Thursday, February 19, 2009

Free Eats Day 3: Pad Thai and Pundits

When cocoa-dusted truffles and FatWitch brownies are the first meal of your day--it's gonna be a good day. I spent most of mine at Chelsea Market, working on my laptop with free Wi-Fi and making frequent laps down the concourse for fresh nibbles.
At lunch, I was typing away at a seat just outside Buon Italia, strategically selected so I could keep a hawk's eye on their bread basket, which had remained empty since I arrived. The lull of the rushing waterfall behind me was a soothing distraction from food, that is, until kind-hearted stranger #1 arrived and asked if he could share my table.

Not wanting to be a table hog, I obliged, but after only a few seconds the friendly New Yorker was slurping up a heaping plate of the most divine smelling Pad Thai only a few inches away fro me. He exclaimed about each bite like a Food Network pundit, "Mmmmmm...Ohhh, this is favorite Pad, this is waaaay too much for me to finish!"

I think he could hear my stomach grumbling in response.

"So is it against the rules if someone else buys you the food?" he asked. I answered with a resounding, "Yes, definitely."

"Well, what about if a stranger just leaves the plate on the table with a fresh set of chopsticks?" he inquired cheekily.

That's when my shoulder angel and devil went at it.

"Yes eat, it's against the rules.....just take one bite of tofu, it's, rules are a damn noodle!!"

Finally, I said, "Well, you can leave the plate but it's against the rules to eat it. I'll just have to throw it out."

So leave the plate he did, with a fresh set of chopsticks and napkins. And throw it away I did; an $8 half-eaten plate of Chelsea Thai Pad Thai in the trash.

Suddenly I realized that bread samples were being swiped like hot cakes from the basket at Buon Italia. Just as I ran for the bread basket, Nick Kroll from Best Week Ever, ABC's The Caveman and Reno 911, was going for the last piece of bread. Think fast. I distracted him with my camera, snapped this photo and while his eyes were still adjusting from the flash, I wrestled the bread from his jaws doused it in extra virgin olive oil and swallowed the evidence before he knew what hit him. I'd like to publicly apologize to Nick now for being such a psycho.

Minimalist New York artist, Brice Marden, was also sighted at CM having lunch with his wife. More Chelsea Market reports in a bit. Gotta go hunt down a snack.


Anonymous said...

what audacity to throw away food in this day and age, and to waste your time writing about this as if you were gandhi. what a joke your life is.

CD said...

Don't forget to check out Gourmet Garage's free cheese samples. The one in the Village always has four cheeses to sample. I've never tried to make a meal out of it, but I always like the option of sampling before buying.

Anonymous said...
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Courtney said...

Thanks for the tip, CD! Murray's Cheese on Bleeker usually only has one sample, but four sounds even better!

Anonymous said...

you should also check out D'espana on Lafayette and Broom.. Great samples.

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon and chastise you for throwing away food. I'm sure your thinking was that you wanted to remain true to your challenge which I applaud you for. It won't quite be fair if you spent nothing for food and talked your way into a bunch of free meals. In the future, if somebody graciously offers you food, it may be a nice idea to take it and give it to a homeless person. Good luck with your challenge.

You also may want to check out freeganism. While not exactly my cup of tea, you may be able to eat more nutritiously than having a couple of pizza samples and a brownie sample per day.

Anonymous said...

Oh, if you're also looking for more free samples and are in the mood for Asian, check out some of the Asian stores in Flushing on the weekends. Samples of dumplings, soups, soy milks, noodles, etc. Definitely check out the large Assi Plaza (Koran Market) and Hong Kong Market.

Anonymous said...

How could you chastise her? How many times have you left over food and the restaurant has thrown it out?? Do you now never throw out any leftovers after a meal "in this day and age"? C'mon - Courtney, I like what you're doing - have fun!

CD said...

Oh, and if you go to the Chocolate Bar in Henri Bendel, you can get a free brownie from 3p.m. - 8 p.m. every Monday through Thursday this month. Just say the word “Bailout”.

Johanna said...

Wow, I just read about this as i was looking for free food in San Francisco. I did this during college, and believe it or not: I spent $200 on food in 6 months. My parents were kind of outraged, i was kinda skinny, but I had fun being a scavenger. The reason I stopped was being called stingy around friends, but as I'm typing this, I'm clearly drawn to my old ways....:D Good luck! come to SF and try it, there are grrrreat sources.

Courtney said...

Hey Johanna! Let's talk...would you like to be my Free Eats SF corespondent? Email me:

Thanks for the note, too. Stingy, no! Savvy savers, yes!