Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Manhattan Mavens

Celest met Dad and I on the Upper East Side, at Trata where we were enjoying cocktails, a plate of spicy grilled octopus, and a spicy conversation about my love life to boot.

“Kimberly, you aren’t the woman for every man.”

“I know, Dad, I’m a bit more challenging than—”

“I mean—Erin! She, for instance, is just a lovely, confection of a girl! Beautiful and sweet and friendly—“

“Yes, she is.”

“Of course, I adore you! You are fabulous in every possible way; I’m just saying…you know, you aren’t every man’s dream, like Erin. That smile. She really is. Every man’s Dream.”

“Thanks! Dad. I—“

“But Kimberly, you…” (he leaned in close, for discretion) “are every man’s wet dream!”

“Whoa! Dad! Thanks. Well, I—“

“Oh, come on, Kimberly, you know I’m right. I know I’m “Dad” and I’m not supposed to say things like that; I’m not embarrassing you; I’ve always been frank with you, my dear. And I’ve been watching that bartender look you up and down all night.”

This is the conversation Celest walked into, unwittingly. Dad went on to air kiss her, and gush over her style and general fabulousness; while hugging her, he mouthed to me, over her shoulder, “This one’s not for every man, either!”

After one more drink at Trata, Celest and I said our goodbyes to Dad and headed off to York Avenue and our next invite for the night, a Supper Club event hosted at the home of Tracy Stern, society figure extraordinaire and proclaimed Tea Maven. At the party, I sipped a white tea martini, reveling in the spectacular 28th floor view of the hostess’s abode and the attention of a few comely gentlemen, one of whom, telling me about the seriousness with which he views his impending first-time fatherhood, opened his eyes wide and intoned in a sturdy Australian accent, “I mean, babies. They aren’t just for Christmas!” Indeed.

salontea260With the hostess, I talked tea and the qualifications of being a Maven in Manhattan. She sells her well known, beautifully packaged teas, and though I only sampled them as part of a boozy cocktail, what I had was delicious. I’m anxious to try them hot and healthy, while wrapped up in a cozy blanket on my couch. Apparently Oprah likes them; that’s a good sign.

I chatted with stylish girls in the fashion and design worlds and got a tour through the traditional English nibbles from the caterer herself, a friend; we gabbed about the best way to make, and transport (!) cream puffs and other delicacies. It was all, in fact, a nice change in vantage point, since I am often in the kitchen for these fabulous Supper Club events. This time, I left my bronze loafers at home, and got my picture taken in my pumps, did a little networking for my food ventures, and enjoyed meeting other members of the club without flour on my face. It was a good-looking group, I must say.

There was an early conclusion to the tea party. So Celest and I left the penthouse apartment with a couple of dashing young men and hopped in a cab to head back downtown. One suggested Waverly Inn; we did not protest. 

This was my first visit to Graydon Carter’s ultra-hip and exclusive little spot, tucked away on Bank St. We shuffled past the few, shivering paparazzi outside.

waverly“Who are you waiting for,” asked our gentleman friend.

“We think Kate Winslet’s in tonight with Sam Mendes.”


We wished them luck and ducked into the diminutive doorway and glowing rooms beyond. It was lovely. The warm fire and low-ceilinged, dark wood, old-paintings-hung-haphazardly décor was as inviting as one could hope on a freezing cold January night. While I did peak in at all the equally inviting, cozy, mural painted rooms beyond, we settled at the bar up front and I dove into a pungent glass of Cab Franc. Celest was talked into a bourbon cocktail by the greasy-haired bartender, who convinced her that the concoction would be “well-balanced, not too sweet.” Of course, it was too sweet for her sterner tastes and he, knowing she wasn’t in love with it, remade it into something with more lemon than elderflower liquor. She sipped happily. We were cozy.

Our charming British companion spotted friends and recruited them to the bar. We chatted away about his upcoming trip to Sundance to promote his new documentary, about a man trying to court the most powerful woman in the world, Condi Rice. She, apparently, isn’t for every man. Or any man, it seems…I sampled the snacks ordered at the bar by my new compatriots: a luscious and redolent (if a little watery) pasta stuffed with short ribs and topped with black truffle, and an adorable portion of Bananas Foster, decadent with buttery caramel sauce and served in an individually-sized copper pot/bowl. I lusted after that charming serving dish more than anything (or anyone) else at the hot joint. I imagined filling them with stews and cobblers and other rustic dishes, to serve to friends in my home. I was dreaming up these recipes in my head as more acquaintances joined and the conversation turned to vacation houses in Cuba and whether or not it was advisable to try to date more than one woman living in the same high-rise building in the Flatiron District. We stayed until they kicked us out.

I never saw Kate Winslet. 

But I did perform an uncomfortable bathroom tango of sorts (must be the smallest bathroom in Manhattan, outside of my own) with the lovely Ann Hathaway. She was gracious and I was secretly thrilled to have a genuine celebrity citing, since the place is so fabled and it was my inaugural visit.

Though some in the party were headed out dancing, I decided to walk home, alone, and make it a somewhat early night. In truth, I wanted to go home and search the Internet for those tiny copper pots! I did just that (though I haven’t found them yet), with The Devil Wears Prada playing in the background. It wasn’t the sexiest end to an evening, but I am a FOOD maven, after all. I have my priorities.

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One Response to “Manhattan Mavens”

  1. Kelly

    Kimberly – I truly enjoy your website and loved reading the story about your dad! You and your partners in crime have done an amazing job with this site and I only wish nothing but the best for you. Love you always, Bells

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