the underbelly

March 16, 2010, 10:13 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

On my seventh birthday I was bitten by a chinchilla. We had a woman over with her wild animal collection. There was a lynx. A tarantula. Snakes. But I was mauled by the puff ball. Ok, mauled is an exaggeration, but there definitely was blood. To be fair to the chinchilla, it wasn’t its fault. There was a hole in the cage, which it had chewed with is hacksaw-like teeth, and I stuck my finger in it to try to pet the little creature. It decided that wasn’t going to happen and retaliated.

It’s been eighteen years since that happened. In that time I’ve learned how to drive, how to analyze Tolstoy, how to navigate New York City and not to trust small, furry creatures. And while I still love a good animal, that theme on birthdays has been replaced with food. So when my grandparents told me to pick a restaurant for my birthday dinner I sprang at the chance to go to the restaurant that everyone seemed to be saying was where they ate their best meal in the past year: Marea. It was a bit of a risk as none of us had been before – a bit like reaching a finger into a hole in a cage. But no tiny metaphorical restaurant animal bit. It was delicious.

The Spaghettini with crab and a rich sea urchin sauce was creamy and addictive. The famed octopus and bone marrow Fusilli that my friend had was the definition of umami. My main dish was a fish soup, a sort of Italian bouillabaisse. It was like a treasure chest of seafood. Every piece was cooked to perfection, not at all overdone, which is a risk when making a soup like that. I ended with cheese and Sherry, an Amontillado (something that as a child I only knew of as a reason to trap some one inside of a wall if you live in an Edgar Allen Poe story). Not a bad way to ring in a quarter century.


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