Food Writer's Diary

Too much of a good thing

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Union Square Events, restaurateur Danny Meyer’s catering arm, sent these items to me this morning, along with instructions for how to eat it:

Start with Hot Bread Kitchen Focaccia, sliced into two-inch squares

Spread liberally with Lynnhaven Goat Farm Chevre

Top with housemade Winter Fruit & Vegetable Chutney

Pairs beautifully with Shinn Sauvignon Blanc 2012, 

recommended by Master Sommelier John Ragan

Cheers to the season!

I sort of followed their directions. I didn’t slice the focaccia into squares but kept it in the rectangles in which it was sent. And I had it for lunch, in the office, where it would have been inappropriate to have it with a bottle of wine.

So I put the wine in my drawer with the four bottles of wine I got earlier this week and the bottle of New Jersey rum I got last week from a public relations company that also gave me a bunch of coffee and tea from a manufacturer they represent. That’s strewn in packets on my desk, next to cookbooks I’ve been sent, menus I’ve saved from dinners and the contents of various gift bags I’ve received at the restaurant openings, liquor promotions and assorted other parties I’ve been invited to recently.

This fall has been an unusually robust season for food and drink being sent to the office. You can ask my colleagues, who have been treated to all sorts of ciders and pies and cheese and tea.

This can be a problem. It’s definitely a first world problem. More than that, it’s a problem of an over-indulged food writer, and I get no sympathy for it.

Still, it can be a problem. Upper management periodically sends a semi-official shudder of disapproval at the state of my cubicle, cluttered as it is with spices and Korean energy drinks and fancy bottled water and jars of artisanal preserves. It’s all wrapped up and unlikely to attract vermin, but I have a higher threshold of tolerance for clutter than most people, and so I tend to store things haphazardly.

Then the shudder’s sent my way and I straighten things up.

I freely acknowledge that it looks unseemly. I might as well, because people have no qualms about judging me.

If they saw my apartment, they’d probably call the police.

Last summer I hired a cleaning service to help me clear things out and straighten things up. It was a two-person job, not including me, and the women sent by the service were not shy about their disdain for me.

“Mucho alcohol,” one of them observed.

If she spoke English, or if I spoke Spanish, I would have told her that people just send me alcohol; that if I were a drunk there wouldn’t be any alcohol, but since I exercise moderation in my alcohol consumption I have a lot of it, and that she should get off my back.

Her associate handed me a pamphlet about Jesus as they left. I’m not sure if she does that everywhere she cleans or if she thought the state of my domicile meant I also lived in a state of spiritual disarray, lost in the wilderness without a savior. 

The clutter’s getting worse. Fall is always the busy restaurant season in New York, with openings and parties and a general rush of self-promotion, but this fall has been the busiest in recent memory.

I’m not sure why. One person from a different publication here at Penton suggested maybe it was because business was bad and they had excess inventory. But I suspect that the opposite is true. When business is bad, the first thing restaurants seem to cut is marketing dollars. And anecdotal evidence suggests that times are good for high-end dining establishments — something I’ll be examining further and writing about in the coming weeks as I wrap up the year with some new inductees into our Fine Dining Hall of Fame

In the meantime, I’ll be working on an inventory management system of my own.

November 21, 2013 — This entry has been edited to correct typographical errors.

 

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What's Food Writer's Diary?

Food Writer's Diary is a blog written by Bret Thorn, senior food editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, which covers culinary trends and his adventures.

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Bret Thorn

Bret Thorn is responsible for reporting on culinary trends in foodservice for Nation's Restaurant News. He joined NRN in 1999, after spending about five years as a journalist in Thailand, where...
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