Restaurant Nostalgia.

September 12th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Examining HG’s archives, HG notes that HG’s followers respond, with passionate nostalgia, to HG’s memories of long closed New York restaurants. Number one in the nostalgia parade is Christ Cella, the great steak house on E. 44th street. Scores of readers have sent in comments recalling romantic dinners there, happy meals with fathers and family members who worked there. Yes, CC didn’t do fancy frills. Superb products treated simply and with respect. Number two: Luchow’s, the outstanding German restaurant on E. 14th Street. Gorgeous antique decor. Oompah music. Succulent food. Wonderful beer. Number three: Gage & Tollner, the venerable seafood (and mutton chop restaurant) on Fulton Avenue, downtown Brooklyn. Sautéed clam bellies. Shad and shad roe with bacon. Dignified African-American waiters. Surprisingly, few HG fans recall two Upper West Side restaurants frequented by HG: Famous Dairy on W/. 72nd Street and Gitlitz delicatessen on Broadway and W. 79th. Nobody seems to remember the splendid Chinese restaurants clustered around Broadway and W. 96th Street. Most were on the west side of Broadway, but on the east side an eatery introduced fiery Szechauan fare to New York.

Joyous Overkill

September 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Too much food. Too much alcohol. Nevertheless. A wonderful, festive dinner with HG/BSK’s visitors, New Mexico pals Karen K. and David F., two of HG/SK’s favorite dining companions. Strange Prince Edward Island day of sun, clouds, rain, wind, calm. HG managed shore walks with companion Toby, The Wonder Dog. Toby has become an intrepid sea wanderer, leaping off bluffs and high rock formations, dodging waves. Activity honed a lust for alcohol. HG, David F. and Karen K. drank much PEI Myriad View vodka. BSK was content with Pelee Island white wine from Ontario. Accompanied the pre-dinner drinking with ripe local cantaloupe and prosciutto (dusted with ground black pepper). Dinner consisted of lobster with melted butter; tiger shrimp sautéed in olive oil with sliced garlic, olive oil and smoked Spanish paprika; sautéed sea scallops atop lightly dressed butter lettuce; sweet corn (of course); salad of sliced tomatoes, baby cucumbers, Kalamata olives and feta cheese. This was followed by rich chunks of chocolate brownies, Macadamia nuts, tart lemon bars, Stilton cheese mixed with canded ginger. There were no left overs.

Karen K. & David F.

September 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Much joy. Our New Mexico neighbors and pals, Karen K. and David. F., have joined HG/BSK for a Prince Edward Island visit. Brilliant, life enhancing people. HG has often posted descriptions of happy dining experiences with this duo. (HG has dubbed Karen, “The Dessert Queen.”). Basking in sunshine and ocean views, HG/BSK and K/D have been enjoying the best of PEI’s produce and seafood. Malpeque oysters, sweet corn, sea scallops, cantaloupe melon, fried hake, mussels, just picked lettuces, yellow beans, blueberries, smoked salmon, potatoes with sour cream and fresh dill, lobster. And more. The quartet banished thirst with much Chilean and New Zealand red wine, Canadian sauvignon blanc and Gahan’s beer and ale, Generous K/D arrived with an abundance of good things including Hawaiian macadamia nuts, Maine hot pepper jelly, a variety of chocolates. Best of all: Maine potato vodka. Unusual. Flavors that evoke tequila and French marc. Did HG overindulge?. Indeed.

No Hurry Dinner

September 7th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Oddly warm afternoon at HG/BSK’s oceanfront paradise on Prince Edward Island. Winds disappeared, Bright sun. Calm sea. HG/BSK and Toby, The Wonder Dog, clambered down to the beach in front of the HG/BSK home. HG, a naturist, stripped and plunged into the sea. Very cold initially. But, vigorous swimming made it comfy for the oldster’s body. BSK walked the shoreline and collected an abundance of beach glass. Toby frolicked. Fun for all. Hot showers followed and then a leisurely dinner, suitable for warm weather. A small vodka with orange bitters for HG. Then, while BSK attended to a computer chore, HG had a typical Paris bistro treat (one often enjoyed by Julia Child): Thinly sliced fresh red radish with butter, sea salt and red wine. Listened to Mozart. Some 30 minutes later, BSK cooked a special treat: Farmers Market zucchini blossoms and okra. Dipped in beaten egg. Rolled in seasoned flour. Fried in a minimal amount of sizzling canola oil. Dusted with smoked black pepper and, of course, sea salt. Wondrous. A long pause as wine was drunk and HG/BSK exchanged observations on life, politics (unfortunately), food. Finally, the meal climaxed with with voluptuous omelets stuffed with shitake and oyster mushrooms; shallots and feta cheese. As always, the omelets were lightly browned on the outside and lushly creamy and soft on the inside. BSK and SJ (BSK’s culinary pupil) make incomparable omelets. Fortunate HG.

Left Over Corn

September 6th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

When it comes to seasonal sweet corn, HG’s eyes (cliche) are bigger than HG’s ample stomach. So, what to do with the excellent left over corn on the cob? BSK cuts off the kernels and adds them, with tasty results, to BSK’s robust fish stews. HG adds the kernels to organic batter and makes corn pancakes. A treat when doused with plenty of Canadian maple syrup. Lazy HG had a breakfast of corn and grits this morning. Instead of excellent Geechie Boy grits (introduced to HG by SJ, Geechie requires much slow stirring), HG used Quaker Instant Grits. Grits lovers will cry: “Shame”. But, when stirred with a scoop of cream cheese and some butter (trick learned from Lesley R.), they are savory when mixed with left over corn kernels. HG dusts them with ample sea salt and smoked pepper. Corn relish is an excellent condiment. But, BSK doesn’t make it since the local Prince Edward Island product is so good. BSK focuses on making jars of (better than New York) dill pickles.

Pho Geddabout It

September 5th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG loves pho (pronounced “fuh”), the hearty and heartening Vietnamese noodle soup. One of the few happy memories the American troops brought back from the costly (in dollars and lives) Vietnam war was the pho they happily ate at sidewalk stalls in Saigon. In Santa Fe, HG devours very good pho at Saigon Cafe. There’s good pho at Pho Hung Restaurant in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. However, this is a 40 minute drive from HG’s oceanfront paradise. Thus, HG improvises a non traditional pho — in fact it is more of a “pho inspired” dish — for HG’s mid day meal. HG creates a broth of clam juice and water. When boiling, HG throws in some frozen “fish tofu.” These are fish shaped fried tofu. Interesting. Then, at the appropriate time, HG adds rice noodles and firm tofu (which turns silky as it cooks). When poured into a big bowl, HG adds sesame oil and fiery chile oil. Finishes it with chopped scallions. It might not be Saigon (or Santa Fe), but it’s mighty good.

Joy and Sorrow

September 4th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, life in the United States is grim with a Hitler clone as President. But, here on Prince Edward Island, Canada, life is serene, democracy reigns, diversity is celebrated, homophobia is met with disdain, And, Der Trumperer is abominated. HG/BSK (plus plentiful family members and friends) have joyous summer months at HG/BSK’s oceanfront paradise. A big plus: PEI is foodie heaven. Witness last night’s dinner, happily consumed as a brilliant sunset illuminated the sea and skies. Sweet corn season (hurrah!!) so BSK cooked six ears of unsurpassed Blum’s sweet corn picked hours ago. Slathered with butter and dusted with sea salt, this is a seasonal treasure. Main dish was a platter of sautéed local sea scallops on a bed of lightly dressed butter lettuce. BSK has a magic touch with scallops (as with many other things) so the dish could rightfully be described as a masterwork. O, Canada !!

47th Anniversary Feast

September 3rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK joined BSK’s sister, Noel, and brother-in-law, Yossi, at their verdant farm in Gasperaux, PEI, to celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary. Dinner was preceded with a tour of their vegetable garden. Garden isn’t the right word. It is a truck farm. Potatoes, of course. Cucumbers. Zucchini. Corn. Beans. Herbs. Peppers. And more. Fruit trees are adorned with kiwi, plums, cherries. It is a virtual Garden of Eden. And, no serpent. Noel was inspired by her post-graduate university days in Cincinnati. She cooked a big pot of Cincinnati chile for dinner. This relies on Middle East spices as well as the obligatory chile powder. Topped with chopped red onion and cheddar cheese, it was sumptuous. Meal began with sweet corn on the cob. Some of the corn was from their garden (very good) and Blum’s farm stand (superb). A lovely salad of chopped tomatoes and feta cheese was on the table. Meal ended with a dessert of zucchini bread (went nicely with the last of the red wine). BSK noted that BSK and her sister have been married for a collective 101 years. Obviously, the Kent ladies are the ideal wives.

Summer Sweetness

September 1st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Corn. Butter. Sea salt. These three ingredients comprise a heavenly taste of Prince Edward Island. HG’s perfect dinner is a dozen Malpeque oysters on the half shell followed by three ears of local corn. BSK’s favorite source for sweet corn is Blum’s in Montague. Yesterday, BSK discovered a Montague merchant a shade better than Blum’s. Corn sold from the back of a station wagon. The name? Possibly “Deb and Gary”. The lovely Town of Montague (celebrating its 100th anniversary this year) may be the sweet corn capital of the world. PEI neighbor, beautiful Leslie F., was HG/BSK’s dinner guest last night. Lots of sweet corn, of course, followed by a Greek fish stew of hake, potatoes, onions, garlic, fennel and fish broth, Flavored with saffron and accompanied by a bowl of mayonnaise mixed with Sriracha. Very festive dish. BSK surprised with a dessert of blueberry clafouti and vanilla ice cream. (Lucky HG had left over clafouti for breakfast today.)

The “Chippy” Mystery

September 1st, 2017 § 6 comments § permalink

Benjamin “Chippy” Weiner, a member of Lepke Buchalter’s Murder, Inc. kill squad, was shot to death in his Lower East Side apartment on Jan, 13, 1948. Weiner was home with his baby son, Louis. Knock on the door. Weiner, in silk pajamas, opened the door. Riddled with five bullets. As he lay on the floor, gushing blood, he said: “Take care of the baby, take care of the kid.” There are many mysterious aspects about the killing. Police said that Chippy owed loan shark Willie “Farby” Rosenberg $500 and wouldn’t pay, so Rosenberg hired mafia hitman Santo Bretagna. He killed Chippy. Both Rosenberg and Bretagne were convicted of the crime and died on the Sing Sing electric chair. HG still finds this strange nearly 70 years later. As my late, beloved father, Hershele Zvi Freeman, put it when he first heard of Chippy’s killing: “Nahrishkeit (foolishness). Killing Chippy doesn’t get the $500 back. Doesn’t put any kasha on the table. And, the cops are looking for the murderers. Lots of luck in getting away, schmucks.” Another mystery. Chippy’s wife, Sylvia, left the apartment before the murder. Said she was going for a walk and would buy cigarettes. Very cold night for a walk. She didn’t return for two hours, long after the murder. There was $765 in a mesh purse in her bedroom. Said she had no idea where the money came from. Asked about Chippy’s employment, she said he worked for a knitwear company. Not true in 1948; however, Chippy worked briefly, in 1946, as a shipping clerk for Brownie Knitting Mills, the company founded by HG’s uncle, Philip, and his wife, Marie. After they retired, the company was led by their son, Sol Freeman. HG’s father was in charge of sweater repairs, stock and shipping. Manufacturing was done in Pennsylvania. While an employee at Brownie, Chippy admired HG’s father. Hershele did not reciprocate. HG was friendly with Chippy when HG worked at Brownie during the hot summer. Hershele warned: “Chippeh (that’s how he pronounced it in his Yiddish-English accent) bist ah trumbenick (is a scoundrel). Don’t get friendly. You could be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” HG did not heed the advice. Would join Chippy for after work beers and listen with delight to Chippy’s stories about his variegated love life. Chippy and mobster Philip “Little Farvel” Kovelick were rivals for the romantic affections of a woman known as “The Red Rose of Williamsburg”. She was later indicted for the murder of Ruby ‘The Mock” Shapiro but dismissed for “lack of evidence.” The Judge described her as a “vile murderess.” Chippy married her daughter. “Little’ Farvel”, many years later, turned up dead in a steel drum in Florida. There was another Brooklyn gangster known as “Little Farvel”, Philip Cohen, a heroin smuggler. (Farvel is a Jewish egg pasta shaped like a tiny shell). HG has wondered what happened to Louis, Chippy’s baby son. There’s a photo taken a few days later showing the happy little fellow in the arms of a middle-aged woman identified as Lottie Burchess. Is she “The Red Rose? Did she adopt the kid? No answers. The mystery isn’t solved.