When I was invited to give a cookbook-related Google Talk in Mountain View, CA last Friday, I was incredibly honored and flattered but, also, I was really keen on checking out the cafeteria. I mean: what kind of food would I find there? What do people who work at Google eat?
Luckily, my host Chris invited me to lunch first. And not only that, I was allowed to take lots of pictures. So prepare yourselves for a journey, a journey to the Google Cafeteria.
Yesterday I described a mini-drama in my head when I was choosing, on Wednesday, between the fried potato bread with fried chicken and something healthier at Bar Tartine. I went with something healthier and kind of regretted it.
So yesterday (Thursday), I went back with Kate from Serious Eats and we tackled the fried potato bread with fried chicken on top. You can see it in the above photo. I see that picture and think to myself, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I ate that.”
When I was a nerd in high school (“What? YOU were a NERD in high school? That’s SHOCKING!”) my brother and I played many CD-ROMs. “Under A Killing Moon,” “The 7th Guest,” and, my personal favorite, “Return to Zork.”
This post has nothing to do with that except the title is an homage to that most peculiar video game, with creepy animations and a most memorable soundtrack. Instead, this post is about my return to one of San Francisco’s most beloved restaurants, a restaurant that I was dying to try my first time visiting here as an adult only to leave disappointed (see here). Was I disappointed this time around?
Even though I shipped my cooking gear here to New York before arriving in September, things have been so busy and crazy it’s been difficult to find time behind the stove. When I get back from the west coast leg of my book tour (I leave tomorrow!) I have a lot of cooking I want to do; in the meantime, I’ve been checking many places off my New York “must eat” list. Here’s one of the best.
I’m writing to you now from Emory Village, a flash from the past, as I prepare to speak to Emory Students at 2 PM, sign books at the Emory Book Store at 4 PM and then hustle over to Empire State South where I’m hosting a dinner at 6:15. There are still seats available, so, Atlantans, please come! Call 404-541-1105.
Now before all of this happens, I want to tell you about two incredible meals I’ve had so far since arriving in Atlanta on Friday. Let’s start with the brunch I had yesterday with Atlanta Magazine food critic Bill Addison at the One-Eared Stag near Imman Park.
Sometimes going away from a city gives you permission, upon your return, to do things that you wouldn’t normally do when you lived there.
Case in point: eating alone at the bar at Maialino on a Friday night. There are a million reasons I would never have done that as a New York City resident: what if someone I know sees me? What about all the people jammed in there waiting for their tables looking at this guy, alone, reading Salman Rushdie’s article in The New Yorker? Somehow, though, my time away has made me feel like a tourist in the city I once called home…which is how I worked up the courage to walk in and ask for a seat at the bar.
The first time that I went to Roberta’s in Bushwick it was in the middle of winter and they seated us next to a swinging door which produced an arctic blast anytime a server or a customer swung it open. We sat in our winter coats, shivering, and huddling around a heater in between courses. It was a memorable, if not quite ideal, dining experience.
Things were warmer and better at Roberta’s last week, when I ate lunch there before appearing on Michael Harlan Turkell’s Heritage Radio Network show, “The Food Seen” (which is recorded on the Roberta’s complex).
You may not be surprised to learn that when it comes to what I eat, at any given moment, I can be a bit of a control freak. In fact I have a theory that most food people are control freaks: what better way to control what goes into your body than to become an expert on the subject? It’s rare to find a food person grabbing handfuls of snack food willy-nilly off a snack cart. Give a food person the opportunity to select his or own snack from a larger selection and a careful decision will be rendered. That makes us discerning, but also kind-of obnoxious in terms of going with the flow.
So lately, I’ve been going with the flow. The other night I met my friend Lauren for dinner and when she suggested a restaurant I’d never heard of–Casellula off 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen–I said “sure.” Turns out that’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time.