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I have a few friends who don’t quite understand my love of food.

They don’t comprehend how when we’re out to dinner something delicious will stop me mid-conversation as I take a moment to be one with the dish.  How the camera roll on my iPhone is not filled with cute photos of my nephew, but instead is the keeper of a deep chronicle of the meals I’ve eaten.  How I can recall the exact meal we had at that restaurant when we first went there six years ago, but I cannot remember what I did at work yesterday.

Because of this, I have moments where I question why I’m friends with these people at all.

On the other extreme, I know people who try the latest, newest, hottest places, but are hyper critical of everything, as if they are the only authority on what tastes good.  These folks remind me of the self-proclaimed “foodies” who are now everywhere, the food groupies who think because they have had bone marrow and uni and octopus that now they breathe some kind of rarefied air.

I don’t fall into this category either.

This week I went to a meeting where early in the conversation the person I was talking to said she craved a piece of chocolate. Coincidentally, I’d brought two squares of chocolate with me, so I gave her one.  She proceeded to have an intense meditation with the square, unwrapping it and putting the square up to her nose, closing her eyes while she breathed in deeply and savored its aroma. Then she ate the square as if it were a four course meal, experiencing every single little bite. She had her extended moment, proclaimed that the chocolate was exactly what she wanted. And then our conversation about the business at hand continued.

I aspire to be that kind of food lover.

The truth is, I’m just a girl who loves to eat.  My earliest memories revolve around food: falling into the apartment when I was five and scattering Skittles everywhere, watching my mother make veal parmigiana—my favorite meal when I was eight years old, before I’d heard of political correctness—and bake a sour cream cinnamon swirl bundt cake with regularity, at ten eagerly anticipating the time when I was older so I could help make Thanksgiving dinner.

I will often plan my lunch while I’m eating my breakfast at my desk in the office.  If I’m running an errand in an unknown part of town, I will research the area for a restaurant I can try while I’m there. I just love food.

When I think of food I love, I dream of things like this extraordinary almond croissant from Petrossian…


…and its airy, flaky, almond paste filled interior…


I think of Christmas morning breakfast, where my parents and I make scrambled eggs with vegetables, cheese grits and freshly baked biscuits….


…and of the equally delicious bowl of shrimp and grits (with a fried poached egg!) from Perilla.


I’d want to hold onto the feeling that the most delicious French Toast I’ve ever had—from Blue Ribbon Bakery—gives me, in all of its fluffy, custardy, almost ethereal beauty.


I’d salivate over the chicken meatball and arugula salad from Penelope in the Murray Hill section of New York, its mouth-wateringly juicy meat and the simplicity of the peppery greens dusted by a shower of pecorino cheese…


…as well as the Sweet Corn and Lobster Agnolotti that I had at Balthazar in September, the epitome of a succulent seasonal summer meal.


I’d want to recommend my favorite lobster roll in New York City from Ed’s Lobster Bar, perfectly dressed and housed in a buttery top-split roll, with no small part played by the supporting sides of perfectly crispy French fries and tangy house made pickles…


…and the Truffled Egg Toast from ‘ino, its runny and vibrantly yellow yolk enriched by a drizzle of earthy truffle oil.


Most of all, I’d pay mental homage to the chocolate chip cookie, crisp on the outside and soft, ooey, gooey on the inside. The most perfectly comforting comfort food of all.


When I think of the food I love, I want to share it.  A delicious dish just elevates life into something grand, with more unexpected pleasures just a meal away.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Few things are more comforting that a pot of warm, melted cheese.  Add some spinach, artichokes and onions (then brown it under a broiler for a golden brown crust), and suddenly it’s easy to believe that you have a healthy, waist-friendly snack.


Okay, maybe waist-friendly is a bit of an exaggeration.  But my taste buds were dancing with joy.  This spinach & artichoke dip comes from Penelope in the Murray Hill section of midtown Manhattan.  Stop by and try some  – and many other delicious dishes – next time you are in the neighborhood.

Penelope, 159 Lexington Avenue at 30th Street, NYC, (212) 481-3800

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