Chandler and I had dinner at Sumile Sushi on Friday, where we were waited on by Aaron Kahn, who it turns out is the older brother of Varietal's pastry chef, Jordan. So that was fun. He let us know that Ryan Bartlow, who used to cook with Jordan at Alinea, has moved to New York to work with Sam Mason at his soon-to-open restaurant, Tailor. Ryan also has worked as a personal chef for a Gatorade executive.
So Sumile Sushi’s chef, Evan Rich, is sending out food, and we’re chatting with Aaron and others, and suddenly Chandler looks at me and says “Darling, please, take off that tie.”
This was not the beginning of a long, drawn-out seduction, but rather the bursting of a dam. He’d been looking at my tie — a black-and-metallic number, with some green and brown — for too long and he couldn’t stand it anymore, so much did he hate it.
“I like it,” I said as I took it off. Neckties are not required at Sumile Sushi, and I saw no need to offend Chandler’s sensibilities, but I did feel a need to defend my own tastes.
He said it looked like something that would be picked out by Wardrobe to wrap around the neck of a third-tier mafia character.
Then he condemned my gray shirt as “funereal.”
I don’t mind it when Chandler disagrees with my taste. To be honest, it’s kind of refreshing to have someone speak his mind and I’m almost always happy to hear other people’s criticisms. Compliments are nice, but criticism is useful.
Besides, I couldn’t be friends with Chandler if I didn’t like honesty. The first time we met he expressed disagreement with my shirt-tie combination. He had a point. On some mornings I’m not always sure if a combination works, but I go with it to see how I feel about it later in the day; that was one of those days. I still am not sure what to wear with that shirt, in fact. It's a Burgundy tattersall, and finding a tie to go with it is a challenge.
Chandler has expressed alarm at hair in my ears and at the hair on my head if I let it grow longer than the #3 setting of my barber's electric clippers. He wants me to shave my head.
But all of that means I know that he really does like my goatee, or he wouldn’t say so.
Chandler’s necktie outburst reminded me of a trip I took with Jennifer Leuzzi and Mitchell Davis to New Zealand. That was when Jennifer represented New Zealand’s venison producers and organized a trip for us. During our last morning there, Mitchell said to our hosts something he clearly had been holding back for the entire trip and he just couldn’t stand it anymore.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “but you have to do something about your bread.”
It was underkneaded, he said, across the country.
The three of us then added that their coffee was kind of insipid too.
Incidentally, my choice of clothing was insulted during that trip, too. The three of us were going to a club in Auckland with local venison producers and the bouncers didn’t want to let us in. They singled me out and said “I’m sorry, sir, I’m afraid you’re a bit too casual.”
I was devastated.
Our hosts talked our way in, and Jennifer said it was simply an excuse to try to keep out a party of five men and one woman. But still, why pick on me?
The day after dinner with Chandler I spent an hour and twenty minutes getting from Brooklyn to Inwood, where my friends Yishane Lee and Ray Garcia were having a pre-wedding, meet the families brunch.
Here I am sitting between Ray's best man, Alex Delgado, on the left, and his brother-in-law, Greg Arver. I’m wearing a shirt that my sister-in-law told me looks like it should be used to upholster a couch.
What we ate at Sumile Sushi:
edamame with sea salt and powdered nori
handmade tofu with shiitake dashi
beau soleil oysters with ponzu, wasabi and yuzu
Taylor Bay scallops
tiny crab cakes
braised gulf shrimp with tomato fondu, kaiware and horseradish-infused tomato water
hand roll of arugula and tea-smoked anago
King crab, caviar, house-made kimchi and yuzu scent
duck with eggplant purée and Brussels sprouts, accompanied by a pot of rice topped with scallions, foie gras and unagi
sushi: Big-eye tuna, Kampachi with yuzu-kosho, ama ebe, fluke marinated in kelp, unagi with avocado
strawberry-shiso sorbet with hazelnut brittle
black sesame with frozen sauterne and chamomile honey
And here is a picture of the tie in question. What do you think?