Denver Explodes

February 28th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK are in Denver for a whirlwind one day, two-night visit. Alas, no time to see dear friends like the Craggs and others. Gentle, quirky Denver, a city that had “cowtown” charm, is no more. Explosive growth. Scores and scores of glass office towers. Thousand of apartments, sprawling residential developments. Traffic is a nightmare. Bumper to bumper everywhere. No shortcuts. Maddening. Stayed in a very pleasant new hotel, Fairfield Inn, in the Lakewood suburb. Big, comfortable beds. Comfy pillows and warm comforters. Very quiet. Very clean.Nice indoor pool and whirlpool with strong jets. Modest prices. In addition to the usual Holy Bible, the bedside drawer contained The Book of Mormon. HG searched in vain for a Koran and a Hebrew book of prayer. Ecumenical failure.


February 26th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG pays attention to The blog pops up on HG’s computer and HG becomes attentive. Good advice on restaurants, travel and a host of other things. Better than Yelp or Trip Advisor. HG doesn’t fancy highway fast food restaurants. But, Thrillist has done a series about what to order at these places. Yes, they have found there are tasty and healthy options. With that in mind, HG/BSK made a strategic stop in Walsenberg (on Highway 25) on HG/BSK’s trip to Denver. Followed the advice of Thrillist. Went to Taco Bell and ordered shredded chicken on soft tacos. Surprisingly good. Very inexpensive. Healthy. Low in calories. Spicy salsa added to the flavors. HG/BSK are Thrillist (and Taco Bell) converts. Hell may now freeze over.

Custard Love

February 24th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG is very fond of custard. HG ranks desserts thusly: Custard in its various forms is number one, Ice cream is number two and sorbet is a distant number three. Not really fond of other desserts. (yes, HG will make do with end-of-the-meal red wine companions like halvah or cream cheese and bar-le-duc jelly). Excellent Mexican custard (flan) is made daily by local Latino women and sold at the Pojoaque Super Market near HG/BSK’s Santa Fe County home. Best restaurant flan is at Gabriel’s, the joyous Mexican restaurant ten miles north of Santa Fe on Highway 285. In Italy, HG revels in Panna Cotta, a delightful custard (almost a match for virtuoso gelato). Paris, of course, is custard heaven. Creme caramel, creme brulee and, best of all, Ile Flottante. This dessert consists of puffs of meringue floating on a sea of custardy creme anglais. At Le Stella Brasserie, an HG favorite, they top the dessert with flakes of toasted almonds. The perfect climax to a meal of oysters, beef tartare and pomme frites.

Think Small

February 23rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Bigger is not better. Take zucchini, for example. Large zucchini have a considerable water content. BSK recognizes this. Chops them up with some over-the-hill-greens; onions and herbs. Smooths the stewing melange with an immersion blender. With a dollop of Greek yogurt and a dusting of cayenne, HG is a fan of this healthy, restorative soup. Last night, BSK made a splendid pasta dish using very small baby zucchini from Trader Joe’s. Cut into 1/4 inch coins, the little guys went into the sauce pan with olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, and herbs. A handful of crisp, diced bacon was added. At the end of cooking, BSK swirled spoonfuls of pasta water into the mix to make a sauce. It was served over penne rigate topped with thin shavings of ricotta salata and a dusting of parmesan. The wine was Montepulciano d’ Abruzzese. Happy eating (the tiny zucchini starred).

Tuscan Time

February 21st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK have always enjoyed the food in Tuscany. Florence and Siena are the two great cities in that Italian province. Had many lusty meals there. Big (very rare) steaks; tender veal; paillards of beef or chicken doused in fragrant olive oil and showered with leaves of arugula; linguine with shavings of white truffles (an aroma of the gods). On another cold New Mexico night, (Spring, Spring, where art thou?) BSK created a Tuscan meal. Pan-broiled a New York strip steak in the signature BSK style. HG’s steak portion had a very red interior but still warm and not raw. Rare perfection (BSK cooked the BSK portion a bit longer). The accompaniment (as in Tuscany) was cannellini beans flavored with olive oil and thin garlic slices. And, following the Tuscan habit, HG splashed the HG steak with olive oil. Beans are a favorite starch in Tuscany just as polenta is favored over pasta in the Veneto. Sliced Kumatos and sweet onion was the salad and the red wine of the meal was Chianti Riserva. No Tuscan bread (unsalted and flavorless). Good ciabatta from Whole Foods, instead. Much joy

Viva Mexico!!!

February 20th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Read Anthony Bourdain’s tribute to Mexico (on Facebook) and forwarded it to friends. Glanced at a bowl of Mexican avocados and cans of imported Mexican chipotles on HG/BSK’s kitchen counter. Contemplated the fact that everyone who provides services (construction, repairs, plumbing, electrical) for HG/BSK’s four building New Mexico complex is of Mexican origin. And, of course, HG’s three favorite neighborhood restaurants–El Parasol, Gabriel’s and Sopaipilla Factory–are Mexican/New Mexican. What all of these artisans, waitpersons, chefs have in common: Capacity for hard work, skill, honesty and cheerful good manners. It seems surreal that Trump is so eager to appease his racist, anti-immigrant “base” that he will fight for a multi-billion dollar wall and insult Mexico and its people. With appreciation and anger mingling, HG shopped at Whole Foods in Santa Fe. There was a large display of asparagus, HG’s favorite vegetable. The asparagus were from Mexico where it’s early Spring. For dinner, BSK steamed asparagus to perfection and gave them a hit of melted butter when serving (also boiled a few small potatoes). HG, a fish fry master, coated some Petrale sole filets with a mix of cornmeal and ground pepper. Quick fry (they keep cooking when moved to a warm platter). There’s still snow on the ground (and more expected) in New Mexico. However, this meal ushered in the tastes of a warmer season.


February 18th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG loves cashew nuts. When HG was very young, HG and HG’s beloved, late sister, Beulah Naomi, would often (on a Sunday morning) stroll the Bronx’s Grand Concourse, a noble and fashionable avenue. They always stopped at Krum’s (soda fountain, candy and nut shop) for a bag of cashews (15 cents) and munched as they walked. BSK’s favorite nut is the commonplace peanut (in the form of both the nut and peanut butter). BSK often eats a handful of peanuts with fruit for lunch or smears peanut butter on splices of apple. In BSK’s youth a favorite sandwich was white bread with peanut butter, mayonnaise and lettuce. (sounds like something Elvis would relish). A few days ago, BSK bought a big bag of very good cashews at Trader Joe’s. The intent was to use the cashews for Indian dishes from the Vij’s cookbooks. However, the nuts came in handy last night when BSK cut up chicken thighs and cooked a Chinese stir fry: Sesame chicken with cashews and dates. Super tasty. Give it a try. It’s a New York Times (Melissa Clark) recipe.

Chicken Feet

February 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

There was an omission in HG’s recent post about HG’s late Mom’s virtuoso cooking of every bit of a chicken. HG forgot to mention chicken feet (Mom called them “fissel”, Yiddish word for feet). These were an essential ingredient of “tzimmes”, a sweet, tangy stew of shaved carrot strips, honey, brown sugar, ginger and chicken fat. Mom added the chicken feet to give it a gelatinous quality. Dish was often served at Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish new year, to ensure a sweet year ahead. Curiously, “tzimmes” is a Yiddish idiom for “fuss”. HG abhors chicken feet. Always refused to eat them. They are served with most Chinese dim sum. But, not to HG. Chicken feet are a staple in most Asian cuisines and spicy chicken feet are popular street food. (They are an Asian version of Buffalo chicken wings — served at movie theaters in Taiwan). Thai cooks use a lot of chicken feet. Salads. With noodles. Fried, Grilled, Barbecued. Very popular with Filipinos. They like them stewed with oyster sauce, black beans, soy sauce, garlic, ginger. Sounds good, but HG will pass.


February 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Valentine’s Day celebration at Ten Thousand Waves, the beautiful Japanese resort which contains lodging, a spa, and the Izanami restaurant. The resort is nestled high in the mountains overlooking Santa Fe. Glorious views. Simple, perfect architecture. Ponds and streams with giant, colorful Koi. One word description: Idyllic. Under brilliant sun and blue skies, HG/BSK relaxed for an hour in an outdoor, private hot (very hot) tub. At intervals, HG would pop out of the tub and into a private sauna. Lukewarm shower and back into the tub. There was an ice plunge. Too icy for HG/BSK. A young HG would leap into the ice plunge at the Second Avenue Baths after boiling in the steam and “eucalyptus” rooms. Now, HG is too mature for such temperature extremes. Following the poach in the Ten Thousand Waves tub, a super clean, super relaxed HG/BSK lunched at the Izanami restaurant. Three splendid dishes: Sashimi of the day consisting of lush slices of fresh tuna, wedges of ripe avocado and a mound of shredded daikon in a spicy sauce; light as a feather fried tofu; sake braised mushrooms in a tamari butter sauce. The corn fritters HG/BSK ordered weren’t fritters but mostly individual tempura fried kernels. When Exquisite Maiko, HG/BSK’s daughter-in-law and a very talented chef, made this dish during summer visits to the family sea paradise on Prince Edward Island, she would slice two or three inches of kernels off the cob before giving them the tempura treatment. Bliss. HG also had Izanami’s salad of crispy Brussel sprouts with candied pecans, pork belly, yuzu juice, and parmesan. Good but unbalanced. Needed more pork belly, pecans, parmesan, and fewer Brussel sprouts. Dessert was a dazzler. Three generous balls of sorbet: grapefruit, coconut, and surprisingly rich and creamy chocolate. Plus two complimentary chocolate truffles. Excellent green tea was served throughout the meal. HG/BSK will come back soon to try the smoked pork ribs, ramen, and shabu-shabu hot pot.


February 14th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

That’s the Yiddish word for noodles and that’s what HG’a late Mom called them during HG’s Bronx youth. She made lots of them from her own mix of flour and eggs. Sheets of noodle dough were omnipresent in her kitchen, drying on a laundry rack. They were cut into lengths to be added to chicken soup. Cut into rectangles, stuffed with cottage cheese or kasha (buckwheat groats) for blintzes. Cut into squares for “kreplach”. a Jewish version of wontons. Mom’s kreplach were stuffed with ground beef, chopped garlic and onion, a beaten egg and chicken fat. They were boiled and added to chicken soup. HG liked them fried in chicken fat and eaten with a dollop of sour cream plus salt and pepper. (Today’s home cooks use store bought won ton wrappers for kreplach. Oy vey!!) A lusty dinner for little HG was a big bowl of steaming chicken soup filled with noodles, kasha, boiled kreplach and bits of boiled onions and carrots. A sure cure for winter blues or other ailments. An HG luncheon favorite was buttered noodles with pot cheese or farmer cheese. Best of all was Mom’s “lukshen kugel.” This was a savory pudding. of noodles, eggs, and chopped onion. Baked in the oven until the top was brown and crunchy. Jews from Galicia and Eastern Poland (“galitzyaners”) like things sweet. They mix their lukshen kugels with honey (or brown sugar), raisins and cinnamon. Feh!!

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