Road Cuisine (Day Three)

May 18th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Destination: Ashland, Ohio. HG/BSK motored through the territory of BSK’s teen-age (and pre-teen years). Mansfield. Galion. Bucyrus. Crestline. Lakes and parks where BSK frolicked with BSK’s first boyfriend. No nostalgia from BSK. Just kept accelerating. Still lunching at the chains. This time it was Chick-Fil-A. HG must confess. Enjoyed it. Big bowl of chicken soup. Lots of shredded chicken. Firm, not mushy, pasta. Pleasant vegetables. BSK had a chicken sandwich and liked it. Downside was the potatoes. These were “waffle fries.” Not crisp. Not hot. Zero taste. However, the service was extraordinary. Efficient but super friendly and caring. HG left with a tip-top vanilla milkshake to be consumed while driving. Made the miles skip by. Dinner in Ashland was at Jake’s, a local steak and casual food chain. BSK said this was Amish country and the steak was bound to be good. HG was dubious. As always, BSK was right. BSK had a big-time, medium rare sirloin. Gave HG a taste. Superior. BSK accompanied the steak with onion rings and Caesar salad. HG had a burger with pepper jack cheese and fried jalapenos. Adequate. Not sensatiĆ“nal. There were consolations. HG’s side of mac and cheese was among the best ever and HG’s icy black-and-tans (glasses of half Anchor Steam Beer and half Guinness Stout) brought back HG’s happy nights in New York’s Third Avenue Irish bars of long ago.

Road Cuisine (Day Two)

May 17th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Destination was Collinsville, Ill. (some miles east of St.Louis). Always stirring to gaze out the auto window and see the mighty arch and the Mississippi River. Lunched at reliable Waffle House. A big bowl of buttery grits with two runny poached eggs. That’s how you spell All-American comfort. HG topped it off with a waffle, orange juice and many cups of coffee. Chicken fancier BSK had her usual chicken salad (WH does it with grilled chicken and holds off on ladles of mayonnaise). Dinner in Collinsville was Bandanas, a local bar-b-q chain. Big, juicy pork ribs. Very flavorful. Didn’t need any sauce. Fine cole slaw. Sweet potato fries. Savory beans. Icy beer. HG is very fond of the barbecue belt that runs through Missouri into southwestern Illinois. Calvin Trillin, a devotee of Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue in Kansas City (his favorite is “burnt ends”), might sneer at Bandanas. But, HG/BSK had a rollicking good time there.

Road Cuisine (Day One)

May 15th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG/BSK (plus Toby, The Wonder Dog), are on the road again (thanks, Willie). Destination: Prince Edward Island and HG/BSK’s ocean front paradise. But, first HG/BSK will stop at Providence, the base for HG/BSK’s New York/Atlanta festivities (you will learn more in coming days). First-day lunch was a Subway wrap consumed in the car. Messy. Never again. Hate eating in the car. Food dribbles on HG’s clothing. Dinner was at Kwan’s Kitchen in Quail Springs, an Oklahoma City burb. Was great on the last visit. Now it’s uneven. Had super-sized pork pot stickers. Flavorless. Peking duck. Excellent thin pancakes to wrap the meat which, alas, was quite dry. BSK liked a platter of fried string beans with gently fried rectangles of potato.HG thought it so-so. The bonanza (at least for HG ) of the evening, was a platter of shrimp dim sum. Shu mai. Shrimp balls. Other fried and steamed shrimp delights. Best dim sum ever (and HG has consumed much New York, Brooklyn and Flushing dim sum). Sadly, BSK is allergic to shrimp (and other crustaceans) so BSK could only observe HG’s pleasure, Did that with customary grace.

Cold Weather Street Treats

May 14th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG was five years old, living with his parents in a fourth floor (no elevator) apartment in the southeast Bronx. It was minutes from the Bronx Zoo and HG slept with the soothing sounds of roaring lions in the background. City boy HG saw lions, elephants and tigers long before HG saw a cow. Horses were familiar. Manned by Italians, they hauled vegetable and ice wagons. (Refrigerators came later and were advertised as a luxury). With a few pennies in his pocket, HG would race down to the street to join his small pals in fun and games. Favorite street food treat was a “mickey.” This was a potato (stolen from a greengrocer stand) and roasted in a wood fire in an empty building lot. Pennies bought other cold weather good things. An old, bearded Jew wheeled a cart and yelled “Hayseh ahrbis !!.” He sold hot garbanzo beans bathed in chicken fat and dusted with kosher salt. A penny bought an overflowing cup and a toothpick Another cart sold sweet potatoes with a pat of butter melting inside. The eating utensil was a tiny wooden paddle. Cost: Two or three cents. Warm weather was the season for Italians and their carts. They sold cups of ices and slices of coconut. The weather turned cold in New Mexico yesterday. Alert to the weather, BSK baked some lush sweet potatoes. As good as yesteryear.

Collard Greens and Georgia Memories

May 11th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

When HG was a little boy, HG left The Bronx with his Mom and lived for a year in an Athens, Georgia boarding house. Mom was there to help nurse HG’s late brother, Bernard, who was recovering from a leg amputation after a terrible barnstorming plane crash which killed the pilot and Bernard’s fiancee. Bernard was the only survivor. It was a sad time but HG received much comfort from the boarding house cook. HG recalls her as an ample African-American woman who gave HG many much-needed affectionate hugs. Her cooking was sublime and gave HG a lifetime delight in old fashioned southern cuisine. Steaming grits. Ham and eggs with gravy. Fried pork chops smothered in caramelized onions. Cornbread. Biscuits. And, collard greens. Ah, those collard greens. They were cooked into tenderness with ham hocks. A bowl of the good stuff was given a topping of vinegar mixed with incendiary red peppers. After hearty meals, HG played with her joyous children. These experiences influenced HG forever. They left HG with a hatred of any form of racism. Food comfort was often associated with African-American cooking and a large cast iron pan. Well, last night it was BSK who used a big cast iron pan to pan-broil juicy pork chops. They were accompanied by collard greens. BSK chopped the frozen greens and cooked them in olive oil with lots of chopped onions and sliced garlic. Added chicken stock as they steamed into tenderness. Final touch was some Frank’s Hot Sauce. Brought back Georgia memories.

The Supreme Burger

May 10th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Unlike most Americans, HG is not a big fan of roadside hamburgers. Some 45 years ago, HG sampled a burger at McDonald’s. Horrible, One bite and spat it out. Same thing at Burger King. However, a proper burger cooked by BSK in a hot, seasoned cast iron pan is a revelation. (BSK sprinkles Malden sea salt flakes in the pan before searing the meat). The ground beef BSK uses comes from Hutterian Farms (through Crowd Cow) in Washington. The farm is run by the Huttite religious community and the cattle get gentle care. Grass fed and grain finished. No hormones. No unnecessary antibiotics. The dry aged meat is robust and delicious. Tastes the way beef tasted many decades ago. Last night, BSK pan broiled two half pound Hutterian burgers. Dark crusts and juicy, beefy interiors. The best. The burgers were covered in green chile sauce (medium hot). Accompanied by Moros y Cristianos (black beans over rice with a garnish of chopped onions and sour cream). Avocado and blood orange salad. Drank fruity Malbec red from Argentina. Hearty eating in New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment (and green chile sauce).

Brooklyn Teenage Date

May 7th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Teenage HG traveled from The Bronx to Brooklyn by subway for HG’s Saturday night date with his first girlfriend, the lovely Joan Z. (Subway cost five cents and HG had a book to ease the long trip). HG always wore a jacket with a shirt and tie. Joan would be in high heels and a dress. No jeans in those days. One dressed in style. Off to a movie. Much canoodling in the darkness. Then, post entertainment dinner in a Chinese restaurant. Egg drop soup or won ton soup. Shrimp chow mein or pork chop suey. Almond cookie or vanilla ice cream for dessert. Many cups of tea. Total cost of date: $1.85. Itemized: Ten cents for subway round trip; Fifty cents for the movie ( tickets were 25 cents each); Chinese dinners were 50 cents each with a quarter tip for the waiter. Fervent intimacies with Joan. Priceless.

Yesteryear NYC Jewish Delis

May 5th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

In HG’s youth, New York had hundreds of Jewish delicatessens, temples of corned beef, pastrami, brisket, tongue and pickles. Many had a counter bowl of chunks of garlic sausage with a sign: “A nickel a shtikel.” (“Shtikel” means small piece in Yiddish.) Rye bread and all the meats were excellent. Pickled cucumbers (sour or half-sour); pickled peppers and sauerkraut were state of the art. Bright yellow mustard was tangy and Russian (or Thousand Islands) dressing was nonexistent. Reuben sandwiches were not served since the sandwich contains a dairy product (Swiss cheese) and most delis were kosher. Kashruth law forbade the mixing of meat and dairy products. Some delis were “Glatt Kosher.” This meant super, super kosher. HG avoided these places. Jewish deli frankfurters were superior, A pair of hot dogs with loads of mustard and sauerkraut cost 20 cents when HG was a boy. Even better was “The Special,” a big, juicy knockwurst. Sadly, only a few traditional delis are left (Katz’s, 2nd Avenue Deli, etc.). Ben’s, a Queens favorite of HG, closed recently. HG dined there often with the late real estate mogul, Sam Lefrak (Before he French-fried his name to “LeFrak). New York’s changing demographics and more sophisticated tastes have now made it much easier to eat sushi than heartburn-producing Jewish food. Cardiologists approve.

Breakfast Delight

May 3rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

As HG has noted in previous posts, HG was never a fan of breakfast. For years breakfast consisted of numerous Marlboro cigarettes and black coffee. HG is now older, wiser and (due to caring BSK) has healthier dining habits. Gave up tobacco of all kinds some 28 years ago. Most days of the week, HG breakfasts on Chobani yogurt with fresh fruit or Red Mill oatmeal cooked with an array of dried fruit. The drink is cafe latte made with non-fat milk. However, every now and then HG breakfasts at the nearby Mexican restaurant in Pojoaque, Sopaipilla Factory. This is the treat: A cheese enchilada smothered in red (hot) and green (mellow) chile. Topped with chopped sweet onions and two softly poached eggs. A sopaipilla with honey is the side dish. Drink is coffee, of course. And, once a month, HG indulges in a giant green chile smothered breakfast burrito at Tune-Up Cafe in Santa Fe. The fiery, tasty dish eliminates the need for lunch and leaves room for only a light dinner.

BSK / HG Memories

May 2nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK has an astounding memory, recalling with accuracy her world at age five. Little BSK lived in Windsor, Ontario while BSK’s mother worked across the border in Detroit. The year was 1946 and BSK’s war hero father, Roy Kent, had not yet returned to Canada. There were very few fathers in BSK’s Windsor neighborhood, only mothers and children. The fathers had been killed in World War Two. BSK visited farms where working mothers “boarded” their children. BSK envied those kids as they sat at long tables filled with food and had jolly meals. BSK enjoyed the days at a nearby lake. Women and BSK arrived in an auto. Windows were covered with newspapers as all changed into swimsuits. Modesty was preserved. When BSK’s father returned to Canada the family moved to Mansfield, Ohio. Children from an orphanage on the outskirts of the city were bussed to BSK’s elementary school. The orphanage was enclosed by a field with many horses and donkeys. BSK concluded that an orphan’s life had advantages since orphans could ride these animals. This made HG recall the Roman Catholic orphanage for boys in Rockaway. Six-year-old HG would watch with wonder as nuns and boys swam in the Atlantic Ocean (the orphanage was only a few hundred yards from the sea). The nuns were garbed head to toe in vast, billowing wool swim garments, the Catholic version of burkhas. But, the sisters seemed to frolic happily among the waves.

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