ELEVEN MADISON PARK : dinner with a side of rent

Hawaiian Prawns Appetizerinterior

The Macaroon Stands AloneEleven Madison ParkAS A FREELANCE RESTAURANT WRITER I’m often asked one of two questions: “How do you stay so tiny?” and “Does restaurant writing pay the bills?”

While my compact size gives me a competitive edge on the 6 train during rush hour, it also means I’m smaller than the average woman (which renders the clothes-buying process a task I generally avoid). More important than bone structure, however, is my zeal for spinning and yoga. I exercise as if I’m preparing for a photo shoot with Megan Fox or about to meet an ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. Irrational, perhaps, but awfully motivating.

I get squeamish when it comes to money-related questions. Still, I answer truthfully (usually), which backfires more often than you’d think. Generally, strangers assume I’m hoarding an expense account and are pretty disappointed when I say I don’t. Some see me as a walking meal ticket while others think I’m their way into the Wine & Food Festival or at least dessert on the house. After all, why do it if not for free food?

The trick is: I don’t pay rent, which lets me squander a negligible income on…not rent. Bananas, mostly. There are perks to restaurant and travel writing, sure, but you can’t live on comped meals and free hotel rooms alone. The secret of many young rent-paying New York writers are rent-paying parents. And those who don’t have that luxury find other ways, like a “real job”, to keep overhead low.

In the past, I paved my way into different homes with rainbows, unicorns and sunshine. Charm doesn’t always work but, while it does, I substantiate the intangible by treating my rent-paying boyfriend to dinner.

I invited Jason to Eleven Madison Park last night. Dinner was French and unpretentious – as the French often are when they’re not making you feel inferior for not being French. Bruni gave it four stars and, as his review and my photos show, it was a seamless, tastefully done two-hour experience from the pão de queijo (cheesy buns) to the table-side duck-cutting demo (for those who order the duck entree) and, finally, the after-dessert dessert: macaroons. I love macaroons.

I’d never been more pleased to pick up the tab. Yes, it was expensive for the times in which we live, but not for the place in which I stay. Besides, I’m about to paint his walls bright orange for my upcoming non-cooking web series. Get excited.

September 3, 2009. French, Madison Square Park, Manhattan, reservation required. 3 comments.

The Wrong Year at Corton


CORTON 239 West Broadway, New York, 212 219 2777

Mar 30 09 | TO COMPLEMENT OUR DINNER, Clare brought two bottles from the Tribeca Grill wine collection. To her disappointment, however, she had grabbed a white from ’97 when she meant to bring one from ’99. Across the table, Jason seemed to enjoy the supposedly subpar vintage and demonstrated the love by downing a glass. But for Clare even Cryovacked cod and mini macaroons, the latter which concluded our three hour meal, were too little too late.

I reminded Clare where we were and to consider the starving kids in Africa. Finally, she got a grip. But it was I who later lost mine when Momofuku Ko came up, which naturally led to discussion of the eatery’s extremely coveted reservations. That was when Jason mentioned he can score seats there. Anytime. (more…)

April 8, 2009. Manhattan, reservation required, TriBeCa, Wine. 1 comment.