Saturday, May 29, 2010

What's a Mother-Daughter Date Without Lunch, Manicures, and a Glee Concert Where Your Mother Screams Louder Than You?

Hello. My name is Kate Nelson, I turned 14 years old in April, and I live on the upper west side, in New York City.
     For my birthday, my parents gave me two tickets to see a performance of Glee, live at Radio City Hall. One for me and one for my mom. (My dad doesn't like live concerts, save classical music.) Part of the present was that I got to spend the latter half of the day with her.
     My parents raised my little brother and me to love good food from different cultures, and we were going to restaurants all over the city by the time I knew how to pronounce (and spell) "Foie Gras"-- I was about 10. My family all had their preferences when it came to eating and making food. I love rich foods and sweet pastries. A few years ago I really really wanted to be a pastry chef, and my parents happily encouraged me. I was soon getting Martha Stewart cookbooks for my birthday, taking cooking classes at the Institute of Culinary Education, and going to Times Talks with Mario Batalli. My parents were happy for me, and my sixth-grade classmates and were very impressed with the 4-layer Lemon Meringue cakes I made by myself from scratch for class parties. I felt almost bad that other sixth-graders had their parents buy cupcakes from the nearest Walgreen's.
     However, I soon got disappointed that ICE didn't have more advanced classes for eleven-year-olds who knew how to make ravioli from scratch. Bored of the Harry Potter food classes and sad that it would be three years before I could take even a cake-decorating class for teenagers, I ran to my corner of our small New York apartment and pouted, saying to my dad, "Would it be OK if I lied about my age and told the ICE people that I was 14 so that I can take that cool knife class?"
     Sadly, after a consult with my parents, the verdict was that I could not pose as a 14-year-old girl and sneak into any of the ICE classes, BUT (the "but"s are always very important in family discussions) Dad could take the courses for adults, come home, and teach the skills to us children. This ended up working very well, and both my brother and I quickly learned how to handle a knife without having to call the ambulance from around the corner.
    So, with that past information in mind, here I am with my mother, at a little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant on 55th Street and 6th Avenue called Il Corso. There's a grand total of eleven people in the restaurant at the time, including my mother and I. The menu was very nice, with an assortment of pastas, salads, appetizers, and main courses. I ordered an appetizer with tomato, real buffalo mozzarella, and prosciutto and a salad with avocado, endive, and a variation of lemon sauce. My mom decided on a salad with ricotta cheese drizzled with olive oil, and for the main course: a chicken breast with artichoke and potatoes. She asked for a Diet Coke, her signature drink, and I ordered a Virgin Mojito. My mom recommended them to me a few months back and I had recently become addicted to them.
     Our waiter served us our drinks, and as Mom quickly gulped down her Diet, I was studying my think orange-ish drink that, to my knowledge, did not look anything like what I had expected a sprite with mint to look like. However, I took a sip, and my mouth was instantly on fire. Now, mind you, I happen to have very strong taste buds that cannot stand anything remotely under the category of spicy. Even bell peppers are my downfall. I try, I really do, but as much as I love strong cheese, my mouth simply cannot tolerate any kind of food under the category of "spicy."
     After several glasses of water and a few stolen sips of Diet Coke, I was able to wheeze out to my mom, "Spicy . . . spicy . . . I don't think . . . that was a . . . Virgin Mojito." Luckily, before I died of heat exhaustion, we flagged down the waiter who apologized frantically, for giving me a Virgin Bloody Mary instead of a Virgin Mojito. In the end, I was unable to have my Virgin Mojito, because the restaurant was out of mint. Instead, I settled for a Diet Coke as well.
     The appetizers arrived pretty quickly, in less than 10 minutes, which is truly great. My mom and I talked about all sorts of things that you would talk about while out to lunch with a friend. I've always had a pretty good relationship with my mom. At one point she mentioned that whenever she was out to lunch with a client (she works for a company that sells insurance to attorneys) or a friend, they would ask, "How old is your daughter?" and when my mom answered, "She just turned fourteen," everyone would roll their eyes and give her their sympathy, assuming that I was a bratty child with a nose ring and who was always texting. This got her annoyed, but it got us thinking, that we had really strong relationships in our family.
     Then, sometime in the conversation, we were talking about upcoming family vacations and the book that we live by, 1000 Places to See Before You Die, I had an idea spark in my head:
     "Hey! How about you and I make a book, or blog or something about eating restaurants in New York City!"
     Bam. That's how this blog started. We rebounded of each other's ideas, finally deciding to create a blog about a Mother and Daughter eating at good restaurants; not just in New York City, but wherever we travel. The official title was, "1000 Places to Eat Before You Diet" -- a joke on the book my family loved.
     We halted our plans for the blog for a few moments once our food arrived. As always, I was very eager to begin eating. Of course, I absolutely love cheese, and anything involving buffalo mozzarella is immediately in the top 5 of my favorite foods. I scooped up a piece of the gigantic ball of cheese (but, hey, I'm not complaining) and popped it in my mouth along with a bit of tomato.
     My eyes went wide as I chewed. I've had a lot of mozzarella in my years. I've had good mozzarella, I've had it fresh, on pizza, on bread, snuck from the fridge as a midnight snack, I've had tough, chewy mozzarella, I've had it made fresh in front of our table, and in general, I've had just really good mozzarella. And yet, there is nothing in the world compared to real, homemade buffalo mozzarella. It's a class all it's own. Mozzarella is chewy and soft, moist and tender, flavorful and like biting into a cloud. Add that, with some prosciutto and a ripe, soft tomato, with a sprinkle of grounded pepper on top, and it's truly heavenly.
     Mom's cheese on her salad was also really good. I wrote the cheese down as Ricotta, but I know I heard it wrong. The cheese's texture was similar to that of a goat's, but at the same time it was a lot softer. We munched in silence for a few minutes, simply enjoying the company of each other and the cheese. Soon, the conversation started up again, with even more livelihood than before.
     We continued chatting throughout our lunch. My salad was very springy, fresh, and enjoyable. It was quite good altogether. By the end of our meal, I had also eaten a delicious creme brulee, with only one extra Diet Coke, while my mom had drank three, plus peppermint tea. No wonder she had to use the restroom three times in the next hour.
     My mom and I left the restaurant chatting and laughing, vowing to ourselves to remember this place so we might return someday. Turning the corner, we were faced with a hard decision. To manicure, or not to manicure. I looked at my mom, and she looked at me. Without a seconds hesitation, we knew the answer was yes.
     Within about half an hour, I got my nails painted a soft, metallic gold, and my mother had her usual, soft sugar-daddy.
     We walked the five blocks to Radio City Music Hall, home of the famous Rockettes, and prepared to conquer the long line of screaming teenagers, eager to see Cory Monteith and the other cute co-stars of the TV show, Glee. I am proud to say that me and my mom are definitely two of them.
     Needless to say, the show was AMAZING!!! I loved every minute of it, and we were screaming the whole time. To summarize the entire experience to spare all of the men and boys the gory details (yes, dad, I'm talking to you especially), there was a lot of screaming "I LOVE YOU!", 80s music, beautiful light shows, fantastic dancing, really funny lines: "Who are these people?", and lots of money being made. As I recall, there was also an incident with the line on the girl's bathroom, which involved several women and teenagers migrating to use the men's room. Oh yes, the experience was completely worth it. Save the part with the urinals. That could have been skipped. It serves us right for drinking three Diet Cokes.
     In all, I really had a wonderful time with my mom, and I'm glad that I can relate to her. Also, for all you readers, watch for the show Glee, (if you miss it, go on, it's a life saver.) and check out Il Corso.
     Here's to crazy teenage moments, new beginnings, and virgin drinks.


  1. I'm a huge Gleek, too!

    I once accidentally got a non-virgin drink. I took a sip and it felt like my ears were on fire. I stood up and said loudly (at a pretty chi-chi Manhattan restaurant), "There's liquor in this drink!" The friends I was with still tease me about that.

    Keep writing, Kate and Marcia! This is so great.

  2. OMG this is the best thing I read in a long time and makes me miss my mom. Kate, I feel like i know you and cant wait to spend some quality time with you. Your mom talks about you all the time (dont worry not in that annoying "let me tell you about how fabulous my daughter is" rant that most mothers get swept away by.) You are so lucky to have the relationship that you do with her as most 14 year old girls are not as lucky. The fact that you are open to eating different foods is AWESOME! and I too can eat cheese for days as it is my absolute favorite......when mom and I were in Las Vegas we ate the most amazing food but she always ordered better dishes then I did so now I wait to see what she orders and may just order the same. :)

  3. i am a mother of two sons! wish I had a daughter to pal around with! and your mother is really cool.....kate, i have no idea about any girly-things...have to do them all by myself! And, teenage boys like food as you do. however, they are not anything, anywhere!

  4. Kate, I have to agree, there are few things more beautiful in life than a creamy dreamy slice of buffalo mozzarella (have you ever been to Celeste? When they stock it, it is divine!). I applaud you for writing this with your mom. I'm pretty big fans of both of you, and I hope your fabulous writing skills and blog spawn you a book deal, and you know, maybe a movie (think: Julie and Julia, but better). :) I'll keep reading, as long as you keep eating.