The holiday season, between Thanksgiving and New Year's, usually is a slow time for food writers. Restaurants are busy dealing with paying customers, so it's my opportunity to take some downtime, relax, spend more time at the gym and generally do the opposite of what everyone else is doing and instead enjoy some nice alone time.
I closed off my busy season, between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, by having dinner with a publicist at a restaurant that she doesn't even represent. We went to Seppi's, next to the Parker Meridien, where her boyfriend is the bartender. I had a stiff celebratory scotch, with half an ice cube to open it up, and then the Swiss chef's tarte flambée, a flat bread topped with onions that more often than necessary is compared to pizza. Then we had some kombu seaweed noodles that I'd just written about, tossed with avocado, tofu, tomato and a vinaigrette. For the main course we both had a hanger steak au poivre, rare, with fries, and for dessert we split a caramelized banana tart with ice cream and dark chocolate. My host's boyfriend, the bartender and a good Irish storyteller, regaled us with a tale of Latin American businessmen who were drinking Middleton Very Rare, a scotch (or rather, an Irish whiskey; see comment #5 below) that sells for $30 a shot, and mixing it with ginger ale. He also gave me a taste of a premium Irish whiskey, Redbreast. He said his family traditionally sold barley to that whiskey's producers. He used a drinking straw to stir a drop of water into my whiskey to open it up. It worked.