New York

bisous1.jpgI've never been the type to have a candy drawer or crave chocolate. Growing up, I would rather have a savory snack than give myself a sugar rush. There was one sweet spoonful that sent me swooning, ice cream. But as my love for tea grew, the chilled scoop wasn't always the best companion to a hot cup.

A few months ago I stumbled on a very special petite treat, a macaron. It was love at first delicate bite. Whenever I'm craving a nibble, my Miss Macaron Mode guides me to the nearest bakery for a sweet fix and a steeped sip.

Although during a recent trip to NYC, my macaron moment was carefully planned as I followed my GPS to bisous ciao.

As soon as I stepped into the sweet shop, the glass case of jeweled sweets seemed to lure me over with its beautiful rainbow glow. Telling myself I would be back again soon, I restrained and ordered the two flavors that made my heart sing, Lavender & Honey and Jasmine & Green Tea. Each fragrant bite sent me on a floral journey as the petal parade marched about on my taste buds. Delicate and enchanting, I savored the macarons until I was only left with an empty wrapper and a few photos.

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balthazar1v.jpgI have always wanted to eat at Balthazar. After many years of fruitlessly trying to go to Balthazar, I finally succeeded. Maybe it was the way the restaurant teased me over these past few years that I had become thoroughly intrigued: The restaurant’s Parisian frontage and the crowds of diners seen through the windows beckoned me. Maybe it was the promise of la vie Bohème. From afar Balthazar has that je-ne-sais-quoi look, but from up close it seems just a bit faux and overdone. I think the restaurant tries too hard to look authentic with its crackled mirrors, dark paneling, and dim light fixtures.

To make sure I got in this time, I made reservations almost three weeks in advance, but I still could not get the specific time I wanted. Still the eventual time was suitable enough for a stress-relieving Friday night out this past week with my friend Amanda of the Undomestic Goddess. When we arrived, one of the many hostesses confirmed that indeed the reservation was made, but then told us to wait for the maître d’ to direct us to our seats. A little confusion followed in which we were stormed by a large group coming from the bar area and then another group entering. We almost didn’t get served—a somewhat sordid start to an evening meant for relaxing.

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gothamwestI’m obsessed. There’s no way of getting around it. I’m a walking Jackie Mason routine. At lunch, no before lunch, I’m deciding where we will go for dinner. At dinner, I’m wondering if the dessert menu will speak to me or will I just head home to my private stash. I always have a private stash of freshly baked goods. I’m more of a junkie when it comes to food.

I’m going to focus on just visiting New York here because Los Angeles, where I live, is different, and a few nights a week I try to cook. I’m not a very good cook and I’m so lazy that sometimes I pick up one sweet potato, not two, and a salad from the salad bar and call it dinner. My husband will remind me we can afford two sweet potatoes, but I shop at Gelson’s, so maybe we really can’t afford two.

Back to New York, where there is a huge difference in my energy level. All my friends comment on it. From the second I arrive, I’m off and running. First day, my husband had done some research. He suggested we walk to 11th avenue -- Hells Kitchen, where there is now a food marketplace called Gotham West Market. It’s similar to Eataly or the Ferry Building in San Francisco, though on a much smaller scale.

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indianfood.jpg I first fell in love with Indian food while working at a company in West Hollywood and my boss, who was a true asshole with excellent taste in food, always ordered lunches from Anarkali.  I would drive to pick up the large order for practically everyone in the office, and savored the few minutes I spent inside there while waiting for the food. Anarkali's low ceilings and uber-decorative booths offered a sweet escape from my days at work.  And they always gave me free beer, which I would give to the head of the company because I was still 18 and not quite ready to drink on the job. 

The array of foods on the table in the center of the office would bring everyone together and I slipped in and out of taste bud sensations.  I had never liked Indian food, until Anarkali. Then I started eating it all the time.  It worked perfectly for my family because now they didn't have to wait until I wasn't home for dinner before ordering Indian.  I still remember the styrofoam platters (a rare allowance for my mother) lined up across the kitchen counter as everyone served themselves buffet style.

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balaboosta-300x199I had one of the top ten dishes of the year today in the middle of what could have been a dreary day. It was raining and I was limping around puddles on my way to a lunch meeting in Soho.

I had just come from the podiatrist, my throbbing foot wrapped to within an inch of its life to protect the plantar fascia, the ligament that goes along my arch to my heel.

I had injured it, as athletes will do, in some moment of extreme competitive zeal, which I cannot at this moment recall. It only hurts when I walk, Mother.

So, I was in pain, I was late, I was wet, I was peckish. Not a good potential lunch partner.

I was meeting two fine fellows who work for my book publisher, so they know their way around a lunch table. They had chosen Balaboosta on Mulberry Street and I’m glad they did.

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