My first full day in the grand ole United States began at the very early hour of 6am. I wasn't sure if this was precisely due to the severe jet lag that was threatening to blight my existence over the next few days, or the delightfully loud wakeup call I received from my 4-year-old nephew as his Mama and Papa prepared him for school. Either way, I can't think of a much better morning greeting than this dapper little man so I was happy to get my day going regardless. I spent the morning slowly prepping for my busy week, taking advantage of the wifi to organize my plans, and of course trying to acclimate to eastern standard time.
I had two main events to attend on this day: lunch with a very good friend from college, and dinner/drinks with some dear ex-coworkers. Sometime during my morning ritual, my college friend asked me if I had a craving for any specific food or restaurant, and I immediately thought of Mexican. Why? Because it is VERY hard to find good Mexican food in France... or many manners of food for that matter. One of the things I miss the absolute MOST about life in the Big Apple is the incredible diversity and accessibility to international cuisine of all sorts. You can find decent offerings from almost any country around the globe. And while Paris is certainly a metropolis with a plethora of options, it is just not the same. French do French food REALLY well. They just don't always manage to expand the palette and keep it on the same level. So, off to Mexican in the Flatiron district, at a cute little restaurant my friend recommended. In addition to having a spectacular time catching up with a kindred spirit, I was also quite enamored with the mouthwatering goodness of the tacos I discovered there. They were cheap, flavorful, essentially perfection. I will probably have to return when I visit the States again in May. We then went off to the Flatiron Lounge for pricey but delicious Christmasy cocktails and I was sent off to my evening plans amidst a buzz of intoxication.
For dinner, I was to meet with a few good friends from my Nespresso days and before. Three of us have developed a tradition of indulging at my favorite fondue place of all time, The Bourgeois Pig, down in the Village. I don't care how much cheese I eat in France, this place wins with its melting pots of pure yum. Not to mention the fact that this particular establishment offers half priced bottles of wine on Sundays, Mondays, AND Tuesdays... heaven. We ate our way through some bruschetta apps, a 4-cheese fondue entree, and a chocolate/dulce de leche dessert fondue separated by a wall of cake... yes, I said it... Wall. Of. Cake. Another one of our compatriots from Nespresso, who I actually met years before during my Ruth's Chris days joined us toward the end. I was coaxed into heading over to Long Island City in Queens to visit with her sister, also a very dear friend. Since these sisters tend to do nothing so much as get me liquored up around town, and have done so for the past decade or so, there was pretty much no way I was going home at any normal hour and with any level of sobriety. They made me do fireball whiskey shots. Again you heard me... Fire. Ball. Whiskey.
Needless to say, the day was quite a mix of culinary and cultural delights, peppered with the utter joy of frolicking around New York City with amazing old friends from my NYC days and before. I am rather lucky that so many of my fantastic soul-lovers have stayed in and around the Northeast, giving me the opportunity to spend time with as many as I can whenever I go home, though never nearly long enough. The next day would only add to the holiday decadence and fanfare, and rightfully so. Onward forward!