Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some Other Stuff

I'm not being precisely chronological in my description of our trip. Think of these posts more as a collage, if you will.

Our hotel was meh. (I had the same ambivalent, mildly positive feelings as I do about going to A&M. There probably were better places out there, but it got the job done.) It was clean and simple and convenient and that was plenty for us. By comparison, it was not the dirty, damp, hair-coated hostel that I stayed in on my last trip to NYC, so by that measure it was a bonafide hit. The Empire State Building area hood was a little more endearing to me because Anthony Bourdain's old stomping ground, Les Halles, is right around the corner.

The afternoon we arrived, we walked down to Madison Square Park and waited in the intimidatingly long line and snacked at Shake Shack while loving all the pups from the dog park, which I felt was a perfect way to jump start our stay in the city.

Carter and I went to Public that night for their tasting menu: 1) liver pate with lemon ricotta and crostini, 2) pumpkin soup with caramelized califlower and balsamic drizzle, 3) pork larb lettuce wraps (larb tastes as good as it sounds, which is to say dull, coarse, and off-putting), 4) lamb something or other which was well-seasoned if somewhat tough, and 5) creme brulee and house-made ice cream... but I'm embarrassed to say I can't remember the flavor. I think pear and apple and buttermilk were in there somewhere, but after all the eating, the details are fuzzy now.

One of our days there, we went up to Rockefeller Plaza, grabbed Dean & De Luca coffee and sat and people watched, killing time until our Le Bernardin lunch.

While we were sitting in the sun, Kathy Lee Gifford's partner on the Today Show, Hoda Kotb, walked by our bench. We stared, and she stared back. I saw her talking to her white man friend, and she seemed to be really staring at us, like she knew us, and talking about us to him. It certainly was one of those moments when you turn around to see if they're looking at someone behind you. Then she came over and said, "You look just like a girl we work with, Allison." I said, "Well, I know who you are," which in retrospect doesn't exactly follow, but I was flustered, so whatever. She was really tall and had on trowel-applied makeup, but that's the way it goes on TV, right? Then she said, "Have a nice day," and walked away with her handler. omg.

Speaking of celebrities, we also saw Woody Allen and child bride coming out of the MOMA and also Laura from Project Runway a few seasons ago. I gasped and grabbed C's arm when she walked by, which amused him. Our friends saw "Big Booty" Charles Barkley at their night at Craft.

We had the fixed three-course menu at Bernardin, and it was FAN-CY. They brought a real. live. finger bowl. With linen napkin alongside for Hub to dry his briny fingers on. We had Pellegrino and brioche rolls with butter and dark dark coffee later and beautiful salmon miso spread with perfect crostini to start. When we walked in, I was amazed at how quiet it was, like a cocoon. It was like everyone was wearing their slippers and communicating by facial expressions and whispers. King Eric Ripert walked through the dining room a couple of times, and I had to restrain myself from throwing him over my shoulder and kidnapping him. (No joke. I'm surprisingly strong. You would be shocked if I showed you how I lift with my legs. I'm telling you I have thighs like a horse! Just let me show you next time you see me. I'll pick you up. You'll love it.)

Hub's started with a tasting of six oysters with different gelee preparations arranged from most subtle to most intense flavoring. Awesome. I started with foie gras on the lightest, most delicate toast and covered with a veil of tuna. Astounding. Hub had the striped bass with parsnip custard for his entree, and I had skate in a spicy ginger broth. He had pistachio mousse with soaked cherries and white chocolate sauce for dessert, while I had chocolate hazelnut something with brown butter ice cream and caramelized banana. The whole thing was just on another level. It's like comparing Goethe or Dostoevsky or Shakespeare or Conrad with everyone else. Just so much more going on in there. But I will say that we were tense the whole time. It's hard to enjoy it when we're on our best behavior and worried about not looking foolish. I told Hub the solution is to just eat at more and more restaurants on par with Bernardin until we feel comfortable.

1 comment:

The Kelley's said...

I am laughing out loud. Seriously. I can't freakin' believe Eric Ripert walked through there. Was his hair perfect in person? Can't wait to hear all about the rest of your adventures! I am anxiously checking your blog for updates!

P.S. You look super cute/hot in your dress/boots/scarf ensemble.