Daniel, New York
I talk so rarely about the friends with whom I eat.
They are saints.
They’re patient: delaying gratification until my camera has sufficiently captured the scene.
They’re generous, inviting me to wander all over their plates at will with my fork.
They’re accepting – they embrace (even if they don’t fully understand) my strange obsessions (I’m thinking of a situation involving my friend Houston and a plate of lievre a la royale).
And for reasons that remain a mystery to me, they pass up perfectly normal, if not low-key dining options in order to accompany me on my multi-course, mega-calorie, and many-houred meals.
They deserve a spotlight.
In the years that I’ve known them, Ms. Toidy Toid and Toid and her husband, Mr. RBI, have shared my table over a dozen times. Although our friendship started long before our first meal together, that initial meeting at Eleven Madison Park (a common favorite among us) all but cemented our kinsmanship. Since, we’ve kept a standing date – every time I pass through New York, I make a point to have at least one meal with them.
Ms. Toidy Toid and Toid and Mr. RBI are vetted champion diners.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve encouraged her to join the food blogging voices by chronicling her and her husband’s food forays. With a little direction, she quickly set up shop on a lovely patch of cyberspace known as The Wizard of Roz. Do pay her a visit.
A few months ago, Ms. Toidy Toid and Toid framed her birthday dinner invitation to me as a wish.
I was flattered. Although I had plans for a much-needed eating tour of Chicago, how could I say no?
After a slight rearrangement to my fall schedule, I booked travel to New York, taking my mother along for her birthday present. It would be a weekend of celebrating.
My trip was short. But then, no trip to New York is ever long enough.
Ms. Toidy Toid and Toid’s birthday dinner would be at Eleven Madison Park, naturally.
While she busied herself with taking care of those evening’s plans, I turned my attention to mapping out meals with mom.
Aldea? Allegretti? Adour? Anthos?
I tabled these A-listers and moved down the alphabet and settled on Daniel and Bouley.
Mom also had some friends in Queens she wanted to say hello to. They proposed lunch. And so my plans for a weekend morning lox and bagel run to Russ & Daughters followed by a day of Vermeer and Kandinsky obsessing on the Upper East Side and a stroll through Central Park was abandoned in lieu of a laboriously long trek out on the 7 train to Mulan, a Chinese restaurant in Flushing.
If I ever manage to dig myself out of my deepening deficit of restaurant reviews, I’ll link you to my recaps of the meals here below:
Of course, I managed to swing by la Maison du Chocolat, taking a spot of afternoon coffee there with mother while revisiting their wonderful caramel macarons and being introduced to their latest “parfume” – hazelnut. It was very, very good. But the caramel one remains my favorite.