I’ve been scoping out new and newish neighborhood bars for potential birthday celebrating. I think many opt for this solution because their living quarters are cramped. That’s not really my problem at all (don’t worry, I have plenty of others) I’m just not sure that I want to go the big messy, cooking and cleaning shebang in the apartment route (but I probably will because I’m a control freak).
Group dining is too traumatic. Annd apparently, my circle of friends are gauche because we always do the split the bill and divvy up the birthday person’s meal approach. It’s not as if the birthday person ever picks an expensive restaurant, so I don’t get the big deal. I also don’t know anyone who hosts their own birthday party and pays for all guests—that seems very rich and elderly, or at the very least like that middle aged guy in the commercial for what I think is Harrah’s Atlantic City and he’s showing off for his friends by picking out all the food and wine and shaking hands with the chef.
My inclination would be to check out Hot Pot City where it’s all you can cook plus unlimited beer for about $30 per person. But Flushing is a pain to get to and the non-carnivorous would probably have problems with raw meat dipped in the shared broth. Feh.
What I’d really like is to order lechon, a whole roast Filipino pig. Yesterday, I got distracted on this blog affiliated with a New Jersey restaurant, New Barbecue Pit. Dining-wise, it’s unfortunate that I know such a large number of vegetarians. Pig heads are enough to scare anyone, and even worse, practically every side dish and appetizer I could order from this place, including vegetables, would contain pork because that’s just the Filipino (and Chinese) way. I really, really do want to have a party with a whole pig but I don’t want to be a brat. It’s my birthday, though, right?
Well, if I ever get married there will most definitely be whole hogs…er, and durian cake and lots of things cooked with foul smelling shrimp paste. You know, just because it would be my special day and I’d like to exercise my right to be self-serving.
So, last night I intended to visit both The JakeWalk and Clover Club and started with the former when I should’ve reversed the order. JakeWalk was only about half-full when I arrived and still had a few open tables when I left around 9pm. Clover Club was at capacity by the time I made it a few blocks up the street. I should’ve known better since it’s gotten a lot of press people flock to newness. I wasn’t inclined to wait around for a seat.
I love fondue to death but I was kind of freaked out by how many diners were ordering it. I mean, it was like 98% humidity last night. My clothes were all damp and sticky just from the 10-block walk. I wouldn’t eat fondue in a place like Singapore either, but that’s just me.
I did order cheese, though. I’m not supposed to be eating sugar and that makes me sad (I’m on a mailing list that has been talking about chocolate croissants the past few days and food blogs seem to have gone wild with summer fruit tarts). But no one said I couldn’t go wild with cheese. And yes, I realize there is sugar in alcohol, cocktails in particular, but I turn a blind eye.
We ordered a small sampler with a choice of three cheeses and two meats. They were out of lamb prosciutto, which I was interested in because why not. Instead, we chose wild boar sausage, which was fatty, gamey and very stiff on the teeth. I liked it, though it’s not a soft pliable piece of charcuterie. We also ordered speck because I always forget what it’s like. I would say it’s a heartier less salty prosciutto.
I was hoping for Hooligan because it’s one of my favorite cheeses and I’d seen it on their website (urgh, I have to type “Web site” at work all day and now my hands automatically want to use that format) but it wasn’t listed. No matter, as an offshoot of Stinky Bklyn you know there will be plenty of winsome options. Instead, I picked another raw cow’s milk cheese I’ve liked in the past, Constant Bliss, and creamy blue Stichelton (which I now know is pronounced stickleton rather than stilcheechon). James always likes sharp and hard cheeses so he went for an Essex Street Comte.
Extras entailed a blob of peach jam, fig almond cake and pickled beans and onions.
I did appreciate that they provided a serious amount of bread slices (more than shown in the photos). I’m not supposed to be eating bread either (seriously, what can I freaking eat?) but whatever, it’s the principle. I hate it when you get tapas or things demanding bread and you’re given like two tiny slivers.
Who cares if the leaves are coated in creamy lemon vinaigrette, I like to pretend that salads are healthy. This tuft of arugula also contained shavings of manchego and spiced marcona almonds.
Apparently, I’m easily influenced because I ordered a glass of sherry after just having read Eric Asimov’s lament in the Times. The main reason I wanted to try Montilla-Moriles Fino was because I was wondering if this was the mystery sherry we’d had in Buenos Aires, the one where James inexplicably scrawled down the nonsensical phrase malo-malo. This sherry did contain two hyphenated M words. I don’t think it was the same, though. The flavor was a little harsher, kind of like musty almonds with a hint of dirt.
I finished with an Improved Gin Cocktail because I was curious how the ingredients–genever, maraschino, absinthe and angostura bitters–would blend. Now that’s a pretty yet bitter drink. I’ve never liked syrupy sweet cocktails but only in old age have I been able to appreciate the opposite end of the spectrum. The orange peel twist only upped the ante.
The JakeWalk * 282 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY