SHARING IS CARING 

                February 11, 2014

THE HUNGER JAMES OFFICIAL RATING:

Aside from the food, one of the best things about going out to dinner is the company and conversation. It is so nice to just sit back and relax, enjoy a bottle of wine, and relish in time spent with good friends. Clearly, the food is my favorite part, but there is something amazing about getting together with friends to share a meal that cannot be topped.

 

Just last week, my two friends invited me to go to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants I have discovered since living here called Kashkaval. It is a Mediterranean-style restaurant located on 55/8 in Hells Kitchen and has some of the best food I have ever had. (I still love you, Outback)

It is a very big jump from my usual fried chicken and macaroni and cheese diet, with their menu ranging from healthy vegetable sides to fresh salads and produce. They do have cheese fondue…so that’s at least something.

 

The dinner was originally set for 6pm on Thursday, a perfect time for me, who works just minutes from the restaurant. Although, midday, my friend Alex asked if we could push back the dinner a bit. “Ok, sure. 6:30 then?” I asked. “More like 9:45/10” she responded.

TEN P.M? ON A SCHOOL NIGHT? WHAT ARE WE, 25?

 

I went straight home after work and wondered how I was going to keep myself busy for four hours. I am usually fed and tucked into bed at 10pm, not walking the cold streets of Manhattan. So I brewed a pot of coffee, found a movie on Netflix, and watched the clock.

 

By 9ish, I decided to shave and shower, hopefully killing enough time until I had to leave my apartment. Also, I hadn’t showered or shaved in close to a week, so it was about time for that anyways.

 

The best thing about going to dinner at 10pm? No wait! This was the first time I had ever just walked into Kashkaval and sat down. Usually there is about a thirty-forty minute wait, a time we sit at the bar spending last weeks’ paycheck on wine. But not this time!

Another fantastic thing about this restaurant is that it’s  tapas-style dining – meaning there are very few personal-portioned dinners. Nearly everything is meant to be shared with the people at your table. Usually preferring my own plate that only I eat off of, sharing food is actually a great way to connect with and get closer to your friends. Instead of reading the menu in silence, figuring out what you will have to eat, you are practically forced to converse, trying to decide which items everyone will agree on.

 

Not being too much of a picky eater, I just put my menu down and let Alex and Rachel decide for the table. The only thing I was adamant

on getting was a bottle of wine. I didn’t get dragged out of

bed in the middle of the night for tap water!

On the vegetable tapas page of the menu, they have an option for single servings, plates of three and plates of five. Being hungry, we chose the plate of five, picking the tzatziki, eggplant tapenade, spinach and feta, hummus, and the red pepper spread.

 

After that was decided, we turned to a page that was labeled “Cheese”.

“We get some of these?!” I practically demanded. Their cheese menu is one of the best

I have ever seen, with numerous amounts of cheddars, blues, muensters and goat. I know we ordered a plate of three, but I forget which ones exactly. When it comes to cheese, I am not too finicky.

 

The plates are all served with fresh pita bread and placed in the center of the table, compelling everyone to cross paths with each other and chat about the food.

 

While enjoying our dinner, the three of us got into a conversation paralleling sharing food and sharing stories. Alex began saying that “Being able to share food with friends really allows you to connect and bond in a way you may never have before. It has the power to form relationships, you know?”

I just looked up at her with my mouth half full and said, “Can you pass the Manchego, please?”

 

Another fantastic moment from the dinner was getting to know Rachel, a friend of Alex’s from back home who had recently moved to the city. My first time meeting her was at a bar at 1 in the morning, and when I introduced myself, her mouth dropped open and she exclaimed, “James? As in THE Hunger James?!”

 

I was shocked. I had a reader? I had a fan? I just thought this food blog was a way for me to practice writing and talk myself into eating copious amounts of food with no regret. I thought my mom was the only one who subscribed to my blog!

She told me that she was, indeed, a fan of my blog and that she was “hoping to get a chance to meet me.” I suddenly felt like a celebrity that needed an entourage and a disguise.

 

So, anyways, while we were at dinner sharing, Rachel did the most amazing thing ever – a first for me – she quoted something I had written. You know how you do with Plato or Socrates or Honey Boo Boo? She actually pulled a line from one of my posts and used it to describe her meal. #fame

 

I was so flattered that I wanted to hear more and more about her favorite posts, so I called the waitress over, smiling from ear and ear and yelled “Another bottle of wine and one more cheese plate!”