Yolks on You

When I was in college, I went with my family to Japan, to show them where I had lived in high school as an exchange student, and to act as a translator while we toured the rest of the country.

In Kyoto, we went to a ryokan, a traditional inn that served dinner prepared in a regional style. Apparently, centuries ago, the Emperor had been hunting near Kyoto, and had become incredibly hungry on his way back to the palace. So he had stopped at a local farm, where the farmer cooked the hunted game on a garden hoe atop an open flame. The Emperor loved the meal so much that it became a regular preparation. Today, at some Kyoto ryokan, you can still eat dinner prepared on a large cast-iron plate atop a rolling fire.

My brother and parents and I headed in to such a dinner, where two Japanese women in robes set to work preparing the food, starting by throwing a few large pieces of chicken fat onto the cast-iron plate, as grease in which to cook. As I’ve written before, my mother has very strong ideas about food safety, and I could see her visibly cringe as those chunks of potential death by salmonella coasted around the plate. The women started cooking the first few items – vegetables, pieces of steak. Then, just before they served those items, they tossed on a few additional pieces of chicken fat. This, it turned out, was too much for my mother; raw chicken bumping against the cooked pieces tripped over her already pushed disgust limit. With little fanfare, my mother told us that she couldn’t possibly eat the food, got up, and left the restaurant.

The Japanese women looked stricken by my mother’s sudden disappearance, clearly considering mutual suicide as the only way to recover the honor of the meal. So, in my best Japanese, I tried to explain that the food looked extremely delicious, and that my mother had most certainly wanted to try it, but that she was feeling very jet-lagged after our long trip from the US. Doubting as the women seemed of my story, it apparently provided just enough cover to allow things to proceed. And proceed they did, with course after course after course served up for my brother, my father and me.

Had we each just been eating a single person’s serving, the meal would have been extremely substantial. But with us splitting my mother’s portion, too, it verged on ridiculous. We ate and ate, trying our best to show appreciation for the food. But, after a while, my father and brother bowed out. They couldn’t keep eating, they told me. There was just no way. So, in turn, I explained to the women that the meal was one of the most wonderful we had ever eaten, was the highlight of our trip to Japan, but that we couldn’t possibly finish.

You don’t want any more?, they asked.

No, I explained. It was truly delicious, but we had eaten as much as we could.

To which they replied: in that case, there’s nothing left but the omelette.

As we looked on in horror, they pulled a dozen eggs from the bottom of the cart, cracked them over the last of the food, and begun to cook the whole thing up in a sort of culinary coup de grâce.

I eat a lot of food; enough so that my family calls me the garbage disposal, and will pass the remains of their plates my way at restaurants. But, even so, I can honestly say: I am sure I’ve never been anywhere near that full in my entire life.


I’m down in DC for the weekend with Jess and her business partner Catherine, working as their intern at a Dobbin holiday show.

In the past, we’d have left Gemelli behind for this kind of trip, but Penne is young enough – and terrible enough at walking on leash – that we didn’t want to dump them both on my brother (as he’s already regularly out walking Brooklyn, his cockapoo, he’s an excellent first line of doggy daycare defense), so they’re both in tow.

Traveling with two dogs has been an adventure. Penne, it turns out, gets carsick, and tossed her cookies within a few minutes of hitting the highway (and again, after a rest stop pitstop). Gem, who’s used to living in a building with just one other apartment on our floor, stayed up all night, growling at the door each time someone headed to or from one of the forty other rooms just down the hall.

That said, the Kimpton staff (dog-friendly across the entire chain) has been awesome, and both dogs were happy to nap together in the room last night when we hit the hotel’s newly re-cheffed restaurant Urbana, a current DC hotspot. And, as it’s been a few years since I was in Washington, it’s been fun to walk them through Dupont circle, or down K Street, enjoying the capital in its crisp, wintry best. I think we should all make it through the weekend in one piece.

Paris Thoughts

2mg of melatonin plus two Simply Sleep is the long-sought solution for knocking both Jess and me out through an entire red-eye flight.

I still feel like crap the next day.

Even after two Prontalgine.

There’s a big difference between ‘in shape’ and ‘able to walk eight to ten miles a day through a city, several days in a row, without excruciating soreness’.

French people have so much fucking style.

Also, they will eat absolutely anything.

What idiot came up with the European system of leaving your room keys at the hotel’s front desk each time you head out? Even if I’d never seen one of the many receptionists before, showing back up with a smile and a “due cent due” was enough to score the corresponding room key.

If I had endless money, I’d dress in Lanvin every day.

Eating freshly baked baguette reminded me of a quote I once read from a French chef, who described the taste of US bread comparatively as ‘like eating a towel’.

I should really learn to speak French.

Great Success

As planned, I am now thirty, in Paris with Jess, and drinking Cognac in our hotel bar.


Realize I should have mentioned as much before going AWOL, but I’ve been on the road nonstop of late, hitting Maine, Denver, and now Boston, with barely enough time to sleep, much less to blog.

I miss my bed.


According to the best man, for tomorrow’s rehearsal dinner, the groom has requested the groomsmen wear “Khaki and Polo… we gotta look sharp you know.”

Toto, we’re not in Midtown any more.

Los Angeles: Day 6

Despite a lovely stretch in LA (marred substantially by only an unexpected car-towing at the very end), I’m more than glad to be writing this from a New York-bound airplane. (Even despite the scent coming off the old codger next to me who drank seven – yes, seven – small airline bottles of cheap red wine.)

A few things I learned on the LA part of the trip:

1. No wifi = no productivity.

2. Jess and I are waaaay to old to do multiple ‘pre-game’ tequila shots before a night of back-to-back business drinks.

3. Los Angelinos can’t drive worth shit.

4. Especially when it rains.

5. I no longer get even vaguely star-struck.

6. While you can’t make good sushi from bad fish, you apparently can make bad sushi from good fish.

7. Despite the national infrastructure efforts of Whole Foods, California produce still wins.

8. Though, conversely, while LA may have more Kosher delis than New York, they all make crap pastramis on rye.
And, resolved: Still seems like a nice place to visit, but I still wouldn’t want to live there.

Los Angeles: Day 3

Yes, I lived all the way through Sundance, and even managed to detour briefly further west, all without blogging about any of it. Shame, shame.

But, really, it wasn’t my fault. I had no wifi in Park City, and the supposed wifi here at the brand new Thompson Beverly Hills is dodgy at best. (Though, on the upside, the rooms are $150 a pop while the place is still working out the kinks, and the hotel is clearly the new hotness: Marky Mark was at the hotel restaurant [the West Coast incarnation of my long-loved Bond St.] on Tuesday evening, and last night celebrity stylist / drug dealer Rachel Zoe was smoking out front.)

How’s the trip been? In short, excellent. After a 2007 of not enough forward motion for Cyan, we’re jumping into 2008 with terrifying velocity. And after a 2007 of (unwisely) fading from the film-word schmooze-circuit, I (and the rest of the company) have already glad-handed everyone from directors, producers and actors, to bankers, hedge fund types, and the heads of the DGA and the MPAA.

Back to it.