I spent the better part of my summer working on Fire Island in New York at a restaurant called Cherry's on the Bay. I missed the energy of a professional kitchen; I missed being behind a stove. The air is so thick with urgency, it's almost tactile. There is an unreasonable craving for perfection and it feeds us like a perverse nourishment.
After a succession of 20 hour days and 6 day weeks, my soul was in desperate need of a change of environment. I made my escapes to NYC. I'd take the first ferry of the day to Long Island, then board the 2-hour train ride into Manhattan, elect a new MTA stop, ascend up to the street level, and exhaust the time. If you've never gotten lost in NYC, I highly recommend it.
On one of my weekly forays into the city, I chose Union Square as my destination. I love the Union Square Market and the surrounding blocks. Unlike previous trips, I had a specific destination in mind. In the weeks prior, a friend posted a picture of himself on Instagramstraddling his Vespa with a coffee cup in hand, a brilliant smile on his face. I made a mental note of the name on the storefront...Tarallucci e Vino. My friend, who is originally from Sicily, is quite the world traveler, the GM at The Carlyle on 76th Street in NYC, and an opinion that I always welcome and appreciate. I couldn't ignore the blissed out expression he wore standing in front of this curious little restaurant. So I put it on my list. (You know the list...that mental index where you file away those things you'll eventually get around to doing, visiting, or trying.)
I followed the GPS right to the glass door of the Tarallucci e Vino, and headed to the counter and ordered the cappuccino and a breakfast pastry. I headed outside to eat my breakfast and was suddenly wrapped up in the sounds of my dining neighbors' discourse- in perfectly spoken Italian. That first visit only proved to stoke my curiosity; and so I returned the following week, sat at the window counter and had my second cappuccino. That second cappuccino was a revelation. I do not routinely order cappuccino when I'm in a restaurant or cafe; however, it would have been almost profane to order anything else.
That inaugural sip was as sublime as hearing the chorus of Italian discourse that had surrounded me the week prior. Sitting on that hard metal stool, viewing life out of the large paned window that faces 18th street, lifting that delicate-sized cup from its perch on its saucer and drawing in that first sip was total Zen. Any attempts at a longer description would be dishonest and hyperbolic. I lost and found myself at the bottom of the cup, and returned once a week religiously.
Thoughts while enjoying my last cup before departing New York City for my final time....."I have to get to Rome"
I am a chef and entrepreneur. I have a passion for storytelling and hearing story told, truth is I could spend the balance of my life travelling, cooking, and writing.