Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Mystic Coffee II: The Grown-ups' table

July 3

My taxi driver suggested that perhaps the friendly people I encountered in Mystic were tourists.
Maybe, but the guy in the restaurant seemed local.
Anyway, I managed to get to the lighthouse museum lawn in time for Erica and Jono's wedding. In fact, I was there early enough to chat with Will Guidara who, apart from being a friend of the bride and groom, also is one of New York restaurateur Danny Meyer's underlings. He's in management at the foodservice operations at the Museum of Modern Art, which are run by Meyer's company. I congratulated Will on The Modern, the fine dining restaurant in the museum, winning the Beard award for best new restaurant and we chatted about the recent barbecue block party thrown on 27th street, where Blue Smoke, another Danny Meyer restaurant, is located. Will was on staff at that event, too, putting out fires (figuratively) and generally making sure things flowed well. I have yet to attend that party. Will suggested that if they hold it again next year and I decide to go, I should go on day 2, when operational kinks are banged out and the lines move more quickly. Makes sense.
I asked him off the record what kinks needed to be worked out at the museum, and he told me, but it was off the record, so you're just going to have to guess what he said.
Freelance writer Charlotte Kaiser was there, too, with her husband, Ari Weinberg, who used to work for Forbes but quit to go to business school at Harvard (the priorities of some people, I tell ya).
I sat next to Charlotte during the ceremony, but at dinner I was seated at a grown-up table.
I'm something like nine years older than Erica, so it made sense, really, that I was seated with Erica's mother and various godparents of the Pandolfi boys. But I'd never been seated at a grown-up table at a wedding before, at least not at a table earmarked for people a generation older than the happy couple, and it kind of surprised me.
It was a fun table. We grabbed bottles of wine from the bartenders as I talked venture capital with a venture capitalist, and learned clever techniques for raising teenage children from people who had successfully done so: A family friend of the Pandolfis, who also was at my table, has a daughter aged between Chris and Nick. She said that 13-year-olds really do need babysitters, but of course you can't get them a babysitter; they'd kill you or the babysitter or both of you. So Chris was paid $5 an hour to "hang out" with the family friend's daughter, who was later paid to hang out with young Nick.
Nick's about 20 now, and is taking reservations at Gramercy Tavern, another Danny Meyer restaurant, while also being a volunteer slave for Chanterelle chef-owner David Waltuck.
Nick had wanted to go to culinary school but his father insisted that he get a four-year degree first. It seems to be working out well for him.
Sitting with the grown-ups didn't keep me from playing with the kids as the night progressed. We wandered to what apparently was the only bar still open in Stonington at 10pm on a Sunday in the middle of the summer, and then when that place closed we caroused loudly about the beaches of Stonington.
Stonington's a wealthy community, no-doubt well-policed, and so I wondered how closely our moves were being monitored. Were police radios reporting on the movements of the Pandolfi post-wedding party?
"They've left the parking lot and have moved to Lobster Point. Over."
I suppose if we'd engaged in vandalism we would have found out.
Special props to Dan DiSalvo, a college friend of Jono's and a poly-sci professor at Amherst, who gave up his seat in someone's car so I could be taken back to my lodgings at Whaler's Inn in Mystic. Nice guy.
Today I sampled the pizza at Mystic Pizza, you know, from the movie. They should practice cooking their crusts through. Maybe their ovens are too hot.

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