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Editor's note: Wes Anderson's new film, The Darjeeling Limited kicked off the New York Film Festival last Friday night with its lush annual opening night black tie affair at the ultra rococo, boho chic Central Park NY institution, Tavern on the Green (TOTG).

I was told that this was the "hottest ticket in town", the NY film world event of events-- I mean people were talking about it like Kanye was gonna show up (he didn't). But I was most excited about finally going to TOTG- 5 years in NY and I still had never been. HELL-O! Everyone has a funny story about TOTG-- Erin used to take pictures of people dining there as a side job, and Aya used to think it was just a hot dog stand. I'm serious.

Remember the part in Ghostbusters where Rick Moranis is being chased by the big monster wolf and he bangs on the glass windows of a restaurant for help? That's TOTG! If it's been in Ghostbusters, nothing else matters.

So I showed up in my frou-frou dress and got into my heels and dabbled in a bit of rouge. I sipped my cocktail(s), lost myself in the sea of guests, and became a professional people-watcher. Oh look, there's Wes Anderson! Adrien Brody! Anjelica Houston! Willem Defoe! I waited for Schwartzman to tap me on the shoulder and whisper in my ear "Hey Margaret, let's blow this popsicle stand." Sigh. He will always be my Max Fisher, and I, his Margaret Yang.

Speaking of Ghostbusters and Rushmore though, Bill Murray was there too! This was a pretty big deal for me: Professor Peter Venkman hanging out at TOTG, eating the offensively creamy schmutz that everyone else was forced to pick at... 20+ years post-Ghostbusters in a tux! Fucking priceless! (If you look really really hard at the picture above, you can see the back of his head. Word).

Ok, ok, enough about me and my star-gazing-- this is supposed to be a food blog, remember? Duh. My friend Steve wrote this post, and let me tell you that he did a fantabulous job of describing the food, TOTG, and the swank-studded evening in general. He's quite a pro at navigating this opening night party, as he's been to quite a few of these-- so I especially wanted his seasoned insight. Thanks for a great post, Steve! All I did was take pictures (sorry they aren't so mouth-watering, I was just pointing and shooting away). Enjoy!
-- Kayoko

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By: Steve Batman

So another NYFF opening night party at Tavern on the Green, and there were very few surprises on the menu. Of course, I'm not exactly sure what it all is — the buffet table has neither signs identifying the food, nor attendants nearby for an easy Q&A. Generally, you have an inoffensive fish like salmon swimming in a hard-to-define sauce, and then a staggering array of pastas. This year's selections: penne in red sauce, tortellini with sun-dried tomato, and ravioli ruined by mushrooms. For 2007, something special — capers or olives, hard to tell which — making the penne dish a little snappier than usual.


You'd think this would be enough starchy carbs, by the way, but who doesn't like mashed potatoes? Dauntingly, they were sitting at the end of the pasta line-up. The vegetable was exactly the same from 2006, a medley of string beans and carrots, all long and thin, and a challenge to get on your plate, since they're served with a shallow spoon more appropriate for peas. Note for next year: Provide tongs.


The desserts are visually impressive, and heavily guarded. Here, as always, you need to request your selection from the attendants holding sharp knives. The usual variety — chocolate, something white, and something dense-looking. Although I didn't partake, I heard the "ice cream bar" was a big hit... I don't remember this last year. It may be an option when the temp is over 75 at party time, which isn't always the case in late September. Only two disappointments here: 1) The attendant mis-identified a fluffy mango cake as cheesecake. 2) For the first time that I can remember, no chocolate-covered strawberries.


In the end, I feel a bit haughty complaining too much, because it's very hard to get into the event (the reflective, prismed, impossible-to-forge invitations are akin to Willy Wonka's Golden tickets), and the Tavern on the Green is a such visually impressive and sumptuously pleasant place for a party. True, it's shockingly easy to get lost in there, what with the oddly-angled rooms off of rooms, the mirrored, winding hallway, and the garden foliage infringing on the outdoor space. And that's when you're sober. But it's an annual event not to be missed. My primary advice for how to make the best of it: Skip the movie, and get there early...

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