Sunday, August 19, 2007

eleven madison pork

Err, I mean, "Park". Eleven Madison Park. I can't stop thinking about the suckling pig I had there on Tuesday night. Though with limited prix-fixe-only restaurant experience (you mean I'm not supposed to rest my crumbly bread roll on the "show plate"?), I've learned through observing the jealousy of my dining companions that when at a fancy restaurant, unless it specializes in steak or fish or something else, always order the pork. Anyway, I found myself eating this magnificent pig concoction as a result of a birthday gift system I like to employ with like-minded friends: the giver buys the recipient dinner at someplace neither party can reasonably afford. Selfishness and generosity come together, and everybody wins, including our credit card companies.

Our slightly early arrival for our 8pm reservation set the tone for the evening: three hosts standing shoulder to shoulder at the podium greeted us in sync with matching high-school-musical smiles and seated us immediately. The "great corner booth" turned out to be right behind the servers' station, which was fine given the depth and coziness of the booths, but not so fine given my tendency to talk about people the second they leave my vicinity. But we were quickly given the mammoth wine list and an assortment of four hors d'oeuvres, and we were happy.

Until, that is, we'd almost finished our first half-bottle of wine, eaten our hors d'oeuvres, housed our bread rolls (with salt and pepper spooned onto a plate tableside), and had yet to see a food menu. I was slightly annoyed about this until I realized that it meant we'd be at our table longer and be forced--forced!--to drink more. Several robotic waiter interactions later, we had our second round of wine and our first course. My raw or almost-raw Big Eye tuna was overwhelmed by olives, cumin, and super-duper-salty duck prosciutto, but my friend's gnocchi with Hawaiian prawns, calamari, celery, and Meyer lemon was delicate and perfectly balanced. Sharing is caring.

the suckling pig of god

What I didn't want to share was that Vermont Farm Suckling Pig. I don't know how to begin to describe it, so I'll leave that to the expert: "It comes as a brick of deboned, tightly packed, meltingly tender meat that’s been poached in duck fat. The meat is bordered by a strip of crackling skin that seems to defy the laws of nature and science. Can anything really be so crunchy and light while also being so fatty and heavy?" Yes, it can, and it is awesome. My friend ordered the beef tenderloin, and I remember it being good, but even the seared-with-bone-marrow component couldn't distract me from my glorious pork.

I was pretty stuffed by this point, but there was nothing coming between me and that cheese cart (or a glass of dessert wine), as this was to be my first cheese cart experience. Robot Waiter #3,872 (seriously, there were that many) told me what each was and, when I couldn't decide between the triple cream goat and the bloomy rind goat, gave me a half portion of each. I also chose the Gruyere--I have a weakness for the nutty and sweet (see: my relationship history)--and a washed rind raw cow's milk from Quebec that was somehow stinky and sharp at the same time and I wish I could remember what it was called. Dessert was followed up with those truffle "lollipop" things and a gigantic dried cherry and candied orange brioche to eat for breakfast the next morning, which is exactly what I did. And then I went to my first Pilates class.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Friends, Random Internet Browsers, People Who Still Check This Blog Occasionally Wondering if I'm Still Alive,

It is with not really that much sadness that I inform you of the passing of ViaGina.

ViaGina was born on Wednesday, March 10th, 2004 while the author sat in front of her four flat-screen computer monitors on a trading floor of JPMorganStanleyGoldmanStearnsBrothers. The job paid the bills, that's for damn sure, but didn't provide her with the level of personal satisfaction she'd attained from exercising 30 hours a week as a member of the college crew team or obsessively studying college admissions statistics in high school. Fortunately, this was before the rampant installation of corporate firewalls to prevent employees from wasting time and money dicking around on the internet, so as soon as her company username and password were set up, she did just that. ViaGina emerged about nine months later.

The initial premise of the blog was to consolidate all the funny and interesting internet-things Gina found during her Monday through Friday 7:45am to 5:00pm with no lunch break website-reading schedule. Of course, it quickly turned into being all about her, as evidenced by Tuesday, March 16th's post about her rosacea diagnosis. (A condition that has since been alleviated thanks to just regular ol' Cetaphil cleanser and not that $50 stinky sulfur crap prescribed by the dermatologist. In case you were wondering.) The blog served as a platform for trying to be funny and sharing way too much personal information with friends, family, and internet strangers. For a solid two and a half years, the blog kept her sane enough to get through almost getting fired from several jobs (key word: ALMOST, though this is really just a technicality because you don't get "fired" from temp jobs and JPMorganStanleyLehmanGoldmanBear basically just asked her to quit), intermittent bouts of unemployment, ill-advised dalliances with boys (Gina's most successful and long-lived relationship during this time period occurred almost entirely over the internet), and lots and lots of drinking.

In late December of 2005, Gina submitted her last electronic time sheet to the temp agency, hinged her entire future on a Craigslist ad for a job at an Italian wine bar, and the blog started to slip away, becoming little more than a memento of a more confusing, but, in retrospect, kind of fun time. It held on for a good year and a half, receiving lackluster and forced updates here and there, and, finally, at 4 pm on Tuesday, August 14th, ViaGina gave up the Good Fight.

Donations in ViaGina's memory will be accepted in the form of visiting my new blog, I Ate the Marshmallow. It will be mostly about food, and the hasty consumption and unskilled preparation thereof. But if you're not that into food, I can assure you that the oversharing of personal information, references to irresponsible life choices, and links to inane things that made ViaGina beloved by literally DOZENS of people will be present in abundance.