The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission wants some attention, and they hired Larry Levine to get it for him. Larry in turn hired Zagat-editor-turned-publicist Ben Schmerler to get the attention of New York media.
Ben, by the way, also is a new father as of June 25 — welcome to the world Sophie Anne Schmerler.
So Ben asked me if I would please meet Larry for a drink.
I wondered if it was the Bay Area-based publicist Larry Levine that I already knew, but there are several Larry Levines out there, so I didn’t mention it.
But indeed it was that boisterous, old-school publicist I’d known for years but hadn’t seen for awhile.
Ben, being smart, arranged for us to meet at Aquavit, which is across the street from the Nation’s Restaurant News headquarters.
We bellied up to the bar and I suggested he try the house-infused spirits, and we agreed that a three-drink sampler was a good idea. Larry went for the citrus ones, and I went for horseradish, saffron and peach-anise.
We found that we weren’t done catching up when we drained our drinks, so we each had another. I ordered another peach-anise aquavit. Larry had a Carlsberg, and since we had ordered four drinks, the bartender immediately poured us a fifth one — mango-chile aquavit.
That was too spicy for Larry’s delicate baby-boomer palate (statistically, Gen-Xers such as me have the strongest penchant for spicy food — more so than the youngsters). So he gave it to me.
Now, the aquavit served at Aquavit comes in small glasses, but, I mean, the sixth one meant I was well-primed for dinner, which I was having with another publicist, Philip Ruskin, at Colors, a restaurant owned and operated by a cooperative of former Windows on the World employees. That makes it a sentimental favorite, but not enough of one to make it a huge commercial success. They’re working on it.
Chef Jean Pierre (I’m not being excessively familiar; Pierre is his last name and he comes from Haïti) sent out samosas and scallop ceviche while I munched on papadams. Then we had a hot preparation of chicken and green papaya named Pam Thai because it was invented by one of their Thai chefs, whose name is Pam, along with braised pork ribs and bowls of pozole verde.
I’m not exactly sure what Philip and I talked about.