Champagne Shopping Binge

"The champagne shopping binge/ is over/ The check is about to arrive/ and nobody knows how much it will be/ I know I don't give a shit not now" -From "FROM A DISCARDED IMAGE" by Franz Wright

Monday, December 20, 2004

Beer Before Liquor???

Saturday night, after spending the day shopping in New York (unsuccessful – why is Manhattan out of Christmas lights?) and New Jersey (successful – do you have any idea how much fun it is to pull up to the check-out line with $650 worth of booze in your cart? Oh, and Jersey is apparently less festive and thus still has lights) for the New Year’s party, I rushed home to change for dinner that evening at Mercadito (but wasn’t in too much of a rush to have a glass of wine while getting ready, of course). Mercadito doesn’t accept reservations, but as there were five of us, the guy said to call ahead and he’d do us a favor and work the list.

The night got off to a poor start. When I showed up 7 minutes late, M was the only one there. B appeared 5 minutes later, but still no sign of A and L. We had to give up our table by the time they arrived 15 minutes after that. So off to the bar across the street for liquid refreshments until a table opened up.

Got the call at 11. Headed inside just as an order of oysters was cancelled, so the chef asked if we wanted them. Never one to turn down free food, we of course accepted. They were delicious. Topped with Chorizo and cheese, it was basically like eating an oyster nacho, which is actually much more appealing than it sounds. Well, it turned out that our new friend was actually Patricio Sandoval, the head chef, who is just lovely. We told our waitress just to ask him to pick out our menu. Definitely the right choice.

Started with a fab margarita with cucumber and jalapeño. Patricio sent out a guacamole tasting: traditional, pineapple, and mango. The pineapple was fabulous. A ceviche sampler followed. Now, it was a bit embarrassing that we couldn’t identify all of the fish (but really, could you pick striped sea bass?), but they were all very good. The tuna was a special highlight. Taco after taco followed – pork, steak, shrimp… At this point, we probably should have waited a few minutes to realize we were full, but we were still going strong. (It might have had something to do with the fact that Patricio brought out the world’s largest tequila shots, with a tomato/Tabasco chaser.) Stuffed cactus and a quesadilla came next, along with another margarita. Dessert was two kinds of flan (didn’t care for them, but that might just be my anti-egg position) and fantastic caramelized plantains. Check for this ridiculous food and booze extravaganza came to $40 apiece, and that was including a 25% tip (sure, we had some of it comped, but still…). So, in sum: great food, awesome people, fun atmosphere, fabulous value. I need to become a regular.

Next up was a bottle of champagne at Gatsby’s. Then Stoli Ras and soda at Sweet and Vicious. Then beer at A’s friend’s apartment.

Yeah, I felt great on Sunday…

(In other news, roomies and I had holiday dinner at Kittichai last week. Good food, good space, OK service, and yet I felt absolutely no emotional connection with the place. Just no desire to go back any time soon.)