The Group: My wonderful reader Melanie, her fiancee Bob and their very cute single friend Scott, 25.
The Place: Tortilleria Nixtamal, 104-05 47th Ave., Queens, NY
What Creative Time Says: At home as well as in the world, some of the best rooms are not for the guests.
Tonight was my first date back in NY, my first date with a New Jersian, and my first date met through this very blog! Melanie, a super cute, fun, and bubbly girl, took me up on my offer to get a copy of my key if she set me up with a male friend and then doubled with us on the date. Though she currently lives in NJ she confessed a love exploring NY and described Scott in the following manner:
25, web analyzer, karaoke singer, marathon runner with a heart of gold and an endearing lisp.
Come on, who wouldn't want to go on a date with this guy?
Seriously, I should start a dating website where we all describe our friends (Recommendedbyme.com?). In just one sentence we've got kind, employed, quirky, athletic and adventurous, how could I possibly say no?
Due to my 5pm meeting in Queens being canceled I was running early for once and decided to catch a bus (yes, a bus, I just love looking out the window!) to Flushing's Chinatown so I could try the "best" Zhenzhunaicha, or bubble tea as you laowai know it, as raved to me by a client at Taipan Bakery in Flushing. Ladies and gentlemen, I not only found the under-$2 hamburger, but the mecca of not-too-sweet-with-perfectly-textured-tapioca-balls bubble tea. Just elbow your way through all the old ladies and you're golden.
I zipped on the seven to Corona, listening all the while to RJD2 who I love and gets me in meeting new people mode and headed over to Tortilleria stopping on the way to smell fresh bread, taste piragua, and take in the sights of another world within NYC. TN, as I am now calling it, looks like a giant sunflower of color on an otherwise quiet residential street and when I walked inside I spotted not only a lime green wide-brimmed hat AND party pinatas, but also a giant wonderlike willa wonka machine perched in the window. I peered around the room, wondering what the key could possibly open, until Melanie and Bob walked into the restaurant.
You know when you see couples and you think, "Yup, peanut butter and jelly." ? That's kind of how it is with Melanie and Bob who just FIT. Right away they were filling in each others sentences, teasing easily and cutting one another off to finish stories in perfect sync. They were easy to be around, and added to the fun, in total: the perfect couple to double date. Scott followed soon after and instantly you just know that this guy is up for anything. Maybe it's the pierced ears or intriguing scars, or maybe it's just his instantly warm yet mischievous smile but I knew right away how Melanie found someone to be roped into such a crazy adventure as a double blind date with some random girl on the internet.
Our confused waitress kept coming by until we finally told her that we had the key to the city. She smiled, somewhat exasperatedly, and asked us to wait a few minutes before another woman, clearly the boss, came over to our table. To this, Melanie and I cheered which threw her only further into confusion (what were these white girls doing cheering in her tortilla shop?), don't worry, our group totally won her over by the end.
Our fearless leader, the boss as she will be known, led us to the back of the store where a white door covered in blue scribblings, clearly marking from our ancient key-ancestors, awaited. Scott plunged in the key, turned the lock and lead us to....a supply closet! But wait, there's more!
You know me, I'd probably be excited with just a broom closet, but peek your head further into the space and you will find a set of dairs plunging ominously down into darkness. Follow the faint glow of what lies beyond and the subtle yet distinct smell of ground corn and you find an entire workshop beneath the restaurant's floor! Bags upon bags of stacked hard white corn placed before a labyrinth of slides, chutes, tubes and vats of boiling hot water making NYC's only nixtamalization (real word!) machine!!!
Over mouth watering Tamales and scrumptious tacos (the delicately fried fish with lots of squirts from the slice of lime was my favorite) we discussed how Melanie and Bob met (the internet!) and got engaged (in NY!), Scott's work adventures to Korea, his new found love of obstacle marathoning (or did it have a different name? My brain cells are dying the closer I get to midnight!) and our tattoos (we all have two, minus Bob, who has none). We finally won our waitress over with horrible jokes and never ending smiles and ended the night sharing a rather large 40 of classic Mexican beer. Soon the two hour limit I set for myself had long since passed and the lights were turning off at Tortilleria Nixtamal, it was time to head back to my lovely little borough.
The double date experience was really fun, and I'll definitely try it again. I'm psyched to see, however, how the new dynamic duo of Tortilla making super heroes, Scott and Lauren, do one on one. perhaps on another date with a key. After all, I've got 14 more to go and I can't resist a tattooed guy who can make such a slammin' tortilla.
It's one am (but my computer only crashed twice during this post!) but I have to share that as I caught the E train home I opened my much-loved New York Magazine and found a whole section on Tortilleria in the magazine's annual cheap eats review. Living proof that love grows on love.