Daily pain

Speaking of flute, I shouldn’t still be laughing, but whenever I type that word I remember being in a Paul in Paris for breakfast eons ago and overhearing an overbearing young woman explain to her beaten-looking companion that its inclusion in the special menu meant Champagne would be involved. J’doubt it.

Nostalgia up on Turkey Hill

Trend reporting gets more suspect by the hour, but I still thought it was amusing to have a piece on “cupcakes waning” pegged to a drop in sales at a chain whose problem is not that the phenomenon is fading but that said chain simply churns out crap. Mediocrity sells Subways, but no one would want even a foot-long macaron if it cost the world and sucked, too.


New metaphor: Shelf life of a macaron. (I’d given up on those pricey little meringue Oreos, but my consort and I succumbed to one filled with sea salt caramel from Francois Payard over the weekend and are now hooked. Unfortunately, I learned the literal hard way that you have to eat ’em or lose ’em.)

Garlic-rosemary granola

You can love the gift, and the givers, and still hate the label. My less judgmental consort and I are now proud owners of an “artisan plank.” Which is a W-S fancy way of saying “breadboard.” It’s a beautiful piece, as perfect for slicing a baguette as for displaying a serious array of cheeses. But I have to wonder if the language abuse was worth it. Couldn’t the branding at least be adjectival? Call it al, maybe?

Repollo and “salsa blanco”

Our most surreal evening started with a loooong walk to a restaurant deep in South Philadelphia that took us through a strange blocked-off street fair lit up like Christmas in  Rizzoland, complete with both Santa and a somewhat deflated balloon Grinch, a North Pole express choo-choo for the kids, a tent with a whole roast pig and Sterno tins of pastas, and braziers with fires around which little groups of people were drinking. On our way back we stopped for a glass of wine at a just-opened place called Rhino that made us realize we weren’t all that far from the Jersey Shore, and somehow it seemed like a good idea to check out the bar at Le Bec-Fin on the way back to the hotel, just to see if things were as dead in the temple as they’d appeared from the street when we’d walked past the night before. Our route took us past Butcher and Singer, in the old Striped Bass, and Bob suggested we just take a peek. And OMFG was it ever bizarre. The huge room literally smelled like blood, as all the 1 percenters were tearing into their steaks like hyenas. I thought it looked Felliniesque; Bob compared it to “The Cook, the Thief etc.” Whatever. If they cut Social Security and Medicare to keep those people in the carne money, we’re doomed. A more sedate sort was holding down the chairs at Chez Georges, but one older couple was getting merrily sloshed. Bob: “Looks like they’re going to have a hot time later tonight.” Me: “Yeah, sliding around in the vomit.” But I had the most rewarding realization as we walked through the lobby to bed. The best part of staying in a hip hotel is passing people coming out of the bar and reminding them with your presence: They are drinking in a hotel.

Accent by Stanislavski

Thanks to great friends from my 18-month layover in Louisville who were in town recently, I know the mixology trend has a long way and many bottles to go in NYC. Having been born and raised in Kentucky, the non-wine-drinker at the table ordered a Manhattan with Woodford Reserve, and the waitress had to go check the bourbon stock before announcing the bar had “Maker’s Mark, Jack Daniel’s and Southern Comfort.” He settled, then we all laughed. My laugh was: “Southern Comfort is bourbon?” And his: “Neither is Jack Daniel’s.”


Sorry, Pillsbury: your pizza crust can never be “artisan.”//Should never have to look at the food in a food photo and imagine the mohel sucking the blood off it.//You might be a wingnut if you want the gubmint to get out of the food stamp business but open up a commodities Costco.//”Finger sandwich” sounds bony.//On National Punch Day, can we all sock an annoying promoter in the face?//And did I really get a “to remember 9/11, here’s 20 percent off” email from a tea purveyor?

Larkin calling

Speaking of which, I read many years ago — I think in Harper’s — that bodybuilding has a downside when it comes to package perception. And so I saw this and immediately thought a sequel to a certain restaurant memoir had been published. Pull quote: “Being very thin makes your dick look enormous.”

On the rough side

Finally, I’m holding off on writing my ode to the wonders of PGH until I can’t sell it, so I’ll just knock off some asides here. My consort and I had to check out the Polish shop on the Strip, and I can say this because Mr. Third Generation sort of laughed: On the way out, I noticed potholders for sale that were both tiny and crocheted — as in full of holes. “How’d you burn your hand?” “Oh, I used a Polish potholder.” We also had one of those experiences where the server was just a little too frank about the lamest options on a menu, which made me think it would be a wise chef who wiretapped his tables just to hear what the traitors say. And, without a doubt, this is the dumbest overwritten euphemism for burgers ever: “Hand-crafted handfuls of beef.” Overall, though, this was one of the best domestic eating expeditions in donkey’s years. The only downside was that it started and ended with me strapped into a JetBlue seat watching the Egopedist  stretching out a pizza crust with a rolling pin and paving it with clods of cheese. File that under “how to fuck up everything.”

Ponzu scheme or ponzi sauce?

As I was buying a last-minute shirt for Bob on his big day, the charming salesguy made chitchat of the “is this a gift?” sort. Which led to, “Are you having a party?” I said we were going out to dinner, he wondered where, I told him Acme and he’d never heard of it. “What kind of food?” “Sort of Scandinavian, or ‘new Nordic.’” “You mean, like, stroganoff?” “No, it’s like Noma in Copenhagen, with local foods foraged . . . “ “Oh, yeah. I’ve read about that. It’s eating like a caveman, right?”

Luckily, it was not.

3 live, 8 roadkill

My consort and I were just at a wedding in the Catskills (where I had plenty of time to wonder why it is all divorce lawyers don’t have to be women — don’t the magic words say no man can put asunder?) The ride back was pretty harrowing because we set out early Sunday morning for the New York State Thruway, and all I could think about was the vodka-soaked mom who also set out on that hellish highway a couple of years ago, in the wrong direction. So I particularly enjoyed the huge restaurant billboard I spotted just outside Kingston: “Full Bar. Last Stop Before Thruway.” Funny how the terror alert is only on high in airports . . . .

“Open up everyone’s palettes,” get paint everywhere

Finally, I’m trying to train myself to focus over here rather than tossing off 140-ers over to the Twitter. Meantime, here’s a mix of what I merely thought and what I actually sent:

–Feeling like such a loser. Haven’t figured out a way to cash in on Julia’s 100th birthday . . .

–Happy for everyone who was happy to walk away with bling from Enron on 12th Street. But a large part of me feels the way I do when I see some bodega regular collecting a $2 win on 4,220 lottery tickets. . .

–You name a cat “Cinnabun,” don’t expect it to be adopted. Any more than you would a pit bull named Baconator.

–Burgers in the sky? Does no one remember the Eleventh of September?

–Please tell me weaner is not a word. I got that e-release and actually hoped the photo would be of Anthony’s.

–And I see new documents on Hitler’s habits present the best argument yet for carnivorism. Because he was a vegetarian, “he farted constantly.” And kraut will definitely do that more than foie gras.