The other day I came home to find a manila envelope completely dominating the space in my tiny mailbox. It was hand addressed to me and had what seemed to be way more stamps on it than it probably needed – it wasn’t heavy, it was just larger than normal, about the size of a restaurant menu.
Inside it was a note from a friend of mine along with a small package of unrecognizable food and a dollar bill. The note said, “This dollar is yours to keep if you eat this dried fruit patty. Looks delicious….give it a try!”
Well, on one hand I was happy to have someone looking out for me and sending me nourishing food – on the other hand I was a bit skeptical of eating anything that involved me receiving money in exchange for eating it. I mean, why would you need to give me money to try something unless it was awful.
So imagine a small dense patty made up of semi-hard fruit bits. I didn’t just ease into it with tiny nibble, I full committed and took a healthy bite. After the first bit made contact with my tongue I for some reason felt compelled to look at the packaging to see what the expiration date was. There was none. Nope, because this thing could last for centuries. I had to chew for quite a long time…it’s good practice if you’re trying to teach children to chew 20 times before they swallow. There’s a certain grittiness to it that I couldn’t quite discern and the ingredients didn’t list sawdust, so who knows what it was.
I’m keeping the dollar.
Oh, and if you want to send me things, go ahead. See if you can top the mystery fruit patty.
Thank you for taking the time to drop me a handwritten note in the mail. While a few people have sent me stationery, you have the distinct honor of being the first person to do two unique things with your letter.
The first is sending me food and the second is sending me money – both are things that I enjoy very much, so please accept my most sincere thanks. I am eating the mixed fruit snack as I write you this note (sorry if the paper got a bit sticky). I’m not sure I have ever had anything quite like it and I appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Assuming I don’t fall deathly ill from the mixed fruit snack – we should find time to meet up. I miss you guys.
P.S. As per the terms of your note, I am holding on to the dollar.
Posted in Replies, Uncategorized
Tagged bets, dares, food, food challenge, friends, fruit, handwritten letters, mail, money, unidentifiable food, Year of Letters
I don’t think this letter needs a lot of intro – go ahead and dig in. The only thing that might be helpful is to know that Mr. Landrum, whose first name is Michael not Ray, has a bunch of restaurants in the DC area that all have the name Ray in them.
Dear Mr. Landrum,
My brother and sister-in-law had their second child on Wednesday, March 18th – little baby Mackenzie. She weighed 6lbs 15ozs. And both Mom and Mackenzie are doing well – not that you asked but so many people ask those two questions I thought I’d go ahead and get them out of the way.
Anyway, my sister-in-law was really craving mashed potatoes as she recovered from her C-section and I went out with my brother Ryan to pick up some of your delicious streaks and mashed potatoes from Retro Rays only to find that it no longer existed. I love your food, but with all respect it seems like the locations are always changing in some respect I never know which Ray’s is open and what they are selling.
Just a little embossed return address…that’s all.
I suggested to Ryan that we could just get the order next door from Ray’s The Steaks but Ryan told me Ray’s The Steaks doesn’t offer take-out. Now, I’m a bit stubborn (and long-winded as I guess you have discovered) and insisted on going in anyway and asking. And so it is – I learned that Retro Rays doesn’t exist anymore and Ray’s The Steaks indeed doesn’t offer take-out.
The maître d’ suggested we try Ray’s: To The Third but almost immediately acknowledged that they don’t sell steaks and more importantly that specific evening – they also don’t sell mashed potatoes. We knew that because we actually went there first! Then without missing a beat he said, “Don’t worry. I’ll get you some mashed potatoes.” Two minutes later we had a large container of piping hot mashed potatoes in our hands. He wouldn’t accept our money – just smiled and said to Ryan, “Congratulations on your daughter…enjoy.”
Thanks for saving the night.
P.S. In case you’re curious about the steaks, I ended up getting some filet mignons from Trader Joe’s and cooked them on the grill. They were very good – but not as good as yours!
Chef Marc with father Sal making meatballs
Marc Vetri, famed chef from the City of Brotherly Love, has the best recipe for meatballs on the planet. And he has shared it – it’s the equivalent of putting Prozac in the water. They will make you very happy.
The recipe was coupled with this quote from Vetri, “My father instilled three things in me: (1) Always work for yourself—no matter what, be the boss; (2) Always have integrity—you are only as good as your word; (3) Always use veal, pork, and beef in meatballs. Life really is that simple!” Good advice.
Congratulations on your recent article in the Huffington Post regarding the state of restaurant reviews in this country. You are spot on! I remember talking with local (DC) restaurateur Andy Shallal once and him saying how when his first restaurant was reviewed he woke up at like 4am to drive over to the Washington Post to get a paper and read the review. It was glowing and his restaurant was booked for months after that.
My hope is that you and other chefs continue to pour your energy, precision and knowledge into creating delicious meals for your customers, because the rest is probably out of your control.
Here’s a shot of my recent batch of Sal’s Old School Meatballs
A few years back I stumbled upon your recipe for Sal’s Old School Meatballs. They are the best meatballs I have ever had. Thank you, thank you, thank you – and thank your dad!
If you choose to write back – I’d love to receive another recipe that you love. I promise to try to do it justice.
All the best to you and your family – I hope to some day have the pleasure of dining in one of your restaurants.
All the best,
Posted in Congratulations, Thank-yous
Tagged chefs, cooking, food, food critics, handwriting, handwritten, letters, Marc Vetri, meatballs, paper, Philadelphia, restaurants, reviews, sharpie extra fine, stationery, vellum, writing, Year of Letters
That’s Jesús taking an order for pick up.
No, this is not a letter to that Jesus…it’s a letter to Jesús – my favorite taquero. If you are in the DC area you have to try Jesús’ tacos. I lived in Mexico for a year and Tacos El Chilango is the real deal. If you have any doubt, check them out on Yelp.com – I kid you not that this truck has the highest rating of all restaurants in Arlington County. That’s insane – and awesome all in one. I love these guys – they are part responsible for my overall happiness in DC and also part responsible for the 15 pounds I can’t seem to lose.
You can find Jesús at the corner of 14th Street N. and N. Quinn Street every day but Sunday. Jesús’ brother Juan Antonio has opened a brick and mortar shop at 1119 V St NW which is the same, actually it has a bit more expanded menu, but I still prefer the truck.
I wanted to send you a letter to tell you that you have the best tacos! I think that this month marks 5 years since the first time I visited the truck. The meat is always tasty – cut just the way they do in Mexico. The diced onion and fresh cilantro (and cucumber slices) complete each taco. They’re delicious and authentic. You and your team always are kind and treat your guests like friends. Even my Dad, who lives in Pennsylvania, asks about you guys.
Congratulations and best regards,
Yelp.es user: Prairie S
Posted in Congratulations
Tagged Arlington, Aubergine, authentic, best, DC, espanol, food, handwritten, Julia Child, letters, Mexican, Paper Source, Spanish, tacos, trucks, Uni-ball Vision Exact, Washington, Year of Letters, yelp