Warning: This is not a low calorie post, and has nothing to do with clean eating. I turned 40 a couple of weeks ago. I was planning on being really tight with my diet and workouts leading up to my birthday. I wanted to do a “This is 40!” blog post, showing off my hot bod, and how I was in the best shape of my life. Instead, I went on a three week bender of celebrating with drinks and not-so-skinny food. Now I am feeling very LARGE heading into the Holidays. Not exactly a good place to be. You only turn 40 once, right?
Kirk and I went to New York City for a few days to celebrate. We had an amazing time. Our time there went pretty much like this…Eat, Eat, Run, Eat, Walk, Walk, Eat, Walk, Walk, Eat, Eat, Eat, Walk, Sleep. Eat, Run, Eat, Eat, Walk, Walk, Walk, Eat, Eat, Eat,Walk, Sleep. I do not lie. When a couple of chefs go to New York, they aren’t going to Broadway shows or visiting various tourist sites. It’s all about the Food. If it wasn’t for all the walking and a bit of running, I might have gained 100 pounds. A great tool for knowing where to eat comes from one of my favorite food blogs, Serious Eats. They have a section called, “Serious Eats New York.” You can type in what general location you might be in, and it will give you several restaurant choices that they consider to be worth a visit. They list them starting with food carts all the way up to fancy, expensive choices.
The restaurants where we did eat were a dream come true for us. Upon our arrival (thanks to Serious Eats), we found this little hole in the wall Cuban Diner, Margon, for lunch. The cafeteria-style hot line was really tempting, but we both could not resist ordering Cuban sandwiches, and we were not disappointed. I have had an obsession with Mario Batali after reading Heat several years ago. I love his style. I own all of his cookbooks. Our first night in New York we ate at Babbo. It was surprisingly more quaint and cute than I had anticipated. We ate grilled octopus, testa (house made charcuterie), beef cheek ravioli, lamb chops, grilled quail, and more. The most impressive part was the huge table (there was one upstairs and downstairs) completely covered with open wine bottles.The next day, I had a latte and a croissant at Amy’s Bread in Hell’s Kitchen. After a run up the western shore of Manhattan, I met an old friend for lunch at Le Pain Quotidien, a cute and healthy café. I ordered the Kale Ceasar with Salmon. It was delicious, and quite healthy. The base of the ceasar dressing was tahini. Our second night we ate at BLT Steak, an upscale steak house/bistro where they served these goat cheese popovers that were bigger than your head. Around midnight (thanks again to Serious Eats), we went to Sake Bar Hagi. It was a very small underground restaurant (which is difficult to find after having lots of wine, steak, and popovers), serving Japanese pub food. Our waiter was really friendly and helped us order. We feasted on a sashimi dish with scallop, octopus, and sea urchin wrapped in seaweed. We also had a pork and noodle dish and they were both mind-blowingly good.
After waking up, we stopped for a latte at Blue Bottle Coffee in the very cool Gotham West Market, before striking out for another run. After our run we headed downtown, browsed the Union Square Greenmarket, and headed to Eataly. Eataly is this amazing market with everything Italian you can imagine. In every corner of the market was a counter featuring a different Italian specialty. There’s Gelato, Espresso, Fresh Pasta, Charcuterie, Cheese, Meat, Seafood, Breads, Desserts. In between all of this is more produce, dry pasta, olives, cookbooks, beer, olive oil and other stuff than you can imagine. Peppered throughout all this are restaurants. There is a meat restaurant, a pizza restaurant, and my favorite, a section with high tables that you stand at. It is located between the charcuterie and cheese, and we sampled some of each with wine. We then headed to yet another restaurant that was all glass on the roof, where they were brewing beer in casks. We sampled the beer and had some house made Cotechino sausage and lentils. After two and a half hours, Kirk said to me, “I know this is very sad, but we are going to have to leave Eataly now.”
Our final dinner in New York was the grand finale. We dined at Le Bernardin, one of the fanciest places in New York. The chef, Eric Ripert, was born in France and worked in some of the best restaurants in the world before joining this Michelin star, seafood-focused restaurant in Manhattan. We both ordered the chef’s tasting menu which was mind-blowing to say the least. It was a fine dining flurry of French servers, expert sommeliers, and tweezer cuisine that did not disappoint. Eight courses of fish and seafood, flawlessly prepared with fancy butter sauces poured on at the table. It included sea urchin, monkfish, lobster lasagna, and more. The highlight of the meal was a surf and turf entrée with with Escolar and the most tender, flavorful piece of (waygu) beef I have ever had. It literally melted in my mouth. After three dessert courses and a cappuccino, it was everything we could do to waddle back to our hotel.
I must say, it feels good to be back in my clean eating routine. I feel like I should detox for months, but I have to weather the Holiday storm ahead. In this journey of mine to be healthy, thin, and happy, I believe treats and indulgences are very important. It’s important to enjoy life to the fullest which, in my world, involves wine, beer, and rich foods. I choose to eat clean and healthy so I can feel good. After being disciplined, I enjoy the indulgences much more. Did I slip too much toward indulgence? Perhaps. Like anything else in life, it’s about finding a balance. It’s also about the journey and what you learn along the way. Forty feels good so far. I feel good knowing what my goals are. I feel good knowing that I will reach those goals, and that I will enjoy the journey.