But when we do get to spend time together, we quickly get down to business: how many meals can we squeeze into a day? Besides the obvious benefit of eating well, it's always reassuring that gluttony extends well beyond American borders.
|Smoked apple tea with thyme|
So dropping $100 for lunch at Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Park), on a Monday isn't even a choice. It's a requirement.
The food was beyond description; I'm not even going to touch the meal other than to say it's arguably the finest restaurant in Manhattan. Go, then you can fight me about it.
What truly floored me was the tableside tea service. I have to disclose that I work with Eleven Madison to provide the teas, so I'm hardly an unbiased drinker. But the level that they've taken it to is unlike any other restaurant in the country: the tea menu is extensive, but thoughtfully balanced, and more importantly, you can have it prepared with a gaiwan, through multiple infusions.
I know and adore all the teas offered, but I went with one I rarely get to taste- the 1994 Orange Stamp Bingcha- a sheng, or green, pu-erh.
Yes, it was so good that I asked if I could take the leaves home with me (and I unabashedly did). But what stayed with me far longer has been the thought that this level of tea service is possible in the West.
But people need to demand it. Just imagine how incredible your tea tastes at home, when you're focusing on those little leaves and how to treat them as well as you can so that they relinquish every last bit of fragrance and flavor that the tea producer has painstakingly preserved. Why can't every high-end restaurant pay the same amount of attention? It's done with each ingredient, the wines, the coffee- it's time it happened with the tea.