Thursday, December 16, 2010

The $26 Glass of Veuve (or, No One Wants To Read Your Stupid Manifesto)

So I hate lots of things, but especially this:

Don't skip intro! Don't do it!

You didn't skip it, did you? Good, because I HATES IT and it's so much better to HATES THINGS together.

Unless you're a hundred million, the thought of spending $44.95 on a main course of lobster tail at the sort of place that sends shrieks of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" at you from its hopelessly outdated website is about as appealing as a lapdance from Mick Foley. (Who apparently loves him some Tori Amos.)

Speaking of lapdances, if I'm spending $26 on a glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label (The King of Beers Champagnes!), I'd better be getting a lapdance. Gratuity included.

According to the Mark's website: "Eating" at Mark’s is truly a memorable dining experience.

I suppose "Eating" is in "quotes" because what you're doing isn't "Eating" so much as it is bleeding money out of your spiny-lobster-perforated innards, resulting in a financial sepsis that leads to projectile vomiting, spouse blaming, and - in many cases - a 22% APR.

And if by "memorable" you mean the opulence and showboatiness couldn't possibly be outdone unless you were dining in Notre Dame at midnight while the Bulgarian Women's Choir hooted out Christmas carols to your foot-high platings (is that a croquant set at an angle at the tippy top of my food pile? Spectacular!), then yeah, it's got to be.

Even if the food at this place is now and then really good, there's just no substitute for sincerity - call it the conceit of my generation, but we found the 80s a superbly entertaining bit of triviality, not to be carried on seriously now that we're grown-ups. I listen to 80s music all the time ("incessantly," says certain persons married to me), but I don't want to eat 80s.

We make fun (I make fun) of the bearded Brooklynite who carves his own utensils from co-op-grown bamboo and takes butchery classes (and yet still not butch!) and throws dinner parties devoted to his own closet-festered cheeses...but more and more, this is how I want our restaurants to look and feel. But not because they cynically put on these airs to be interviewed by the eager beavers at New York magazine (who sometimes remind me of the twentysomething babysitter I once had that let us do anything we wanted because he harbored some uncomfortably tangible need to be liked by children). Because their earnest little hearts want desperately to care about something the way our folks cared about Vietnam and civil rights.

Because we have no modern manifestos, but those regarding how we eat and drink. Economics bores our Ritalin-cured brains; politics are only digestible insomuch as they fit on our iPhone screens. Sex blackens and shrinks in a forgotten broiler - too hopelessly damaged and depressing to touch. We'll have to start over from scratch on that one.

But eating and drinking? The long-accepted pleasures of the mouth and bloodstream? That's worth a revolutionary's attention, isn't it?

Brillat-Savarin knew it, even in 1825:

"In the present state of our knowledge, we work on metals with other metals; we take hold of them with iron tongs, forge them with iron hammers, and cut them with steel files; but I have never yet met anyone who could explain to me how the first tongs were made and the first hammer forged."

-- The Physiology of Taste

So, carve on Bearded Brooklyn Boys, as you meander towards adulthood, balls blue with the hope and audacity you couldn't consummate as quickly and ferociously as you'd desired, and a Kiva loan out there somewhere, whittling its own small path through the darkness. Butcher away, you skinny-jeaned seekers of the primitive self, whose extreme measures are misguided (unless a 29-year lifespan is the goal) but dewy-headed with earnestness. Argue into the night about the difference between "real" and "natural" wines, and eschew marketing firms and Mega-purple. Each guffaw directed at your fixie is also a tiny cheer of the heart. For each cleaver swing, each tamp of the muddling stick, each plate of homegrown, homemade, lowrise of not-glistening or architected food is one step further away from blowhard Wine-Spectator-Award-boasting cruiseship aesthetics like this.


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  1. Is that a "murr" for Mick Foley? Cause he's hardcore. I wouldn't murr Mick Foley.