I have long admired this site but only recently got my hands on a copy of Jim Leff's book, The Eclectic Gourmet Guide to Greater New York City. This book should go down as one of the great documents of New York culture. Not only does he introduce us to scores of the most exciting eating experiences in New York, he opens doors to pockets of New York that I (and I suspect many others) would never have noticed. He writes like a good teacher, brimming with welcoming excitement while introducing new food concepts and never relying on snooty distinctions of high taste. He often makes me laugh out loud, and he inspires trips to places that genuinely add depth to my understanding and enjoyment of this city. I will go to one place and be so enamored with it that I tell all my friends and feel emotionally invested in its success (Rinconcito Peruano on 53rd and 9th is my current love), and then try another of Mr. Leff's places and be swept off my feet.
I could go on and on, but I know most of you have already read the book. Maybe what is most valuable to me about his work is his general demeanor. I have often wished that Mr. Leff was an old friend and frequent dining partner so that I could have him guide me through all these delights. But what I can do is "Be like Jim": do the research, take some risks, and introduce friends and family to the delights of New York with a warm heart. It can be tricky to be both a discriminating diner and a pleasant table-mate for the less adventerous, but Mr. Leff demonstrates the grace necessary.
I thank Mr. Leff not only for teaching me about food, but also about my city and how to enjoy it with others.