New Mexico Bliss

October 31st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK are experiencing a wonderful autumn in New Mexico. Brilliant sun. Cloudless skies. Cool nights. Lots of color in the trees. (Alas. A big cottonwood is beginning to tilt dangerously and will have to be cut down). Yesterday, HG walked over to the fence of neighbor Mister G’s organic vegetable farm and received a gracious gift. A magnificent, fresh-from-the-earth head of escarole. BSK used the vegetable to make a big pot of escarole, beans and bacon soup. The basis was the Frankie’s Spuntino recipe. Topped with lots of grated Romano and sprinkles of hot pepper, this was a lusty dish. Fortunately, there’s enough left over for another meal. HG will add some penne or ziti to create New York’s beloved, late Mayor Laguardia’s favorite dish: “Pastafazoole.”

Mystery Day

October 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

It was a day of mystery. It started with ingenious scammers entrapping HG via the telephone. Yes, HG, old, wise, cynical, suspicious, was trapped. The scammer pushed all the right buttons for HG: namely over-concern for the welfare of the younger members of the HG/BSK family. Fortunately, BSK took over and broke up the scam. No money lost. But, it was a close call. Once more, BSK trusted her instincts. And, once more, those instincts were reliable. Anyway, it was a most trying day and HG was ready for big time comfort at dinner time. BSK provided it in the form of a mystery soup. Why the mystery? Well, the soup started out as a good but conventional butternut squash puree liquified with free range chicken broth. But, BSK made many additions but didn’t inform HG. Other vegetables. Onions and apples, perhaps. There were light undertones of cayenne and nutmeg. The soup was topped with sour cream and sprinkles of Aleppo pepper and accompanied by cheese and tomato quesadillas. HG preceded dinner with more than usual vodka. Drank a splendid red wine (sourced by BSK, of course). Finished with Jack Daniel’s and Lebanese halva. With all tensions vanished, HG ended the day in a haze of comfortable warmth.

The Super Generous And Delightful AC & CC

October 24th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

AC and CC arrived for a brief visit at HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. As usual, they brought a mind bending array of gifts. A lovely shawl for BSK. Two red wines (one a mind altering Chateauneuf de Pape). Two fine whites: Pouilly Fume and Pouilly Fuisse. Bombay Sapphire Gin. Italian biscuits. Dried fruit. Cheese (a lush and runny Brillat Savarin). Of course, the greatest gift is their presence. As HG has noted before, AC has the looks, bearing and accent of nobility (though American citizens, AC and CC retain their essential Englishness). AC is a noted financier with billions under his expert management. CC is in the great tradition of unique English women with outsized personalities and intellect. A journalist and author of numerous books and articles dealing with various aspects of Asian finance and industry. Formerly, a foreign correspondent based in Tokyo and Hong Kong, she is now an illuminating radio interviewer. Much to the joy of Toby, The Wonder Dog, the couple brought their enchanting dogs: Boodles, a Labrapoo (Toby’s love interest) and Genghis, a bouncy little Havanese. Lots of doggy fun. Dinner for the visit began with buffalo mozzarella and sliced kumatoes. Proceeded to a lush tagine of chicken, cauliflower, preserved lemons, onions and middle eastern spices. Served over Israeii couscous. A killer Daniel Boulod recipe. This was followed by Brillat Savarin and ripe comice pears (plus dried pears and Sicilian lemon marmalade). The lush red wines were drunk (not a drop remained). Dessert was vanilla and dulce con leche ice cream gilded with a bit of rose hip syrup. Plus Lebanese halva. AC and HG drank a lot of after dinner Jameson’s Irish Whiskey. A fabulous, animated, laugh filled evening. Plans were made to visit the couple in Colorado. HG/BSK’s hospitality gifts will try to live up to the high standards set.

La Mesita Eatery: Down Home Goodness

October 21st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Happy to be back in The Land of Enchantment where the trees are golden, russet and red. The skies are blue. Autumn breezes are refreshing. Cool nights call for a blaze in the living room fireplace. Pals Karen K. and David F. treated HG/BSK to a dinner at La Mesita Eatery, a family owned and staffed restaurant in Pojoaque, minutes from HG/BSK’s home. Karen and David touted the fried chicken. HG was dubious when HG found out the bird was deep fried rather than pan fried. A version of the Kentucky Colonel’s crap was anticipated. The chicken arrived. Big portion. Delicious, greaseless crunch cloaked an interior of juicy, flavorful free range chicken. A revelation. Wow!! Accompanied by down home mashed potatoes topped with fried onions. HG drank a great California IPA. A true, no frills comfort meal. Blessings upon you, Karen and David.

Jahunger

October 19th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Before leaving Rhode Island for The Land of Enchantment, daughter Lesley R., son-in-law Massimo, granddaughter Arianna, gave HG/BSK a special treat: Jahunger. This is a lovely, small Chinese restaurant in Providence. The cuisine is Uyghur, Northern Chinese Muslim cooking. It’s similar to the popular dishes served at Xi’an Famous Foods in New York (Chinatown and Flushing). Jahunger specializes in cumin scented lamb and noodles. Wonderful food. HG/BSK and Family R. feasted on lamb skewers, Lamb on Dry Land (lamb stir fried with chunks of naan-like bread); Ding Ding Noodles (small, solid bits of pasta in a fragrant sauce of onions, peppers, scallions and lamb); Langjiman Noodles (long, springy noodles with beef and a sprightly sauce – similar to the national Uzbeck dish); Cold Chicken (this was HG’s favorite, down home shredded chicken in a very spicy, hot but delicate sauce). The group drank a not too sweet coconut beverage. Memorable meal. Can’t wait for next visit.

Peter Hellman

October 18th, 2017 § 1 comment § permalink

Peter has been a loved and admired pal of HG/BSK for many, many decades. HG met Peter when Peter was a young journalist working for New York Magazine. Publicist HG was Peter’s guide in the greedy world of New York real estate and the result was many bylined articles as well as a number of front cover stories. The HG/PH collaboration deepened into a solid friendship. Over the years, Peter’s journalism has enlivened many publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Wine Spectator. His interests are omnivorous as reflected in his seven books.They include crime (“Chief”, the cases of New York’s Chief of Detectives, Albert Seedman; the Holocaust, “When Courage Was Stronger Than Fear”; Israel, “Heroes: Tales From The Israeli Wars”; real estate, “Shaping the Skyline”, the career of the late real estate visionary, Julien J. Studley; wine, “American Wine Handbook.”) HG believes Peter’s true passion (besides family and friends) is for wine. For some ten years he was a contributor to Wine Spectator and a wine columnist for a New York newspaper. His passions have coalesced in his newest book, “In Vino Duplicitas.” The book jacket describes it well: “True crime pairs well with fine wine in the astonishing story of Rudy Kurniawan, perhaps the most notorious–and unlikely– wine forger in history.” Peter has the unique ability to make complex maneuvering exciting and available to the reader. So, “In Vino” is an education in fine and rare wines as well as an absorbing insight into the eccentric world of wine collectors who pay thousands of dollars for a bottle of wine that they may never drink. Besides writing about wine, Peter likes to drink wine. He has a fine palate and is a sipper, not a guzzler. Many years ago, Peter stored a collection of fine wines in the cellar of the Montclair, N.J. home occupied by HG/BSK. The wines were there strictly for storage in a cool environment. During those rare times when HG did not have a good bottle for the evening meal, HG “borrowed” one of Peter’s bottles. These “borrowings” gradually increased into the realm of theft. The wines were glorious and HG did not exhibit restraint. After a year, Peter arrived to find his collection drastically diminished. He forgave HG. The friendship continued.

On the Road Again

October 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, it’a nice Willie Nelson song. But, long distance auto travel is not a delight. Toby, The Wonder Dog, is a pleasant traveler, only demanding many cuddles. BSK does all of the driving. Does not trust HG behind the wheel. Silly BSK. First leg of journey from PEI to New Mexico was to Augusta, Maine and the Senator Hotel. Mediocre seafood meal. Not a credit to Maine. Then, a few days with family Riva in Riverside, RI. Daughter Lesley R. welcomed HG/BSK with chicken shawarma and muhammara, an extraordinary Armenian condiment (pepper and walnut), that lifted the dish to the skies. Midday meal was at Hemenway’s, the very good, Providence seafood restaurant. Oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster, Rhode Island clam chowder and sub-par fried calamari with hot peppers (What happened?). Dessert was a creme brûlée that rivaled anything in Paris. Once HG/BSK hit the midwest, horrors began: Nasty pizza in western Pennsylvania. Ludicrous parody of Chinese food in Illinois. Japanese (are you kidding me?) takeout in Oklahoma. HG did not follow Saul Sternberg’s advice: “If you want to eat well in the midwest, eat breakfast three times a day,” Next time, HG/BSK will concentrate their dining on reliable Waffle House.

Goodbye Pee-Eee-Eye

October 13th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, it’s farewell to this gentle, green island with its beautiful ocean, meandering rivers and open lakes. HG/BSK (plus family and friends) have had summers of joy on Prince Edward Island. Basking in the sun. Swimming and kayaking in the sea. Collecting beach glass on long walks on the shore. Cycling on Cable Head Road. Oysters. Clams. Fish from By the Bay Fish Mart in St. Peters. Neighbors and friends (true originals). Skies filled with shore birds. Walks along the sea bluffs with Toby, The Wonder Dog. Sunsets. Dramatic moonscapes. Shopping at Farmers Markets in Charlottetown and Cardigan. Long, vinous dinners with BSK, the love of HG’s life. Next stop: HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. Hey, New Mexico is called “Land of Enchantment”. Accurate description. Lucky HG/BSK.

Italian Shakshuka

October 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK are very fond of Shakshuka, the Israeli / Middle Eastern egg dish. (BSK uses Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe from the “Jerusalem” cookbook). Cool and windy last night on Prince Edward Island so a hearty dish seemed appropriate for dinner. BSK, in one of her remarkable improvisations, combined elements of a Shakshuka with a recipe for Italian sausages with onions and peppers. BSK added chopped fennel and fennel seed to the fried onion, pepper, garlic mix. Added a splash of wine vinegar before mixing with the cooked and browned hot and sweet sausages. Fried eggs on top. Accompanied by a baguette to soak up the juices and yolks, it was a tasty dish. The sausages were locally made, good, but they needed the addition of fennel and fennel seed to approximate the “real thing.” In the future, HG will have to go online and order sausages from Esposito’s, the venerable Manhattan pork emporium.

Oatmeal

October 9th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Leaves are just beginning to turn into gold, russet and red on Prince Edward Island. Autumn is here. Clear skies. Whitecaps dotting the sea. Snappy winds. And, as temperature descends, there is nothing better than a steaming bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. By an odd coincidence, HG/BSK’s Israeli brother-in-law, Yossi M. (now resident on PEI with wife, Noel), lives close to another Israeli transplant, Amram, a guy who grew up in a kibbutz near Yossi’s. Amran is a dedicated organic farmer with a colorful past (he farmed in Turkey for a number of years). He and Yossi trade foodstuffs, farm equipment, etc. HG/BSK are the beneficiaries of the relationship. HG/BSK have big containers of Amram’s oats, the basis of the best oatmeal ever. Yes, better than McCann’s and all the other Scots, English and Irish imports. (Boxed supermarket oatmeal such as Quaker’s, are gluey and insipid). This chilly morning, HG/BSK breakfasted on oatmeal covered in PEI blueberries and gilded with Canadian maple syrup. Nice way to start the day.