Living the Good Life

Recently, I watched the documentary Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven, recounting the tales of Sirio Maccioni, his family's ups & downs, and his famed, classic New York restaurant. I wasn't raised in an elitist lifestyle, and it's not every day I'm able to dine out at swanky digs. But there is something that I greatly miss with the demise of what I see as the classic beauty of haute cuisine. While growing up watching Great Chefs of wherever and window shopping in the specialty shops with Mom learning about caviar and escargots while then plowing into a plate of crispy catfish and vinegary greens or simple beanie weenies, I learned to love the pleasures of the simple life, while aspiring to know the glamour of the more upscale side. I've been incredibly fortunate, in my adult life, to have occasionally experienced some of these dreamy moments feeling as pampered as a princess, and in no way do I take this for granted. And while my roots are rather simple, yet rich with the realness of the world, it saddens me to see such accessibility of the glamorous life so readily available and not as appreciated. While accessibility increases, quality decreases. I hesitate to say these things as I don't want to sound snooty or spoiled. But I just remember being a kid watching TV or looking at old black & white photos of celebrity dinners and having that sense of admiration and awe of what I dreamed of one day achieving. Society is changing and traditions are dying out, I suppose to make way for something new. But sometimes things are better left untouched, and fantasies are better left unrealized. Just aspiring to have them, and knowing that they're there is so much more exciting. I'm all about eating well, though I still enjoy just having dreams without having to necessarily realize them. Gives me something to aspire to, whether I ever reach that goal or not.

On that note, this week did offer me two very pampering evenings, which I was very fortunate to have realized. Monday evening, a long-time friend surprised me with dinner at Alain Ducasse's Adour in the St. Regis hotel. An intimate space elegantly enrobed in soft hues of gold and deep reds and gentle, classic prints. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it there for dinner during Chef Tony Esnault's evenings. But the dinner was magical just the same. My menu included: Sweetbread "Meunière," Egg Purse with Wild Mushrooms & Brioche; Glazed Berkshire Pork Tournedos/Belly with Butternut Squash, Boudin Noir, and a Sage Sauce; ending with chocolates, macarons and an espresso. A complimentary dish of Sautéed Duck Foie Gras from Chef Joel Dennis was also deliciously devoured and very much appreciated. A feast fit for a king… or a pampered princess with lovely conversation and life realizations. Merci, Jacques.

Tuesday evening, I had a wonderful dinner with a friend I recently met at one of the most classic culinary meccas in the Big Apple, The Four Seasons. Not to be confused with the hotel, this may be the best spot to experience glamorous NY society in a very civilized manner. Seated in the Pool Room next to the babbling waters centered in the golden-hued space, while the beaded curtains shimmied in front of the windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of NYC, we enjoyed splendid service and delicately traditional haute cuisine. I'm a sucker for steak tartare, so that's exactly what began my meal. Sweet and savory and perfectly smooth Four Seasons Beef Tartare with caviar followed by a second course of Maryland Crabmeat Cakes with Mustard Sauce, and a main course of Filet of Bison, Foie Gras and a Perigord Truffle Sauce. All of this decadently prepared deliciousness was followed by a tower of pink cotton candy. Fun fun fun! Not an everyday affair, but incredibly appreciated, the exquisite dinner was accompanied by superb conversation by my host and incredible attentiveness on the waiters' behalf. Merci, Jim.

Last night, on a different level, after meeting up with friends at Paddy Reilly's Open Mic Night, a few of us headed over to Waterfront Ale House for some exceptional Mako Shark Tacos and Buffalo Calamari. A great, and usually pretty crowded, neighborhood bar, the chef is brilliant and serves up some amazing dishes. A long night, or early morning, today will be spent writing, enjoying some good coffee somewhere, and, well, you just never know in this crazy city. Enjoy what you have in life, and don't forget to dream a little too. Bon appétit!

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