Everyone has their weak spot; that little, vulnerable spot, right under their ribs. For some it’s LOL kittens, for others, paper-thin Alexander Wang T-shirts. It doesn’t matter how many they see or own, they need more, more, more!
My weakness is carbs. I can be bribed into almost any activity with the promise of a nice toasted everything bagel con schmear at the end of the ordeal. Or better yet, a crusty baguette overflowing with sinfully expensive French cheese. No wait: risotto. Paella with smoky chorizo! Udon noodles with miso and scallions cut on the bias! You get the picture.
Over the weekend, I joined two of my oldest girlfriends from high school, Ashling and Dina, at the Cheesecake Factory in White Plains. Don’t be alarmed: our tongues were firmly lodged in our cheeks. We were quite aware of the sociological/political implications of our provocative demagoguery. We’re crazy like that — always have been. The notion of consuming 1,750 calories worth of wasabi-crusted tuna or 2,310 calories worth of beef ribs in a giant warehouse with piped-in American Idol-approved tunes, perky families of 10 and an atmosphere of jollity approaching levels that require medication might intimidate some, but for us, it’s just part of our lifestyle of rule and convention-flouting, man.
After surviving our appetizers and main courses without visibly busting a gut or artery, we moved onto dessert. Or rather, they did. I sampled their selections (a sundae and key-lime cheesecake, both delicious), but held onto the table’s bread basket, with an iron fist. That’s all I wanted: just two loaves of surprisingly tasty whole-wheat and plain French bread with a crock of softened, salty butter. Mmm.
I would have requested a second basket if I didn’t feel that I was already pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior by hoarding and hanging onto the basket throughout dinner, and yes, dessert — a tacky and shameful move even the most unschooled, young and clueless of our fellow diners would have sniffed at.
On Sunday, instead of waking up chastened after my embarrassing behavior, I just wished I’d had the cajones to ask for more. In celebration of my lack of control, I decided to prepare a meal for Stephen and me centered around noodles. As Jeffrey Steingarten recently pointed out in Vogue, noodles are quite possibly the perfect food. Not because they’re nutritionally complete, like the boringly and ubiquitously vaunted egg, but because they’re delicious. They come in a stunning variety of textures, hues, sizes, shapes and ingredients; they can be manipulated into forming the basis of almost any dish in any cuisine. Or they can be the star.
I rolled up my sleeves, made a big batch of homemade noodles and dressed them in simple Italian garb. I also whipped out a pack of soba noodles I had stashed in the pantry and made a fun, zesty soba noodle salad. Click below for recipes and more pictures.