December 1st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

SJ has discovered the pleasures of lunch. That’s what he reports in his enlightening blog, (The blog is a must read for anyone interested in food, sharp writing, Tokyo and life). SJ lives in Tokyo after years in New Jersey, Chicago, Manhattan and Brooklyn. SJ finds lunching in Tokyo a wonderland of treats. Every variation of fresh fish, meat, noodles. Best of all, these quality lunches are cheap. In SJ’s lunch post on Oishi Gevalt (“The $5 Lunch Special”, SJ mentions HG’s breakfasts of long ago consisting of black coffee and numerous Marlboro cigarettes and HG’s four-martini lunches (Those were the days when HG was a New York/New Jersey public relations biggie). No, SJ, four-martini lunches are suicidal. HG had modest two-martini lunches (plus wine or beer and post meal brandy). And where did HG lunch with alcohol loving journalists? Three places near the Times, Herald-Tribune, Newsweek and Business Week: Blue Ribbon (German food and world’s best steak tartare); Artists & Writers (German food with a specialty of konigsberger klops, a savory dish of meat balls in a cream and dill sauce); Sardi’s (lamb chops with a grilled kidney). Lunch with clients was at the Bar Room of the Four Seasons (Pool Room was for tourists). Other client lunch spot was Christ Cella, the great steak house (This was also convenient for lunching with journalists from the News, Mirror, Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine and Barron’s). These days HG has a lusty breakfast, a spartan lunch and a lavish dinner. BSK, interested in keeping HG healthy and reasonably sober, has prevailed upon HG to substitute white wine for pre-dinner vodka martinis.

Sardine Dinner

November 17th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

During HG’s New York days, HG would often order a sardine platter at delicatessens (when not in the mood for pastrami) and dairy restaurants (when not in the mood for kasha varnishkes). Did a reprise of that meal for dinner last night. Sardines. Sliced tomatoes. Sliced sweet onions. BSK gave the vegetables a hit of good olive oil and a bit of wine vinegar. The sardines got a shower of capers and a squeeze of lemon. What lifted the dish to higher realms were the sardines. Matiz Gallego sardines. These are Spanish sardines harvested off the coast of Galicia. Thick, meaty sardines bursting with flavor. HG drank Bass Ale with the meal and sopped up the juices with Whole Foods ciabatta (Cadiz sardines also came from WF). In New York, HG would accompany the sardines with Jewish rye bread, pumpernickel or bialys and pletzels (onion rolls). Drank Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic (a Noo Yawk perversion).

Peter Hellman

October 18th, 2017 § 1 comment § permalink

Peter has been a loved and admired pal of HG/BSK for many, many decades. HG met Peter when Peter was a young journalist working for New York Magazine. Publicist HG was Peter’s guide in the greedy world of New York real estate and the result was many bylined articles as well as a number of front cover stories. The HG/PH collaboration deepened into a solid friendship. Over the years, Peter’s journalism has enlivened many publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Wine Spectator. His interests are omnivorous as reflected in his seven books.They include crime (“Chief”, the cases of New York’s Chief of Detectives, Albert Seedman; the Holocaust, “When Courage Was Stronger Than Fear”; Israel, “Heroes: Tales From The Israeli Wars”; real estate, “Shaping the Skyline”, the career of the late real estate visionary, Julien J. Studley; wine, “American Wine Handbook.”) HG believes Peter’s true passion (besides family and friends) is for wine. For some ten years he was a contributor to Wine Spectator and a wine columnist for a New York newspaper. His passions have coalesced in his newest book, “In Vino Duplicitas.” The book jacket describes it well: “True crime pairs well with fine wine in the astonishing story of Rudy Kurniawan, perhaps the most notorious–and unlikely– wine forger in history.” Peter has the unique ability to make complex maneuvering exciting and available to the reader. So, “In Vino” is an education in fine and rare wines as well as an absorbing insight into the eccentric world of wine collectors who pay thousands of dollars for a bottle of wine that they may never drink. Besides writing about wine, Peter likes to drink wine. He has a fine palate and is a sipper, not a guzzler. Many years ago, Peter stored a collection of fine wines in the cellar of the Montclair, N.J. home occupied by HG/BSK. The wines were there strictly for storage in a cool environment. During those rare times when HG did not have a good bottle for the evening meal, HG “borrowed” one of Peter’s bottles. These “borrowings” gradually increased into the realm of theft. The wines were glorious and HG did not exhibit restraint. After a year, Peter arrived to find his collection drastically diminished. He forgave HG. The friendship continued.

Italian Shakshuka

October 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK are very fond of Shakshuka, the Israeli / Middle Eastern egg dish. (BSK uses Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe from the “Jerusalem” cookbook). Cool and windy last night on Prince Edward Island so a hearty dish seemed appropriate for dinner. BSK, in one of her remarkable improvisations, combined elements of a Shakshuka with a recipe for Italian sausages with onions and peppers. BSK added chopped fennel and fennel seed to the fried onion, pepper, garlic mix. Added a splash of wine vinegar before mixing with the cooked and browned hot and sweet sausages. Fried eggs on top. Accompanied by a baguette to soak up the juices and yolks, it was a tasty dish. The sausages were locally made, good, but they needed the addition of fennel and fennel seed to approximate the “real thing.” In the future, HG will have to go online and order sausages from Esposito’s, the venerable Manhattan pork emporium.

Another One Bites The Dust: El Charro RIP

September 26th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

El Charro is gone. Closed. It was a charming Greenwich Village landmark at 4 Charles Street. El Charro originated as a Mexican restaurant and then morphed into a Spanish restaurant in 1959. And that’s when HG became a steady customer until leaving for Colorado with BSK in 1986. SJ (aka HG’s son) filled HG’s vacated seat and continued to frequent El Charro for years until it closed a few months back (its demise came to HG’s attention today). El Charro was the essence of Greenwich Village a half century ago. The Village had Inexpensive apartments inhabited by journalists, fledgling copywriters, painters, musicians, theater folk, embryonic novelists and playwrights, young emigres from the midwest (BSK among them) etc. El Charro was a happy place with a Village communal feeling. After one visit, the waiters treated you like a friend. Thankfully, it was inexpensive as HG and BSK had limited financial resources long ago. The food was garlicky, hearty and tasty. Typical HG/BSK meal was an appetizer of spicy chorizo followed by scallops (or shrimp) in green sauce. Finale of Spanish fried chicken. Lots of saffron rice. Flan for dessert. Mucho sangria and magaritas. There were always pals or acquaintances in the room, adding a joyous element to the dining. All gone. Gone as an older New York fades into memory. Fortunately, Sevilla, another Village Spanish restaurant still operates. HG/BSK enjoyed their huge platters of paella and arroz con pollo. HG presumes Sevilla prices are no longer those of the 1960s.

BSK Beats the Wind

September 14th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island home was buffeted with winds of almost Hurricane Irma velocity. However, HG/BSK luxuriated in comfort as BSK stoked HG/BSK’s Danish wood stove. Dinner was pure comfort. BSK cooked local hot and sweet Italian sausage with peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Hearty sauce. Served it over perfectly al dente papardelle. Oh, my! HG approached heaven. The sausage was good but it wasn’t the true flavor packed (lots of fennel seeds) Italian sausage available in New York (Greenwich Village-Ninth Avenue- 11th Avenue- Bronx: Arthur avenue and Mott Haven-Queens Corona-Brooklyn Carroll Gardens and Bensonhurst.) When HG/BSK lived in Manhattan and northern New Jersey, a favorite source for Italian sausages was Faicco’s Pork Storeon Bleecker Street (other location on 11th Avenue). The best. Faicco’s also had great mozzarella and many other Italian delicacies. Plus, fabulous hero sandwiches. If you are wandering in Greenwich Village and developing an appetite, order a take out Faicco’s sandwich. Be warned. One sandwich is more than enough for two hearty eaters. Abondanza!!

The “Chippy” Mystery

September 1st, 2017 § 6 comments § permalink

Benjamin “Chippy” Weiner, a member of Lepke Buchalter’s Murder, Inc. kill squad, was shot to death in his Lower East Side apartment on Jan, 13, 1948. Weiner was home with his baby son, Louis. Knock on the door. Weiner, in silk pajamas, opened the door. Riddled with five bullets. As he lay on the floor, gushing blood, he said: “Take care of the baby, take care of the kid.” There are many mysterious aspects about the killing. Police said that Chippy owed loan shark Willie “Farby” Rosenberg $500 and wouldn’t pay, so Rosenberg hired mafia hitman Santo Bretagna. He killed Chippy. Both Rosenberg and Bretagne were convicted of the crime and died on the Sing Sing electric chair. HG still finds this strange nearly 70 years later. As my late, beloved father, Hershele Zvi Freeman, put it when he first heard of Chippy’s killing: “Nahrishkeit (foolishness). Killing Chippy doesn’t get the $500 back. Doesn’t put any kasha on the table. And, the cops are looking for the murderers. Lots of luck in getting away, schmucks.” Another mystery. Chippy’s wife, Sylvia, left the apartment before the murder. Said she was going for a walk and would buy cigarettes. Very cold night for a walk. She didn’t return for two hours, long after the murder. There was $765 in a mesh purse in her bedroom. Said she had no idea where the money came from. Asked about Chippy’s employment, she said he worked for a knitwear company. Not true in 1948; however, Chippy worked briefly, in 1946, as a shipping clerk for Brownie Knitting Mills, the company founded by HG’s uncle, Philip, and his wife, Marie. After they retired, the company was led by their son, Sol Freeman. HG’s father was in charge of sweater repairs, stock and shipping. Manufacturing was done in Pennsylvania. While an employee at Brownie, Chippy admired HG’s father. Hershele did not reciprocate. HG was friendly with Chippy when HG worked at Brownie during the hot summer. Hershele warned: “Chippeh (that’s how he pronounced it in his Yiddish-English accent) bist ah trumbenick (is a scoundrel). Don’t get friendly. You could be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” HG did not heed the advice. Would join Chippy for after work beers and listen with delight to Chippy’s stories about his variegated love life. Chippy and mobster Philip “Little Farvel” Kovelick were rivals for the romantic affections of a woman known as “The Red Rose of Williamsburg”. She was later indicted for the murder of Ruby ‘The Mock” Shapiro but dismissed for “lack of evidence.” The Judge described her as a “vile murderess.” Chippy married her daughter. “Little’ Farvel”, many years later, turned up dead in a steel drum in Florida. There was another Brooklyn gangster known as “Little Farvel”, Philip Cohen, a heroin smuggler. (Farvel is a Jewish egg pasta shaped like a tiny shell). HG has wondered what happened to Louis, Chippy’s baby son. There’s a photo taken a few days later showing the happy little fellow in the arms of a middle-aged woman identified as Lottie Burchess. Is she “The Red Rose? Did she adopt the kid? No answers. The mystery isn’t solved.

When “Der Fuhrverts” Became A Weapon for Female Dignity

August 27th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, newspapers are in decline. News is coming via the internet. The newsprint paper may soon be a memory. New York’s Village Voice has ended its print edition. Sad. It had a wonderful history of investigative journalism and support of avant garde arts. HG often gave information to Jack Newfield, one of the paper’s star writers, about the destruction of neighborhoods by real estate developers. (Now a real estate developer is trying to destroy American democracy). Its classified ad section was the go to place for rental apartments. When BSK arrived in New York in February of 1963, BSK read the Voice and found an apartment to share in Greenwich Village with a young Frenchwoman. BSK’s share of the rent: $75 a month. HG always loved newspapers. Growing up, HG relished New York’s seven daily newspapers. Four morning papers: Times, Herald-Tribune, News, Mirror. Three afternoons: Post, Journal-American, World Telegram & Sun. (For a brief period, New York also had another daily, PM. Later renamed The Compass). There were also many foreign language newspapers besides the specialized Journal of Commerce and The Racing Form. The Yiddish press flourished. There were three dailies: The Jewish Daily Forward, with the largest circulation, was a socialist newspaper edited by the remarkable Abraham Cahan. It was the favorite of HG’s late Mother and Father. They always referred to the newspaper as “der Fuhrverts”. The other Yiddish dailies were Der Tag-Morning Journal, slightly conservative and edited for more affluent Jews. Freiheit was communist. Greatly aided the communist-led Fur and Leather Workers Union. Ben Gold. was the union’s fiery leader. HG’s Father abhorred communism but enjoyed the ferocious, madly passionate oratory of Ben Gold. A family legend involved “der Fuhrverts.” HG’s Mom was seated in the Jerome Avenue El on the way to 170th Street. She was reading “der Fuhverts”. She glanced upwards. A shocking sight: A man stood before her displaying his penis. Ida Kopkind Freeman rolled up the paper and gave the offensive male appendage a good whack. She yelled: “Go away,slob!!!. He did. Ran to an exit. A triumph for a newspaper and feminine dignity.


August 22nd, 2017 § 1 comment § permalink

A favorite weapon of garment center workers and hoodlum strikebreakers during the labor battles in New York (1915-20) was the “schlammer.” This was a metal pipe wrapped in newspaper (HG presumes the bloody newspaper was divested. No fingerprints). The men (and some women) using these weapons were known as “schlammers.” HG’s late lamented father, Hershel Zvi Freeman, was such an effective breaker of criminal heads that he (wife and infant son Bernard) had to leave New York in a horse and wagon. Long journey took them to the Ohio farm of Fanny Howitz, HG’s Mom’s sister. The three spent a happy time there (HG’s mother and father especially loved community square dancing) before returning to New York when they thought things were safe. HG’s father was in his 50’s when HG was born. A quiet and gentle man, he was plagued by various ailments until his death in the 1960’s. Never spoke about his violent days. However, when HG was 14, HG ran an arcade game in Rockaway for a couple of tough Jews.( “Five Balls. Five Roses. Roll ‘Em Easy. Roll ‘Em Slow. Every Game A Winner.” chanted young HG as he collected money and made change.) A grifter cheated HG out of ten dollars which was deducted from HG’s measly pay by HG’s nasty bosses. HG told his father. Father went down to the basement of the boarding house where HG’s family summered. Picked up a lead pipe. Wrapped it in newspaper. HG and father went to the arcade. “Schlammer” in hand, HG’s father, in a soft and courteous voice, said the deduction was unfair and asked for ten dollars owed his son. The tough guys looked at the “schlammer”. Silence. They forked over the ten bucks.

Noo Yawk In PEI

August 11th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

With many hugs and kisses, the Freeman/Sakamoto clan (SJ, EM, Teru, Haru) left Prince Edward Island for Brooklyn with the final destination being Tokyo. Before setting off, there was a fabulous New York breakfast. Visiting HG daughter, Victoria, brought a smoked fish feast from New York’s venerable Russ & Daughters. Two types of smoked salmon. Sable. Red salmon caviar. BSK provided capers, lemons, bagels, brown bread, sour cream, cream cheese, sweet butter. Lesley R. made a big stack of crepes (she is world champ crepe master). Lots of coffee. Yes, it was the classic Sunday breakfast/brunch HG/BSK enjoyed during their years in New York. Russ & Daughters was the source during HG/BSK’s Greenwich Village year and Zabar’s was the source when HG/BSK lived on W. 67th and W.79th Streets. Rainy day so dinner was hearty. Lesley R. made a sumptuous stew of hake, tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Served it over Calamari pasta ( a large round shape that holds the sauce with tenacity). This was preceded by cold mussels in a mustard sauce and BSK’s sautéed fresh scallops over greens. The meal was enhanced by the presence of Massimo R. who arrived in time for dinner after a long, non-stop drive from Providence. Happily, the distinguished Professor managed to avoid any collisions with moose.