This really is just a little thing in life, but a big thing to me. On Saturday, we were having a couple for dinner - first time guests - I was a little bit nervous; I didn't know them well. In fact, I had never met the husband - Lee had never met either of them. I went out of my way to be sure things were prepared and I got the freshest vegetables for the asparagus risotto and shrimp and cucumber salad with feta. And some little appetizers: cheese, dried apricots, almonds and crackers.
For this food, I had to go forage. It was pouring cats and dogs. It was 1:30 on Saturday and they were coming at 5:30. I couldn't wait for the rain to stop. So, I walked to Annie's Market on Lexington near 82nd - 3 blocks from my apartment, armed with my umbrella and list. I have noticed that Annie's has nice vegetables. They also have relatively simple nice flowers. And they have impeccable service. It is a tiny vegetable stand - a Chinese family owns the shop and husband, wife and daughter seem to work there. When you can't find something - fresh mint, for example, one of the workers fetches it for you - sometimes in the bowels beneath the store. It is perfect. It has been cleaned, cropped and put into a heavy plastic bag. Nothing chintzy here. It reminds me of Florence where you never touch the food yourself, but point to it or simply ask for it.
They cater to your every wish. Then, they pack it carefully. And this time, they could see that it was too much to carry in the rain, so they said, "Delivery?" And I said, "Well, when could you do it?" and they said, "30 minutes" and I said, "Bravo!" It's done.
Then, the daughter said, "Do you have an account with us?" and I said, "No, but you have beautiful vegetables so I buy all my vegetables here" and she said, "Well, you could open an account and we'll just bill you once a month" and she handed me a form. And, I thought, "How wonderful and old fashioned is that!"
30 minutes later, I was in my 4th floor walk-up and the door bell rang and the delivery man carried our groceries and flowers to the 4th floor and put them on the kitchen counter. Nothing could have made me happier than tipping him for his excellent and congenial service.
When that was done and groceries put away, Lee and I went together to get the cheese and shrimp at another market. I needed a good mellow cheese and the cheese guy who I have interacted with dozens of times was so happy to tell me about the favorite goat cheese of his customers. I bought it and it was heaven! Soft, mellow and buttery. I was so grateful for his help.
I love this city. I meet the most wonderful people everyday.