How many of us have jokingly said that as we plunked down in a luxurious hotel room bed, or sipped champagne in the south of France? “I’ve arrived!”
It’s always fun to relish in moments of exceptional quality with drawn out “dahhhhhlings,” and jutting your jaw like Thurston Howell.
But the obvious hi-falutin examples of living in the lap of luxury don’t have to be the only road to “arrival.” A walk on Sinatra Drive can fill me with awe and arrival. Winter wind on my face after a day in a Russian Bath, or the first sip of freshly ground pour-over coffee can give me the same sound feeling. The smile on my son’s face when he crushes a Cannoli in Little Italy, or slurps up a soup dumpling in Chinatown. Biting into a Nathan’s hot dog under the Wonder wheel can bring me back to my humble Brooklyn beginnings, and my fortunate return fills my heart with “arrival.”
I love that. The little things beyond your wildest dreams.
Smaller moments will often move us much more than big events. Even further, the momentary flourishes of flavors and textures that fill a void and quiet our minds are far more augmenting of achieving “arrival” throughout the day.
I work a lot, so my pleasure seeking found its center, simply, in lush linens. Oh, I’m crazy for nice sheets. One needs no passport to pour yourself into a bed that transports you to pleasure-ville, population: you! I also found joy in moving from pinning posters on my wall to properly framed prints and paintings. Sure, it may still be a B-movie, an old headshot of Lauren Bacall, or a beat up postcard of Bukowski I hang, not far off from the same shit I scotch taped up at fifteen, but the frames are thoughtful, my tastes a tad elevated, and my sense of security and maturity allows an “arrival” once again.
Of course, as you can tell, many of my magnificent memories and luxuries revolve around food. That’s true for most of us. And though we do find comfort in going back to where we were, can we please stop with the fuckin tator tots and shitty happy hour food? There are so many amazing flavors to enjoy! Let’s not listen to the same song over and over.
Look, I get it, humble foods of home brings about a sense of serenity that only home could bring, even if the crazy currency our childhoods were spent on empty calories, processed food, sugar sweetened cardboard, and all the other crap that is straight up delicious! I’m not judging. I can go to town on candy, pizza, peanut butter & jelly and all the other “foods” I grew up on like a one man riot, but it doesn’t incite “arrival”…and we need that. Even the mentions earlier, the dirty water dogs, dumplings, and pastries are just as much about the places as the homegrown delicacies of downtown and Coney.
But humans cannot live on creamy delicious sweet street sold sulfite sentimentality alone. Sure, who doesn’t want to chance a dance with diverticulosis, but we should allow ourselves to indulge in the finer things as well. I’m lucky, I grew up in New York surrounded by so many different cultures that I felt, through food, that feeling of “this is special” long before I ripped off the cover of TV guide with Victoria Principal on it, and hid it under my bed. But I digress, that’s a whole different “this is special.”
I ate fish head soup for the first time at five from my Mandarin neighbor. I distinctly remember tasting tahini at seven when my sister dated a Syrian kid and his mother would feed me food that the taste triggered something in me that was nothing less than a DNA memory of the dawn of civilization. I can still smell the olives in the Mediterranean store on third avenue, and feel the consistency of the apricot paste on orange cellophane that was a blessed pre-cursor of fruit rollups.
My mouth still waters from the first taste of Nutella, and Mascarpone spoon-fed to me by Mrs. Montaforte in her green floral housecoat. I have fond memories of the salty iron worker from across the street that had lived in Japan, and taught me about sushi. I still to this day think of my father shucking clams at a Ma Bell picnic every time I eat one; every time I sniff a beer bottle cap I relive him letting me nip at his Rheingold to wash down the briney bivalves.
The list goes on as I ate my way through life, mushrooms, foie gras, pickled plums, arroz y gandules, spumoni, scungilli, fettuccine Alfredo, stuffed mushrooms, molé, crawfish, I remember each moment like it was yesterday. I was adventurous. Hell, the first time I ate a scallion it was growing wild in Central Park, and my mother realized I ate it (why I was in the bushes alone I’ll never know) because she could smell it on my breath…the story goes on ‘n on…and I haven’t even touched on wine and booze. Each and every time I felt: I’ve arrived.
This is why I started the tapas menu at antique. For me to cook from memory, and incorporate all the amazing flavorful stories I have from growing up in the greatest city in the world, and to give people the opportunity to taste great food, and drink great cocktails at a very economical price.
Who doesn’t love a deal? This is the city we love learning that the leather jacket was found for 5 bucks in a bin up in Beacon, or that you got your great aunts rent-controlled walk up for peanuts. We all love a bargain, and a bargain on the finer things is the best bargain of all.
I know there are people out there that hit up local happy hours to eat and drink on the cheap that would love the opportunity to taste and tipple what may normally be beyond their means, and others that just want to wash the day away in a Calgon of a cocktail, and eat a feast of many flavors. So great, come by, say hi, and try the Antique Tapas.
Babies, you’ve arrived.