The New York food world’s social event of the evening was the pizza and wine party at Cronkite Pizzeria & Wine Bar, but don’t feel bad if you didn’t go. It was a good party, but the crowd was a combination of really excellent people whom I hadn’t seen in awhile — such as food writer extraordinaire Melissa Clark and the scoopmeister of Grub Street, Josh Ozersky — and suprisingly rude buffoons. I don’t think I’ve ever been so abruptly and physically moved out of other people’s way as I was at this party, and one woman practically took a spoon out of my hand to serve herself some red pepper antipasto from the buffet. I don’t think she even saw me. I mean, how hungry can you be, really, for a red pepper antipasto?
But I just kept my glass full of the 2005 Rapet Barbera D’Alba and caught up with people. I hadn’t seen Josh since I had become a devoted Grub Street fan, so I congratulated him and he politely worried that the following day’s lineup wouldn’t be newsy enough.
Melissa was in a good mood, having just published a book and gotten engaged. She showed me a picture of Daniel, her fiancé.
Melissa holds a special place in my heart because she was the first really important food writer to remember my name. She also hosted what was perhaps my funnest Christmas Eve dinner several years ago. We live in the adjoining Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope and Prospect Heights, and one December 23 we ran into each other at Natural Land, the shockingly good produce shop, specialty food store, sushi bar and bodega on Flatbush Avenue, which separates our neighborhoods.
She invited me to dinner the following night. Just before leaving for the party I reached into the fridge and grabbed a half-bottle of dessert wine to bring along.
Then I got there and realized that everyone there except for me and David Wondrich — one of the country’s leading cocktail experts — was somehow involved in the wine world. In fact, Melissa was working on some book or article about wine, and bottles and bottles of the stuff were lined up on her floor, streaming out of her fireplace and generally making her house look lived-in.
Had I known, I would have brought flowers.
But it turns out that the wine I brought had been given to me at an event promoting the bounty of British Columbia and was not available in the United States. So no one at the party had ever seen it before.
“What’s this?" “Where’d you get this?” “How did you find this?" they asked.
It reminded me of when Fonzie picked the right wine on Happy Days.
At the pizza party I also ran into Tara Mastrelli from Hospitality Design, whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. I introduced her to freelancer Jean Tang and they somehow decided that it was important to leave immediately for karaoke at Sing Sing in the East Village. Of course I agreed to come along and strongly encouraged Josh Ozersky to come, too, but he refused. How very, very sad.
What we sang:
Un-Break My Heart (Toni Braxton)
My Favorite Mistake (Cheryl Crow)
No One is to Blame (Howard Jones)
Zombie (The Cranberries)
F**k and Run (Liz Phair)
Top of the World (Carpenters)
More than Words (Extreme)
True Colors (Cyndi Lauper)
Crooked Teeth (Death Cab for Cutie)
Who Will Save Your Soul (Jewel)
Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
Jean left about midway through all of this. I left at 2 a.m. Tara was still singing