You've Gotta' Be French
It’s Gotta’ Be French!
One of the seldom-mentioned pleasures of being a published author is meeting other published authors. And the day I had lunch with the convivial Sande Boritz Berger, author of The Sweetness, an award-winning novel of guilt and survival, was no exception.
Where should we go?
It’s gotta’ be French!
Checking in with the hostess at the quintessentially French Orsay, on Lexington Avenue at 75th Street, I spot a corner table up front that would permit me to see Sande as soon as she enters. It’s that the last time we lunched at Orsay, she was twiddling her fingers on the terrace, waiting twenty minutes for me to arrive, while I was doing the same in the dining room. Thank heavens for cell phones! But when I asked for the table, the young hostess replied: Oh, that table is reserved.
At which, coincidentally, the maître d’ came by and a convivial exchange of greetings ensued: Bonjour Madame.
Bonjour, Monsieur. Comment ça va ?
Très bien, Madame. Et vous ? Have you a preference as to where you’d like to be seated?
Mais oui! I’m so glad he asked, I’m thinking, pointing to the corner table of choice, saying: That would be lovely…
It’s yours, Madame. Lesson One: Politeness counts, particularly with the French
At which I gave the hostess a sly look out of the corner of my eye, if barely turning my head in her direction. Lesson Two: There are things Frenchmen instinctively understand that young inexperienced hostesses do not. Or perhaps, you’ve gotta’ be French!
That day we had a lot to celebrate. Sande had a glass of Prosecco and I enjoyed a dry white Chardonnay from Burgundy. I had not seen Sande since her fabulous trip to Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, where she gave a workshop on the theme: So, you want to be a writer? You would be amazed what you need to know!
As a child I worried that no one remembered my mother, that she was missing, lost in the Bronx, and that no one was looking for her. So, to have this stroke of good fortune in which so many can read her story (and mine) is a wonder.
At Orsay, it wasn’t long before the lunchtime crowd was pouring through the door. Looking over 'Le Menu Du Dejeuner,' I was tempted by the their famous Souffle au Fromage, made with not one but two cheeses, white truffle oil, and baked to perfection. For such bliss there is a twenty-five minute wait, but when it's not on the menu, the clientele complains.
Whatever you order at restaurant Orsay, the presentation counts. Note the Asian Chicken Salad (below) with baby spinach and crispy noodles, and the slim and lovely omelette, done to perfection inminutes.
So, Gals and Guys, if you're hungering for a taste of France, remember this "classique" when you're on the Upper East Side. What's more, when the weather is enjoyable, there's a lovely outdoor seating area, but be forewarned, it overlooks a noisy street. Though, to tell the truth, the clientele doesn't seem to notice.
Looking forward to seeing you next week, when I'll have the coffee brewing...