Water? Only bottled.

My newfound frugal streak is not a pose. I freak out every time I exit the Food Shitty with a jar of Hellmann’s stickered at $5.39 to replace the one I have just thrown out with a $4.69 label. (And I go through mayonnaise like grass through a goose.) But my real sense of battered-diner syndrome kicks in with restaurants. The other night we met five friends for sunset wine at the uptown concession in Riverside Park and left a couple of hours later $35 a person lighter, after (admittedly) too much wine but only three burgers, three Caesar soups, one order of fries and two ears of corn. Seventy dollars a couple used to buy real food in a room with running water and a working toilet. So I can’t even begin to describe how much more satisfying a picnic was two nights later within eyeshot of the Gouge Bar. We settled onto the intensely green grass with another couple who had brought two V&T pizzas (outstanding even cold), gentle-jerk chicken (actually Cornish hens) and corn-tomato and zucchini salads, all of which we supplemented with curry-deviled eggs, cucumber-chive salad, Kahlua brownies, Paffenroth’s radishes (French breakfast and Easter egg), an epi-baguette from Amy’s and two bottles of rose. Given what a bottom feeder I have become with wine, I doubt the whole too-much-to-eat spread cost much more than $60 for the four of us. And I can’t decide which was more pleasurable, watching the sun set over Jersey in a rose haze or seeing a deck full of suckers getting bled dry just a shout away.