The fact is, there are hundreds of memorable meals served every week in New York City.
Some of them are memorable because of the guests and some because of the food. Some are memorable mostly because of the amount of food ingested by the guests--I'm thinking of the "No-holds-barred eating contest which comes off in the summer of 1936" as described by Damon Runyon in his short story, "A Piece of Pie".
Some are memorable because one or another of the guests become "dead meat" in the course of the meal. Chicago and parts of North Jersey do that kind of thing better than we do, but there always are stories about Umberto's Clam Bar, and other locations downtown.
One downtown location held a memorable dinner last week. Here's the story.
The location was The Astor Center. This used to be a liquor store until someone got the hot idea that, since the store was acting as a de facto clearing house of foodie information and lore, not to mention wine tasting and discussions of all things oenophiliac, they might as well rebuild the place as a combination of dining rooms, lecture kitchens, small spaces and library, to host events of interest to the food and wine community. (Read more about it here)
They also hired Lesley Townsend, an experienced and charming impresario, to act as Director of the center.
One of Ms. Townsend's first big spectaculars was held last week. It was a dinner cooked by Chris Cosantino, the San Francisco chef who was such a great competitor in The Next Iron Chef, entirely from offal. (For the Chef's Offal-centric blog, click here)
"Offal" is taken to mean the parts of the animal which are not usually served to paying customers, the idea being that most people will happily trot home with rib, steaks, and even the rump of an animal, but will make squeaky (and possibly gagging) noises when confronted with the liver, the lights, the brains, glands or trotters.
Granted, it's a little more difficult to cook with those ingredients, but even a fine beef steak--sometimes, especially a fine beef steak--profits by a little more preparation than just introducing it to the fire and hoping for the best. Also, offal is offally low in price, if you can get hold of it.
Then there's another point, which Chef Cosantino and Michael Ruhlman (who was at the Astor Center as a sort of master of ceremonies, quizzing the Chef and introducing the various animal parts) have been writing about for most of the last year.
It is this: that, since killing an animal for food is, if not completely reprehensible, at least an act of violence against nature, it is even worse to commit this act and only take about a third of what the animal offers. Still worse, in fact, because this would seem to indicate that at least three times as many animals would have to be killed to feed the same amount of people.
Consentino feels passionately that the full use of a pig, sheep or steer (or any other edible beast) is the best way of honoring its life. He's all in favor of humane farming and slaughtering techniques, too.
I tend to agree with all of this because I am a helpless omnivore and I know I'm going to go on eating all different parts of all different animals for as long as my teeth still work, and this is the only way I'll get out of it if God happens to be a sheep. And hey. YOU don't know.
Gothamist found the dinner interesting, as did Ruhlman, naturally. As for ourselves, we are not in the ranks of people who can spend $250 on dinner and so we did not attend.
But we're going to get matey with a packet of sweetbreads just as soon as Adam's Fairacre Farm get arrange to get it to us. Because God might or might not be a sheep, but we like to play it on the safe side.
I can't! Some times it takes 24 hours for a blog to re-publish on its home computer. And I have no idea why that is, either. So pleae tell me (in comments) what you can see here. Thank you for your support.
"Okay, Annie..Just a couple more pixels and we got it."
I put this entry under "Batterie de Cuisine: because I'm asking for money, which is, to say the least of it, something that helps me cook.
The PayPal button to your left will lead you to a screen where you can give me any amount from a dollar upwards, and put it on your charge or debit card or your own PayPal account. (If you don't have one, you'll have to open one, but it's very easy and free and they won't bother you with spam.)
I haven't been writing for a while because the economic forecast around here is pretty bleak, and the cupboard is bare.
I am really fortunate in that I have a steady income, but it's a fixed income and not large to begin with.
That's why I'm in graduate school, learning to be a social worker.
Loans pay for school and the income pays my mortgage and some of my bills, but since my work hours are taken up by a non-paying internship, I'm running shorter and shorter all the time.
This isn't going to be forever. I might have a nasty surprise coming to me, but people in the Human Services world tell me that social work does produce a steady income, if not a large one. Between one thing and another, Tracy and I will be all right. But right now, things are tough and i could use any help you'd like to give me.
$5 will pay for salt for my sidewalk (without which the city of Kingston is going to hand me a hell of a ticket.)
$5 is enough money to pay for gas so I can go to see Tracy, 40 miles away, and come home. It's enough for two round trips to and from my internship, which is only 20 miles away.
$10 is enough for me to bring Tracy home for the weekend. It's enough for me to buy meat (okay, mostly eggs) for 5 days worth of meals.
$20 will buy me 60 minutes of cellphone coverage, so I can talk to Tracy on the phone even if I can't see her.
$75 would keep me on broadband.
Anything more than that would be a dream. A very welcome one.
Of course, if you having a writing job for which you'd like to pay me, that would be even more welcome...like most people, I'd rather work than beg.
Thanks for reading this entry and all the rest of my blog. Your continued presence here (even you lurkers) has given me some of the happiest moments of 2007.