Monday, October 8, 2012

Eating Bugs with Rene Redzepi

Noma is a restaurant in Copenhagen which has won Restaurant magazine's Best Restaurant in the World award three years in a row. It is owned and operated by Rene Redzepi. Tonight's New Yorker Fest event was an interview with him. I remember hearing about the restaurant three years ago and have tried to follow its progress and his rise in the culinary world. He is 34 years old, half Danish, and to say he is passionate about food would be a gross understatement. Although to be more specific, he's passionate about flavor and what can become food. He has taken foraging to new levels and sees nearly everything in the natural world as an ingredient in his next dish. He is a Nordic locavore in a place where the growing season is one of the shortest on earth; he cooks for the here and now, meals that can only happen in that specific place at that specific moment; he cooks of the sea and the soil; and he seemed like a super-nice guy.

And he brought us... samples. Not food, not dishes, not... snacks to speak of, but samples of things that he uses as flavorings in his restaurant. We were each given a little bag with four tiny containers and told not to open them until instructed. During the course of the interview we were asked to first open the container that appeared to hold a quarter teaspoon of some kind of black mush. It was crushed black wood ants with a drop of oil to bind it. I hesitated, I'll admit it, but I did muster my sense of adventure and scooped it up with the tiny spoon and stuck it in my mouth. Lemon. It had a sharp note of lemon-acidity. It was tangy and had a bit of a crunch - that would be the exoskeletons. It was interesting; not bad, not delish, but certainly interesting.

There is a staff of 70 at Noma, representing 22 countries. Rene has traveled extensively and takes inspiration from the world at large. He pointed out that bugs and grubs are eaten all over the world and he is trying to redefine "what is food and what is not food." He talked a lot about the flavors of other cultures while adhering to a menu of locally sourced products. He told us about a beach grass he found, sliced through, tasted, and discovered that there on his wind-swept, rocky, desolate Danish beach which was covered with rotting seaweed and flies, that this beach grass had a distinct back-note of cilantro. He spoke of this discovery with such delight and reverence - the idea that there was a cilantro-flavored plant in Denmark was to him like discovering diamonds in the backyard.

Our second container contained a sliver of something that looked a bit like a cherry stem but thinner and finer, and given the previous item, "please don't let this be a worm... please don't let this be a worm..." was the only thing running through my head. It turned out to be a fermented bit of mushroom. He said it had been soaked in a 2% salt solution and at the restaurant it was made into a paste to put on vegetables to make them taste meaty and on meat to make it taste meatier. It was good - salty and intense.

The third taste was a bright red dash of something wet. It was a rose hip soaked in vinegar. I love the scent of roses and I love the flavor of roses when used sparingly so it doesn't come across as too perfumey. My parents' backyard is lined with rose bushes and when I was a kid, I'd occasionally pop a petal in my mouth hoping it would taste as good as it smelled; it never did and I was always disappointed. This was sharp and acidic but once it was down my throat my whole mouth was encompassed with the essence of a rose. It was lovely and made up for all those rose petals I spit out as a child.

Ellen, being half Danish, and I have talked a lot about Noma and we've even talked about going there someday (if we could come to terms with the cost of a meal, which I'm not sure we could). When I spoke to her this evening I told her that I wasn't sure it was for us. The restaurant looks sublime - modern, sparse, and beautiful; the plates of food look gorgeous - so enticing. But as much as I love food, this is a game played at a different level - one that's essentially over my head, which would make such an expense just kind of wasteful and pretentious, I think. But I absolutely reserve the right to change my mind on that.

And then there was the last little capsule of pureed... something. It looked like a quarter-teaspoon of pea soup and tasted almost exactly like miso. It was crushed fermented crickets, which he told us after we'd eaten it. Crickets are a snack in many parts of the world. I know in Mexico they are fried and dusted with chili and lime and munched like popcorn. I'm sure I've seen them, also fried, at street markets in Thailand. They are plentiful, sustainable, and full of protein. I'll need some time before I start popping them like peanuts, though.

This talk was wonderful, I'm so glad I got to hear him speak about food and his restaurant and his philosophy of eating. He also showed a short video he shot with his iPhone of the restaurant's kitchen, lab, office, and staff eating area. He showed the grills and the smokers and the sheds where they store over 1,000 kilos of preserved ingredients. He was nice, he didn't seem to have the massive ego that often goes with famous chefs, and he seemed genuinely interested in sharing his ideas and of truly being a steward of what nature has provided. He's not trying to shock anyone by serving them bugs, he just really likes the way they taste.

Lisa Kudrow

Last night's NYer Fest event was an interview with Lisa Kudrow. I know it's not hipster-cool to admit to watching Friends, but I did, and I liked it, and I found parts of it really, really funny. So there. I've been wanting to check out Lisa Kudrow's post-Friends projects, The Comeback and Web Therapy, but haven't yet; will now. I have a feeling The Comeback might be too cynical and painful to watch and from her own description, the main character in Web Therapy is "a horrible person" so I don't know how well I'll do with that, but I'll give them a shot.

Lisa is delightful. She's kooky and funny and clearly very smart and very savvy. Her production company made and owns Web Therapy, perhaps a lesson learned from HBO so unceremoniously canceling The Comeback after one season despite is rabid following. Her degree is in biology from Vassar, she said she was the nerdy one in high school, the voice of reason in her social group, and when Henry Alford who was interviewing her (and who seemed star-struck and unprepared, and has a voice that makes him sound like the love child of Richard Simmons and Paul Lynde) asked what distinguished her group of friends when she was growing up, she said, "we all wanted to get into really good colleges."

She was very entertaining and her similarity to, well, to Phoebe was kind of disconcerting. If that makes any sense.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Future of Sitcoms


Emily, Michael, Mike, Nahnatchka, Greg
I've been watching sitcoms my whole life. From The Mary Tyler Moore Show to All in the Family to Taxi to Mork and Mindy to Family Ties to Cheers to Frasier to Seinfeld to Friends to Arested Development to The Office to Parks and Recreation to Modern Family to The New Girl. And all the others in-bewtween. With a few exceptions from the 70s and even fewer from the 80s, sitcoms, in my opinion, are better than ever these days; the laugh tracks are gone; new, clever formulas have replaced the old tired ones; and the acting is top-notch.

Today I went to a panel discussion led by the New Yorker's TV critic, Emily Nussbaum, called The Future of Sitcoms: Laughing Matters where I fell a little bit in love with Mike White who is clearly brilliant and more than a little disturbed (I recall reading that he had a nervous breakdown a couple years ago). The others on the panel were Greg Garcia (created My Name is Earl - watch it sporadically, appreciate the smartness while not being hugely compelled by the show; also created Raising Hope which I really like); Nahnatchka Khan (writer for Family Guy so she's clearly a genius, but still not sure about her own show, Don't Trust the B- in Apartment 23; seen it a few times, has an edge but it's not my favorite); Michael Schur (created Parks and Recreation which I was late to the party on despite Josh's prodding; one of the most delightful shows ever); and Mike White, whose show Enlightened I've heard a lot about but not seen - will track it down immediately when I get home. They didn't really discuss the topic at hand (a reoccuring theme at New Yorker Festival events) but had a lively and funny discussion about their own shows, their past shows, dealing with networks, what's funny, and how they started out in the business.

When I was young(er), I thought I might work in TV someday; I never did, and as George Eliot may or may not have said, it's never too late to be what you might have been... except, as Rebecca Mead pointed out, sometimes it is. But as Mike White wrote for his character Amy in Enlightened, "I will know you when we are both old and maybe wise, I hope wise. I know you now. Your story. Mine isn’t the one I would have chosen in the beginning but I’ll take it. It is my story. It’s only mine. And it’s not over. There’s time. There is time. There is so much time…" except when there isn't. But my regrets are few, and for all the time I have spent comparing my life to a sitcom instead of writing one, I am grateful.

Another October, Another New Yorker Festival: Tales Out of School and Fiction Night

Instead of being the reason for the trip to New York this year, the New Yorker Festival is going to conclude it. I've been here five weeks and now have a weekend of Festival events before heading home.

The first two events were last night; first, Tales Out of School, storytelling by several New Yorker staff writers detailing events or anecdotes regarding stories they've worked on for the magazine. I'm not sure what I expected; what I got was five writers whose New Yorker pieces I recall reading, standing at a mic and telling a story. Lauren Collins told a story about the time she threw up on Donatella Versace on the way to Donatella's villa on Lake Como; she made the comment that Donatella was the "Lyndon Johnson of fashion moguls," having ascended to her position via the assassination of someone much more qualified. Rebecca Mead told a story which started with the question, did George Eliot really say "it's never too late to be what you might have been"? - a quote which has been attributed to her; Rebecca thinks not, and doesn't believe the platitude is true (I agree), but told a lovely story about her attempt to find out, the point of which was, I really, really need to read Middlemarch (something Ellen has been telling me for years). Nicolas Schmidle told a story about why he made a gift subscription of the New Yorker to a Russian arms dealer who has recently been sentenced to and is serving a 25-year prison term; Anthony Lane whose movie reviews I totally enjoy, told a rambling, disjointed, almost manic story about how he once shot a movie (meaning, shot a movie playing on a screen with a gun) in such a manner that I wondered if he had snorted a few lines before hitting the stage; it was an interesting example of someone who is extremely coherent, funny, and sharp in writing but who struck me as obnoxious and rather smug in person. And Lawrence Wright told about what it took to get his epic story on Scientology printed, and detailed the events which led to 47 binders (which took up 7-linear feet of shelf space) being presented to him by the organization's lawyers in response to over 900 fact-checking questions asked by the magazine. Introductions to the stories were made by Andy Borowitz who said some amusing things which I can't remember, and piano interludes were played by Leo Carey.
Leo, Lorrie, Julian, Junot

After Tales Out of School, I immediately made my way to another venue to hear one of the Fiction Night discussion with Julian Barnes, Junot Diaz, and Lorrie Moore, which happened to be moderated by Leo Carey (no piano). I read one of Lorrie Moore's books in the 90s and haven't read any of her short stories because I hardly ever read short stories. That being said, I read one of Junot Diaz's short stories in the New Yorker recently and it blew me away. Julian Barnes won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for A Sense of an Ending which as luck would have it, I read two months ago. The title of their talk was Love and Marriage and it was interesting. I met Mai (who I had dinner with on the Upper West Side a few weeks ago) and a friend of hers at the talk. The talk was interesting and was about love, but not necessarily marriage. Nothing earth-shattering came from it, just a reiteration of what I already know, which is love is the most compelling force in the universe. Not really big news, but interesting to hear those three (mostly those two: Julian and Junot) riff on the subject. Mai's friend knew Junot through her academic circles so we met him and his girlfriend after the talk. He was friendly and personable and did the Latin double-cheek-kiss-hello-thing... his roots are deeply Dominican but he grew up in Jersey. I also chit-chatted with Leo Carey for a few minutes since he was standing next to Junot when I was introduced. I told him I had enjoyed his piano-playing earlier that evening and he seemed sincerely pleased by that and was impressed by my ability to get across town from one venue to the other in a tight window of time; I pointed out that he did the same, although I'm guessing a car service came into play for him, as opposed to the sweaty subway.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Book of Mormon

After two hours of standing in line at the box office and two and a half hours of standing in the theater, I have now seen "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway. My feet are still aching but it was worth every minute. I tried to get a standing room ticket yesterday but the box office sold its last spot to a person three places ahead of me in line, so I got there extra early today, at 4pm, and waited for the box office to open at six. At 5pm there was a lottery for front row and a few box seats; about ten pairs of tickets were given away, alas, I didn't get one, but those of us in line were told that there were about twenty standing room spaces available, and since I was about 10th in line, I was pretty sure I'd get one, and I did. It cost $27 and I was dead center behind the last row of orchestra seats, perfect view of the stage. The show is spectacular on all levels and classic Trey Parker-Matt Stone. It is completely irreverent but somehow also good-natured; it's totally vulgar but somehow also sweet; it is technically offensive, but also so ridiculously funny that you can't help but love it. And Jesus speaks with the voice of  Eric Cartman. I wondered how many senior citizens in the audience (of which there were many) got that one. The sets were great - most of the action takes place in Uganda (that's right, Uganda), the main performers are fantastic but I couldn't help but notice how talented the chorus was too, and the songs and choreography are really top-notch. The dance numbers are energetic and creative - there's even a tap number and I LOVE tap numbers, and the songs are exceptional... they're just great numbers, songs you'd want to learn and sing in the car.
If you only see one musical-comedy about Mormon missionaries, AIDS, genital mutilation, African warlords, bestiality, having a god-complex, and squashing down your gay tendencies... with cameo characters including Frodo, Yoda, Hitler, Johnny Cochran, Jeffrey Dahmer, Brigham Young, Darth Vader, and the aforementioned Jesus who sounds like Cartman... then this is the one to see. Even though I wore comfortable shoes today my feet really do still ache, but I'd do it again in a minute.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Apartment

middle building, third floor
It's almost time to head home from the "home" I've had for a month. I've always loved my place in Seattle and as convenient and [mostly] comfortable as this little Midtown pad has been, I love my place in Seattle even more now than I did before. Here, I'm three blocks from Times Square; at home I'm eight blocks from Queen Anne Avenue, which is more my speed. Here, my living room faces 10th Avenue which is so noisy during the day, that if I'm on the phone, I have to take the call in the back bedroom and shut the door; at home my living room faces - well, a driveway, but that makes it quiet, blissfully quiet. This place is a third floor walk-up through a dark and dank hallway (although it's nice enough when you actually enter the apartment); at home I get to my front door either through my own garage or by walking down a flower-lined path from a quiet, tree-lined street. These are observations not complaints - my Midtown pied-à-terre has been great -- it has been comfortable for guests, the appliances and furniture are new, the fact that there is a washer and dryer is a luxury I didn't expect to find, the shower is hot, and the two HD flatscreen TVs have been perfect, but there's no place like home, and home is Queen Anne.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour

Today I went on the the Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour of the Lower East Side. In the 1800s, the LES was home of every major immigrant group to New York. Most of them moved in, prospered, and moved on. The Germans, Jews, Italian, Irish and others all arrived in the Lower East Side in waves; they settled, worked, lived, and in many cases, prospered and dispersed around the city. The exception was the Chinese who settled in the LES and stayed, developing what is now the part of the city knows as Chinatown. The Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour touches on the history of all of these groups and offers nibbles from most of the groups to illustrate the point.

Our tour-guide, Elizabeth, a graduate student from Columbia, gave us the rundown on the various immigrant populations -- where and how they lived, what they ate, and the traditions they brought with them. She told us that the biggest immigrant group to New York City was from the Dominican Republic, and that while the overall immigrant population to the United States is 10-12%, that number jumps to 30% for New York City. After giving this first factoid, she produced our first "bite" of the afternoon, fried plantains. They were starchy, sweet, a little spicy, and filling. We then moved down the street to the Pickle Guys. The name pretty much says it all - nothing in there but pickled this and that. We poked our heads into the tiny space full of pickle barrels while Elizabeth picked us up some kosher dills and... pickled pineapple. The pineapple apparently comes from a Trinadadian worker at the shop who said his mother made the best pickled pineapple around and got the recipe from her - it was delish - flavored with cloves and jalapenos.
pickled turnips

We then moved on to Sweet Life, a tiny candy store, where Elizabeth picked up some halva for us. Halva is a Middle-Eastern delicacy made from sesame paste. This variety also had a touch of cocoa, and it was sweet and crumbly and... interesting. My feeling is that if you're going to make something sweet, you can't go wrong with butter, sugar, cream, chocolate, vanilla, maybe some fruit if you want to go crazy... and maybe keep the sesame for your savories. Just my opinion. Elizabeth told us an anecdote about some sultan in the mumble-mumble...I didn't jot down the date who loved Halva so much that he had an auxiliary kitchen built onto his main palace kitchen just for making Halva. I'd go with a chocolate mousse kitchen. Or maybe one just for gelato.

Down a little further we hit Chinatown for some fresh tofu (good, but it would have been fantastic with a drizzle of sesame oil) before making our way to the Italian district for cannoli, soppressata- a fantastic dry salami, fresh mozzarella, and wonderful aged Parmesan, before circling back through Chinatown for lychee and black sesame ice cream. Again with the sesame desserts! I tried it and then ate around that part, just hitting the lychee flavor.
in Di Palo's cheese shop
After the tour was over, one of my favorite things happened - I had been chatting with a girl on the tour who was also on her own, visiting from England, and as we were talking while walking toward the subway, we decided to stop for a drink along the way. We bonded over my intense jealousy that she had somehow managed to score (miraculously, as far as I was concerned) a ticket to "The Book of Mormon" for that night and had time to kill before her show. We stopped at Grand Central so she could look at the wonderful central hall, and then ended up getting dinner together before she had to run off to the show. Her excitement at getting to see the show, combined with her love for Trey, Matt, and Jon Stewart, plus her great enthusiasm for travel, me terribly fond of Tess by the end of the night. Also when we were listening to the spiel of someone who was trying to entice us into his restaurant by describing the special, which was chocolate fettucini with vodka cream sauce and grilled shrimp, and my response was, "that sounds horrible!" she totally cracked up, so that made me like her even more.




Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dia:Beacon


When you spend a lot of time in New York City, it's important to be able to get the hell out of New York City. Central Park only offers a cursory (albeit vital) respite from the cacophony, crowds, and crap you have to deal with, so getting on a train and rolling along the Hundson is a wonderful thing. Today I took the train from Grand Central 70 miles north to Beacon, New York, home to one of the Dia Foundation's exhibition spaces. The foundation houses a contemporary art collection in a former Nabisco box-printing factory, built in 1929 and much like many other domiciles of fine art (the Getty in L.A., the Tate Modern in London, the Prada store in SoHo to name a few), the building is as much a draw as its contents. The gallery space is 240,000 square feet and lit almost entirely by natural light; the original wood floors remain, and the high ceilings, starkness, and wide open galleries made me want to choose a corner for myself, put in a comfy couch, 65-inch flat screen TV, bookshelf, toaster oven, mini-fridge, and move right in.

Map of Broken Glass
The collection on display was stunning. I don't pretend to understand abstract conceptual art installations, I just know I love looking at them. Giant piles of broken glass (Robert Smithson's "Map of Broken Glass [Atlantis])," enormous, geometric holes in the ground, dug down 20 feet below the building's floor (Michael Heizer's "North, East, South, West"), a whole gallery dedicated to Richard Serra's sculptures (although "Wake" at the Olympic Sculpture Park at home is still my favorite), and most amazing, Sol LeWitt's "Drawing Series" - I can't even begin to explain this one, so this is from a review from the New York Times about the part of the exhibit I found most... profound?:

"The earliest works in this show are two immense, fuguelike drawings from Dia’s collection that line the four walls of the four galleries designed for them and are being shown in their complete form here for the first time. They are theme-and-variation meditations on grids whose squares are veiled by fine, gauzy parallel lines, whether horizontal, vertical or diagonal. Moving through all the possibilities of layering and sequence, first in graphite and then in colored pencil, the works swing back and forth between symmetry and randomness, alternately confounding and reassuring the senses."
Sol LeWitt's Drawing Series - this picture in no way does it justice

North, East, South, West
I'm not even sure I know what that means, but I loved looking at the giant drawings.



Main Street, Beacon
the grounds
After I visited Dia, I walked into the tiny (5-square miles) village of Beacon and walked down the main street before heading back to the station and taking the train back to New York. The towns along the Hudson could not be further from the bustle of the city; they are quiet and quaint and picturesque. It was a totally enjoyable day.

Photos are not allowed in the gallery so all pictures of the art are stock from the web.
the galleries
the Hudson
the terminal

Friday, September 21, 2012

Shake Shack

I may need to go on a juice fast when I get home.

Last night I ate dinner at Shake Shack. I've been wanting to go there for years, back when there was only one location in Madison Square Park. Now there's a location near Times Square that has a line out the door whenever I walk by. But that place is clearly crawling with tourists and I kind of hate the area, and since Madison Square Park isn't particularly convenient to Midtown, it was great to find that there are a few new locations, including one on the Upper West Side which turned out to be one express subway stop from here - into "real" New York. Not much of a line there, clearly patronized by locals, and plenty of places to sit. Dinner was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Central Park

Sheep Meadow
It turns out that Molly's new favorite cocktail is an Aperol Spritz which involves mixing aperol, a bitter orange flavored liqueur, with Proseco. It's delightfully refreshing and I now have a bottle of liquid the color of blood orange Crush (if there were such a thing) in my fridge. We had a very nice time together, walking around, eating good food, going into the Diane von Furstenberg boutique (where no one paid the slightest bit of attention to us), and catching each other up on... you know.

On Sunday, Molly went to visit someone else in the city while I took a tour of Central Park. Built in the mid-1800s; designed by Olmstead and Vaux; 843 acres; all "natural" elements brought in (with the exception of the outcropps of schist bedrock); Olmstead influenced by the English gardens he saw during his Grand Tour; Bethesda Fountain is the only commissioned statue in the park, created by Emma Stebbins, and was the first major public art commission to be held by a woman [who was also a very "out" lesbian] - these and other interesting facts were presented by the two guides from the Central Park Conservancy during the two hour walking tour. After the tour, I spent a couple more hours in the park walking around, reading, and watching the people go by.

the Dakota
the San Remo - in case you want to drop in on Spielberg

Belvedere Castle

Bethesda Terrace



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Morningside Heights

Pisticci in Morningside Heights...
Last night I left the hustle of Midtown and went up to Morningside Heights (125th Street and Broadway) to meet a friend for dinner. I've always been struck by the idea that Morningside Heights must be such a quintesential New York neighborhood - a place where real New Yorkers live, while Midtown seems like Disneyland on crack. The little Italian restaurant where I met my friend was great - charming and warm and full of life and real New Yorkers. I've been to some really nice places here in Midtown but the vibe seems very much, "these people don't live here." Not that Midtown isn't interesting in its own way, it just doesn't seem real... it's sort of like being at the theme park but instead of rides, it's all hustle and commerce.
...vs. Times Square

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

TENNIS!!

There's a lot to say about the past few days, but really, it's all about the tennis. One of the reasons I came to New York so much earlier than my usual October trip was so I could catch some of the U.S. Open tennis tournament. And when the force of nature that is my friend Scott said he'd come out too, that sealed it... we were going to the U.S. Open, the exorbitant cost of the tickets be damned.
in the Breslin
Scott had only been to New York once before and it was quite a few years ago, so we had a lot to fit into a long weekend. He arrived on a downright balmy Thursday night, and we headed to the Breslin which is a restaurant next to the Ace Hotel which I'd read about. It did not disappoint. Scott had the lamb burger of which I declined a bite, lamb being one of the only foods in the world I actively dislike, and while I thought about letting the Hendrick's gin with cucumber, celery bitters, and tonic serve as my salad, I did order a Caesar to go along with my beef and stilton pie. The menu is long on meat but short in general and the beef pie was really the only thing that called to me, and it was fabulous. A lovely little pastry full of rich, beefy goodness, with just a hint of stilton. The crust was made with lard I'm sure, cooked perfectly, and almost crunchy rather than flaky. It was very satisfying. It was late by the time we got back to Midtown, so we called it a night.

The next day we went on what Scott referred to as a "forced march" but which was actually a very nice walk. We took the subway downtown and had some crepes for brunch, then walked to and along the High Line before walking to the Empire State Building. Neither of us had been to the top before and we decided that was going to be the

afternoon's entertainment. After all sorts of dealings with the people selling tickets to the observation deck, we managed to get in, get up, and get outside on the 86th floor.  It was a little hazy out but the view of the rooftops of New York City is pretty awesome. After leaving the Empire State Building we did a little shopping and walked back toward my apartment and got a drink and a snack at one of the zillion restaurants in the neighborhood, and that made for a very full day of both walking and sweating, and really all we wanted after that was to shower and not walk anymore.

Which brings us to the tennis. We had tickets to the men's semi-final matches, both of which were scheduled for Saturday, so we got up early, got some bagels and coffee, and got on the subway to Queens. About forty minutes later we got off right next to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the pouring rain. When I say "pouring rain," make no mistake, this was not a Seattle-style rain which might cause you to put your wipers on the second intermittent setting, this was a frikkin' downpour. But as we are not two people to stand around when we can keep moving, we left the wimps who were trying to wait it out at the subway and forged ahead onto the tournament grounds, clutching my umbrella (which was little more than a parasol) over our heads and pretty much getting soaked. In the ten minutes it might have taken us to get in, the rain became torrential.

The only time Scott needed this plastic poncho was to get back to his beer after buying the plastic poncho.

Murray playing Berdych
Play was clearly going to be suspended, but we weren't going anywhere. We had come this far and if by any miracle, tennis was going to be played that Saturday, we were going to be there and ready - so Scott did the only thing a person could do in such circumstances, he went and got us a couple of beers while I staked out a place on a lovely cushioned couch outside the Heineken Lounge. We were shielded from the rain by the overhang of the building and the giant patio umbrella we managed to unfurl, and we just sat there drinking beer at 10:30 in the morning, comfy as could be watching the rain pound down. And then came the tornado warning. They made everyone go inside for a few minutes while that passed, which it did, and then the weather gods finally smiled on us and the sun came out. In fact, it turned into a beautiful day. We made it into Arthur Ashe Stadium, our seats were pretty far back but practically dead-center of the net so we could see the entire court, and Andy Murray took on Tomas Berdych and won in four sets, despite battling through 30 mph wind (at times) on the court.

Scott being Scott. He can't help it.
After the first match, we wandered around a little and then went back for the second semi-final match to watch Novak Djokovik play David Ferrer, but that match was suspended after less than an hour as apparently the tornado was back in the neighborhood and the authorities were sending everyone home and closing the tennis center for the day. So back to the subway, back to Manhattan, and to John's Pizza for dinner. Scott made the smart call of vetoing the really bad Chianti the bartender let us taste and we ordered a pepperoni-mushroom pizza and two seemingly 12 oz. martinis instead. Luckily John's Pizza (the more touristy Midtown location, not the cool downtown location) is only three blocks from the apartment so the martinis weren't that dangerous... although I think... I'm pretty sure... we stopped at a bar on the way home. These things happen. 

Djokovik playing Ferrer
Filip Peliwo, junior boy's winner
And there was more tennis on Sunday. We got to go back for the postponed match, this time in sunny, spectacular weather, and even though Scott decided (and convinced me) that Djokovik is a "punk," and we were rooting (sort of) for Ferrer, I wanted Novak to win so I could watch Murray take him on in the final, and he did. This was another great day of tennis; we watched that entire match and were then walking around the grounds (possibly with mojitos but I'm not under oath here) when we heard that the junior boy's final was being played on one of the outer courts, so we made our way to court 7 and watched the final set of that, which had two 17-year-old smacking the shit out of a tennis ball with amazing force. The court was so small that we got to sit really close, just a few feet from the action, and we saw Filip Peliwo (whoever he is) beat Liam Broady (whoever he is) in some really fantastic play.
 
And then it was time to head back to get ready for "Spiderman, Turn off the Dark" - and the less said about that the better. We did stop at a hotel bar on the way to the theater for a couple of greyhounds, a couple of lobster rolls, and to catch the beginning of the ladies final but had to leave before it was over.

Spiderman is a spectacle, there's no denying that, but we both thought it was pretty forgettable. I don't really want to talk about it. There's a nice bar practically right next to the apartment's front door which makes a person feel a little better after shelling out outrageous dough to see Spiderman... the musical. Yeez.

And then it was Monday. Bagels from Zabar's and a walk in Central Park took us through the morning, and a turkey, Gouda, and pear sandwich took us through lunch, and then it was time for Scotty to get on the subway and head for the airport. And it was time for me to see if I should be doing some work, but it turned out there wasn't any work to do, so I killed some time until 4pm when the men's final started, and then proceeded to sit riveted on the couch in front of the TV for the next five hours. Really some of the best tennis played in a very long time (that I've seen, anyway). A killer tie-break to end the first set, a rally that went 54 hits, Murray up the first two sets - playing like a champ but Djokovik came back in the third, played phenomenally in the 4th, but Murray fought back in the fifth, fought back hard, and finally had his grand slam win. Scott was on his flight home during all of this but managed to set his DVR from his iPhone to record it, and texted me at 3am when he finally made it through the match.

It was a fantastic weekend. Sorry it's over, but my friend Molly arrives next weekend from D.C.... and she tells me she has a new favorite cocktail...