Monday, July 28, 2008

Farm Fresh Weekend

Fresh pickins at the Union Square Farmer's Market. Photo: JH.
A warm weekend in New York. Sometimes sunny, sometimes rain, cooling temperatures followed the passing thunderstorms.

This happened to be the weekend of my birthday. A group of us went to Indochine on Saturday night. Twenty-five years later Indochine is still a cool place to dine out in New York. A scene, a menu, a variety of types and ages and a lotta young. And a lotta drinks.

Hello Hamptons hello; what I missed, what you missed. On Saturday afternoon, from noon to six Donna Karan and Charla Lawhon editor of InStyle hosted a “SuperSaturday11, with Kelly Ripa as the Special Guest Host at the world famous designer garage sale benefiting the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Items from more than 200 prominent designers. Bargains, bargains everywhere. The boldfaced ones and their chums came from far and wide to shop for stuff 50% off the suggested retail price, and even lower.

How’d they do? They raised $3.6 million for Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF). More tomorrow ...

And Saturday night in the Hamptons was Watermill Center, the 15th annual benefit, this year titled “Marlene Dietrich in Dr. No’s Ludovico Clinic.”

If you didn’t know, Robert Wilson and his Watermill Center’s annual gala is the art world’s party of the year in the Hamptons every year at the end of July. 800 showed up this year, and that’s eight hundred of all kinds of people, all ages, all types, collectors, dealers, girlfriends, boyfriends, artists, agents, actors, girlfriends, boyfriends, society ladies with husband and more in toe, the rich, the chic and the shameless.
Rufus Wainwright, Kim Cattrall, and Robert Wilson
Laura Harring and Katharina Otto Bernstein
They all love Robert. Robert is now a legend. A name to be dropped. And boy is it ever nowadays. And they’ve been nurturing this project of his almost from the getgo. It’s been years now and they’ve seen it come together so that now it’s a thrill to see what their money wrought. Social careers have been hatched (and now in full flight) in the process of helping Robert raise money for his projects, namely the Watermill Center. More on that tomorrow, also; with lotsa pictures.
Baba Anand and a Watermill performer
Friday marked the 5th and final day of the nutritional cleanse that JH and I have been participating. For those of you who missed the first report, the process began last Monday when six bottles of liquid food were dropped at our doorsteps like the milkman used to do in the old days. The contents were a variety of things that were numbered and labeled and came with directions as to what order the drinks were to be consumed, viz., One every two or three hours and the last one two hours before bedtime.

One day’s supply, for example might be The Daily Green; Pear Lemonade with Ginger, Zucchini and Basil, Cucumber and Parsley, Borscht, Pumpkin Seed Milk with Carob. The last one tasted vaguely like very weak chocolate milk. Very. Each one was a combination of things. The Daily Green, for example, would be a combination of juices of: cucumber, cabbage, celery, apple, broccoli, collard greens, kale, swiss chard, dandelion, lemon, avocado and aloe vera. What did that taste like? Not exactly like cod liver oil but undistinctively blah with a hint of flavor running over your tastebuds vaguely.

By the third day, I could hardly wait for it to be over. JH felt pretty much the same way too. We pep-talked each other over the phone. I could tell he wouldn’t quit. He was taken by the reality that when you drink your meals in this way, you have no excess and you are bound to lose pounds. JH was into that.
One day's worth of Jill Pettijohn's nutritional cleanse (www.jillpettijohn.com).
All good but it was boring. I had not realized how much eating is an entertainment, a distraction. During the process I went to lunches and dinners and didn’t eat. And didn’t feel hungry. However, seeing the food that I wasn’t hungry for was enough to make me wish I could eat ... to taste, to chew, to luxuriate in the flavors and textures. All those things I rarely think about when I’m eating. They were non existent on this diet.

By the third day I’d lost weight. I’d look at myself in the mirror after shower and imagine that some of the paunch had quickly disappeared. Could that be? I doubt it. Maybe I was just standing up straighter.

But by the fourth day, I had a dinner date that had been made months before and I knew I couldn’t postpone it. The question was, do I break the “cleanse” and eat (at Le Cirque)? Or do I sit and watch my dinner partners while they enjoy their delicious Le Cirque meals? I decided that would be rude. Don’t you think? Watching these poor people delirious with pleasure from eating dinner. So rude.

So on Thursday I had the first four juices for the day and three hours later I had a salad and four Australian shrimp. And loved it. It wasn’t a lot but it was wonderful. And it was wonderful that it wasn’t a lot. And I was a quitter.

There ended my Nutritional Cleanse diet. This is not the way Jill Pettijohn (www.jillpettijohn.com) designed it. She was very specific about the five days. I was a quitter. (Although that part didn’t really bother me, especially after I had full meal, yippee!!). JH remained the soldier. He concluded the entire five days, griping his way down to the finish but completing the task. There’s character for you.

The last bite of my Zabar's birthday coffee cake ring, Sunday night at 11:58 PM. In case you're wondering, Zabar's coffee cake rings can lose their freshness and even go stale fairly quickly, which is why they should be eaten immediately!
I dropped seven pounds. I don’t know about JH but I think it was five or six down. The day after I received a birthday package from Zabar's, sent by a friend. It contained a Zabar's coffee cake ring. I didn’t know Zabar's had coffee cakes after all these years of going there every Saturday. They do. There was a picture of it on the box it came in. It looked beyond delicious.

I was gazing at it thinking about the post-Cleanse instructions that came on the last day. There was a list of things not to eat right away. Sugar was at the top of the list.

I looked at the picture on the box again and decided to open it and have a better look. It was a large and beautiful coffee cake ring covered with brown sugar and cinnamon and nuts and god knows what else. I wanted it. I decided to have one small piece.

This was Thursday night, and I’d just got home from Le Cirque. The one small piece was replaced with a second. And then a third. Still small but. And finally, one quarter the way through I forced myself to quit. I put it away. I thought about throwing it away. I grew up being taught you must never waste food. That meant I couldn’t throw it away Or let it go stale.

A few minutes after I’d helped myself to the cake, I had a strange aftertaste. Something sorta metallic. It was not flavorful in any way. It tasted like something synthetic. And it wouldn’t wash down.

Saturday morning, back at the birthday coffee cake ring.
Another chunk gone. Aftertaste returns. Delicious cake, incidentally, the kind that makes you go back for more, and more and more. Perhaps it was the sugar. I’d been aware of the absence of sugar in my juice diet in a subtle but conscious way.

Last week was the first week I can remember in years, of never feeling stuffed after a meal at some point in the day – usually evening. Because of the discipline of the bottles of juices, there was nothing extra added to my daily intake. My stomach was never on overdrive. No pastries or candies or quickie sandwiches passed my way; no occasional bunch of fries or a cheeseburger at Michael’s, or the meatloaf at Swifty’s. No birthday cakes – all of which looked good to eat. I only minded seeing the food because it was still tempting to the eye and so much more interesting than a bottle of juice. But the stomach sent back a different message, and it wasn’t hunger pangs.

Fresh sweet corn for all ages at the Union Square Farmer's Market.
The experience left both me and JH thinking about how we eat and what we eat. There was pleasure in feeling that all we were consuming were foods that were good for us, and all very simple foods, mainly vegetables. I’ve been thinking for a long long time that heavy diets of vegetable and fruit were the way to go at this time in my life.

It was that which motivated me on Saturday afternoon to go down to the Farmer’s Market and pick up some fresh veggies on 14th Street and Union Square – like corn and tomatoes (from New Jersey) and cukes and beets and carrots.

I’ve also been thinking for a long long time that this kind of diet is probably the only way we’re going to be able to feed ourselves with our massive populations. I’ve been thinking I’m damned lucky to have this food; damned lucky.

To help get you in the act, here are some pics from Saturday's Farmer's Market in Union Square ...

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