Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How to Lose Your Job in Good Taste

What began as one cocktail to take the edge off, became the afternoon of the most exciting dining adventure I have had to date in New York.

Genny, my boss and friend, is a serious foodie, and she has become my New York dining guru. Before she was my boss, she opened and managed some major restaurants. And she's eaten everywhere. I have a wish list of all the places in the city that I would like to try. Not only has she been to every one, she can tell me the best dish on the menu, provided they have it in fresh that night.

So as we sat at the Upper East Side Marriott for a company-wide meeting earlier this week, we picked and complained about the buffet tomatoes, that had clearly been frozen at some point, and braced ourselves for the inevitable news: we were all getting laid off.

When the announcement was made, the questions answered, and the meeting adjourned, the two of us shot each other a knowing look. Drinks? Yes.

It was pouring rain outside, and decidedly chilly for early April, the perfect weather to accompany such circumstances. We walked around the corner to the warm and welcoming Avra. As soon as we sat down and Genny said, "Belvedere, dirty, extra-dry martini please," and I said, "Uh... me too," I had happily relinquished my afternoon and taste buds. We noshed on the char-grilled octopus, served with red onions in a red-wine vinaigrette, which was amazing. I have had octopus before, but nothing like this. We snacked on the complimentary hummus, served with marinated radishes, crusty bread, and Mediterranean olives. We complained about our employers a little bit. We decided we were having way too much fun to stop.

We took the train down to Chinatown and Soho, two of my favorite places to explore. We were like two little kids trading secret treasures - she showed me her obscure foodie locales, I showed her mine. We sampled all the delicious treats along the way. We ended our journey at the bar in Aquagrill in Soho, an experience that left me speechless. I sipped The Glacier, a martini made with citrus vodka, fresh mint syrup, and served with a small scoop of homemade grapefruit sorbet on top. I snacked on the best (and undoubtedly the freshest) seafood I've ever had. A variety of oysters, clams, followed by peppered tuna carpaccio - each bite was exciting. I also tried mysterious periwinkles for the first time. A periwinkle is an earthy-tasting sea snail that, once you maneuver its curly flesh out of the shell and dip in aioli, is quite addictive.

Coming back to realty is never easy after spending the day in foodie-fantasy land. But since I'm inevitably joining the ever-growing unemployed, at least I'm going in with a satisfied smile.

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