Today is the first “normal” day I’ve had in more than two weeks. I know this because I had steel-cut oats (with soy, mirin, and rice vinegar, fantastic) for breakfast. Otherwise I couldn’t tell.
Last week began in Philly, with a talk at the Free Public Library; I thought it went well. Loads of people, all very friendly. Finished signing at 9.00 or so, and ate at the hotel, the Palomar. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised; I know Kimpton (the hotel chain) tries to work on its restaurants, but I haven’t been that impressed overall. But Square 1682 was really, really good: a warm octopus salad, followed by a tiny little cassoulet … obviously not a big enough sample to judge by, but I’d go back. Not that I know when I’ll be in Philly again.
A not-too-early train to DC made Tuesday an easy day. There were a couple of meetings and interviews, and then the talk at the fantastic Sixth and I synagogue. There was a lot going on this night, including an emotional personal reunion, the attendance at the talk of no fewer than three close friends – one I’ve known since around 1959 – and another near-capacity crowd. (Here’s one blogger’s review.) At first it felt like my Bar Mitzvah (sorry, no link to that!) but I got over it. Dinner was at a friend’s restaurant.
Wednesday was the killer. An early flight to Miami (was it 6.30? I can’t remember), then a super lunch at a benefit, where the chef did a really good job of presenting food-matters-style and actual Food Matters Cookbook food. (I couldn’t help but think what a luncheon like this would have looked like ten or twenty years ago.) I didn’t give the “official” FM talk, but spoke off the cuff a little more than usual, and took a ton of questions. Was quite fun.
The afternoon and evening were spent at Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables. I’d taken my kids there so long ago I can’t remember, but I knew I loved the place. We started with a tour by Richard Campbell, who has the enviable title of Curator of Tropical Fruit. The place is less than 100 acres (though they have a farm down in Homestead, which I’m going to visit later in the winter), but really spectacular. I took some pix.
Everyone was super-friendly here, and it was the most gorgeous possible Miami day; the humidity had broken a day or two earlier, and the air was soft and, dare I say, kind. Whole Foods – about whom I don’t always speak kindly – kindly provided food for the crowd (and for my late night flight) and despite some technical problems the talk went well. The q&a was lively and invigorating. I remain happily stimulated by how much people are thinking about what we can do to “fix” the food scene in the U.S. and the world. But I’m not getting started on that now or we’ll never get through this post.
Yes, at 10 pm that night, I flew to the Gateway to the West, St. Louis. The Cards are not in the playoffs, the Rams stink, and there’s no NBA team, but I slept well anyway, starting at about 1 central time. Bright and early – a beautiful day here, too – I was on Great Day St. Louis, with the fabulous Carol Daniel; we even have a video link! Watch me sit on my hands!
I believe I went back to bed after that. You think three cities in 24 hours is easy? Try it.
That afternoon … I don’t remember. Probably something happened. But the evening was a real hoot. Charlie Brennan, one of the last great radio hosts with an intelligent agenda (plus great wit, character, pipes, etc. that is, I have a man-crush on him) interviewed me at the County Library. Full house, overflow, something like 30,000 people, or at least 400. That thing is going to be broadcast/webcast at a later date (stay tuned, because it was really, really fun), but here is an interview Charlie did with me a couple of weeks ago.
I did something at this signing I’d never done before. As people asked if they could take my picture, I said “sure, as long as I can take yours.” So here is a sampling of the people whose books I signed and who asked to take my picture that night. Note the twins, Jane and Judy, and see how happy everyone is! Fun, huh?
I went to dinner, late, at Araka, where I was treated nicely by chef Steve Caravelli (whose sauerkraut was awesome) and joined for a drink by Allyson and Ligaya of Sauce magazine. Tumbled into bed at around 11, for a 4am wakeup call, just in time to get home and start chilling.
Sunday was the Hudson-Mohawk Marathon. I ran it. Yes it’s true.