Oh, I know we live in a society where body image is paramount and you’re either thin or you’re irrelevant. And yes, given that we are amongst the top ten fattest nations in the world, we should be weight conscious and not indulge in abnormal eating habits, but exercise regularly and all that. Certainly, we should sublimate our gashmius (physicality) to the higher functions of our being …
Yet, every once in a while – I propose – coddling the inner child is a laudable, valuable, action. Granted, nothing bests the sweet taam (taste) of Shabbos nor the sound of zmiros lifting you ever higher, but the occasional escape into corporeal weekday bliss, leaving the emotional and physical overload of life’s daily grind behind, is a good thing.
The hustle and harried hurry of our fast, frequently faceless, hi-tech daily drudgery makes it difficult to be in the moment of any one thing. So, we often have to steal or create a moment for ourselves. One of my favorite ways to seize that special particle of time is by dining out in style. Dress up or down, whichever makes you feel better, and figure out the type of cuisine you’re in the mood for. Personally, I prefer an eatery that exudes calm and soft lighting; where chef and staff wait on you indulgently, presenting the finest service and cuisine they have to offer. Hopefully, you’re in the company of someone you really want to be with during this stolen moment.
If you can, leave the kids at home, shut the intruder cell phone, sit back, relax, breathe in, and give yourself over to the sensory delights to come. Start off with a good wine that has some personality, one that complements your disposition. Perhaps a deeply aromatic contemplative wine like one of the following:
Makhpelah Cabernet/Merlot 2002 from Israel, only a few hundred cases were produced! This wine combines spicy aromas with a touch of vanilla and smoky oak. The well-balanced palate is soft and rich with plum and dark cherry flavors highlighted by fine tannins. For that extra,extra, special occasion, it’s a bit pricey! For the more price conscious, but still very discriminate wine palate, I recommend any of these, Italy’s Borgo Reale – Primitivo di Manduria 2001; France’s Flegman – Merlot 2006, or a South African Rothberg Cellar – Shiraz 2008. Frankly, there are far too many superb kosher wines to fit every mood, every palate, every occasion. You can find the above and hundreds more, at Liquors Galore (1212 Avenue J; Brooklyn, NY 11230; Telephone: 718.333.4168).
Take in the calming scent of the wine’s perfume; delight in each sip, savoring the rich flavor, allowing your palate to pick up its complex symmetry. Let your body relax, as the liquid soporific hits your bloodstream.
For starters, I recommend choosing an appetizer or salad that you’ve never tried before like Orchideä’s Spring Fling Salad; perhaps something like T Fusion‘s Pan Seared Sweetbreads or Solo‘s Barbeque Short Rib Spring Roll. Discern the distinctive flavors within. Redefine your stomach’s state of satiety by trading quantity with quality and variety of taste. Allow the sensual mixing of fresh textures and subtle tones and spices on your tongue and taste buds. Observe the placement of food, the artistry and color and let it become a true binge of the senses.
For the main dish, if you’re watching those calories, pick a fish or chicken dish prepared in a way you’ve never tasted or wouldn’t make at home. when it comes to fish few can beat the imagination or IMITATE the meat-like look and taste at Plaza Dining (downstairs at Boro Park’s Plaza Hotel). If you’re a meat lover like I am, go for the steak if it’s really what you’ve got the yen for.
We particularly enjoyed Prime Grill’s Black Angus Steak, and the Delmonico Steak at Bistro Grill. Order a notch higher on the temperature time as fine restaurants tend to grill a bit on the rarer side. If you’re out with friends be a good sharer, and sample each other’s dishes. It can get ugly with the really delectable, so be prepared to fight them off with fork or skewer if they become voracious.
I’m usually too full by dessert time to get territorial. Here a morsel of some heavenly delight is sufficient. Nothing alters vexation like a great dessert. We loved Les Marais‘ Crème Brûlée, Gusto Va Mare‘s Double Truffle and u cafe‘s Tricolor Cake.
Finally, if you’re still not convinced, contemplate this with your latte: “There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry. – Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)“
So eat and enjoy!