Miscellany & Poetry - On food, wine, film, lit & then some.

My love, my sommelier (& manager, executive chef, accountant…)

Phish-baiting is one of the Director’s favorite pastimes. I wish he did it while wearing a cap with the slogan “Out for Cyber-Trout” a la Michael Moore’s in Roger & Me, but no. He just does it, so when I received the following e-mail a few weeks back, I forwarded it to him—or rather to Jasper Nothing, his alterego. The exchange was brief but magical.

From: Mr. Aaron Artkinson <aaronartkinson@yahoo.com>

Date: April 17, 2008 3:02:21 PM MDT

To: Denveater


Reply-To: aaronartkinson@yahoo.com.co. uk

Good day,

I am Aaron Artkinson, i want to make a dinner reservation for my member in your Restaurant. Please confirm these reservation in your Facility.

Details of the Reservation :

Date: 17th June to 20th June 2008.

No of person: 13 person

Arrival times: 7:30 PM each day

Payment Type: Credit Card Only ( I hope you have credit card facilities)

Please confirm if you have the availability and provide me with the charges for 13 person in 4 days,Then we will make an advance payment to hold the booking.

Kind Regards

Aaron Artkinson

Jasper Nothing wrote:

Dear Mr. Artkinson,

Thanks for contacting us. Luckily we still have open tables on those dates and can easily (and happily!) accommodate your entire party. I can confirm a table for 13 persons at 7:30 pm for the evenings of June 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th, 2008.

In regards to the charges; those will depend completely on what it is you and your dining companions would like to order. Shall I send you some options? Will you be drinking wine?

We take all major credit cards, including that black American Express one. Do you have that one? I eagerly await your response.


Jasper Nothing (manager, sommelier)

Aaron Artkinson wrote:

Hello Jasper ,

Many thanks for your prompt response. We will appreciate if you prepare a 3 course menu for my group for the dinner. No special dietary. We will be happy for any suggestion you may render since this is our first dinner in your restaurant.

Date:17th, 18th, 19th,and 20th.

Kindly provide the total cost of the dinner for the 13 persons for the 4 night dinner so as to provide my credit card details for full payment confirmation.

>Private dining room is needed if there is any. Your response will be appreciated

Kind Regards,

Aaron Artkinson

Jasper Nothing wrote:

Dear Sir:

I am so, so sorry for my delayed response. I can only remind you that it was the last week of April…and you, of course, know what that means. I have worked out the menu with my Executive Chef for the four nights you will be dining with us and have detailed the courses below. Please let me know if there are any problems with the menu and we can devise another right away. I have paired wine with each course except one. Trust me that Coke goes best with the second course.

style=”margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; “> First Course (appetizer)

Potato Chips (w/ salt) – $8

Catena Malbec 2006 – $8

Second Course (main)

Panda Pot Pie (w/ steamed baby carrots) – $8

Coke – $8

Third Course (dessert)

Catena Malbec 2006 – $8

Peppermint Schnapps – $8

style=”-webkit-text-stroke-width: -1; “>Meal total 6 x $8 per person, or $48 per person for a total of $624

Please advise if this menu is acceptable, and if not I will have my Executive Chef prepare something different. Also, please let me know if you would like to sit with your dining companions or have your own table in case you do not like them.


Jasper Nothing (manager, sommelier, executive chef)

Aaron Artkinson wrote:


Dear Jasper,

Thanks for your reply and assistance so far i have gone through the menu and is splendid,however we shall dining off from what your have on ground.and we will book for the dining room.I will make a payment of $2000.00 to you in advance, this is because we are not sure of what the guests might like to eat and drink as such as will cover the cost of their meals and drinks.

Moreover, we were able to make an arrangement with a pre-paid flight/ transport agent who will be taking care of the guests transportation/flight logistics. So in order not to share the credit card information with a third party, I have decided that only one person will have to handle the credit card information.

However, the prepaid agent is not yet a credit card merchant therefore cannot charge credit cards. On my own side, i would have sent him his money direct but do to all the arrangement have be finalised through credit card, therefore he cannot charge credit cards.

So once you are in receipt of my credit card details,you are required to charge $9000.00 in your account then deduct $2000.00 as initial deposit and transfer $7000.00 to the prepaid flight/transport agent , whose information I will forward to you once this is confirmed.

N.B: All checks and balances will be made with you on 17th June which is the final day of the booking. So confirm this and provide me with your



(3) PHONE NUMBERS for office record.

Get back to me immediately.

Kind Regards,

Eng.Aaron Artkinson

Tel: 447031921122 , 447005800544

Fax: 447005800533

From: Jasper Nothing<

Date: Thu, 01 May 2008 15:31:19

To: Aaron Artkinson <aaronartkinson@yahoo.co.uk>

ong>Conversation: Deposit Payment Information………………………………………..

Subject: Re: Deposit Payment Information………………………………………..

Dear Mr. Artkinson,

Whew! That all seems complicated to me and I’m not real sure I understand it completely. Let me run this by you again to make sure. I am to charge $9000 and you are going to give me $2000 to hold the restaurant for the 4 nights, correct? I am then to send the remaining $7000 to your transport agent? I have to admit I am somewhat offended! Did you even LOOK at the menu I and my sommelier and my executive chef took the time to put together? The cost of the meal was $624 PER night. You wanted to hold the restaurant for FOUR nights. That equals um…hang on…$2496! And that’s without any tip whatsoever!! By the way, don’t you love the word whatsoever? It’s three words and one word at the same time?!? Isn’t that weird? Think about that for a second. Insomuch as…wait…there it is again! Three words, one word! I wonder how many of those there are? Heretofore. That’s another. Notwithstanding…another! Anyway, back to the tip. Normal tipping procedure here is 20%. 20% of $2496…hang on again…is $499.20. That equals a total of $2995.20. That’s almost $3000! I guess that’s a long way of asking, should I keep $3000 and send $6000 to your transport company, or do you want me to charge $10,000 and keep $3000 and still send $7000 to your transport company?

Please advise me what to do and we can move forward on the transfer. Have you ever had Panda? It’s juicy.



Jasper Nothing

style=”-webkit-text-stroke-width: -1; “>(manager, sommelier, executive chef, accountant)



Philosophiconundrum 1: How to eat endangered species

Gushing once again about the astonishing BBC/Discovery series Planet Earth & its remarkable footage of rare species, our friend the Whistler said that if he ever got the chance to dine on snow leopard, of which there are less than 8000 on God’s green earth,


he’d “totally eat the shoulder & then just throw the rest away.”

This of course made me spray wine through my nostrils laughing & inspired me to ask around: if you could eat any endangered species, what would you eat & why? Seems I offended some of my friends & colleagues & a lot of them just ignored me, but a special few responded:

MC Slim JB, Boston-based food writer, cocktail expert & sartorial wiz:

Have you seen the Marlon Brando/Matthew Broderick comedy The Freshman? Brando repeated his Godfather character, this time for comedy. A major plot point revolves around a club where the super-rich eat the last living specimen of some rare species, making it extinct.

I would like to feast on the last living neoconservative Republican, with his children & grandchildren for dessert. It would be returning a favor, in a way.

Echoing Slim’s enthusiasm for fat-cat cuisine was Joey Porcelli, author of Rise and Dine: Breakfast in Denver and Boulder & coauthor of The Gyros Journey: Affordable Ethnic Eateries Along the Front Range:

I would eat a Republican for Thanksgiving dinner because they will become endangered this November. I would make jerky out of all the tough, crusty, aged & brittle parts (99%of the species), throw away the fat & attempt to thaw the heart to see if it had any tenderness. I would pickle the ears & snout but toss the still-wagging tongue. I would use the clay feet to make an excellent stewpot. Next I would toss in a few root vegetables and a bag of Doug Bruce and call it illiterate peasant stew.

Don’t jettison those jowls, Joey! They’re the juiciest!

Matthew Rohrer, acclaimed poet by day, seething turophile by night:

Blue-whale babies gain over 200 pounds a day drinking their mother’s milk. I’d like to have some of that milk in my coffee.

(Or you could just go straight to the source & drink out of this beaker!)

[Also,] I think a great new craze could be started at those chain Australian-style steakhouses with what I’m going to call “jumbo calamari”: enormous deep-fried rings of elephant trunk, breaded and seasoned and served with a dish of marinara sauce. It’d be the perfect appetizer to follow up a day of shopping at Costco or Sam’s Club. Bigger is definitely tastier.

Dibs on that smiley tip.

Steve Reynolds, aka Wampus, 1-time write-in protest candidate for homecoming king, escort of 2 hookers to senior prom & Jeopardy champ; current owner of the lovely Norman, Oklahoma, gourmet shop Forward Foods:

I’d eat the Nashville crayfish to extinction. First, the name sounds like a bad backing band for some prepackaged country singer. Second, I don’t eat the mammals or birds & rarely eat the fish—but sucking the good bits out of a southern delicacy only found in Tennessee wouldn’t bother me much.


Culinary Colorado author & blogger Claire Walter briefly checked in from a café overseas—where “our Olde Englishe Countrye Inne has no Internete access”—to note:

There is/was a restaurant in Nairobi that specialized in bushmeat. Some African species have become endangered because people eat them as expensive delicacies. Yuck!

Or is it, Claire, really mmm…think wild red colubus simmered in simian foamy virus…or crocodile grilled with a little trichinella…



On a more serious note, said Clay Fong, Boulder Weekly restaurant critic & coauthor of The Gyros Journey: Affordable Ethnic Eateries Along the Front Range:

In my teens, I used to fish for salmon off the Golden Gate, a stone’s throw from the Farallon Islands. We’d catch our limits of fresh wild fish, clean them on the way back in & grill them that night, wrapped in foil with white wine and garlic. However, I recently read that the salmon fishing season for both commercial and recreational operators has been canceled for the California coast. The decrease in the number of salmon returning to spawn to the Sacramento River was 1 of the reasons given for the cancellation; 6 years ago 800,000 fish returned to the river for spawning, the projection for this fall is a mere 50,000 fish.


Clay, you’re absolutely right—as an old friend used to say, hey, I’m a nice lady! I promise to watch my intake of the near-extinct.

Except snow leopards. Especially right-wing snow leopards.

The Director made his answer rhyme!

Oooohhh panda! Plump panda,
Puffed panda in a pastry shell!
Potatoes, tomatoes & the zest
Of the last living snail.

Wrap shark fin in eagle skin and
Roast it til it’s just past rare;
Baked cheetah with Cheetos
And rhino horn if we can find a spare!

The tang of an orang makes me
Happy though I’m now quite full.
Then dessert comes, and I wonder if I’ll even care
Huzzah! Hooray! It’s a pie full of polar bear!

Rémoulade is a handy-dandy doody-doody.

Some years ago, when I was an MFA candidate studying poetry, I kept a notebook by my bed to jot down wee-hour notes on the verse I tended to compose in my dreams. One morning I woke up so excited to reread a line I’d written in the dark a few hours before, vaguely remembering it to be deeply, poignantly witty, full of lace-veiled longing.

That was it.

Doody-doody: ask for it by name! (I believe the French would stress the final syllable, doo-dee doo-dee.)

Open letter to Denver restaurateurs: Make this family’s orders extra special

Look, if you’ve spent more than a few milliseconds of your time reading this blog, you know I have a blackly bitchy streak, overlapping with crimson streaks of immaturity & gracelessness, which, combined, pretty much cover the whole canvas. I don’t think I pretend to be a model of basic decency, much less sterling virtue. But I can say that I have always striven, I hope successfully, not to be an ugly American—the kind who mistakes the logistical freedom to do something with the absolute right to do it, the letter of the law with its spirit.

Thus I figure it’s my patriotic duty to call those who do fit that description on their misguided assumptions—not on some equally misguided assumption that they’ll give two shits about my opinion, but out of the desire to make the kind of noise that some non-&-leaning-toward-anti-American might hear & think, well, at least some of them try not to suck so hard.

The other evening, the Director & I were in a quiet local Ethiopian joint quietly minding our own damn quiet business when a woman walked in who, at first, did nothing but reveal to me my own prejudices: she was a blandly attractive frosted blonde in a T shirt & jeans with an equally blonde prepubescent daughter in tow, & I admit to being surprised that such seemingly staunch Abercrombies & Fitches might be down with the likes of mitmita, berbere & teff.

But then she also did nothing to stop little Sierra or Madison or Amber-Savannah from whipping out her cell phone before they’d even been seated & chatting away as though she were old enough to have anything worth saying in the privacy of her own pink ruffled bedroom, much less in a public space aiming for a modicum of ambiance.

Nor did she do anything to stop her husband, a grade-school soccer coach from the looks of his getup—not a uniform or anything, mind you, just the sort of atrocious polo shirt/bright short/high white sock/bright sneaker combo a grade-school soccer coach wears in his downtime—from waltzing in fresh from Subway with their 2 no-less-towheaded, sweatshirted boys, odds are Jaden & Taylor.

Thence they proceeded to unpack their sandwiches, chips, & bottled drinks & have a fast-food feast right there at the table of someone else’s restaurant (couldn’t they at least have ordered sodas from their waitress?) of which even Dad partook, although he also shared Mom’s order of whatever you might be able to get super-mild & with utensils. Wanna see?


In a bit of fairness to Mom, the Director saw her giving Dad an earful, & we’re hoping she was telling him how appallingly, almost hilariously if it weren’t so infuriatingly, inappropriate & insulting this all was. Maybe she was pointing out that their brood of Aryan youth was old enough to start learning about new cultures & trying new things rather than ramming their own down everyone else’s throats. & in a bit of fairness to Dad, he said something to the waitress to which she responded, “Oh, that’s okay,” & we’re hoping it was an apology.

We’re also hoping those sandwiches were contaminated with just a touch of e. coli. Not enough to do major damage, of course—just enough to keep them up all night, having their beloved Subway & eating it too, over & over.


With respect to this (or any) post, I highly welcome spirited dissent & free legal advice. The latter has already led me to replace the faces in the photo with featureless lavender blobs, which after all retain an uncanny likeness.

If I were the kid in Poltergeist,

and I had to go into the light, it’d be cool if it looked like any of these.
The Dish Bistro
The Kitchen
(And no, it’s not because I drink myself down to the floor a lot that I notice what’s hanging from the ceiling a lot. My fixture-fixating has nothing to do with coming to.)

Is it gross—or is it genius?

So those mussels I mentioned yesterday came with bread. While my many-times-aforepromised discursion on bread baskets is coming forthwithish, Swimclub 32’s won’t merit mention, being neither a treat nor a shame; it contains thin slices of perfectly okay whole wheat. We were asked if we wanted butter or olive oil; we opted for the latter.

A ramekin of pale-yellow liquid arrived & I dipped disdainfully, expecting nothing prickly nor twiggy nor caramel—although I could have, according to this organoleptic evaluation chart, otherwise known as a sensory wheel, otherwise known as deep sadness in a circle—nothing more than nothing.

What I got startled me for a second. Was this melted butter? It sure tasted like it, but it was room temperature, so how now, dairy cow? The Director thought I was tasting things, but he did concur that the flavor was unexpectedly fine, & we dipped & kept dipping & even asked for a second ramekin.

When Pippi-Angelica returned, she told us its secret: it was 75% canola oil.

So basically a half-cup of Wesson was my favorite dish.

My point is this: just as the deconstructionists determined that a text’s essence inheres in its parentheticals, its footnotes, its errata & so on—in short, anywhere but in its supposedly meaningful body*—so I often find my very favorite flavors in sides, condiments, garnishes, leftovers, dregs, scraps, etc., anywhere but in the thing I’m really supposed to be eating or drinking.

Well, actually, that’s not my point. That’s a means by which to couch my point. That’s the elegant upholstery of a pointed confession. Here’s my point: I drink pickle juice. Not only do I drink pickle juice, but lately I’ve been mixing it with gin. Sometimes, when I run out of pickle juice before I run out of pickles, I add distilled vinegar & salt to the jar & then I drink that. Often my tummy hurts, but more often I think myself quite like Tristan Tzara.

*Not that the deconstructionists would admit to essentializing texts, but, essentially, they did.

Pimp My Meal! Part 2

Last time on Pimp My Meal!, I challenged my pal Slim—a contributor to Boston Magazine, The Boston Phoenix, Stuff@night and the Weekly Dig—to, in his words, “identify which of a given pair of Denver restaurants looks more promising to a Boston-based outsider based solely on information gleaned from their online dinner menus and no other portion of their websites. I scrupulously avoided my usual resources for restaurants in unfamiliar cities: local friends, websites like Chowhound.com, guidebooks, and newspaper reviews.”

His mission accomplished, rounds 1 & 2 sure were nail-biters! And how will the contenders in rounds 3 & 4 measure up pound for pound? Let’s turn to Slim for the play-by-play.


“My first impression is of slightly modernized Continental fare, a lot of old-school French technique in butter and cream, plus some heavy Northern Italian starches. I imagine this place being a bit flouncy and fusty, with lines out the door on Mother’s Day. Maybe it’s my strain of Mitteleuropean ancestry, but I am capable of enjoying leaden cuisine like this, especially the sides accompanying the beef culotte: choux dumplings, braised oxtail, trumpet mushroom ragout, and sweet carrot puree. (Is that really prime beef for only $24?)[*] Of course, I’m just wondering where I’ll find a Fernet Branca afterwards. With one token-looking veggie dish, this is either a very old restaurant, or it’s trying to channel one to fill a perceived gap in the Denver healthy / globetrotting / veg-friendly hegemony.”

“From the chef glamour shot to the overly explicated descriptions of dishes with one idea too many on the plate, Opus looks Denver’s answer to Olives, the launching pad for Boston celeb chef Todd English. That’s not a good thing, as English went from beloved local original to whoring national hack the very second he possibly could. Prices occasionally seem ridiculous, like $100 for an ounce of domestic sturgeon caviar and a stack of buckwheat blinis. Entrees strike me as precious and too busy, like peppered King Canyon bison loin, cinnamon skewered apple ‘lollipop,’ root beer bison sauce, and bison jerky scrapple. The parallels to English are eerie: the ‘classic’ dishes look much simpler and more appealing, presumably conceived back when the chef felt more passionate about cooking than marketing. I’d order that double-thick rosemary-rubbed veal chop on saffron risotto well before I chose bison in root beer sauce. Predictably, the wine list excerpt shows a thuddingly dull reliance on overpriced Cali and Oregon reds. I’m looking at a $200-300 check here.”

“Which reruns would you rather be forced to watch, MC: The Lawrence Welk Show or the first season of Sex and the City? Ugh. I’m reluctantly going to go with Fruition, where at least I won’t feel swindled by the check, and am less likely to be surrounded by Food Network–Tivoing, self-styled ‘foodies’ shrieking about how their companions simply must try a bite of their campfire beef-cheek mole.”

Damn. It probably won’t surprise Slim—who knows my tastes are such that if fashion designers were chefs, I’d be a regular over at Bob Mackie’s place, wolfing down the edible equivalents of get-ups Cher’d wear, all bespangled & feathered & slit to here—


to hear that I was rooting for Opus; one Slim’s “precious” & “busy” is one Denveater’s “bold” & “exuberant.”

Meanwhile, while Slim couldn’t have known that his sense of Fruition as more of a journeyman than a million-dollar baby in the restaurant ring, solid but perhaps past its prime,** isn’t technically correct—it’s one of the city’s quickest, farthest rising stars—as far as I’m concerned he has the place pegged. With the exception of the wonder-if-I-take-you-home-sounding blonde carrot cake with cream-cheese ice cream & sweet brown butter, everything on the menu seems, to me, just so—it couldn’t be more tasteful, more exquisitely balanced between Gallic classicism & contemporary luxury, couldn’t be more confit here & emulsion there,

Images1(confit here)

Images2(emulsion there)

couldn’t, in short, be more boringly likely to meet all my expectations than to totally upend them. This is why some of us prefer cats to dogs, villains to heroes, David Foster Wallace to, I don’t know, anyone whose novels get roundly praised for their spareness & elegance.

But OK, Fruition wins, fair & square. Knowing as I do a slew of savvy supperers who adore the place, I’m going in with both feet. I’ll even bring my mouth.

*Welcome to cattle country, city slicker!
**Boxing metaphors courtesy of my divided attention—Klitschko’s back, baby!

***We’ll return with the final round after this brief intermission***


“Denver seems to kick Boston’s ass on Mexican, Central American, and South American restaurants.* Ours good ones are mostly cheap, bare-bones, authentic venues in modest residential neighborhoods like East Boston. Certainly we have nothing like Lola, with its upscale take on chalupas, ceviches and vegetarian migas and its four housemade salsas. While the perspective on these cuisines is gussied-up and the dining room fancy-looking (from the menu photo), the prices look reasonable. And it has a serious happy hour: joy!”

“Holy frijole, an even wilder, fancier, more expensive Latino restaurant, this one all-Mexican! The menu’s length and regional breadth are impressive: Bostonians don’t see much Oaxacan food, and we just got our first real Poblana restaurant last year. It’s unusual to see so many elaborate seafood dishes on a Mexican menu. Is this an occasion place for Mexican ex-pats, or Mexican cuisine for gringos, done in a Norteamericano gourmet idiom to justify its $25 entrée prices?”**

“I’d be grateful to have either of these places in Boston, but I gravitate toward Lola, which seems to be trying to modernize traditional Latin American cuisine without straying too far from its soul: it still does $2 tacos. Even though I imagine its food to be wonderful, Tamayo has a sensibility and a price point that smell a little too Yanqui to me.”

Lola it is!

“So, how’d I do? Have I been totally hornswoggled by a series of clever online façades, or can I cut through Internet self-puffery like a hot knife through Polish lard?”

Slim, you did swell. Now I’m gonna go take these joints for test drives, joy rides, police chases around hairpin turns. Wish me well.


*True, of course, for the most part, although I haven’t come across any little Venezuelan zingers like Boston’s Orinoco yet…

**The simplest answer: it’s located in LoDo.

Pimp My Meal! Part I, starring your dinner mechanic, MC Slim JB

If some of my last few meals (oh, you know which ones) had been automobiles, they’d have looked like this:


or maybe even this.


It’s high time I had me a hot rod. But what if my usually peachy-keen instincts just lead me to another lemon? I’ve decided perhaps they need a little R&R, & have packed them off to the part of my brain that looks like this for a while—ciao, instincts! Don’t forget to write!:


Meanwhile, I’ve turned to my old pal & fellow food writer MC Slim JB, first introduced here back in January as one of the panelists on my Northeast-Southwest-cuisine-comparing roundtable. Trusting Slim’s impeccable taste as I do, I sent her/him* links to the online menus of some eateries I’ve had my eye on, paired them according to certain similiarities I discern, & challenged him/her/it to customize my next few outings for me.

My fancy-schmancy rationale: that, without any sort of context in which to frame said menus—no knowledge of the chefs behind them or their place on the Denver dining scene; no way to gauge the restaurants’ reputations; no sense of setting on any scale (surrounding neighborhood, interior design/ambiance, crowd)—Slim might maintain his/her/its/their focus on the food itself to discern its pure, clear essence.

Slim’s franker, funnier rationale: “One thing that appeals to me about this is the ridiculousness of judging a restaurant by its online presence and menu copy. You know: I hate that website’s stupid Flash intro and background music; that place is going to suck! Maybe we’ll uncover an inverse relationship between the pretentiousness of the menu’s prose and the tastiness of the food.”

On that note, let’s get ready to resto-rumble!


“An appetizer of deviled eggs with prosciutto, caviar and chervil is a big BUY sign, a humble comfort food presented with a modicum of pizzazz. Some dishes I’m tired of seeing everywhere: duck confit, goat cheese tart, and steamed mussels. In entrees, I love the use of the flatiron cut in the obligatory steak. It’s more flavorful and better textured than the more common onglet/hanger. Sides of bacon ragout and celeraise/potato gratin also sound much more interesting than frites. I’m impressed by two vegetarian entrees, and attractive-looking desserts from a pastry chef who is clearly fond of caramelized sugar.”

Table 6
“Appetizers look rather more ambitious and expensive here. There’s a less generic quality to the recipes: lamb Reuben sliders with sauerkraut and cornichon aioli sound intriguing despite the tired concept. There’s the ubiquitous beet salad and mussels, again. Entrees seem more straightforward, like a pork rib roast with apple gratin, bacon, and Brussels sprouts; does the chef have Germanic leanings? One dullish-looking veggie pasta entrée and no online dessert menu are annoying: an old but representative menu would be better. The wine list impresses me with its breadth (nice to see more than a token nod to Alsace and Germany), reasonable pricing, and refusal to lean on familiar American mass-market wines.”

“I’d be happy at either of these restaurants. While I like Duo’s menu and prices, I’m attracted by the greater inventiveness and wine focus on display at Table 6. (I can’t tell if Duo even serves wine.) Forced to choose, I think I’d opt for the latter and share several appetizers.”

I’m with Slim on the enough-alreadiness of beet salads & steamed mussels. That said, comparing the former, I could actually go for Duo’s, which contains the smoked trout I’m (to paraphrase Michael Moore’s baseball cap in Roger & Me) always out for, & which suddenly makes me wonder where all the other beet-and-pungent-meat combos are—some salami would be awesome! As for the latter, Duo’s are a snooze, but Table 6’s deviation from the herb-&-Chablis-bathed norm, using dates & spicy butter, evoke for me something of the aphrodisiac. In fact, everything of the aphrodisiac: vulval shape check, fleshy texture check, touches of sweetness & creaminess, oh, check!








For that matter, the thought of long-pepper grits, almond-crusted tater tots, & fried green tomatoes with feta get me pretty hot too. OK, then, Table 6 it is.


“Wow: it’s the Greatest Hits of Upscale American Comfort Food! I like the fact that there’s a lot of them, and that the menu seems designed more for sharing than for the traditional my-app-and-entrée here/your-app-and-entrée there. White truffle-and-cheddar popcorn could be a terrible idea, but I’ll bet it’s actually terrific, and for five bucks I’ll take a flyer on it. If the kitchen can actually execute consistently across this menu, this looks like a near-optimum venue for a) laying down a food base before an evening of premium cocktail imbibing; b) a quick pre-theater bite; c) extended late-night grazing. Nice.”

Swimclub 32
“Another place that looks like it might encourage tapas-style grazing, but sexier, more French, pricier. The crew I’d bring here might have to be better traveled than the gang I’d bring to Theorie—folks who share my love for thoughtful, mid-priced salumi and cheese plates. The hot-rock dishes seem healthy, appetizing, and fun all at once. The entrees (except for those good-looking pastas) seem less fascinating, but the prices all around seem fair.”

“This is a tough one. I can imagine enjoying both these places enormously, but Thëorie’s menu seems a bit more three-years-ago: sliders, lobster tacos, those damnable moules frites again. Swimclub 32 seems edgier and has more dishes beyond the range of my kitchen skills.”

Bingo, just what I needed: unburdened by the kind of knowledge that makes the knower dumber—Thëorie’s history as a house of ill-but-still-really-boring repute, say, or the fact that the photo on Swimclub 32’s home page is the stinkiest, Freudian-slipperiest attempt to bring sexy back ever—Slim has managed to offer some calm, well-reasoned perspective on the culinary potential of two places whose curiosity has for me up to now been of the perversely morbid (see knowledgably dumber) sort.

Swimclub 32, here I come.

I will, of course, post Pimp My Meal! Part 2 & the results of this little experiment posthaste.

*Slim’s got a super-sly anonymity thing going on.

Po-pomo madeleine moment

With each spoonful of that cup of tomato soup (see yesterday’s post—I know it looks like a bowl, but they assured me it was a cup, with such sincerity that I inferred it was some sort of cup trapped in a bowl’s body whose trans-servingware identity I daren’t question), I felt the stirrings of a sensation that intensified for hours until finally the remembrance hit me: not squatting as a small child next to my mother in our vegetable garden, feeling the noonday sun on my skin & the clamminess of the soil I fingered; not, only slightly older, rising on my tiptoes to help her stir a steaming, bubbling pot of spaghetti sauce, breathlessly awaiting the moment I got the nod to toss in the sprinkling of tiny, just-stripped oregano leaves I cupped in my palm—’cause I never did any of that shit—but rather dousing myself in what was my signature fragrance a few years back, Demeter’s Tomato, which smells exactly like the force that through the green fuse drives the flower.


It goes without saying that Dirt was my dream signature fragrance, the scent of the woman I wish I were, but it was so uncannily true to the stench of wormy clods it made my soul hurl (Soul! all over my freshly mopped inner linoleum!), & I always had to wash it off moments after applying it.


I don’t know how they do it, because I’ve successfully blocked the chapter in Fast Food Nation about the synthetic flavor & fragrance labs along the New Jersey turnpike from my consciousness. But boy, do they do it. Fiery Curry, Condensed Milk, Lobster, for crying out loud…come to think of it, why not Madeleine? You’d think that’d be a no-brainer. Anyway, speaking of no brains, the day Demeter comes out with Natto is the day I bash my own head in. I fear it’ll be sooner rather than later.

What’s sea-green, rum-soaked & super-sour?

No, not me on Sunday morning, silly! It’s Daiquiri Ice, the Baskin Robbins flavor that made me who I am today. Which is apparently to say virtually indistinguishable from a jillion other cyber-slacking sadsacks—a Google search yields a disconcerting slew of blog posts on the stuff—not to mention, according to the BR site’s Fun (sic) Facts! page, Justin Timberlake.

(*In lieu of the image of a cone, please feast your eyes on these walking shorts from Claire, available in black as well as daiquiri ice.)


All this time I’d been harboring the delusion that my preference for shockingly aqua, startlingly tart DI over painfully familiar vanilla or lackadaisical chocolate or God-forbidden bubble gum proved me uniquely sophisticated among my prepubescent peers—especially given that I always took it with a scoop of French vanilla. When their wonder-twin powers of richness & acidity activated on the spoon & I put the spoon in my mouth, I took the form of the woman I would surely become—almond-eyed, suave, a cross between Mata Hari & Helen Reddy.

In discovering that I may be more a product of my generation than I realized—and/or that said generation may have been more full of yearning for the ways of the wide world, as evidenced by a fondness for DI, than I realized—I’m struck more than ever before by the relevance of Rupert Holmes. For me at age 9, the thought of a life so cosmo & deliciously zeitgeisty as to be filled, per his lyrics, with answering machines & personal ads & getting caught in the rain, plus both champagne &, above all, pina coladas, was almost more than I could bear.

In rum cocktails was the pastel poolside future. I wish it had ever arrived.