Anthony & Claudia: Wow!

December 18th, 2019 § 1 comment § permalink

Yes, that’s HG, in person, looking at you. In HG’s hand is an 1892 Kiddush cup. (For wine in sabbath religious ceremony). In HG’s lapel is the pin of the Smolovechi soccer team. (Off to the right is a BSK sculpture evoking the adobe churches and crucifixes of Northern New Mexico). The cup and the pin are explained in a letter from wonderful Anthony and Claudia Cragg which accompanied these 90th birthday gifts for HG. “We scoured the universe for ‘Gerry gifts’ to celebrate your magnificent 90th. Nothing could really do justice to the man you are, so we sought treats from your Dear Mama’s ‘shtetel’, Plestyanitz, Belarus, and from your Father’s in Smulovitch, Belarus. And, so the trinkets unearthed are a circa 1892 Imperial Russian Sterling Silver Kiddush cup from the closest place we could find to Plestyanitz, and from Smulovitch a football (soccer) sports pin from the Smolovichi team sent to you with love.” These are not just gifts. They are treasures linking HG to HG ancestry almost 200 years ago. There are no words to express HG’s gratitude to Anthony and Claudia for their imagination, painstaking research, generosity and thoughtfulness. And, who are Anthony and Claudia? Though their principal residence is a Colorado mountain top, they remain very English. Anthony is of noble lineage and looks it. He is an eminent investment expert and manager of mutual funds. Claudia is an exuberant force of nature from a theatrical background. Presently an incisive radio interviewer, she has had a distinguished career as a journalist, author and editor specializing in the finance and politics of Asia. Anthony and Claudia’s love and friendship, which HG/BSK wholeheartedly reciprocate, is one of the delights life has given HG/BSK.

Best Pancake

December 15th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG is very fond of pancakes of all types (crepes, galettes, latkes, even waffles). HG is not too demanding. Will gladly douse diner flapjacks (or any chain version) with plenty of butter and fake maple syrup and be happy if there’s plentiful coffee and fruit juice. When HG is eating salmon red caviar and smoked fish (Zabar’s or Russ & Daughters) at holiday festivities, HG ignores the bagels and opts for Gifted Daughter Lesley R.’s scintillating blini and crepes. However, HG’s pick for dinner joy in New Mexico is BSK’s version of Korean Oyster Pancakes. Don’t know the precise ingredients but they include chopped cabbage, fresh bean sprouts, white flour, chopped scallions, onions, garlic. Also, mirin, soy sauce, rice wine and a dash of chili oil. And, of course, canned shucked oysters from the Pacific (the Whole Foods version is good). Last night, HG mixed this melange and made nine plump pancakes fried to a super crispy exterior and a lush interior. This treat was accompanied by a refreshing salad of sliced avocado, chopped tomatoes and bean sprouts. The condiments were Bulldog Sauce, mango chutney and sriracha. Drank a nice pinot noir and finished with flan made by local women in HG/BSK’s New Mexico neighborhood. Another happy eve.

BSK Kitchen Creativity

December 12th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK is a painter, a photographer. BSK draws, makes collages. In BSK’s studio BSK hand forms beautiful sculptures, pots, masks, platters at BSK’s spinning potter’s wheel. BSK glazes and then fires them in the studio kiln. All of BSK’s creations decorate BSK/HG homes in New Mexico and Prince Edward Island. They enrich HG’s eyes and imagination on a daily basis. However, BSK’s creativity is not confined to the BSK studio. There’s the kitchen where BSK creativity makes HG’s taste buds and tummy very happy, indeed. Here are some examples: HG found two skin-on Arctic Char filets. Very inexpensive. BSK glazed them with dark miso. Yes, there are many miso glazes but BSK’s is original. BSK added rice wine, crushed garlic and ginger, dash of chili oil to the miso. What emerged after a careful grill in a reliable old cast iron pan, was the juiciest, flaky fish with a sublime sweet and spicy crust. It was served with baby spinach and a baked sweet potato (much like the 2-cent buttered sweet potatoes little HG bought from Great Depression era Bronx street vendors). The next night BSK ate heated chicken left overs with Indian spices and cooked a pot of fluffy jasmine rice. HG topped a bowl of warm rice with Whole Foods very good salmon poke’. Chili oil and soy sauce were added. Good eating. Plenty of rice left over in the pot. BSK is not only creative but thrifty. When HG awoke in the morning (quite late, as usual) what awaited the Hungry Boy was a steaming pot of rice congee, HG’s favorite breakfast. BSK had simmered the rice to a soupy consistency in water and chicken broth. The unique BSK touch was a shower of bonito flakes. Oh, it is a very lucky HG to have the extraordinary BSK in HG’s life.

Home Sweet Home

December 8th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK rarely eat dinner at restaurants. Lunch is a different matter. HG often lunches at nearby El Parasol (great menudo) and BSK, when shopping in Santa Fe opts for a chicken salad wrap at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. But, dinner is at home. BSK’s cuisine, night after night, is delicious. Wine is ample and lush (BSK picks out the wine at Total Wine in Santa Fe, the best wine and spirit shop HG has ever encountered (even better than glorious Applejack in Wheat Ridge, CO.). HG/BSK always drink much wine at dinner and resent the big wine markups at restaurants (wine that BSK buys for $11 is marked up to $40). HG’s evening routine is this: Exercise and swim in the heated indoor pool. Hot shower. Vodka cocktail (size XL) before dinner (BSK has chilled white wine or rose’). Logs blazing in the fireplace. Music (Yo Yo Ma, Bill Evans, Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grapelli are favorites). Savory dinner and wine by candlelight. Toby, The Wonder Dog, lounging beneath the table. Brandy or bourbon after dinner. No restaurant can match this experience (brilliantly, orchestrated by BSK).

Trader Joe’s: Winners and Losers

December 7th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Lots of good stuff at Trader Joe’s. But, there are losers. Last night had wild, never frozen, sockeye salmon from Alaska. A loser. Can’t figure out what process was used to drain every bit of flavor out of this salmon (and, yes, BSK cooked it expertly to the right degree of rareness). Bone-in pork chops are very good at TJ’s. Boneless are dry (even after brining). New Zealand lamb chops and racks are sensational (and well priced). Steak and chicken are mediocre. Tried some frozen Indian food. Meh!! However, frozen chicken or pork Shumai and dumplings are top flight. Dips are hit or miss. Sweets are very good. New York cheesecake. Tiramasu. Ice cream. Biscotti. Belgian cookies. Not sweet, but addictive, are TJ’s ruffled sea salt potato chips.

Chicken Redux

December 5th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

During the Great Depression HG’s Mom got many uses out of one chicken. Boiled as a main dish. Chicken soup. Chicken fat. Crisp and salty fried skin (in Yiddish: “gribenes” or “grieven”).Chicken feet (nasty) were added to a carrot dish called “tzimmes” to give it a gelatinous quality. BSK is more modest with BSK’s splendid spatchcocked (and marinated) chickens. There was so much chicken left over from Thanksgiving Day dinner with visitors Stevie and Eric, that the meal was repeated the next night (with no loss of flavor). And, then came one of HG’s favorite comfort foods: BSK’s version of Vietnamese Pho. S. and E. were off to New York. BSK shredded the last bits of chicken. Added them to boiling pho broth. Onions, bok choy, spinach and lots of tofu and Vietnamese noodles were happy additions. HG topped the HG bowl with sesame oil and fiery chili oil. Memorable dinner a deux.

Chicken Thanksgiving

December 4th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

That’s right. Chicken. Not turkey. HG loves BSK’s spatchcocked chickens and finds Thanksgiving turkey a bore. So, chicken is what HG/BSK and New York visitors Stevie and Eric feasted on T-Day. Juicy. Flavorful. Delicious. Two gravies. Stevie’s chicken gravy. And, an HG favorite: Whole Foods turkey gravy fortified with spices. There was a large gratin of cauliflower and potato (lush) to soak up the gravies. There was also a dish of haricots vert and mushrooms (gotta have a veggie). But, the big highlight was the prelude to the meal: A tin of paddlefish caviar (generous gift from HG daughter New York restaurateur Vicki F.) accompanied by New Mexico Gruet Brut sparkling wine (hey, there are some talented vintners in The Land of Enchantment). Truffle cheese and wine, chocolate biscuits, salt caramel gelato, brandy, bourbon, whisky followed. Memorable night.

More Joy

December 2nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Wonderful to have Stephanie “Stevie” Pierson with us. Possibly the world’s wittiest woman, she’s the New York-based author of many books, magazine pieces, newspaper articles. Her latest book is “The Brisket Book” containing recipes for the ultimate comfort food. If you enjoy rollicking prose and robust eating, log into Amazon immediately and order this delightful work. Adding to HG/BSK’s holiday pleasures is the presence of Eric Silver, Stevie’s companion. A renowned arts expert and appraiser with years of experience as an antique dealer, you can spot the tall guy on PBS-TV’s “Antiques Road Show.”. Whether examining junk or treasure, his tone is always gentle and courteous. Pre-Thanksgiving dinner featured smoked salmon as an appetizer followed by penne with broccoli (enriched with mozzarella, chopped Kumatoes and parmesan). Stevie and Eric explored Santa Fe and brought back exquisite cheese (goat brie and dolce gorgonzola), a crisp baguette and a size XL bottle of Tito’s Vodka. The cheeses (with a dollop of New Zealand honey) made a fitting dinner climax. Stevie and HG poured the vodka for their pre-dinner cocktails. The darling woman also joined HG in after dinner snifters of fabulous Hibiki Suntory whiskey (a generous gift from Atlanta’s Viki Freeman). Since BSK does not drink spirits (but does drink copious amounts of wine), HG finds it enjoyable to have a sprightly drinking buddy like Stevie.

Two glasses of whiskey on the rocks on a wooden table

Holiday Reunion

December 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Two consummate New Yorkers, Stephanie (Stevie) Pierson. and companion, Eric Silver, have joined HG/BSK in chilly New Mexico. It will be a holiday visit filled with laughter, splendid food and great wine. Stevie is the world’s wittiest woman (in conversation and print). She has kept HG/BSK smiling for almost 50 years. An author of many books, magazine pieces and newspaper articles, her latest is “The Brisket Book.” If you like great food and rollicking prose, log into Amazon and obtain the book, a guide to many hearty meals. Eric is an antiques and fine arts expert. You can see the tall guy appraising on the PBS hit program “Antiques Road Show.” He’s hard to miss. Stevie and Eric did not arrive empty-handed. Brought a nice selection of white, red and sparkling wine. Arrival dinner was BSK’s New Mexican Green Chile Stew served with an array of toppings, condiments and warm tortillas (HG augmented the steaming HG bowl with a pint of El Parasol’s Green Chile Menudo, a Mexican tripe dish much favored by HG but disliked by most unadventurous folk). Hey, it’s mid-November. Drank copious amounts of Beaujolais Nouveau.

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