I had fried rice for lunch today in an attempt to soak up the alcohol I've been drinking all week.
Human physiology doesn't work that way, and I know the alcohol is already out of my system, but I do feel invigorated, nonetheless, and ready for Jono Pandolfi’s birthday celebration this evening at Radegast Hall.
At any rate, it has been a boozy, boozy week. Monday, as you know, I had dinner at Forge, with something alcoholic paired with every course. Then Tuesday, as I mentioned, involved food, yes, but also drinks (something with absinthe, then a beer, then, at Bridge Cafe, a New York State rye and a Scottish lowlands single malt).
And then on Wednesday all hell broke loose, as can happen when I go drinking with my colleagues. Executive editor Richard Martin was in town, and that’s always cause for celebration, so I met with him and a bunch of other NRN staff members at Papillon and I chatted with the gang while drinking Jack Daniels with one ice cube, as is fashionable these days.
Macho drinkers would order their whisky straight-up, but in fact the subtle aromatics of brown spirits are released better with just a splash of water, hence the single ice cube. Of course, people with brains should drink whatever they like however they like. If you enjoy your Jack Daniels with tomato juice, go ahead and drink it that way.
I had to peel off from there and go to a party at the Royalton celebrating Veev, a new açaí infused spirit. Açaí is probably the hippest fruit out there because it has a lot of antioxidants.
But of course all fruits and vegetables have antioxidants and we should eat a wide variety of them as often as we can. Going out of our way to consume one specific fruit is simple-minded. And drinking alcohol for health reasons, well, that’s so dumb it leaves me speechless.
Veev’s marketers have all sorts of other claims about how morally good it is — it’s green and kind to children and who knows what else. But managing partner Carter Reum seemed like a nice guy, the cocktails tasted good and marketing is such an important aspect of what people decide to drink that I can’t fault the Veev people for trying to set themselves apart.
I had a really fun chat with Pierrick Chouard, founder and chocolatier of Vintage Plantations, which is a politically correct chocolate that was being served at the party. It’s Rainforest Alliance certified and vegan and gluten free and blah blah blah blah. It tasted good, though, and Pierrick, a Frenchman who went to high school in Japan and, being a foreign service brat, grew up all over the planet, was very engaging. I drank several cocktails so I’m not completely sure what exactly we spoke about, but I remember that he had a complex understanding of labor policies and a refreshing sophistication in his philosophy about how things should be run.
And, as I said, his chocolate tastes good. They were passing around chocolates flavored with tree-tomato, a fruit Pierrick had sourced in South America. I said I thought they were the same thing as tamarillos, but when I described them he said his tree-tomatoes were different. Maybe so.
I kind of remember someone putting a bracelet made of açai seeds on my wrist. In the morning I was wearing two of them. Hmm.
Then last night I had dinner with the bright, engaging and quite tall Blain Howard.
When I met Blain he was a restaurant publicist, but now he does PR for video games and so we can be friends.
I have nothing against restaurant publicists (except for the incompetent ones) and I'm friendly with most of the ones I work with, but of course they have to be nice to me; it’s their job. Equal relationships can’t really develop that way. So restaurant publicists who are actual friends of mine were friends before they became publicists. The rest are friendly work associates, or something.
Anyway, Blain’s a fun-loving, good-natured, rugby-playing, former mixed martial arts practitioner who shares similar taste in television with me (except that he watches Top Chef). He does things that I find fascinating, like periodically get into bar fights.
I told Blain of the story when I almost got my head kicked in outside of a bar in Bangkok:
I’m usually a friendly, good-natured drunk, but for some reason on that particular steamy night in Bangkok I was feeling surly, and entirely unprovoked I called a little Thai bar worker a monitor lizard.
In Thai, that’s about as grave an insult as you can hurl at someone. And so naturally he stood up to do me harm.
As I said, he was a little bar worker, but lots of Thais, perhaps most but maybe not, are shorter than I am, but they’re also wiry, and those who work in bars are accustomed to inflicting pain if necessary. So of course I immediately apologized, professed my drunkenness and was let off the hook.
I was also almost beat up in Bangkok by a giant Australian, who was hanging out in the guest house where my friend and work colleague James Eckardt lived. He just seemed like he was in the mood to beat someone up and I, being a smart-ass, seemed as good a target as any. But I somehow managed to de-escalate and convince him that I was an amusing little fellow.
He did lift me, and the chair I was sitting in, up in the air, which is impressive and terrifying.
Stories of terrifying Australians was appropriate last night, as we were eating at Bondi Road, an Australian-themed restaurant on the Lower East Side, where all of the staff is from the Antipodes.
Blain in turn told stories of his reality-TV friends. Apparently if you’re in a reality TV show in Los Angeles you end up getting to know all of the other reality TV people, and Blain was friends with one of them, so he met the rest. While drinking with some of them in a bar, he had to get up and punch someone once. He’d been having a bad day and the guy wouldn’t shut up.
I guess that’s an option if you’re a 6'4" rugby-playing mixed martial arts practitioner.
I expressed gratitude for the existence of Joe Pesci, or really Tommy DeVito, his character in Goodfellas, who reinforced the notion that little guys can be wild creatures who might just suddenly go snake on you and tear a hole where you didn’t have one previously.
It’s good to keep people guessing.
What we ate:
Classic oysters Kilpatrick (baked bluepoints on the half shell, dressed with bacon and Worcestershire sauce)
Barbecue shrimp and watermelon salad with feta in lemon-mustard vinaigrette
Baby scallop rigatoni with asparagus and porcini
Shark and roasted beets
Barramundi and chips
King George whiting over garlic mushrooms and pea purée
Tasmanian ocean trout over roasted ratatouille and roasted-tomato sauce
Breaded "roo fillet," which is to say chicken-fried kangaroo, with arugula salad and sweet cherry dressing
And cocktails, beer, wine, whisky &tc.