Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gluttony + Revelry (Part 2)

After Friday night's magical and intense course of events, I woke up Saturday morning very early.  The sky was blue, and it was a good 20 degrees cooler than it's been in weeks. (This has been a very, very hot Summer in New York.) Emerging from the little alcove where I sleep, I spied J sprawled on the air mattress in the living room, snoring, sweating, and generally looking like something I'm happy to no longer share a bed with. (Wow, bitter much?!) I padded over to the kitchen nook, assembled a mango/strawberry/banana smoothie with flax seeds, and sat down to peruse the New York Times online. As usual, I read the headlines and wished that there wasn't a super-sleeper in the room so that I could switch to NPR and move around instead of sit at the computer! First world problems, let me tell you...

Not wanting to waste any of a glorious cool day inside, I headed out for the Union Square Greenmarket, a place where dreams come true and there are always puppies. I don't get to go to the Greenmarket as often as I'd like, but every time I go with my pre-set cash budget, I come home laden with multi-colored veggies, pungent herbs and a strong desire to just gorge myself on all the raw deliciousness. I have yet to really make a recipe from any of my Greenmarket purchases, just a lot of really intense salads!

Heaven in a bowl: mesclun and sunflower sprouts with fresh currants, purple carrots, heirloom cherry tomatoes, purple haze basil, and avocado topped with just lemon, a dash of smoked paprika, sea salt and pepper.

By the time I returned, J was (finally) up and gone. So, I settled in to work on my thesis proposal, wait to interview Jen Harmer (a dancer with Misnomer Dance Theater) for Nightjar, and prepare myself for another night of vegan gluttony at 4 Course Vegan. Before I get to the food, I'll just say that even writing the proposal for my MA thesis has tested my will to be intelligent and curious. But, as I'm moving past the Summer-induced laziness, I'm finding that writing everyday is much easier and less stressful than not writing and thinking about writing all day, every day. In fact, as of today I have a draft of my proposal done and I actually think that it will be a good paper if I can keep writing like I've been writing in the last week, with clarity, attention to detail, and a little careful planning.

Jen came by at 3 for her interview. She is a charming, smart, and warm lady and we had a great chat about bring choreography to the Nightjar photo shoot, what inspires us, and her passion for Bagua (A martial arts practice that is somewhere between Tai Chi and Gyrotonic Pilates). After she left, I spent a little more time with my new best friend Michel Foucault, before departing the house around 6:30 to walk through the East Village and over the Williamsburg Bridge to dinner. As I crossed the bridge, the sun was setting, and Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn were shining in all their golden glory. I looked in my tote for my camera, and realized that I'd left it at home. Instead of mourning the lost opportunity, I decided to soak up the beauty without being distracted by the lens and was instead distracted by the many pairs of Chasids walking hand in hand, in deep conversation over the bridge.  The walk from the apartment in Greenwich Village to the Williamsburg apartment of Chef Matteo took about an hour. When I arrived, my appetite was whet with fresh air and excercise and I was pleased to enter this gorgeous, minimal space to the warm greetings of the chef and his little dog Winston.

I had initially invited J to join me for dinner as a sort of peace offering, but he declined on account of "exhaustion." I was a bit nervous about attending the dinner sans escort, but it turned out to be the right choice. There are two communal tables, and mind was inhabited by a friendly group including a 55 year old Brooklyn-Italian native who went vegetarian at 45, runs an engineering firm and recently took up glass blowing; his guest a young au pair (also a Brooklyn native); two 2nd year law students from Harvard; and two sophisticated New York women, who mostly kept to themselves without coming off as rude or disinterested...They merely seemed to want to catch up with one another.

Now, on to the menu. It was a totally raw evening, which was exciting and pretty new for me. I don't think I've ever had an entire raw-gourmet meal before...But, it won't be the last time. I will say now, having had 12 courses at Radius, dinner at Chez Panisse, No. 9 Park, and the chef's tasting at Nobu in my pre-vegan days, this was one of the top-5 best meals I have ever had in terms of the food, the elegant and simple presentation, the impeccable service, and atmosphere. Do go: Dinner is $40 and BYOB. I promise that it will make your heart sing.

This raw feast had a subtle sunflower seed theme, they appeared in supporting roles in every dish and a lead role in the entrée. I had forgotten how sweet and smoky a sunflower seed could be, and they really tasted different in each course. I was particularly taken with the daikon radish ravioli, the chowder and the enchilada. The radish ravioli were perfectly balanced in with the tangy, spicy slaw. As an amuse boucheOaxacan cooking...I'm willing to call it a masterpiece. Dessert was a dense and beautiful chocolate tart that we all labored over in deep conversation about home made wine, fire escape gardens, and our favorite vegan ice creams. I left after a quick snuggle with Winston, and nearly four hours after I arrived, to a leisurely walk back to the apartment that I have only two and a half weeks in completely in love with an experience and this city that will (hopefully!) be my real home in just under a year.

The Menu
  • Spicy Asian slaw wrapped in a shiso leaf accompanied by daikon "radish" ravioli filled with nut cheese.
  •  Cool corn chowder with chipotle and chive sour crema
  •  Jicama radish salad with cherry tomatoes and lime dressing
  •  Spicy sunflower enchilada with avocado, pico de gallo, and ancho mole
  •  Mexican chocolate tart with meyer lemon and raspberry sauce

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