Terrible martinis at the Time Out Eat Out Awards. Amaretto, vodka and lemon sour. Blorg. For the record, I really don't understand what's wrong with a standard olive-studded gin martini.Cheese Mongeress Anne Saxelby and the Saxelby Cheese Gang pose for their album cover.
It's widely known that bloggers are the media's ugly stepchildren. Actually, it's worse than that. Bloggers are the stinky kids at the edge of the playground that the traditional media is eventually forced to select for their teams.
Knowing this, I was (reasonably, I believe) torn about whether I should go to the Time Out New York Eat Out Awards last night.
Good reasons against going: It's not really my thing. No plus one allowed. Not really dressed for cocktails. Knew I'd have to admit out loud that I, ahem, blog
Good reasons for going: Free drinks. A possibility of chef-spotting. Monday night.
So yes. I sent in my RSVP. I printed my invite. And upon arriving, I went for my nametag. That's when I discovered I wasn't on the list
. That's when it hit me: not only was I illegitimate media, I was illegitimate party-crashing media. Sad and sadder.
After forcing me to spell out the name of my blog (rather more loudly than I would have preferred), they let me in (as a nametag-free pariah) and I was handed a drink. Well, kind of a drink. An exceedingly sweet martini that made me remember why I don't pay money for such beverages.
The place was crammed with the NYC food industry... bar people, restaurant people, front of the house, back of the house. Made me wonder who was running the city's bars and restaurants until I remembered nobody goes out on Monday anyway.
Feeling slightly ridiculous, like an underdressed interloper, I looked for someplace to ditch the "martini." The inner critic handed me twelve good reasons why I'd be better off at home. Just then, like a calming patch of blue sky in a sea of storm clouds, the crowd parted to reveal the good kids from Saxelby Cheesemongers
in the Essex Street Market
And I knew I was safe. Why? Because people who care, deeply, about cheese, are also people who love the world's underdogs. They're the compassionate souls who would pick the stinky kids at the edge of the playground for their teams because they really, truly believe in the potential of those stinky kids.
I know this about cheese people because cheeses are the food world's underdogs. They are funky, stinky, runny, barnyard-y, lumpy and sometimes covered in spotty molds. They're not pretty, shiny and colorful, like apples or immediately beguiling, like barbecue. Cheeses are not the popular kids. It takes a brave and loving soul to look beyond their surface textures. Truthfully, many cheeses need extra time and care to become exquisite. Not everyone has that kind of patience.
Despite our earnest catcalls, Saxelby Cheesemongers didn't win the Reader's Choice Award for Best Cheese Shop. That honor went to Murray's
. Again. The friendly folks at Against the Grain
didn't win for Best New Bar, either. So after the show, the cheese losers, beer losers and one tag-along media outcast packed into cabs and sped away to Grape and Grain
(the tiny, homey eatery next-door to AtG).
We drank wine, we toasted each other and we ate, lavishly, by candlelight. We had a grand time. And at some point I realized the best reason of all to go to a food award night: It's a reminder that even in as large a city as New York, the community of dedicated food people is small and intertwined.
As much as the restos, bars and food shops compete with each other, they also necessarily, support each other. Whether Murray's wins or Anne Saxelby wins, the community of cheese lovers grows. And I think that bodes well for all of us.
Labels: cheese, commentary, events, nyc