Sunday, October 12, 2008

new york wine and food festival: bourdain and adria, tons of chef sightings at the macy's party

this was a weekend of running around. then drinking my head off. then sleeping for an entire day thinking i might die, nay, hoping i'd die. also, this post is epic. i'll forgive you if you don't make it to the end.

friday started up in washington heights at the pub near my house. i'd never been there but heard it was a hotspot for cops and firemen. there were plenty of older folks and lots of hipsters. white skinny stylish people. in my neighborhood. fuck. i am soooo going to be priced out of this nabe within a year.

this weekend was the new york city wine and food festival. giada de laurentiis was doing a book signing at chelsea market at 11. brian called to see if i could do brunch at noon in hell's kitchen. "oh, sure. i can totally do that." i was planning on getting to the market at 10:30, got there closer to 10:45 and the line was over 100 people long. how's that for underestimating the popularity of food network chefs? in my on defense, i don't have cable and rarely watch the channel. i get in line and i'm told that there's a decent chance that she won't even get to me and that i should "think twice" before buying a book and getting in line. had this book been for me, i'd have left. but it was for kate's mom who, earlier this year, waited for 4 hours (giada was 2 hours late) in the chicago cold for giada's hancock and left empty handed. fortunately for me, she got there on time and the line moved so fast i was able to get her to sign a book "to gail, sorry for the wait!" and had enough time to take the subway up to brunch instead of the cab i thought i'd get, if i didn't miss brunch altogether.

from brunch i headed straight for the times center where i had a coveted ticket to the eric asimov moderated discussion with anthony bourdain and ferran adria, the father of molecular gastronomy. i was sitting right behind joshua david stein, gawker writer, better known for this (but holy shit, a googling and a check at his blog says he's married now, damn). he was hairy and looked like he hadn't washed his hair in a week. at the talk itself, asimov looked a bit out of his element, like he'd much MUCH prefer sitting in an office by himself, not having to speak in front of a few hundred people. the discussion was not at all about bourdain (which is fine, he gets many a format to share himself in between blogging, his books and his television shows). bourdain talked to describe what a meal at el bulli is like (adria invented foams, geles, other crazy substances/flavors that are meant for ingestion). in a word, transportational. or orgasmic. we did, however, get to watch a short clip (set to the beatles "a day in the life" of people eating his food and their faces looked like sex faces sometimes. then confused faces others. sour faces even. the whole experience wasn't something either of them really wanted to put words to. like a good symphony, too much shit is going on at the same time to do it justice with letters.

bourdain said that a meal there is "really really good and really really fun." adria talked about how he and bourdain met. bourdain wrote this book where he called adria "the foam guy." at the time, adria said he thought bourdain was a bastard, that he was criticizing something he knew nothing about. later, while making no reservations (his show), a mutual friend of theirs approached adria about having bourdain come in to tape/eat. adria's response: "you must be stupid. why would i sit down with this man who has insulted me?" but after sleeping on it, and knowing that creative people change and evolve, he opened himself up to hosting bourdain. i wasn't sure who he felt needed to do the changing and evolving, sounded like it could have been both of them, actually.

adria has no plans for a vegas restaurant, "it is bette when robuchon is in the kitchen than when he isn't. i prefer to stay in my restaurant, be pragmatic." i'm not sure if they're friends, but that sounded like a fairly direct dig on robuchon and his mini-empire of michelin starred restaurants. adria repeatedly talked about food being a language. that through food, he communicates with others. he often talked about the magic of the meals there, especially of the desserts created by his brother alberto. though, for as much as he talked about magic, he spent plenty of time poo-pooing the way people revere him. "i will cook a fish, coated with sodium chloride and people will ooh and aaahh. i'm cooking a fish in salt. it's a technique that's been around for centuries. people thing that just because i've done something, that it's scientific...i'll use nitrogen to freeze liquids, people are so impressed. it's the same thing as boiling water. no more technical, no more natural."

at it's heart, el bulli, both bourdain and adria agreed, probably could not exist outside of cataluna. to start, the culture is one that reveres food. it's a religion. bourdain discussed eating around barcelona with ferran's brother. "this guy thought that it was the absolute best city to eat in, and he lived there. we ate a lot of food out of cans, and it was amazing." he commented about how americans would see food coming out of a can and run the other way, but that good eating takes an "open mind and an open heart and a sense of humor."

adria personally oversees all staff meals (family dinners in restaurant speak). and those meals consist of very traditional dishes. he was not afraid to pat himself on the back about what a good cook of traditional food he was. "it's possible to be good at molecular gastronomy and to also make bad pizzas." he said, quite proudly, that his staff is the best-fed in the world. a contention i'm positive would hold up in court if challenged.

a good book topic suggested by adria: the exchange between traditional cooking and molecular gastronomy. the way some things start out being radical (gazpacho) and move to commonplace and the way other things (bechemel) which has been around for ages, makes it's way into a modern kitchen. how microwaves started out in homes and now they're an indespensible part of restaurant cooking (and, adria notes, the best way to melt chocolate. and i'm not disagreeing with him, it's certainly the easiest, but i still think the most foolproof is a double chance of burning it in there, but i digress).

audience questions were short and sweet (thank god....but it was food we were talking about. not some contentious political issue which is really when the crazies come out to play). where does adria go to eat when he's in new york?" katz's deli.

then, unbenownst to me, both the guys were doing some book signing downstairs! discussion was to end at 3:15. i scheduled a massage at 4 thinking that i could leave straght away. curses! so i run downstairs, get adrias new book (which is a hefty 20 pound thing) and one of bourdain's that i haven't read, and got in line. there were only about 15 people in front of me and i was able to get bourdain's book signed for kate's husband (two christmas gifts down, 20 more to go!) and the el bulli book signed for myself. adria was adorable. when i got to him he made sure to look up and say, "hello jaaz-meen!" sweet! i grabbed a free bottle of water and a free box of godiva truffles that they were giving away and had enough time to get to my massage, easy.

that night was the macy's culinary council party. in attendance: sam ronson and LiLo (sam had dj'ed at a party down the street earlier, but they retreated to the roof and i didn't see them once), giada and her husband (a tall irish-looking fellow with whom i discussed the annoying lack of flash on the iphone for pictures), bobby flay, anne burrell, todd english, and johnny iuzzini (see my post from earlier today for a blurry photo of his tatooed self).

every time i see todd english, he tries to stare me down. it would be creepy if he weren't good looking. regardless, it has nothing to do with my boobs and everything to do with my half-asian side...dude TOTALLY has an asian fetish. bobby flay was talking up a different lady every 5 minutes and at one point had some crazy blond chasing him around (said blond later grabbed me and tried to make me slow dance with her...WTF?). though generally, he looked a bit lost and wandered around quite a bit by himself looking for people to talk to. i felt less bad for him when he started rocking out on the dance floor. he definitely dances likea white guy. lots of arm movement. but not utterly uncoordinated. giada is just so tiny and pretty in person, i wanted to put her in my pocket to bring home. anne danced her butt off and looked like she was having a blast. i'm not going to blame her for my solitary utterly horrendous dinner at centro vinoteca (the restaurant where she used to work) since it was mostly a staff issue, but i can't much read her. i go back and forth between thinking she'd be so fun to hang out with and thinking she's a total bitch (i sat at the table next to her at morandi's opening and she was a bit commanding). but last night she was this awesome, laughing, joyful woman. rock on.

johnny...oh johnny. when i saw him i let out an audible sqeal. and i pointed. i am SO NOT COOL. "that's johnny iuzzini!" my friend was like, "who?" rolling my eyes at her cluelessness (which is really my own dorkish new york food world encyclopedic brain), we moved a bit closer. and before i knew it my friend had grabbed him and was saying something to him. i had no idea what. she then introduces him to me. being a bit shocked, also having no idea what she'd said (knowing i told her about 3 minutes prior that i wanted him to bend me over and/or do dirty things to me, also that she was drunk, i was mortified at the prospects of her conversation with him). i smiled, shook his hand. he looked like he was expecting something more. maybe for me to throw myself all over him. it didn't happen. he left go to dancing. turns out she told him i'd been to his restaurant and liked his food...harmless. johnny is a cute dancer. lots of shoulder work. also some arm flailing, but because they were hot and tatooed and i wanted them wrapped around me, he gets a pass. (i'll note that i have a friend who used to work at jean georges and swears that johnny is NOT someone i want to take home, that he gets around too much and that my friend would fear for my health if i ever slept with the guy. duly noted!).

food at the party was difficult. chili dogs. corn dogs. they were miniature in size but still way to big to put in your mouth whole. and also, chilidogs? that's asking for disaster when you're wearing a somewhat expensive dress. and impossible if you have a glass of champagne in one hand and a clutch under your arm. needless to say, i ate very little. but drank mucho champagne which might explain my death-state the next day.

music (by dj cassidy) was good. he kept hinting at kanye but never delivered. later i asked him where he thought we should go afterwards. he's like, "i don't go out. i just work." LAME. post-party we headed to a bar around the corner where i ran into a friend who's a fashion editor at a major magazine. she's infinitely more cool and in-the-know than i am so i'm assuming that even though we did it by accident, that we ended up in the right place. however, my feet were starting to revolt (debuted some patent leather mary-janes) and i was feeling nauseous so at 4 i headed home.

today i stopped by the banksy exhibit. post on that tomorrow.

0 people who played with me:

Post a Comment

<< Home