What if I was leaving New York per se? Leaving the city that I fell in love with everyday and it, in turn seduced me every night. When I got the news from my boss and lawyer that could not get a Visa, I was crushed. I had always thought that I would live, work and play in New York City.
My first phone call was to my best friend Jenny, to tell her of the heartbreaking news. My next call was to Per Se, to make a reservation. Chef Thomas Keller is a culinary god and Per Se is his temple. I made my pilgrimage to this foodie Mecca exactly a week and a year from when I actually entered through its glass gates.
It was July 21, 2006. I had just arrived in the city and lacking the required reservation and cash, I went to Per Se. I just wanted to gaze at the exterior of the restaurant and fantasize about what the interior held.
A four top walked out and I wanted to touch them. They seemed blessed by the great one. Instead I stole the only thing I have ever stolen in my life, three sheets of paper, Per Se’s menus. I would wonder how each dish would taste and when I would taste it.
My meal at Per Se on Saturday, July 28, 2007 was the best meal in my life. It made the bitter ending of leaving New York, temporarily sweet. The day I made that reservation marked the time I truly experienced New York. I truly began to live in the city as opposed to just residing in it.
As I look back at my photos of those last few months in the city, I see the faces of my dear friends, now separated by the distance of being half a world away in Singapore. But I also realize that I don’t have any pictures of New York’s famous landmarks, those required photos that document time spent in perhaps the greatest city in the world. No photos of Times Square, the Empire State Building, or the Statue of Liberty, instead I had images of the landmarks in the city’s culinary topography. Per Se, WD-50, Peter Luger’s, Degustation, the opening of Tailor and Le Bernardin. So I’m sharing my photos, memories and story of leaving New York and I’m inviting you to join me for the story that is unfolding, where I now live, here in Singapore.