Feb 6, 2007

Last night my ingenius friend Eric took me to CAFE LUXEMBOURG, where we had one of the best meals I have had since he, his beau Shax and I feasted on fresh lobster and clams soaked in butter last summer in Connecticut. First I should mention that when we walked into Cafe Luxembourg--which is very sparkly and clinky--and were relinquishing our coats, I heard a man at the bar prepare to launch into a story. He spoke with such authority and gravitas, in such a seductive, embellish-y manner.. I don't remember what he said, but it was more in his manner of telling, anyway... You knew that the person he was speaking to was about to hear a real bona fide STORY. I wanted to drop down and sit on the floor cross legged right then, to listen! We might as well have been in front of a campfire. I glanced over and am fairly positive it was MICHAEL CAINE. But I was much too cool and glamorous to stare, of course, to make sure, and then soon enough we were whisked away to our table.

I have to describe two things. First, the OYSTERS. I was in the middle of telling Eric what I'm sure was something very riveting when I realized he had eaten his two oysters and I hadn't eaten mine. I reached down and took the scraggly thing and poured it in my mouth, still thinking about whatever it was we were talking about. And then! No oyster like this have I ever had. I believe it might have been magic. Because suddenly the ocean was in my mouth! It was like holding a seashell to my ear, but tasting it! How often do you taste something that transports you out of a winter New York and into another space and time completely? It was like all the sparkliness and clinkiness had been replaced by seashells and pearls and weird dangly creatures you can see through and waving coral and salt that looks like snow in the water. It was a complete emotional experience, eating that oyster! And then there was a second one. Oh my, was it blissful. And we were drinking a lovely Chianti besides.

We also had these lovely salads WITH POACHED EGGS ON TOP but then the main dish.. The main dish was fantastical. I had winter squash ravioli with an oxtail ragout and some sage cream sauce. Eric had coq au vin, which was very exciting to me because of course as we all know that was JACK TRIPPER'S specialty on Three's Company and tho that has always given that dish a wondrous mystique to me, I have managed to make it to this age without ever tasting it. Both dishes were amazing. Hearty wintry, snow-falling-outside and icicles-forming-on-the-shutters kind of meals. I do not have the vocabulary to describe those sweet ravioli with the really rich meat on top and that light herb-y sauce, but it was like all the songs and movies I love most, which are always many things at once, like hysterical and devastating at the same time. It was like Gegen die Wand, but on a plate! If only my one true love Tom Colicchio had been with us. He would know what to say.

Oh, and. Amongst many other lovely things Eric was telling me about the three plays he is working on, and one of them is The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, which is coming to Broadway this spring as a one-woman show with Vanessa Redgrave. I had not realized that The Year of Magical Thinking was a memoir about grief--Joan Didion's husband and daughter died within a year of each other, unexpectedly--that came out last year, her analysis of and meditation on her response to such astounding loss. I had to read it immediately once Eric told me what it was about. After dinner, we went back to his and Shax's apartment so that Eric could give me a copy, as he has about 5000 on hand. On the subway home I read about 50 pages I think, and this morning another 50. I can barely wait to leave work and finish it. The writing is so clipped and clinical and careful and intelligent, and yet what she's writing about is the most wrenching loss, and the tenderness and grief press up against the clinical language in this most amazing, unbelievably powerful way. I cannot even imagine what that woman has borne, and to be able to document it so precisely! I understand, too, that Joan Didion wrote the play, not just adapting it but starting from scratch to do it, and that rehearsals have just started and Vanessa Redgrave is spectacular. I cannot wait to go see. Also, the haunting photo on the back of the book totally gets me. I mean, she's the one who looks like she's about to float away:

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