went to esca last night. whenever i'm craving pasta, about once a month, i'll go and try to stake out a seat at the bar. the bar over there is like this top secret club. getting there and snagging a seat means that you're on a first name basis with the bartender who knows everyone else at the bar and will make introductions. (if i were the kind of person who could afford going there once a week, i would. the crudo is also lustworthy.) next thing you know, even though you may have thought you were going out to eat alone, you're now with a party of 4. you all share food. it is the most collegial thing i think i've ever been drawn into. the chef comes up, hangs out to chat. victor, the bartender, makes sure to introduce me. "jasmine, this is david pasternack, chef and part owner here." i shake hands, refrain from saying something embarassing like, "i know who you are! i've read about you! i like food!" i didn't even say, "you're david pasternack!" which is also something that may have slipped out had i not been as composed. or sober. and because the esca bar is a "zone of extra-friendliness" or something david says, "hey, i got a new pasta machine! come down and look at it!" my response, "are you serious?" "yeah! come on down!" and off he went. off my stool i hopped and followed him through the kitchen and down the stairs. past some trays of post dinner biscotti, past freezers containing trays of frozen pasta. he showed me the process, the part of the machine that broke and couldn't be replaced on his last machine (which is why he had to get a new one). he was a proud daddy standing over his bright, shiny hunk of stainless steel with polished bronze working bits. pretty damn neat. ALMOST makes up for missing the pork butt. almost. maybe.