La Luncheonette

 

LA LUNCHEONETTE
130 Tenth Avenue at West 18th Street
212.675.0342


his husband-and-wife-owned French restaurant is located on a non-descript corner on the far reaches of West Chelsea. If you didn't know it was there, you'd likely walk right past it as I have for several years. Although, if it's one of those days where you're in the mood to "smell the roses," so to speak, you might notice a little chalkboard perched on a window that is scrawled with specials du jour like terrine de foie gras and cassoulet. In which case, go inside.

It was on the night of a blustery snowstorm that I blew right into this restaurant's entrance looking for shelter and a hot meal. I ordered the boeuf bourguignon, which was the only thing that should be ordered on such a night, and it arrived to the table looking like a still life fit for Cézanne. It was hearty and delicious and served with lovely boiled potatoes and haricots verts on the side. I washed it all down with a glass of red wine. 

Paris in New York.

 

Chelsea Market

 

CHELSEA MARKET

75 Ninth Avenue bet. West 15th & West 16th Streets
212.243.6005


I enjoy walking to work in the morning. If I walk swiftly, it'll take me about 30 minutes—that's from Greenwich Village to West Chelsea. To the average stroller, I probably look like I'm power walking, but there's one part of my route that allows me to relax my stride: when I cut through Chelsea Market to get to Tenth Avenue. It's like walking through a wonderland of food. (The building also appropriately houses Food Network's headquarters.)

At most places here, you can shop and eat their offerings. I love popping into The Lobster Place for lunch: oysters on the half-shell, sushi, New England clam chowder and more. If you're looking for seafood, they carry hard-to-find treasures like calamaretti, Maine sweet shrimp, and shad roe. You can also find the biggest and best lobsters in town, which they'll steam on-site.

Across the way, there's Buon Italia where I go to stock up on Italian goodies, like little cans of Flott tuna, La Valle canned tomatoes, fresh pasta, and guanciale. For lunch, they have this really tasty prosciutto, mozzarella and basil panini that I just adore. Sounds run-of-the mill, but the bread is what makes it special. I have to remember to ask about it next time, but, anyway, there's a whole glass case of Italian specialties that have been prepared in the store's kitchen: eggplant parmigiana, fettuccine with mushrooms, and chicken Milanese, to name a few.

I've been to Chelsea Market countless times and there's still so much more to explore! Ronnybrook Dairy, Tuck Shop, and that new pasta place Rana are definitely on my list... I don't have too much time to browse in the mornings, but there's always a 5-minute window that allows me to pick up a freshly baked baguette from Amy's Bread to bring to the studio. There's nothing quite like breaking bread with your colleagues first thing in the morning.

 

On Relationships

A page from The Hollywood Reporter

Not too long ago, my boyfriend and I got into a tiff. It was a harmless tiff that lasted all of ten minutes. The issue at-hand was something so insignificant that I can't even remember what the fuss was about. All I can recall is the resolution, in which I teasingly asked him: "Are we friends again?" and to which he warmly responded: "We never stopped being friends."

Relationships. They're so much better when there's friendship in the foundation. According to Wikipedia, here are the values of friendship:

  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other Check.
  • Sympathy and empathy Check.
  • Honesty, even in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth Check.
  • Mutual understanding and compassion; ability to go to each other for emotional support Check.
  • Enjoyment of each other's company Check.
  • Trust in one another Check.
  • Positively strong, deep, close reciprocity; mutuality—equal give-and-take between the two parties Check.
  • The ability to be oneself, express one's feelings and make mistakes without fear of judgment Check.

Of the four years that we've known each other, my boyfriend and I were friends for... I'd say, a good two-and-a-half years. That's right, we were just friends. Our relationship was so purely platonic that we can both pinpoint the exact moment when it changed: We were in mid-laughter, having coffee at The Grey Dog in Chelsea on a fall day. It was weird. Really weird. Suddenly, there was potential. Somehow, our ship navigated itself out of the Bermuda Triangle.

Here's why I think we work: We get each other. We're accepting of each other. And, above all, we're nice to each other. But don't go thinking that our interactions are nothing but a rigid and gray exchange of pleasantries. Oh no. We'll color outside the lines and all over the page. What we won't do is go off the page and onto the tabletop.

There's a line from that classic Ryan O'Neal-Ali McGraw movie Love Story that goes: "Love means never having to say you're sorry." I never really understood that line until now. (This, of course, is not applicable if you're dating a total asshole.) But, if you are two sincere and earnest people in a relationship, you know that, while an apology is certainly appreciated, at the same time, it's not required. I know that sounds contradictory, but it's true... You apologize, knowing that you don't really need to because you know what's real and what's petty—and so does the other person.

Chew on that.

How a Texan Orders Steak

Last night, I attended an intimate dinner party at Hotel Americano, which was hosted by Gemfields, the world's foremost colored gemstone producer. All of the guests were given a choice of entrée between Chilean sea bass or steak. I happened to be sitting next to a fellow Texan, and, as it turned out, we were the only two at the table who ordered a steak. She leaned over and said: "People always get a kick outta how I order a steak. It's the best line from Texas I've got: Knock off the horns and walk it by the fire."

Izakaya Ten

IZAKAYA TEN
207 Tenth Avenu bet. West 22nd & West 23rd Streets
212.627.7777


As they say, when one door closes, another one opens. Years ago, when Tía Pol didn't have any seats available, I happily discovered Izakaya Ten right next door. It's a small cozy place that has grown popular over the years. I might have to wait a bit these days, but I don't mind. Where else can I get sake and Japanese gastropub fare, like ankimo (monkfish liver pâté), geso tatsuta age (deep-fried octopus legs), and yakitori skewers, in Chelsea after gallery-hopping all afternoon? Kanpai!