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.

Asian Noodles

March 10th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is a passionate devotee of Asian noodle dishes. Loves ramen at Japanese restaurants (alas, since the departure of Shibumi and Talin, HG can’t get a decent bowl of ramen in Santa Fe). HG is a regular at Saigon Cafe for Chow Fun or Pho. HG/BSK use rice noodles at home for soups and side dishes (Rice sticks, vermicelli; wide, flat transparent noodles). Also favored are Udon, buckwheat soba and egg noodles (BSK’s favorite). There are few better starches to accompany fried fish than soba floating in a bowl of ice-cold soup broth adorned with strips of nori. Wasabi is essential. (When Exquisite Maiko, HG/BSK’s daughter in law, is on Prince Edward Island, the outstanding Japanese chef makes seafood and vegetable tempura to accompany the soba in broth. Heaven). Egg noodles are a good side dish with stews or stir fries, Especially good with Chinese eggplant cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili oil. HG relies on Thai instant noodles for a quick lunch bowl of soup.

Tecolote

March 8th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Tecolote is a Santa Fe restaurant beloved by folks who like to eat large. Portions are big. Sauces are poured generously (the green chile is a fiery wonder). Everything is accompanied by a basket of scones and muffins with lots of butter and high-quality jam. Coffee cups are never left empty. The hearty Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes are done right. Tecolote does wonders with eggs (there are some 20 egg dishes on the menu). The restaurant was on Cerillos Road for many years but moved to St. Michael Drive recently. Larger space and added a dinner menu with upscale “gourmet” dishes (HG/BSK haven’t had dinner there but have heard good reports). HG/BSK had to be in the St. Michael area this morning for automotive services. Cups of tea for breakfast (appetites saved for a Tecolote brunch). BSK ordered a giant breakfast burrito (a tortilla rolled and stuffed with scrambled eggs and ham, topped with cheese and smothered in green chile sauce). Thinly sliced and gently fried potatoes flanked the burrito. BSK managed to finish about 80% of the dish. Super Trencherwoman. HG had scrambled eggs with cheese and green chile sauce (snitched a few of BSK.s potatoes). HG likes scrambled eggs (and omelets) cooked very, very, very soft. (the French ask for their omelet to be “baveuse”, translated as “oozing.”). The chef followed HG’s request and the result was a big plate of the best, lush, spicy and fiery eggs ever. The menu indicated two eggs but the chef must have thought HG was undernourished. It looked as if he scrambled three or four eggs. You won’t go away hungry from Tecolote.

Heritage Denied

March 7th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Vodka was a significant part of HG’s Belorussian heritage. HG’s late, beloved father, Hershele Zvi Freimann, grew up in the small town of Smulovich. HG’s late, beloved mother, Chyka Kopkind, grew up in the “shtetl” of Plestyanitz. Smulovich was more urban. Tragically, the Jews in these places were murdered by the Nazis. (HG had a very aged cousin who survived and was the subject of a documentary some dozen years ago filmed by HG’s cousins from Paris and Madrid). The Freimann family was modestly prosperous. They owned a flour mill and a vodka distillery. Plus a tiny glove factory. This was destroyed in a pogrom after the Russia-Japan War. Local Russian officials claimed Jews were to blame for Russia’s humiliating defeat. The angered, mostly drunken, peasants spared the mill and the distillery. After all, flour and vodka were essential to life. Gloves were a luxury item. On horseback, HG’s father (nicknamed “Grisha”) delivered vodka to the local taverns. He used a two-horse wagon to transport wheat, flour, and potatoes. After “Grisha” and his brother, Fykel, migrated to the United States their brothers who remained in Belorussia asked “Grisha” and Fykel (in 1910) to relinquish their ownership in the mill and distillery. They were glad to comply. All members (spare one) of the Belorussian family (and the properties) were destroyed by the Nazis. Curiously, “Grisha” and his family never drank vodka either in Belorussia or the United States. They associated the spirit with drunken (and periodically murderous) peasants. The Freimann drink was brandy–cherry (vishniak) or plum (slivovitz). Potent stuff that was drunk at dinner with cups of black tea from the samovar. Wine was unheard of (except at the Passover seder). HG has had a long love affair with vodka. It’s HG’s drink with caviar, smoked fish, boiled potato with schmaltz herring and sour cream. “Grisha” always had his potato and salty herring with beer and a shot of rye whiskey. HG drinks beer only as a chaser. For some years, HG drank vodka on the rocks as a pre-dinner cocktail. Unfortunately, there was a tendency to overindulge. This led to some harsh words from BSK, the person who had to pick up HG when HG fell to the floor. The result: No vodka for HG for the last two and 1/2 months. Doesn’t miss it. Rosé wine. White wine with a dash of Aperol. Icy Negroni (tiny bit of bourbon, sweet vermouth, Campari, orange bitters). These have replaced vodka. BSK smiles.

Applejack

March 6th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

If you love wine as HG/BSK do, a stop at Applejack is mandatory if you are in the Greater Denver area. Applejack is a vast and perfectly organized wine and liquor store in suburban Wheat Ridge. Applejack has wines from every country, every region, every vintage. Hundreds are always on sale and the values are extraordinary. They also have the ultimate big-time wines (lofty prices) and deliver them to the billionaire ski homes in Aspen and plutocrat ranches. Leaving Denver, HG/BSK loaded up on the bargains. HG concentrated on the reds while BSK selected the whites and roses. HG found great Washington and Oregon vintages and some values from France (Languedoc and Cotes du Rhone). BSK assembled many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, Friuli and Veneto pinot grigios and Provence roses. Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe, curiously, has the better bargains for these Provencal winners. BSK, the love of HG’s life, bought HG a gift: A bottle of high-end Tavel, HG (and A.J.Liebling’s) favorite rosé. It has all the sprightliness of rosé but levels of flavor that rival a good red. Pleasant grace note: Applejack has a small corner of Italian food specialties: pasta, rice for risotto, anchovies, etc. HG took advantage. As usual, HG/BSK’s food and wine future looks bright.

Carmine Lonardo’s Italian Delicatessen

March 5th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

On the way back to HG/BSK’s Santa Fe County home there was a stop at the Carmine Lonardo’s Italian Delicatessen in Denver (Florida and Wadsworth). The house-made Italian fennel sausages were widely touted. Bought sausage, head cheese, Genoa salami, pancetta, pasta. How did they rate? HG is a big fan of head cheese, jambon persille, and similar charcuterie. This was the best head cheese HG ever tasted. Been having it as an appetizer with a dollop of Dijon mustard. The salami was excellent. The pancetta was very rustic. A bit chewy. The much-heralded sausages? HG didn’t taste any fennel. Sausage didn’t seem to have the juiciness of a New York Italian sausage. Will give them another try before passing judgment.

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