I stepped off the bus at around 10:45 on the morning of the twenty-second, and I found myself surrounded by countless flashing lights, giant oversized billboards displaying mostly-naked teenagers, and what felt like millions of people. Times Square, New York. My godparents and I walked down a side street and into a diner, which felt smaller than my college room at Millennium Hall. Our mission for the day was simple: eat Manhattan. I was served a western omlette, possibly the best I ever had, by the giant eastern European guy who had taken my order.
We left and, after a visit to a bizarre mirrored bathroom in a primitive chic hotel two doors down from the diner, met up with my brother, a graduate student at Columbia University. We wandered around Fifth and Sixth avenue trying to determine where Mesa Grill was, our next stop. Crossing Broadway I was briefly involved in the massive war protest which had been scheduled for the same day.
We finally found Mesa Grill and entered. The maitre d' looked positively shocked that customers had entered his dining room, but proceeded to seat us toward the back, near the kitchen. This was the restaurant of Food Network chef personality Bobby Flay, host of several shows and who had even controversially represented America twice on the Japanese cooking competition program, Iron Chef.
The food was incredible: southwestern cuisine made to look and taste contemporary by the use of exotic ingredients, circle molds and squeeze bottled sauces. I had a smoked shrimp and goat cheese empanada and a size order of chorizo sausage. I made a mental note that the grill marks on the sausage were thin and uneven, a sign that they had likely been applied by a heated metal skewer. One of the middle...