Last night saw another trip to the great Long Island, this time to celebrate my wonderful friend Lisa’s birthday AND simultaneous emancipation to her very own adorable one-bedroom apartment on the North Shore. Congrats Lisa!!
When the girls get together for a GNOB – which, in case you don’t regularly memorize little-known acronyms, stands for Girl’s Night Out Birthday – there are a few criteria that are absolutely essential. Firstly, the selected location must have a noise level that one would refer to at the very least as lively, with bonus points as it nears raucous. To be blunt, it should be loud – or at least louder than us. Because we’re girls, and we’re celebrating, so we’re gonna get a little more than noisy, and the more of us there are, the more exponentially our gab-level will grow. Still, we don’t want to feel as though we could actually be acting obnoxious or inappropriate (gasp!), so rule number one is to find a well-suited environment where enthusiasm is encouraged and intoxicated proclamations are easily masked by the surrounding patrons.
The second requirement is a wide variety of, shall we say, “girly drinks.” For example…
Look, I’ll order a glass of fine Pinot Noir or a dirty martini (easy on the Vermouth) more often than not when splurging on a classy dinner out, and nothing can take the place of a rich, hoppy microbrew at a hole-in-the-wall beer den. But when the girls get together, we want cocktails that look pretty, taste great, and will result in a festive buzz without leaving us wincing at the sting of cheap tequila on our tongues. The “Three M’s” are usually a safe bet, and they were present in full force last night: Margaritas, Mojitos, and Martinis.
Finally, and I’m not sure if I speak for girls everywhere here, or just my particular wonderful group of friends, but GNOs and GNOBs especially have the absolute requirement of a plethora of food that is truly delicious and consequently terrible for you. Nothing compliments the excitement of being out with your best girl friends and the anticipation for the great night ahead of you like piles of guacamole with heaps of tortilla chips, or bottomless fajitas. Should fajitas have bottoms? Yes. But will I be sorry if they don’t? Absolutely not!
I think you see where I’m going with this… Si, es cierto…
Mexican fiesta!! Ole, ole!! Call me crazy, but there’s just something about Mexican food that screams, “It’s your birthday, so let’s drink tequila, get hopped up and make some bad choices!” This was true a few months ago when Cara and I rang in our mutual 23rd years at Dos Caminos Midtown, and it’s still true now. And it was with this simple, universal, beautiful truth in mind that the six of us entered Cozymel’s last night, casting a knowing eye to the spinning frozen margarita machines as if to say, “Hello, old friend.”
As per the three requirements, the night proceeded in an elevated state of excitement as we chattered, drank, and ate our way through several rounds of “Weightless Mojitos” made with Acai Berry Rum and fresh mint. This drink was spectacular, and seems to be a new hit for the summer – it has also cropped up on the bar menu at the Central Park Boathouse, whose version includes fresh, plump blueberries and blackberries thrown whole into the cocktail, Sangria-style. Cozymel’s also introduced us to the “Margarita Sampler,” which despite it’s somewhat mundane name, was reminiscent of a Mayan temple in South America, the way the small tumblers sat upon a staggered pedestal, and how it’s drinker stood rightfully in awe of itspresence.
Seriously, can you see the resemblance? I think it’s pretty spot on…
And of course, there’s no faster way (well, few faster ways) to get a group of girls to down their drinks than by placing them side-by-side with bowls of scaldingly hot jalapeno salsa, which made our drinks disappear faster than you can say, “hasta la vista.”
I know, I know… with all this talk of bebidas, who really cares about food? To be honest, it was more of an afterthought after the endless crunch of chips and sugary relief of the cocktails. Still, I had to include a few pictures because I continued to be amazed by the sheer amount of food a good Mexican chain restaurant will provide you with for just $14 (plus tax, of course). My friend Christina ordered the Taco Salad with grilled chicken, and a chipotle ranch dressing that was strangely green, despite the fact that chipotle peppers are decidedly red (perhaps these were made with misfit peppers). Clearly, in this case a salad was a super healthy option – I think there were even a few shreds of lettuce present among the mounds of guacamole, sour cream, and cheese, all stuffed into a deep-fried tortilla molded into the shape of a bowl. I mean, it’s essentially a cleanse diet. Someone should alert Gwenyth Paltrow.
A few of us opted for the classic Mexican staple, fajitas, which were also very, shall we say, extensive. They were pretty standard fajitas – not much else to say about that – but I took a picture just because, well, after a couple Weightless Mojitos, everything seems photo-worthy.
Okay, time for GNOB rule number 4: be a master of dessert stealth. Become well-versed in those covert glances you and your fellow diners should throw at each other across the table when the birthday girl is chin deep in her Con Queso, the subtle under-the-table kick to the friend in the corner seat as the dinner plates are cleared, for it is she who is now faced with the burden of excusing herself to go to the bathroom, getting out of the birthday girl’s line of sight, cornering the waitress and requesting a surprise dessert, laden with candles, be brought over at the earliest convenience. We were lucky enough that Lisa, our birthday princess, got up from the table right as the waitress was approaching with the dessert menu, leaving us free to debate those dishes with the greatest “share potential,” which would be enjoyed by all six of us, armed only with spoons. We settled on the Banana Napoleon.
Now, this was not a Napoleon in any sense of the true meaning of the traditional dessert. But when you’re presented with three towering layers of banana pudding, banana mousse, buenelo crisps (a sort of sweet fried tortilla), sliced fresh banana, and whipped cream, with fresh strawberries…. no body can even remember what a real Napoleon looks like – or the fact that it’s French, and bananas really don’t factor in, for that matter. Let’s just say there was much knocking of elbows and leaning over the table as this dessert disappeared.
If my description thus far has not painted an adequate picture of how sumptuous this tower of sugary goodness was, let me add that it eating it led to an in-depth discussion of more sensual aspects of dessert, and the benefits of enjoying them, er, outside of the dining room. That was one conversation that could only take place after countless glasses of “girly drinks.” But we’ll save that for a future blog
On that note, I’d once more like to wish Lisa a very happy birthday, and a year full of lots of luck and good fortune, and, of course, epic culinary adventures in her new kitchen. Feliz Cumpleanos, mi amiga!! Buena Suerta!!