Warren on Jul 17th 2011
Saturday Evening in the Garden
We were fortunate to snag an invite to the annual Benefit for Longhouse Reserve on Saturday honoring Dale Chihuly. Even though the artist was not able to attend, it was still a glorious evening, highlighted by a dazzling perfomance by principal dancers of the New York City Ballet. Of course Jack Lenor Larson was there. So was Edward Albee. Ran into Mark Drucker from Plum magazine, whom i worked with at Garden Design back in the day.
Warren on Jul 15th 2011
Lobster, Crabcakes, and More…
What great way to start a long weekend in the Hamptons. Happy Hour at the Palm features their bar bites at a super reduced price of $4.50 each, and a buck and half for oysters. And so the two of us were able to enjoy lobster roll sliders, mini crabcakes, oysters, shrimp and a couple of glasses of Reisling for about $50.
Warren on Jul 14th 2011
Nice uncrowded ride out to East Hampton on LIRR. So much more pleasant than the jitney. Cheaper too! New Restoration Hardware: sure got a lot of help sitting around on the fab furniture.
Warren on Jul 7th 2011
I am happy to report that the Age of Brunch is over. Oh, all the folks blithely enjoying their weekend mimosas and Eggs Benedict think that brunch will always be in fashion. After all, it has been more than 100 years since Punch magazine declared in 1896, “to be fashionable now, we must brunch.”
And brunch we do. From sunup to sundown every weekend in New York and cities across America people are going out to brunch. They’re engaging in it, and enjoying it, but can someone please tell me exactly what the heck brunch is?
The simple answer, according to the Oxford English Dictionary is that brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch. The OED informs us that the word itself was coined by a Mr. Guy Beringer in Hunter’s Weekly in 1895.
But neither Mr. Beringer nor the OED really explains what makes brunch, brunch—as distinct from breakfast or lunch. Is it the food? It’s not the food. Eggs, for example, a brunch staple, are also breakfast food. They are prepared for brunch exactly the same way as for breakfast. Brunch favorites burgers and salads are also served at lunch and dinner. If brunch were a true combination of breakfast and lunch it would combine the dishes as well, e.g. eggs with hamburgers. In fact that is a dish I’ve enjoyed, a regional Rhode island specialty hamburger patty with a fried egg on top. But I ate those on my half-hour lunch break in the Ocean State. That clearly was not brunch because I was on deadline. I had a schedule, I had somewhere to be after I ate, unlike brunch, which is a meal that, in theory, can stretch to infinity—or at least Monday morning. Is it the time? Yes, it’s the time, to a certain extent. Brunch is characterized by a sense of leisure.
Yes, it has to be on the weekend—Saturday or Sunday with a long day and lazy evening stretching out in front of you.
As a boy, growing up on a farm, those long lazy days were non-existent. Even on weekends, there was always work to get back to. So you can understand my bafflement about brunch.
I’m quite sure my Dad, a lifelong farmer, never ate brunch. He probably never spoke the word “brunch”. That’s not to say he wouldn’t like brunch. He would appreciate any excuse to eat. On the farm, my father routinely ate a second breakfast around 10:00 am. As I recall, it was pretty much the same as the first breakfast (or as he called it “breffist”): peanut butter on white bread, folded, dunked in his coffee. Now, you probably won’t find peanut butter on the brunch menu, unless it’s tucked into a crepe or incorporated into some brunch dessert
So does the eater define brunch? To a degree.
My father was a real man. I believe that a regular guy like him, couldn’t care less about brunch. If he’s at brunch, Nine times out of ten he’s there because his girlfriend suggested it. However, he does like the idea of having permission to start drinking in the morning. If that requires ordering a hamburger and calling it brunch. So be it. Girls like brunch. Guys will do what girls like. Straight guys do anyway. And gay guys just plain like brunch.
So just because I am a brunch idiot why do I posit that brunch has reached the apex of its ascendency?
Go to the epicenter of the brunch world, the restaurant Pastis in the Meat Packing District of New York. If brunch wasn’t invented there, it should have been. And you will suppose, from the long lines and the high prices that brunch has never been more popular. Folks will wait for hours for the privilege for paying seventeen bucks for a couple of eggs—the very same eggs that are eleven dollars during the week. That’s a six dollar surcharge for the privilege of calling them brunch. You’ll find l’oeufs on the brunch menu at Pastis. As well as their salades and garnitures. But you won’t find the French word for brunch. Why? There is not French word for brunch. The French do not need a magic work to justify spending all day in a café eating and drinking.
But look around at the outskirts outer reaches of Brunchville and there are signs of unrest. There’s something brewing besides coffee—and that something is trouble. First there was Permanent Brunch, a restaurant in the Lower East Side that promised brunch all day, every day. It seemed like a sure thing. It shuttered soon after opening. Why? Once you experience brunch on a Tuesday at 6:00 pm you realize it’s not so special anymore. It’s not hard to figure out that anything permanent cannot be special. (See marriage.)
But a worse sign of the coming brunch apocalypse is offered by Meat Hook Butcher shop in Williamsburg, Fitting, that the home of the hipster is also home to the first ironic brunch. At the Meat Hook they’ve set up a single table in front of the counter and for $50 a head, guests get to enjoy a “tasting menu” that might include a slice of leftover pizza with Miller High Life, saltines with chocolate and coffee, schnapps and beef jerky followed by lentil soup.
Well, it does meet the main criteria of brunch: alcohol. Plenty of it. But seems to me that once brunch becomes ironic, it’s days are numbered.
So if you’ll excuse me, it’s the weekend, and I’m going out for a late morning meal. I’m in the vanguard of the next fashionable thing. Eggs over easy, home fries and bacon. And a big mug of coffee. I’m calling it breffist.