It was the 14th of February, 2006. Clad in my black and white checkered uniform, the fumes from my school bus lingering in my hair, I hop down and walk towards my condominium lobby, only to chance upon my then-bestfriend: embarrassed, terrified, and giddy in his white collared top and lopsided grin. I laugh out loud and hold on to my skirt, lest the wind reveals unsolicited high school girliness. A pause. Four long-stemmed roses and a shy smile. “Thank you,” I manage to utter. “Why four?!” I inquire, keeping my bangs away from my face and looking at him in the eye.
“Because,” he says. I felt funny the rest of the week, but shrugged it off as purely platonic. We are, after all, the best of friends.
So that was how it all started. Since then, Valentine’s Day has always been special. The following year, it was a treasure hunt in the mall, three different baggage counters involved, some sushi and CDs. The next year it turned into a dozen, long-stemmed roses. The year after that, it was a brief encounter and an ironically solitary flower, communicating heartbreak and pain. And last year, an oyster dinner at a fancy hotel restaurant — with, again, a dozen roses to put the cherry on top of the night. This year, well: same same, but different (ahhh, this Thai phrase always does the trick).
They say familiarity breeds contempt. In this second chance to love, familiarity, admittedly, keeps us strong. Love is not necessarily sweeter the second time around, but it is definitely more genuine. When Valentine’s this year came, it was like any other day: he picked me up from school, and took me out to dinner. It led us to the realization that everyday is like Valentine’s Day for us, sans the flowers of course. But to keep things slightly out of ordinary, we had an exchange of gifts: a ruled Moleskine from him, and a red Lego Brick Light from me. Now, the dinner date? Let the pictures speak for themselves:
Upon entering, I instantly caught a whiff of mouth-watering New York comfort food amidst a laid-back and quirky atmosphere.
The chairs satisfied my undying love for floral prints. We sat on one of the taller tables at the loft, which gives a fantastic view of mismatched mirrors and teal walls on either ends:
Donned in the varsity jacket, The Ferris and Sloane from the latest collection of The Artisan, (did I mention that he owns it, along with his partners Kix and CSJ?), I felt as if I was with a Sartorialist-worthy subject. Perfect for the whole Manhattan ambience.
While waiting for our order, I just had to fiddle with the Lego Brick Light that I gave EJ. Was curious myself.
An Audrey Hepburn movie was shown on mute, which I found really clever. Might I add, some enthralling opera music was playing on top of the diners’ sophisticated and subtle chatter. It must be said: all aspects of this restaurant was a feast for the senses. But how about the most important element, the food?
Chunky, sweet, tangy, and undoubtedly hearty, this quaint little bowl satisfied my eternal craving for tomato soup. I’ll definitely come back for more, perhaps next Valentine’s Day again?
Coined “dirty mashed potatoes” and slabbed rather casually on a warm plate, the taste was anything but. It was a pleasure for the taste buds, organic in both taste and sight.
Portobello mushroom oozing with Monterey Jack in a Pita Pocket. Homemade potato chips on the side, which EJ wasn’t able to finish. Now what does that say about the serving size?!
A homemade hoagie sandwiching a generous amount of pulled pork, gracefully seasoned with barbecue sauce. Served with green mango coleslaw and the same Borough chips EJ had. It was, indeed, a hearty Valentine’s meal spent with my special someone. No pun intended.