Wednesday, August 22, 2007

“You don’t win friends with salad”

August 22

I just finished making the rounds of my work area, a salad plate in hand, fork poised, extolling the virtues of the terrific salad I'm eating. It is, it's terrific.
Remember Lee Jones, the canny marketing guru of Chef's Garden whose marketing materials made me wonder what cagey Paul Liebrandt is up to?
Well, after a brief phone conversation he said he'd send me some corn, which he did, along with about eight pounds of heirloom tomatoes, some tiny tiny root vegetables, multicolored cauliflower, a mixed array of tiny eggplant, a mixture of different types of basil, another package of mixed herbs, tiny corn and pea shoots, a little box of cucamelons (which are cucumbers that resemble very small watermelons, the size of a little chocolate Easter egg), and, I mean, a huge sack, a sack of mixed "Asian" greens.
Take the greens and herbs and shoots, sprinkle with one of the five varieties of pretentious rock salt given to me by Stein Eriksen Lodge (SEL, get it?) executive chef Zane Holmquist and drizzle with some Australian lemon-scented olive oil, and you can just leave the peppermill on the shelf.
The massive shipment was sent to me yesterday and I pleaded with my colleagues to help me eat it. They snatched up the corn pretty quickly, and with steady, relentless effort I was able to hand off the tomatoes (alas, raw tomatoes are the one ingredient that I haven't acquired a taste for), and they nibbled at the rest of it. I was munching on the root vegetables and snacking on herbs all day long, but there was still a lot left over, and I'm leaving for Charlotte tomorrow.
I thought of taking it to Grub Street editor Josh Ozersky's birthday party last night. He dubbed it Meatopia and declared it BYOV (V for vegetables). He was joking about the vegetables because of course he didn't have any interest in anyone eating them at his party (although in fact french fries were served with the hamburgers). I thought bringing the vegetables would be good for a laugh, but I decided it required too much effort.
It was kind of a miserable night for an outdoor party — it was at Water Taxi Beach, on the left bank of the East River. It had finally stopped raining, mostly, but the air was chilly and dank. Still, it was my favorite weather for viewing the Manhattan skyline. The tops of the Midtown skyscrapers were disappearing in fog, giving the island the ominous air of a Tim Burtonesque Gotham City.
And it was a good party, with a congenial crowd, surprisingly few of whom I knew, as well as veal tartare, barbecued suckling pig, salt and pepper Texas Game Hen, open pit-cooked kid goat and whole spit-roasted baby lamb. I met Josh's colleague, Daniel Maurer, who seemed earnest, but not overly so, and nice. I caught up with chef Chris Cheung (we talked about the rash of health scares related to Chinese exports and their possible effect on consumption of Chinese food) Pavia Rosatti of The Daily Candy (the topics were, of all things, Chuck Mangione and vegetarianism) and others. I met baseball writer Jonathan Leshanski, who was there as a friend of the Meatopia contest winner Tania Zamorsky (she rewrites classics for not-so-clever children). We talked about mankind's role in the cosmos. I’m serious; we did. Maybe it was the gloomy weather.
So I'm back in the office today with my vegetables. My boss, Pam Parseghian, is taking the heirloom cauliflower. I convinced my colleague and a capella singer extraordinaire Mark Brandau to have a salad because he overheard me uttering a profanity about it (he said something about Jesus weeping when he heard me talk like that). And I've been shoveling the stuff away, because it really is delicious. I'm telling you. But I’m leaving town tomorrow and I still have Karl and Margaret's zucchini to deal with.
My colleague Lorraine Roman said I should give a shout when I get chocolate.

(the quotation in the title of this blog entry comes from an episode of The Simpsons and is something the family sings in a conga line; it is in quotes, because I’m not completely convincd that it’s true)

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