I requested two books from Alan this year which he obliged: Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living and A Year in Provence. I started reading JOIE DE VIVRE yesterday and I managed to finished the chapter on breakfast this afternoon. I enjoy reading the book because of the way Robert Arbor relates the French philosophy about eating, food and life in general. It’s a meticulous guide not just to what they eat, but how they eat it and why they eat it the way they do. Arbor dispenses his own brand of wisdom while giving the reader an insight into his personal history. Each page rings true of the subtitle of the book “Simple French Style for Everyday Living”.
For starters, breakfast is simply toast, butter and/or jam or honey and coffee — but despite what seems to be lean fare, it is a time to spend mulling about the day ahead. As Arbor aptly ends his chapter, he says “My advice to you is to enjoy your breakfast and to give a quick thought to each day’s potential. This is the first big step in discovering joie de vivre.”
I left the office at 1PM and had an unscheduled lunch date with Alan in Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain on 52nd Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues. This is one of the things that keep our relationship “fresh”.. we sometimes “regress” (if you may call it that) to dating — and it is something that try to make time for. This is one of Alan’s current favorites for lunch near his place of work, so it was convenient and fortunately, there was a table available.
For starters, we had the Artisanal Ham Tasting which Alan himself recommended I try. You get three different preparations of the same ham (a special ham from Kentucky whose name I cannot now recall). The portions are really a single serving only and are not to share. The ham was served with a mango salsa as one of the three varieties, another between a bite-size biscuit and the third atop mozzarella cubes in a special sauce. (Our waiter, Kent, described each one to us with such flair your mouth starts watering just thinking of the flavors he is describing!)
My entree was the spice rubbed Hanger Steak and served with Fries Americain (which is still French Fries to me). Alan had his favorite Burger Americain, also served with Fries.
Don’t be fooled by the name and its menu proclaimed as regional American cuisine because the restaurant takes it French twist seriously. (Yes, it’s spelled Americain — not American.) The fries are not served with ketchup but actually with two different mustards and a mayonnaise concoction. (I would suppose you can ask for ketchup, but they won’t give it to you unless you ask.) The steak was a good portion but again, a single serving only. The burger, though, was a man-size burger.
For dessert, Alan had the expresso as we shared the 5 fruit crepe. Magnifique! It was quite a meal!
Alan and I never quite run out of things to talk about during moments when we’re by ourselves like this. I guess we’ve proven that marraige doesn’t mean silence at the dinner table just as what one saw in the movie TWO FOR THE ROAD. It may be Bar Americain or Wendy’s — or even just coffee and some marble loaf cake at Starbucks — I always fint these dates very special because it’s part of our “couple time”.
Alan and I actually sat by one of the tables by the wall on the left