by Jayne M. Chobot

A few years back a Texan I had met through work was in New York, where I lived, on business. He invited me to join him for dinner, and the location was my choice. As we had already expressed mutual interest in one another (at an event on the fabulous rooftop of Chicago’s Wit Hotel) a month earlier, we both knew that our first night out alone together in New York would be a test of sorts, as first dates always are. To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure if this gentleman from the south could handle my crazy Manhattan lifestyle and tastes, and figured I might as well figure it out before this went any further.   

We met after work at 6 Columbus, a Thompson Hotel that I had suggested right across from Time Warner Center (home of the oft-lusted after Per Se and Masa) before starting with cocktails in the dimly underground speakeasy-like champagne lounge Flute in midtown. We then cabbed it down to the Lower East Side for another round at Chris Santos’s even more dimly lit celebrity hotspot Stanton Social.

When it was finally time for our reservation we walked the four or so blocks over to WD-50, Wylie Dufresne’s “molecular gastronomy” (not a term that we like, but I have yet to see a suitable replacement) restaurant and one of my favorite places in the city. We ordered and ate food that sounded strange, looked stranger, and tasted like nothing you’ve ever eaten anywhere else. This was a true test and my date was amazing, opening his mind and palate, asking questions of the server and of me, and trying everything with gusto. We met with Chef Dufresne and toured the kitchen together, making the autumn evening more memorable by the minute.

His next visit included a friend’s play in the East Village (where we sat near one of the producers, the lovely and amazing Angela Lansbury), dinner in Gramercy Park’s beautiful The House, and a stay at Stay off of the Avenue of the Americas. More culinary adventures, Broadway shows, taxi rides, and (post-2am) late nights in underground lounges filled subsequent weekend visits for the next two years.

I moved to Dallas a few months ago and this past Saturday night, I tried a new kind of night out. I joined my very patient Texan and his friends, my new friends, to watch some guy named “TO” play indoor football at the Allen Event Center. I had gone to my very first professional football game only a few months ago- the Cowboys OF COURSE- and have been trying to learn the game the best that I can, given that I’ve watched more Tony Awards broadcasts than sports events over the course of my life.

I knew that this TO coming to the Allen Wranglers was a big deal, I just didn’t know why. But I was thoroughly briefed on the situation and proceeded to send out invitations to friends to join us at the game. People who have known me for a long time had their doubts. But my Texan was a trooper when he came to visit me in New York and I was determined to return the favor.

Saturday afternoon we made our way north and dined at Espartaco Borga’s La Duni Latin Kitchen in The Village at Fairview (his rice salad with crispy pork and plantains was to die for) before rushing over to the event center for a really great evening with domestic beer and popcorn. It didn’t hurt that we were with some really great friends, and the game really was exciting to watch. The center is so beautiful, the people up there are so sweet, the atmosphere all around is so upbeat and positive, that it is impossible not to have a great time. It may not have been the highbrow Bacchanalian revelry of years past but it was wonderful in completely different ways. It was new. It was fun. I couldn’t stop smiling. No wonder everyone down here is so friendly.

I wear my new cowboy boots more often than my heels these days (why didn’t anyone tell me these are so comfortable?) and I am starting to gain a real appreciation for both Tex-Mex and football since my arrival a few months ago. I will always miss my beloved New York and its craziness, and this Texas life is definitely different, but I have already found more food and art events (highbrow and otherwise) in Dallas than I even have time to attend and have met really spectacular people here to attend them with. Every day I fall more in love with Dallas and my life here and I am so grateful for the man who opened his mind and heart to my crazy Manhattan life in order to get me here.

(Go Allen Wranglers!)

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