, I've recently learned that you shouldn't pour boiling water over green tea. I drink a pot of green tea every day. But I work at home so I flash out of bed at the last possible minute and won't hurry about getting ready. I shower, brush my teeth, floss, lotion, do my hair, make-up, iron my clothes, get dressed - this is to walk across the hall where my cats are the only people who will see me all day. Whatever. By the time all this is accomplished it's invariably 5 minutes before the opening conference call. I'm boiling water for my tea, scarfing down a bowl of Smart Start with fat free milk and am in a rushety-rush-rush. When I learned that the hot water for green tea should be approximately 160 degrees - it flipped me out. Now I feel like I'm pouring boiling water over live yeast every morning. It's become extremely stressful!
So the point to that little aside is, it turns out that being out of green tea on Hang-Over Day is a relief because when I pour the boiling water over "Tea at The Empress" its OK. I push the toaster lever down and pick up Ruth Reichl's delightful book once again. But at the end of her chapters - she has recipes. I can't read about whisking raw eggs just now. The first one is for New York Cheesecake - I've included the whole recipe here for you:
1 1/2 cups grham cracker crumbs (about 6 ounces)
1 cup sugar 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, preferably without gum, at room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla
Grated zest of one lemon 2 cups sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the grham crackers with 1/4 cup sugar and the melted butter and press into bottom and sides of a 9-inch ungreaased spring form pan. chill while preparing filling.
Beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, 2 teaspoons of the vanilla, qand lemon zest until smooth. Pour into chilled crust and bake 50 minutes to an hour, or until the cheese is set and starting to turn golden in spots. Remove from the oven (leave oven on) and cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack.
Stir together the sour cream, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, remaining teaspoon of vanilla and spread over cooled cake. Return to oven for 12 minutes until glossy and set.
Cool completely, cover, and chill at least 8 hours.
I get to about the pound and a half of cream cheese and can't go on. The toast pops up, I immediately take the tea bag out of the pot, and then I remember that there is a giant strawberry dipped in white chocolate left over from a dinner party in the refrigerator (Thank you Kelly!) Buttered toast, hot tea, white chocolate-covered strawberry and cold Perrier. It was as yummy as any hang-over breakfast could be. I settled onto my fluffy couch where I stayed the entire day reading Garlic and Sapphires (but not the recipes, definitely TMI for HOD). It was the absolute perfect way to spend the day.
If you should find yourself in a similar situation here's my entire Hang-Over Day Menu.
Amuse Bouche - Lukewarm Perrier, located within arms reach. Be sure to drink the entire bottle before you get out of bed.
1st Course - Cold Perrier and 3 ibuprofen. This is the cornerstone of every hang-over breakfast. Drink at least half the bottle before food.
2nd Course - Tea at The Empress, Buttered toast and 1 giant white chocolate-covered strawberry (the cold white chocolate crumbled off and I could eat little bits on the buttered toast)
More tea and buttered toast
Bowl of linguini and angel hair pasta (not enough angel hair*) with butter, shaved parmesean, and freshly cracked pepper. Cold Perrier.
Late Night Snack
Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream, tiny little M & M's intended for baking. Cold Perrier.
*Don't forget that 2 forms of pasta require different cooking times. I should have chosen spaghetti instead of linguini. Linguini takes too long and I kept having to get up to check it. Nausea requires limited movement.