Restaurant Love Letters: Cosme

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COMMENTARY

Restaurant Love Letters: Cosme

On this new column, contributors, readers, fellow cooks, and informal diners share their “Restaurant Love Letters.” It’s our hope that this collection highlights the spirit of hospitality, the significance of eating places and eating tradition to our economic system, and extra critically, to the material of our each day lives. That is our method of claiming thanks to the business, we recognize you, and we’ll be ready right here for you whenever you get again.

JUNE 22, 2020
BY KRISTINE GUTIERREZ

My life could be divided into two distinct eras: earlier than mezcal and after mezcal. These intervals outline a worldwide shift in enlightenment, an irreversible awakening towards a bolder path to self-actualization. Earlier than mezcal, life felt unintended and aimless; it was a time when ignorance was bliss, if bliss was a two-dimensional, white bread world. After mezcal, nevertheless, is the start of a life led with function. Ache lastly took on which means with mezcal, failure felt conquerable, and tequila felt forgettable. It healed and heightened all the things. And all of it started at Cosme.

My love story with mezcal is actually my love story with Cosme. On a chilly night time in January of 2014, a snowstorm closed down New York Metropolis, however my associates and I wished dinner. Up till that night, Cosme was totally booked each night time, however we determined to strive our luck. I can’t actually inform you if I had mezcal earlier than Cosme, as a result of in my drunken reminiscence, Cosme is mezcal. My baptism into the world of mezcal started the second I first entered these glass doorways.

The restaurant was at half capability, however it felt energetic. We ate chicharrones the dimensions of my hand topped with freshly lower radishes, onions and serrano peppers. We ate the restaurant’s notorious duck carnitas folded into its personal fats and salt, pillowy tortillas, and wealthy brown salsa made from toasted peanuts and peppers with tostadas. That salsa fired an intense obsession in me: it turned the theme to my each craving.  I assumed to myself: no extra males, no extra purchasing, no extra mezcal (ah kidding), I’ve this salsa and it has me fully.

Dinner was punctuated with visits from the supervisor—they known as him Pancho—who introduced out the primary spherical of mezcal with orange slices and sal de gusano on a picket board. With only some ounces of this clear liquid, I used to be instantly hooked. I understood mezcal isn’t simply one thing distilled and bottled; it’s the spirit of Mexico, and the satisfaction of Oaxaca. With infinite depth, I inherited a little bit of its power with every sip. The presentation, bestowed by the hand of our new pal, and shared by the bar, was a gesture and a welcome that initiated us all into Cosme’s world. It instructed us, this may be our house now.

However the most effective factor about Cosme—and it’s actually laborious to prime mezcal and duck—was the individuals. My associates and I had been all maître d’s, however right here we acquired essentially the most precious lesson in hospitality. The act of giving and sharing is an inherent a part of Cosme’s tradition. It’s not only a job; it’s a persona. When you care about others, then making individuals completely happy and full makes you cheerful and full.

We left that night time fully in love with our new associates and culinary obsessions. We had a meal that modified our complete thought of eating places. Cosme is a positive eating establishment, with wonderful requirements and repair, but its persona just isn’t misplaced within the pursuit of perfection. We discovered a restaurant could be technically flawless, but additionally enjoyable and down-to-earth. As we walked by means of town within the snow, we felt the magic that makes all the things appear doable. I left desirous to know everybody’s title and story, desirous to return and discover each dish and each mezcal. I left with a brand new kind of starvation conditioned to yearn for that acid, that warmth, that candy al pastor, that crisp salt. Thinly sliced serrano peppers appeared in my goals like a pleasant specter of what awaits me on 21st and Park.

I spent the next years fulfilling my cravings and hopes at Cosme. Cosme is the place I first discovered to dine alone. It’s the place I first turned a daily. It’s the place I celebrated a minimum of 4 birthdays. It’s the place each hug is met with a mezcal, and one way or the other I find yourself with not sufficient hugs however an excessive amount of mezcal. It’s the place the restaurant celebrated turning into one of many world’s fifty finest, successful made sweeter by the truth that America’s finest is proudly and undeniably Mexican.

There’s one thing validating about having this large restaurant—together with its sister properties Atla in New York and Pujol in Mexico Metropolis—as my house. I do know I can fail and fall, but inside these concrete partitions of bachata and salsa, I’m beloved and sorted.

My final restaurant meal earlier than the Covid-19 shutdown was at Cosme’s older sibling, Pujol. Regardless that it was a completely new restaurant to me, it nonetheless felt like household. My pal and I didn’t know on the time that this meal could be our final name earlier than the world shut down. We had been in pure bliss—three-dimensional, deep umber mole bliss. We toasted our blessings with mezcal and sealed the night with churros so ethereal and crisp, they might have been plucked from a candy dream. We made new associates as soon as once more, we thanked and hugged them, and we marveled on the lovely house.

I carry the reminiscence of this meal and it feeds me braveness and hope. I do know that regardless of all the things, the necessity to break tostada, to share our tales, and to raise our drinks will at all times deliver us collectively.  I do know my cravings will at all times deliver me house to Cosme, Atla and Pujol.

I, like many, will begin to categorize my life into the interval before-Covid and after-Covid. The time in-between will at all times be a painful reminder of what we misplaced. However maybe this may mark a renewed period outlined by kindness and endurance. Possibly our collective isolation will give us a better have to domesticate more healthy, extra empathetic communities. I hope that is our awakening and that the brand new period nurtures our power and heals our scars. Might it have mezcal, could it have tacos, could it have you ever and me, and will it have Cosme.

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