(above: me w/ Lexy, my Holy Grail of beloved pals.
I don't think I've ever gazed so adoringly at another person)
BY LAURA JANE
I woke up early in a hotel room on Wall Street, well off Wall Street, but it sounds nicer to say Wall Street than the actual name of the street, which was: William (boring). My mother and I went downstairs to eat continental breakfast in the restaurant attached to the hotel but it was a terrible vibe. The only free thing was cereal and the entire operation seemed to be entirely unmanned. I saw a Dunkin Donuts sign flashing outside the window and snapped/sighed, “Let’s just go to Dunkin; you can get a bagel there.” I said the thing about a bagel like an accusation, ragged capitals carved into a speech bubble made of metal. I am a stone cold bitch before coffee and also after.
We did not go to Dunkin. We went to the place next door to it, which was one of the classic New York deli-bodega hybrids that serves like hundreds of different types of sandwiches on assorted New Yorky breads and also boasts a hot buffet and salad bar. I ate the same breakfast every morning of my trip: an everything bagel toasted with two fried eggs. On the second day I started asking for a bit of salt & pepper on the eggs but I dared not desecrate that sacrosanct breakfast with any further accoutrements. I am feeling aesthetically austere this November and I prefer for my food choices to compliment my life concept.
We ate lunch at the Moma café. I actively loathed it. It was small and phony-Yoko white and I felt like the whole thing was jammed into an awkward place, physically an awkward location at the museum, like they built the entire Moma and then it was a couple days before it was set to open and someone realized that they forgot to build a café so they just crammed one in wherever they could find. The waitstaff were all wearing Keith Haring t-shirts and I thought, “If I never had to see a picture of one of those fingerless faceless Keith Haring little guys again in my life, I would not shed a tear.” I ate a dessert for lunch, a moderately-tacky dessert that was lush as fuck and I adored the act of eating it, I loved assembling all the different parts into different-tasting bites. I love eating with a dessert fork, so delicate, it’s like hugging a thin dog.
The only downside of my dessert is it was a bit too on-the-nose about its having an autumnal flavour profile: pumpkin tart, ricotta cream, toasted marshmallow, praline. Like we get it, pal: you are a campfire, a mitten, a burnt leaf. The pumpkin filling and the ricotta cream were oddly, awesomely savoury— they had a dullness to them, a cardboardy thump. I hadn’t been needing to taste sugar too terribly, it was just that nothing else on the menu sounded very worth eating and dessert tends to be a safer bet than non-dessert if deliciousness is what you're chasing. Whenever people come into restaurants I run and order dessert to eat at the same time as the person they’re dining with has their regular main, I think: You are my people. I feel the same way about any person drinking a glass of white wine alone, or a woman crying across the table from her boyfriend. Asking for the bill early and storming out.
I didn’t take any pictures of anything I drank or ate that night because at any given moment over the course of it I was either 1) too drunk to remember what phones are, 2) too hype on spending time with my beloved Lexy to give one one thousandth of a fuck about documenting the excellence of that time on social media because who the hell even cared about any person who wasn’t Lexy knowing anything about my life, not I, not I, or 3) my phone was being really fucked that day and I kept having to ask restaurant and bar employees to charge it for me. My phone is dying of dementia.
(Above: a picture of Hotel Delmano that I did not take)
(And here is a picture of Le Barricou that I did not take)
I wanted to drink a hundred of them and never leave, but we had to go to the restaurant, Le Barricou, another one of our Places. Usually we go there for brunch, but this time for dinner. When I was like twenty-four through twenty-six, I always used to think, “I would get married here”— but now I hold myself to a higher standard than that. I would NEVER get married at a French restaurant in Brooklyn established in the year 2005. I would only get married at a French restaurant in France, established in the year 1949 at the absolute LATEST.
(Beautiful weird drunkos, only photographic evidence of that night)
Sometimes I think I only like things that are new but it’s not true. Sometimes I like things that are old, doing the same perfect things over and over. Sitting at the same restaurant with the same person talking about the same other person. That night I decided: from now on, I only want to engage with holy grails of things. Holy grails of people, places, wine, restaurants, songs. I just looked up Holy Grail in the dictionary and the example it used, to explain what a Holy Grail is in a sentence, was: “the holy grail of infrared astronomy.” I even want that.
I took my mother to a restaurant on Sullivan Street named Navy. I found it by clicking absently around the New York magazine website but can’t remember why I made the final decision of picking that restaurant over every other single restaurant in New York. I just did.
It hadn’t occurred to me that the restaurant might be named Navy to reflect a vaguely nautical-themed interior. It was, though. I am always game for a vague nautical theme, or even a non-vague one. The restroom was sensational, a little cubby wallpapered in nautical flags. The sink was heavy steel and folded into itself, back up into the wall. It was my favourite sink, the only sink I’ve ever loved.
Our waiter was hot. We immediately fell in love with one another, so that’s always nice. He was dressed like a 1981 punk, kind of no wave, and all his clothes looked like they were made from very thin burlap. His hairstyle was: “bedhead.” It was pretty bleached out which normally I wouldn’t go in for but it looked honest on him. I had a glass of sparkling Vouvray. Sparkling wine from the Loire Valley is 100% my thing and it’s all over by the glass menus in New York City which was so convenient for me. Our food order got fucked up so the hot waiter kept pouring more sparkling wine into my glass as an apology. It was a terribly well-handled restaurant fuck-up situation and my hot no wave waiter is a hero in my mind forever. I ate a bowl of greens & grains with some roasted purple carrots & yoghurt & a poached egg. I would eat that meal three times a week minimum if I lived or worked nearby. I would go to that restaurant and sit there pretending to read my nerd wine book but really just killing time between spurts of looking at my phone. In my imagination the hot waiter’s name is either Harrison or Edward.
I napped all afternoon, bought myself three records at Generation Records on Thompson Street, & then met Jen May of Strawberry Fields Whatever fame for dinner at a restaurant named Ladybird on MacDougal Street. When I first moved to New York I used to say that one day I want to have three sons and name them Thompson, Sullivan and MacDougal after my three favourite streets in the West Village, which is a cute idea but the names Thompson and MacDougal clearly suck compared to the name Sullivan, so I would probably favour my son Sullivan over the other two, and everyone would call crappy MacDougal, the worst son, either Mac or Doug, which are both disgusting options. Also I’m not even sure if I want to have kids.
I love restaurants because they are rooms. Weird gorgeous rooms that are only meant to be weird and gorgeous- they don’t succumb to convention or defer to practicality like rooms in houses. Restaurants are rococo. They suck you in and hold you there. When you’re at the right restaurant, your entire life disappears. Great food is an asset but it’s one of the least important things about a restaurant. But Ladybird was my favourite food and my favourite room.
Ladybird’s main aesthetic vibe was Green Velvet Everything, which was very timely, since I’ve recently been in a phase of devoting a quite frankly exorbitant amount of mental energy to appreciating the fabric green velvet. So walking in there made me feel like maybe I was either dead or that my brain is in control of the entire Universe. There was also crystal & gold & copper & marble.
Ladybird was a vegan restaurant but I am not going to make the incredibly fucking boring point people who aren’t vegan love making about great vegan food which is that “It’s so good, you don’t even have to be vegan to enjoy it!” Like I’m sorry but if you’re so hung up on needing to always be consuming milk and meat that the thought of enjoying a meal not containing those two ingredients is farfetched or surprising to you, maybe you should just lock yourself in your own house and never contaminate the world with your gauche frat boy energy ever.
Jen & I ate and drank a lot of beautiful things on Ladybird Saturday but I think I’d like to ignore all of them except for our vegan Chardonnay fondue. The concept of “vegan Chardonnay fondue” is so perfectly suited to my autumn 2016 aesthetic that the idea of eating any food that isn't vegan Chardonnay fondue has since become deeply offensive to me. It’s like the food equivalent of why I think it’s important to always wear beautiful pyjamas:
You don’t want some person you know to randomly show up at your house and you’re wearing, like, faded pilling pj bottoms printed with pictures of non-cute teddy bears wearing Santa hats and a size XL t-shirt advertising a chain of fitness centres, and they’re like “What the fuck? She wears that?” Nope. Same goes for eating. I just don’t think it’s conceptually appropriate for me to eat non-beautiful foods such as Taco Bell or flavoured mayonnaise that comes in a squeezy bottle. When people randomly show up at my house, they should always find me sitting boredly at my kitchen table wearing a silk Agent Provocateur dressing gown, reading a book about Bordeaux, lazily eating vegan Chardonnay fondue. And that's on, like, a Wednesday.
I went to Hotel Delmano again. Lexy & Katie, my New York Girls, were there, but so was Charlotte, one of my great friends from London who happened to be in New York at the same time as me. The Universe is so nice to us.
There was a wine I’d seen on the list on Friday that I’d become obsessed with needing to try— it’s called a “Baby Savennieres.” Savennieres is my favourite wine region, so I always want a Savennieres, but a Baby Savennieres? It’s like, the Baby Lemonade by Syd Barrett of Old World Chenin Blancs. I am in love with the sound and the appearance of those two words together and I wish someone would write a song called Baby Savennieres about me. However I can 100% guarantee you right now that the person who ends up writing a song called Baby Savennieres about me is going to be me.
Oh, right, so Hotel Delmano was out of Baby Savennieres. I ordered us another Loire Chenin, from Anjou, which was mediocre but then again so are most things. But it came in a such a stunning castle-y-looking bottle… you know how it is. You win some and you lose some.
Lexy ordered ricotta toast which weirdly ended up being one of my favourite things I ate in New York so I thought I’d shout it out even though I only have boring things to say about it. But then again earlier today I was reading a review of my friend’s boyfriend’s restaurant that just opened up in London, which contained the sentences “…baby gem crumples and gives up under a swathe of bacon gremolata. A shame, since bacon gremolata is such a cunning notion,” and I was just like “Holy fucking shit, is this what food writing’s actually like?” Non-boring, I suppose, but what a fucking joke. If I ever wrote a sentence as straight up fucking pointless as “Bacon gremolata is such a cunning notion” I would immediately die of a broken heart. Anyway, the ricotta toast was a swathe of crostini accompanied by a swathe of ricotta and a smaller swathe of coarse sea salt and you assembled yourself your perfect little ricotta-salt-toasts and it was not a cunning notion because food is never cunning. QED.
We said goodbye to lovely Charlotte and her lovely husband Richard. Lexy & Katie & I had a dinner reservation at a natural wine bar called The Four Horsemen, which for a second I was angry about: I only wanted to eat more ricotta toast. I wanted to order a thing of ricotta toast to go and take it to the Four Horsemen with me and eat it like a boxed lunch. The Four Horsemen is owned by the guy from LCD Soundsystem which I didn’t know when I first decided to go there but whatever; it's sort of gross, but not gross enough to stop me from going there. I’m sure a lot of restaurant owners out there are a lot grosser than the guy from LCD Soundsystem but I don’t know about it because they’re not famous.
A thing that annoyed me about The Four Horsemen is that every time you ordered a glass of wine they’d come to the table with the bottle and pour you a taste to see if you liked it or not but...
THE POINT OF POURING A TASTE AT THE TABLE IS NOT TO FIND OUT IF THE CUSTOMER LIKES THE WINE OR NOT IT’S MEANT TO FIND OUT WHETHER THE BOTTLE IS CORKED OR NOT AND IF THE BOTTLE IS ALREADY OPEN AND HAS BEEN POURED FROM IT’S NOT CORKED SO BASICALLY EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT ACT IS FUCKING POINTLESS AND IS GOING TO FURTHER CONFUSE RESTAURANT DINERS INTO THINKING THE POINT OF A TASTE IS SOMETHING IT ISN’T THEREFORE FURTHER ENABLING THEM TO SEND BACK EXCELLENT WINE BECAUSE IT DOESN’T SUIT THEIR OWN PERSONAL TASTES AND THAT IS SO FUCKING ANNOYING FOR ALL THE SOMMELIERS OF THE WORLD
and also goes to show you that the guy from LCD Soundsystem is stupider about wine than me, which should come as a surprise to absolutely fucking no one.
My first glass of wine from Four Horsemen was a good old Loire Valley sparkler. But this guy had some Cabernet Franc, a red grape, blended into the Chenin, like Pinot Noir in Champagne, A Blanc de Noirs. I always like the idea of a Blanc de Noirs more than a Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs is the sultry brunette, the Veronica Lodge of the duo. I wonder if Cabernet Franc might be my favourite grape. It’s certainly the grape I’m best at, the grape I would best be able to correctly identify blindfolded and from ten feet away. It smells like cinnamon and stalkiness.
It was a trip, drinking a sparkling white that tasted of a beloved still red. There was only just a sigh of it, an echo of it, but I was obsessed with finding it, saving it, stashing it in my pocket. Nobody cares about this but me. I like calling it Cab Franc, not Cabernet Franc— Cabernet Sauvignon can keep the formal “Cabernet” for itself. Big boss man Bordeaux. Cab Franc’s the scrappy little brother, skinny with his knees all scraped up. He’s terrible at baseball. I liked that wine, the amount of time I devoted to smelling it. That was a well-utilized chunk of time in my life. I will never regret those minutes.
(Above: Laura Jane & Katie Rose being the least gauche babes evs)