Saturday, October 21, 2006

Notes from NYC III ...

Tonight, I had one of the best meals of my life.

I've been cleaving to the vegetarian fold, but lately, my body has been asking for protein, and on this trip, I've answered the call.

Tonight's dinner began with a cabernet sauvignon paired with a pate with country mustard, prunes, and cornichon. Lovely. I continued with a vegetarian-friendly roasted beet salad. The plate was napped with a goat cheese sauce and topped with the beets (sweet perfection) and watercress for bite.

Speaking of bite, the entree was duck confit with navy bean cassoulet with bacon. The beans were creamy with just a bit of toothsomeness, infused with the smokiness of the bacon, and a hint of caramelized carrot for sweetness. The duck - and for the record, I've seldom eaten duck - was velvet. Velvet wrapped in silky, diaphanous fat, topped with perfectly crisped skin. Together, a symphony of flavors, the memory of which lingers on my palate.

Dessert was a chocolate caramel pot de creme with an espresso.

The rest of the day, you ask? It was lovely. Low-key. Once Patty and I wrested ourselves out of the comfort of her couch and made ourselves presentable, we wandered about her neighborhood, slipping in and out of shops. Cog and Pearl, Patty's favorite go-to gift spot, lived up to its reputation. I wasn't planning on starting my Christmas shopping today, but I did. Then again, when it comes to giving gifts, I can never wait. So the odds are good that the recipient will receive said gift in short order, for no reason in particular, other than the reason of the perfection of the pairing of the gift and the recipient. Ah, I love to give presents.

We poked through an outdoor market - of the flea variety, I suppose - in which Patty considered a magenta faux-fur coat. The consideration didn't last. For the best. It was far too big for her, and she would have looked like a Muppet. We stopped in Sweet Melissa for cookies that left me cold. Research, Patty had suggested. Research, indeed. I can do much better.

We walked past the first apartment she and Barry shared in Park Slope, down the block from the jaw-dropping home of Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly. "Subtle," I said, as we rounded the corner. But beautiful. I applaud them for living in such a "real" place.

We stopped for a glass of wine in a newly opened bar, the walls lined with books, comfy leather chairs. Seeing it the other night, I hoped it would smell of pipe tobacco, with patrons chatting in hushed tones over glasses of tawny port. But no. There's a bocce court in the back, and Johnny and June Carter Cash blared above our heads. We moved to a somewhat quieter spot and sipped slowly. A lovely way to warm up on a crisp fall afternoon after crunching through Brooklyn leaves.

Then dinner happened, and here we are. I head to the airport in the morning. Patty spied a shop with H&H bagels, so I scored a couple for us for the morning. I had commented earlier today that I somehow forgot to include H&H in my plan. But the bagel is covered. Or it will be. Tomorrow. With butter.


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