Sometimes a break is necessary. Whether it’s in your life routine, your daily grind, or your mindset. Things happen that aren’t necessarily in our control, but that make us pause and take a step back… another look on where we’ve been, what we’re doing, and what kind of shenanigans we’re about to get ourselves into.
That being said, I just got back last night from spending about 10 days in New York – a much-needed break. I hadn’t been back since I left a little over a year ago, and felt the calling. I needed a good fix of honking cabs, stifling subways, martinis with friends, crusty pizza, and XO sauce. Lucky for me, it wasn’t just an exciting dash through memory lane. I actually had some business to take care of.
I mentioned before that I was trying to start a farmer’s market in Downtown Lafayette. With all of the excitement in the air from future consumers, and despite the doubts by hopeful future vendors, my desire has only grown to find out what’s next on the agenda, and to tackle those dreaded issues that can only come with additional responsibility. Luckily for me, I was given the opportunity by several Lafayette representatives to head north and collect data. This also allowed me the chance to make some much-needed connections.
A couple of days before my ‘break,’ I got what I thought were allergies, but what transcended into a dreaded cold. The earache on the plane from Atlanta to NYC confirmed this as did the afternoon and evening spent blowing my nose while laying on my friends’ couch feeling so out of it that I could not even muster up depression at the thought of not being able to go out and play. Very fortunate for me, my good friend Jorge picked me up from Newark and transported me alllll the way to Murray Hill. Jorge, if you are reading this, you are an angel. So very sorry I didn’t have the energy to have that glass of wine and catch up. Gita, Michael and I did manage to order Indian from Curry-in-a-Hurry, which paved the way for a gentle night sleep.
Sunday, after being fed various cold meds by Gita, I managed to breathe a bit better, and headed out for dim sum with friends. Dim Sum GoGo (5 E Broadway, New York, NY
10038, 212.732.0797 – Chatham Square) was busy as usual, but this (again, as usual) did not deter us from the blessed XO sauce, of which we would religiously ask for a bigger dish. I ended up finding some in Dynasty Supermarket in Chinatown to bring back home. Must check at my local Asian market. It is tiny, but you never know.
Sunday, despite my cloggy nose, ended up entertaining a restaurant hop. Ya-Roo left for an event, and George and I scurried around Chinatown for a bit, eventually meeting up with Bona and Paul at Muji, a spectacular very Zen-esque store. Headed to Pearl River Mart, and then had snacks at Lure Fishbar. On the menu (not only for me, of course… spring pea soup, oysters, chips, salmon tartare, fish sandwich, and a cheeseburger. The Bloody Mary Royale with the oyster shooter and entire celery stalk was also highly welcomed as was the dining appearance of Whoopi Goldberg and Bruce Willis. They weren’t together, but did meet at one point for a welcome hug. So sweet.
The next stop, sans Paul, was Tailor to see Francis, Sam, and their kitchen with slammin’ iPod station. We were blessed with hot toddies and deliciously savory apps. Unfortunately, Francis’ final day at Tailor was last Friday. We’ll be on the look-out for his next move. The final destination for the evening was the hottie little spot, The Ten Bells. Crowded, loud, and not recommended for people who can no longer breathe or taste by the end of a cold-infused day… oh, nevermind, go anyway. The men are hot, French speakers are EVERYWHERE, AND they serve sobrasada, bacalao, and biodynamic wines; a place I definitely need to return to when I’m feeling better and racing around in that crazy city.
Monday morning, my cold was still there, but I met with Arlyn and Luce regarding our new project. Balthazar is definitely one of my favorite NYC restaurants, and again they did not let me down. Eggs en cocotte, delish breads, coffee in a bowl, kind service, and beautiful company made it well worth the trip down. After breakfast, and a few errands, I met up with Gita at the office, and helped with a few things. After work, I met up with Colleen for beers at a couple of local joints, then headed ‘home’ and ordered in Thai food.
Tuesday, Gita and I got our nails done, I grabbed a breakfast sandwich and coffee at the corner store, and we perused a few shops before her meeting and my outing around town. Dinner was met with Tim and Cesare at Maremma. Loads of delightful offerings were made upon our table, which made for a beautiful Italian evening. Though, soon, Maremma will be closing. So fortunate to have been able to enjoy such a beautiful time with great friends.
Wednesday, after working with Gita in the morning, I met Amy for a slice at Pizza Suprema, definitely one of the best, if not THE best, pizza place in the city. The crust was nice and crispy, while the white and pepperoni pizzas toppings were perfectly savory. Afterwards, Gary met us and we hopped on the subway headed for Batch, Pichet Ong’s latest creation. Rich, divine cupcakes and other treats were a welcome treat. Then we parted ways with Amy to head for coffee at the Philadelphia original coffeehouse La Colombe – superb coffee near Canal Street. More wandering around Canal Street ensued with the evening continuing to dinner at Kampuchea with Gita, Jennifer and Faran. The only Cambodian restaurant in the City, many a delicacy adorned our table: seared sweetbread in a shiitake mushroom broth with enoki mushrooms and a basil salad; tamarind baby back ribs with cilantro and a lime dip; P.E.I. Mussels in a spicy and sour sauce with okra, tomatillos and baguette slices; catfish sandwich with honey, shallots and peppercorn; house-cured bacon sandwich with charred whole pickled Thai chilies and red onions; sweet pulled oxtail sandwich with a spicy tamarind basil sauce; and plenty of lime pickles. Mmmmm… A definite must-visit.
Thursday was spent working with the great folks of PPS (Project for Public Spaces), then it was off to fries with Bearnaise, succulent tartes and wine with Christina at Solex; then drinks and dessert with Gita and Maggi at Bruno Jamais (Merci, Jacques!!!), drinks and a kitchen visit with the ladies and George at the beautiful new Benoit, Ducasse’s latest (Merci, Sebastien!!!), then champagne and another kitchen visit at Adour, Ducasse’s other latest (Merci, Tony!!!), and then on to Ssäm Bar to meet up with Sebastien and Tony, and of course Michael Ginor, Susar Lee, Sam Mason, Ken Oringer, Wylie Dufresne, Francis Derby, etc. etc. for their after-James-Beard-event dinner. Yum! Michael, you’re awesome!
Friday was an early morning for me with market training beginning at 8:15am. Despite my sleepy eyes, I managed to stay alert and gather exceptional information regarding our future farmers’ market. One of my most inspiring days.
Friday night included dinner with Gita, Jen, Matt and Joshua at Public, which included snail and oxtail ravioli, lamb, and kangaroo; the latter was superb, though I found the lamb to be on the bland side.
Saturday morning was another early bird, meeting my training colleagues at Union S
quare Market at 8am. Again, well worth it. The entire day included different market visits: Union Square, Essex Street, Fort Greene (Brooklyn), Prospect Park (BK), and the Red Hook Community Farm. I just absolutely adore markets. Hopefully I can put my film footage together to eventually offer you a glimpse into what I discovered.
Saturday, after market day, I skidaddled over to Grand Central, jumped on a train to New Haven, Connecticut to meet Gita, Michael and some of their friends, and enjoyed dinner at The Place – an outdoor seafood restaurant where the diners sit on tree stumps. The flaming grills are outside, and guests can enjoy mussels, clams, oysters, lobster, steak, etc. all freshly grilled to your liking. Our only complaint… need more side options like potato salad, baked beans, chargrilled bread, etc. It’s also byob, but the Twisted Green Tea someone brought was divine!
Breakfast on Sunday brought us to Shoreline Diner & Vegetarian Enclave in Guilford, CT featuring heavy choices just like home. After the drive back to NYC, I jumped on a subway to my old stomping grounds in Fort Greene to check out Brooklyn Flea, a fantastic new flea market offering everything from furniture to mini-cupcakes. After visiting the market as well as my former roommate for a few, I met Ya-Roo at French Roast on the West Side for treats and Bloody Mary’s, scooted up to Times Square for a quick look, then back over to Murray Hill for dinner and drinks with friends at Waterfront Ale House.
Could it possibly be over already? Yes, Monday was here, and after cabbin’ it over to the Gita’s office to drop off my luggage, I picked up an everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese and a coffee for breakfast, and grabbed a beef pattie and a slice of white for the trip home. We said our good-byes, and I headed from Penn Station to Newark and was on my way back home to Lafayette. I was met back home with fried pickles and beers at Pete’s with friends, and then checked out to get nestled back in my own bed. Good ole bed.
There is indeed something to be said about taking a break. Breaks ARE necessary. They inspire you. They remind you. They console you. They lead you. They…. simply… feed you. Bon appétit!
(Check out photos under NYC 2008)