Saturday, May 24, 2008

Top Eater?

I've recently become obsessed with the Bravo TV show Top Chef, courtesy of JetBlue's live TV allowing me to catch a marathon or two on business trip flights. It's not surprising, though, if you know my love of food and, well, eating.

People often ask me if I'm in the restaurant business, maybe because I hang out in bars and at restaurants by myself, or maybe because I get so comfortable at places like Bar Jamon that I just start handing menus to people and explaining the dishes to them.

beef cheek

On Thursday I was trying to reacclimate to New York City so I took a personal day and took myself to lunch at Bar Boulud, which I haven't been able to get into each time I just happen to be in the Lincoln Center neighborhood. But since I'd visited Daniel's brasserie in Vegas, I was dying to try another of his restaurants, so I planned ahead this time and went when I could actually get a seat. Since I was alone, I sat at the bar and chatted up the meat guy, spirals of black and white sausage nesting in the glass case between us, terrines and head cheese glistening. He, too, asked me if I was in the restaurant business, but as I patted a slice of beef cheek on my toast points, I said, "No, I just really like to eat."

Thursday night I finally made it to Gottino for their seasonal fava crostini, some other snacks and lots of wine.

Between yesterday and today, I've been to Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill twice, once to chicken in a biscuittry the new tequila Siete Leguas and again for brunch. But as sophisticated as my palate may have become after living in the city for 11 years, I still couldn't resist redeeming my coupon for a free Southern-style chicken biscuit breakfast sandwich for McDonald's this morning, when I was returning home from a night in Queens at 8 a.m. I can't remember the last time I'd eaten there, but after having so many conference calls with their corporate office lately, I've been dying for it. It scares me to go there because I could easily slip back into my habit of going way too often, where once a week is "cutting back." The chicken was good, but not good enough to throw me off the wagon. But I think I will go back sometime to redeem my coupon for a free Southern-style chicken sandwich.

It's a long weekend and there are lots of restaurants to conquer, lots of untried menu items at familiar restaurants. Now that I'm finally back home and here for a while, I'm happy to put my wanderlust to good use right here in my own backyard. And although I will never myself ever be a Top Chef, there are plenty I can chase down for their delicious recipes and lovely establishments.