Perfect. Imperfect.

July 30th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Lovely evening at HG/BSK’s oceanfront home on Prince Edward Island. Colorful setting sun. Mild breeze. And, a perfect dinner. A few big and briny Malpeque oysters (HG sipped a tequila/dry vermouth/lemon juice cocktail). Then an appetizer of a BSK signature dish: Crisp fried zucchini blossoms from BSK’s kitchen garden. Before frying, BSK dips them in a very light flour and water batter and then dusts them with Malden’s Sea Salt. Heaven. Main dish was fresh hake (pan fried by HG), delicious small PEI potatoes and garlic/vinegar peppers in the style of New York’s long-closed Delsomma Restaurant. Next night was chilly so it was time for a choucroute with local “October” sausages preceded by oysters and BSK’s fried zucchini blossoms. BSK’s sauerkraut is the very best (better than anything served in Paris). BSK enhances the kraut with a mix of sliced apples and onions plus white wine and a dash of olive oil. Unfortunately, the sausages were disappointing. Dry, flavorless, thick-skinned. (BSK found them okay).HG will have to wait upon a return to the USA to get a shipment of great weisswurst and other delectable pork products from New York’s venerable Schaller & Weber. Then, there will be a regal choucroute.

They’re Here!

July 29th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, happy days are here again. HG/BSK’s daughter, brilliant Lesley R., and her gifted husband, Profesore Massimo R., have arrived at the Prince Edward Island paradise they share with HG/BSK. There had been much concern. Canada’s borders to the United States are closed (Obviously, there are exceptions). PEI has strict regulations for people coming into the Island (Arrivals have to self-quarantine for 14 days and this is checked by the authorities). That’s why the population (unlike the people of the USA) has suffered slight damage from the coronavirus pandemic. After stern grilling at the Canadian and PEI borders, they were successful in their entry to a peaceful democracy. And, the feasting has begun: Big briny shucked oysters; BSK’s soups; local mussels with linguine (Every element was perfect including the pasta cooked by Lesley to the perfect al dente point). BSK prepared sparkling green salads served with splendid cheeses. Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir added to the merriment. Yes, there’s nothing like famiglia. There was some news from granddaughters Sofia and Arianna R. (They are staying at HG/BSK’s New Mexico home). Toby, The Wonder Dog, was sprayed by a skunk. Sofia saved him from a previous encounter, but this time Toby’s intrepid curiosity resulted in stinkiness. A bath in tomato juice and a shower worked. Toby now has his usual pleasant aroma. HG/BSK miss the rambunctious little fellow.

© J. A. Kraulis
Confederation Bridge
Prince Edward Island, Canada

Celebrating Yossi

July 27th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK have a pleasant arrangement with BSK’s sister, Noel M., and her husband, Yossi: Alternate weekly dinners at each other’s Prince Edward Island homes. Last night was a celebration of Yossi’s 76th birthday at Noel and Yossi’s verdant Ocean Mist Farm. Yossi is an extraordinary man. A former Israeli kibbutznick, agriculturist (manager of a banana grove), IDF paratrooper, educator, cantor, musical performer. Yossi has a characteristic that is somewhat at odds with the perception of Israelis. He dissipates hostility, makes friends and acquaintances easily, surmounting all language and cultural differences. His musical talent is extraordinary. He is a choral leader, a singer and guitarist. Plays a trumpet with professional skill and is taking first steps in mastering the violin. He (and Noel) are world-class equestrians, horse trainers and famed as teachers of vaulting (acrobatics on large horses). Seemingly composed of steel and copper wire (as is Noel), Yossi has the strength and endurance of a much younger man. This is exemplified by his farm of potatoes, carrots, lettuces, garlic scapes, radishes, strawberries (best in the world), and much more. Whenever HG/BSK visit Y. and N. they are gifted with a big bag of Yossi’s incomparable spuds. Dinner last night was ground lamb (from animals raised by Y. and N.) kebabs, Yossi roast potatoes. Lettuce salad with leaves picked from the farm. Noel made a variation of the spicy Yemenite/Israeli condiment, zhug/chrug (not sure of pronunciation). A tasty wonder. Dessert was lush: vanilla ice cream with Noel’s unique compote of strawberries and rhubarb. Have many,many more healthy birthdays, Yossi. You enhance HG’s life and the lives of all who know you.

An Esca Dish

July 26th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Esca, on New York’s west side, has long been one of the city’s best seafood restaurants. HG/BSK (accompanied by HG’s daughter, restaurateur Victoria), had a delicious lunch there some years ago. Ate crudo (slices of very fresh raw fish with appropriate oils and condiments) that was better than any Japanese sashimi HG ever encountered. This was followed by a perfect fried flounder. Wines and desserts were splendid. HG/BSK recalled this meal a few nights ago. The head chef and proprietor (with partners) of Esca is David Pasternack. BSK went to Pasternack’s cookbook: “The Young Man & The Sea.” BSK was beguiled by his recipe for “Cod With Polenta and Wild Mushrooms.” With fresh cod in hand, BSK made some changes in the recipe. Made creamy white grits rather than polenta. Browned cod in pan rather than the oven. No wild mushrooms, but some buttery cremini mushrooms with garlic, shallots and lemon zest. Upon serving, BSK added a modest splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Another BSK triumph.

Earthy Yiddish

July 24th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Very few speakers of Yiddish are left. The majority of speakers were wiped out by Hitler and further decimated by post-World War Two emigration. HG treasures this colorful, piquant, sardonic language of the Eastern European Jewish communities. HG grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home (yes, there was some English and a smattering of Russian). HG’s language today is speckled with Yiddish, words that have filtered from HG’s unconscious. (a psychoanalyst might speculate this is an effort to keep HG’s late mother and father alive). Yiddish provides an insight into a vanished culture. Violence: Many words for slaps, blows and punches. Sex: Just a few words for copulation, unlike the many English words for the act. Many, many words for prostitutes and brothels. Anatomy: Only one word for vagina and one slang word. On the other hand, there are a plethora of descriptive words for the penis. Intelligence: Scores of words defining an unintelligent person. Not as many defining wisdom, insight, etc.. Excretory functions: Voluminous. A mature man such as HG is referred to as an “alteh cocker.” That is: “an old shitter”. Not a dignified way to describe HG.

Healing Food

July 22nd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG tripped and banged into a bathroom fixture. Pain. X-rays revealed no broken ribs but Doc said there might be minor rib cracks. Nothing serious. However, it will take some time to heal. HG is battling discomfort with Canadian Tylenol (more potent than American) and, of course, BSK’s loving care. As for food, BSK has focused on comfort. One night, BSK made mussels with linguine. A few original touches. Cooked in olive oil chopped onions and fennel, plentiful garlic, tarragon from the garden. Added clam broth (from a previous softshell clam feast) and white wine. Mussels and cherry tomatoes steamed happily in this mix. All was poured over al dente pasta with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Multi flavors, all delicious. Next evening BSK prepared congee (AKA “jook”), the silken rice porridge. BSK made it protein-rich with sea scallops. Soaked, dry Chinese shitake mushrooms (and the soaking broth), gave the porridge an earthy tang. Hey, call BSK “Dr. BSK”. The Wonder Woman’s food heals.

HG Cooks

July 21st, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, time for BSK to make way in the kitchen for HG and HG’s super-spicy Chinese and Korean dinner dishes. (BSK made a pot of fluffy sushi rice to accompany with some leftover for future congee). The Chinese dish was a lush melange of eggplant, onions, garlic, ginger enriched with soy sauce, oyster sauce, a bit of water, a discreet splash of maple syrup, an indiscreet amount of fiery Sambal Oelek (Yes, HG loves the blaze). The Korean dish was sliced pork bellies marinated in Korean hot pepper paste, Korean pepper flakes, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Fried until crisp and lightly charred. Appreciative BSK suggested HG should expand HG’s repertoire of Asian treats. But, before that happens HG is thinking about a Choucroute with pale, veal based, “October” sausages, sauerkraut and PEI’s inimitable, mineral-rich potatoes. Much mustard and pickles on the side. Gahan’s wonderful local ale. Just waiting for a chilly Prince Edward Island night.

Seafood Dining

July 17th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

For a decade or so, fresh seafood was available at By The Bay Fish Mart in St.Peters, just minutes from HG/BSK’s oceanfront home on Prince Edward Island. Sadly, By The Bay closed last year. No longer could HG pick up sole, cod, haddock, hake, oysters, quahogs, mussels and more on a daily basis. But, not all is lost. A fish truck pulls up in St.Peters every Wednesday morning and is in Souris (25 minute drive from home) on Fridays. 6 days a week, MR Seafood sells fish from its well-stocked shop in Charlottetown (a long 45 minutes away). Happily, very fresh oysters and mussels are available five days a week in Morell (15 minute drive). Gracious Cindy Dockendorff at Atlantic Shellfish selects the biggest, briniest, tastiest oysters for oyster gourmand HG. So, HG/BSK are relishing super seafood, a welcome change from dinners in landlocked New Mexico. This week, BSK picked up soft shell clams, Digby Bay sea scallops and thick haddock filets. One dinner featured the steamed clams followed by, lightly sauteed scallops on greens. Following night HG fried the haddock and BSK cooked tiny PEI potatoes (the world’s best) and broiled tomatoes with herbs and feta cheese. Life’s good.

Lush Improv

July 16th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK last night improvised a delicious dinner of penne with a cheesy, creamy vegetable sauce. Had zucchini, garlic scapes, mint, cherry tomatoes, bacon, feta cheese and shallots on hand. Used all of the ingredients. BSK fried bacon until crisp and reserved the melted bacon fat. Added olive oil to the fat and made a flavorful sofrito of garlic scapes and shallots. When the sofrito ingredients had softened and mellowed, BSK added a bit more oil, sliced zucchini, salt and aleppo pepper (for heat and pungency) plus a handful of mint. Later, put in a generous amount of feta cheese which melted to give the dish creamy goodness. Mixed the crispy bacon bits with the al dente penne. Finally, the plates were topped with sliced cherry tomatoes (HG gave the HG portion a good shake of red pepper flakes). A lovely summer pasta with many levels of flavor. Viva, BSK!!!

Cincinnati Chili

July 16th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

So, HG has been ranging far and wide in food appreciation (Palestine, Pittsburgh, Prince Edward Island, New Mexico, etc.). Time to talk about another distinctive, regional taste: Cincinnati Chili. This “chili” has nothing to do with the dense, fiery chilies of Texas and the Southwest; rather Cincy chili, like the chili that covers “Coney Island” hot dogs from Detroit to Rhode Island, is descended from Meditteranian spiced meat recipes (such as Moussaka) brought to the Midwest and beyond by Greek culinary entrepreneurs. Cincy chili contains cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cayenne, and other middle eastern spices. Very tasty but not particularly fiery. Cincy chili parlors (there are many) serve it in “ways” — the most iconic is “3 Way”, chili over spaghetti covered in a mound of shredded cheese. Beans are sometimes added as are chopped onions, splashes of vinegar, hot sauce (Frank’s or Tabasco) and you always get a side of oyster crackers. HG/BSK first had Cincy chili when (many years ago) they visited BSK’s sister, Noel M., and husband, Yossi M., when N. and Y. divided their time between Cincy (where they went to graduate school) and a farm in the Kentucky woods just over the Ohio border. (There are many good Cincy chili recipes on the internet if you want to make it at home). HG/BSK dined last night with N. and Y. at their beautiful Prince Edward Island Ocean Mist Farm. The main dish was Cincy chili over spaghetti. (Noel used ground lamb–raised by N. and Y.–instead of pork or beef. Very tasty). No oyster crackers but the first of Yossi’s potatoes. Gilded with good olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt these were super spuds. And, took home some of Y.’s strawberries after having some with ice cream for dessert. Best berries in the world. They taste like old-time berries in the days before mega-agriculture took over with the mission of making natural food tasteless.

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