I spent most of the workday yesterday in the New York offices of the PR company of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, helping to judge their Beef Backers competition, which not surprisingly goes to restaurants that market beef well.
I was planning to spend the early evening in the gym in anticipation of a gigantic dessert party called Sweet. But the NCBA people asked if I wouldn't have dinner with them at BLT Prime, and I thought it would be rude to refuse.
It's fun to eat steak with beef people. Their representative, Jane Gibson, assessed the breeding of pictures of cattle in the restaurant, and not many people can do that.
We noticed that the menu said that all of the beef was either USDA Prime or Certified Black Angus. We asked the waiter how to tell which was which, and he said all the beef (except for the Kobe, which was labeled as such) was Certified Black Angus Prime. We wondered aloud to him why the "or" was on the menu then but we let it go and wondered amongst ourselves how they could sell A5 Kobe for just $26 per ounce. Actually, the NCBA people wondered. I was unaware of the classification of Japanese Kobe, but I learned that A5 is the highest grade.
I had the 20-ounce rib eye and some sauteed maitake mushrooms and we all split a piece of pecan pie, and so I was full when I got to Sweet, which probably was just as well because how many desserts should I really be eating (except for Jehangir Mehta's dessert of tomato and olive oil with a balsamic vinegar sorbet, which reminded me that I had not been eating enough vegetables lately)?
But I really wasn't there to eat anyway. Sweet was a charity event and paying guests had forked over $200 to be there, so I figured I'd leave most of the desserts to them (although I sampled a few dessert wines and tried the cocktail that Allen Katz developed) and take the time to catch up, which I did, mostly with freelancer Francine Cohen and Rachel Wharton of the Daily News.
But pretty much the whole New York food scene was there, and that's always fun. So was Michael Symon, who's based in Cleveland. I congratulated him on being the next Iron Chef.
I caught up with my friend and former colleague Erica Duecy, who's now at Fodor's, and with Jennifer Leuzzi. Will Goldfarb handed me a business card for his new Dessert Studio, which he said would open on the following day, as I ate one of his chocolate chip cookies.
Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin seemed happy and busy. Alex Stupak of WD-50 was his usual focused, serious self, so I just took his dessert without bothering him.
As that party wound down, I went to the afterparty upstairs, catered by Shake Shack, so I had half a burger. Then a number of us ended up at The Spotted Pig, where I drank a Six Points Rye and then followed the gang up to the restaurant's top floor, which looked like someone's apartment. We hung out in what looked like a living room with a kitchen and I compared notes with writer Jay Cheshes, who graciously defended restaurants that I think are overhyped, and he and Rachel Wharton (mostly Rachel) lamented that the Daily News' food section gets no respect.
Oh, Johnny Iuzzini, Jean Georges' pastry chef, whom The Daily News had just named New York's sexiest chef, was at Sweet, too. He looked like he respected the Daily News' food section.
I also chatted with publicist Ana Jovancicevic and Ilan Hall of Top Chef, whom I hadn't met before.
Actually, I still haven't technically met him, but we had a nice chat, about Chinese food and other things.
I got home sometime after 5 a.m., and so I decided I would probably be better off skipping the opening of Will Goldfarb's place.