and the winner is…
I’m going to start with a most memorable meal, an April evening in New York City about a year-and-a-half ago. Zoe, Noeli, and I drove from Montreal the night before and spent the day walking around, checking out the Olafur Eliasson exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (underwhelming, unanimous) and a collection of Henry Darger drawings at the Museum of Folk Art (fantastic). We then split up so that Zoe, a curator in Montreal, could attend the Whitney Biennial exhibition for a couple of hours, while Noeli and I walked into Brooklyn over the Brooklyn Bridge, tooled around, then met up with Zoe again at the Strand Bookstore. (Yes, yes, 100% clichéd, but I’m originally from New York, so I feel like I deserve some degree of leniency of judgment.)
Dinner was booked for Masa, a restaurant planted on the third floor of a glorified mall at Columbus Circle near Central Park. Not cheap, something like $300 per person for a prix fixe meal, excluding drink, tax, and tip, and also excluding the $100 per plate add-on for the night’s special dish of wagyu beef (we took two for the table). The scene: Master Masa at the counter, bald, focused, lost in his art, the several mini-Masas working the kitchen area behind him, and the all-too-formal staff of wait-people scurrying about in what seemed to be some sort of choreographed performance of service.
Masa splits the meal between 1/3 non-sushi courses and then the rest more classically nigiri items. All in all, there were about 20 different courses of food, sea urchin risotto and white truffle, the obscenely delicious beef, and fresh fish so good that we all (like most people who eat there) find any future sushi dining experience, now matter how pricey, ultimately disappointing.
This morning, here I was in my kitchen in Rossland, British Columbia, checking my email and listening to music while making chicken soup (see attached) and, appropriately enough, Mark “the Minimalist” Bittman’s no-knead bread. See: (sorry for that massive and cumbersome URL):
Is he on your radar down there in Sydney? Food writer from the New York Times? I feel a certain affinity for him, both middle-class New York Jews, and both got interested in food and cooking after growing up with wonderful & loving parents who had little interest in, and time for, Food, with a diet heavy on packaged and frozen products. Check out as evidence this still life photo from la cuisine chez nous circa 1976. He gave a nice talk in the TED series of lectures as well:
But, I digress. Just wanted to tie in the semi-coincidence of my minimalist day with your interests. I’m a family physician in Montreal, work mostly in the Canadian Arctic, and after several months in south Sudan with Doctors without Borders, I headed out west to cover a woman’s practice who is going on maternity leave. Much more relaxing than Sudan, and the powder skiing is way better. My current home is the house of another physician now travelling on a big trip to Ecuador and Australia (north of Sydney, I think) to visit her orthopedic surgeon brother who’s set to marry an Australian woman next month. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any stock pots large enough to make the soup, so I went a few doors down to borrow one from her neighbors, a family from Melbourne who have settled in Rossland. You are everywhere. But, you know that already, as I see from your bio. I did my university in northern California, so I was happy to see that you
spent some time there as well.
But, still, I’m digressing. Noeli sent the email that got this whole thing started. See attached minimalist message.
As for the blindness of this dinner date, maybe I can meet you in Barcelona the day before. Is that how you’re traveling? Otherwise, I’m inviting you to my 40th birthday dinner party in Montreal on November 14th right before the contest closes where you can make a more informed decision. It will be mostly Moroccan fare (honey-glazed turkey via Paula Wolfert, steamed leg of lamb, smoked lamb ribs, etc.) with about 30 folks. Are you that mobile? Not likely, but give it a think. Can you write it off as a business expense as part of the whole elBulli affair? You’ll have a delicious meal, can vet a contestant in person, and still have a few hours to mull over the decision before the deadline.
Anyway. I speak English fluently, albeit with a mixed-up accent. I appreciate delicious food and long boozy lunches, but think that long boozy dinners are pretty good too. I like women who like their shoes. I love cheese and tea and New York pizza. I have never been to Australia. I am, though at risk here for some serious presumption, your man.
Respectfully submitted for your kind consideration,
The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.
6 days until my elBulli competition closes
Time is sure flying.
Only 6 more days until my competition to find a date for the best restaurant in the world closes.
And then my work begins.
How to choose from over 40 fellow food & wine lovers from around the world?