Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A gym master in total

Hysterical review of the Total Gym infomercial with Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley.

Time for us to pay up

All us Sox fans are in trouble now!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

surprisingly, a calming effect...

Me: I'm definitely going to come by after the office party
Me: I can't believe you guys are moving tomorrow
C: cool!
Me: you're crazy
C: yes
C: it's too much to deal with; I'm going nuts
Me: hey, at least half your family isn't in and out of the hospital. It could be worse
Me: I haven't sent christmas cards yet; I feel very guilty
C: ug. that's literally the LAST thing on my mind
Me: well, considering everything that's going on
Me: and, since my mother is convinced that my grandmother won't make it until christmas, you want to get stuff out to her as soon as possible, you know?
C: wow
Me: you do know everything that's going on, right?
C: sorry, no
Me: (Insert summary of all the stuff you've already read about below, which C had missed while he was buying a HOUSE in the SUBURBS!)
C: well, I had the most terrifying experience of my life two days ago, but it's completely inconsequential and crass compared to these troubles
Me: no, no, no
Me: my family shit does not diminish your stuff. I tell you so you know, not to make you feel guilty or sorry for me
C: it really does, I've been getting so stressed and terrified, you're really actually calming me down telling me this stuff
Me: terrified? what's up?
C: you wouldn't believe it.
Me: well, I'm glad to know that
C: so I go to the bank to get 10K in certified checks for the closing.....
Me: right
C: (as any good story starts...)
Me: hee
Me: it was a dark and stormy bank
C: yes
C: then, on the way home, I see some boxes
C: boxes! I say
Me: yay, free packing materials!
C: that's good, I need some boxes!
Me: I did that when I moved, went to office buildings and got empty computer boxes
C: that's totally how we're doing this
Me: it's the best way
C: so I pick up the boxes and go on my merry way home
C: I get home
C: throw down the boxes
C: go to the computer
C: and, wait,
C: hang on...
C: where are the 10K in checks?
Me: arghhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!
C: ("boxes!")
C: new rule: when carrying around $10,000... FOCUS.
Me: oh, dear god
Me: where did you leave them?
C: you don't want to hear the play by play of my twenty minutes of SHEER TERROR?
Me: yes, yes I do
C: the tearing apart of the apartment?
Me: but I don't want to actually FEEL the terror, as I can't take it right now
Me: so I want to take a peek at the last page first
C: the retracing of the steps back to the grocery store?
C: heh
C: it all ends fine, at least in this universe
Me: you know, buying your first home is indeed one of the most stressful things you can do. a major purchase like that throws all your systems into overdrive
C: so I look in the boxes for the fourth time
C: about to call the cops or something
C: first time- shook the box
C: 2nd time- looked in the boxes
C: 3rd time- physically felt through the boxes
C: so you can imagine the level of SHEER TERROR at this point
Me: yes, I'm feeling it
Me: you tell a good story
C: thanks
C: it's so hard to get people to sit still and listen
Me: hee
C: anyway,
C: fourth time, I'm unfolding all the flaps and shit, ready to take them apart
C: and
C: voila
Me: stuck in a flap?!
C: bingo
Me: C, I hate to say this
Me: but don't you have pockets? or a messenger bag or something?
C: I'm a ditz, I know
C: I had them in a nice folder!
C: I thought I was being all professional!
Me: hee
Me: that's what you get for trying to be professional!
C: indeed
Me: next thing I know, you'll go and cut your hair or something crazy like that
Me: I can't take it, C
Me: please don't tell me you're not drinking tonight so you won't have a hangover for the move tomorrow!
C: hahahaha, no
C: I'll probably still be drunk for the move
Me: good idea

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Silver Lining

I'm not calling the family situation Cancerpalooza anymore, since it's gone way beyond cancer at this point. Suggestions welcome.

When I last updated my faithful readers, Mum was going in for her second surgery, and I was leaving on a jet plane for Chicago. Here's the latest:

Mum is having a rough time recovering from the second surgery. In the end it was, surprisingly, more invasive than the first, and they found a tangerine-sized fibroid tumor while they were in there. But they've tested everything again, and she has been declared cancer-free! Also, when they tested her ovaries, they found that her o's have been producing too much estrogen her whole life, which can (and did) cause endometrial cancer, which can (and did) cause fertility problems (hello Miracle Baby!), and which can, but hopefully will not, slightly increase the risk for breast cancer. They're gone now, so they'd better stop with the mischief!

Dad had to have a cardioversion on December 7 to shock his heart into a regular rhythm. This caused him to go into congestive heart failure on the 9th. He went to the ER, spent a few days in the hospital, got one of his meds switched. Now he's in this oddly unstable condition until they figure out the proper dosage of the new meds, which leaves him with fluctuating blood pressure and other unsettling feelings. AND he can't travel while they're observing him, so the Christmas trip to Chicago is off. Thank God, because I really didn't want them travelling while Mum was recovering, but she felt obligated. Now the choice is taken out of their hands. And as a bonus, they get to go to Denise's wedding! Mum would never choose the wedding over her parents, but I know she'd been disappointed to miss it.

Nonna was released from the hospital and sent home, where they'd set up a hospital bed in the dining room and hired a day nurse. On Friday, December 10th, while Mum was out picking Dad up to bring him home from the cardiac unit, my uncle calls her to say that he's driving from the office to the hospital, but he doesn't think he'll make it there before Nonna dies.

Right.

Just what Mum needs, right?

And I got out of a meeting to find a similar message on my voice mail.

Nonna had been vomiting and delirious, and she couldn't breathe. The nurse thought it was really bad, and she was rushed to the ER. Turns out she had a pulmonary blood clot, which they're treating. She's still in the hospital, and should be home again soon.

And my uncle told my poor mother, as if she doesn't have enough to deal with, that now that she's not coming to Chicago until December 28th, he doesn't think he'll be able to take it, and he's going to have a nervous breakdown.

Right.

How DARE he?!?! She doesn't have enough to deal with? It's not like she's going on vacation instead of coming out to help. Anyway, for years she's been trying to get my grandparents to move to Boston and live with her, so she could help take care of them, and they've always refused beause they like their freedom and their own space. In fact, my grandfather wants her to buy a condo near him and move to Chicago to help him out, as long as she doesn't live with him and cramp his style.

Can you imagine? If this is the family she came from, it's a miracle my mother is anywhere in the general vicinity of sane.

I told my mother to bring Dad's medical records with her when they go to Chicago after Christmas, so that if anyone questions her reasons for not coming sooner she can rub them in their faces. Also, I reminded her that when Dad's mother was in and out of the hospital during her final months, he had a heart attack. So if her brother ever brings up the threat of nervous collapse again, she should mention dad's heart attack. So he has something to strive for.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

And she rocks, too

Last night I checked out Jodi's gig at the Bitter End. She did this hilarious rif on He's Just Not That Into You, putting four songs together as a four-act play of love and loss, punctuated with quotes from the book.
watching her on stage, I noticed something else. About 15 or so years ago, long before we'd met, Jo and I probably had fairly similar bodies -- type, size, height, etc. Except I couldn't manage to keep mine until 30, and she's looking better than ever at... Well, I'll leave it to her to tell you, because you'd never guess from looking at her. The girl would be smoking at half her age!

Monday, December 06, 2004

...Man Alive

Jude Law has a disproportionately large head. Regardless, please go see Closer as soon as possible. Jude's character is more whiny brat than sexiest man alive, but Clive Owen makes up for it, and you hate yourself for wanting him even when he's all nasty and smarmy. Dave and I sat in the theater long after the credits were done, jaws still hanging kind of low. Many of the reviews I've read say that the relationships are twisted. Well, maybe I'm messed up then, but I thought it was a very honest portrayal of how people really do feel. Honest in a way that not only movies never show, but people don't want to admit to themselves.

And Julia Roberts was the most sympathetic I've ever seen her in any film. I've never bought her sweetheart shtick; I've found most of her characters to be cold and selfish. But here, she keeps trying to do the right thing, she's torn and conflicted, and you really feel for her. She was the most breathtakingly beautiful I've ever seen her, as well.

not enough blarney...

once upon a time, long ago and far away, I went to Dublin and took some pictures. They're finally up online. I was going to blog every day, and keep a detailed record of all the wonderful things I did and learned and saw. But I never did that; I am a bad blogger. If you have any questions about the photos, though, I'd be happy to expound.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

On the plus side...

Our team, Schoolhouse Rockstars, won Trivia Night on Monday, to the tune of $260, that's $65 for each of us. All the erstwhile teammates who couldn't be bothered to show up, or thought Brooklyn was "too far away" are sorry now...

Cancerpalooza 2004 North American Tour

Having told this story several times in the past few days, I realized that most of you have no idea what's going on with my family. So here's a rough chronological review...

End of September, Mum has a hysterectomy.
A few days before the surgery, Nonna (Mum's mum, in Chicago) falls down, breaks her arm, and is admitted into the hospital.
A few days after that, Nonno (Mum's dad, also in Chicago) totals his car. He's unharmed, and amazed by the wonder of airbags.
Back to Nonna in the hospital -- she tells the doctors that she fell because she can't walk, because she can't feel her feet. They can't find anything wrong with her, and label her a difficult and uncooperative patient, because of course an 87-year-old woman couldn't possibly actually HAVE something wrong with her that they haven't found yet, right?
Nonna keeps insisting there's something wrong (good for her), they do a CAT scan, and find two pinched discs in her back. However, surgery would be too risky, because she's on blood thinners for one thing, so they decide to try to treat it with physical therapy instead.
In October, Mum finds out that they found early-stage endometrial cancer in her removed uterus (this is not why she had the hysterectomy; this is a bonus surprise). As the organ's already out, and it was caught early, her risk is minimal. Still, Mum and the docs decide to remove her ovaries as well, just to be safe, as if it had spread, that's where it would have gone. Mum wants the surgery done immediately, but she's still recovering from the last one, so they schedule a laproscopic procedure for November 19th.
Back in Chicago, Nonna's not being released from the hospital, because they have to figure out what kind of care she'll have at home. While she's there, they find out she's got colorectal cancer. Again, they can't operate, but they're trying to treat it.

And Nonno is turning 90 on November 20th, and we were all supposed to head out to Chicago to celebrate, and stay through Thanksgiving. But now he doesn't want to celebrate while Nonna's in the hospital, and Mum's surgery is the day before, so that plan is off.

Instead, I'm heading out to Chicago from the 20th to the 22nd, just to hang out and keep him company for a few days. Mum would rather I were with him than with her, since I'll see her a few days later anyway.

These are my Cancerpalooza tour dates:

November 12-14 -- Up in Boston to visit with Mum pre-surgery. I will also be leaving the cat up there with her, because she has requested an extended visit with Siena to cheer her up. I'll miss her, but she likes visiting with her grandparents, and I'll get her back at Thanksgiving.

November 20-22 -- In Chicago to visit Nonna and hang out with Nonno, drive him around (since he no longer has a car), but under no circumstances celebrate anything.

November 24-28 -- Back in Boston for Thanksgiving, and to attend to post-operative Mum. And reclaim my baby monkey.

On top of all this, I have a monstrous head cold, Siena was vomiting and is now suffering through a week of special bland food, and I still don't have a date for Denise's wedding. Which is the day after Christmas, but Mum wants to spend Christmas in Chicago because "it might be Nonna's last," but I don't see how I can do that and be a bridesmaid in Boston at the same time.

Keeping my head up, though. And if anyone will be in Boston the day after Christmas, wants to play escort, and knows how to dance, let me know.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Siena the Supermodel

Me: I've been eyeing this stool, just for some randomness
T: it's a must-have for every household.
Me: clearly. I am tempted
T: I thought you just bought a coffee table?
Me: I was just given a coffeee table, and I love it. But this is a stool, like to put your feet up on.
T: oh, well, in that case, as I said, it's a must-have.
Me: or upon which to perch Siena and take pictures of the wild jungle cat
T: exactly.
Me: Siena insists that "Rio" be played at all her photo sessions
T: well, that does go with her long curly locks.
Me: except for when she's feeling hungry, hungry like the wolf
T: she must be excited that Duran Duran just came out with a new album
Me: yes, yes she is
T: well, now i know what to get her for Christmas.
Me: she snuck out at midnight with my purse, and went down to Tower
T: she's so sneaky.
Me: also, she's really good at hailing a cab, and at forging my signature.

Jesusland

You've probably already seen this by now, but it bears repeating.
 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

PS 321: Countdown to Democracy

When I got to my voting place this morning, the crowds were pretty bad, but not so much as I had feared. The media, however, was out in full force. Vans from NY1 and Fox News were parked out in front, and there were photographers from the NY Times inside.

Fortunately, my district, district 27, had only three or so people in line, so I was in and out in 15 minutes. I think that's because we have a lot of authors, artists, actors, and other types who don't follow a 9-to-5 schedule, and they were probably going to vote once the rush-hour crowds had subsided. One person I did not see while I was there was my across-the-street neighbor, Chuck Schumer, but Gawker did. I know we're a great neighborhood, but I didn't realize we were worthy of so much attention!

More Portents for Kerry

Our own Jersey Journal is reporting that local psychic Dina Costello has foreseen a Kerry win. Thanks to Barista of Bloomfield Avenue and of course John Shabe.

Monday, November 01, 2004

sushi?

I just saw an ad for Finding Nemo on Ice this morning on the PATH train.

Finding Nemo on Ice? Doesn't that sound like a traumatic visit to the fishmonger's? Who came up with that brilliant idea?

Tecumsah's curse

When the Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino last week, it got me thinking about this other curse: every American president elected in a year ending in zero (every 20 years) will die in office. Which would mean our current president, unless Reagan broke the curse by surviving his assasination attempt. I was kind of amazed that no one had ever mentioned this in regards to the current administration, but even more amazed when I talked about it with my friends over the weekend, and not a one had ever heard of the curse. So now you know.

Redskins predict Kerry win

I'm not a huge follower of football, but I was rooting for the Packers yesterday.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

GO SOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is why it's so great to be a Red Sox fan. Had the Yanks won last night, it would have been their 40th pennant, and <yawn> no one would have cared. But the Sox win? That made HISTORY!!!

Last night, every non-Yankees fan across the country was rooting for the Sox, and they're going to keep rooting for us all through the Series. We are America's darlings! This is why you keep on believing, year after year, heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss (don't even talk to me about last year). Take that, Evil Empire! Who's your Papi?

Tonight it will be the Astros or the Cards, and I really hate Clemens. I hated that arrogant lug when he was playing for the Sox, I didn't care how many strikes he pitched. I hated him more when he went to the Yanks after promising he'd never play against the Sox, and I hate him for "retiring" and still being around to annoy us. So, obviously, I want to Cards to win; I've always liked them anyway.

However....
My downstairs neighbor, who knocked on my door at 12:30 last night to celebrate with me, did point out that if the Astros win, it will be Boston versus Texas, kind of like another big competition we've got going on right now. The political implications would be entertaining, to say the least. But I don't think I could take the added stress. Better to put Houston in its place now, and let all our Boston boys ride on to victory!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Ortiz is my Papi

I am so in love with David Ortiz today. He saved the Sox with a gorgeous homer Sunday night, and then he did it again last night, with a tieing homer and a winning single! And he was having such a bad time of it before that single, too. First the ump counted a ball as a strike, which meant a strike out, but he totally didn't swing around. Then, when stealing second, he tagged the bag before Jeter tagged him -- replay after replay after replay, from every angle, proved it -- but he'd already been called out.

My gift to the Sox continues unabated; they only score when I'm watching. Last night, I kept an eye on the score at work until I had to go home. It was 2-1 Sox when I left. As I walked home from the subway station, I heard lots of horn honking and firecrackers going off, and my heart sank. I feared the boys had lost while I wasn't watching. When I got home, I ran upstairs, turned on the tv, saw the score was 4-2 Yanks, but it was only the 8th inning! I hung up my coat, sat down on the couch, and BAM! Ortiz hit a homer. Seriously, just like that. Me and Papi together, we could win this thing. I've cleared my schedule for the rest of the week, so I can keep a close eye on things...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

you could've just asked....

Dinner at Ponte Vecchio last night for Vineel's birthday. We were originally supposed to go to Rocco (not Rocco's on 22nd Street, rather the original one in Noho), because Vineel had eaten there before and liked it, but it was closed.

The food was fine, but not great. Standard dishes like gnocchi in pesto and penne alla vodka. Small portions, bad house wine, and really slow and confused service. And it really wasn't any cheaper than Bar Pitti, my favorite place right around the corner, would have been. For dessert, we were going to head over to Otto for olive oil ice cream (rapture), but the waiter wanted to put a candle in something, so we stayed. The zabalione with berries may have made up for the rest of the meal. Light, rich, not at all runny -- possibly the best I've ever had.

Friday, September 17, 2004

mmm, vitello tonnato

It's true, I do love a good lobster roll, but vitello tonnato is my absolute favorite dish. Delicate, creamy, caper-tangy, tuna-fishy, and really not that hard to make if you have a food processor and know what you're doing. So why don't more restaurants offer it more often? Get it while you can.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I think I can, I think I can

Oh, dear God. Help me here people. I've been saying forever that I want to move to DC, and I've always claimed to want to be a food writer. So what did I see posted on MediaBistro today? An opening for editor of the Washington Post's weekly Food section!

I want it! I can do it! I love their food section, I read it every week!

Only one problem. Every job I've ever had has been offered to me. I have never successfully applied for a job. I don't know how to do it. I am hyperventilating just thinking about this. My reticence to sell myself in this way is exactly why my career is in the shape it's in: rather good, but not really what I want to be doing, or where I want to be doing it.

Funny, in most other aspects of my life, my policy has always been "why not?" or "it doesn't hurt to ask." But in two very important realms, love and career, I do the exact opposite, exactly where it matters most.

Really, I'm the ideal candidate for the job; I just have to convince them of that. I think I do have excellent experience; I just hate applying for jobs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

the moon is made of cakes

Tonight I'm going to Mooncake Foods for dinner. I've been talking about it since it opened, every time we're thinking about a cheap but tasty alternative for dinner. But it's all the way over by the Holland Tunnel, so we've never managed to go until now. I'll let you know how it goes.

TK got all excited at the concept of mooncakes, though they don't actually serve those, just allude to them. As she explained the Moon Festival to me, I imagined an interpretive dance to worship the moon, with cakes in the dancers' hands. (This year, the Moon Festival will be on September 28.)

Get out the VOTE

Okay, so maybe I don't quite get the connection between a website contest and registering to vote, since you can enter the contest and still not register. But here's what I do know:
1. You should register to vote
2. You should vote on November 2 (I'd prefer it if you vote for Kerry, my hometown boy, but of course it's up to you)
3. You should wish me a happy birthday on November 4, while I might be celebrating, I might be crying into a beer, but I'll probably be waiting for the results of the recounts.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Fresh eggs

Anyone want to buy a chicken house? Comes complete with chickens....

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

independant woman, daddy's girl

As much as I complain about being single, it's no secret that I resist dating as much as possible, and most of my friends think I don't really want to get married. Maybe this is why I'm so gun-shy. Looks like it's not that unreasonable that the only man I really trust is my dad.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Diplomatic Immunity

My boss just called me the "Goodwill Ambassador" for our department, presumably because I'm friendly with people all over the company.

I wish that new title came with a free parking space in the company lot out back....

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Bald geishas?

I had no idea geisha hairstyles were so excruciating. They can weigh up to six pounds, and all geishas eventually lose their hair from the harsh styling.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Status Anxiety in the District

The Washington Post asks the infamously pervasive D.C. question: "What do you do?" and considers its meaning in District society, as well as human nature. Everyone's been telling me that DC is just as status-obsessed as New York, and I can't escape it by moving there. Well, at least they're self-aware....

Monday, July 26, 2004

don't tell me I'm not trying....

Three blind dates in seven days. Monday was the Mets game with a guy who only talked about his job and baseball, and mostly only talked at all when I asked him questions to keep the conversation going. He didn't ask me a single question about myself, so of course I volunteered nothing.

Wednesday was the Is it a date or isn't it? date with the guy I met through work. For weeks, whenever we spoke on the phone, he would say, I want to meet you, when am I going to get to meet you? So we met at a bar. Because it was work-related, I wasn't totally sure, but it seemed date-ish. He bought me a drink, he was dong that arm-touching thing. But then I thought he mentioned a girlfriend. So I felt free to talk about the planned blind date that was coming up (which would be the third, in case you're counting). THEN he kept saying, we're friends now, right? We're friends? And then he told me he'd be staying at the bar after I left, because he was pretty sure the gorgeous woman at the end of the bar wanted him to stay. Haven't heard from him yet to hear how the secondary pick-up went.

Then yesterday I went all the way to Philly to meet a guy from DC. Now that was a nice date. We saw Cirque de Soleil, had ice cream, ran all over the city -- he was a perfect gentleman. But there wasn't too much of a spark, so we'll have to see how that goes. With the 250 mile disadvantage, we might need more of a jump start. Such a sweet guy, though! Even if we don't date, he'd be a great guy buddy.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

walk the line

Here's a little Flash game for you, Drunk Man Walking.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Rapture Above Columbus Circle

I had brilliant luck in scoring a reservation to Per Se. Back in February, I noticed the reservation number in an article in the Times, called the second day the reservation line was open, got through right away with no busy signal and no time on hold, and was given a reservation for four on March 10th. Which proved once again that it never hurts to try.

But then there was a fire, followed by months of uncertainty and mystery. Upon reopening the restaurant post-inferno, the most gracious Keller team rescheduled all the standing reservations before opening up the book to new ones. Unfortunately, the first opening was while Jane and I were in Ireland, so we had to wait even longer.

By last night, I'd waited so long and heard so much about it, and read so many reviews, that I felt as familiar with the place as if I'd already visited a few times. I strode up confidently, almost arrogantly, to the elevator bank, walked right through the sliding glass doors (no confusion at the blue decoy door for me!), greeted the hostess like an old friend (after all the phone calls to schedule and reschedule, we almost were!), and was shown to our table right away. Of course, I'd had trouble finding parking, and the rest of my party had been waiting for 10 minutes already. But still, it's nice to swoop in and feel like they've been eagerly awaiting your triumphant arrival.

The linens were lovely, the dishes (you've probably already heard how he worked with Raynaud to design his own line, for sale at Bergdorf's) had this gorgeous houndstooth pattern. But you want to know about the food.

Joe, Annette and I all got the nine-course chef's tasting, and Jane got the nine-course tasting of vegetables (not because she's a vegetarian, but because she doesn't like most of the fish or game meats that were on the regular menu). Had I been allowed to take pictures of the menu with my handy tiny digital camera, I could give you a better description of the individual courses. But my dining companions nixed that idea. So I'm cobbling together a description from memory, with a little help from a menu posted online (someone *did* take pictures) that had a few of the same courses on it.

1. As soon as we had ordered, we were brought the amuse-bouches, little wafer cones filled with creme fraiche and salmon tartare. Jane's cone was stuffed with tomato confit, so her vegetarian option resembled ours!

2. Oysters and Pearls: tapioca pearls in a delicate saboyan custard, with two tiny, precious Island Creek oysters and a nice dollop of Iranian osetra on top. I'd heard good things about this signature dish, but still I was surprised at how good it was.
Jane had carrot soup with pickled carrots and tatsoi. The solids arrived in a lovely huge bowl, and then a waitress came over and poured the soup over them. SO cute. In fact, almost every one of Jane's courses involved some element of tableside assembly, perhaps to compensate for the lack of meatiness? (Though Jane says that no compensation was necessary, that everything was exquisite. I never knew she was a closet veg. I should have known by her hippy taste in music!)

3. Hearts of Palm salad: This is the course in which you can opt to pay an additional $20 for a fois gras dish. But 1. I am offended at being asked to pay $20 in addition to the $150, no matter how lovely the fois gras torchon presentation may be, and 2. I have a freezer full of Hudson Valley fois gras at home, which I really need to find a reason to finish up. Maybe I can borrow the French Laundry cookbook I gave Jane for Christmas, and try to make the dish myself.
ANYway, Joe and Annette loved the hearts of palm salad, claiming it was one of their favorite dishes of the evening. But I have to confess, I was unimpressed. The black truffle coulis was nice, though (of course). Jane had jicama "ribbons" with persian lime gelee.

4. A fish course, I think it was a type of sea bass. I thought this was absolutely delicious, but Annette was not at all impressed. All the better, because she gave Joe one of her pieces of fish, and the other to me! I also particularly enjoyed the tiny pieces of artichoke bottom, intensely flavored little touches of earthy tastiness.
Jane had hen of the woods with wine braised shallots. The mushrooms were almost beefy in their hearty savoriness. This was her favorite course.

5. Ah, the legendary butter poached lobster! On the menu it was described as lobster in a lobster vinaigrette, so I was alarmed that this was not going to be butter-poached. But the waiter assured me that all their lobster is butter-poached, regardless of how they present it or what accompanies it. So delicious, sweet and tender and rich and delicate. The sauce was not a vinaigrette at all, more like a lobster demi-glace, and it was so good I sopped it all up with bread. As they cleared the dishes from that course, I asked the servers what the large fish-knife-resembling utensil was that I hadn't used (there was also a regular fish knife), and they explained that it's a custom-designed sauce spoon, to scrape up all the sauce from your plate. So clearly they know their audience, and are fully aware of the tastiness of the sauces! I only wish I'd known what it was for before I dunked all that filling bread...
Jane had a lovely salad of asparagus with truffles and balsamic reduction.

6. Tiny loin and kidney of rabbit. Perfectly roasted, delicate, but of course it helps if you like game meats such as rabbit. Jane does not, which is why she had a pasta dish with huge quantities of summer truffle grated over it tableside. Oh, the luscious smell!

7. Excellent roasted lamb (with fava beans?). I had been craving lamb all through Ireland, and this was exactly what I wanted.
Jane had an architecturally constructed eggplant gateau, with Nicoise olives and a drizzle of olive paste. Considering that Jane doesn't like olives, it was brave of her to dive in, but it wasn't her favorite dish of the night.

8. The cheese course. I don't remember what kind of cheese it was, and I wasn't particularly enthused. But at this point I was getting oh, so full, so it was okay to have one less-than perfect course.
Jane's cheese course, which she loved, had a different selection of stinky but soft cheeses, and was accompanied by a chickpea salad.

9. Persian lime sorbet with pineapple raviolo. This was the major disappointment of my night. Having read countless reviews on egullet and chowhound and, oh EVERYwhere, I had heard that you could switch a course if there was something you didn't like. I'm not a fan of pineapple desserts (though simple fresh pineapple is fine), and I really don't like citrus sorbets. On the five-course menu, there was a crispy sweet polenta dessert that I'd read raves about, and I adore surprisingly textured, sweet-and-savory dishes like that. So I asked if I could make a substitution when we ordered, and was told NO.
!!!!
And he wasn't very nice about it either, made me feel bad for asking.
In the restaurant's defense, the waiter who took our order was not the waiter (actually lead waiter of a phalanx of servers) who attended to us very sweetly all night. The waiter who took our order was never seen again. Good thing, too, because I didn't like him.
Needless to say, I hated this dessert. The Persian lime sorbet was almost inedibly tart, the pineapple puree in the raviolo was pasty and too sweet, and the raviolo dough was a bit too chewy. Pouting still at the memory of it. When you're having a legendary meal that you waited months for and will remember for a long time, you don't want a single part of it to be as disappointing, as unpleasant, as that course was.
(Jane's cucumber sorbet was a more fortunate sorbet experience. It came with three tiny, precise cubes of watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew, with a tiny well carved out of the top of each to hold a drop of balsamic vinegar.)

10. But the next dessert more than made up for it. Tentation Au Chocolat, Noisette et Lait: milk chocolate cream with crunchy ribbons of chocolate swirling around it, a dollop of "Pain au Lait" Coulis, and a scoop of condensed milk sorbet perched atop a rectangle of hazelnut praline. Until I tried this dish, I thought I disliked all sorbets, and the last course strengthened that belief. But the condensed milk sorbet was a revelation. I think it was sweetened only with the milk sugars, which was a lovely foil against the sweetness of the chocolate and the saltiness of the nuts. As a good Italian girl, there's nothing I love more than chocolate with hazelnuts. This sorbet was the only thing that could have possibly improved upon that combination.
Oh, and the most charming part of this dish was the delicate line of powdered milk in the corner of the plate. (Oddly, it almost looked like a line of cocaine, but charming, not disturbing.) Actually, all the plates were decorated with a dust of some kind (one had fennel pollen, for example). The nice waiter and I were making a game of it all night, when I first noticed the dust, I asked him what it was and he had to go find out for me; by the third time I asked he was prepared, and had made sure to find out before serving us.
The architectural nature of Jane's menu continued with a box made of white chocolate squares, complete with a lid. Inside the box was a white chocolate mousse with a tunnel of bitter chocolate, on the side was a dark chocolate sorbet, and the whole thing was strewn with candied cocoa nibs.

11. That should have been it for desserts, and wouldn't two really be enough? Instead, barely were the dishes cleared that the mini-desserts were served: creme brulee for Annette and me, and yogurt pot de creme with plum jam for Jane and Joe. We all shared, of course.

12. Next came the three-tiered platter of mignardises, which at least the menu had warned us were coming. If you're counting, yes, this is the fourth dessert. Mostly mini chocolate truffles, caramels, a dulce de leche mini tart. But I saw this one tiny chocolate between two minuscule triangles of melba toast, glued together with a thin film of a red paste. I had to try it, mused over the nutty flavor of what I'd expected to be a chocolate cream, then suddenly realized, and exclaimed out loud, "It's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!"
The nice waiter, I hadn't noticed, was standing behind me, ready to explain if I had asked. He seemed thrilled that I'd figured it out so joyfully. Seriously, he was grinning.

We were each given a package of three macarons to take home. I shared them with Trilby, who had flown in from Florida while I was dining thorough the wee hours, and was just settling into my Aerobed when I came home (at 1:30 am!)

Why so late? Well, our reservation was for 10 pm, and as I said, I was little late. So we were the last table to be seated. As we finished our meal in an empty Per Se, the staff made no attempt to rush us out. On the contrary, we got more attention as more servers were freed up to take care of us. At the end of the meal, the nice waiter thanked us for being such great guests, explaining that they really enjoy it when someone appreciates the food and is attentive and curious about the details. (I suspect that since this is the hot reservation in New York at the moment, they're getting lots of "fabulous" people who only want to say they've been to Per Se, but don't really care a whit about the food.)

So I asked if we could take a peek at the kitchen, and he gave us a full tour of the whole restaurant! The chefs were conferring in the kitchen, planning the next days' menu, but paused to meet us. Jonathan Benno came over to shake hands, very gracious and sweet. I forgot to check out the video feed to French Laundry, but actually I'm not sure they have it set up yet.

If you'd like to see photos of some of the dishes we had, check out the Amateur Gourmet's review. The Albany Times Union and New York magazine also have excellent reviews.

If anyone wants to take me there again, I'm always up for butter-poached lobster!

Monday, June 21, 2004

100 years of Bloom

Just got back from Bloomsday in Dublin. Had a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy at Davy Byrne's, climbed Martello Tower (but didn't brave the scrotum-tightening sea), befriended a descendent, the whole bit. I find chapter three to be the killer; go ahead and skip it, and you might find it gets better in c.4...

Friday, June 04, 2004

15 years after Tiananmen Square

The Independent looks back on the events, and imagines what the world would be like if the student protesters had won their battle for democracy. I remember vividly where I was when I first saw the footage and found out what was giong on -- in the bar of the restaurant where I was spending my first college summer waitressing. No one was there but me and the bartender, and we just watched the screen in silence and shock.

I also remember where I was when I found out about the fall of the Berlin Wall -- in the foyer of my fraternity house, sitting on a table, reading the paper with a few friends, and realizing I would remember that moment forever.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Morning New Edition

I suspect that had they just kept him on until his 25th anniversary, NPR would have gotten much less grief.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Friday, March 05, 2004

Saturday, February 07, 2004