Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Names, Thai factions, cocktails and other Tuesday things

April 1 (but there’s no foolseys in this post)

Doni (pronounced like “Donny”), was our waiter at Delicatessen last night.
“It’s short for Adonai!” he said. “And I’m not even Jewish.”
Well, of course he wasn’t Jewish. A strictly observant Jew wouldn’t even pronounce “Adonai” except during prayer, let alone give it to someone as a name. A strictly observant Jew definitely wouldn’t write it in a blog.
It’s God’s name, or as close as we can get to God’s name, which is actually unknown according to Jewish custom. Naming your kid “Adonai” isn’t like naming him “Jesus.” It’s like naming him “the all-knowing, unknowable Source, the creator of all.”
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a kid.
“They didn’t put it on him, you did,” said Andy Battaglia, my dinner guest for the evening.
Andy’s a genius, a hell of a nice guy and an editor at The Onion; he’s in charge of its New York Decider section. We met back when he, too, worked at NRN, and have now been friends for 10 years, a fact that blows our minds.
And he’s right about Doni’s name, of course. It’s just six letters. The meaning of the name is what we give it. If parents want to name their kid Adonai, that’s up to them.
My parents have a German shepherd mutt named Cassandra. I still don’t understand why they named the poor girl after the Greek prophetess of doom, but she is awfully skittish. I think maybe she knows something is amiss. She’s the beta dog to the house alpha, Mikhaila, a robust Australian shepherd mutt who goes by ”Mike.“
Anyway, Doni seemed nice enough. He recommended food to us and brought us whatever we ordered. He never once tried to be omnipotent.

Andy was not, in fact, the first or oldest friend I hung out with that evening. I came to Delicatessen from Atria, where I had drinks with Craig Stuart, who has been a good friend since, like, 1992. Maybe 1993. We worked together at a bizarre but truly hilarious magazine in Bangkok called Manager, the English-language version of a Thai business magazine called Phoojadkan, which is the Thai word for “manager.”
The English version started out running translations from the Thai magazine, but by the time Craig got there — I think a year or so after I did — the magazine had been handed over as a plaything to a then-once and future senior government advisor by the name of Pansak Vinyaratn, which I only point out because the magazine was owned by Sondhi Limthongkul, who would go on to become the monarchist rabble-rouser who has helped screw up Thailand while opposing former (and dare I suspect future) prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose senior advisor was our friend Pansak.
Pansak transformed Manager into a mercurial, opinionated magazine that commented on the politics, economics and social movements of Thailand in general and Bangkok in particular. I was, among other things, its restaurant critic. I also remember writing an eight-page article on Japanese banks' activities in Thailand. I used to know the Thai word for “derivative.”
Craig’s activities included writing a media column and reviewing cars (it was a brilliant and in no way veiled excuse to test-drive extremely expensive vehicles on the Bangkok roadways — I assume in the less-congested suburbs, but I wasn’t really paying attention).
Craig is now a banking vice president for Wells Fargo and was in town for a conference on money transfer regulation or some such thing.
I think he and Andy would get along well.
Andy and I weren’t finished having fun when dinner was over at Delicatessen, so we went on to Tailor, where we met his girlfriend Jennifer, who does documentary film work and wears excellent glasses.

What I drank and ate (mostly drank):

At Atria:
Lion’s Tail: Buffalo Trace bourbon, Allspice Dram, Angostura bitters and lime juice
The Brunette: An infusion of orange and espresso beans in rum

At Delicatessen:
Cardamom GreyHound: Gin, ruby red grapefruit, cardamom syrup and grapefruit bitters
Grilled fish tacos with cabbage, tomato salsa and chipotle crema
“Sticky” ribs with hoisin glaze and pickled slaw
2006 Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling
Chatham Cod with lentils, chorizo and pearl onions
Fried chicken in a bucket with coleslaw, corn biscuit & ranch dressing
"The Candy Bar": Milk chocolate, salted peanuts and milk gelato and (at Doni’s suggestion)
"Slice of Birthday Cake": Chocolate layer cake and vanilla ice cream

At Tailor:
Bohemio: Tequila, Becherovka and blood orange
Cedar White Russian: Cedar milk, shochu, malt syrup

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