December 31st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Potato latkes (pronounced “latkehs’ by HG and “latkeeze” by non-Yiddishists) have been a staple at Christmas family dining in Rhode Island. Traditionally, these have been made by son Jeremy. They are a treat when topped with tobiko, red salmon caviar (or smoked fish) and sour cream. HG’s usual accompaniment is chilled vodka. Alas, SJ is in Tokyo (where he made plentiful latkes to celebrate Hanukah). So, daughter Lesley R. fried the latkes this year and they were crisp and greaseless, perfect with the remaining Russ & Daughters splendor. HG did not drink vodka but had many glasses of a Provencal Rosé and a splendid Tavel. The latkes were followed by another Lesley culinary delight: red lentil soup enhanced by much fiery pimenton and cooled with a dollop of yogurt. Very comforting on a cold winter night. Then watched an inventive, bittersweet Mexican movie, “Roma.” Nice evening meal and entertainment.

The Ultimate Christmas Dinner

December 30th, 2018 § 3 comments § permalink

HG is not fond of the roast turkey and the vast array of fixings and vegetables that appear on holiday tables from sea to sea in the one time Land of The Brave and Free. Thankfully, there is no cliche food at the Riva home in Rhode Island. For Christmas dinner (served by candle light in the festive dining room) gifted daughter Lesley paid homage to the Italian culinary heritage of the Riva family. (Husband Massimo heads the Italian studies department at Brown University. Granddaughters Arianna and Sofia received much of their primary education in Italy. They and Lesley are fluent in Italian). Veal shanks (osso buco) are, when properly prepared, a hearty and succulent dish (alas, expensive). Lesley treated the ossibuchi with her own blend of attention, diligence and creativity. She browned each, lightly dusted with flour, and cooked the shanks in a number of steps involving a soffritto of varied vegetables (onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, etc.) , broth and white wine. The result, in a word, was stupendous. The juicy, falling of the bone meat, was moistened with a savory sauce and dusted with gremolata (chopped garlic, lemon peel and parsley). Massimo made an outstanding saffron risotto (a traditional accompaniment). There were side dishes of braised fennel and gently sauteed spinach. Freshly ground parmesan for the risotto. All elements were perfectly balanced and HG ate a very large dish with lip smacking gusto. Certainly, this was one of the best dishes HG ever ate in HG’s 89- year career as a champion (in Calvin Trillin’s phrase) Clean Plate Ranger. Generous Massimo provided the perfect wines, exemplary aged Barolo and Barbaresco. Dessert was home made flan provided by an aide. Also, some Enstrom’s peanut brittle and butter crunch. As usual, HG topped it off with a generous tumbler of Irish whiskey. Unforgettable dining.

Seven Jewish (and One Japanese) Fishes

December 28th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Italians celebrate Christmas Eve with a seafood dinner, the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes. HG/BSK, daughter Lesley R., son-in-law Massimo and granddaughters Arianna and Sofia, do a Jewish/Japanese version courtesy of New York’s Russ & Daughters. The R & D carton arrived in timely fashion at the R. home in Rhode Island. These were the fishes: Sable, Whitefish salad; varieties of smoked salmon; herring; Alaskan red salmon caviar. Missing was Tobiko, the Japanese fish roe. This was remedied by a quick trip to Miko, the Japanese restaurant in nearby Barrington, R.I. The feast was lavish. The hungry folk gathered around Lesley’s skillets as she made perfect blini and crepes. Topped with the salmon caviar (or a mix with Tobiko) and topped with creme fraiche or sour cream they were the perfect first course. (HG made inroads on a large glass of icy vodka followed by a Sam Adams Lager chaser). French rye bread and good local bagels were on the table plus big containers of R & G’s scallion cream cheese and horseradish cream cheese. BSK made a lovely dill/mustard sauce for the gravlax. The smoked salmon and sable slices were consumed with the cream cheeses. There were capers, lemon, onion slices on the table. Arianna and Sofia demolished the whitefish salad. HG paid special attention to HG’s Russian combination of vodka and herring. Semi-sober and joyous was HG during the traditional festivities. In Tokyo, son Jeremy and family did the Japanese version of the feast and consumed Snow Crab (from Hokaido), salmon roe, tobiko, lumpfish caviar, a particularly delicious plate of tuna sashimi, clam possilipo and locally smoked salmon. Ah, the delights of the holiday.

Delicious Rhode Island

December 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Christmas at the Rhode Island home of daughter Lesley R., son in law Massimo R.; beautiful (and brilliant) granddaughters Arianna and Sofia R., is glorious. HG/BSK are very fortunate in having a close, loving, amusing family. Some sadness since son Jeremy, wife Maiko, children Haru and Teru, are in far away Tokyo. This is the second family Christmas without the presence of children and toys. Despite that, there will be a mountain of gifts to open. The food (and wine) loving family has, as usual, dined well. Lesley R. went to a local farmers market and bought pounds of varied mushroom. They formed the basis of Lesley’s fabulous pappardelle with mushroom sauce (made HG semi-delirious with pleasure as HG accompanied it with a good Spanish red). At HG’s fervent request, the family (accompanied by young neighbor, Raphie) dined one night at Chonquing, the very good Szechuan restaurant in Providence. Favorite dish was a big platter of fish filets on a base of vegetables. Asian theme continued with a savory gyoza and crab salad lunch at Miko, a pleasant Japanese eatery in the town of Barrrington. The sweet highlight of the holiday was a key lime pie baked by Raphie. The thoughtful young man made a big bowl of whipped cream as a topping. Heaven.

Icy Rain Bliss

December 24th, 2018 § 1 comment § permalink

Icy rain smothered Rhode Island yesterday. Brrr!! But, chills disappeared in the evening when Lesley R,, HG/BSK’s gifted daughter, hit the culinary bullseye with one of the best cold weather dinners HG ever enjoyed. Meal started with steaming bowls of chickpea soup. Inspired by the late Marcella Hazan’s recipe, Lesley R. gave it originality by adding herbs, spices, tomato paste, etc. HG topped the HG bowl with a splash of fruity olive oil and a dusting of parmesan. Main dish was a phyllo leaf pie stuffed with chard, cheese, garlic, onions, herbs and spices. Resembled a Greek spinach pie. However, the Lesley R. chard/cheese pie was much better. Robust, savory, lush. Dinner ended with ripe Comice pears, an array of cheeses, fig jam. No pause in drinking copious glasses of red wine. HG went on to HG’s usual after dinner pleasure: Rye whiskey. Overindulgence in alcohol (HG preceded dinner with a vodka and Aperol cocktail) ?? Possibly.

Food Thoughts

December 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

“Tasting menus” have become omnipresent in Paris (featured in most of the new eateries opened by “creative” young chefs). Following Per Se’s lead, they’re catching on in New York. HG doesn’t approve. Too much food. Too many chances for tastebuds to become overwhelmed. Too expensive. HG/BSK avoid “great” restaurants with stratospheric prices. No dinner for two is worth hundreds upon hundreds of dollars (even if the food and wine are superlative). And, those Japanese sushi “omakase” places that charge insane prices for raw fish are part of the vulgar catering to oligarchs and other billionaires. HG/BSK prefer to eat at home where HG/BSK can drink plentiful wine without having to endure lofty restaurant mark ups. It helps that BSK is a master of simple food (albeit with some BSK inventive tweaks): Roast spatchcocked chicken; sauteed Petrale sole; mussels meuniere; cod, mussel and bacon seafood stew; omelets and Jerusalem shakshuka; poached eggs over cheesy grits; Texas (no beans) chile; pork chops; lamb chops; Middle East kefta (oven roasted cigar shaped ground lamb patties flavored with onions, pignolias, variety of spices). Also: pastas galore; Italian soups; many salads with pungent dressings relying on the best Italian extra virgin olive oil; multitude of in season fresh vegetables. For special occasions: rack of New Zealand lamb; pan broiled New York strip steak. Be assured. This is not nepotism. HG/BSK’s favorite NewYork restaurants are the four owned and run by HG’s daughter, Victoria F. and husband/chef Marc Meyer: Vic’s (Italian); Rosie’s (Mexican); Shuka (Middle Eastern); Cookshop (American/Mediterranean). Warm welcome to all diners. Deft service. Knowing wine assistance. Very tasty (with original touches) farm to table food (Marc has pioneered this concept) Go and enjoy. Say HG/BSK sent you.

Vermont Treat

December 23rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Harrington’s of Vermont is a venerable business (founded 1873). Their specialty is ham smoked over corn cobs. Wicked good, as they say in New England. The ham is a favorite of brilliant granddaughter Arianna R. (She has the mind of a Nobel physicist and face and form of an Italian movie star). HG/BSK,Lesley and Massimo R. managed to wrench the ham from Ms. A’s clutch and have a dinner of sliced ham and Lesley R.’s superior home made cole slaw and potato salad. Big variety of mustards and pickles on the table. HG made a special plea and gracious BSK constructed one of BSK’s incomparable cheese omelets (unctuous and creamy interior, lightly browned exterior). Flanked by many ham slices, it was devoured joyfully by HG as envious R. family looked on. The feasts keep marching on.

Riva Feasting

December 21st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Gifted Daughter Lesley R. is extraordinary. She has a very demanding job as communications and marketing director of a major Rhode Island hospital/health services group. Despite professional challenges and stresses, Lesley R. always manages to get home to Riverside and prepare spectacular meals for family and visiting parents, HG/BSK. Upon arrival in Rhody, HG/BSK were greeted by a dinner of Cuban pulled pork served with a savory sauce plus black beans, rice, chopped onions, pineapple salsa and fiery hot sauce sold and created by one of son Jeremy’s Brooklyn pals. The meal ended with a lush gorgonzola (from The Italian Corner, the estimable East Providence grocery/restaurant) and a sweet Armenian pumpkin condiment gifted by Diane, Lesley’s neighbor and good friend. The next night there was Clams Posillipo (four dozen fresh local cherrystones). Cheese and Comice pear climax. Happily, ten more days of gustatory pleasure (at the Riva home and in restaurants) await.

Forget “Breaking Bad.” Think BBQ.

December 19th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Albuquerque has been the focus of dubious fame because of the “Breaking Bad” TV series (and the “Better Call Saul” follow up). What has been overlooked is the city’s array of splendid Mexican and Vietnamese restaurants plus a glittering jewel of Texas barbecue. HG refers to Rudy’s Country Store and Barbecue. It’s as good or better than HG/BSK’s temple of smoked meat, Tyler’s in Amarillo, Texas. Rudy’s is big, friendly and fun. Texas traditional. Instead of plates, diners eat off squares of waxed paper. A variety of ‘cue”: Brisket, pork, ribs, sausage, chicken, prime rib (a special). Everything is sold by weight plus there are sandwiches and barbecue Tacos. Big baked potatoes can be filled with barbecue ingredients. Splendid side dishes of potato salad and cole slaw plus all-you-can-eat pickles, jalapenos and sliced onions. Sauces had heat with a smidgen of sweet. Wide selection of ice cold beers (including an HG favorite, Shiner’s Bock). HG/BSK stopped here for overeating before sleep at Holiday Inn and early AM plane to Providence. HG thought Rudy’s brisket was the ultimate. Meat had a nice rim of fat which made the slices juicy and tasty. Reminded HG of Katz’s Deli in New York where the pastrami slicers query” “Fat or lean?”. Knowing fressers like HG know fat is flavor.

Congee Discovery

December 18th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Happy HG has made a pleasant congee discovery. MAMA, the reliable Thailand company, manufactures instant congee called “JokCup.” Prepared in minutes, the congee is delicious and the “JokCup” provides one generous portion. Because of its no fuss, no muss nature, it has become one of HG’s favorite luncheon staples. As HG has noted in previous posts, some years ago HG/BSK occupied a loft in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of rainy Vancouver, B.C. Fortunately, the Congee Noodle House eatery was a minute’s walk from the loft. It was there HG enjoyed the best rainy day breakfast. Congee (mushrooms, shrimp or scallops in the bowl). Gingko nuts and sriracha on top. This was accompanied by a crisp cruller, rice crepes wrapped around barbecued pork and shrimp, many cups of hot tea. Might be rainy outside but is was pure sunshine in Congee Noodle House.

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