Thursday, March 27, 2008


March 26

Last night, walking from Commerce restaurant down Seventh Avenue South to the 2 train, I was approached by a scruffy, probably somewhat drugged-out gentleman who struck up a conversation with me — I learned that he lives with his mother and is not a McCain fan.
As we walked he made sidelong glances at parked cars and bikes that we passed, in case there were something in or on them to steal.
He asked if I had ever smoked cocaine and if I’d like a hit.
I said “No,” and “No, thank you,” and then we parted ways.
I wanted to tell him that this was the West Village in 2008, not in 1978, and that conversations with potentially dangerous drugged out ne'er-do-wells just wasn’t done, but he seemed harmless enough as long as I didn't give him an entrée.
Today I checked with my baby-boomer colleagues — who, being from the era that they’re from, are drug experts, one and all — to see if smoking cocaine was by definition smoking crack, or if un-crackified coke could be smoked. They didn’t know, but one did a web search and told me that yes, cocaine can be smoked in its powdered form.
So I guess that’s good to know. You never know when a fact might come in handy.
But are scruffy druggies in the West Village a sign of bad economic times, or was this just one of those anachronisms that big, complex cities like New York inevitably produce?
At any rate, dinner at Commerce was fun. I ate with one of the restaurant’s publicists, Katherine Bryant, who, apart from being a publicist, also is in a sketch comedy troupe called Fearsome. Her fiancé, David Flaherty, is a sometimes-actor and budding wine expert originally from Fort Colins, Colo. I occasionally think of him as “the smart barista” from a role he played for, oh, probably less than a minute, on an episode of Law & Order Criminal Intent. He totally helped solved the case, though.
So Katherine knows various comedy actors, including Kristen Schaal, who plays Flight of the Conchords’ only fan and recently had her debut on The Daily Show, one would assume to the delight of her friends and fans. I know I was pleased. So was Katherine.
It was a theater-oriented evening in my mind anyway, as the last time I’d been in the space currently occupied by Commerce it was Grange Hall, where I’d eaten before seeing the play Fully Committed.
I’d been meaning to eat the food of Harold Moore, Commerce’s chef, for years and years.
And this is what we had (paired with wines by sommelier Justin Coleman):

Beef tataki with ginger, soy and shiso
Marinated fluke sashimi with chile lime and petit radish salad
a Torrontes from Mendoza in Argentina

Porcini and fontina ravioli with caramelized salsify and Parmesan emulsion
Green and white asparagus fricassée with mushrooms, truffle and a poached egg
Pelisero 2006 Dolcetto d’Alba (Piedmont, Italy)

Whole roasted chicken for two, with potato purée and foie gras bread stuffing
2003 Domaine du Gour de Chaulé Gigondas (Rhône, France)

Tropical fruit pavlova with Greek yogurt and lychee sorbet
Chocolate peanut butter marquise with celery salad and salty peanuts
Chocolate soufflé with coffee crème Anglaise

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