Good morning, MTs. Happy Monday – hope it’s a good start to the week for you. I was reading New York magazine’s excerpt of the John Heilemann and Mark Halperin book that is causing the latest news cycle scandal. Not the bit about Harry Reid, but the bit about the Edwardses. Man, depressing and, um, what would be the opposite of illuminating when you learn something dark and depressing? That word. Anyway, in clicking back to NY Mag’s home page, I found another article – a food and eating diary by Michael Pollan, who was apparently in New York to do promotional work for his latest book, Food Rules.
For lunch I was at Nobu 57. I was taking out a man named Steve Gold who is the president of Murray’s Chicken. I had been asked by the American Humane Association if I would contribute a lunch as part of their fund-raising auction, and the deal was whoever bid the most I would take out to lunch somewhere in New York. Since he was in the chicken business, I thought we’d go to a pretty fishy place. We shared a couple things: yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, salad with seared tuna — there’s a violation of my tuna rule right there — we had a lobster and avocado salad, and black cod and miso. We actually let the waiter direct us. We wanted two cold and two hot, and he recommended those, and the lobster was a gift from the chef. It’s funny, avocados are in season where I live, so it didn’t seem weird to see them on the plate. But you know this was a gift from the chef and one of my principles is — in addition to eating sustainably — to be a good guest and not reject what is served to you. Social values count as much as environmental values with me.
The article was delectable and it got me thinking about foodies with whom I’d like to share a meal. I’m sure I’m not the only one with multiple lists of top dinner party guests (authors, historical figures, actors, etc.), but this was the first time I wondered about whom I’d like to eat with from the professional food-eating/preparing category. I really would like to be led on a food expidition by Pollan – from this article, he sounds passionate about food without being up himself or too picky (both are key traits for a co-diner, IMHO!). I’d also love to eat a meal with Mark Bittman, The New York Times food writer and author of The Minimalist column and the Bitten blog. He also sounds cool and fun and curious.
Also, I’d love to eat with my hometown broadsheet’s food writer, Matt Preston. He sounds like an absolute blast – he’s Byronic in the extreme, favors cravats and writes equally well about high and low cuisine – I remember one side splittingly funny column where he recounts a top 10 list of favorite naughty foods in his house, with aerosol whipped cream (for shooting directly into the mouth) on the list. As Melbourne is a small town that masquerades as a big city, I’ve heard tell that he’s a very down to earth guy and doesn’t object to being approached on the street for off-the-cuff restaurant recommendations. Also, he seems to have a good sense of humor:
…[N]one could compare to my shirt-front disaster when eating at the three-star Le Meurice in Paris earlier this year.
This is one of the classiest dining rooms in the world, perched on the edge of the Tuileries Gardens. Eating here is like lunching inside a rococo wedding cake that has used up all of Paris’ annual quota for gilding. It’s the sort of place where you sit on cushion-loaded sofas rather than chairs and where the impeccably turned-out waiters in white tie outnumber the customers by two to one. It’s the sort of place so overstaffed that every time you go to the lavatory you are accompanied by an entourage of flunkies, and when the food arrives it is heralded by the buzzing of half a dozen waiters who describe, deliver, de-cloche, top wine and generally fuss.
Here, in what has to be one of the most over-the-top dining rooms in the world, is not the sort of place to spill down your shirt the dark, blood-rich gravy that is slathered over tender chunks of slow-braised hare meat. This is a classic French dish of almost unimaginable richness and density and that shirt was of a snowy whiteness and so just-out-of-the-packet new that I had pins jabbing into my torso. It looked like I’d squirted myself with chocolate.
“Would sir like a cloth?” . . . “Some mineral water?” . . . “Oh dear!”
Naturally, of course, my number one pick to eat a meal with would be La Divine Julia Child. Sigh. But at least I had the chance to interview her, so that almost counts. Or it’ll have to do!
So, what do you think, MTs? Do you have any favorite foodies/food writers/chefs that you’d like to eat with? Of course, this is an open thread, so please, what else is going on with you?