I think I’ve told this story about 500 hundred times already. Ryan and I met last year. But before that I’d been a pretty regular customer of No 7 Sub at The Ace Hotel, where he ran the kitchen. I had a boyfriend at the time. I’d come in at least once or twice a month, and at some point started getting free cookies in my bag. The first time it happened, I thought it was a mistake and they’d given me someone else’s order. But then it happened again. And again. At work we started a joke and started calling him “No 7 Boyfriend.” But I had no idea who it was! I thought it was Dave, the expediter. And I was like “Nooo, not my type.”
One day my coworker/friend T came with me, intent on finding out who the mystery cookie person was (I’d already broken up with my boyfriend by then). Well, it was Ryan. Finally last May (this is 6 months after I found that first cookie in my bag, by the way) I went on a day that my office had dubbed “Mad Men Friday” where everyone was to dress up and drink martinis all day. I went to get a couple of subs with a coworker and in my bag was the usual cookie…this time with a business card attached to it for “Lt Chef Commander Ray Ray Steele, Sous Chef/Timecop.” And on the back, a note that said “We should be friends.”
WTF? I WAS SO MAD.
Because I loved those stupid sandwiches so much and now I could never go back there. OR I’d have to beg my coworkers to bring one back for me. Either way, he’d messed everything up. Well I got nice and drunk from red wine and scotch during happy hour and decided to call him and yell at him. Except he was in DC with family eating a huge tasting menu at Komi. So I left him a not-so-mean message. He called me back the next day and we ended up talking for a long time, mostly about the meal he’d eaten the night before. And then he called me the day after that. Etc. We got along really well….You know how old jeans feel? Like that.
Everything has always revolved around food and what we’re going to eat next. As it should be. Food was always central in my childhood, from weekly dim sum at Mao’s Palace to raclette at La Locanda and birthdays spent at House of Prime Rib and Thanh Long. My family’s businesses revolved around food as well – we owned a supermarket in Daly City and now a Filipino food import/distribution company.
Ryan also grew up around food – his dad runs a kitchen in Florida, and Ryan grew up working with him, working his way up from bus boy to back of house/kitchen. So really, we didn’t have a choice.
After an amuse of fried sweetbreads, we were served our first course of Maine shrimp with kohlrabi and oyster cream. Ours also had cucumbers. Can I just say one thing: OYSTER CREAM. Some of the kohlrabi and cucumber were pickled, which added some tart mouthwatering-ness to the dish. I really just did that.
Next we had Scallop Ceviche with cabbage, pickled ramps, and fried seaweed. This was my least favorite of the courses – I can’t quite put my finger on why…the cabbage and fried seaweed just didn’t seem to go together on my taste buds.
Sadly, I cannot find any photos of my favorite course, which was the pork belly. This was sliced and served atop creamy smoked cheese and nettle puree and topped with slivers of fried rye bread. I’d never had nettle before but it’s great – it tastes like green! (Note to self: make anchovy-nettle pasta this summer)
I normally shy away from fancypants dinners and tasting menus like this. Mostly because they’re expensive and just seem pretentious, with a lot of squeeze bottle nonsense. I prefer simple, rustic food. But this was really great – I would really love for them to find their own place so they could be open all week.
Our actual (?) anniversary is the 19th, which last year was Father’s Day. That’s right, folks. The Time Cop asked to be his girlfriend on Father’s Day, at the beach. We have been inseparable ever since, much to the chagrin of friends and roommates (roommates mostly, I think). I suppose it doesn’t help that we also live about eight blocks apart.
After much debate on where to eat, we decided to go with Minetta Tavern. I love it because the first time I ate there I sat at the bar with OR (Other Ryan…Castro) and next to us was an elderly couple who shared a giant steak. After finishing it woman picked the bone up in her hands to gnaw at it, and at the end of dinner, they also shared a chocolate soufflé. I thought that was the best shit I’d ever seen. Still do.
I didn’t get a photo of every single dish because that’s kind of annoying (yes, I realize it is…) but here is a photo of the crazy bone marrow appetizer we got:
MEAT. BUTTER. That’s 1 1/2 whole shanks. When the waiter brought it to our table my eyes bugged out of my head – SO MUCH BONE MARROW! I should’ve been smart and ordered a salad as a second app but Ryan really wanted the oxtail & foie terrine so I said yes to that. I also should’ve made us split the Black Label Burger but we each got one. Do you see where this is going?
I was so uncomfortably full. For dessert we got the chocolate souffle for two. We don’t even like chocolate!! I was grabbing my stomach, making horrible faces, and nearly in tears. But it was a magical pot of choco-goodness. Seriously – souffles are hard to get right but this was was damn near perfect.
We waddled out of the restaurant and it wasn’t until we were halfway home that I started to feel normal again. To quote my parter in crime: Yeah I guess I did go a little overboard…
Story of my life. I’m eight pounds heavier and I’ve gone up a pants size. You can buy new jeans any time, but you can’t always find your other stomach monster.