Baa Baa

February 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Looking forward to dinner tonight of New Zealand lamb chops (from Trader Joe’s) accompanied by roasted Kumatos and fingerling potatoes. HG/BSK will be drinking The Velvet Devil Merlot from the blessed state of Washington. Yes, HG loves lamb chops (called them “ompa lomps” in his childhood). HG has posted many appreciations of lamb (see HG archive). TJ’s and Sam’s Club carry excellent racks of lamb from New Zealand. Sometimes, BSK separates the rack and makes “lamb popsicles” using Vikram Vij’s recipe. Lush heaven. The only lamb stew HG ever enjoyed was Spring Lamb Stew (Navarin Printanier) prepared by the late Sandra Segal (she learned to cook in Paris). Back to lamb chops. Best ever were the triple thick beauties served at Leon Lianides’s Coach House in New York’s Greenwich Village (long closed and replaced by Mario Batali’s Babbo’s) (see HG archive for more on Coach House). Perfect meal at Coach House was starter of crab cakes or black bean soup (accompanied by corn sticks); the great chops; pecan pie with vanilla ice cream. A few times a year, Lianides made a Greek tripe stew. Alas, HG was not a tripe fan in those days and so missed the treat.

Booze

February 12th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG loves alcohol in all its delightful forms. HG’s passion probably leads to excess but so do all passions (including love). This is HG’s drinking routine: (1) Drink before dinner, but after swimming 30 to 40 laps in HG/BSK’s pool house (the 45-foot pool is heated, thankfully). (2) One half bottle of red wine or one bottle of beer with dinner (3) One or two after dinner drinks. HG is inventive with pre-dinner drinks. Glass of 1/2 tequila and 1/2 dry vermouth. Vodka (3/4) and Aperol (1/4). Bourbon (1/3, Sweet Vermouth (1/3), Campari 1/3. Vodka with splash of orange bitters. Vodka (1/2, grapefruit juice 1/2. Vodka with Boker’s Bitters. All of these beverages require plenty of ice and lemon juice. After dinner drinks are bourbon, brandy (with splash of Peychaud’s Bitters), Sambuca, icy Limoncello. Irish whiskey (Jameson’s or Bushmill’s) with a teaspoon of maple syrup. HG’s regimen does not have the Health Police Seal of Approval. But, at age 88, HG declares: WTF??

Trumpishness

February 11th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

So, Der Trumperer is going to get a big time military parade. The expensive show will be at taxpayer expense, of course. Dreams come true. Putin, Stalin, Hitler, Kim Jong, Mussolini all had many big parades with marching corps, missiles, tanks, guns, etc.. It is the signature move of any dictator worth his salt. Of course, Der Trumperer’s parade will be the best, the biggest, most watched extravaganza ever (as DT will loudly proclaim and tweet). Meanwhile, a Nazi is a Republican congressional candidate in Illinois. To paraphrase “The Producers”: “Don’t be a dummy, be a smarty, come and join the Republi-nazi party.” All of this made HG log into Youtube and listen to “Springtime for Hitler and Germany” from “The Producers.” (Google the lyrics, please). There’s a Yiddish saying: “lacht mit yashikehs”. It means laughing with tears. That’s what HG did. Was Mel Brooks prescient? Meanwhile, the stock market is “correcting” dramatically. Der Trumperer claims the plunge is a big mistake. His tax bill will put the United State in trillions of dollar in debt and his Mexican Wall madness will cost billions. Obviously, the oft times bankrupt Trumperer has never heard of the consequences of this: Inflation. Investors throughout the world seem to have gotten the inflation message.

Bar-B-Cue

February 9th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has been a happy boy these last days chomping down on some authentic, down-home barbecue. It all started with the joyous Super Bowl party in front of pal David F.’s giant TV screen. David’s son-in-law, Jonathan, has an avocation as a barbecue caterer. The party was the gluttonous recipient of his skills. Armed with tequila and beer, HG had a lavish plate of pulled pork, chicken thighs and drumsticks – all smokily delicious. (Philadelphia’s triumph was the sweet dessert). Brought home a doggy bag of pulled pork for another happy BBQ meal. Yesterday, HG/BSK had to be in Albuquerque for some errands. BSK touted Rudy’s Barbecue and Country Store as equal (almost) to HG’s BBQ fave, Tyler’s in Amarillo, Texas. As always, BSK was right. Rudy’s is spacious (eat in or take out) and efficient. The long waiting line is handled with a swift assembly line precision. The food is great. HG/BSK ordered juicy brisket (outstanding), meaty pork ribs, baby back ribs, jalapeño sausage, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad. An hour after the order HG/BSK were at their dinner table exhaling happy sighs between bite. Yes, folks, there’s more to Albuquerque than “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul.”

Kraut

February 5th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG has consumed lots of sauerkraut through the years. Have loved the choucroute at Paris brasseries topped with delicious pork products, accompanied by boiled potatoes and enhanced by sharp mustard. Cold beer has been the beverage, of course. However, the very best sauerkraut, bar none, is cooked by BSK. Here’s how BSK prepared it for dinner last night. A jar of kraut was rinsed. Sliced onion and apple gently sauteed in a sauce pan with olive oil. This was added to the warming kraut with a dash of olive oil and a pour of dry white wine. The result was magical. Layers of flavor. The topping was browned beer bratwurst and veal bratwurst. Keen’s English Mustard, Maille Dijon Mustard, Prince Edward Island mustard pickles, dill pickles on the table. Lots of Sierra Nevada IPA. Great cold weather meal. At one point, a beer bratwurst slipped off BSK’s serving fork. Toby, The Wonder Dog, snatched the morsel out of mid-air, devouring the tasty food in seconds. This resulted in a very minimal breakfast for the greedy boy next day.

Civil War?

February 4th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt are professors of government at Harvard and authors of “How Democracies Die.” They point out that the extreme polarization of the two American parties, Republicans and Democrats, is not “A traditional conservative-liberal divide. People don’t loathe each other over taxes or health care.” In a New York Times article (Sunday, Jan. 28), the professors state “the roots of today’s polarization is racial and cultural.” Decades ago, both parties were predominantly white and worshiped a Christian God. “Advances in civil rights, immigration and the migration of Christian conservatives to the Republican Party have given rise to two fundamentally different parties: one that is ethnically diverse and increasingly secular and one that is overwhelmingly white and predominantly Christian.” America’s “once dominant” white Christians are in decline. Year by year, America becomes more multi-cultural and multi-racial. The Republican white Christians are furiously fighting back and damaging (if not destroying) the American democracy. The Mexican Wall and the immigration battle are part of their effort to block blacks, browns, Asians, muslims, Hispanics from entering the United States. In HG’s opinion, armed conflict has not begun but Americans are nonetheless engaged in a civil war. The outcome is in doubt.

The Land of Enchantment? Indeed!

January 31st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Day after day the weather in HG/BSK’s Pojoaque Valley neighborhood in Santa Fe County remains the same. Vivid blue skies. Bright sun. Pure, clean air with the faint scent of sage and piñon pines. Temperature in the 50’s (gets cooler at night when a blaze in the fireplace is welcome). Sorry to stir up envy. Another great thing about the neighborhood is its astonishing diversity in terms of race, nationality and high incidence of intellectual and/or artistic distinction. BSK was off last night for an evening meeting of community activists trying to block an environmentally destructive power lines project. (Yes, wherever HG/BSK live, BSK is in the forefront of battlers for Mother Earth). Since this was an evening meeting, it was suggested that it be a “pot luck” affair. Reflecting diversity, here were some of the dishes at this casual feast: BSK’s chicken schwarma (middle east shredded roast chicken); spicy vegetable curry; Caesar salad; lentil stew; cucumbers in yogurt; platter of shrimp. The dessert was Tiramisu, prepared by a gifted Italian couple. Thoughtful BSK brought some home for HG. Mind altering. Stupendous. Possibly the best dessert ever consumed by HG. Infinitely better than any Tiramisu HG ever tasted in Italy. While BSK did righteous work (and tasty nibbling) at the meeting, lonely HG had a typical Roman bachelor dinner. Capellini aglio e olio. Besides the oil and garlic, HG added chopped flat leaf parsley, anchovies and some powdered bottarga (Italian tuna roe). Drank red wine. Before BSK arrived with the wonder dessert, HG dipped chocolate covered biscotti in the red wine. A not too shabby meal.

Comice Pears

January 28th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

There is no better dessert than a ripe Comice pear paired with parmesan, roquefort or gorgonzola cheese and paired with a glass of fruity red wine. There is a cynical Italian saying: “Don’t tell the peasants about pears and parmesan.” BSK is expert at picking out the best Comice specimens at Whole Foods and bringing them home to reach peak ripeness. BSK learned about Comice delights when HG/BSK lived on New York’s upper west side more than a half century ago. HG/BSK were steady customers at a Mom-and-Pop fruit stand on 80th Street and Broadway. When shopping there one day, the Mom of the store rummaged around the pears and found a ripe Comice. “You don’t know about Comice pears, young lady. Take this home. Wash it. Eat it. You will have pleasure.” BSK followed the Mom’s instructions. Voila!! Comice rules the fruit world.

Collaboration

January 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The result is pleasure when HG/BSK cook together. Teamwork is flawless. Last night produced a meal of Salmon A’ L’unilateral (salmon cooked on one side in a cast iron pan), haricot verts with shallots, boiled potatoes with sour cream dusted with zaatar (middle eastern spice). Except in very good restaurants, salmon is overcooked into tastelessness. The first time HG ever tasted properly cooked salmon (reddish pink in the middle and slightly quivery) was at the Cafe Luxembourg on West 70th Street in Manhattan. After that experience, HG/BSK enjoyed proper salmon at Quatorze (closed) on 14th Street and Raoul’s in Soho. HG purchased last night’s Norwegian salmon at Trader Joe’s (splendid fish at a bargain price). Lightly oiled a decades-old cast iron pan. Turned up the heat. Cooked the salmon into the desired medium-rare state and finished with a simple sauce of melted butter, lemon juice and capers. (One of the blessings of cooking Salmon A’ L’unilateral is the delicious crisp skin filled with lush and healthy oils). Meanwhile, BSK boiled potatoes and made magical haricot verts. In Paris restaurants, haricots verts are cooked into mush while steaks are browned but raw (go figure). Trendy New York restaurants serve the vegetable almost raw. BSK steamed the slim string beans to the proper consistency and then finished them in a pan with shallots sautéed in butter. Drank pleasant Spanish red Rioja. After 54 years of marriage, teamwork with BSK remains a joy.

Republicans: “Have You No Sense Of Decency”

January 25th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

June 9, 1954. Army-McCarthy hearings. Sen. Joseph McCarthy had charged the U.S. Army with lax security at an Army base. Army hired Boston attorney Joseph Welch to represent t them at the hearings. The Senator charged that a young colleague of Welch’s had communist affiliations. Welch responded: “Until this moment, Senator, I never truly gauged your cruelty and recklessness.” When McCarthy continued his spurious attack, Welch said: “Have you no sense of decency?” The hearings were on national television. Welch’s comments ended McCarthy’s popularity and influence. He died at age 48. HG asks Republican Senators and members of Congress when they do not respond to Trump’s spewing of racist filth: “Have you no sense of decency?”