When we heard that our IT guru and champion scoffer 'Helsinki' Erik Thomasson, aka The Flying Finn was coming to New York, we booked a table at Midtown meat emporium, Bobby Van's. I've been going to this place for years, and being a bit of a meat lover myself, I have to say their steaks are truly excellent...I have much to compare with, although I have never been permitted a reservation at Williamsburg's steaktastic Peter Luger's. I hear it is THE place to go for a nice juicy rib eye or porterhouse. It's all in the dry-aging process, I believe. Muscle (meat) will keep respiring for some time after death, and in the absence of oxygen, it produces lactic acid. Athletes will know all about repaying the oxygen debt. Anyway, these acid compounds 'tenderise' the meat. All it needs is a little heating or blackening on either side, and there you have it. Well enough of the science.
So, after a few carefully chosen apperitifs, we descended on the place. It's always the same smell when I walk in through the door - the smell of charred blood, with a faint whiff of Shiraz and cigar in the air. It's get's the juices going. So does a martini. So after a quick visit to the bar, we are seated. I need no menu, I know exactly what I want - medium rare rib eye, hashed potatoes, and zucchini sticks which they fry in a 'parmesan' tempura batter. I watched the Finn eye the menu, like a big cat stalking his next meal...We had been trying to persuade him to eat a porterhouse for two himself, and we must have done a great job. Erik ordered it rare.
We didn't know quite what to think when it turned up - 3lbs of slightly warmed cow on a burnt plate. The waiters will carve the bugger up too, so you don't have to worry about expending energy cutting - You're gonna need that to digest it.
Being a marathon runner rather than sprint finisher, Erik starts off nice and slow and builds speed gradually until he hits a 'wall' after about half an hour of non-stop chewing.
With some advice on avoiding potatoes and zucchini and encouragement from us all, he manages to polish the thing off. He did look like he might struggle at a couple of key points in the meal but my faith was strong.
God knows how he felt the morning after, or how his guts felt to be more precise. I did remember the ground rumbling in Brooklyn on Saturday morning, no doubt aftershocks from some seismic event on Manhattan's west side...