I wondered what should be my first post on my food blog. Then one night, while leafing through my recipe book, I found it. Through the years, like most people who like to cook and eat, I have collected recipes snipped from newspapers and magazines or printed from Web sites. This clipping I’m writing about was not so much a recipe but an experience which launched my interest in finding the best of everything.
I moved to New York City in 1997 with a suitcase and a dream. I wanted to be a writer. A friend’s mother had given me a New York guide book before I left, and after I moved there, I used the guide book to find cool places to eat, shop, drink, dance and experience what the city had to offer. I would also read food magazines, as food had been a huge part of my life growing up and I aspired to be a food writer. I don’t remember if it was Gourmet or Saveur or Food and Wine because the clipping doesn’t say, but it was from one of the major food magazines. It was a recipe submitted by Eric and Bruce Bromberg from the Blue Ribbon Cafe and Bakery: the Chocolate Bruno.
On a cold night in January, I walked the few blocks from my Noho apartment to Soho to the Blue Ribbon Bakery. It was an off-night, not very crowded. I asked for a table for one. An older man was ahead of me in line; however, I got seated first. I sat in a booth with a couple of guys on one side of me and a man and woman on the other. After I sat down, the older gentleman who had been in line behind me approached my table and said, “I was standing there first.” I felt bad, so I said, “I’m so sorry. I will tell them you can have the table.” He said, “No, no, I was wondering if I could join you.” Then I understood I was being hit on. “No, I want to be alone,” I said.
The man with the woman next to me–who looked like a lawyer who just got off work–said, “I’m glad you told him to go away. If you didn’t, I was going to. It’s one of those nights you just want to be alone.” The woman with him smiled. I smiled, nodded, and said, “Thank you.”
The two guys on the other side of me engaged me in conversation. They were young investment bankers with wedding rings. One was named Vito. He asked where I was from and was disappointed when it wasn’t Brazil, as he had previously guessed. He wondered why I was alone and wished me luck with my writing career. I ordered my Chocolate Bruno, and as I waited for its preparation, Vito commented on the fact that I was just ordering dessert. Just ordering dessert would become a signature of mine.
As I said, the Chocolate Bruno at Blue Ribbon was the first of such experiences. I have never taken an illegal drug, but I am thinking this must be what the first hit feels like. It was pure ecstasy, and I have eaten many wonderful desserts and had many adventures and challenges in New York and elsewhere since then, but none of these had the same innocence as the Chocolate Bruno did on that chilly January night in 1998. I am sure the older gentleman would’ve loved to kiss me that night, but the only thing to touch my lips was a kiss of flourless chocolate. I was the hunted and the hunter. I prefer the latter role, and little did the dining guests around me know that they starred in the opening act of a long production of my hunt for the very best.