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Redemption

12 Nov

Sometimes I feel like the entire city is conspiring against me in some giant act of karmic re-balancing.

Jeff Koons sculpture outside Christie's

Thursday night, after a delightful dinner full of delicious food and laughter at a friend’s apartment, I was walking to the subway when I was very nearly run over by a van while crossing the street (in a crosswalk, with the light). The guy didn’t have his lights on, and I’m not sure if it was my scream, another woman’s scream or a car honking it’s horn, but the driver finally snapped to and skidded to a stop with this much room to spare. The exhaust on my shins felt like dragon’s breath, my heart was in my mouth and I was sprawled across the van’s hood. I looked up at the driver. He crossed himself, and then made a motion shooing me off his hood. I brushed myself off and carried on. When I got home I poured myself a nip of whiskey and had a terrible night’s sleep.

Filipino church in NoLita

I woke up angry. Angry at the guy that tried to kill me. Angry at the city for letting this happen. Angry that I had to go to work. But I made it through to Saturday and was more than rewarded for the effort.

Everything I did, every interaction I had, was straight out of Metropolitan Diary.

Rockefeller Center

Dear Diary:

My boyfriend was out of town on Saturday so I indulged in my favorite single-girl breakfast; the pickle plate and pork neck ramen at Momofuku. As I sat at the newly expansive counter, watching the chefs and reading the paper, I finally learned the secret of their perfect eggs; they’re steamed in ramekins. This alone would have made the visit noteworthy, but as I was reveling in this knowledge, the woman next to me leaned over and asked what I was eating.

The pickle plate I said, it’s delightful! You must try it! And so she turned to her husband and hailed their waitress and a few minutes later their pickle plate appeared. I’m not sure they loved it as much as I do, but the she turned to me again. “Do you know what they’re making there?” I look at the grill in front of me and say with full confidence, “That’s the rice cakes. They’re served in a spicy Korean sauce.” And so she hailed the waitress again, placed her order and turned back to me, “Oh, you must share them with us!”

I was stunned. I’ve never met a stranger that would share the food off her plate with me. And so we talked and laughed and shared the rice cakes and then parted ways. They headed back to North Carolina, I headed uptown with a renewed faith in humanity.

Herald Square Park

Dear Diary:

I found myself in Herald Square Park contemplating the monument to James Gordon Bennet, founder of the now defunct newspaper, the Herald. It’s a stunning piece, Athena with her arm outstretched, her owl and two bell-ringers, Stuff and Guff, forever preparing for the next hour. But my favorite part is the inscription:

A memorial to James Gordon Bennett (1795-1872) Founder of the New York Herald in 1835 And to his son James Gordon Bennett (1841-1918) Through whose visions and enterprise the New York Herald became one of the world’s great newspapers.

I stood there contemplating the hubris of the inscription when an older gentleman came up beside me and said with a wink, “Must nottabeen so great a newspaper after all, eh?”

My feet, in Macy's

Dear Diary:

On the N train one recent weekend evening from Manhattan back home to Brooklyn, I sat across the aisle from a bespectacled, scholarly looking gentleman and his adorable Chihuahua. Everyone in the car was smitten with the dog. He was a brave Chihuahua, not a quivering mass of nerves that one more commonly sees. He sat on the gentleman’s knees surveying the crowd who were all staring back, adoringly, at him.

Somewhere downtown a family with a young girl got on the train. She was instantly taken with the dog. She waved at him and made faces and little cooing noises at him. Finally, the seat next to the gentleman opened up and he motioned for her to sit down and then told her it was okay to pet the Chihuahua.

At first she wasn’t sure what to do, and kind of robotically tapped the dog on the head, who took it in stride. This was obviously not the first child that had patted him before! The gentleman showed the girl how to pet the dog, to stroke his coat in the correct direction, to not hit him too hard. By the time we made it into Brooklyn, both girl and dog were as happy and content as could be. Who knew that petting a dog wasn’t an innate behavior!

Empire State Building

And that was my day. I returned home with a happy heart. I was in love with the city again, and hungry. David Chang’s noodles are spectacular, but there’s no way they can sustain a body for eight hours of walking in the cold, fighting the seething crowds of tourists.

Skating in Bryant Park

I whipped up a pesto of dried tomatoes from my mother’s garden, full of cheese and garlic, and a balsamic and red wine reduction to balance out the bright acidity of the tomatoes. (Yes, yes, I hear the gasps of disbelief… Balsamic reduction? But that’s so, 1987! Yes, I know, but sometimes in our haste to judge we forget that something can be delicious). At the Food Emporium under the 59th Street Bridge, I found this Creste di Gallo pasta. It was the perfect shape, crenellated and humorous.

Presto Tomato Pesto & Pasta

I sat in our big armchair, humming softly to myself while I ate, the picture of contentment. The city had redeemed itself. It had knocked me down, but then it raised me back up.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Presto Tomato Pesto & Pasta.

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