August in New York is miserable. There is just no getting around it. Each day gets worse than the last because all the concrete and steel greedily holds onto the heat and traps it in hot steamy pockets around the City. Consequently, despite the fact that I sit in a normally overly air-conditioned office which feels perfect or almost warm in this heat, I feel the heat has interfered with my ability to work. Each day I sit at my desk, shuffle a few papers around and feel pressed down by the weight of the heat wave just beyond my window. I daydream about beaches and pools and cool mountain springs as I broil under the scorching sun anytime I dare wander outside the revolving glass doors.
I walked to work very slowly this morning, letting my purse hang from my shoulder while touching it as little as possible so it doesn't press too much up against my side. I keep my arms straight to avoid the pool of sweat that forms in the crook of a bent arm. I only wear loose fitting dresses or skirts with light colored, breathable fabric tops. But still I curse my bra that leads to unnecessary undergarment wetness. . . flip flops are the only shoes I'm willing to wear. Even in the office, I tried wearing heels with open toes, but my feet still felt confined.
Despite the smothering heat, I agreed to join a large group of co-workers and summer associates (law student interns) at a local Mexican restaurant for a farewell lunch. Whoever chose the restaurant did not consider the 15 minute walk through crowds of tourists, hungry office workers and stalled traffic that pushed more heat onto blacktop.
I had low expectations of Dos Caminos (the name of which reminded me of Dos Hermanos in Provo, Utah - the one every BYU student seemed to love but I thought their salsa tasted like ketchup), which was good because they certainly didn't surpass them. We started with lots of guacamole for our group of ten - including a spicy bowl! The guac was excellent, very fresh and even had a bit of kick. But honestly, when fresh avocado is used, how can you really go wrong? For starters, you can pull chips out of a bag. Any restuarant claiming to have south-of-the-border ties should not be serving Tostitos (no offense, love Tostitos, but I think these chips were closer to Fritos!). Not that this stopped me from eating half the guacamole myself! Since this was essentially a farewell lunch for the summers, everyone was ordering margaritas and mojitos. I was tempted by a margarita given the sweaty walk but the pommagranite strawberry lemonade intrigued me - and it was tasty and refreshing!
The larger disappointment came with my actual order. Again, I kept my expectations down when I ordered plaintain empanadas and pescado tacos. Upscale mexican restaurants always want to put a fancy twist on something that is purist in its cheapest form - the roadside taco stand in Mexico! The plaintain empanadas were good but no recognizable as an empanada. The tacos were just not quite, well, tacos! The girl to my left also ordered tacos (I don't recall which meat) and hers came in soft small corn tortillas properly curled half-way around the inner-fixings of the taco. Mine came burrito style wrapped up in large flour tortilla. A rather dry flour tortilla. I ate it but cut away much of the excess tortilla (which wasn't as good as most grocery store tortillas). The taste improved with guacamole and salsa. But the beans were also a disappointment. New York is oddly void of refried beans. Sure, I can buy a can at the grocery store but no one seems to want to serve them. So I was excited to read on the menu that tacos came with refried beans! What the menu failed to explain is that they were refried black beans. . . don't get me wrong, I love black beans. I practically live on them - in salads, burritos, etc. But I was looking for authentic pinto bean refried beans.
And in keeping with fickle New York weather, it is now pouring outside. I did not bring an umbrella today because my local weather guy said evening showers. Last time I checked, 4 pm is not evening. I was going to give up on this wasted day and go home but now I have to wait for the weather to clear so I don't get soaked in the process.