Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple

For most of my adult life, I’ve lived by the mantra that we eat to live, not live to eat. That thinking served me in good stead–until I moved to Manhattan.

Food–gloriously good food–at all price ranges is available everywhere at all times.  At any given hour a good half of the pedestrians pushing past me on the busy streets are eating on the go. Once I saw a young woman, dressed to the designer nines, clicking down Fifth Avenue eating sushi. Okay, it was California Roll but still…

Apple 2000/01 by Stephan Weiss (1938-2001)
Apple 2000/01 by Stephan Weiss (1938-2001)

I’ve been playing gastronomic tourist since February–and grooving on every bite. Just as you can walk out your door and easily hear five languages other than English being spoken, you can step out onto most city blocks to a smorgasbord of cuisines from around the world. And if you don’t feel like going out, you can get any or all of those diverse cuisines delivered to your door. It’s well, pretty great.

I’m a seriously big list maker, and I have a food-to-try list just as I have a list for practically everything else. Topping my to-do’s since moving here was to partake of yes, a cupcake from the West Village’s Magnolia Bakery.  Sounds like a modest enough goal, right? If so, then you’ve never seen the line, which is usually not only out the door but wrapping around the corner and snaking up 11th Street. And yet the other day when I was walking home from my run at what should have been peak time, there was no line.  Nada. Peering through the storefront glass, I spotted two, maybe three, customers max.

My first thought was to ask what my fellow city dwellers must know that I didn’t. Were we talking evacuation? Armageddon? A return trip by Benicio Del Toro with me missing him yet again?

Sure, even one cupcake would pretty much cancel out the previous 6+ miles of cardio pavement pounding.  Then again if “Rome” was burning, was this really any time to be carping over calories or denying myself yummy carbs?

The bakery was even running a promo special: buy one Pink Ribbon cupcake and fifty cents of the proceeds would be donated to a popular breast cancer charity.  Scarfing down that high calorie, high carb cupcake wouldn’t just be physically satisfying.  It would be positively philanthropic! Social awareness blanketed in buttercream–really, does it get any better?

In the spirit of “an heir and a spare,” I bought not one but two cupcakes: a red velvet number and yes, the special Pink Ribbon promo.  The red velvet one I ate like a true New Yorker, which is to say while walking home.  Only unlike the uber cool chick with the sushi, I couldn’t pull it off. When I got home I looked like I’d been on the losing end of a paintball competition–assuming the game was played with pastry bags, not paint guns.

The cupcake was most certainly scrumptious.  Would I stand in line for it a really long time? Honestly, no.  But then at this point in my life there isn’t much in the way of food for which I would stand in line barring catfood and that assumes my fur-babies were down to their last collective can.

Other good eats for this week include lunch at Tea and Sympathy, also in the West Village, where I caught up with writer buddy, Dee Davis. Being what I like to call a “recovering vegetarian,” I’m not usually much for “British food,” so I gave the bangers and mash and like menu options a broad berth.  Instead I opted for the “Tweed Kettle Pie,” salmon and cod in a parsley sauce with a potato topping.  It was seriously delish.

And no New York City food report would be complete without pizza. One of my favorite stops is Amore’s on 14th Street though on the service end, the staff is starting to royally pi** me off. Memo to the young lady working late nights at the register: if I’m ever going to cross over to the Dark Side and embark on a Life of Crime, I’m a lot more likely to knock off the Manolo Blahnik store across from the MOMA than I am to scam an extra eighty cent pizza topping. Really. Maybe you might want to reward a regular customer with a little trust rather than making “her” untape and open her friggin’ pizza box every time like you’re the guard tasked with making sure the Crown Jewels don’t take a walk. If I say I ordered the white pizza, the one with the mozzarella only, then that’s what I’m packing–period.

Eat and be merry,


Laughing Out Loud (LOL)

Last night my buddy Elizabeth Kerri Mahon of Scandalous Women blog fame and I turned out for the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s reception for uber actor, Benicio Del Toro.  The event was held at The Apartment on the 24th floor of the swank Hudson Hotel.  The hors d’oeuvres were fab, the white wine perfectly chilled, and the crowd styling.  But where oh where was the guest of honor?
From left to write, Hope, Stacey, Liz, Leanna, Elizabeth and Marianne celebrate Hope's birthday in style.
From left to um...write, Hope, Stacey, Liz, Leanna, Elizabeth and Marianne celebrate Hope's birthday in style.

Fortunately Elizabeth is a great date.  We noshed and chatted each up for a full two hours.  All the while I kept vigilant Famous Person watch on the room’s only entrance.

At least I thought I was vigilant.  Coming up on 10:00 PM and still no Benicio, it was pretty clear he must be sequestered in some VIP suite.  Or maybe he’d decided to take his entourage out for a night on the town?  Oh well, c’est la vie.  Give me an unlimited supply of mini crab cakes and yes, a second glass of wine, and well, after a while, I’m just happy to be there.

Elizabeth and I were deep into our current topic of conversation when the young woman standing next to us interrupted to ask, “Did you see Benicio? ” Her tone implied they were best buds, possibly even related.

“He was here!”  My eyes darted like a pinball machine gone beserk.  So much for playing it cool.

“Oh, yes.”  She nodded with lazy-lidded self-assurance, her smile so satisfied it was positively post-coital.  “Earlier, for a half hour.  He’s gone now.”

So I ask you, how does a person, say me, manage to stand in the same (modest-size) room with Benicio Del Toro for a full thirty minutes and manage to miss him entirely ?!?

But then Mercury is in Retrograde.  It’s the only explanation, or at least the only one I’m willing to entertain.  (The alternate one being that I am a complete idiot)!  You see, Mercury isn’t just in any ole Retrograde but  retrograde in my Sun Sign of Libra.   Allow me to take this opportunity to express my advance thanks for your support.  Seriously.  Last week my laptop hard drive crashed.  The other day I ordered, or tried to order, replacement bags for my vaccuum cleaner.  First online, then via the 800 number.  It didn’t go well.  Suffice it to say I’m looking into weaving them by hand.

Watcha gonna do?  Mercury goes into Retrograde just three times a year though when you’re in it, it certainly feels longer.  October 14th, the end of this quarter’s phase, isn’t that far away though personally I’m holding off on signing any contracts and purchasing electronics like say, that laptop I now need until October 20th.  I believe in giving Mercury Retrograde a broad berth.

In the meantime, I’m practicing self-therapy in the form of LOL–laughing out loud.  How many of us include “LOL” in our emails, not to mention all those smiley face emoticons, and yet rarely practice either?  Maybe we can’t literally laugh our problems away but for sure a good chuckle can go a long way in cushioning the blow.

I was walking along Central Park the other day when one of the carriage drivers called out to an apparently insufficiently cheery passerby, “What’s up wich you, boss?  Did you suck lemons for breakfast or what?  Give that puss a rest and smile, why dontcha?”

Hope mugs for the camera with Mr. Wall Street, a very ghoulish guy.
Hope mugs for the camera with Mr. Wall Street, a very ghoulish guy.
Good advice when you think of it.  To whit, see the picture of me mugging for the camera with Mr. Wall Street.  Last Friday my friend Dee and I were strolling the West Village, killing time before a dinner reservation came due, when we ran into this ghoulishly funny fellow stationed outside a local restaurant.  As for the group shot of my birthday bash at the Brandy Library last Thursday, well, I’m really not priming to punch someone out, promise!

Few things in life are free.  Fortunately laughter is still one of them.  So go ahead live it up, kick back, and have a laugh on me.