Changed Opinions: Beets

September 6th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is flexible, not rigid in food opinions. HG is open to change. HG has long disliked cooked beets, finding them inappropriate when drinking red wine. Of course, HG, when young, delighted in HG’s Mom’s summer treat: Ice cold beet borscht with a scoop of sour cream (not accompanied by wine). Since then, HG has turned away all beets (Including BSK’s beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts). Last night, BSK changed HG’s mind. BSK slicked local Prince Edward Island golden beets with olive oil. Gave them a hearty dusting of salt and pepper. Barbecued them on the gas grill. Served sliced with a bit more olive oil and Aleppo pepper, they were a taste treat. Might have something to do with the PEI red earth in which, like the mineral tangy potatoes, they are are cultivated. PEI beets are not sweet. Their taste is unique and they are a pleasing accompaniment to red wine. Other changes in HG’s food preferences: Once despised turnips but now loves the tiny New Mexico turnips that are wonderful raw or roasted. Once attacked Philadelphia cheese steaks and soft pretzels with mustard as repellent. Now gobbles them up whenever in the City of Brotherly Love.

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Disappearing New York

September 5th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

There’s a sad (realistic but wistful) op-ed column by Jayne Merkel and Julia Wertz in the August 26 New York Times about New York’s disappearing store fronts. The small business stores gave New York streets a diversity, visual interest and convenience for the people who lived in their neighborhoods. During HG/BSK’s New York life on the Upper West Side and in Greenwich Village, they patronized scores of tiny groceries, esoteric bookstores, clothing retailers, etc.. Shopping avenues were speckled with shoe repair shops, laundries (many Chinese owned and staffed), dry cleaners, tailors. Most of life’s needs were met by a short stroll. Even on fashionable Madison Avenue, there were unusual shops that defied the real estate monsters. HG/BSK recall buying tiny, pleated silk lampshades at a shop that specialized in such frippery. M.J. Knoud, the aristocratic saddlery and riding apparel store at 63rd and Madison, was a delight. HG bought a splendid riding raincoat there. (Didn’t own a horse then but it came in handy when HG was an active equestrian on HG/BSK’s Colorado horse ranch). Incidentally, New York now has only one major equestrian store. Historic Miller’s and Kaufman’s (both on E. 24th) are long gone as is the Claremont Riding Academy (in the West 70’s) and the Central Park equestrian trails. Madison Avenue is now lined with the flagship stores of American and foreign fashion companies. Prices are mind numbing. When HG strolled the Madison Avenue of yesteryear, HG often stopped at an incongruous, seemingly out of place, old fashioned diner. Served honest food. HG has a fond memory of the counterman scooping some freshly ground beef (Didn’t use any rubber or plastic gloves. Bare hands sufficed) and slapping it on the oiled griddle with a heap of sliced onions. Served on a toasted, buttered roll, it was the best burger in town.

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You Can’t Eat The Curtains

September 3rd, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

Pete Wells, the New York Times restaurant reviewer, goes on and on about restaurant decor. HG couldn’t care less. After all, you can’t eat the curtains. All HG requires in a restaurant (besides good food) is pleasant, not too dim lighting and reasonable soundproofing. Some of HG’s best dining experiences have been in bleak Chinese restaurants, Jewish delicatessens and “dairy” restaurants. HG once had the temerity to suggest some art on the walls of a gloomy (but delicious) “dairy” restaurant on W. 170th Street in The Bronx. The grumpy waiter’s response was appropriate: “If you want pictures, go to a museum. If you want to eat, come here.” Two of HG’s favorite places in New York were the lobby of the Hotel Algonquin and the old Russian Tea Room. The Algonquin lobby had the friendly feel of an old (slightly impoverished) English country house. Carpets and seating upholstery were gently faded. Astute Ben Bodne, the hotel owner, would have replacements professionally distressed so change would not be visible to customers. After Bodne sold the hotel, various “improvements” were made. Last time HG peeked at the lobby it glittered with shiny modernity. The old Russian Tea Room was decorated with haphazard Christmas lights. They shone year round because the owner liked them (and his staff of superannuated ex-Russian ballerina waitpersons). The current RTR boils over with showy opulence and the prices are stratospheric. Progress?

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Zucchini Blossoms

September 2nd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

When HG/BSK lived on their Colorado horse ranch, HG would often shop at a roadside farm and market operated by devout Christians. They liked HG and made some effort to convert atheist HG to their faith. HG affirmed HG’s respect and affection for Jesus as a humane and noble spirit, very much in the tradition of the Jewish dissidents of his time. But, no dent was made in HG’s secular beliefs. The good people allowed HG to roam their fields and pick (at no charge) zucchini blossoms. BSK would clean them thoroughly, dip them in a simple egg and flour batter, stuff them with mozzarella. They were fried quickly, given a squeeze of lemon and a grind of black pepper. Heavenly fritters. BSK, SJ and family visited BSK’s sister, Noel, and brother-in-law, Yossi, at their Prince Edward Island Ocean Mist Farm. As always, they returned home laden with good things from the Farm. This time the good things included zucchini blossoms, the biggest and most colorful HG has ever seen. Giant blossoms. SJ acted as chef and fried the mozzarella stuffed blossoms with SJ’s usual culinary expertise. The result: Best blossoms ever. Sometimes bigger is better.

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Andrew McDonald Revisited

September 1st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Andrew MacDonald, a robust and cheery Prince Edward Islander, is a master of mussels (and a dab hand with oysters). Check archive for HG post concerning his background. It was a sad day for HG when the Mussel Interpretive Center at St. Peters Landing closed its dining section helmed by Andrew and his sunny daughters. Farewell to great mussel chowder, steamed mussels and clams and perfectly shucked South Lake oysters. The happy news is that Andrew has opened a busy stand on the road in front his home (St. Peters Road/Route 2, East Morell). Among the offerings are mussels (of course), un-shucked South Lake oysters, local yellow beans, Island honey and corn plus a few other edibles. The stand operates on the honor system (with a few timely appearances by Andrew). As expected, everything Andrew sells is superior. HG stopped by a few days ago for corn, encountered Andrew and told him his mussel chowder was missed. Andrew made two liters for HG. Turned out as good as ever. Maybe better. Viva Andrew!!

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