Senior Annoyances

July 17th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Dramatic sunset and an afterglow of wonderful colors illuminating the sea and skies. Sipping J.B. Wiser Canadian Whiskey and contemplating age and life after another delightful dinner. First, there were some Malpeque oysters with buttered whole wheat toast (local farmers’ market product). BSK sipped some white wine and HG had his usual extra large Bloody Mary enhanced by Blue Lobster, prize winning Nova Scotia vodka. Main dish was an HG/BSK version of a Vietnamese chicken noodle salad. HG sliced white meat chicken left over from last night’s roast spatchcocked bird. BSK chopped radishes, onions, scallions, cucumbers and a multitude of herbs. Tore lettuce leaves into edible shapes. HG cooked wide Vietnamese noodles to the proper firm consistency. All of this was tossed in a BSK dressing of sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and lemon juice. Nice eating. Yes, life is good at HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront paradise. So, what were HG’s apres dinner whiskey thoughts? The late Philip Roth said old age isn’t a battle. It’s a massacre. In the midst of advanced old fogeyism, HG doesn’t share the grim Roth view. But, there are senior annoyances. Arthritis is one. Mainly it hits HG’s right hand. When eating, this makes it impossible to maneuver a fork. Reading a large heavy book is tough when arthritis arrives. Walking is slow going for HG. Better at sea level PEI than lofty Santa Fe. Hearing has deteriorated. Only watches movies that have subtitles. And, gentle voiced BSK has (sometimes to her chagrin) to repeat every verbal communication. Cancer surgery 26 years ago cut some nerves making it hard for HG to lift HG’s arms above HG’s head. HG needs help to reach items on high shelves. Breakfast is no longer a treat since HG has to swallow some 18 vitamins and medications. And, in common with almost all seniors, there is a need for very frequent urinations. Tedious and inconvenient. COPD makes three daily ten-minute inhalation treatments necessary. A blessing is that HG’s mind remains functional. HG’s love for BSK is a constant. Conclusion: Hungry Gerald is Lucky Gerald.

Conservative

July 16th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

There’s a food cliche about Italians. They may be radical in the arts and politics but are conservatives when dining. Basically, they desire the food their beloved Mama cooked. That describes HG (Though HG has gone beyond HG’s Mom’s cuisine. However, nostalgia for chicken fat remains). Roast chicken and poached, steamed or fried fish are the principal HG dishes. Once a month rare steak, middle eastern keftas, pink pork chops, rosy lamb chops. Beer is drunk with Indian food, Mexican dishes and a rare choucroute garnie. White wine with fish (the Canadian Jackson-Trigg’s chardonnay is very good). Chilean, Argentine, Spanish red wine with pastas and meat. Salt butter on whole wheat toast accompanying oysters. Sweet butter on the toast with smoked salmon or roquefort cheese. Salt has to be Malden’s sea salt or kosher salt. Pepper is black (fresh ground), white or smoked. No desserts though HG may have a chunk of halvah with the last of dinner red wine. Post dinner there is bourbon or scotch with some praline coated pecans. Before bedtime HG has a few spoons of vanilla ice cream. Discipline and willpower are necessary when confronting ice cream or gelato.

Hakata Choten

July 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG loves ramen, the Japanese dish that takes noodles and broth to celestial heights. (HG’s favorite food movie is “Tampopo”, a Japanese comedy about a female chef’s attempts to make perfect ramen). Unfortunately, HG cannot consume superior ramen. Two locations in Santa Fe served ramen. One closed and one continues to serve second rate slop. Despite the proliferation of Asian and other ethnic restaurants on Prince Edward Island, there is no ramen eatery. Very sad. HG makes do by lunching on noodles from a Korean instant ramen package. Throws away the super sodium-filled flavoring and cooks the noodles in a ramen broth sold by PEI’s Atlantic Superstore. Adds tofu and chopped scallions. A reasonable, if pallid, improvisation. HG/BSK are contemplating a Paris-Venice (or Lisbon) trip. So, it was with pleasure that HG read about the Hokata Choten ramen and gyoza restaurant in Paris. The reviewer was Heidi Ellison in “Paris Update.” Ellison is a sophisticated diner who rarely showers restaurants with exuberant praise. However, in the case of Hokata Choten she went overboard. Referencing “Tampopo”, she said perfect, robust ramen had been achieved. She was also lyrical about the gyoza (they won a prize in Tokyo). Yes, when in Paris, HG will limit HG’s consumption of oysters, steak tartare and savory offal, and become a Hokata Choten diner.

Rick’s Fish & Chips

July 14th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is not a novice at judging fish and chips. Has consumed many portions along the shores of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine. Ate vaunted fish and chips in various London “chippys.” Curiously, the dish now appears on Paris menus and is a too refined version of the real thing. HG states without hesitation or equivocation, if you want the best fish and chips in the world you have to visit Rick’s Fish and Chips on St. Peter’s Bay, Prince Edward Island. The fish — haddock and cod — is fresh, caught off the shores of PEI, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. And, the chips are formed from PEI’s mineral rich, savory potatoes (That’s why PEI is often called “spud isle”). So, the basic ingredients are perfect. The resulting crisp fish (non greasy) and state of the art chips are testament to the temperature of the oil and the composition of the batter. Obviously, the cooks are vigilant and skilled. Rick, the hands on owner, is a lavishly mustached gentleman. No absentee chef, Rick is often there making sure high standards prevail. He’s a warm and welcoming host. HG presumes Rick has a French-Canadian heritage because HG recalls poutine appearing on the menu from time to time. And, Rick serves very tasty Cajun Mussels (Also on the menu are shucked Malpeque oysters; fish chowder; steamed mussels; fried scallops and mussels, grilled salmon, etc.). HG has been dining at Rick’s for some ten years. HG marvels at Rick’s consistency. Always the best.

And, She Can Cook

July 12th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Dinner last night at the Prince Edward Island cottage of friend and neighbor, Leslie F. A talented and beautiful woman, (like Cleopatra, age cannot wither nor tarnish), Leslie is a Canadian who lives in Toronto but has summered on PEI for many decades. Leslie’s cottage was bathed in late afternoon sunshine (also illuminated by her unique ambience). The evening began with glasses of chilled New Zealand Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. This is HG/BSK’s favorite aperitif. It has a lively citrus tingle (also good with oysters). HG/BSK discovered it some years ago in Vancouver when the duo was eating –you guessed it–oysters. Drank some pleasantly dry chardonnay (like a French Macon-Villages) with main dishes of gently poached halibut in an aioli sauce accompanied by boiled little potatoes and baby carrots from a local farmers’ market. There was also some crispy grilled chicken (ignored by HG as HG concentrated on the lush fish and perfectly cooked vegetables.) A bottle of Chilean red was drunk with the cheese course (and Breton crackers). Dessert was PEI perfection: A big bowl of first of the season strawberries and mini chunks of chocolate brownies. HG drank an exuberant amount of wine but, aided by BSK, made it home safely and slept the sound sleep of a happy (and well fed) consumer of copious alcohol.

Crackers

July 10th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

In Britain, crackers are called biscuits. Potato chips are crisps and French fries are chips. Crackers. Biscuits. Whatever. HG likes them. Ritz crackers are a favorite. They accompany HG’s softly scrambled eggs in the morning. They are the base for peanut butter and jelly. HG’s Mom always served them with bowls of Campbell’s Tomato Soup as a wintry after school snack. The Lord & Taylor department store on Fifth Avenue had a luncheon spot where a large African-American man served bowls of steaming soup with Ritz crackers. HG and gentlewomen were fans. Keebler Town House crackers are HG’s favorite for cheese. They have buttery overtones and they are less filling than bread. Jacob’s Water Biscuits are a splendid import, good with everything. Knowing HG’s tastes, the staff at the El Parasol restaurant near HG’s New Mexico home, always provide HG with extra salted soda crackers when HG orders a favorite bowl of green chile menudo. HG crumbles the crackers into the savory, super spicy tripe stew. They provide a curious, luxurious balance.

The Staff of Life?

July 10th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, bread is much lauded as an essential food. It has a lengthy history and is mentioned frequently in The Bible. But, HG is not a big fan. HG, a Francophile, knows a French breakfast is most often a chunk of buttered fresh baguette accompanied by cafe au lait. HG passes. Prefers yogurt. However, HG does like buttered baguette with Roquefort or Gorgonzola as a dinner course preceding dessert. Jewish rye, of course is essential, for successful pastrami or corned beef sandwiches. (Remember Annie Hall ordering a pastrami sandwich on white bread with mayo?) HG likes dark pumpernickel bread with smoked fish. HG despises bagels but will eat an occasional bialy. (They have gone downhill sharply. Even the ones from famed Kossar’s). HG only eats croissants and brioche in Paris but their quality continues to decline.(Best croissants came from the long closed Sutter’s bakeries in New York). HG has always been surprised when American restaurant diners stuff themselves with rolls and butter before the meal is served. In civilized countries, bread is only eaten with the meal. HG’s distinguished son-in-law, Profesore/ Uficiale/Dottore Massimo R., would consider it unthinkable to have a meal without bread. Often mops up remaining sauce with a small bit of bread. (the bread for for this purpose is called “a little shoe” in Italian). BSK is a fan of good artisan bread. Likes to toast a slice with bread and cheese for breakfast. This is the major use for bread in the HG/BSK household. Since artisan bread without chemicals gets stale quickly, much is thrown away. As time goes on, HG eats less bread, cheese and meat but more yogurt, fruit, vegetables, seafood and chicken. This is not a health focused diet (witness HG’s devouring of cholesterol rich oysters and tripe plus drinking much alcohol), just preference.

Two Paris Favorites

July 8th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The late great writer, A.J. Liebling of the New Yorker magazine, wrote about many things: Paris, France, war, food, boxing, women, the press, colorful characters like Earl Long of Louisiana and Col. John R. Stingo. He was a glutton and his gluttony killed him at a too early age. His book about his early days in Paris, “Between Meals,” is a very appetizing (in every way) reminiscence. Liebling wrote some illuminating things about food. He said that a fine meal provided a three fold pleasure, much like making love with a desirable woman. Anticipation. Consummation. Recollection. HG thought about these words as a HG contemplated one more visit to Paris. HG anticipated some happy drinking, noshing and people watching at two very distinctly different cafes: Au Sauvignon in the fashionable neighborhood adjacent to the Bon Marche department store in the Sixth and La Cave des Abbesses in the 18th (lively, touristy Montmartre). At Au Sauvignon you can enjoy the sight of the world’s most elegant women strolling to the department store or favorite shops like Agnes B. HG drinks Beaujolais Villages or Sancerre and nibbles on cheese and charcuterie served with Poilane bread. La Cave des Abbesses is a wine shop primarily. One strolls through walls of wine (some very good values) to a plain spoken back room. That’s where food and drink is served. Locals cluster around a bar and the conversation is loud and bawdy. HG has been accepted as a regular and is the target of good natured comment in heavily accented English. HG’s attempts to speak French when ordering a glass of red wine and a plate of cheese are met with amusement. Happily, La Cave often sells good oysters at a special price of one euro each. HG knocks off a dozen with bread and butter and a carafe of chilled Muscadet. La Cave has two outside tables on busy Rue Lepic. But, HG prefers the noisy, smoky conviviality of the indoor room.

Legal. Too Late For HG

July 6th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, marijuana becomes legal in Canada (and Prince Edward Island) on Oct. 17. Too late for HG. The greedy fellow has not puffed weed for many decades after some scary, paranoid episodes. (Like LSD, certain strains of marijuana can bring on a bad trip). One such episode occurred at the great bar, steakhouse and venue for top flight jazz pianists, Bradley’s on University Place in New York’s Greenwich Village. Two jazz greats, Bradley Cunningham, jazz patron and owner of Bradley’s, and Roy Kral, superb jazz pianist and half of the immortal vocal and jazz duo, Jackie (Cain) and Roy, brought HG into Bradley’s tiny office and restored HG to calm sanity. So sorry to precede the beloved names, Bradley, Jackie and Roy with the dread words “the late.” You can learn more about the Bradley era by delving into the New Yorker magazine archive for the Bradley profile by Whitney Balleitt. Before saying goodbye to weed, HG was a devotee for many decades. Bought his first “reefers” at age 14 at the College Avenue Pool Room in The Bronx, a hangout for dealers, hustlers and pool sharpies. The nicely packed smokes were about 25 cents each. HG found marijuana life enhancing. Brought much added pleasure to music, sex and food. Also led to some harmless craziness. Once, HG got super stoned with a group of pals and gals. The group decided that raging hunger could only be appeased by White Castle ” Sliders”, two inch square little burgers served on a soft bun. Nearest White Castle was on Fordham Road near the campus of Fordham University. On arriving, HG and his two stoner companions thought about the amount of Sliders to be ordered. Some 200 for six people seemed to be about right. The astonished White Castle staffers got busy and filled sack after sack. HG managed to eat nine Sliders. That was about average for the males. The girls ate four or five each. Yes, stoner eyes were much, much larger than stoner tummies. When the group looked at the mini-mountain of left over Sliders, there was much laughter.

Canada Day

July 5th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Canada Day weekend came and went on Prince Edward Island and the isle was bedecked gaily with colorful maple leaf flags. The celebration emphasizes pride without bombast (typical modest Canadian attitude). Many special events featured PEI food and music. HG/BSK were beguiled by a CBC radio broadcast. Listeners were asked about their most interesting encounters during the year with Canadian birds, animals and fish. A recent Jamaican emigrant talked about seeing a snapping turtle crossing a highway. He didn’t know the turtle was dangerous until it snapped its mighty jaws. The Jamaican/Canadian was concerned the turtle would wander on the highway and be crushed. Avoiding danger and after considerable effort, he pushed the turtle to a safe spot. He commented: “In Jamaica we have gentle turtles. We eat them.” On Vancouver Island, a woman and her family went to a beach to scatter (as was his wish) the ashes of her recently deceased father. They were met by a colorful male humming bird who sat on her shoulder and chirped softly as she scattered the ashes. The beauty of the bird brought her to tears. From her garden deck, another woman watched a flock of Canadian geese flying gracefully and trailed by a majestic bald eagle. Suddenly, the eagle snatched a laggard goose out of the sky and carried it to parts unknown. The woman was astonished by the eagle’s strength since the goose and the eagle were (approximately) the same size. In Newfoundland, hikers spotted a caribou on a hilltop. The caribou did a grateful, ballet-like pirouette as he/she sniffed the air to locate the human intruders. In suburban Toronto, a woman was disturbed by the raccoons who dropped nightly their toxic poop on her terrace. A neighbor gave her a tip. Leave a large bowl of water on the terrace. Raccoons will not poop where they eat or drink. It worked. No poop. The method was tested. Removed the water bowl overnight. The result: A poop-o-rama. Back to the water bowl and a spotless terrace. In northern Ontario, a young fisher spotted a pike. The pike leapt out of the water and bit the boy on the knee. Drew blood. The boy managed to net the fish and the pike was served for dinner. A righteous revenge. HG/BSK’s animal encounters have been few. A handsome red fox with an abundant tail wandered down HG/BSK’s road a few weeks ago. And, since clover has become abundant on HG/BSK’s lawns, Snowshoe Hares, with their distinctive markings (brown with snow white feet) have been making an appearance. Toby, The Wonder Dog, gives chase but the hares manage to avoid him.