O Dinis

May 30th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Rhode Island is one of the great culinary destinations. Eccentric and tasty. HG has written about New York Specials (hot dogs drenched in an odd chili-tomato sauce); Dell’s icy lemonade, stuffies, calamari with hot peppers, clam bakes, grilled pizza, etc. A new discovery for HG yesterday was O Dindis. This is a plain spoken, authentic, family oriented Portuguese restaurant. Famished HG/BSK arrived in Providence ready for a hearty dinner. And, that was what O Dinis provided. First, a bottle of chilled Vinho Verde. Then, appetizers of little neck clams in a white wine and garlic sauce plus shrimps in a tomato based garlic sauce (with just a touch of heat). Thankfully, there was a platter of Portuguese bread to soak up the lush sauces. BSK and Arianna R. shared a giant serving of the house specialty: Clams and pork Alentajana. This is a stew of pork tenderloin and potatoes topped with steamed little necks in a pungent sauce.(Rhody clams are the best). HG ate a king-sized slab of nicely grilled red snapper with boiled potatoes. These potatoes were not mundane. Perfectly cooked and when slathered with the two sauces, onion and garlic, were heavenly. Drank a very good Portuguese cabernet (Portuguese reds have been underrated). Dessert was splendid flan. HG wants to go back to O Dinis with a crowd so the greedy boy can taste many things on the menu: Cod in a dozen varieties; bife a case (steak topped with a fried egg accompanied by rice, onion/garlic sauce, fried sliced potatoes); seafood stew (a Portuguese version of Mariscada); etc. And, the prices are very modest.

Reba & Pancho’s

May 29th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Last stop before Providence (and reunion with brilliant and beautiful granddaughter Arianna R.) was Lewisburg, Pa. A bit of irony. Lewisburg is the home of Bucknell University, the alma mater of (sadly) the late Philip Roth. Since, realistically, HG’s years are dwindling down to a precious few, as the song puts it, HG recalls Roth’s brilliant short novel, “Everyman”, based on the eventual fate of all humans. But, all gloomy thoughts were banished as HG dined at Lewisburg’s Reba & Pancho’s restaurant. It would not be surprising to find a restaurant like R & P’s in Paris, New York or any other big time culinary center. However, Lewisburg? Simply put, this is a great restaurant in every detail. Interior design. Service. Food. Wine. Ambience. HG/BSK started their meal by nibbling on a freebie of toast crisps, roasted almonds and extra virgin olive oil. Glasses of chilled Italian Soave. Appetizer of perfect slim pomme frites enlivened with a melange of fried herbs and a tangy aioli. Main dishes were mind blowing. BSK had a juicy pork chop on a bed of herbaceous and creamy polenta. HG had a giant crab cake (sorry, Baltimore, this was the best crab cake HG ever consumed). This crisp wonder was loaded with lush chunks of crab bound together by a minimal filling The sauce of a puree of poblano and other peppers complemented the sweet crab meat perfectly but did not overwhelm it. HG/BSK drank a favorite Italian wine, Montepulciano d’Abruzesse The Paris bistro overtones continued with two nicely executed desserts, classic creme brûlée and chocolate mousse. Yes, no need to fly to Paris for a perfectly executed meal. Just get on the road to Lewisburg.

On The Road Again

May 28th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK (the best long distance driver) is at the wheel and Toby, The Wonder Dog (the best canine traveler) is snuggling on HG’s lap. Off to the democracy to the north, Canada, and the HG/BSK oceanfront home on Prince Edward Island. First stop is Amarillo, Texas, home of Tyler’s Barbecue. Yes, Tyler’s is what Texas ‘cue is all about. HG/BSK devoured big platters of pulled pork, brisket, beans and cole slaw. Tangy Tyler’s sauce. Condiments were pickles, chopped onions and jalapeños. Big glasses of icy pink lemonade. Carnivore heaven. Drove through a hundred miles of Texas and Oklahoma wind farms. Mused about the mid-American psyche as billboards lauded the virtues of Jesus Christ and the enticements of “Gentlemen’s Clubs” and sex toy emporiums. HG swam in the La Quinta pool (Oklahoma City) and BSK did floor exercises and stretches. Too full of bar-b-q to contemplate dinner. Yes, barbecue and highway chain motels are two of the things America does best.

Irish Son

May 27th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG thinks of Bruce M. as his Irish son. Bruce is a tall, handsome, dark haired Irish-American from a multitudinous Long Island working class family. HG was Bruce’s mentor in the public relations business (art? craft? profession? scam?). In any case, Bruce was a gifted pupil. He not only had a good grasp  about how to gain media attention, he understood business strategy  (especially in the toy industry) and  had a gift for finance. Plus, he was interested in computers and the digital revolution. While HG was pounding away at his ancient, non-electric Royal manual typewriter, Bruce was instrumental in converting Gerald Freeman, Inc.. (later Freeman Public relations) to the new fangled electrionic wonders. Bruce has achieved much success in the PR  industry (outstripping his mentor). He is honored in the Public Relations Hall of Fame at Utica College. This was Bruce’s alma mater and one of the very few colleges offering a public relations curriculum. But, it is Bruce’s human qualities that has made HG think of Bruce as a son (he gives HG too much credit for his human and business success). Bruce has had to overcome obstacles that could have destroyed him. He battled. He won. With style and courage. He has become a political progressive and a caring father of three remarkable sons. He recently visited HG/BSK in New Mexico with his beautiful, stylish long time partner, Theresa T. When she was a home style executive with Ralph Lauren, Theresa and Bruce came to HG/BSK’s Colorado mountain ranch. Theresa gifted HG/BSK with a lush Lauren camel hair throw. The Bruce/Theresa coupling didn’t work out (timing?) but they got together again some years ago, They’re a joy to contemplate. As for the camel hair,it warms HG as he reads before his kiva fireplace on chilly nights., And, certainly, it conveys happy thoughts about HG’s Irish son and his lovely companion.

Phillip Roth R.I.P.

May 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

He was the best. No one wrote better about the America of HG’s lifetime. Inventive, penetrating, fearless and funny. Made HG reflect on being a Jew, an American, a man. He relentlessly explored facets of male sexuality, portraying it, in turns, as funny, tragic, angry and an expression of power. HG believes he was the last of the male authors who have dominated American fiction for the last 60 years (Bellow, Updike, Mailer, etc.). Women (like Rachel Kushner) are taking over. Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood are absolute fiction all-stars. (HG believes there are five great masters of the short story–Munro, Chekhov, Malamud, William Trevor and Raymond Carver). Women have a huge repository of experience that has been minimized, their intellect an object of condescension; they have often been barred from power and, of course, sexually abused. In mass culture they have been characterized as unrealistic physical wonders used to sell virtually everything. Now, it’s time for women’s fiction to have the readership and respect equal to that of the late, great Phillip Roth.

Smoked Salmon

May 22nd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, salmon cooked properly in the unilateral style (as noted by HG in a previous post) is delicious. But, salmon really scales the heights to heaven when it is smoked. There are few better things than “Novy” smoked salmon sliced professionally at three old time New York stalwarts: Russ & Daughters; Zabar’s and Murray’s. Thankfully, these sources ship their products nationally. Go online for their treats. HG likes his smoked salmon on a warmed bialy coated with scallion cream cheese. Also good on buttered Jewish rye or pumpernickel (Zabar’s is a good source). Irish and Scotch smoked salmon are very good but denser and smokier than Novy. BSK likes smoked salmon with lots of capers and squeezes of lemon. HG eschews these adornments. BSK fries onions and warms slices of smoked salmon and adds them to lush softly scrambled eggs. A dusting of dill. Accompanied by buttered English Muffins and cups of hot coffee, this is breakfast (or brunch) glory. Gravlax is another salmon delight. Good quality raw filet of salmon is rubbed with a brown sugar, salt and pepper mix. Doused with vodka or gin. Smothered in fresh dill. Placed in the refrigerator under some heavy weights for a day or two. Then sliced thin and served with a mustard/dill sauce. HG first tasted gravlax on the deck of a Fire Island home owned by a very crazy lady and her husband, a skilled cook and bartender. After a long day in the sun and sea, HG ate gravlax and washed it down with icy martinis. Definition of the good life.

Veggie Delights

May 19th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Leaving for glorious Prince Edward Island in a few days so BSK is trying to make use of all of what remains in the refrigerator. Last night, BSK did a fridge exploration and sourced vegetables: Baby bok choy. Red and yellow peppers. Broccoli. Zucchini. Half of a sweet onion and some fresh spring onions. A lot of fervent slicing and chopping followed as HG cooked a package of Chinese stir fry noodles. As vegetable oil sizzled in a wok, BSK began a disciplined stir fry. Onions, garlic and ginger cooked gently and then the process heated up as HG cooked each vegetable separately in order to maintain their integrity. The bok choy went in last as HG flavored the melange with mirin, soy sauce and chile garlic sauce (for a bit of heat). HG heated the noodles in a bit of oil and spread them on a heated platter. The veggies went on top and were sprinkled with some drops of sesame oil. A delicious (and healthy) meal.

Salmon Unilaterale

May 17th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

If there was an ASPCF (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Fish”), salmon would head the list of fish mangled and mishandled by careless (or unknowing) cooks. Invariably, salmon is overcooked, bland and tasteless. Salmon should only be cooked to medium rare so the interior is pink and flakes into silky nuggets. There are few better meals than properly cooked salmon and spring season asparagus. (Haricots vert or baby zucchini can be substituted). HG follows the French bistro method of cooking salmon: Unilaterale. The salmon filet is cooked (skin side down) in a small amount of vegetable oil on a hot cast iron pan. HG watches the fish carefully. Puts a fork in the fish and when it has achieved the right texture and color, HG turns it over for a very brief (30 seconds) browning. Then to a heated serving platter where the salmon gets a generous dousing of melted butter, lemon juice and dash of soy sauce. HG is very fond of the savory crisp salmon skin, which contains health supporting fish oils and other nutrients (Japanese often use it as a topping for sushi). BSK does not like salmon skin (too oily for BSK’s pristine palate). Thus, HG gets a bonus. BSK’s portion of the skin. Is this the secret to HG’s ongoing vitality?

Mom, Lebron and Michael Phelps

May 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The latest AARP Bulletin calls cupping a fad. Cupping has been used by such athletic stars as Michael Phelps and LeBron James to relieve muscle pain and cramping. In traditional Chinese medicine, hot glass cups are placed along sensitive trigger points on the body to create suction and blood flow. HG’s beloved late Mom would sneer at the notion that cupping is a “fad.” She would stand with LeBron and Phelps and call cupping a useful, sometimes essential, part of the medical arsenal. Mom called cupping haiseh bynkes (hot cups). When HG was a very little fellow growing up in the East Bronx, “haiseh bynkes” were part of the cure when the little fellow was suffering from bronchitis. The “Bynkes Man” was summoned. He was a small, old Jewish man with a derby, whiskey breath and grimy clothes. He carried a satchel of glass cups and a candle stand used to heat the cups. The very hot cups were applied to ailing HG’s body. Ouch!! Ouch!! After the “haiseh bynkes” ordeal, HG drank a guggel muggle. This hearty beverage consisted of hot milk, honey and a very generous shot of rye whiskey (the “bynkes” man received a glass of the whiskey along with his modest payment). The old fashioned cure worked. Little HG was soon alert, lively and healthy. We should all acknowledge after the recent celebration of Mother’s Day: MOTHER KNOWS BEST. (Postscript: An ineffectual tactic or strategy to avert failure is known by the Yiddish phrase helft vee taiten bynkes. Translation: It helps like dead (cold) cups.)

The Bronx? No Thonx!

May 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, that was how the gifted master of light verse, Ogden Nash, sneered at HG’s hometown, a splendid borough. Stupid comment about a borough filled with wonders. One of the great zoos in the world. The best botanical gardens. The Bronx Community College in University Heights (the 55-acre campus was purchased from NYU in 1973) which contains outstanding architecture by Stanford White and modernist Marcel Breuer. Plus the majestic Hall of Fame, busts of famous (and not so celebrated) Americans. There’s Riverdale and Fieldston, lofty apartment houses plus distinguished houses (once occupied by people like Arturo Toscannini and Henry Morganthau). It’s a neighborhood that has housed many artists like Elie Nadelman who found studio space in the spacious residences. The Bronx has Arthur Avenue, the site of the best Italian food in the five boroughs. The Grand Concourse (and Promenade) features some of the most outstanding art deco architecture in New York. And, there’s some odd landmarks like Poe Cottage where Edgar Allen Poe allegedly composed some of his works. The Mott Haven neighborhood is now sprouting breweries and good ethnic restaurants plus the lofts are beginning to house some intrepid folk. Borough President James J. Lyons was furious at Nash’s putdown and demanded an apology. Nash apologized in 1964: “I can’t seem to escape the sins of my smart alec youth. I shudder to confess them. Now an older and wiser man I cry ‘The Bronx, God bless them'”.

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