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…
HOLY SHIT, I ACTUALLY WON!
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!