Monthly Archives: February 2011

#17: Go to Restaurant Week: Food is Where It’s At

It’s the Chinese year of the rabbit.  Apparently for me, though, it’s the year of food.

Eating something I never thought I’d eat for the 30×30 has set off a chain reaction of foodness in my life. I ate everything that was put in front of me in Thailand, without question (and not just because I wasn’t allowed to talk part of the time.) At least five of my goals for the 31×31 are food-oriented.  And me just loving to stuff my face, two of them are now checked off and I’ve started research on the third (find the best cupcake in New York: this may be the most bliss-inducing list item ever.)

On the heels of my fondue experience, I went to Restaurant Week.

Again, not being a foodie, I had no idea where to start choosing one of the hundreds of RW choices. Luckily I have a foodie friend, and she narrowed it down to a few choices and sent me some menu links.  They all sounded mouthwatering, but Fig and Olive in particular made me tingly in both my tummy and my lady parts, so that’s what we settled on.

8:30pm reservation for a Friday night.

Holy god, I’m Carrie Bradshaw! Another dream coming true!

We decided to make a total glamorous ladies night of it…in the Meatpacking District.

Which, apparently actually is quite fashionable, right along the Hudson just below 14th Street.

675 Bar, the library room. So awesome!

First we went 675 Bar, which rumor has it used to be a sex club, and gives off a naughty, secretive vibe with these tiny alcove private rooms that are all decorated with an individual theme.  We sat in the “library” with color-coded shelves of books, which does my OCD heart good: quirky organizational patterns = win. Delicious drinks included a brown sugar margarita, some cocoa and mint alcoholic concoction, and a Riesling/Lychee/Cucumber mixture.  So fun and hip and beyond my normal range of, you know. Bud Light.

Then we went to Fig and Olive, which was packed to the gills. The deal with Restaurant Week is $35 for three courses.  I had heard that because of the demand of RW, the portions are small and the cooking lackluster. I did not find this to be the case.

Once again, I can’t even begin to describe the food. Sometimes there just are no words.  Here is what I ordered, straight from the menu:

CHEESE (Plate of 6): Served with Fig & Olive Walnut Tapenade & Marcona Almond; Fromage de Chevre(Goat), Gorgonzola Dolce (Cow), Rocchetta (Cow, Sheep, Goat), Caccio de Roma (Sheep), Manchego (Sheep), Taleggio (Cow)

Mmmmm, cheese!

MEDITERRANEAN CHEESE SAMOSA & FIG CHUTNEY: Fontina, parmesan, dolce gorgonzola cheese, thyme, scallion, fig, red onion, Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar Chutney

GRILLED TRUFFLE CHICKEN PAILLARD: Free range chicken breast marinated with thyme, served with truffle mashed potato leek confit in olive oil and herbs – White Truffle Olive Oil

CHOCOLATE POT DE CRÈME: Crunchy praline financiers & vanilla cream

Best Dessert Ever.

What can I say? What is the word beyond delicious? Scrumptious? Delectable? These don’t even begin to cover it. So many cheeses just bring me nothing but joy.  The chicken may be the best I’ve ever had. The chocolatey dessert was like the inside of a truffle, and probably better than sex. Is that descriptive enough for you?

Happy belly = happy me. Seriously, why can’t I just give up on love and eat my way to happy? Why is that not an option? Food is fulfilling in so many ways that men never are…

After dinner we went to a trendy yuppy kind of bar called Brass Monkey, which was cute.  Being two ladies without the company of men, men felt the need to rectify this as if it were a mistake, whether we wanted them to or not. No matter where you go, the yuppies or the hipsters or the broke artists…men can be kinda douchey in their aggression to hit on you. And it makes me uncomfortable. This one young man was talking to me – unsolicited – and asked at the end of a very unoriginal conversation about Kindles if we could exchange contact info. I was seriously just out to enjoy time with a good friend and I told him that. And he then told me “he didn’t want to date me anyway.”

So classy.

The men who Carrie and the SATC girls met at bars were always hot, and charming, and witty – there was a spark. I can honestly say I have never sparked with someone I’ve met at a bar.  I simply don’t get that scene, though it can be entertaining to watch desperate people trying to connect. Entertaining and sad. And, sadder still, a mircrocosm of what we’re all bungling in life trying to do: connect, spark, find a fit.  Why anyone thinks this is gonna happen based solely on how someone looks while drunk is beyond me.

It’s funny how you become a slave to your routines in New York.  I have mainly only explored two areas in any depth, because that’s where I work: The Theatre District, and the East Village/Lower East Side-ish. I have a good friend in Brooklyn, and I started to get to know Gowanus – and by proxy, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.  In the fall I took a month long course in the Financial District, so I saw a smidge of that.  And I just walked around the Upper East Side with a friend who lives there.

For a small island, Manhattan has fifty kathousand neighborhoods. And fifty bazillion restaurants. This was the first time I’d been to the Meatpacking District. I didn’t even know where it was before.

The problem is, you need money to really explore NYC. My glamorous night makes my wallet wince. It’s totally fun to splurge once in a while, but I definitely don’t have the kind of cashflow necessary to live that kind of lifestyle on a regular basis. Which mostly doesn’t bother me, except that, living here, it does feel a bit limiting. I unfortunately don’t live in an area that feels at all like a neighborhood. And I think where you live is as important an element to your feng shui as how you arrange your personal space.

There’s so much to see, and do, and eat. And I want to see and do and eat it all.

Anybody out there want to be my sugardaddy?

(Thanks to SM for one of the best ladies nights ever. It was legendary.)

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#27: Fondue – a perfect metaphorical kick-off

It is unclear to me how I’ve gone through 30 years of life without having fondue.

I love cheese, all forms, all varieties.  I love dippings things. This mission was a slam dunk, a nice soothing way to ease into the new list.

And it does offer such a lovely metaphor: no matter how old you get, yes, there are always new things to try. But beyond that, there are always new ways to try things you already love.  Life can never be boring, there should never be ruts: if you can’t discover, there is always re-discovery.

I’m not a foodie. I don’t have a particularly sophisticated palatte – my tongue is not that discerning, unfortunately. I mostly like comfort foods. I am trying to grow in this area though: I want to try new things, explore different taste sensations, retry things I didn’t like. For example, I have recently come around on yogurt and mushrooms, two food I have loathed since childhood. But I gave them a second shot, and I have fully embraced them as part of my regular eating habits.

Makes me feel like such a grown-up.

Anyway, I’m not into food porn – reading elaborate descriptions of food, watching cooking shows and competitions: not my thing. I want to experience it. I can’t know how it tastes by looking at it.

This lack of sophistication will make this post blessedly short.  The fondue was delicious. We had a gruyere, and a gruyere based mushroom, and for dessert, a dark chocolate. They were spectacular: creamy, rich, warm, safe: like a liquid womb that cocoons you from the inside.

See? Told you I’m not into food porn. I don’t have the words to describe it. It was dern good. I’m out of things to say.

There is definitely more I want to try: honey and blue cheese (another food I’ve learned to love as I’ve grown older), a four cheese including mozzarella and provolone, a curry fondue, and a French onion, which is one of my favorite soups so…score! So much territory to explore. I am now the Columbus of fondue. I would gladly fall off of a cheese horizon if the cheese world is not round.

I was with a group of lovely friends at a restaurant called the Bourgeois Pig on the Lower East Side that had lots of atmosphere: red plush sofas, dark paneled walls, sexy lighting, unusual drink selection. It was a grand evening.

Welcome to the 31×31. What a fantastic way to start. I hope the whole year is this delicious.

Unfortunately, the lighting was so low and they are so classy they do not allow flash photography, so I continue to fail at food porn as my pictures are not that great. But you get the idea:

Gruyere! Yum!

Dark chocolate! Yummer!


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