Brooklyn, New York
June 16, 2005
It was also here where I learned that, whereas you would be labeled a functioning alcoholic almost anywhere else in the U.S., it is practically expected you have at least one drink, usually wine, during a weekday lunch, if not two or even three. Although scared that, being up since 4am, my head would roll over into the empty mussel shells at the end, I succumbed, totally against my will, mind you, to having a glass of soft white Spanish wine, the perfect combo of dry and sweet flavors, in addition to my constantly refilled glass of cooling iced tea.
But, oh, the food… served in the form of tapas, dishes dominated by fish and alterations of classic New Orleans foods fitting with the Spanish ambience were what one would expect from an international restaurant in the foodie capital of the US. Hearing that their fish of the day with caper tomato relish was escolar, which, as we were informed, happens to be illegal in New York City, that, in my fit to suddenly feel like an outlaw Bonnie, was checked off the paper list of tapa plates in front of us. This perfectly seasoned slice of tender fish barely came in second as my favorite dish under the oysters Rio Mar, a pot-pie sort of concoction of oysters, spinach, and bread crumbs that was thick but not heavy.
Then came out a flurry of other small dishes within seconds of each other: their ceviche of the day, made with sumptuously plump pieces of shrimp and fish; mussels with thick pieces of spicy chorizo; peppers stuffed with fresh crawfish; marinated olives that tasted like they had been flown from Italy that morning; fried oysters al ajillo with a garlic-and-parsley sauce, the crunchy outside a seamless exterior to the soft, not chewy, oysters; and the hangar steak, a thick cut better than a filet mignon, with onions and yucca. But I’m not done. Still feeling a tad empty from the sole nourishment of a bag of chips on my 3-hour flight, even after Laura ordered this massive assortment of tapas for the two of us, all under $8 apiece, I go for the tres leches cake, their specialty, which was pretty much a moist pound cake soaked in three different flavorful milks.
Even knowing I had exceeded anyone’s calorie allotment for the day, I thought, if this is New Orleans food, bring it on.
From journal New Orleans without Bourbon