Tuesday, 3 April 2007

No wonder French people are thin!!!

I’m going through a bit of a self improvement kick at the moment; it’s like a delayed reaction to New Year’s, or maybe it’s a form of spring cleaning, who knows, but there’s definitely room for betterment so it’s all to the good.

As part of my efforts, I’ve traded my, soon to be expired, air miles for a subscription to the Financial Times, subscribed to the Motley Fool’s champion funds and joined an investment Meetup group, all in a bid to be more financially savvy, stand on my own two feet and not rely on some man etc. I’ve also been hitting the gym with renewed gusto, a move initially prompted by my pulling on a pair of favourite, freshly dry cleaned, wool trousers last week only to find some shrinkage had occurred around the leg area, leaving me with thighs like Cumberland sausages!!! Seriously, they were so tight spandex loving hair bands would have snapped me up had I worn them in public. Sooooo not attractive!! Thankfully they loosened up to their pre-dry cleaning state after I did a few lunges while wearing them in the privacy of my apartment, however I couldn’t shake the memory of the sausage thighs so I was straight to New York Sports come lunchtime. I’ve been every day since. I’ve also been making an effort to eat better, lots of salads for me at the moment and ensuring I get enough protein, and last, but by no means least, I’ve decided I need come cultural improvements, so I’m combining this with an effort to be more social, meet some new people, and so signed up for a group that runs gallery tours, wine tasting, museum trips and the like. Yes, mark my words; I’ll be a rich, skinny, culturally savvy bitch in next to no time. Ha ha!!

As part of this new plan I went to a wine tasting on Saturday. It was pretty good; very educational for me as I know almost bugger all about wine, since while I no longer pick wines by the prettiness of their labels as I did in my mid twenties, I don’t think I’ve progressed as much as I would have liked in the last decade. I’m especially befuddled by reds, but, as luck would have it, red wine was the focus of the tasting, which was a comparison of old and new world wines, plus a Wine Director on hand to guide us through the tasting. Marvellous, I signed myself up as soon as I saw it offered.

I wasn’t quite feeling brave enough to go on my own, so I coerced Melissa into coming along too, although it didn’t take a great deal of arm twisting since, as she freely admits, she’s never met a wine she didn’t like, plus it was a good opportunity for her to put her newfound knowledge to the test having recently completed the Intermediate Certificate in Wine at the International Wine Center.

All in all it was a fun event, I was sandwiched between Frank, "hello I'm Frank, I'm a doctor" - I think he was hoping my knickers would just fall right off upon hearing the 'Doctor' word – who immediately made a beeline for me – a short man spotting the only short woman in the group, and Daniel, - "I'm getting the aroma of dryer sheets from this wine, what do you think?" – an illustrator, who was gay - and yes Miles, I DO know for sure he was gay and wasn’t just making assumptions based on him being more in touch with his feminine side. No, I am absolutely certain of the fact because he made several references to his boyfriend.

Daniel, Melissa and I appeared to be in the minority, being among the few who’d actually signed up for the event hoping to learn a little something about wine, maybe meet a few nice people, but certainly not because we were hoping to hookup – as the kids say today. Many of the men were quite aggressive in their pursuit of a date and hardly discerning. If they received the brush off from one woman they quickly moved onto the next. I half expected to be clubbed over the head and dragged back to some cave by my hair, which was over was a bit of a turn-off, I prefer to move at a slower pace and let things evolve with someone who seems nice rather than shagging someone senseless who I’ve only known a matter of hours – yes, I am one of those ‘relationship girls’, I wait a few weeks before senseless shagging. I can’t help it; I’m slightly old fashioned that way.

In hindsight maybe a wine tasting wasn’t the best event since I'm not particularly looking to date at the moment. I’m more focused on appreciating the single life, having only just started to feel as if I’ve fully recovered from being dumped by Gobshite back in autumn. Yes, okay, I KNOW it’s been 6months already and I really should have moved on long ago, but I didn’t, okay, some of us just take longer to get over these things than others. Valentines didn’t exactly help either. I think being among couples that day set my progress back at least a month. Shudder!!! Admittedly I was also anticipating GS might call, since it’s been the experience of most of my NY female friends that ex boyfriends suddenly make a reappearance approximately 6months post breakup. Had he called wanting another chance I am not sure if I would have cautiously agreed to give it a go or told him to go f—k himself, although when I’ve imagined the conversation it always started out with my being very mature and composed, but quickly deteriorated into me fantasizing about giving him a swift kick in the bollocks. Clearly I still have some residual anger issues to work through.

Anyway this is a moot point, since obviously I never heard a peep. Exes never call when you want them to do they, no, they only call when you are about 95% over them, but there’s still a smidgen of feeling left that makes you think it might work the second time around. Ex-boyfriends seem to have some sort of sixth sense for the optimal moment to f—k you over emotionally and it's only then that they'll call.

There were a couple of nice guys at the wine tasting though who were seemingly there to learn something about wine and meet new people - or were, at least, less aggressive in their quest to meet women, including Nigel, a fellow Brit with such an upbeat attitude and heavy East London accent he was almost a parody of the cheeky chirpy loveable cockney chappy à la Dick Van Dyck’s character in Mary Poppins; although he's an Associate Creative Director, not a chimney sweep. We exchanged information. He swing dances and seemed interested in dancing in general, so I thought he might be good to know if only as a friend and occasional dance partner.

Saturday’s wine tasting rounded off a couple of days’ indulgence, which kicked off with a Friday dinner at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon at the Four Seasons hotel with Melissa and Francesca, a celebration of sorts for Melissa’s promotion, Francesca’s upcoming 36th birthday and me getting my green card – FINALLY. It only took 3½years!!!

Deeeelicious food, hands down probably the best I’ve ever tasted, but the portions were TEENSY. MINUTE!!!! We ordered from the menu of small tasting portions, and admittedly the waiter recommended we order three to five dishes, although at prices ranging from $15-$39 we couldn’t afford to go too crazy and we were hell bent on having a $17 dessert, so we decided to go with two courses each plus pudding.

Naively we’d assumed these courses would be appetizer sized and we’d be able to taste each others dishes, but when our first course arrived and Melissa had a single, beautifully presented, but lonely, langoustine resplendent on her plate, all thoughts of sharing went straight out of the window.

My first course, L’aubergine, was a 1½inch wide, 3inch high stack of slow roasted vegetables layered with buffalo mozzarella which I followed with Le Homard - Maine Lobster in turnip ‘ravioli’ – a morsel of lobster salad in a pillow of finely sliced turnip about the size of a….well, about the size of a typically pasta ravioli. My serving was two of these ‘raviolis’ for the bargain price of $24, $12 each for the mathematically challenged. I kid you not. Who was this food intended for? Barbie? Seriously Monsieur Robuchon, I’m no pie eater by any stretch, I’m 5ft 1 and 110lbs, and I fully appreciate your culinary genius, as I said, hands down the best food I have ever tasted, but at those prices would it have done any harm to have popped another couple of raviolis on the plate? Thank God they were generous with the bread basket. Oh and why is it that dessert at high end dining establishments is always a normal sized portion?

We rounded off the evening with a celebratory martini in the bar next door, served on a silver platter with your own personal cocktail shaker and a dish of dried cherries. Not to mention the mixed nuts, olives and crackers they placed on the table, all in all a larger amount of food served with your drink than you’d be likely to get for an entire meal next door.

We were halfway through our drinks when in stromped five women in very tight outfits, necklines cut to their navels and dizzyingly large breast implants – it was cleavage central. “Working girls,” murmured Melissa knowingly. They joined the three men at the table next to us, the table that I unfortunately had my back to. I’ve never seen female prostitutes up close before, and my eyes ached from their attempts to escape around to the back of my head and have a better look. No joy. Instead I had to make do with frequent trips to the loo to sate my curiosity, although I made sure I only stared through my eyelashes. I wasn’t risking one of them catching me and challenging me to meet her outside for a punch up. Yes kids, its good people watching at the bar at the Four Seasons, but my illusions of it being a classy hotel have been well and truly shattered.

I was starving when I woke up on Saturday morning; no wonder French people are thin!!!!

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