location: upper west side, new york
last night about this time i was having rather gut-busting giggly texting conversation with JW about hanging out while i am in town. as JW was going to be off from work due to vetran's day and wasn't planning to come into manhattan, we decided to meet up in brooklyn for lunch. after we made our plans and i laid on the lumpy hotel mattress, staring up at the ceiling, i realized that this would be a good opportunity to pop into ted and honey in cobble hill. they have been open for a while now and i must admit that i've been keeping an eye on it from afar since they have opened. you see, in a previous life....or what seemed like a previous life....i knew the chef.
the first time i met the chef was when he was a sous at bix. i was having dinner with one of his childhood friends....a childhood friend that i eventually married, and subsequently divorced over three years ago. it is one of the rather unfortunate things about break ups....in that not only are there divisions of "things" but there are also divisions of friendships and people. the chef and his wife were among "B"'s people....so post-divorce, it seemed inappropriate that i would attempt to contact them....despite the care and respect that i still have for them both.
i remember our first "double date" at a sf giants game when the chef's girlfriend (and later wife) confided to me that he was "the one" for her. i remember them at my wedding....and how the chef was rather upset on my behalf regarding some behavior of certain guests. i remember being at their wedding and being so happy for them.
when i started to see the press around the opening of ted and honey, i was rather thrilled for him. i read about how he was continuing to seek out farmers and doing his thing...which even included making his own ketchup. this chef was doing these sort of things well before it became "the thing". i seriously considered visiting ted and honey last october and this past march. yet, i didn't. i had this thing that i shouldn't even visit....that somehow even that was inappropriate. this time, i decided that i would wander by and if i didn't see him or his sister inside, then i would pop in to take a look. i rationalized in my head that if i didn't see/talk to him then it wouldn't be inappropriate.
so before i met JW, i took the train to bergen and walked to ted and honey.
the red paint makes it stand out on the tree lined corner and the nearby park. i saw that there were people inside having breakfast and coffee. i didn't see the chef so i took a deep breath and went inside. as i looked around i couldn't help but smile. it is a lovely space. there were these touches.....the exposed brick; the shelves of jars and food for sale; ceiling fans anchored into an almost embossed ceiling that reminded me of new orleans for some reason; the combination of the large communal table, smaller tables, and a small counter...gives the space a sense of separation but cozy community at the same time. there was an efficient use of space....but it wasn't sterile. it was like stepping into a well worn and visited neighborhood cafe. there were items on the menu that were cracking me up....like....of course...there would have to be something called "redneck" on the menu. as i knew i would be having a meal with JW later on, i only ordered a cappuccino and a blueberry lemon scone. i sat happily at the counter, noshin on the yummy scone...
just watching everybody....the stylish staff, the families, the couples, the single people doing some reading or work over a snack and coffee....all enjoying themselves.... and it hit me that he and his sister really made it happen.
i just felt so proud of him. intellectually, i was having a hard time understanding why i felt this way, sitting at the counter, watching everybody. why should i feel proud? i had nothing to do with this. i even chided myself....as i wondered if that was even condescending? this feeling of pride? it wasn't my intention but i was really having a hard time understanding why i felt this way. i haven't spoken or seen the chef in years. yet, i did feel this way. sometimes, emotions are what they are. i felt proud of what he has accomplished.....making good food with an emphasis on the quality of the ingredients and where they are sourced....making food that people were enjoying...making food that underscored the connections between families and friends.
i can only imagine how challenging, exciting, and scary it must have been...and perhaps still is as they expand their kitchen capabilities and move toward potential dinner service.
as i packed up to meet JW, i noticed the chef's sister by the cashier. the times i had seen her around the holiday season years ago, she was always so stylish....a kind of stylish that seemed effortless and lovely ....i noticed that hasn't changed one bit. i paused and wondered if i should approach her.....then made the decision in a nanosecond to not go up and say anything. there was no need to bring any potential drama or awkwardness into that lovely place. i just wanted to see what they had accomplished...to not just read about it....but see it. i'm glad i did.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
location: upper west side, new york