So here, the things about the whole Twitter/Facebook come join me for lunch or dinner if you’re hanging around and feel like it. If you go to the trouble to tell me you’re coming, come, especially since most of you who are responding are friends that I’ve known for years. I didn’t fly up from Buenos Aires to stand around in front of restaurants waiting for you to not show up because something more interesting came up or you changed your mind. Most of those of you who this applies to have my phone number, at least a courtesy call to let me know you’re not coming would be appreciated. ’nuff said?
So, turns out that though the pizza makers were there at Motorino yesterday afternoon, they weren’t open. There are no posted hours, but I’m guessing that they must not open until late afternoon or early evening – a shame, I was looking forward to trying it and probably won’t put it on the list for a dinner this week. After a 20-some minute wait for the no-shows referenced above, we considered the neighboring S’mac, a specialist in all things mac ‘n cheese, and then we walked around onto 14th Street and peered at Artichoke pizza, which has gotten great writeups, but honestly, the pizzas didn’t look all that good – big, doughy triangular slabs of slices, and we decided to scrap the pizza idea….
For dinner I met up with a group of old friends from New Jersey, who wanted to eat a little on the early side, but hey, I’m a pro, I can do this, no? So at not long after 6 we found ourselves seated at one of, I believe, a trio of Lasagna Ristorantes, this one in Chelsea at 196 8th Avenue. Not surprisingly, lasagna is the house specialty, they offer “17 different varieties”, plus various other dishes, all of the Italian-American ilk, along with fruity cocktails that probably would have umbrellas anywhere else, but this is Chelsea, where the gay boys are trying to pretend that going to the gym twice a day and wearing flannel or tight t-shirts makes them more macho than those in the rest of the city. The food? Forgettable. It’s boxed lasagna noodles that have been par-boiled and layered with whichever of the 17 ingredients you choose, then a ladle of salty red sauce and/or white sauce, a slice of cheese on top and into the oven. The harried American housewife of the 60s version of the dish. Completely edible and reminiscent of days gone by, though not destined for a repeat visit. On the other hand, the company and conversation, as they say, priceless. The quintet who came in have been friends for well over twenty years and it was just a delight to spend the evening with them.
I had gone for not eating a huge amount, despite the massive portion of lasagna on the plate, because I knew it likely that later there would be more to come. Nick Maglieri, my former pastry professor from cooking school at Peter Kump’s (now the Institute of Culinary Education) had asked if I wanted to get together for drinks late in the evening after he finished a class. I met him at the school around 10pm where he was just finishing an “avocation” baking class for folks who wanted to learn how to make some pretty amazing chocolate cakes. First I had to sample cakes, the students weren’t taking no for an answer. Then we headed to nearby Markt, 676 Sixth Avenue, where we caught up on the last, well, nearly twenty years since we’ve seen each other (we’ve corresponded but not actually run into each other over that time), over Belgian beers (mine, the Duchesse de Bourgogne Red Ale, a sort of sweet-tart and very rich beer) and a couple of pots of mussels – we both immediately picked the steamed with garlic and cream. Quite good! I bussed it back to the apartment and slept well.
By the way, in case anyone thinks all I’m doing is eating, this is all being fit around intensive training at the dojo that I’ve been a part of for the last 13 years – Friday I put in 3-1/2 hours and yesterday 2-1/2. Today it’s closed, so a day to recover a bit – perhaps after the Turkish festival I’ll wander down and see my old Chinese accupressure massage therapist… hmm…