Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's Eataly'n You?

An incredible new Italian food emporium opened recently in NYC.  It's got fresh Italian cheeses, fresh Italian charcuterie, fresh Italian bread, fresh Italian fish -- oh, wait, I guess they could be Italian-American fish.

But there's produce that a produce person armed with Ginsu knives will chop up right in front of you, ala Benihana, whose chefs don't seem that Italian.  There's also an Italian wine shop, a gelato bar, a chocolate counter and Italian coffee caffe.

It's Eataly! This 42,500-square-foot food emporium in Manhattan's Flatiron district is the brainchild of superstar chefs Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich, and Batali's long-time partner and Lydia's son Joe Bastianich.  It's also their homage to the slow food movement. 

So, if you like to eat Italian food, head somewhere else.  Or spend a few hours buying all your groceries here, standing on 8 different lines, and then heading home to cook it yourself.  Or wait 90 minutes or so to snag a spot at one of their "restaurants."

Mike: "Why are we doing this?  What kind of business plan IS THIS?! I'm hungry and we're surrounded by food we can't eat!"
Me: "It's fun, it's new.  Just be patient.  We'll figure it out."
Mike: "I don't want to figure out how to eat.  We can go to The Village and be eating in 20 minutes."
Ryan: "I want to eat NOW, not even in 20 minutes.  Let's leave!"

As much as I hate to agree with Mike and mini-Mike, they were right.  Eataly is a food mall where you you can't eat, unless you don't mind waiting an hour+ for a table at one of their "restaurants" which are smack dab in the middle of the food supermarket, where every hipster, granny or snot-nosed whiny kid can stare at you and your food and wonder, usually out loud, "Why do THEY have a table?!"

And I mean table.  Not every table even has a seat.  People were just standing there in the middle of the madness with people banging into them as they nibbled their Italian cheese platter and sipped their  Italian wine -- all while being badgered with questions like, "How did you get this table?  Where did you get that cheese platter?  Where do you get bread?  Why are you not letting me eat your food?!"

Nuts is the only way to describe it.  You want cheese? Stand at the cheese counter for a half-hour.  You want salami?  Stand at the meats counter.  Same with bread.  Or produce.  You stand on a different line for each category of food you want, and then go on a hunt for the check-out, which is located on the other side of the block, I mean, the food mall.  How many people are just going to scarf their food without bothering to find the cashier, that's what I'd like to know.  

The Record newspaper ran a story recently about the place.  One of Eataly's people said patrons will learn about not just eating, but cooking.  The person actually said, and I quote (from The Record): "People will come to us and buy bread, buy prosciutto, buy a tomato and have us slice it, buy mozzarella, take it to the park and eat it.  And that is cooking." 

Really?!  I'm half Irish, and even I don't consider that to be cooking!!  Good to know, though, next time somebody asks what I'm scarin' up for dinner.

We did get a selection of formaggio and charcuterie only took an hour to procure, as well as a loaf of bread and lemon soda.  I wanted wine, but never did find the wine shop amidst the crush of humanity. 

We hovered over an errant table that was shoved against a wall, slapped our stuff together with bits of bread and savored the Italian goodness.  Within minutes, though, we were on red-alert, as the passersby thought we were running a sampling station.  The four of us formed a blockade around out table, backs to the bastards, as we scarfed our cheese and prosciutto like ravenous hyenas.

Granted our cheese, cured meats and bread was very delicious.  And as fun as I've made the whole experience sound, I don't really see us putting in the effort to repeat it anytime soon.  We experienced their slow food movement.  But I'm afraid it's a crusade that will have to go on without us.   

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gross & Grosser

I need to find a weekend etiquette camp for a grade-school boy.  I'm not naming names.  I'm not even admitting I know the kid.  God knows, I wouldn't want anyone to think I was related.

But the boy's sister, who long ago declared him a total-disgusting-foul-gross-pig, may have had a point.

This sister isn't even aware of the boy's latest infraction, which involves using a neighborhood lawn as a  urinal.  Nothing like a call from the school vice principal to break up a parent's day.  Apparently, this was good for laughs among the boy and his friends as they walked home from school.  So funny, they had to yap about it at school -- within ear shot of the vice principal!  Just one humiliation after the next for those parents!

Up til now, the boy's grossness involved boogers, burps and other gaseous bodily emissions.

Then again, there was the incident where he was overcome by the need to hit the head, but he was in the middle of an evening bike ride, so under the cover of night, he let loose in the street before his mother could catch up to him.  And, come to think of it, there were other incidents where the boy was shooting hoops in the driveway and, when the "urge" hit, instead of running into the house to use the bathroom, he ran behind the garage for relief.  But this boy's house is not in woodlands.  It's in the middle of a crowded block in a crowded town.  When his mother found out about this, screaming was heard throughout the neighborhood.

Said boy also has a habit of using his shirt as a tissue, a napkin and a sweat band.  If it's a T-shirt he's wearing, he just lifts the crew neck up to wipe his nose, face or forehead.  I hear this is definitely NOT something he was taught by his parents or teachers.  Again, I hear his mother has "quietly discouraged," "firmly admonished" and "gone nuclear"over such grievances.

So, this weekend, some poor, tired, strung-out woman -- who shall remain nameless! -- will be in search of an etiquette class for a very déclassé kid.  It's either that or she'll instill some class via a good swift, kick in the ass.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Secret Agent Girl

My teenage daughter is entertaining thoughts of joining the CIA or FBI.  No, not purely to lock up Ryan for life.  It goes beyond that.  Her interest is actually trending with other teenage girls I know.

And for this, I blame television.

It used to be you blamed television when your kids got fat or stupid.  Hell, it was easier than looking inward.  But here I am using TV as the scapegoat for why my little girl is aspiring to become a G-man.  And here's why: Hot guys, kick-ass women... in that order.

Starting with shows like "Numb3rs," FBI agents were portrayed as very smart, good-looking, very likable, and able to return to their witty family and friends each night in time for dinner.  The women were very smart, very attractive, respected and when necessary, very quick with a gun or a roundhouse kick to the face.

Then USA Network came up with shows like "White Collar."  Teenage girls everywhere are now getting the misguided notion that within the bland walls of FBI buildings everywhere, hotties like "WC"'s Neal Caffrey character are running around.  If that were true, well, damn -- even I'd want to join up!

USA Network also has "Covert Affairs."  Piper Perabo stars as a young CIA agent who can speak about 5,000 languages, drive like Mario Andretti, and punch like Mike Tyson -- all while wearing Christian Laboutin pumps and sexy dinner dresses.  It's like a mirror of my life.

I want stats on how many girls thought about joining the FBI and CIA before these shows hit the air.  I mean, did "Charlie's Angels" inspire young women to join law enforcement -- or just get a new hair style?

There's something about these new shows that's getting young women to think it'd be cool to go mano-a-womano with terrorists, drug cartels and your average weapons runner.  And that's why I blame television for this movement!!

This new crop of programs portrays women as brilliant, brave and in possession of wardrobes whose value far exceeds their government paycheck.  And they come into regular contact with guys that look like candidates for the next Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot.

But considering Cara doesn't even want to be in the room when Ryan and his XBox Live pals are engaged in a "Call of Duty" or "Halo" marathon (Cara: "These games are sick!"), I'm starting to wonder how much she's really thought this through....

Friday, September 03, 2010

It's Laughter We Remember....

When I think about our wedding day, the first thing I think about is how it was gloriously sunny the day before and the day after.

On our actual wedding day, it rained. It wasn't just overcast. It wasn't a romantic light sprinkling. Or a sun shower. No, this was a full-fledged, 10-hour, unmerciful, you-and-your-white-gown-are-so-screwed downpour. And someone needs to tell Alanis Morrisette there's nothing ironic about the situation. Rain on your wedding day just sucks.

The photos in our wedding album show me going into the limo wearing boat shoes. The dark and gloomy day translated into photos that looked like they were taken at 10 at night, not early afternoon.

People were really nice -- telling us that rain on the wedding day means "showers of good fortune." Okay. I'm still waiting for that. But there's still time. It's only been a couple decades or so.

Meanwhile, when Mike thinks about our wedding, he talks about that day's Jets game. He remembers the score, who got hurt, who had a good tackle.

Apparently, he casually went out to the bar, ordered up a Coke and just stayed there for a while, unbeknownst to his family, my family, our friends. THEY were all making good use of the open bar IN the ballroom. Which might explain why his extended absence went virtually unnoticed.

I was too busy circulating among the guests to eat or drink. And Mike kept to his Coke regimen. So you'd have thought we would have had more control over the party games.

Me & Mike (during wedding planning): "The deejay must not play Kool & The Gang's 'Celebration,' there will be no bouquet tossing and don't even think about the garter-throwing mess."

Cut to the reception: Party deejays in da house. We didn't realize we even hired PARTY DEEJAYS. We never heard of the term, but next thing we knew, one was spinning tunes while the other was stomping around with his portable mic, singing about how we all needed to celebrate and have a good time.

Mike: "Good lord."

When MC Get Down announced the bouquet and garter toss, I mouthed to Mike, "No WAY!"

But drunk people dig that stuff. They were all like, "WOOOOOO!" "YEAH!" "DO. THIS. THING!!!" We were definitely on a runaway train. It was so not a "Bridezillas" or "My Fair Wedding" deal.

This weekend, we mark the 22nd year since we exchanged marriage vows. A hurricane is also blowing up the coast. (I'm giddy thinking about all the good fortune that'll be showered upon me.)

The NFL kickoff usually goes hand-in-hand with our anniversary. But this year, pro football doesn't start until next week. I think I need to go remind Mike. Let's face it: no NFL + no Jets = no mental reminder of the awesome party that rocked our wedding day.