Celebrate Your Country*, Your Neighborhood and Your Grandparents at Le Zie (*if your country’s Italy)

My grandparents are here, at this very moment, sleeping behind me in my bedroom while I blog to you from my new home on the couch. This is our temporary set-up while I prepare to leave for Italy (I leave on Thursday). They’ll be housing here for the next three weeks: caring for my cat and soaking in the city. It’s a brilliant plan, devised by my mother: I get a cat-sitter and my grandparents get free New York housing. Quite a deal!

So they arrived today around 3. I’d been scrubbing and cleaning and emptying closets and packing suitcases so they’d be comfortable when they arrived. They were and they were grateful and soon they were unpacked and ready to eat. Well, I’m not telling that right: grandpa watched TV and took a nap, I walked grandma to Starbucks, she got caught up in the sketchiest patch of 6th avenue where men sell bizzaro merchandise in front of Citibank near 23rd Street. (Have you seen this? They sell the weirdest stuff: twisted phone cords, decapitated doll heads, 45s of Liberace.) Grandma, of course, began examining a watch and I had to yank her away.

When it came time for dinner I decided to take them to Le Zie which, I figured, was perfect because it’s close by (7th Avenue between 20th and 21st) and would afford them an opportunity to see the neighborhood.

What beautiful weather tonight! Honestly, they don’t know how good they have it. These past few weeks have been so muggy and nasty and gross that to have a cool night like this is a real blessing. The walk to Le Zie left grandma and grandpa both a little tired (it’s easy to take for granted our mobility when we’re young) and they were glad to sit and drink water and eat bread. Soon a waiter appeared and soon we ordered. Soon the salad arrived and here’s grandpa and grandma modelling theirs:


Grandma and I both started with the beet salad:


It looks nice, I know, but it’s a meagre approximation of better beet salads I’ve had elsewhere. The beets themselves, grandma and I decided, were canned (they had a real muted flavor). The dressing was fine and the walnuts added a nice touch. The best part was the goat cheese which is that mound you see in the lower right: herbed and flecked with bread crumbs, the goat cheese held the salad together. Grandpa enjoyed his Caesar salad which was a very large serving. Grandma and I picked at his leftovers.

For my entree, I splurged and had the asparagus shrimp risotto which I chose because it’s seasonal:


This was pretty impressive (though expensive) and enjoyable. While the shrimp were small and the asparagus strangely barren of their heads (is that a thing I don’t know about? That you don’t pot asparagus heads in risotto) the risotto itself held together really well. The flavors were great and I ended up scraping my plate clean.

Grandpa had spaghetti and meatballs voted Best in New York by both the New York Press and Newsday. Unfortunately, grandpa voted it “undercooked and hard” and sent it back in a very gentelmanly way. Grandma had the roast chicken which she raved over because it was so moist. It was true: the chicken was really juicy and flavorful.

After that we were stuffed, no dessert for us. (Can you believe it? I ate a meal without dessert!) We made our way home and heard a rumor in the lobby that you could see fireworks at 9:20 on the roof. So around 9 pm, grandma and I took the elevator up and were joined by drunkards and revelers who sloshed wine glasses and beer cans around as the elevator rose to floor 39. Up there, the roof was positively packed and grandma said, “I’m not staying up here. You can, but I’m not.”

We went back down, having given up, and decided to watch the fireworks on TV. Suddenly, though, the sky outside the window illuminated in a panorama of July 4th festivity. How awesome! My window faces northeast and yet I suppose the east side is parallel to the portion of the East River where the firework show launches. So how cool is this?


The same fireworks we were watching on TV were happening right outside my window. That’s what I call a classic New York moment! Hope everyone had a Happy 4th.

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