Appetizing Providence

June 11th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK love Providence and Rhode Island. A major reason,of course, is that it’s the home of Gifted Daughter Lesley R. and her multi talented, beautiful family. Providence is rich in history, art (home of famed Rhode Island School of Design); 18th Century architecture (Benefit Street) and higher education (Brown University). Son-in-law Massimo is a distinguished Professor at the University and Brilliant Granddaughter Arianna graduated a few days ago. HG/BSK visited the Brown campus today with Granddaughter Sofia. All were moved by a powerful sculpture of chains and words that acknowledges — in a forthright and honest manner — the University’s founding was financially aided by more than a century of profitable participation in the slave trade. HG/BSK were on campus to view an exhibit at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology curated by by Arianna. Brilliant exhibit. The subject was beer and its importance (religious, cultural and culinary) in a variety of cultures ranging from the Andes to Africa. There was eloquent prose by Arianna plus striking displays of brewing and drinking artifacts. (Hey. If there are some museum administrators among HG’s followers, HG counsels the hiring of Arianna immediately. The young woman is destined to have an outstanding curatorial career). Leaving culture and family love behind, HG must mention that HG’s affection for Providence and its environs is based on food lust. Lesley R. is an outstanding cook and Profesore Massimo is a knowing selector of cheese, bread, wine and other good things. Yes, home eating is a pleasure and dining out is rewarding. HG has written about oyster feasts at Hemenway’s; grilled pizza, clams and sausage plus other wonders at Al Forno.. And there are clam shacks, Peruvian, Portuguese, Korean and Italian restaurants. All serving abundant, savory and affordable food. Today, HG/BSK, Arianna and Sofia lunched at Haruki East, a very good Japanese restaurant near Brown. Great lunch specials of Maki rolls (spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, eel and avocado;yellowtail and scallions; crisp fried Gyoza; a green salad with Japanese dressing; lusty Miso soup; green tea. HG spotted a young man at the counter devouring a K Dinosaur Roll. This is a monster (Priced at $19.75, more than a foot long and combining a lengthy list of ingredients including salmon, tuna, eel, cream cheese, avocado, asparagus, etc. etc. This is an HG must try. For dinner, Avenue N American Kitchen in the Rumford neighborhood of East Providence. The restaurant is, to put it simply, wonderful. Inventive, perfectly prepared food from local sources. Handsome, nicely lit room (It replaced a group of artist studios). Deft service. Lively atmosphere with a buzzing bar scene. Modest prices. Small plates. Big plates. And, pizzas. Dinner for five (HG/BSK; Lesley, Massimo and Arianna R.) as a continuing celebration of Arianna’s graduation from Brown University. Shared three small plates (Quite generous in size): Fried oysters with horseradish and mustard sauce; Point Judith calamari with pickled peppers, citrus butter and spicy remoulade; Smothered Duck Purloo (lush sauce of okra, corn, preserved tomatoes, short grain rice, andouille butter). All were splendid. The lavish duck dish was a revelation. Shared big plates: Swordffish Schnitzel with turnips, burdock root, pickles, chile aioli; Braised Berkshire Pork Shoulder with gruyere polenta, chard and a rich brown sauce. Before the feast began, all got tastes of the Roasted Sweet Corn Soup ordered by Miss A. Drank two bottles of Oregon wine–a pinot grigio and a pinot noir. HG had his usual alcoholic cocktail (This time it was an icy vodka and grapefruit concoction) plus a glass of California cabernet to accompany chocolate mousse cake. (The sweet goody was to be shared but greedy HG ate most of it). Arianna R. is slim, sleek, soigné and shapely. But, the lady can sure pack away the groceries. Magic metabolism ??

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A Delicious Celebration

June 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Much to celebrate. Granddaughter Arianna’s graduation from Brown University. (See below for photo of the gorgeous young woman). Equally gorgeous granddaughter Sofia’s birthday and homecoming from France. BSK’s birthday (and the end of BSK’s maarathon feat of motoring). Daughter Lesley R., a creative dynamo in the kitchen (and in her professional career) was the majordomo of a sumptuous feast. A number of friends and neighbors were invited. All were dazzled by the buffet: Sliced Italian sausage; San Daniele ham wrapped around breadsticks; a room temperature salad of penne, roasted eggplant, tomatoes, anchovies and capers; mozzarella and tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin Italian olive oil; a cheese platter with grapes and superb Seven Stars bread. Pre-feast Tito’s vodka for HG. Prosecco, beer, white wine, red wine complemented the food. Lesley R. dazzled HG with Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwiches. She marinated flank steak in Vietnamese fish sauce and other ingredients. Made a slaw of cabbage, pickled radishes in a Vietnamese dressing. Soft rolls smeared with Sriracha/Mayonnaise. Thin slices of the roasted steak. A layer of slaw. A sandwich that was a flavor explosion. Nearby neighbors (who are also close friends) arrived with their son and daughter. The lady is of Armenian extraction and a distinguished cook (among many other talents). She made two dishes that made HG wonder at the glories of Armenian cuisine: A savory dip known as “Muhammahrah” and a molded bulgur salad called “Ich” (Yes, the spelling is correct). Her son baked a great Key lime pie and another neighbor contributed a tasty strawberry rhubarb pie. Daughter made a big bowl of whipped cream. Husband? Supervised the music that enhanced the festivities. HG finished this perfect day of food, drink and love by watching the Warriors (HG is in awe of their ball movement) while sipping flutes of icy Limoncello. The painter and social figure Gerald Murphy (A friend of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso and other creative forces) said: “Living well is the best revenge.” HG presumes the revenge is aimed at the brevity of our time on earth and the inevitable pains and distresses of life. HG agrees. With aid of BSK and HG’s wondrous family, HG takes revenge daily.

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Journey’s End: Happy Family Welcome

June 8th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The end of a 2,100 mile bout of virtuoso long distance driving by BSK. The magical woman is nervous if HG drives. Thus, HG (advised by Toby, The Wonder Dog) acted as navigator and music selector. On arrival at the Riverside, R.I., home of the Riva family, a warm welcome from Lesley (HG/BSK’s multi-talented daughter), Massimo (Handsome and brilliant Profesore/Uficiale son-in-law); Arianna and Sofia (Gifted and beautiful granddaughters). The excellent traveler, Toby, was glad to be out of the car and renewing a loving and lively friendship with Pip, the Rivas’ charming and brilliant lady dog. HG was famished so broke away from embraces and was off to Blount Clam Shack adjacent to the nearby Crescent Park Carousel. The “merry go round” is a beautifully restored antique. A bowl of New England Clam Chowder. The real deal. Lots of clams and lots of sea flavor. As usual, dinner at the Riva’s was an epic. It was served outdoors with wonderful views of the setting sun over the waters of Narraganset Bay. A pre-dinnder vodka for HG. Then, chilled Prosecco with cantaloupe and San Daniele ham. A huge bowl of linguine with clams (Rhody clams are the best). Spectacular bread from the Seven Stars Bakery soaked up the flavorful sauce of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and clam juice. White wine flowed. Then, a switch to Dolcetto d’Alba with a cheese platter and salad. HG had more red wine with Belgian Almond Butter Cookies. HG had a finale of icy Limoncello. Sharing a bed with BSK and Toby (A quiet and serene bedmate), HG, surfeited with family love, wondrous food and ample alcohol, slept like a babe.

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Happy Birthday BSK

June 6th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK’s birthday was a few days ago and HG/BSK celebrated with an improbable, totally crazy, insanely happy dinner celebration. The place was the bar of the Holiday Inn Conference Center and Hotel near Allentown, PA. The dinner marked the near end of HG/BSK’s cross county voyage. For her birthday, HG presented BSK with an array of gifts: Thingumajigs, folderol and tchachkes. They were well received. Dinner consisted of glasses of Chardonnay (meh), Cabernet (very drinkable); Seared, rare Ahi tuna (passable) ; fried calamari with a wasabi sauce (quite good). The happy pair then shared a big platter of strip steak, mashed potatoes and cauliflower/broccoli. The steak presented a problem: It was cooked perfectly. Seared nicely. Cooked medium rare (on the rare side) as requested. BSK sliced the steak. That is, BSK tried to slice the steak. The energetic lady sawed away without much result. HG sawed. Yielded a few rosy slices. They looked good; however, they were tougher than shoe leather. Tougher than an IRS special agent.(Okay, be HG’s guest and choose a simile). Meanwhile, a dozen TV screens were playing events ranging from X-Games to slasher and vampire movies, Strobe lights were flashing overhead. Heavy metal was blasting from mega-speakers. The combination of the steak and the scene was so over the top ludicrous that HG/BSK shook with laughter. It was one of the happiest birthday dinners ever. Toby, The Wonder Dog, was treated to a chunk of the steak. Not too tough for the little guy. Toby loved it. HG/BSK finished the evening with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and a Hershey’s Chocolate Almond Bar. Perfect accompaniment to Spanish Lorca Monastrelli red wine.

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Popeyes Plus a Racial/Social Analysis

June 6th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Motoring on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Fourth day of HG/BSK’s cross country voyage. The promising local, funky eateries demanded a long, circuitous detour from the highway. So, HG/BSK stopped at the giant West Somerset service area. Dining choices: Popeye’s; Pizza Hut; Burger King; Starbucks and a pretzel counter. HG/BSK opted for Popeye’s. HG recalled that Virgil Thompson, the late, great composer, lyricist and music critic who lived in New York’s Chelsea Hotel on W. 23rd Street loved Popeye’s. His guests (and they were a very distinguished, very international group) were often treated to a dinner of Popeye’s fried chicken, red beans and rice, mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw and biscuits with honey. Gracious Virgil also provided his guests with abundant icy Martinis and plentiful white wine.(Virgil got his Popeye’s spread at the chain’s W. 23rd branch where he was a beloved figure). HG/BSK emulated Virgil and ate spicy fried chicken, cole slaw, biscuits, red beans and rice. No alcohol, unfortunately, but good watermelon juice. Pleasant food (Far, far better than despicable KFC). However, HG/BSK agreed that when it comes to chicken, HG/BSK far prefer BSK’s sauteed boneless-skinless chicken thighs or BSK’s chicken breast paillards (Flattened chicken breasts, dipped in beaten egg and dusted with fine Japanese Panko crumbs. They’re quickly fried and get a sauce of melted butter, capers and lemon juice). The service area at West Somerset was jammed. Popeye’s had the longest lines (with the most efficient and cheery counter personnel). While waiting in line, HG made a quick social analysis. Popeye’s clientele was 80% African-American, 20% Caucasian. Burger King was favored by and equal mix of white old folks, Latinos, Asian-Americans, African-Americans. Pizza Hut was favored by a racially and ethnically mixed crowd buying pizza for hungry kids. Starbucks seemed to attract an elite crowd of young white people. The pretzel stand dispensed salty and sugar horrors to Trump fans.

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Shapiro’s

June 4th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, down home Jewish treats are available in the quintessentially midwestern city of Indianapolis. Shapiro’s Jewish Delicatessen and Bakery is a block long paradise of corned beef, rye bread, pastrami, tongue, chopped liver, Reuben sandwiches, knishes, bagels, lox, cream cheese, matzo balls,chicken noodle soup, ad infinitum. HG/BSK stopped at the 110 year old institution on the the third day of HG/BSK’s cross country motoring voyage. Shapiro’s is conveniently located off Highway I-70 (close to the Colts football stadium). Shapiro’s is huge with a big parking lot adjacent. The food is splendid. HG had a big platter of corned beef, tongue and pastrami. Rye bread. Mustard. Russian dressing. Sour pickles. Cole slaw. Potato salad. Plus Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic. What more could HG, a Bronx product, desire? The hungry chap was in heartburn heaven. BSK was more moderate. A Reuben sandwich, cole slaw, lemonade. Plus, a surprisingly good fresh fruit salad. There were enough left overs for HG/BSK to have a pleasant dinner in their La Quinta room in Columbus while watching Lebron and Stephon do battle.

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American Road Pleasures

June 2nd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK are luxuriating in a La Quinta hotel on highway I-55 In Collinsville, IL, just a few miles east of St.Louis. Have completed half of the 2,100 mile trip to Providence. The road amenities in the United States continue to delight HG/BSK. La Quinta is the favorite road lodging. Big, clean rooms. Comfy beds. Flat screen TV. Hot shower with good water pressure and lots of fluffy towels. WiFi, of course. Ice maker just a few steps down the hall. Civilized living at a modest price (Free breakfast, too). This a far cry from the hotel accommodations in France and Italy. Tiny rooms. Big prices. Inferior plumbing. Plus, a free, ample supply of cockroaches. That’s why HG/BSK always rent apartments when abroad. Another great American road classic is Waffle House. Always a joy. Today, HG lunched on some savory high cal stuff: Two buttery, softly scrambled (as requested) eggs; greaseless and crisp hash browns topped with fried onions; bowl of grits; toast; jam, orange juice; a few cups of coffee. Weight watcher BSK had a salad topped with grilled chicken. BSK lauded the chicken as flavorful and juicy plus the salad was dressed with a pleasant vinaigrette. Drank unsweetened ice tea. (In mid-America and the South, ice tea is served unsweetened or sweetened. The sweetened is cloying.) Next La Quinta visit is tomorrow night in Columbus, Ohio. Midpoint between St.Louis and Columbus is Indianapolis, home of Shapiro’s Jewish Delicatessen. Looking forward to an old fashioned heartburn.

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Texas Brisket…The Best

June 1st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

As Robert Burns put it: “The best laid plans of mice and men aft gang agley.” So, forget about HG’s last post about HG/BSK’s high cal road food trip. Different route and had to make some tweaks. Stopped at Tyler’s Barbecue on Fairmont Boulevard off Rt. I-40 In Amarillo, Texas. Ate real deal Texas barbecue brisket. (Jane and Michael Stern, The Road Food folk, and Texas Monthly love this little place). It’s neat, sweet and clean. Folks are super friendly,. And, the brisket. The best. Smoky and melt-in-the-mouth tender. HG/BSK relished their super generous brisket sandwiches (with plenty of those burnt ends that Calvin Trillin loves); a perfect, not too sweet cole slaw; smoky beans; pickles; jalapeños and flavorful sauces, both hot and sweet. Drank icy pink lemonade. Thought about our gifted pal, Stephanie Pierson, author of “The Brisket Book” (Buy it immediately and get busy brisketing). Stephanie and her delightful, witty partner, Eric Silver, just spent some days with us in New Mexico, As you can imagine, these were days of fun, frolic and feasting. The generous duo regaled HG/BSK with wonderful wines and The Dessert Queen, neighbor Karen K., brought sublime carrot cake and brownies (from Katherine Hepburn’s recipe) to the feasts. Since Stephanie is the acknowledged world authority on brisket, HG/BSK hopes Tyler’s brisket is in her future. For her to miss it would be like an authority on modern art ignoring Picasso.

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