Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Build a Bridge
I am combining two of my favorite axioms: You take the first bite with your eyes + Take a picture, it'll last longer = Pizza photo!!!
I began talking to a self-proclaimed "foodie" from Brooklyn and we hit it off immediately. We both have the same crushes on celebrity chefs: Tom Colicchio, Giada DeLaurentiis, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Symon, Eric Ripert. He dreams about Daniel Boulud. I fantasize about being adopted by Paula Deen. He has the KitchenAid stand mixer I've been lusting after for years. I have an immersion blender, perfect for homemade soups! He prefers cooking. I prefer baking. He does elegant sauces and pretty plated dishes. I do homestyle, rustic, family meals. He's influenced by French and Asian chefs. I am in love with all things Mediterranean. We are the perfect compliment to each other, like chocolate and hazelnut, gracefully married to make sweet, smooth Nutella.
I'm sorry, I was talking about a date, wasn't I?
He entices me to Brooklyn with the promise of the *best* pizza on the planet. I have seen Grimaldi's on Food Network many times. It seems to be the only Brooklyn pizza worth featuring (feel free to argue the point!) He tells me we've got a full day of culinary adventures ahead of us. Just one problem: I have to go to Brooklyn!
I know that I am a Long Island girl and *technically* we reside on the same land mass. That being said, Brooklyn is an outer borough of New York City. It's hardly suburban and frankly, I'm a little intimidated. He suggests we meet mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, which drops my fear factor and the wait on line at Grimaldi's significantly. If this is what being adventurous is all about, sign me up! Plus, it's no secret that I'm willing to travel for food. Seriously, offer me anything delicious and I'll cross state lines to reach it!
But I digress.
We meet at Grimaldi's and join the already growing line outside. There is a bouncer-type older gentleman herding the crowd and he goes over the rules for everyone queuing on the sidewalk. Cash only, no credit cards. Pies only, no slices. He's got a table for two ready now. NOW, people, move it. Wait five more minutes. Table for three, go! Wait five more minutes. Table for four, go! Wait ten more minutes. We idle near the street with the rest of the mid-week lunch crowd, having plenty of time to make small talk and get to know each other. The excitement and anticipation is building, as is my hunger. I skipped breakfast this morning to leave room for all the yummy pizza I was sure to consume. Bad idea. The smell of the fresh herbs, melting mozzarella and rising dough is making my stomach growl loud enough for all of DUMBO to hear! (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass - very cool area. You should check it out sometime!)
Finally, it is our turn and without looking at the menu, we order one regular pie and two cream sodas. It takes ages to cook but I don't mind. I'm highly entertained watching all the dough tossing in the prep area we are seated directly next to. I stare at these well-oiled machine-like men who have their routine of dough patting, cheese slapping, sauce spooning, and basil breaking down to an exact science. It's like a deliciously choreographed dance repeating over and over. Total food porn.
When our meal arrives, we stop for a moment to soak in the enormity of the occasion. This place is a legend. Autographed photos of really famous people cover the walls in every spot that doesn't boast a medal or award the restaurant has won in some food competition. The humblest of foods, the simple pizza, originally a leftover meal made for paupers, has become a shining star in it's own right. Here I am, about to enjoy the most revered pizza of all with a very tall, good looking boy who might be just as yummy as the plate of food in front of me.
I am not disappointed... in either the pizza or the boy!
We practically bounce out of the place, having demolished our meal and proud of the fact. Deciding it would be best to walk off the obscene amount of calories we just consumed, he takes me for a stroll along the riverside, heading towards the bridge. Unfortunately, I *always* have room for dessert and I happen to know that the Jacques Torres chocolate shop is just around the corner. We sit in the quaint sidewalk shop at a tiny cafe table, feeling very Parisian and artsy. I cut the tiny truffles in two so we can share samples that slide down my throat a little too easily. Every piece melts on the tongue as though meant for my mouth only. I am in foodie heaven! My date comments that he's never had a woman make "yummy noises" so early on in a date before without having to work for it. I would blush, but my cheeks are too busy savoring the sweetness as the last little piece of candy disappears.
He tells me how pretty I am when I'm relishing my food and he feels like maybe I forgot he was here? Perhaps I need a moment alone with my dessert...Ok, maybe now I'll blush!!!
We sit for a while in the park while the sun begins to set over Manhattan. I totally get why people live here now. You actually have an amazing view of midtown without all the gridlock! It's unseasonably warm and we contemplate taking the water taxi across to South Street Seaport to grab dinner. I know what you're thinking. How can you people possibly have room for more food? Yet somehow between all the walking, talking, sitting and sunsetting, we do! Sadly, we've missed the last water taxi by a mere five minutes and are forced to scrounge up cool cones at the Brooklyn Ice Cream factory and watch the rest of the sky change colors from our spot at the edge of the river instead of on it. He did ask if I'd prefer to just cross the bridge on foot and while it's totally on my bucket list, I imagine I might want more appropriate footwear for the occasion. He suggests we do that on our second date which is precisely when my stomach flips...in the best way possible!