I have a confession.

I ate McDonald’s the other day.

To be fair… I made the most out of it. I ate it with expensive Champagne. Really expensive Champagne. I figured, if you’re going to clog your arteries and tempt the gods of morbid obesity, you may as well throw some pricey bubbles on top of it all.

It started out with a craving. Like, a pregnancy, last-day-on-earth, just-smoked-a-fat-doob craving. I honestly don’t really know what a pregnancy craving is like, and I’ve somehow managed to avoid landing myself on death row thus far, but I do know what it’s like to get the munchies, and this was that feeling. On steroids. I needed grease and salt, and I needed it immediately.

But I wasn’t going down alone. I had to drag my entire staff with me. They were also going to eat McDonald’s and drink Champagne or they were going to get fired. I took requests from my confused, slightly terrified team and set out to purchase the fast food goods.

There are few things more unpleasant than a McDonald’s in midtown Manhattan during lunch hour on a Friday, and I learned this the hard way. Not only was it the most inefficient clusterfuck of total and complete mayhem (might I suggest an “order here” and “pick up here” window, rather than an “order, pay, stand around, complain, talk on cell phone, ask for more sweet and sour sauce, AND pick up here” window, dear McD’s?), I was also given one damp, half-ripped paper bag to carry enough food and beverages to feed the entire upper east side, in which I was supposed to transport our carcinogenic feast six blocks. This is what I looked like when I returned:
The camera doesn’t quite capture the sticky mess all over my arms and hands from the neon yellow and pink strawberry lemonade that Henry insisted on getting, as it is currently all the rage in the fast food world. It did, however, capture the multiple soft drinks and dye from the McDonald’s bag that I took to the chest, and subsequently tried to sponge off.

Despite an experience I would like never to repeat in this lifetime or the next, I was able to return to my clan with this tasty looking spread:
It seems a bit wrong to wash down something like this with water. But I’m just not the soda type, and I don’t really trust people who are. So, we decided to line up some alternative beverage options for the in-store fatfest.

No…no…no…no…yes.
The bottle of Cristal was a bit of an afterthought… a joke, really. It was a gift to the MWX team, and we had sort of been saving it for a special occasion. Or, well, at least a more special occasion than sitting around on case stacks on a random Friday afternoon, eating a collection of strange animal parts fried in fat. There wasn’t even a staff meeting. But, the more we thought about it, the more it seemed like an utterly brilliant idea. The best idea we’d ever had, in fact. 
There is no better sound than that of a Champagne bottle popping, in particular in the workplace. While we all wanted to be celebrating raises, instead, we were celebrating our heartbeats (which we were about to be very thankful we still had, after this little cardiac arrest in a paper sac). We were alive, the sun was out, we did have jobs, thankfully among people we actually liked, and we were surrounded by the come-hither aromas of D-grade “beef.” Celia Cruz was on the iPod. Life was good.
Let me tell you something, dear readers. Nothing does McDonald’s justice like Cristal. Even more so than my beloved bubbles and bacon, egg and cheese, or, of course, our Champagne and Hotdogs… this pairing blows the mind. It’s everything you could ask for in a marriage of food and wine. Salty, oily, artificially flavored bites of Big Mac begged for a post-chew deep cleaning, a challenge our swank sipper was more than happy to tackle. The special sauce stood up to the yeasty complexity of this vintage Champagne, and mingled nicely with the finish, neither one dominating the other. And, if there has ever been a soul mate for god’s gift to late night drunk binge food – the McDonald’s french fry – Cristal is it. The tight, clean perlage was a match made in heaven for the cancer sticks, and a natural for cleansing the palate of all remnants of fat.
As you can see, I basically dislocated my jaw to cram this into my mouth. My parents would be so proud:
If only we could now get that unmistakable, eternal perma-grease scent that only McDonald’s could leave in its wake off our hands and clothes. And the store.

But we didn’t care if we all smelled like a car after a road trip to Vegas. We were drunk, fat, happy and much in need of a nap. All in the name of a hard day’s work.
 
 
Occasionally, we are serious. Or, well, we aren’t. But our blog can be. We understand our readers don’t necessarily always want to read about embarrassing and ridiculous things that happen to us on a daily basis. Sometimes they actually want to learn something…feel inspired or whatever. If you observed us in our professional lives, you might know that we probably aren’t the best teachers. But we are definitely the most fun, and boy can we inspire. And, if you came to one of our dinner parties, you would know that, when push comes to shove, we handle our business, and could show our followers a thing or two about whipping up a solid meal.

Last weekend, Lindsay hosted Part 1 of a rather belated Birthday (21st! Tenth time around!) celebration for me at her house. I was in Italy for my actual birthday, and, since we’re the most self-absorbed, self-indulgent people in the world, we couldn’t let the occasion go by without acknowledging it again with a little soiree, NYC-style. And by “we,” I mean “I.”

Since we live in New York City in shoebox-sized apartments that cost us our entire paychecks and then some, we are both space- and budget-conscious in our planning. This is a skill Lindsay, in particular, could teach and teach well. For example, this was the tablescape (do I need to credit Sandra Lee for using that expression?) she created for me:
Wine bottles + chalkboard paint + colored chalk + one bouquet of mixed flowers from the deli + a couple of candle tapers = genius, totally playful display for >$20. And, with the leftover chalkboard paint, you can coat some walls in your house for a creative outlet that keeps on giving… or a space for your significant other to write “I will not leave wet towels lying on the wood furniture” 100 times over since they clearly didn’t get it the first 50 times you told them not to.

The appetizer Lindsay prepared was a feast for both the eyes and palate. Crispy crostini piled high with fresh ricotta, paper-thin slices of prosciutto, juicy peaches and honey. Food porn at its best:
After stuffing our pieholes with this, we were treated to homemade pot roast, courtesy of Josh, AKA “Is that Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes?” AKA Lindsay’s hubby. Slabs of melt-in-your-mouth beef only barely upstaged their plate mates – mounds of creamy, buttery mashed potatoes napped with salty, meaty gravy (from scratch, no less), and a bright, crisp salad of pea shoots, sugar snap peas and beans, brought by our resident “real chef” and salad-guru Morgan.
When we were so full we could barely swallow our own saliva, out waltzed a birthday tart (appropriate). Flaky pastry, vanilla cream, berries, kiwis, oranges… this thing had everything. I made a wish that I didn’t look as unattractive as everyone else always does in blowing-out-the-birthday-candles pictures.

You might wonder what I did to contribute to this glorious night. Well, I solved the burning question of whether or not people have a “good side” and “bad side” in pictures. They do.

Good side:
Bad side:
At this point, wine pairings, shmine pairings. We drank everything in the house. Sauvignon Blanc, Lambrusco, Chardonnay, Malbec, Sangiovese… those who sipped water in excess shall remain nameless (but lets just say T. Mann… no, that would be too obvious… How about…Tim M. Credit goes to The Simpsons for that little comedic gem). It didn’t matter what went and what didn’t. The apartment was breezy, the food filling, the company entertaining, the conversation hilarious (“He touched me where I pee”).

You, too, can create this same experience in your home on your budget– whether your abode is 600 square feet and packed with 15 people, and you have $25 to your name, or you have a chef’s kitchen, no friends and a large bank account (message us what that’s like, please). All you need is some cheap beef, a few potatoes, some admittedly fancy veggies, a pastry shop the name of which you refuse to tell your friends, and some wine. A lot of wine. Oh, and a naughty sense of humor.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next weekend. Bubbles and Bar Food. I’m so excited I could pee. Where he touches me.
 
 
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Devin and I spend too many nights at our wine store, MWX,  taking turns quickly choking down a slice of cheese pizza in between helping customers, reheating 3-day-old leftovers, or forgoing food altogether and opting to drink our dinner instead. (This doesn’t work as well when one of you is pregnant.)

We have many foodies in our lives from friends who cook for fun and blog about it, to restaurant hot spots pushing their gorgeous plates of food in our direction to “try.” And, we genuinely love to cook ourselves so we really have no excuses.

Devin and I ran across a stranger’s blog (now, of course, we are hell-bent on becoming friends or family with this person after trying out his brilliant recipe) who cooks these fantastic little meals in his closet, allegedly. Our back “office” here at the store basically resembles a corner office with a view of the park – but in reality really is a broom closet where, even Devin and I as skinny as we are – have to sit on each other or take turns sitting if we both need to be back there at the same time. Naturally, we thought this recipe would make a lot of sense given our “space” and we’d get a good, old-fashioned, store-cooked meal for dinner.

We landed on Wednesday to be THE jalapeno grilled cheese event – the dinner of the century, we were anticipating. I come in to the store at noon on Wednesdays and ran a few errands beforehand – all the while, proudly packing my Presto Skillet and plug-in with me around the Upper East Side because I wasn’t going to head home before coming to the store.

Devin picked up enough jalapenos for 4 sandwiches – or, as we now know, enough jalapenos to leave all 10 of my fingers stinging like a terrible case of frostbite thawing out – even 16 hours later. Also, enough jalapenos to throw at least 3 employees, 2 customers and 1 wine rep into a completely hysterical coughing fit. She also bought the sliced sourdough bread, cream cheese, corn chips, cheddar jack cheese, pickles and chutney. We were going to eat like kings tonight. The customers were going to have to wait.

The sandwiches were an incredible hit! Spicy, sour, creamy and cheesy. We paired them with the Flaca Torrontes from Argentina – you can buy it in our store for $21.95. Just when I thought the jalapenos might be a bit too much, I sloshed around a mouthful of the Flaca and, just like that – even the smell of this wine cut right through the  spice and the round and melony (yet crisp) flavors snuffed out any worries I had about the fire igniting in my mouth.

Devin and I are also battling the crud – her bronchial, me sinusy. (Don’t let this keep you from coming in our store – I thoroughly Lysoled the hell outta the joint this morning.) So, with our genius jalapeno dinner plans we also (momentarily) breathed a little easier.

http://www.closetcooking.com/2011/04/jalapeno-popper-grilled-cheese-sandwich.html

 
 

 
 
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This is what a normal person’s average wine receipt looks like.

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This is what Lindsay’s average wine receipt looks like.