On day two of Tristan's stay (January 3rd), he slept in late while I left home at 8:30 as usual to get to work on time. Tristan had what top sleep deprivation specialists refer to as "mega-sleepies."
But he eventually made his way into the city some time after noon. And he had one thing on his mind: falafel. Not just any falafel, but the best kind: falafel from Taim.
But first, ginger carrot soup. When the weather is ass/brain/organ-freezing cold, few things are as comforting as hot liquid dripping into your belly, the liquid being purréd carrot with a spike of ginger. I had a few large spoonfuls of Tristan's soup to mellow out my innards.
We continued preparing our stomachs for the impending falafel feast with Taim's homemade French fries with saffron aioli sauce. These are some of my most favorite fries ever—they're freshly fried to a golden crisp, somewhat on the skinny side for a large crust-to-non-crust potato ratio, well-salted, and come with what is basically a tastier version of mayonnaise. The portion is a bit too large for one person to eat on their own, unless they're especially hungry (I mean, I could eat it all if I absolutely had to), so this is best shared between two or three people who will inevitably grab for the last dregs of fried potato matter at the bottom of the bowl. You shouldn't have trouble convincing your friends to partake in the French fry goodness. If you do, find new friends.
If you didn't get fries or soup, you would still be satisfied by just one falafel pita. They stuff the crap out of that fluffy pita, shoving in a seemingly endless number of falafels among chopped cabbage, Israeli salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley in a lemon mint dressing), hummus, and Tahini (sesame seed) sauce. Even though Taim's falafels are exceptionally light (with just the right level of crisp in the crust) compared to those found in other falafel-ries, you'll probably feel the stomach bludgeoning effects of fullness halfway through the pita. I think Tristan ordered the harissa falafel, aka "the somewhat spicy one." That's my favorite out of the three choices, green and red being the others.
I resisted the falafel for once to indulge in what I would call one of the best sandwich-like inventions of all time: sabich, a pita stuffed with fried eggplant, sliced hard boiled egg, hummus, Israeli salad, tahini and amba (mango pickle) sauce. Fried eggplant—like chomping into a hearty, savory, vegetarian-friendly pudding—and hard boiled eggs are two of my most favorite foods in the world, and the sabich makes them even tastier with the addition of creamy, nutty sauces and crunchy chopped vegetables all tucked away in a fresh pita. I'd want to eat this every day if I could. I should probably just learn how to make it myself.
Instead of staying in the city for dinner, we decided it'd be more relaxing (in addition to being cheaper) to go back to NJ and cook our own dinner. Tristan came to my office shortly before it was time to leave with a few gifts in tow: one was Anthony Bourdain's latest book, No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach, perfect for the 'Boppy, and something a little less in line with my interests...
"I know I'll appreciate this more than you, but we can both enjoy it!"
"By the way," he added, "you have to drink half of it."
Well, you'll see what happened in a bit.
In order to not destroy Tristan's stomach with a constant barrage of meat-based things, we made mapo tofu for dinner. Not exactly from scratch.
We cooked chopped carrots and onions (and later added frozen peas) with mapo tofu mix...
...Added chunks of tofu....
...Yeah, that's it. It tasted pretty good, but way too mild. I have to find spicier sauce next time, the kind that gets the dear ducts a-flowin'.
And then came the bitter, fermented extraction of the crushed souls of grapes. Some people have the impression that I would like Reisling because it's quite fruity, somewhat sweet (this one, at least), sparkly, and not tannic. It's far from being the most offensive member of the wine world, pretty much. But it still tasted like brain-shriveling alcohol to me and in my attempt to pack away half of the bottle to say, "Thanks for the awesome gift!" I chased down heavy gulps with tofu or pieces of milk chocolate. No, this isn't the optimal way to enjoy wine, but I can't say I relished the taste. Not yet, at least.
Despite the protests from my taste buds, I drank half the bottle. Yes. All I could do after that was wait for the effects to settle in.
...And settle they did, at about the time that we sat on my couch in front of the TV to watch Castle in the Sky, my favorite Miyazaki movie. Even though I felt like my mind was clear (god knows, really), my motor skills were below normal capabilities. I mean, they were kind of fucked. When I tried to walk just a few feet to the bathroom, my legs stumbled and all my appendages mildly lurched in the wrong directions. It was like being dizzy without the nausea. My head felt a little lighter, probably because it had emptied itself of extraneous brain cells. If I concentrated hard enough I could walk and talk normally, but without trying I was inclined to stumble. Admittedly, I was really glad that my mum had miraculously decided to go to bed early that night so that she couldn't see what was going on (she usually goes to bed after 2 AM).
Tristan said that I was more chatting in my mildly alcohol-poisoned state. I don't think it was a direct result of the alcohol, but a secondary consequence of my sub-par motor skills. Most of my comments were probably along the lines of, "AHH WHAT THE HELL WHY CAN'T MY LEGS WALK STRAIGHT, HAHAHA, OH CRAP."
After that experience, I can't say I'd want to get drunk in any situation outside of my home with anyone who wasn't a close friend. And even in that situation, I don't feel the pull to do it again. Not that I was unhappy after drinking half a bottle of wine, but on a regular basis I'm quite happy in a non-alcoholed state. Alcohol doesn't give me enough enjoyment to consider spending money on it. So. Eh.
Tristan made a good effort and now I know what alcohol can do to me. I would thank him for that.
Update (1/28/08): I wanted to clarify that Tristan is my ultimate brosef and when he "makes" me drink wine it's all in good fun, not to get me drunkzorz or anything bad! Not that anyone here is calling him the anti-Christ, but he only has good intentions and we have ULTIMATE FUN TIMES together. Feel love for the T-Man—I do and my life is better because of it.