Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Polymath Shakes Things Up, FINALE

Jen and I arrived NYC on Monday afternoon. After getting settled in our hotels, we decided to take a walk to one of my favorite places, Takashimaya, a high end Japanese department store in which I would happily live. I covet just about half of everything on all five floors, but especially the housewares. Silverware and plates and furniture, oh my. Vases and travel gear and jewelry, sigh.

Jen had never been there, so it was fun to see her reaction to such a unique place. We met Stacey, fabulous makeup artist on the first floor, who introduced us to an amazing new foundation that instantly made us pore-less and radiant. Which was when we realized that we were a little bit tired and that it was threatening to rain. We took our glowy selves back to Jen’s amazing room at the Four Seasons and ordered up a cheese plate to keep up our strength and sustain us through the storm.

Thus restored, we got ready to go meet some friends for drinks and dinner at one of my favorite places, Buddakan. I love to grab one of the big square tables in the bar, and just hang out, you can order all sorts of delish dim sum, and sit for hours. We were joined there by our friends Liz, Penny, Tatiana, Karyn, Jolene, and Sarah. A festival of cocktails and food and awesome girl talk kept us there for the better part of six hours, at which point I had to grab a cab back to the hotel before I did a face plant on the table, still more than a little jet lagged for my recent return from abroad.

After a good night’s sleep, I met Jen at Spa Butterfly, where we indulged in spa mani/pedis and then parted company so that she could go to a lunch meeting, and I could get ready for the competition.

The contest judging was held at Death and Company, a famous NY watering hole which is known for its impeccable mixologists. These are no mere bartenders, these are the best of the best in the cocktail world, the kind of drink gurus that juice all their own fruit fresh every day, brew their own bitters, and care deeply about the nature of their ice cubes. We love them. So gearing up to stand behind their bar with them watching was a little bit intimidating. Of course, they are also some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, so that put us all at ease pretty quickly.

Shortly after we arrived, greeted by our hosts from Mionetto, we are getting ready for the competition. We are going to have to make about fifty tasting size cocktails and three full size drinks for the judges. I spend most of my prep time rimming about sixty glasses with the blend of raw sugar and ground grains of paradise. I like to only do a half-rim, so that you can hold the drink comfortably without little things falling on your hand, and also so that people can taste the drink both with and without the garnish. By the time I finish, and get all my ingredients organized, my cheering section has shown up. Jen, and Peter, and Scott get settled in a cozy booth with Peter’s friend Andrea, and get ready to start tasting. The D&Co. crew pass hors d’oeuvres, and we all get shaking. The time sort of flies by at this point, I’m shaking drink after drink, the prepped glasses are disappearing from the back bar, and before I know it the final glass has been filled and sent out.

Enore, the head of Mionetto USA, and literally the person who introduced Prosecco to the States a dozen years ago, clinks a glass to announce the results. After welcoming everyone, and sharing the year-long saga of this contest, he begins to announce the results, starting with third place.

“In the third place, with the Mionetto Morning Sunrise, Nela!”

Nela is a school cafeteria supervisor from Oklahoma, and has blended Prosecco and V8 Tropical Splash juice for a pinky-orange cocktail.

“In the second place, with the Mionetto Luau, Nina!”

Nina is from Detroit and is in Marketing, and is actually in a dress the exact color of Nela’s drink. Her cocktail is a blend of prosecco, pineapple puree, and coconut rum. I am in the middle of clapping for her when I realize that, um, there is only one prize left, and only one name not yet called.

“And of course, that means that the big winner today is Stacey with the Mionetini!”

My table jumps to their feet with wild whooping. Peter actually wells up, emotional thing that he is. Jen is laughing, Scott is clapping over his head and I think…


It’s true, dear chickens.

After a whole year of entering contests, submitting recipes, and not getting so much as a note thanking me for my participation, I actually won something! And not just a little something, either, 5 large baby!

Sadly, due to a small mishap in the Mionetto offices the weekend before the competition, there is no huge prize check to carry around, but I could not be more thrilled. I’m very grateful to the gang at Mionetto, especially Gaby, Stephanie and Enore for being so gracious and lovely.

But more important, I am so grateful to everyone who voted for me, because while I may have had the best tasting drink on the day, I couldn’t have gotten there without all those online votes.

So a very grateful and exhausted (and slightly richer) Polymath thanks you.

Next time: The Polymath Buys Herself a Little Something!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Polymath Heads to New York, Part Sixteen

Well chickens, your polymath is back from three glorious weeks in France, and tho still slightly loopy from the jet lag, I am on a plane in the morning to head to the Big Apple for the contest final judging.

Tune in Wednesday for the play by play and the final results, and thanks for taking the journey with me....

Next Time: The Polymath Shakes Things Up, Finale

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Polymath's Good Fortune, Part Fifteen

Your intrepid Polymath resigns herself to someone else shaking her cocktail for the judges, and gets back to the business of dealing with real life. She works on some copywriting, does some consulting, writes some restaurant reviews...

Then, a small miracle.

While sitting in the La Guardia Admiral's Club during her 172nd flight delay of 2009, the phone rings. An unknown 718 area code number.



"Hi, Stacey? This is Gaby, over at Mionetto."

"Hi! How are you?"

"Fine, how are you?"

Curious, is how I am. "Fine. What's up?"

"I just wanted to let you know that we had another meeting, and decided that it was just silly to not have you at the judging, so we are changing the date and will be doing it on June 16th instead."

SHUT UP!!! Stay calm. "Oh, well that is just delightful, please thank everyone there for me, I'm very excited to be able to be a part of it."

"Yeah, we just thought it wouldn't be the same without you." You are darned tootin' on that, sister!

"Well I'm very grateful." I'M GONNA WIN THIS WHOLE THING!!!!

"Great, well, I'll send an e-mail with the details, but I wanted to be sure you didn't book anything else in that time!"

Yeah, right. I'll be four days back from three weeks in France, jet lagged and probably drooling on myself, underneath an enormous pile of unread mail and catalogs, and falling asleep mid-sentance. Exactly what do they think I would be scheduling myself for?

"Nope, I won't book anything else."

"Okay, then you'll hear from me soon!"

"Thanks so much, Gaby. I really appreciate it."

"You're welcome."

That's right, bitches.

The Polymath is back in the game.

Next Time: The Polymath Takes Manhattan

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Polymath Waits, Part Fourteen

Ten days go by. I try to be Zen. I try not to think about it. I try not to call the woman back to find out what is going on. I am not successful.

The first day of Passover, when I should have been focused on getting ready for my favorite holiday? I called and left a message asking about the status. Twice I day I checked the website to see if the “Final Judging in New York on June 3rd” had magically been changed to “Final Judging in New York on a date when the person who got the most votes out of anyone can be there”.

It did not.

I wait another five days and leave another message. The lovely woman in the promotions department calls me back.

They cannot change the date.

I can send a proxy.

Because that is just what everyone wants to do, take three days off of work in the middle of a week to fly to New York and make my cocktail so I can win 5k!

Luckily, my good friend Peter, master mixologist who lives in NYC offers to attend the judging on my behalf and shake up my martooni as if his life depended on it. I tried to put only good energy into the universe and not let my cynical side take hold, which wanted very much to entertain the thought that they would never allow the grand prize to go to someone who wasn’t present to accept it.

I called the promotions girl back and assured her that I am in NY all the time, sometimes as often as once a month and would be delighted, were I so lucky to win the big prize, to make myself available for any photo shoots or publicity they might want me to do.

I might be trying not to be cynical, but that doesn’t mean I get stupid in the process.

NEXT: The Polymath’s Good Fortune