The Most Interesting Man In New York

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I took a trip to New York City for his 30th birthday.

 At least that was the “official” reason. In reality, the sole purpose of the trip was to eat as much delicious food as humanly possible.

 We ventured deep into Brooklyn for the best pizza I’ve ever eaten:

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Seriously. DiFara. Go.

… schlepped all the way to Harlem for delicious, Obama-approved fried chicken at Red Rooster, and put away our fair share of bagels,

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New York Cheesecake, and delicious, sugary street nuts.

Mmmm. street nuts.

The pièce de résistance , however, was the special birthday dinner at Babbo, Mario Batali’s restaurant in Greenwich village. 

This was a big deal for us. Not only was it the first time either of us had set foot in a Michelin-starred restaurant, it was also owned by a famous TV chef.

I mean, when the dude gets away with wearing this outfit 24/7:  

 

you know he’s a boss.

The maître d led us to our table upstairs in a quiet corner of the restaurant, and introduced us to our server for the evening, Paul.

Paul was about 6’2, with sandy blond hair and electric blue eyes. He wasn’t what you’d call “fat”; more “pleasantly plump”, with a pot-belly suggesting more than a few indulgent staff meals. With laugh lines crinkling around his eyes and a broad smile that just wouldn’t quit, he looked sort of like Bradley Cooper’s less successful, lesser known older brother. I pegged him at about 35.   

“Welcome to Babbo!” he bellowed, barely containing his enthusiasm. “Will you be enjoying the tasting menu today?”

Startled, we looked at each other, then at our menus. “There are two choices,” he continued; “the Chef’s menu, or the 7-course pasta tasting menu”

A pasta tasting menu? 

“We’ll have that one” I said, instinctively “Great Choice!” he shouted “You can never have too much pasta. And will you be having the wine pairings?”

Even though I am no wine connoisseur and knew the value of such an expensive add-on would be wasted on me, something about his eager, hopeful eyes made it virtually impossible to say no. Plus, he already thought I was a good chooser- I didn’t want to let him down.  

“Sure,” I responded, trying to quiet the chinging dollar signs in my brain.

As the evening unfolded, it became clear that Paul was quite the entertainer. Every course was accompanied by a well-timed story or joke, and his award-winning smile never ceased. Plus, his knowledge of food and wine seemed infallible. He described our mushroom ravioli in exquisite detail, even citing the origins of decorative floral garnish. (Hilsbury Farms, West Haven, Connecticut. Organic, obviously.)  Our second course wine pairing, a Casina Ebreo, was “unctuous” with a “cacophony of aromas”, and our Italian Montefalco Rosso “confident” and “playful” with some “nice legs” on her.”  

If anything, Paul’s descriptions were a bit overzealous; as evidenced by his explanation of our fourth-course pairing.

“This is a 2008 Terredora di Paolo,” he explained, “the summer of record high temperatures in Italy, where hundreds died from the heat. The heat, however, was excellent for the grapes, and produced some extremely fine wines”.

“So it wasn’t all for naught,” said my boyfriend, jokingly

“It certainly wasn’t” replied Paul, deadpan.

The real kicker, however, was when he described our fifth course pairing, an Italian Tabborini, as having “hints of potting soil”.

Both of us looked down at our napkins, trying not to burst into hysterical laughter. “He must be an actor”, I said after he had left, “because he has got to be making this shizz up”. 

I was sort of joking, but once I had the idea in my head, I couldn’t let it go. As I’ve learned from my visits there, everyone in New York has an angle- and everyone has to pay the bills. Maybe he was a struggling stage actor, trying to crack the big-time with his heartfelt, groundbreaking one-man show. Maybe he had his sights set on Days of Our Lives, auditioning to be the next possessed, resurrected evil-genius heart-throb. Or maybe he was angling for his own reality show, having amassed legions of social media followers with his clever and relatable series of YouTube videos on what men are really thinking. 

 I had intended to ask him, but after my seventh pasta course and seventh glass of wine, formulating any kind of coherent thought became impossible. So I guess I’ll never know the true story behind Paul, the server-sommelier-Broadway/soap/reality star; but I do know I enjoyed his performance that night.

Question of the Day: Ever had an extremely colorful server?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-characters/

 

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I Ate New York

A few weekends ago I went to New York City. Ostensibly, to visit my friend Jane for her birthday…in reality, to eat as much delicious food as humanly possible.

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Our weekend of gluttony began on Friday night with not one but TWO (count ’em) dinners – the first at a Japanese restaurant in the East Village called Taishu-Izakaya Kenka.

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Since the look of the menu nearly gave me an aneurysm:

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I left Jane in charge of ordering. She summoned up a delectable feast for us including deep-fried calamari, delicious noodles, and of course, Japanese beer.

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Dessert was do-it-yourself cotton candy from their COTTON CANDY MACHINE.

I love New York.

Although I was already pleasantly full, Jane insisted we check out a hot dog place down the street called Crif Dogs. I’ll admit I was slightly confused as to why we NEEDED gourmet hot dogs after ingesting a full delicious meal, but of course, I wasn’t about to say no (we are talking about food here, people). 

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We walked into a bustling underground hot dog diner filled with hipsters drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon around tables made from upturned arcade games, and I was convinced I was having a true New York experience. 

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Just as I began studying the menu and deciding what hot dog would be getting in mah belly, Jane beckoned my friend Alex and I into to an old timey phone booth at the side of the restaurant.

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Confused, we followed her inside, where she picked up the receiver and dialed “1”.  After a couple of seconds, a trap door on the other side of the phone booth swung open to reveal a  SECRET SPEAKEASY! . 

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I’ll admit I was pretty excited, but also kind of bummed because, well  I kinda wanted a hot dog.  “Don’t worry,” said Jane. “They serve hot dogs in here too”. A private speakeasy that served HOT DOGS? I must have died and gone to heaven. 

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I ordered a specialty Kimchi dog:

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And we shared an order of the world’s most delicious tater tots..which I totally hogged.

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(Don’t worry, I saved some for later.)

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We also sipped on just a few cocktails named after old-timey men involving different varietals of bourbon. 

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When the taxidermied bear on the wall started talking to me, I knew it was time to go; so we stumbled into a cab and went home to crash.

The next morning, we awoke with one thing on our minds: more food. (I told you guys I was on a mission).

Knowing another full day of eating was in store for us, we tried to minimize our caloric impact with a run across the Brooklyn Bridge……which, let’s be honest, mostly involved posing for instagram-worthy photo ops:

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Then, we headed to Smorgasburg, an open air food festival in Williamsburg.

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You guys, I thought places like this only existed in my dreams. Each tent was filled with a delectable culinary masterpiece: malt ball milkshakes; gourmet mac and cheese;

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truffle fries;

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DONUTS

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I didn’t take many pictures because, well my hands were kind of full stuffing my face incessantly… but I think this gif pretty much sums up the whole experience: 

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The big draw of the day was the Ramen Burger, a gourmet burger with buns made out of ramen noodles. The line was over two hours long!!

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I was feeling pretty seedy after already ingesting a year’s worth of cheese, so we decided to pass on that one. (I’m sure it will become popular in Toronto in like, 2016 anyway.)

Pre-food coma
Pre-food coma

From there we rolled back over the bridge to Manhattan where we did some lazy shopping before heading to our next feast at Fatty Crab in the West Village.

Behold: The Big-Ass Bowl Of Crab:

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Unpictured: The most heavenly pork buns that I made QUICK work of.

I wish I could say it ended there, but there was also a bit of this:

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A little of this:

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And a lot of this:

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I can no longer fit into any of my clothes, but you know what?

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Question of the Day: What’s The Most Delicious Thing You Ate Lately?

Breaking the Fourth Wall: My Experience With Interactive Theatre

When I was in New York a couple of weeks ago, my friends and I attended a performance of  Punchdrunk theatre’s “Sleep No More“.

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Sleep No More is an interactive theatre performance based loosely on Shakespeare’s MacBeth. There is no dialogue and no program is given. Instead, you follow the actors around the 1930’s era”McKittrick Hotel” ( a group of refurbished warehouses in Manhattan) and watch as the drama unfolds.

Now, I know many of you probably read the words “interactive theatre” and thought to yourselves:

katt-williams-dafuq

And I don’t blame you. I was a little skeptical myself. But I’d heard good things, so decided to give it a go.

We arrived at the hotel about half an hour before the performance started, and were led through a series of drak hallways to the hotel lounge known as the “Manderley”. There, we had a drink, listened to the lounge singers, and awaited our turn to enter the hotel. (Fans of Gossip Girl may recognize it from this episode)

We had each been given playing cards with different numbers, and soon they announced it was time for anyone holding a 7 to enter the hotel.

Gulp. That was me.

I said goodbye to my friends and made my way towards the elevators, where a dapper albeit creepy young “usher” awaited us.

“Good Evening”, he said, “Welcome to the McKittrick Hotel”.

As we stepped into the elevator, he handed us each a mask like this one:

sleepnomoremask

and told us it must remain on  at all times during the performance. Once the elevator stopped, we would be free to  explore the hotel as we pleased. We were encouraged to follow anyone not wearing a mask, as these were the characters in the play. “Follow your curiosity wherever it leads you,” our usher said, “and if possible,  do it completely alone.”

Soon, the elevator stopped, and as he moved his arm to let us pass, he added: “Just remember- fortune favours the bold”.

The crowd immediately dispersed, and I was left to wander the hotel alone. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty much scared sh*tless. I felt like I was playing a real-life game of Clue and that Colonel Mustard was going to jump out from behind a corner and bludgeon me to death with the candlestick at any second.

He's just so damn nefarious
He even looks nefarious

Suddenly, an unmasked young woman ran past.  Showtime, I thought. A small crowd gathered, and together we followed her from room to room as she brushed her hair, put on lipstick and sobbed over a photograph. I had no sweet clue what was going on, but was strangely mesmerized.

I was just about to follow her into her bedroom when I spotted a young, unmasked man down the hall, clutching his stomach in pain. (I would later discover this was Malcolm.)

He was, in a word, beautiful. Like a taller, hotter Joseph Gordon Levitt.

only BETTER
only BETTER

Obviously, I had to follow this dude.

I watched Malcolm tear apart what appeared to be an alchemist’s shop before finding what he was looking for. He turned to face me, and before I knew it, grabbed my hand and led me down the hall to a shoe-box size room fashioned into a graveyard. He locked the door behind us and opened his palm to reveal a single egg. He stared into my eyes intently (!!!) before placing the egg in my hand. Then, without warning, he raised his hand and smashed the egg in my palm, dirt spilling out everywhere.

He searching through the dirt on my hand as though looking for some sort of message, before taking me by the shoulders and pressing me against the wall. He ripped off my mask and brought his face exquisitely close to mine. “Do you see the signs?” he shouted; “Do you?!”

We had been instructed not to speak, so this put me in  a rather awkward position. I wanted to play by the rules, but I also wanted to please Malcolm. I sort of shrugged a little, and with that, he collapsed into my chest and began murmuring and kissing my neck. I stood there motionless,”The Greatest Love of All” playing on a continuous loop in my head.

I had always thought I would meet the love of my life on an airplane, but hey- interactive theatre would work too.

Future engagement photo

For some unidentifiable reason, Malcolm grew tired of weeping into my bosom and kicked me out of the graveyard. I was devastated, but the show must go on.

I spent the next two hours wandering aimlessly around the hotel, trying to piece together what the eff was going on. We were told to read the synopsis of MacBeth beforehand, but I was too busy scarfing down NY pizza  and Magnolia cupcakes to give it a second thought. I watched some sort of weird dinner party where almost everyone’s sexuality was questionable, a grizzly murder, and a LOT of interpretive dance performed by a pregnant lady.

Yeah. I don’t know either.

dinner

At the end, we were all subtly ushered back to the Manderley, where I rushed over to my friends to tell them all about my  quasi make-out session with hot Joseph Gordon Levitt. But before I got the chance, my friend Michelle interjected: “OMG! Did you see the naked orgy with the baby sacrifice?”

Um… the what with the what now?

Oh no b*tch didn’t just try to steal my thunder right now. A baby sacrifice?  Are you f*&king kidding me?

Whatever. Everyone knows Hot Joseph Gordon Levitt pulls trump card any day.

As it turns out Sleep No More was some serious choose-your-own adventure business. Everyone had completely different experiences. One of my friends watched a man take a shower, completely naked. She even handed him a towel. (!!)

All in all, it was a pretty amazing experience, and if you’re looking for something fun and different in NYC, I would totally recommend it. The only downside? I never did get Malcolm’s number. But all’s not lost- I’m working on my Craigslist Missed Connection as we speak. What do you guys think of this:

“You asked me if I saw the signs-   w4m (The McKittrick)

You – tall, dark and haunted.

Me- smitten.

I thought at first you were quoting Ace of Base, but now I see. Let’s solve those mysteries together. “

Question of the Day: Do you love the theataaah? Ever experience interactive plays?

I [Heart] NY

I just got back from 5 glorious days in New York City and I am smitten. Man, do I love that city.

I don’t have a lot to say right now because I am still sort of reeling from it all.. especially my traumatizing visit to the American Girl store, meeting Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family (sort of), and having my personal space repeatedly invaded by every character from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

More to come on all of these points.

For now, here’s a few snaps from my trip which should help ease the withdrawal symptoms you’ve been experiencing in my absence.

 

 

 

Question of the Day: Been to NYC? Do you love it?

P.S. if you also love my mad clicking a button Photog skills, holla at me on Instagram- breezyk1

 

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