Full disclosure: David Coleman—or, as I know him, Coleman—is an old friend, though one I hadn’t seen in a couple of years before running into him at the farmers’ market recently. I found him much more heavily tattooed than he’d been before, but otherwise, Tocqueville’s chef de cuisine was the same. He has a certain way of scowling at you like you’re a crazy person (or maybe that’s just me). But when he talks about music or traveling, or especially about food, his enthusiasm betrays his grimace, which becomes a straight-up grin.
Let’s do this. Have you thought about your last meal? Uh, yeah. It’ll be in Mexico, in Tulum. I had this meal at a place called Mike’s Cafe. It’s a weird name, not really Mexican. I don’t even know if it’s still there, but it was incredible.
Oh, Tulum. I want to go there. What’d you eat? First of all, I had this drink that was made with something called “wild Mexican spinach.” I asked the guy, and he said that would be the best translation. It was puréed with cucumbers, and then they put it over ice. It was amazing.
Whoa. What did it taste like? I don’t know. I mean, I never had this flavor before. It was like frothy and green. The stuff itself looked like spinach—he showed me. But it had a little fennel-anise flavor to it, and a little sweetness. Then I had this big plate of ceviche, which just had radish and lime juice, habanero peppers. It was served with popcorn.
What kind of fish? Tile fish. It was just so good. Then I had chicken enchiladas, baked with tomatillo sauce and queso fresco. That’s what I would want for my last meal.
Did you have any sweets? They just give you some fruit—you know, mangoes and papayas. It’s so cool there, because you’re in this little town, and the restaurant has garage doors that are open, and you’re just looking out at this dirt road. It made me feel like I was in the desert.
Where’s the beach? It was like a mile away. You can stay in these bungalows, and they turn off the electricity at 10 p.m. It’s pretty cool.
Would you bring anyone in particular? No, I would go myself— if I’m gonna die, of course. I want a peaceful meal.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 14, 2007