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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« downtime | Main | decision & insomnia cures »

my book & nyc feast

My book arrived today! I was so impatient that I had to rip open the box of author copies while waiting in the lobby for the elevator. There it was. With my name on the cover. It seems like ages ago (January of last year, to be precise) that Writer's Digest called me up to ask if I'd be interested in writing the book. As if I'd say no.


Jeff came to visit on the weekend, and we went to New York. It was great to see some old friends again. On Friday night, some friends took us to L'espinasse, one of New York's top-rated restaurants. Incredible food, and the menu was the kind that was almost as fun to read as it was to order from. :-) Courses had names like "Rouget Cuit Sure Peau, Ratte Cuite Au Four, Huile D'Olive" (Mediterranean Rouget and Calamari on Crushed Fingerling Potato with Black Olive and Preserved Lemon) and "Grits Aux Champignons Sauvages" (Stone-ground White Grits with Cantal Cheese and Wild Mushrooms). Dinner was US$145 per person, not including gratuity or alcohol. It definitely wasn't the kind of place that Jeff and I could afford if we were paying. Nor would we want to, even if we could afford it...this is more of a "once in a lifetime" sort of experience, to be appreciated that much more because of its rarity.

(I almost sounded convincing there, didn't I? :-))

Every dish of the ten-course dinner (I think it was ten courses; I lost count after a while) was a "tasting" portion, so artfully arranged that it was almost a shame to touch it (but we did). One of my favourites was the first serving, "Amuse Bouche", which was a surprise every evening. That night's gustatorial offering was a baked potato shell shaped into a delicate conch shell, on a bed of rock salt. Inside the shell was a small amount of caviar and a dollop of fresh cream. Yummmmmmmm...

As each course was served, one of the servers announced the name of the dish solemnly, as if he was introducing the next act of a tragedy. I managed to resist the urge to applaud. After each course was finished, servers appeared out of nowhere to unobtrusively clear used plates, replaced used cutlery, refill wine and water glasses. The service was excellent. The entire dinner took nearly three hours, but I didn't really notice the time go by. I did have trouble figuring out what some of the cutlery was for, but no one at our table cared whether anyone was using a fork out of order, so I ended up picking fairly randomly. :-)

feast of senses

Another high point of the weekend for me was staying in our friend Arline's apartment. Arline has one of those places where absolutely every thing in her place looks like it has been chosen with much thought and affection. Perhaps I've been dwelling in a beige cubicle-land too long, but I felt on the weekend as if my senses had been starved to some degree, at least visually. I found myself delighted and fascinated by a PILLOW at Arline's, for example. Egads, how sad is that? But I couldn't help had such rich textures and colours (the photo does not do it justice), especially in the sunlight that filtered through the bamboo blinds, that I just sat and admired it for a while. Ditto for a chair downstairs, a china plate on display, a fountain outside in her small garden, a painting of a woman artist in her front hall.

I don't think we tend to make enough of this type of quiet time for ourselves. Or maybe I'm just weird, that I value it so much. By "quiet time", I don't just mean being in a quiet room. I mean sitting somewhere alone, not talking to anyone, not actively interacting with your environment. But just sitting and really looking at things around you, tasting things, making use of all your senses. These days, I tend to eat in a hurry, just shoving food into my mouth (not even particularly good food) to quell hunger pangs, rushing to fit more tasks into less time, moving onto the next thing before fully appreciating the last, never pausing, hurryhurryHURRY. No wonder I'm burning out.

Dinner at the fancy restaurant on Friday helped me slow down and appreciate the sense of taste. I don't think one has to spend $145 on a meal to do this; you could do it with an ordinary apple. Or hot dog. Or chocolate bar (mmmm, especially a chocolate bar....). Staying at Arline's helped me remember what it was like to savour things visually. Taste, too...she had interesting ginger-lemon "fruitwater" in the guest fridge, Belgian butter crackers in the snack cupboard.

Now to move onto my other senses... :-)

But enough rambling. This last paragraph has made me hungry...I'm going to snoop through the fridge for a late-night snack.

Today's blatherphotos:
Me and my book!
Arline's pillow
Harry & Jean's cat, Mackerel

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