Same Old. Same Old.

October 8th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

There are restaurants where, for years, HG has always ordered the same thing. After all, why fix what isn’t broken? This started in HG’s New York/New Jersey days. A favorite restaurant was El Charro (long closed), on Charles Street in Greenwich Village. HG/BSK ate there frequently. Meal (super delicious) was always the same. Grilled, sliced chorizo. Spanish fried chicken. Scallops in garlic/parsley green sauce. Bowls of saffron rice. Pitcher of sangria. No dessert (too full). In New Mexico, HG follows a similar routine. At El Parasol (in Pojoaque, near HG/BSK home) lunches once or twice a week on a bowl of chunky and funky green chile menudo topped with raw chopped onion. At Sopaipilla Factory, (also in Pojoaque) HG lunches on a cheese enchilada with chopped onion and topped with a fried egg (no rice or beans). At Saigon Cafe in Santa Fe, HG devours a huge bowl of pho with rice noodles and steamed tofu. Variety is the spice of life? Not in matters of romance: For 57 years, wife BSK has been the love of HG’s life. Not at breakfast: Fruit yogurt. Canadian maple syrup. Not for dinner dessert: French chestnut puree with whipped cream. Pre-dinner: Gin or vodka. Post dinner: Bagaco (Porttuguese marc distilled on Prince Edward Island. (When in New Mexico, HG sips bourbon). Old HG is consistent (possibly boring).

Delicious Double Header

October 6th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

So, what’s a dining “double header”? It’s a dinner enjoyed in the evening with abundant leftovers. So, the identical meal will be served happily for dinner the next day. It means one cooking session by BSK and one cleanup of pots and pans. Convenient and labor-saving. Not all meals qualify, but curries, stews, soups, braises, chili take to reheating nicely (some are even better the second day as the spices and flavors mix and mature). A few nights ago, BSK made a lush chicken curry using the recipe from Vikram Vij’s cookbook, “Vij’s At Home”. Accompaniments were lusty, soupy dal and raita salad (both from the lively “Indianish” cookbook). Plus bowls of basmati rice, of course. Condiments were mango chutney and fiery Indian pickle mix. Drank Canadian white wine (very chilled), Happy meal. This was repeated the next night with a worthy addition: blanched and curried cauliflower florets. Second night of pleasure.

HG’s Ma Po Tofu

October 5th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is very fond of the Chinese dish, Ma Po Tofu. This is a comforting combination of ground pork, garlic, tofu, cooking wine, garlic chili sauce and other flavorings. HG always orders it in Chinese restaurants. When HG/BSK had a loft in Vancouver, B.C., HG would pick up a container at nearby Congee Noodle House (along with barbecued pork and poached chicken with a ginger/scallion/garlic relish). This made a pleasant dinner a deux at a dining table facing an inspiring view of mountains, sea and skyscrapers. (Vancouver is a wonder city). HG is fond of BSK’s version of Ma Po Tofu, but it is a touch too “healthy” for the old guy. So, last night HG made Ma Po Tofu. HG browned much garlic in sizzling vegetable oil. Added ground pork after garlic lightly browned. Stirred and stirred until pork was cooked. The sauce had many ingredients: Soy sauce, garlic chili sauce (much); sherry wine; oyster sauce; less than a teaspoon of cornstarch; a bit of ketchup (an HG variation). Poured this on the pork in the wok and folded in room temperature tofu. Gentle stir frying until all the flavors combined and the tofu softened while keeping its shape. Served it over thin rice noodles (cooked by BSK). Good eating.

Chill Weather Chili

October 4th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

When the temperature drops, a “bowl o’ red” warms body and soul. BSK (anticipating loss of electric power due to oncoming Prince Edward Island hurricane season storms), made a big pot of Texas-style chili (no beans) last night. Garnished with chopped onions, grated cheddar and sliced avocado, HG had savory bowls for dinner and lunch. BSK used Rick Bayless’s chipotle chili mix in the recipe. (the Bayless Chicago restaurant, Frontera, is a winner but his chili mix is insipid). Far better is Wick Fowler’s Two Alarm Chili Mix (to appease heat-loving HG, thoughtful BSK adds additional chili powder to create Three Alarm Chili). When HG/BSK and Jackie Cain/Roy Kral (the great jazz vocal and piano duo–sadly deceased) lived in Montclair, N.J., Jackie introduced HG/BSK to Wick Fowler chili. A revelation. Jackie was slender and her voice was pure silver, but she tapped into her heritage (Polish) and Roy’s (Czech), for super hearty dishes. Dumplings, pork stews, kielbasa and sauĂ«rkraut, etc. HG/BSK miss their friendship, Jackie’s cuisine, and their musical art.

Corn Muffins and Other Breakfast Treats Of The Past

October 3rd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Nostalgia. There were few better breakfasts than corn muffins smeared with softened butter or good strawberry jam. Do they still exist? Decades ago, they were a regular staple in New York coffee shops and New Jersey diners. These were the real deal. Grainy. Crunchy. True corn flavor. HG thought about them when shopping with BSK on Prince Edward Island. Bought blueberry mini-muffins. Had two with coffee. Crapola !! Feh!! Mushy dough. Tasteless blueberries. Rest of the package went into the garbage bin. There are still appealing muffins in HG’s food universe. Thomas English Muffins with their butter nestling “nook and crannies” have remained tasty. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have good crumpets and scones. USA and Canadian croissants disappoint (That’s because the taste of Paris bakery croissants lingers in HG’s memory). Does a Bialy qualify as a muffin? Doesn’t matter. When a New York counterman shouted: “Gimme a Bialy with a shmear!!” (Bialy with cream cheese), HG knew a breakfast treat would appear in a New York Minute.

Jazz Voices

October 1st, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Music is very much part of HG’s Prince Edward Island life (and in New Mexico, bien sur). HG’s days and night are accompanied by the glorious sounds of Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Haydn and Scarlatti. Interpreters are Yo-Yo Ma, Pierre Fournier, Heifetz and Piatigorsky (wonders all). Sometimes, if the mood is right, HG switches to jazz voices: Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Hartman are all obligatory. But, there are others. The soulful Ernie Andrews accompanied by his accomplished instrumentalists. The late Jackie Cain. a superb jazz vocalist and HG//BSK’s pal and admirers of many years, commented about Andrews: “He’s got that black ‘thang’. Pure soul.” Add to the mix, Fats Waller (voice and piano). HG achieves instant happiness from Fats. Chet Baker (voice and trumpet). Unique. Individual. HG often mused how such a handsome, magnetic, supremely talented man could follow a path of such flagrant self-destruction. Back to Jackie Cain. Silver voice. Perfect diction and phrasing. As a birthday gift, Jackie sang “Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe” for HG. Unforgettable. Thankfully, HG possesses many CDs by Jackie and her late husband, Roy Kral. Jackie and Roy (as they were billed) were the ultimate jazz duo.

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