showcasing La Florentina
Thursday, June 12 2014
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
Gretchen and I have a lot of friends without real 9-5 jobs, but it still came as a bit of a surprise that our friend Michæl (formerly of KMOCA) was having his birthday party today (a Thursday) starting at 3:00pm. Of course, for Gretchen and me it was no problem to show up, and so we did, bringing both Ramona and Eleanor. The original plan for the party was for it to involve some work in Michæl & Carrie's big garden, but it was a rainy day, and the only garden time we ended up getting was a tour during a brief pause in the precipitation. Their garden makes ours seem like a postage stamp, though I did have a glimmer of comparative success: somehow we managed to harvest more asparagus than they did this year.
Michæl had called for nobody to bring presents, though of course Gretchen had baked a lavish cake, one complete with a gluten-free layer for all the gluten-free "glutards" in attendance. There was an amusing incident in which Carrie, talking about her work, caught herself before uttering the phrase "redheaded stepchild," fearing she might offend someone. Gretchen thought that was ridiculous, but Jac!nta (who always comes to Michæl Asb!ll parties) agreed with Carrie that the term was offensive. This led directly into an astrology-based conversation about the assertiveness of various kinds of Capricorns (thereby cloaking certain individuals' underlying overly-politically-correct ideology). According to the astrological argument, early Capricorns (such as Carrie, Jac!nta, and Gretchen's father) would never offend with such terms, but late Capricorns (such as Gretchen) don't give a fuck.
Our time at Michæl & Carrie's was cut short by another social obligation. (When we departed, Carrie gave us two enormous heads of lettuce picked fresh from the garden.) Tonight was our turn to show our New Paltz friends Mark & Marissa a local diamond-in-the-rough restaurant, and we'd (obviously) picked La Florentina on Albany Avenue in Kingston. We drove straight from Michæl & Carrie's place, mostly via Lucas Avenue, and arrived only a little bit late. Mark & Marissa had already ordered a thing of bread. We proceeded to wow them with not only the sformato but also the soup and salad. After a satisfying meal, Mark articulated best what is so great about the food at La Florentina: you can get vegan food that isn't using recently-invented products and culinary gimics (for example, Daiya "cheese") in hopes of simulating something non-vegan. It just is what it is, and has been that way for hundreds of years. And it's fucking delicious. While the emerging dinner date pattern between Mark & Marissa and us is to showcase unexpected treasures we've found among local restaurants, La Florentina is going to be hard to top.
Mind you, La Florentina has its problems. The wine is never very good (though today they had Goose Island IPA, which I had). Ususally the waitstaff is awesome, but today it was kind of lazy and slow. I suppose that happens at even the best restaurants.
We were the last diners in La Florentina when a huge group of people, most of them teenage girls wearing little black dresses, arrived for a 9:00pm meal.
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