Skip to content

Archive for


M.Y.O.B. shouldn’t be an acronym flitting through your mind while dining. I was off put and on edge during nearly my entire meal at Dressler and it had nothing to do with the food or service.

Sometimes context is everything. Dressler is the second venture in my recent mission to try brand new and no longer new but avoided-by-me restaurants. Momofuku Ssam has yet to be braved. The modly ornate room (I did appreciate the streamlined metalwork chandeliers and backlit curlicues) was only about a third full at 9pm on a Saturday. Hardly jumping. Maybe that’s why being seated one foot from two human irritants felt more pronounced.

If you think I’m about to embark on an anti-hipster tirade, you would be wrong. Sure, that ilk can be a nuisance but they’re too self-absorbed to concern themselves with others in the manner of the unpleasant middle aged New Jersey couple (or Brooklyn Brooklyn or Staten Island. I can’t tell my regional accents apart—or certain ethnicities. This implies deep idiocy on my part but I find a lot of crossover between vaguely suburban Italians and Jews. Think of the Costanzas. These two could’ve been either) I was saddled with. The male half wouldn’t stop staring at us and the definitely-not-his-better half couldn’t stop commenting on everyone around us, particularly the couple on our other side with a similarly strong accent. The second we sat down my mood started darkening.

I’ve always attributed staring and speaking disparagingly of other diners as a French trait (it’s happened more times than you’d ever imagine). Who else would have the audacity to pen a book about why they don’t get fat. Keep ze eyes on ze own plate, n’est pas?

Salmon_saladThey clearly weren’t thrilled to have me squeezing my ass past their nearly touching table (and I made quite a point of scrutinizing the female’s derriere when she uncomfortably squeaked through the same narrow space when leaving). But the woman really couldn’t contain her horror when the easy going forty-something couple on my left began splitting three desserts. In between the not-so-stifled grumbling I made out, “she needs to work out.”  The dessert-and-a-half eater was tall and large but definitely not fat.

My blood start boiling. It’s creepy to see grown women who so clearly deprive themselves on daily basis (and no one cares) to look “good” i.e. skinny, haggard and old (taking butterface to a new level) get obviously unraveled at a female of a similar age having fun with no thought to their figure.

HalibutI’d had a few drinks before arriving, started off with a mint julep-esque Coal Miner’s Daughter (Old Grand Dad Bourbon, mint, lemon), and consequently wasn’t doing a good job of hiding my own disgust. I really don’t like confrontation, and James hates it more than anything, we’re a great passive couple. But it was all I could do to keep from asking the petty clientele to please shut the fuck up.

James and I both ended up ordering uncharacteristically. Heirloom tomatoes with tapanade? So not him. I never ever order greenmarket porno dishes like the halibut with fava beans, sugar snap peas and asparagus. Light, girly, a bit too springy for July. Even my glass of Gruner Veltliner felt strange—I tend to drink darker, heavier wines. Subconsciously, I was scared of the wrath on my right side if I’d ordered the fresh bacon like I normally might. That’s how distracted I was by our gauche neighbors.

Peanutbrittle My rich smoked salmon and crème fraiche salad did remedy things a bit. Our shared peanut brittle ice cream, chocolate cake mélange was straight desserty. I needed something soothing (I also had a glass of sherry) and it wasn’t the evening for black pepper ice cream or rhubarb rose soup. Thankfully, the too concerned twosome had left by this point so there was no need to avoid evil eyes and barely audible chiding.

TrufflesI left feeling like something was amiss. The food was solid but when I dine at this price I want that intangible extra. There must be a reason why Dressler was sparsely populated when Diner and Marlow and Sons down the street were at full capacity (not that it’s a good reason—I don’t feel inclined to tap into that whole unfancy fancy schtickyet). They suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. What do you do with the older crews who dismissively proclaim aloud “next time I’m reading the reviews first” and the clueless youngsters who sit, see the menu and promptly leave?

Dressler * 149 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY

Can You ‘Stand’ One More?

Last month I was convinced that the last thing the world needed was another Red Hook ball fields article. Or so I thought until I was asked to write one (actually the second for the same publication but whatever). Allow me to present you with “Stand and Deliver” (I’m not putting their quotes around Stand). Ok, I’ll be the first to admit the round up breaks no new ground (I wrote way more than what’s included and the photographer took hundreds of photos). But short and snappy is what the ol’ New York Post is known for, so no surprises.

Make it a True Daily Double

Firstclass(Paraphrasing because I was only half-watching) “Which section of the New York Times allows critic Frank Bruni a $350,000 annual budget for expenses?” (And my own question, who’s flying him first class to Moscow?)

No one on this evening’s Jeopardy knew the answer (ok, Tim Abou-Sayed from Florida did eventually come up with “what is restaurants” as a sheer guess, right at the buzzer and after a miss from the ultimate winner Monica Lenhard of Michigan answered, “theater”).

Not that Jeopardy contestants are representative of the nation at large (more informed yet more socially retarded) but it relieved me that clearly no one outside of New York reads the New York Times dining section. I like to be reminded that NYC is not the center of the world, even though I admit to feeling anxious and out of touch with local media when I’m out of town (which is why I was reading “Off the Menu” on vacation in ’05 and learned about Fatty Crab. This was pre-food blog glut by the way, when I relied on print for restaurant openings. I swear I’m not obsessed with hating/loving Fatty Crab—I think I just like typing the word fatty).

Sometimes I wish I didn’t know things, the kinds of things in the New York Approval Matrix. I don’t want to know who The Splasher and Boerum Hill Crapper are (ok, maybe the crapper is alright), yet I do. Why? The person I live with has no knowledge of any of this non-importance (though it’s not as bad as the sixth grade dropout boyfriend raised in an orphanage who had never watched TV in his entire life. Honest to god, he had no clue who Tom Cruise was and that’s a hard one to avoid). Easily 85% of the people I come into contact daily for business and pleasure are not familiar with useless New York-ish pop culture talking points. Should I stop reading self-referential blogs for sanity’s sake? It’s not like I impress anyone with witty, informed banter. In fact, I often go all day without uttering more than a sentence or two, which likely contributes to my urge for spewing nonsense here.

Last night I saw an ad for a job I’d be perfect for. Not a cool job, library work, but definitely not hip as all (northern) Brooklyn librarians apparently now are. It involved food marketing. But it was in Virginia. I’ve seen Chicago ads and seriously think, but Virginia? Uh uh (it doesn’t help that James’s parents live in that state and would kill for him to live closer to home). It’s really out of the country or not at all.

Saturday I was informed that Manila might be in a business trip future. I’d love to go to the Philippines and have been interested in the country (well, the food) since I was a teenager. Shanghai was also tossed out as a possibility for the fall, maybe both. Could I stop reading the New York Times and placeblogs, whatever the fuck those are, for at least a few weeks?

Last month everyone (in the blogosphere, duh–my god, it’s worse than I thought) was doing the let’s live on food stamp allotments challenge (I had food stamps in college and ate quite well–$112/month for a Northwestern 19-year-old in ’91 was a lot of extra money. That doesn’t seem right considering that same state’s average allotment appears to be less sixteen years later). Boring. Maybe I’ll do the same with regional periodicals and blogs. You know, doing without, living like the poors. But then, I’d miss the rare, cool non-NYC-centric chain restaurant article like this one appearing in tomorrow’s print edition.

It’s not like I’m moving (back) to Oregon anytime soon. Wild west or not, the rugged individualist state probably isn’t all that welcoming of outlaw chefs. Jason Neroni will only luck out because no Oregonian has any inkling or interest about what goes on in NYC. God bless them.

Culture Club

Honora_fage_2 I was just struck by the cleverness (usually not a good thing) of the Fage Yogurt ad on the first page of the new New York (do others get their copy on Monday? Mine never comes before Tuesday and last week it never showed up at all). It took me a while to figure it out, too, which I’m hoping is merely due to the extreme heat hurting my brain. Initially, I thought the two pages just mirrored each other coincidentally.

It’s more impressive full-sized because you can see the texture of the yogurt and the phase, "ridiculously thick yogurt," but I don’t have the energy to scan the thing. Ad Rants’s version is sufficient.

It Can Sense Fear

BaconatorIf I weren’t attempting to eat minutely healthier (at least as of July 2007—so far I’ve lost 1.5 pounds, which would dishearten anyone else but is pretty good for me considering t he amount of bbq and assorted fatty meats I consumed in the past five days) I would run out at lunch and try Wendy’s new Baconator in a (sluggish, irregular) heartbeat. Instead, I'm looking at 1pm Fage yogurt and Trader Joe’s Very Green Juice Blend. Six slices of bacon? Mayonnaise dressing? I’m sold and I don’t even like mayo. I’ll have to leave the taste testing to those with peppier metabolisms. Dudes and Asian girls please report back.

Then again, maybe I'm worrying for nothing.

Photo from burnlab via Flickr

Fatty Crab

I finally broke down. Twenty-two months seemed like sufficient elapsed time to try Fatty Crab, a restaurant I was certain would make me grumpy. I first read about this soon-to-open meatpacking eatery while in Kuala Lumpur. Making Malaysian food palatable, nay, trendy to a Manhattan audience would seem no small feat so I was intrigued. But I was bothered by the name (why would you name a restaurant after a popular place that already exists in its home country? I would have the same problem if a Malaysian opened an upscale hot dog joint and called it Gray’s Papaya) and pedigree (Zak Pelaccio’s short-lived Chickenbone Café was one of my most loathed dining experiences in world history).

But I’ve been on a mission to try more new restaurants and not-so-new ones that I’ve intentionally overlooked (like Dressler last night—likeable food, mildly creepy crowd, at least in my section) and Fatty Crab definitely fit the latter category. So, I sucked it up and went in with an open mind. And…it was really, really good, ok?

I could get past the prices. It never makes sense when people complain about reinterpreted street food inflation. Of course in KL nasi lemak costs $3 (or less) not $16. And $3,000+ rentals aren’t normal there either. There’s Chinatown dim sum and Chinatown Brasserie’s version. It’s a choice, and I like both low and high (though I’m inclined to eat the cheapie renditions more often).

Fatty_crab_pork_melon_salad I was even able to overcome my severe melon aversion (I will concede that watermelon is the least offensive all melons) in order to try the watermelon pickle and crispy pork salad. Initially, I thought that I could’ve eaten way more of those luscious singed, blubbery cubes but I was quickly proven wrong after two (and about an hour later I developed a serious stomachache—I hope I’m not turning into those killjoy elderly folks who can’t handle anything rich or spicy). The sour rind coupled with the crisp sweetness of fresh fruit was kind of perfect with the meat.

Fatty_crab_skateI was bummed to note that laksa was no longer on the menu. I would’ve been good with a bowl of pungent fish and noodles. Instead, I settled for the skate panggang, which was appropriately hot and shrimp pasty (thanks to the sambal udang kering). Shrimp paste is the one ingredient that I thought would be a tough sell for New Yorkers. The first thing I noticed when entering the cramped nearly empty (it was 3:30pm–there was no way I was subjecting myself to a late night wait) dining room was the light perfume of toasty fermented shrimp. I like the odor but it seriously smells up a house (James can’t stand it and makes me keep my block of belacan wrapped tightly in plastic in the downstairs refrigerator crisper drawer).

Fatty_crab_duckWe really overdid it with the fatty duck, which wasn’t my idea. The soy-based preparation was more Chinese in nature and also came blanketed with strips of pickled vegetable and slivered chiles to offset the poultry’s obvious fattiness. I don’t think I’ve typed the word fatty so many times in short space.

I’ll never be able to understand Zak Pelaccio’s absurd over saturation (Chodorow partnering? London? Ratatouille #1, Ratatouille #2. And I’m still not ok with all those mentions of his parents’ loft in the New York Times last summer) but sambal belecan with a Bloc Party soundtrack? It kind of works.

Fatty Crab * 643 Hudson St., New York, NY


1/2 Cocktails might just be the star at Rayuela-at least that’s what the few reviews I’ve seen so far say–and I can see why. I tried three drinks and was most swayed by the simply named sherry, and not just because of the pyrotechnic flaming orange zest. The gesture wasn’t all flourish; a distinct bitter citrus flavor permeated the cherry heering, pomegranate syrup, brandy and Palo Cortado sherry. I would never think to combine those components (nor the ginger ale, Mountain Dew and Sprite in their sangria—that’s a lot of soda).

I guess pan-Latin and Nuevo Latino are over. Rayuela is mixing those 90s concepts with modern Spanish flair and calling it Estilo Libre Latino, a.k.a. Latin Freestyle. (Alex Ureña also leans this direction, though his food is more creative than trendy.) And for the most part, it works.

I rarely attend press dinners, not out of any ethical obligation, I just don’t get invited to many. It is kind of hard to be fair, even in a casual blog, when plied with a good portion of the menu and warmly treated by all levels of staff. So, of course I had a nice time.

I’d be curious to see how the bite size hor'dourves I sampled translate to their proper portioned salads and appetizers. The plantain encrusted oysters with poblano aioli and served on the half shell was hard to manage without cutlery. But the bolo de mofongo atop pork vaca frita was kind of genius. Tackling a full size mofongo will put you in a carb coma, but when miniaturized you get lots of crisp and softness, not just bite after bite of porky mash.

Rayuela_cevichesOf the three ceviches: tiradito de scallop, lobster revolution (the name made me guffaw a bit) and tuna in watermelon, you’d think the lobster would stand out (at least to me—I’m swayed by descriptions like ginger, sage, lemon leaf, and lemongrass infused coconut water and Uruguayan caviar, even though I have no idea what that type of roe might be like or why the coconut water needs so much infusing) but the general consensus was that seemingly odd matching of scallop with kiwi was the best of the three. The sweet-salty balance and texture (the lobster was a little mushy) was just right. What I thought were bacon bits on top turned out to be crispy Serrano.

Rayuela_steak_and_duckIt seemed that the churrasco con cangrejo (grilled beef tenderloin, oven roasted Peruvian potatoes, wild mushrooms, bone marrow, crabmeat chimichurri and Tetilla fondue) was the crowd favorite. Unless you’re a vegetarian it’s hard not like a medium-rare steak. But I was more excited about the other entrée, pato con arepa (breast of duck marinated in sugar cane, confit of duck leg, spinach , quail egg and pan seared foie gras on a yellow corn arepa) because I love, love sweet and meat, and this preparation was borderline candied. I would’ve chosen it if given the full menu. Not seeing prices, I pegged this dish at $28. I’ll admit that the actual price of $30 is on the high range of what I would normally pay. For me, that’s more of an occasional dinner, not a mid-week meal. But how often do you get to eat arepas with foie gras?

Rayuela_sweetsDesserts came in two waves: regular and boozy. Despite the interesting hyper-basil and lemongrass ice creams, the standards were nothing to yell about (obviously, since all I can remember are the tiny scoops of accompanying ice creams and not the chocolate and coconut cakes they were meant to compliment). The tequila-chocolate injected strawberry was a hit. The simple pisco gelee was refreshing. I would’ve liked more avocado flavor from the shot. It was appropriately pale green but if no one told you it was avocado, you’d never guess.

Rayuela_spiked_dessertsThe strength of these fun alcohol-fueled sweets, smart cocktail list, creative appetizers and pricy entrees tend to point towards a lounge-driven clientele. And the modern design centering around show-stopping live trees sprouting through the bilevel room is built for that scene. I just hope that the cuisine doesn’t get overshadowed because it feels like a lot of thought went into it. The half-breed Latina in me wishes culinary success for Dominicans (chef Maximo Tejada and pastry chef Bruni Bueno) and Mexicans (mixologist Junior Merino) because lord knows we have enough dishwashers and prep cooks.

Rayuela * 165 Allen St., New York, NY

Move Over Fisticuffs

I don’t usually concern myself with local news in my own neighborhood, let alone Staten Island, but I’m loving this story about a melee over fireworks. They had me at young woman with Down syndrome attacking a cop but what really clinched me was the use of donnybrook. I’m still sporadically following my 2007 resolution to look up words that I’m not 100% sure of. Donnybrook has never crossed my path in 34 years. What a word! Who needs fisticuffs when you’ve got donnybrook?

Five Guys & Bonefish Grill

3/4 It was an unexpected New Jersey chain restaurant bonanza this weekend. My original intent was to simply head over to Edison and hit all my favorite box stores but food always figures into an afternoon to evening excursion somehow.

But first it was Costco because they close at 6pm, too early for people who can’t get up and out of the apartment until after 2pm. I don’t know how it happens, but grabbing things like Larabars, spare ribs, seltzer water, chicken thighs, garbage bags, frozen shrimp and scallops, honey wheat pretzel rods, Laughing Cow cheese, and apparently more, eventually lead to a $300+ bill. Costco is dangerous. We spent considerably less than that at Trader Joe’s and that included seven bottles of wine, and not all Charles Shaw, mind you.

Even though I loathe gardening, we also stopped at Home Depot for flowers that James can plant in the front communal patch of concrete and dirt that he’s possessive of since we live on the first two floors. I’m not even sure that he enjoys the pastime or if it’s just a bizarre territorial thing. At least it’s prettier than marking with spays of urine.

I rarely check out Wal-Mart, not out of any moral superiority, they’re just not on my mind. But the Linden location just past the Home Depot and a small airport was surrounded by all the lowbrow greatest hits: Lucille Roberts, Fashion Bug, Dress Barn, Radio Shack, Dollar Tree, Sears Essentials and International Food Warehouse. All that was missing was a Petland or Rainbow.

Wal-Mart did provide me with my favorite, non-fancy but hard to find Hanes underwear, teeth whitening gel, mini coffee grinder, AAA batteries and a $10.46 purple knit belted tunic (I love that the sizes are so skewed that I can technically wear a L instead of an XL).

Five_guys_facadeApparently, a Five Guys just opened semi-reasonable walking distance to me in Brooklyn Heights, but as is my way I turned my back on local offerings for a 33-mile drive to Edison, NJ. New York City, Brooklyn in particular, does horrible things to chains. I actually dread the Ikea and Trader Joe’s (I’m not even counting the Whole Foods because it’s not in my realm) that are eventually coming because they’ll inevitably be mobbed and under stocked. It doesn’t seem right to have these national treasures in your own zip code and be forced to leave the state for sanity’s sake.

I’m not an Americana food fanatic, i.e. pizza, hot dogs, burgers. I like two of the three very much (sorry, wieners) but I don’t go around the city taste testing or taking fastidious notes even though I admire others’ efforts. I can’t expound upon the burger-ness of a burger but I was curious what all the Five Guys fuss was about. And I was pleased that the restaurant was located in a familiar strip mall, Wick Plaza, that also contains my bank, North Fork, Sally Beauty (Miss Clairol in sable tends to be out in NYC because I guess everyone has dark brown hair. Plus, I’d forgotten to bring any lip gloss on our journey and I only had to spend 99-cents on their house brand to remedy this) and Hometown Buffet.

Five_guys_friesThe menu is short and sweet and the french fries are freshly made so I can see the comparisons to In-N-Out. But the burgers aren’t really the same. If anything, I’d say they look and taste homemade, assuming you had good cooks for parents. There’s nothing uniform and assembly line about them. And a great deal of their taste has to do with your choice of topping.

This caught me off guard. Even though there was no line because it was suburban New Jersey, I got flustered with their fifteen choices and only asked for mustard, ketchup and fried onions. Basic lettuce and tomatoes eluded me. Another thing to keep in mind is the difference between burger and little burger. I found out that the standard burger contains two patties, which was only worrisome because I was saving some appetite for another chain later.

Five_guys_cheeseburgerThough I prefer medium rare, I wasn’t insulted by their well done only policy. I was more put off by the signage about neighborhood children and allergies and not allowing peanuts off the premises. One of their trademarks is boxes of shell-on peanuts to scoop and eat while waiting. I can’t imagine that introducing peanuts into the wilds of New Jersey could possibly have the effects of sneaking ecologically unsound flora and fauna of foreign environments.

Five_guys_extra_friesI was most impressed with the quantity of fries doled out (and that they offer malt vinegar and Mr. Pibb). Even though we dined in, they bagged everything up and not only filled our cups but threw in a full extra cup into the paper bag. As a scrounge, I actually brought all the extras home to warm up later. Thankfully, health got the better of me the next day and I forced myself to toss them.

I was fine with Five Guys, but James impressed me by thinking of Bonefish Grill and tracking down the nearest location in East Brunswick. Last year when I was doing competitive research on major restaurant chains for work, I discovered that Bonefish is the one to watch. A supposed upperscale and healthier alternative to Red Lobster that was spreading like wildfire, just not in NYC. In an effort to get our fingers on the pulse of America, we needed to get our asses to Bonefish pronto.

Bonefish_grill_exterior This location in a mall parking lot was fused with a Carrabba’s (another OSI property—same company as Outback Steakhouse) and being 9:30 the usual insufferable lines were more like trickles.  Oh, this was a classy joint alright. Sure, you get the standard beeper but they have a neutral toned, wicker and ceiling fanned outdoor lounge to wait in. It felt like a tasteful Florida beach resort. A waiter comes around to take drink orders and push pomegranate martinis on everyone. I always assume drinks are going to be around $10 and get pleasantly shocked by gentle suburban prices where glasses of wine can be had for $4 and even over the top cocktails are only $6.90.

Bonefish_grill_outdoorsThe dusky, warm evening was made perfect when New Order’s “Thieves Like Us” began playing. As a teenager, I couldn’t imagine first hearing this song in Pretty in Pink and seeing myself twenty-one years later being serenaded by it in a New Jersey mall parking lot. Glancing across the potted foliage at the looming glow of a Kohl’s, it felt like twisted paradise. Everything was so wonderfully incongruous that I started getting chills. Or maybe that was just the sun going down.

Bonfish_grill_interior_2 But the spell was broken before we could get a drink; our table was ready. It all went haywire upon entering. Nothing was coordinated with usual chain-like precision. The drinks we eventually ordered didn’t come for over fifteen minutes, our water and bread didn’t show up for a solid half hour. They’d run out of clean glasses. Our order wasn’t getting taken. I don’t get mad about these things because I don’t expect French Laundry, but for people who view this as a serious night out–some were celebrating birthdays–get very antsy and indignant. Multiple tables were complaining. All I could think about was this mystery diner side job I almost took a few years ago. Every little misstep gets critiqued and reported. It wasn’t until I overheard an apologetic waitress explaining to a group that this was the first Saturday they’d been open that it all made sense. Wow, we’d hit up the hottest new restaurant in East Brunswick on opening weekend.

We got a strangely stoic young waitress who wouldn’t make eye contact yet still engaged in classic overexplaning and attempts at being perky. While pouring olive oil in a dish speckled with pepper and spices, “I call it EVOO but not everyone knows who Rachel Ray is so they don’t get it. “ Oh, I get it all right.

Bonefish_grill_crab_cakes “Do you have any questions about our menu?” No. Grilled seafood comes with a choice of four sauces: lemon butter, Mediterranean, mango salsa and pan-Asian. I felt guilty not engaging her, then capitulated and allowed her to expound upon the Mediterranean sauce being full of omega-3s. I was just going to go for the less than healthy lemon butter anyway.

We were surprised at the hotness of one of our crab cake sauces, adorably swirled into hearts. So, we remarked on it, attempting to be friendly chatty diners:

James: That was spicy
Waitress: fumbling for a second…it’s Sriracha
Me: Oh, rooster sauce
Waitress: Yeah, there’s worcestershire in it

Bonefish_grill_shrimp_and_scallopsWha? No matter, I’d be a wretched waitress so it’s not for me to mock. After discovering they’d only been open five days, I let everything slide. The food was actually done well, my grilled shrimp and scallops were lightly charred and tender. The portions were absolutely sane and nothing was dripping cheese a la Red Lobster. The vegetable of the day was sweet and crisp fresh corn dotted with bacon. I had textbook garlic mashed potatoes as a side. Even my inexpensive Riesling seemed just right with the sweetness of my seafood and corn (or maybe it was because of multiple glasses of Riesling that I felt so soothed). I didn’t see a dessert list because we weren’t offered one (not pushing more food is a chain faux pas) though I did notice bananas foster on a specials menu.

Bonefish Grill is one of those concepts that might not fare well in New York City–it’s not as if we’re lacking for quality independent seafood options. But the gap between Le Bernadin and Long John Silver’s is vast so there’s probably room for this manufactured sophistication somewhere in the five boroughs. Me, I wouldn’t bother unless I could enjoy a key lime martini in a parking lot lounge.

Five Guys * 561 Rt. 1, Edison, NJ

Bonefish Grill * 335 Rt. 18, East Brunswick, NJ

Get it Ripe

“Leave the chill of the supermarket behind and gather your meal at a farm stand, where the produce tastes of the sun and of fertile fields that stretch as far as the eye can see.”

Every June I dread the grilling barrage that consumes food magazines. It’s not an easy technique for the yardless and renders half of warm weather content useless. But even more disconcerting are the outdoor dining photos that inevitably show up as well. The last few Gourmets that have shown up on my foyer table have dredged up old feelings on the alfresco fantasy.

This mythical fresh air culinary experience is one of my many somethings about nothing that’s busted my chops for years. I discovered that this is hardly a new sad sack fixation; I wrote about something similar in the zine era of 19 freaking 97. This glossy mag, good life porn is merely the grown up version of my former fixation.

I don’t want to live on a farm or even near a farm so maybe it’s the implication that others are getting away that resonates with me. I don’t “summer” or engage in extended getaways because you know, I have a place I’m required to be 10-6, Monday-Friday. Sometimes it feels like no one in NYC has to work for a living. Or maybe these rough hewn lakeside tables teeming with nature’s bounty are illustrative of weekending?

I guess I don’t live like that. I tried tapping into this concept two summers ago and attempted to get a group of people interested in a three-day woodsy share. No one would commit and I lost interest. This year another friend suggested the same and once again no consensus. But frankly, since I loathe the outdoors and swimming and hiking are anathemas to me, my main goal for a group getaway would be drinking, grilling and concocting rustically extravagant dishes. And as the three others initially involved with this plan that fell through are vegetarian, it would seriously cramp my lofty fantasy. Friendship is overrated. A beautifully staged bucolic tableau? Now that’s soul soothing.

Maybe I will feel better about this manufactured phenomenon if I somehow capture and preserve the offending images. I could just tear the pages from magazines but the librarian in me can’t deface periodicals. For preservation’s sake I could scan and print but the miser in me won’t allow such waste of inkjet ink. And what would I do anyway? Tack outdoor dining images all over my bedroom wall so when I commit a gruesome crime the police will find my obsessive shrine, the number one TV and film clue that someone’s deranged? Nah, that’s what the interwebs are for. Enjoy my first in a series of pointless epicurean still lifes.

The recipes for the pissaladiere strips and basil vodka gimlets pictured, plus the entire “Get it Ripe” menu can be found on Epicurious. Farm stand and fertile fields not included.