Friday, June 20, 2008

Mashups at San Domenico, skiers at Fireside

June 20

I’m not sure how to describe San Domenico’s swan song party. I got there at around 11 p.m. after an unusually fun press dinner that I’ll get to in a moment.
San Domenico closed last night, you see, after 20 years on Central Park South. But don’t worry, they’re reopening, probably in late spring of next year, on the north end of Madison Square Park in a bigger space capable of generating more income.
In the meantime, they'll be doing off-site catering starting on July 1.
I wandered past the velvet rope, skirted the bar and went down the stairs to what for years had been the main dining room but tonight was the dance floor.
“Grab a drink!” said Marisa May, founder Tony May’s daughter. She motioned to a table that, I’m not kidding, was covered with random glasses and had bottles of vodka and cranberry juice.
“Hi sweetie!” said a statuesque African-American woman manning the impromptu bar who leaned down to give me a peck on the cheek. I noticed open wine bottles and so asked for a glass of red. She asked if it would be okay if she poured it into a highball glass as that was all she had. I said that would be fine.
She asked if maybe I wanted some seltzer in it. I said no thanks.
It was so awesome.
The DJ was doing an I Love Rock ’n’ Roll (Joan Jett version) mashup with something else I didn’t recognize and people I’d never seen before were dancing with great vigor. To me, it looked like Marisa’s friends were dancing and Tony’s friends were (mostly) sitting around the dance floor on the banquettes, but I’m sure a lot more was going on than that. The only people I knew there, apart from the hosts, were two of their publicists and chef Bill Telepan, who was there to give his regards to San Domenico’s chef, Odette Fada.
The regular bar was up and running and serving regular drinks. Vodka and cranberry was popular there, too, but I stuck with red wine, switching to a red wine glass, until my last drink, when I saw the bartender pouring limoncello and had some of that.
A buffet had been set up in one of the side rooms, and beside it was a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano that had been busted open. I nibbled on that and continued to watch people dance.
Good times.

Before that I was at Fireside, at the Omni Berkshire hotel, for a press dinner introducing chef Sam DeMarco’s Tiny 'Tini menu (mini-martinis, little lobster rolls, cheesesteak dumplings, pulled pork spring rolls) and some of his early-summer menu items. Served with Rosé for some reason.
When I got there it looked kind of bleak: A table of mostly travel writers. And you know how tedious travel writers can be.
But at the last minute young publicist Blain Howard sat across from me, and next to me sat my friend Sara Bonisteel, who works for Fox News these days, and across from her was her friend, freelancer Michael Park.
What a relief!
I hadn’t met Blain before, but he’s a fellow Coloradan, mostly raised in Colorado Springs with a degree in philosophy (minor in psych) from CU Boulder with interests ranging from mixed martial arts (see how he’s boxing with the camera?) to graphic novels to science fiction.
He, Michael and I assessed Battlestar Galactica and wondered why fans of science fiction also were drawn to vampires, while Sara sat quietly. She participated in later stages of the conversation, which ended up being quite varied and lively. In fact, the travel writer sitting on the other side of Blain turned out to be Edwin Fancher, who quite apart from being a founder of The Village Voice was also in the 10th Mountain Division in World War II — the ones who skied — and so he got his training in Colorado (near present day Vail, which wasn’t there yet) before seeing action in Northern Italy.
You just never know who you’re going to be eating with.

What we ate and drank at Fireside, after those things from the Tiny ’Tini menu:

Prosciutto di San Daniele, arugula, marcona almonds and white fig vinaigrette
Cleto Chiarli NV Brut Rosé, (Emilia Romagna of all places)

Sautéed soft shell crab with chanterelles, fava bean ragoût and corn butter
2007 La Scolca Rosé Chiara, (Piedmont)

Braised American red snapper with saffron, fennel and tomato
2007 Domaine de Nizas Rosé (Coteaux de Languedoc)

Roasted Colorado Lamb T-Bone, crispy feta, watermelon and cucumber water
2007 Charles Melton, Rosé of Virginia, (Barossa Valley)

Bay leaf-laced pannacotta with orange suprèmes
Taltarni Brut Tache (Tasmania believe it or not)

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