Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Waiting Game

OMG, oops. I forgot our dear Lord Bruni last week - and don't think he didn't notice. Oh, he noticed alright, and made sure I felt the sting of his admonishment for my carelessness. How can I tell that he noticed? How can I read his feelings like a large-print book? Bruni is many things - beautiful, graceful, delicate, fragrant, and elegant among them - but subtle, he ain't. Thus, the headline for today's Diners Journal blog entry reads:

"Ever Hopeful".

I am certain that Bruni sits alone, every Thursday, in an inner chamber of his Scarsdale castle, and reads his own press by the meagre light of a solitary votive, perhaps while sipping spiced wine. And today, one day before press time, 24 hours before his inevitable weekly reckoning, he remains, Ever Hopeful, my Bruni.

Fear not, my little love. I read your review (NYT, "A Waiting Game With Savory Rewards", 4/26/06) I noted the layers of meaning, balanced one on top of the other like mille crepes.
So, without further ado, the august Count of Dining Out, Lord Bruni:

For his review of August, the Marchese spends much of the article fagging out about earthenware. More specifically (and more faggy), he's very into the "vessels". And even more specifically, and infinitely more faggy: big, black cast-iron vessels. Apparently the brick oven and cobblestone floor, when coupled with "those cast-iron serving vessels", have the ability to transport you to make you "forget you aren't in Provence or Tuscany." Ham and potato with cheese, meanwhile, "bore smoky traces from the oven, and its rustic aura was enhanced by its black cast-iron vessel." And roasted cod is served with, um...with cockles, as well as croutons - which "proved essential for sopping up the olive oil at the bottom of its vessel - yet anohter piece of black iron cookware straight fro the brick oven." But what role do vessels play during the day? Fear not - long gone are the days when a girl could only show off her vessel at night. In fact, "vessels play a major role during weekend brunch, when the restaurant uses them to bake eggs in the oven." How smart!

That's right. Not pots. Not plates. Not serving bowls or trays. Nay - they are vessels, plain and simple. I'm almost sure he doesn't mean vessel in the scientologist sense, so of course the question begs: what does a vessel look like?




Sadly, the real answer isn't half as interesting. No, the cast iron metal vessels look like this:

Light of my life, fire of my loins: a vessel at August.

Indeed, Bruni acknowledges that "August has its limits and disappointments" - such as a "stringy casserole of salt cod." Obviously, had it been served in something more suitable - a cast iron vessel, par example - it may have been saved. Overall, though, the design at August is just top notch:
The distressed plaster walls of the restaurant look like centuries-old stone, and wine bottles are wedged into various crannies, an artful pantomime of artlessness. It all works because it's all of a piece.
No wonder our hero spends so much time on interior design; he is, after all, in the West Village. In "the kind of fairly priced, solidly pleasing, intimate refuge the West Village likes to pretend it's full of but really isn't." Tut, tut, Bruni! Way to hand it to the West Village.

As we've come to expect, Bruni uses some of his favorite expressive instruments, such as mixed metaphors:
we were given sizeable wedges of peasant bread as crunchy sponges for the gooey treasure.
Sassy quotation marks:
Make sure to avoid a grainy, funky "chestnut truffle honey mousse."

Bruni refuses to dignify this insult to fine dining by acknowledging its existence. It supposedly exists - quote unquote - but probably doesn't.

And of course, a parting dose of "restaurant humor":

I say that almost without reservation.

Eat out of my vessel,


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