March (Culinary) Madness Finale A La Meyer.

March 31st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer, the husband/wife duo who own and operate four great New York restaurants, Cookshop, Vic’s, Shuka and Rosie’s, have had a delightful (but, as always, too brief) visit with HG/BSK before taking off for Los Angeles. Vicki (HG’s daughter) told her Dad that a fifth restaurant is underway. Miracle to be a successful restaurateur in murderously competitive New York. Vicki supervises “front of the house” operations in the restaurants while Marc is the supervising chef. For the last meal of their New Mexican visit, Marc took over the HG/BSK kitchen and prepared an extraordinary, creative, delicious meal. It was a meal that totally satisfied while leaving HG/BSK light in feeling rather than stuffed. The materials were supplied by Whole Foods and were choice. Marc roasted a fresh Bronzino and flavored the fish with lemon, olive oil, garlic and a bit of Mexican oregano. This was accompanied by a stir fry of tiny potatoes and broccoli (both steamed briefly before hitting the saucepan). The sauce for the fish (and slathered on slices of baguette) was Marc’s riff on a Provencal Anchoiade. The Provencal sauce (or spread) is a version of tapenade, a mix of anchovies, garlic, butter, and olive oil. Marc eliminated the butter but added chopped dried fruit, slivers of black olives and toasted pignolia nuts. What emerged was layer upon layer of flavors: sweet, salty, spicy, etc. No dessert. Just a refreshing Greek salad. This was cooking and meal planning of the highest standard. Marc made poetry of simple fish and vegetables.

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March 30th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Lots of folks around HG/BSK’s dinner table. Glorious granddaughter Sofia and friend, Sarah, back from a trip to the Grand Canyon. Marc Meyer and Vicki Freeman (in New Mexico for a brief visit before flying to Los Angeles). Marc’s brother, Richard, and wife, Katherine (talented duo are longtime Santa Fe residents). A gala reunion for all. Meal started with bowls of steaming red lentil soup. This is a NY Times recipe (with some BSK’s tweaks). The best cool weather soup ever. Meal continued with two sheet pan dishes: Strips of chicken thigh which had been marinated in yogurt, harissa and lots of Indian and Middle Eastern spices; another sheet pan had numerous vegetables (cauliflower, potatoes, broccoli, endive, onion) that were basted with the same spicy marinade.(This was a special treat for vegetarian Vicki). A big green salad. Everyone dipped into HG’s big bowl of yogurt sauce (Greek yogurt, a bit of sour cream, cumin, za’atar, sumac, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, berbere pepper, sea salt) and added scoops to their plates. Warm naan on the table plus gentle and fiery condiments. Tavel and Pinot were drunk. BSK had cheeses available as a finale but all were too full. Happy meal. Toasts were drunk to La Famiglia.

More March (Culinary) Madness

March 27th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK’s neighbor and pal, film producer Karen K. (aka “The Dessert Queen), treated HG/BSK to dinner at Cafe Pasqual’s in Santa Fe. Karen had a gift certificate for herself but the generous woman picked up the rest of the hefty tab. Cafe Pasqual’s is celebrating its 40th year in business, a very long time for a restaurant. Pasqual’s is a beautiful room with wondrous murals and other art on the walls, all reflecting the culture and culinary bounty of New Mexico. Spanish Garnacha wine was poured and the feast began. While BSK and Karen nibbled on corn cakes, HG tore into an Oaxacan Tamal. Mole, black, beans, cheese, corn and green chile were stewed and served in a banana leaf. (HG shared some). Fabulous. Karen had double lamb chops with a pomegranate glaze. Served with mustard greens and a potato chive cake. Karen gave HG a slice of a chop. Extraordinary. BSK had Cochinito Pibil Yucatan Style: Pork stewed in achiote and orange and wrapped in a banana leaf. Calabacitas. Cilantro rice. Marinated onions. Tostones (fried plantain slices) with crema. BSK approved (heartily). HG had the Plato Supremo. This consisted of an omelet style chile relleno (inventive and tasty); chicken enchilada smothered in mole and a taco barbacoa. Dessert for HG was stunning espresso, chocolate and ice cream concoction. BSK had a lush strawberry (or was it raspberry?) sorbet. The meal ended with icy glasses of Gruet Blanc et Noir sparkling wine, a New Mexico treasure. Churlish HG enjoyed the meal but said the taco and enchilada were very ordinary. Not a gracious way to thank Karen K. for her treat. Later, HG e-mailed an apology. Karen replied that she expected HG, in all circumstances, to offer an honest appraisal of food and drink. Further evidence that Karen is a very classy lady.

March (Culinary) Madness

March 25th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Forget the NCAA tournament. March is the month of spectacular dining for HG/BSK. (March is lucky for HG, if not for Julius Caesar. March 1963 is when HG met wondrous BSK. Marriage followed three months later). A few weeks ago HG/BSK’s friends from Colorado, Anthony and Claudia C., arrived in Santa Fe. They invited HG/BSK to dine with them at Sazon, a Mexican restaurant renowned for its moles (intricate Mexican sauces). Anthony (a mutual fund manager) and Claudia (journalist, author, radio interviewer) are stimulating dinner companions and generous hosts. (Thankful for their generosity since Sazon is pricey with wines priced at $62, $82 and more). HG was served the best Margarita ever and this was followed by crisply fried stuffed squash blossoms in a creamy, herbaceous sauce. Next course was (sorry, Paris bistros) the ultimate roasted marrow bones. Huge. Cooked to perfection. Deft seasoning. This was the stuff HG’s dreams are made of. Drank expensive, flavorful Mexican white wine. Shared a multi-flavored, unusual frozen dessert with the table. Thanks, Anthony and Claudia, for introducing us to Sazon. We will be back.


March 23rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

In the 1960s and 70s, changes in New York City demographics led to the closing of most traditional Jewish bakeries; fewer Italian bakeries as well. The great Zito’s bakery in Greenwich Village closed in 2004. In the early days of HG/BSK’s marriage, the happy duo ate many slices of Zito’s loaves smothered with honey or marmalade. Accompanied by coffee, tea or hot chocolate, this was a perfect breakfast. Yes, if you searched you could find soul-satisfying baked goods (Sutter’s three shops–Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn–closed). Happily, you could travel to the Lower East Side and shop at Orwashers Bakery for superb rye and pumpernickel bread. Since HG was often in that locale, HG would stop for a pastrami sandwich (not lean) at Katz’s; obtain smoked fish at Russ & Daughters (both establishments still thrive) and cheese at Ben’s Dairy (adjacent to R & D and long closed). Orwashers is still in business and has expanded with a few shop/cafes. Pechter’s is now in New Jersey baking their good things (don’t know if you can buy online). Stuhmer’s, alas, is a memory. Zabar’s still makes good Jewish rye and Kossar’s ships bialys, bagels and “pletzels” (onion rolls). Orwasher’s remains pumpernickel heaven. All is not lost for carb lovers.

Ice Cream

March 21st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Ice cream is the best dessert. Nothing is close (except in Paris where Ile Flottante and Creme Brulee are contenders). Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato is HG’s current favorite. But, HG can be fickle. HG often switches to Haagen Dazs Dulche Con Leche, Rum Raisin or Vanilla Bean. Also gelatos from Talenti (Salted Caramel Truffle is a standout).Years ago there was a New York ice cream brand called Louis Sherry. Smooth and super rich. Parisians are mad about Berthillon ice cream. There’s always a long line in front of their shop on the Ile St. Louis. Yes, Berthillon is good. Very good. However, the best ice cream in the world was produced by Barney’s, an ice cream store on Rockaway Beach Boulevard between 113th and 114th Streets. The ice cream was hand packed and not frozen. It was 10-year-old HG’s job to obtain ice cream there to climax festive weekend meals in the kitchen of the family’s cramped Great Depression summer rental in a rooming house (Summer rent, July 1 to Labor Day, was $25). Little HG could run fast but HG amped it up when, with containers of ice cream in hand, zoomed home before the magical stuff could melt. The best ice cream dessert ever? The hot fudge sundae at Rumpelmayer’s (closed) on New York’s Central Park South. HG’s children, Lesley and SJ, remember it with much joy since it was the highlight of their “Treat Days” in Manhattan with their Dad.

Blast From The Past

March 19th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Meatloaf. Used to be a recurrent dish in the BSK repertoire. Haven’t had any in years. When living and working in Denver, HG would often order it at a downtown restaurant that catered to lunching business persons. The meatloaf was smothered in a good mushroom sauce (HG would order an extra helping of sauce for the accompanying mashed potatoes). HG/BSK’s visiting granddaughter, the beautiful, brilliant (and helpful) Sofia, requested meatloaf for dinner. She had a happy memory of BSK’s version. So, a lush dinner ensued. BSK’s meatloaf consisted of ground lamb and beef with Jalapenos added for a New Mexico touch. BSK wrapped the loaf with thick slabs of bacon and baked it until juicy and flavorful. It was served with orzo mixed with BSK’s buttery and herbaceous mushroom saute. Plus steamed asparagus. BSK and Sofia drank Erath Pinot Noir. HG drank Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais. Dipped chocolate covered almond biscotti (from Trader Joe’s) in the last of the red wines. Eating good in the New Mexico ‘hood.

Happy Days

March 17th, 2019 § 1 comment § permalink

Joy. HG/BSK’s beautiful, brilliant (a recent summa cum laude graduate from Columbia in New York) granddaughter Sofia R. is in New Mexico for a brief visit. Toby, The Wonder Dog, is overjoyed (an understatement). Sofia lived with HG/BSK for months of prep school and Toby fell in love. The passion persists. With Sofia around, Toby turns a cold shoulder to HG. Since the visit is brief HG/BSK are focusing on Sofia’s favorite meals. The weather is good and BSK and Sofia are going off on long hikes (with Mr. T., of course). Sofia’s appetite has been sharpened. Today, Sofia and HG had their traditional lunch at nearby Sopaipilla Factory. Each had a cup of the eatery’s suave and lush menudo. This was followed by chicken enchiladas. No rice. No beans. Smothered in green chile for Sofia. Christmas for HG. Lots of chopped onions. Green chile made another appearance tonight as BSK answered a Sofia request. Big, thick, juicy pork chops smothered with, you guessed it, 505 Brand medium heat green chile (medium is a scorcher and hot is the deepest pit of hell). Sides were Goya black beans topped with sour cream and sauteed peppers and onions. Plus an avocado salad. Red wine for the women and cold beer for HG. Ah, the tastes of New Mexico are robust and satisfy the palate and soul.

Robert “Bobby” Briscoe

March 15th, 2019 § 1 comment § permalink

St. Patrick’s Day is here with all of its blarney, vigorous boozing and ingestion of inferior corned beef and cabbage. HG has been thinking about a remarkable Jewish Irishman, Robert “Bobby” Briscoe (1895-1969). He was a member of Sinn Fein and the IRA. He played a major role in the Irish War for Independence (Michael Collins appointed him head of the operation which ran guns from Germany to Ireland in 1919). Later, he was active in the Irish Civil War on the side of those opposed to the Anglo-Irish treaty which dissolved the Irish republic established in 1918; made Ireland independent but part of the British empire; partitioned Ireland between North and South. The Civil War (June 1922-April 1923) was vicious and claimed some 2,500 lives. When the Civil War ended, Briscoe played a role in turning the anti-treaty nationalists into a political party, the Fianna Fail. As a member of the party, Briscoe served in Ireland’s parliament for 37 years. He was also an ardent Zionist and friend of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of Irgun and and a fiery advocate of using violent means to drive the British out of Palestine. Jabotinsky visited Dublin and received training from Briscoe and other IRA figures in using guerilla tactics against the British. Briscoe was an adviser to the late Menachem Beigin, leader of the Irgun and later Premier of Israel. After an armed skirmish between Israeli government forces and the Irgun which left 19 dead, Briscoe urged Beigin to convert Irgun into a political party in order to avoid a civil war like the bloody Irish affair. Beigin did so and formed the Herut (later Likud) party which rules Israel today. For Americans, Briscoe’s claim to fame was he was elected Dublin’s first Jewish Mayor (Yogi Berra remarked: “Only in America”) and led New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1957. Briscoe’s son, Benjamin, also was a figure in Fianna Fail, served many years in the Irish parliament and was Mayor of Dublin from 1988-89. Briscoe’s daughter converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun. New Yorkers had great affection for Bobby Briscoe since he had a lilting brogue, was gregarious, had a robust sense of humor and enjoyed a friendly drink. A passionate Irish nationalist and an IRA battler, Briscoe was an Orthodox Jew. Laughingly, he said he would be the perfect Mayoral candidate for New York.

Risotto Comments

March 12th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Few things are more comforting than a steaming bowl of risotto. Recipe for perfect meal: Vegetable (asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini) stirred in the risotto. Green salad on the side. Bottle of pinot noir. This was on the dinner table last night. The risotto was good. Not great. While very edible, it didn’t hit that lush peak of creaminess and chewiness that HG usually achieves. HG blames the rice. It was Arborio, not HG’s favorite Carnaroli. The green salad was the highlight of dinner. First mache of the season dressed in a light mustard vinaigrette. The mache was a gift from next door neighbor, Gary G., New Mexico’s premier organic farmer. Gary and wife, Natasha, operate a vegetable stand at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. They supply HG/BSK with superb lettuce, escarole and other greens. You’ve got to get there early because they are besieged by shoppers and sell out quickly. Back to risotto for a moment. HG bought a package of Risotto Milanese during recent Denver trip. Mix contains porcini mushrooms, saffron, turmeric, cardamom, curry, nutmeg. Seems radical but will give it a try.

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