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February 13, 2013

I recently found the top photo of my birth-mom, age nine-ish, and it made me stop and smile. I know she was a Catholic schoolgirl, I know she was an activist, I know she joined an underground communist group and I know she left it for love, I know she did needlepoint and sewing, I know she wrote long letters to her family when she lived in Germany, I know she loved being a mom.

I know all that but I don’t feel I know her at all.

I don’t have any sense of the sort of person she was.

I don’t know what she liked to eat or what made her laugh. I don’t know what her voice sounded like or how she moved. I don’t know what she dreamed of doing with her life.

I do know, though, that she looked a lot like me — that I look like her — and that we run a grill in much the same way (bare midriff to keep cool, one leg back to avoid grease splatters).

Today would have been her 62nd birthday — and even that I had to look up, even that I don’t really know.

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January 15, 2013

In four years, you can get a college education. You can go from birth to walking to preschool. You can be voted in, and you can be voted out. You can win gold at the Summer Olympics, twice.
In four years, we’ve planted 4 trees (2 died, 2 are thriving).
In four years, we’ve shared approximately 880 amazing meals, eaten approximately 594 oysters, and drank approximately 1,210 bottles of wine.
In four years, we fractured 1 metatarsal and had 1 appendix removed.
In four years, we’ve made 5 Thanksgiving turkeys, 4 bo ssäms, 3 pots of gumbo, 2 côtes de bœuf, and 1 pot of cioppino on a moonlit beach on the Long Island Sound.
In four years, we’ve visited Colombia twice together, California 3 times, New Orleans 3 times, France once, St. Paul once, Chicago once, Philadelphia 4 or 5 times, St. Louis once, and the North Fork at least a dozen times (but it’s never enough).
In four years, I’ve moved just once (a lifelong record).
In four years, you grew to like my cat.
In four years, we’ve watched Barack Obama take the Oath of Office once (soon to be twice).
In four years, we’ve owned 1 Motorola Sidekick with non-working “N” and “I” keys, 2 lawyer-appropriate Blackberries, and 8 iPhones (1 was dropped in a glass of water, 1 was in your pocket when you were pulled into a pool, 2 were dropped and smashed, 1 was lost in Greenport, 1 froze up and was exchanged, and 2 are with us now).
In four years, I have no idea how many movies we’ve seen, but I’ll never forget that the first one was “Coraline.”
In four years, I purchased 6 Clare Vivier bags, you purchased 2 (thank you!), and Wilkes peed on 1 (BAD KITTY). 
In four years, we’ve celebrated 3 weddings, 3 births, 2 engagements, 1 best-selling book, and a whole year’s-worth of 30th birthdays.
In four years, we buried 4 people we love.
In four years, we’ve built 2 traditions that are ours alone.
In four years, you turned a hobby into a thriving career.
In four years, you were quoted and misquoted in umpteen articles and posts and photographed for Martha Stewart Weddings but I was on the cover of the NYT Dining section so I still got ya beat, babe.
In four years, we’ve gotten into too many fights to count.
In four years, we called it quits once.
In four years, we’ve learned so much about each other.
In four years, we’ve learned so much about ourselves.
In four years, we’ve taken leap after leap after leap.
In four years, we’ve found security.
In four years, we’ve found true love….
And in four years, we’ll have a puppy.
In four years, we might have more.
In four years, I’ll be looking forward to the next four years (and the next and the next and the next).
In four years, I’ll love you more than I do today.
Though that hardly seems possible, today.
Happy anniversary, darling.

In four years, you can get a college education. You can go from birth to walking to preschool. You can be voted in, and you can be voted out. You can win gold at the Summer Olympics, twice.

In four years, we’ve planted 4 trees (2 died, 2 are thriving).

In four years, we’ve shared approximately 880 amazing meals, eaten approximately 594 oysters, and drank approximately 1,210 bottles of wine.

In four years, we fractured 1 metatarsal and had 1 appendix removed.

In four years, we’ve made 5 Thanksgiving turkeys, 4 bo ssäms, 3 pots of gumbo, 2 côtes de bœuf, and 1 pot of cioppino on a moonlit beach on the Long Island Sound.

In four years, we’ve visited Colombia twice together, California 3 times, New Orleans 3 times, France once, St. Paul once, Chicago once, Philadelphia 4 or 5 times, St. Louis once, and the North Fork at least a dozen times (but it’s never enough).

In four years, I’ve moved just once (a lifelong record).

In four years, you grew to like my cat.

In four years, we’ve watched Barack Obama take the Oath of Office once (soon to be twice).

In four years, we’ve owned 1 Motorola Sidekick with non-working “N” and “I” keys, 2 lawyer-appropriate Blackberries, and 8 iPhones (1 was dropped in a glass of water, 1 was in your pocket when you were pulled into a pool, 2 were dropped and smashed, 1 was lost in Greenport, 1 froze up and was exchanged, and 2 are with us now).

In four years, I have no idea how many movies we’ve seen, but I’ll never forget that the first one was “Coraline.”

In four years, I purchased 6 Clare Vivier bags, you purchased 2 (thank you!), and Wilkes peed on 1 (BAD KITTY). 

In four years, we’ve celebrated 3 weddings, 3 births, 2 engagements, 1 best-selling book, and a whole year’s-worth of 30th birthdays.

In four years, we buried 4 people we love.

In four years, we’ve built 2 traditions that are ours alone.

In four years, you turned a hobby into a thriving career.

In four years, you were quoted and misquoted in umpteen articles and posts and photographed for Martha Stewart Weddings but I was on the cover of the NYT Dining section so I still got ya beat, babe.

In four years, we’ve gotten into too many fights to count.

In four years, we called it quits once.

In four years, we’ve learned so much about each other.

In four years, we’ve learned so much about ourselves.

In four years, we’ve taken leap after leap after leap.

In four years, we’ve found security.

In four years, we’ve found true love….

And in four years, we’ll have a puppy.

In four years, we might have more.

In four years, I’ll be looking forward to the next four years (and the next and the next and the next).

In four years, I’ll love you more than I do today.

Though that hardly seems possible, today.

Happy anniversary, darling.

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December 18, 2012

Anonymous asked: Can you tell me about your boyfriend who passed?

Hmm. Let’s see.

He was a comedian and a writer.

Obviously the funniest person I’ve ever known.

We met at the beginning of my JYA in Dublin.

We met at the Trinity College pub — the Buttery, not the Pav. His friends were playing Boggle, I believe. I butted in. Typical American.

We dated that year and through the next, when I returned to Tulane for my senior year. 

He came to visit me that fall. He spent a month with me in New Orleans. We had such a blast. My friends adored him (he was easy to adore). We went to New York for a weekend before he left. It was my first time in Manhattan. We talked about moving there, someday.

For my 22nd birthday he made me a book about a little baby elephant (for you see it was that year that I got my elephant tattoo).

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The little baby elephant is from India and her name is Nora (“I know this is a strange name for an Indian little baby elephant but she was a strange little baby elephant and besides, Indian elephants are open-minded and cosmopolitan and read Joyce and Ibsen and O’Casey and Shaw and wouldn’t even think twice quoting Proust at elephant dinner parties and some of them even have doctorates in the Hindustani Literature from the Hindustani Elephant University of Higher Elephant Learning in Bombay.”).

It is funny and profound. 

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On her birthday, all the elephants gather ‘round Nora to blast their trunks in a great show of elephant love — “and even some little baby elephant ex-boyfriends, well-wishers, passerby, moochers, skivers, and even some little baby elephant wedge-drivers.”

An allusion, of course, to my friend and editor Shane who had recently confided to Liz that he had a crush on me and would like to “drive a wedge” between me and Cian — an absurd thought, for, as longtime readers know, Shane is my most fabulous and successful and handsome gay friend. 

But he didn’t quite know that at the time.

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For my 23rd birthday, he brought me to Paris. It was my first time.

We lived together in Dublin for eight months while I was doing my M. Phil. (Masters) at Trinity. We partied a lot. We had fun. We adored each other’s families. I thought I might marry him, but then, I thought that less.

After a time, I knew I had to break up with him.

I remember a late-night call with Liz. It would have been evening for her, 2 am for me. We were both torn. We were both in love with boys (men) we had fallen for in college, and we both knew we had to break up with them.

We both did.

It was very hard for awhile. Cian and I didn’t speak. We avoided each other at parties.

Eventually, I moved back to the States. We became Facebook friends. We exchanged notes. 

I haven’t seen him since 2005.

I don’t know why he did what he did.

I wish he hadn’t. 

I wish he knew what everyone else did.

I wish I could have saved him.

I wish he knew how much he meant to me.

I hope he did.

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November 5, 2012

This is the view from nuestro amigo Camilo’s home in the countryside outside Bogota.
Meh.

This is the view from nuestro amigo Camilo’s home in the countryside outside Bogota.

Meh.

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November 5, 2012

Area Foodie Vows To Rebuild

NEW YORK — Mayur Subbarao, 38-year-old cocktail impresario and self-described “don’t call me a foodie,” was on a business trip in Bogota, Colombia, when superstorm Sandy ravaged the East Village neighborhood he calls home.

This morning he returned to the apartment for the first time since the storm took out power for four days.

Surveying the damage to his property, which included a broken glass table on his terrace, he was visibly unmoved. 

It was not until he discovered that his vacuum-packed, home-made duck stock and roasted tomatoes were mistakenly discarded by the woman who looked after the property in his absence, that he was, he admits, “momentarily disappointed.”

"The irony is they were the best preserved things in the freezer," he said.

His girlfriend, Nora Sherman, a 31-year-old City University of New York employee, may or may not have responded with a passive-aggressive remark about people on Staten Island without power or warm clothing.

"You know you’re right," said no boyfriend ever. 

"We will rebuild our freezer, for them."

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August 14, 2012

My parents first dropped me off at summer camp when I was eleven years old (almost twelve) and it’s safe to say I loved it from the very first day. I finally felt like I was with my people — my crazy, enthusiastic, constantly singing-and-dancing-and-yelling people.
For eight glorious summers I was either at Camp St. Croix or Camp Widjiwagan, often times both (THANKS PARENTS). I was a Wrangler (horseback rider), Frontier (canoer), Windjammer and Mariner (sailors), LDP (counselor-in-training), and finally, a counselor.
I canoed the Boundary Waters and the Namekagon River. 
I sailed Lake St. Croix and Lake Superior. 
I backpacked the Rockies: the Bighorns for eight days, the Absarokas for ten days, and the Wind Rivers for twelve days (that’s twelve days without a shower, twelve days of GORP, gaiters, and moleskin, twelve days of packing out every single piece of toilet paper and tampon I used — so believe me when I say I only look high maintenance).
When I came home, my mom says, I was like a new person. Confident. Friendly. Positive. I even emptied the dishwasher without complaining.
There’s just something about camp. It has its own mysterious power. It’s like what they say in the classic TAL episode: “no one back home understands it, nobody. There is just a gap between camp people and non-camp people.”
Camp Mannahatta, the party I’ve been daydreaming about since spring, bridged that gap.
It was a second chance for anyone who didn’t get to go — my Camp Co-Director Jane chief among them — and a welcome trip down memory lane for those of us who will never forget a single word of the Titanic song.
Here are a few of the details that made it so fun….
Bug juice … on tap. At camp, it’s generic Kool-Aid. At Camp Mannahatta, it’s a Mayur Subbarao original (what! I just said his name!): gin, Bittermens Citron Sauvage, Croft Pink port, lime juice, and grenadine. Dangerously delicious.

Retro snacks & boozy watermelon. Tater tots, mini pigs in a blanket, chocolate chip cookies, and Andrea’s nostalgic contribution: bumps ants on a log (those brought people back). The watermelon was — stop the presses — actually good (I’ve been burned by boozy watermelon before). We soaked it in half a bottle of Appleton rum, juice of six limes, a big handful of minced basil, and a generous pinch of cayenne. Picante! 

Camp fire. Plus hot dogs, hamburgers, and (duh) s’mores. Pro tip: when the smoke gets in your eyes say white rabbits white rabbits white rabbits over and over again. Don’t get me wrong — it doesn’t make a lick of difference. It’s just one of those Camp Things (TM).

Care packages. Year after year, my parents spent a good chunk of change to send me to camp — and felt so guilty about it they donated enough money for a less-privileged kid to go every time I did. So I’m not resentful that they weren’t the care package type. I’m just glad there was at least one mom in every cabin that was. :)
For the record, I’m pretty sure Jane and I are gonna kick ass, mom-wise. Classic candy, Reese’s, Mad Libs, and Lifesavers that shoot sparks in the dark?? Future kids, you better be grateful. 


Merit badges. Oh man, these were a HIT. It was something we came up with in a planning session at Dram (I try to do all my serious party planning over cocktails) and after some deep-track Amazon searching, we found this out-of-print book, which promised 60 custom merit badge stickers … for women. Whatever, we can work with it.
After Devon earned the first badge of the night for showing up with that saweet Boy Scout style, people kept coming up to us. “So, um, I’ve heard about these badges,” they said, a little shyly. “How do I earn one?” It was pretty adorable — and also happened to be a great way to get people to refill the ice bucket … and start the fire … and make the burgers….



Arts ‘n Crafts. We had no idea how this one was going to go. Would anyone even touch the lanyard supplies? Who would have enough patience to make a god’s eye?
Well this was another surprise hit. Peter led the lanyard charge, taking it upon himself to not only re-learn how to start them (harder than it looks) but helping his fellow campers start their own — that’s badge-worthy behavior if I’ve ever seen it! — while others wrapped yarn around sticks to their little hearts’ content. 


Awesome campers. Without them, camp is just a bunch of lonely cabins in the woods. We couldn’t have done it without their infectious enthusiasm and can-do spirit. 




And finally … the World’s Greatest Camper. Everyone’s a winner at Camp Mannahatta, but one camper really gave it her all. Not only did she come early, bandanna around her neck and tasty snacks in her bag, she taught her fellow campers how to make god’s eyes, kept the dance party bumpin late into the night … and didn’t even so much as roll her eyes when, in the space of about a minute, both Camp Directors ordered her to “handle the hot dogs — now!” That, dear campers, is what we call PMA — Positive Mental Attitude. And that’s what we like to see.
Thank you, Camper Andrea!


So, until next summer….
Jazz hands and mosquito repellent,
Camp Co-Director Sherman, signing off.

My parents first dropped me off at summer camp when I was eleven years old (almost twelve) and it’s safe to say I loved it from the very first day. I finally felt like I was with my people — my crazy, enthusiastic, constantly singing-and-dancing-and-yelling people.

For eight glorious summers I was either at Camp St. Croix or Camp Widjiwagan, often times both (THANKS PARENTS). I was a Wrangler (horseback rider), Frontier (canoer), Windjammer and Mariner (sailors), LDP (counselor-in-training), and finally, a counselor.

I canoed the Boundary Waters and the Namekagon River.

I sailed Lake St. Croix and Lake Superior.

I backpacked the Rockies: the Bighorns for eight days, the Absarokas for ten days, and the Wind Rivers for twelve days (that’s twelve days without a shower, twelve days of GORPgaiters, and moleskin, twelve days of packing out every single piece of toilet paper and tampon I used — so believe me when I say I only look high maintenance).

When I came home, my mom says, I was like a new person. Confident. Friendly. Positive. I even emptied the dishwasher without complaining.

There’s just something about camp. It has its own mysterious power. It’s like what they say in the classic TAL episode: “no one back home understands it, nobody. There is just a gap between camp people and non-camp people.”

Camp Mannahatta, the party I’ve been daydreaming about since spring, bridged that gap.

It was a second chance for anyone who didn’t get to go — my Camp Co-Director Jane chief among them — and a welcome trip down memory lane for those of us who will never forget a single word of the Titanic song.

Here are a few of the details that made it so fun….

Bug juice … on tap. At camp, it’s generic Kool-Aid. At Camp Mannahatta, it’s a Mayur Subbarao original (what! I just said his name!): gin, Bittermens Citron Sauvage, Croft Pink port, lime juice, and grenadine. Dangerously delicious.

Retro snacks & boozy watermelon. Tater tots, mini pigs in a blanket, chocolate chip cookies, and Andrea’s nostalgic contribution: bumps ants on a log (those brought people back). The watermelon was — stop the presses — actually good (I’ve been burned by boozy watermelon before). We soaked it in half a bottle of Appleton rum, juice of six limes, a big handful of minced basil, and a generous pinch of cayenne. Picante! 

Camp fire. Plus hot dogs, hamburgers, and (duh) s’mores. Pro tip: when the smoke gets in your eyes say white rabbits white rabbits white rabbits over and over again. Don’t get me wrong — it doesn’t make a lick of difference. It’s just one of those Camp Things (TM).

Care packages. Year after year, my parents spent a good chunk of change to send me to camp — and felt so guilty about it they donated enough money for a less-privileged kid to go every time I did. So I’m not resentful that they weren’t the care package type. I’m just glad there was at least one mom in every cabin that was. :)

For the record, I’m pretty sure Jane and I are gonna kick ass, mom-wise. Classic candy, Reese’s, Mad Libs, and Lifesavers that shoot sparks in the dark?? Future kids, you better be grateful. 

Merit badges. Oh man, these were a HIT. It was something we came up with in a planning session at Dram (I try to do all my serious party planning over cocktails) and after some deep-track Amazon searching, we found this out-of-print book, which promised 60 custom merit badge stickers … for women. Whatever, we can work with it.

After Devon earned the first badge of the night for showing up with that saweet Boy Scout style, people kept coming up to us. “So, um, I’ve heard about these badges,” they said, a little shyly. “How do I earn one?” It was pretty adorable — and also happened to be a great way to get people to refill the ice bucket … and start the fire … and make the burgers….

Arts ‘n Crafts. We had no idea how this one was going to go. Would anyone even touch the lanyard supplies? Who would have enough patience to make a god’s eye?

Well this was another surprise hit. Peter led the lanyard charge, taking it upon himself to not only re-learn how to start them (harder than it looks) but helping his fellow campers start their own — that’s badge-worthy behavior if I’ve ever seen it! — while others wrapped yarn around sticks to their little hearts’ content. 

Awesome campers. Without them, camp is just a bunch of lonely cabins in the woods. We couldn’t have done it without their infectious enthusiasm and can-do spirit. 

And finally … the World’s Greatest Camper. Everyone’s a winner at Camp Mannahatta, but one camper really gave it her all. Not only did she come early, bandanna around her neck and tasty snacks in her bag, she taught her fellow campers how to make god’s eyes, kept the dance party bumpin late into the night … and didn’t even so much as roll her eyes when, in the space of about a minute, both Camp Directors ordered her to “handle the hot dogs — now!” That, dear campers, is what we call PMA — Positive Mental Attitude. And that’s what we like to see.

Thank you, Camper Andrea!

So, until next summer….

Jazz hands and mosquito repellent,

Camp Co-Director Sherman, signing off.

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August 9, 2012

From Food Porn To Food Mourn: The 101 Saddest Photos On Instagram

Alexis sent me this link awhile ago and it’s too great not to share. Just because you can photograph your food, doesn’t mean you should. (On the upside, scrolling through the gallery is a great dieting trick. Appetite? What appetite?)

I figured I’d share a few tips for decent Instagrams of food, from a girl who’s been doing it for a long time (sorry, I am contractually egotistically obligated to now link to this): 

1. Don’t you ever use a flash.

2. Avoid artificial light at all cost. Either skip the pictures after dark or work with a very steady hand. Use your ‘real camera’ for beautiful food in low-lit restaurants. 

3. That said, if you must take a photo with a smart phone in a low-lit situation, focus on something that will translate well, like a delicately plated appetizer or dessert, rather than something shapeless and/or vaguely brown. Case in point: at dinner on Friday, I highlighted my hamachi-and-foie appetizer rather than M.’s pile of summer truffle risotto:

4. Don’t use a filter. 50% of what makes food look appetizing in photos is color. Messing with that — even changing the saturation — is very risky. (Put another way: vintage-y looking people are cute. Vintage-y looking food is not.) It took me awhile to learn this particular lesson. Here are two less-than-stellar examples from Nov. 2010 (note that I was also using the crappier iPhone 3 camera):

5. Experiment with using the tilt-shift/pin-point focus feature to subtly highlight the center or foreground of the food. Here I focused on the taco plate so that it stands out against the slider in the background:

6. Get up close and personal with the food — if it works with the food. (Fresh fruit: yes; bloody steak: probably not.) Bonus: both these examples employ the focus trick.

7. Back in the day (2009), the stand-by POV for food photos was from-the-side-and-just-above (the position I’m taking in this NYT portrait). Most pictures I take of food are from that vantage point, as you see in the examples above. However, over the past two years I’ve noticed a major trend (yes, trend), in photos of food take from bird’s eye view. Experiment with it.

8. If the lighting is good, use bird’s eye view to capture the abundance of a meal. Bitches love abundance.

9. Some food looks better raw. I’ve gotten a lot more ‘likes’ of gorgeous hunks of uncooked salmon than I have of them cooked, for example. This may also take care of the light issue. If you want to capture dinner, but dinner will be served after dark, snap it in its early prep stages. 

This:

versus that:

10. And finally, EAT. That food is getting cold and your friends are getting annoyed.

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August 9, 2012

Yesterday I harvested our peach tree.

OUR PEACH TREE!

We live in the middle of Manhattan! 

We grow peaches!

This is very exciting.

And improbable! 

It was only last April that we brought it home from the hospital Union Square greenmarket, giddy and nervous. It was such a small wee thing! So innocent and new! Would we fuck it up? Would it hate us? 

Well I am very glad to report that it doesn’t seem to hate us at all. If it feels anything, it must be gratitude because not only are its fruits small and perfect, they are delicious. So very peach-y.

We’ve had our share of heartbreak with smaller fruits and vegetables. Cats and container gardening are a terrible combination. But this trumps it all.

When people in smaller towns wonder how I can live in Manhattan I smile.

I have a peach tree, I think. 

A peach tree of our very own.

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July 2, 2012

Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City

I went to Kansas City on a Friday

By Saturday I learned a thing or two

But up ‘till then I didn’t have an idea

Of what the mod’rn world was comin’ to. 

This weekend I visited Kansas City for the first time to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of my very best friends, Liz. It was flat and hot, as promised, so we spent long lazy hours in the pool in her apartment complex (as Sheriff Sherm, I patrolled the perimeter, hollerin’ at litterers and collecting cigarettes as tax) — but I did get a tour of the city courtesy of hometown honey Calamity Jane (we all had cowgirl names for the weekend, as you do).

If the mod’rn world includes separate checks (without even requesting them), free bloody marys (with meat sticks!) for people who bring their floating horses with them everywhere they go, and for reals the best pulled pork sandwiches and ribs I’ve ever had (we went to Oklahoma Joe’s, a BBQ joint in a gas station, so you know it’s gotta be good), I am diggity down with mod’rnity. 

We also hit up Westside Local for lunch, Fervere for KC’s best bread, the Rieger Hotel for dinner, Gram & Dun for those meat stick bloodies, Bluestem for blue cheese-stuffed olive bloodies (I really love bloodies), and Westport Flea Market for world famous patty melts and one outstanding grilled chicken sandwich (I really don’t love patty melts).

Oh and all my friends went line-dancing at Whiskey Tango while I napped in the limo. I forgot my ID and apparently they have real strict door policies in the mod’rn world. The bouncers even made me — ME, SHERIFF SHERM! — cry. I don’t want to talk about it.

But all in all — I had a bang-up time. You’re alright, KC.

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Me and Bounty Money representin’ at LGA. Til next time….

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January 14, 2012

I do, of course, have LOTS to say (and many photos to share) about last night’s dinner at Alinea, followed by 13 courses of cocktails (!) at the kitchen table in Aviary, which together made for the greatest culinary experience of my life and just one of the greatest nights of my life, period, but I want to catch up with my friends and enjoy this helluva town, so I will leave you with the menu (which I have every intention of framing) and a preview of one especially unforgettable element, coming right up.
One note about the menu that I did not know before last night: the position of the course indicates its palate. Those that are farther to the left are primarily savory and those to the right, sweet. Clever. (Pssst — have you seen the 37-course menu that Chef Achatz prepared for Chef Liebrand of Corton? It’s like poetry.)

I do, of course, have LOTS to say (and many photos to share) about last night’s dinner at Alinea, followed by 13 courses of cocktails (!) at the kitchen table in Aviary, which together made for the greatest culinary experience of my life and just one of the greatest nights of my life, period, but I want to catch up with my friends and enjoy this helluva town, so I will leave you with the menu (which I have every intention of framing) and a preview of one especially unforgettable element, coming right up.

One note about the menu that I did not know before last night: the position of the course indicates its palate. Those that are farther to the left are primarily savory and those to the right, sweet. Clever. (Pssst — have you seen the 37-course menu that Chef Achatz prepared for Chef Liebrand of Corton? It’s like poetry.)

Comments (View)  |  31 notes