I spent Thanksgiving with the family of my boss, Pam Parseghian. It was very much like Thanksgiving with her clan last year, with the addition of a delicious poultry pâté that Pam made.
The trip to central New Jersey was easier than in years past. It was just an 11 minute ride to Secaucus, and then I was picked up, a day bag full of Beaujolais in hand, by Pam's brother Steve and his sons Grant and Daniel. The kids get nicer every year.
On the day after Thanksgiving I have a longstanding tradition with my friends Birdman aka Dr. David Krauss and Rusty Cappadona. We meet around noon at Joe's Shanghai for soup dumplings and then wander through the streets, restaurants and bars of Gotham, eating and drinking until we fall down, can't eat anymore or simply have had enough fun and want to go to sleep.
This year Rusty brought along his eight-year-old son, Ryan, who's quite the young gourmand, it turns out.
We taught him different techniques for eating soup dumplings, and then took him to one of Birdman's favorite dive bars, where he had his first Shirley Temple (and second, and third really because the bartender decided Ryan should do a taste comparison between Shirley Temples made with ginger ale and lemon-lime soda — he preferred the lemon-lime).
The men drank Bass Ale.
Then we took a stroll to Ground Zero, because Rusty wanted to show it to Ryan. From there we met up with Birdman's girlfriend, Emily, and headed to Great New York Noodle Town for won ton duck noodle soup.
From there we walked down Canal Street and I continued my search for mangosteens.
Success! I found a bag of them for $7. They were from Thailand, so it's a good thing they were frozen solid as mangosteen season in Thailand ends in May.
We strolled up to Little Italy for fresh mozzarella and then hopped on the 6 train to have wine and cheese at Artisanal.
Ryan was a real trooper here. He didn't care for the vacharin, but he ate quite a few other funky cheeses (and a gruyère and a cheddar) with gusto, while drinking a Shirley Temple. The rest of us split a bottle of 1996 Haut-Médoc, and I ripped open a thawing mangosteen, to the slight embarrassment of Birdman, because of course pulling out your own fruit at a fancy restaurant is inappropriate. He and the others were happy to try the mangosteen, however, which it turns out, despite having been frozen, was quite a delicious specimen, with good sugar and acid levels and its typical velvety texture.
I tried to eat the rest of the mangosteens the following day, however, and they were terrible — either inedibly bitter or rotten. So I guess you have to eat them as they thaw. That's not really surprising as even in Southeast Asia you pretty much have to eat mangosteens within a day or two of buying them.
Next we walked up to Grand Central Terminal, where Rusty and Ryan headed back to Connecticut and Birdman, Emily and I soldiered on, slurping down mostly East Coast oysters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar, while drinking beer (I sampled a couple of New England beers whose names I have forgotten).
We'd planned on a Japanese snack on St. Marks Place — some starch to top off the oysters — but we deemed the lines at the izakaya places to be unreasonably long, and so instead we went to Grand Szechuan for cured pork, Szechuan dumplings, fried rice and drank more beer (Sapporo, I think).
Then we walked to Union Square, where I topped off the evening with a Starbucks Triple Grande Cappuccino and we parted ways in the subway station. I think it was around 11pm.