This visit, for me, was a little bit of both. On one hand, I will just come out and admit: New York kicked my ass. The crowds, the traffic, the pavement…did I mention the crowds? I’m just not cut out to have that many people around me all the time. On the other hand, with my brother as local guide, I was treated to some of the most magnificent meals imaginable. We started with a transcendent birthday lunch for Adrian with our mom and my sister-in-law, Sarah, at Sushi Yasuda, described by the NY Times as a “shrine” to sushi. That’s the first course above, and after years of dreaming of this place, I have to say, it did not disappoint. Every single bite was incredible. Second course, below, featuring blue crab body meat and fresh grilled eel. After that, I was so absorbed in the experience, I forgot to take any more pictures. Mind blowing.
That evening, after the book event, Sarah organized a party at Calle Ocho, a kind of pan-Latin joint with plate after plate of vibrant food from everywhere Spanish is spoken. Handmade corn tortillas, fried plantain, lobster paella…it just kept coming, and all of it startlingly good. Next day started with lunch with my agent, Valerie, at Le Colonial, an elegant French-Vietnamese restaurant that felt like a trip to a supper club where the Southeast-Asian elite dined in 1957. Delicious, earthy flavors of fish sauce, cilantro, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and fragrant jasmine rice…with white table cloths, heavy silverware and dark wood furniture.
It took a while, but late that night, after an opening party for Warby Parker Brooklyn–where Adrian did a number of illustrations–we were hungry again. So of course, we made the trek back to Manhattan to visit the world-famous soup-dumpling emporium of Joe’s Shanghai. Holy smokes. I could eat those dumplings every day for years. The delicate pasta casings literally melted in the mouth, revealing a rich, savory pork broth. Throw in a plate of handmade noodles with black pepper beef, some pea vines, and crispy-fried salt pork chops and I was in heaven. That’s Adrian, above, heading out into the night with our treasured leftovers. Hard to believe there was anything left at all, but the two of us ordered enough for five, and only ate what four normal people would have.
Finally, on the way to the airport the following day, we took a little detour to Juliana’s, home of the finest pizza in Brooklyn. Crisp, thin, lightly charred crust from the wood-fired oven, melting slabs of mozzarella, and a sauce of tomatoes so fresh and light it tasted like biting into a tomato from the garden. With local knowledge, we ordered ahead, walked right past the long line to pickup our pie, then strolled down to the water on a hidden path that led to a beautiful, shady–and empty–picnic table. Awesome. That’s my brother with eyes on the prize. I made my flight and returned home exhausted, satiated, and feeling like the luckiest country bumpkin on earth. And somehow, in spite of all the hustle and bustle and long walks…I seem to have gained about seven pounds. Go figure.
Great book event “in conversation with” my brother…and a rare chance for me to hang out on his turf and talk about books, writing, family and food. That’s Adrian and me fielding questions after the reading, Patagonia Upper West Side, New York City.
Huge thanks to Adrian for thoughtful questions and an amazing food tour of NY (more on that later), to my sister-in-law Sarah for putting together a fantastic post-event party, and to the crew at Patagonia UWS for a fun event. Also to our mom for making the trek, the Brennan family for being there, and to good friend Smarty, for a surprise appearance in the Big City. A night to remember for sure.
I am stoked to be talking about and reading from Closer to the Ground at the Patagonia Upper West Side store on Wednesday, May 18th. I’m even more excited that this event will be “in conversation with” my brother, Adrian Tomine. There will be food and beer, courtesy of the good folks at Patagonia Provisions, and I think it’s going to be an awesome time.
If you don’t know my brother, he’s a New Yorker cover artist and the author/cartoonist of Summer Blonde, Shortcomings, and most recently, the highly acclaimed, mind-blowingly good, Killing & Dying. <But don’t just take my word for it, check out what New York Times critic A.O. Scott had to say HERE.>He’s also a dyed-in-the-wool Brooklynite, which should set up an interesting country-mouse/city-mouse conversation.
Of course, I’m also looking forward to “foraging” my way through all that great NY food while I’m there, so stay tuned for the report. In the mean time, if you’re in or near The City So Nice They Named It Twice, drop by the event and say hello.
Just a quick reminder about upcoming book tour events. I will be at the Portland Patagonia store Wednesday, March 9th, “in conversation with” my good friend, novelist John Larison. Doors open at 7:00pm, and we’ll start talking about Closer to the Ground, kids, foraging and food at 7:45. At some point, I will read some stories from the book as well. Snacks from Patagonia Provisions. Join us if you can.
And if you don’t know him or his work, Larison is brilliant. He’s the author of Northwest of Normal and Holding Lies, not to mention an incredible new novel (It’s going to be huge!) due out next year. He’s also a hell of a nice guy, an amazing angler, hunter, forager and father, and one of the main forces behind my writing of the book in the first place. His work and life continue to inspire me, and I’m honored to appear with him. I think you’ll really enjoy meeting him.
I will post more specifics as the dates come closer, but here are a few more: I will be at Patagonia San Francisco at 7:00pm, March 16th; Patagonia Seattle, 7:00pm April 12th (with yet another great writer and friend, Bruce Barcott, author of The Measure of a Mountain, The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, and most recently, Weed the People); Patagonia Vancouver (BC), 7:00pm April 27th; and Patagonia Upper West Side, New York City, 7:00pm, May 18th (with New Yorker Cover artist, Adrian Tomine, who in addition to being my brother, is the author/illustrator of Summer Blonde, Shortcomings, and the recent and highly acclaimed Killing and Dying). I think these events are going to be a lot of fun.