Anchovies

October 20th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Growing up, HG ate lots of anchovies. HG’s late Mom, in her blend of Yiddish-English, pronounced them “anchowees.” Mom (and HG’s late father) were very fond of them. They thought of anchovies as another form of salty schmaltz herring. HG ate them on slices of buttered rye or pumpernickel bread. When in season, they topped juicy slices of tomato. A squeeze of lemon was obligatory. When very young, HG accompanied the snack with cold tomato juice. At the age of ten and thereafter, HG drank beer. HG’s Mom and Pop didn’t consider beer to be a dangerous alcoholic drink. When HG began dining at Italian restaurants, HG usually began the meal with anchovies and roasted peppers. (Best version was at a long-closed eatery on E. Houston Street). These days HG eats anchovies with BSK’s roasted and peeled peppers or jarred Spanish peppers. A favorite use is cooking anchovies with olive oil, sliced garlic, parsley and fiery red pepper flakes. Poured over spaghetti, the sauce creates HG’s favorite pasta treat. (Romans like it late at night after a bout of carousing and drinking). The best anchovies come from Italy, Spain and Portugal. The very good ones are usually jarred. Anchovies, of course, are necessary for a well made Caesar salad (One constructed with raw egg yolk, good olive oil, some lemon juice, capers and a shower of ground pepper. No croutons.) BSK uses anchovies to enhance broccoli sauce served with penne. When making vinegar chicken (a bow to Joisey “Stretch’s Chicken”), daughter Lesley R. used an entire tin of anchovies as part of the sauce. None of these uses of anchovies adds excessive saltiness and there isn’t a bit of fishy flavor or aroma. A benefit is the fact that anchovies are one of the world’s most nutritious (and low cal) foods. (Oddly, there are folks who hate them).

Black Bean Soup A La BSK

October 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Black bean soup is nourishing, filling and has a smoky, lusty flavor. HG’s first bowl was at the long-closed Coach House Restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village. Restaurateur Leon Lianides served it with squares of moist corn bread. HG was smitten. (Also had black bean soup at the Joe Allen restaurant in the theater district. Pleasant. Not as celestiĆ¢l as the Coach House masterpiece). BSK’s efforts at cooking beans in the high altitudes of Colorado and New Mexico were unsuccessful. Since Lesley and Massimo R., HG/BSK’s daughter and her husband (plus Pip, their beautiful and intelligent dog), were due to arrive last night after a long drive from Rhode Island (much rain and drizzle), BSK decided to welcome them with steaming bowls of black bean soup. Thought cooking beans at Prince Edward Island sea level would succeed. BSK was right. BSK’s soup turned out as good (or better) than the Coach House version. Much praise from warmed L. and M. Splendid fresh baguette from Charlottetown Farmers Market. Cheese platter. Green salad. Red wine (last glasses accompanied by dark chocolate). Memorable reunion dinner. Here’s how BSK made the wonder soup. Soaked black beans overnight. Fried pork belly (no ham hock or ham bone available). When done, removed pork but left half the fat in pot. Cooked garlic, onion, carrot and red pepper in the fat until softened. Beans went into the pot with cups of water and chicken stock. Added half cup of dry sherry and bay leaves. Cooked until half of the liquid reduced and then cooked for some hours. After beans achieved the right degree of softness, removed bay leaves and used an immersion blender to puree (but still leaving some texture). Joy.

Street Food

October 12th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Sunday was Farm in the City Day in Charlottetown, the capital city of Prince Edward Island. Queen Street, the main stem, was lined with stands offering farm vegetables and meats. There were cooked snacks, crafts and face painting (for the kids). Plus live music from local bands. Hundreds and hundreds of folks showed up. Street was jammed. Reminded HG of similar events in New York City. Possibly, HG is a bit of a curmudgeon. Does not enjoy these street events. Too much noise and crowding. Vertical eating is messy. HG was not pleased with “The Night Market” in Vancouver, B.C., even though the nocturnal festivity has a positive reputation. There are two exceptions to HG’s dislikes. One is the grilled Italian sausage on a roll with peppers and onions served at the annual Feast of San Gennaro in New York. (Calvin Trillin shares HG’s delight). The second is Tokyo’s Ameya-Yokocho shopping street (in Ueno). When HG was in Tokyo, SJ took HG on a tour. Fried octopus. Tonkatsu. Shu Mai. And, more. Much more. Only seated meal was superb ramen. There was also a visit to a sake bar. (HG left it moderately tipsy). Of course, eating with SJ is one of life’s treats. Excellent son is allergic to nothing. Is knowing and adventurous. Has good appetite and likes robust food. HG’s favorite dining companion.

Appetizer/Starter/Vorspeise

October 5th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is very fond of appetizers. Often, the main dish in restaurants is a letdown after a flavorful group of appetizers. HG likes to forgo entrees and make a meal of appetizers. American restaurants find this unsettling. BSK objects because when HG orders an appetizer meal, the rest of the table has to endure a long, annoying wait before they get their main dish. Why? HG doesn’t know. Doesn’t happen when dining in Paris. In the USA, an appetizer is called, yes, “appetizer”. In Britain, it’s a “starter” and in France (confusingly) “entree”. In German, it’s “vorspeise.” Same word in Yiddish. HG’s late, beloved father pronounced it “furshpice.” It was mandatory at HG’s childhood table in The Bronx. Father’s appetizer was a piece of schmaltz herring, slice of onion, pumpernickel bread. And, a hearty shot of Park & Tilford rye whiskey. (Substitute vodka on the rocks for the whiskey, and this remains one of HG’s favorites. Essential that the herring has to come for Russ & Daughters in New York). At the family dinner table this was usually followed by chopped liver or gefilte fish. Next course was chicken soup with noodles or kasha. Main dish and dessert were downhill for the most part. In the HG/BSK Prince Edward Island refrigerator are two great, classic appetizers: Oysters (South Lake and Red Head Select). Gravlax (Raw Atlantic salmon cured under weights with sprigs of dill and served with a mustard/dill/sugar sauce). Happily, BSK’s main dishes are as delicious as the appetizers. In HG’s gustatory memory bank are the Amsterdam raw herrings (when in season), dipped in raw onion and followed by Genever gin and a beer chaser. Excellent SJ would bring joy to family holiday feasts in Riverside, R.I, when he bought them for HG and grandson Haru at Russ & Daughters.

Dutch raw herring with onions on a dish

Pancakes and Postum

October 4th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

In the refrigerator, there were three ears of Blum’s sweet corn. Although more than a week old, they were still fresh enough for corn pancakes. Yes, HG obeys the “waste not, want not” proverb. So, HG shucked the corn and added the kernels to pancake batter, milk, beaten egg and a dash of canola oil. Fried on an oiled griddle and doused with a goodly amount of Canadian maple syrup, this was a pleasant breakfast on a grey, cold day on Prince Edward Island. When HG was a youngster attending P.S. 86 elementary school in The Bronx, home was just a few blocks away. This made it possible for the little fellow to lunch at home. Often, HG’s late Mom prepared pancakes using Aunt Jemima Pancake mix. The pancakes got a pat of butter plus Log Cabin Maple Syrup. HG doesn’t know whether the maple syrup was the real thing but loved the tin container fashioned into a faux log cabin. The beverage was Postum with hot milk. Postum is still being manufactured. It is a whole-grain, “healthy” alternative to coffee. Rarely see it in supermarkets but, like everything in life, it can be ordered on Amazon. It is, how shall HG put it, an “acquired” taste.

Yom Kippur. No Food. No Sex.

October 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is writing this on Sept. 30 after an epic Rosh Hashonah food and musical evening. HG will be writing about this event in an upcoming post but, for now, let’s focus on Yom Kippur. This day of atonement (and HG has plenty of sins to atone for), will begin at sundown on Oct.8 and end on the night of Oct 9, a 25 hour period. Synagogue services will begin with a Cantor chanting Kol Nidre, a tribute to a forgiving god. (Many good versions of Kol Nidre can be found on YouTube). During this time observant Jews fast. No food. No drink (including water). Washing or bathing is forbidden as are lotions, creams and wearing leather footwear. Conjugal sexual relations are forbidden. As a confirmed atheist and humanist, HG does not observe Yom Kippur. However, HG and Episcopalian BSK, treat Rosh Hashonah as a delightful New Year’s Eve (this year is 5780). Much better than the conventional Dec. 31 event. Though HG’s parents were socialists, secular in outlook and lax about kashruth (keeping a kosher home), they were strict about observing Yom Kippur and strict about HG fasting. Rebellious HG would disappear from home and play basketball with Our Lady of Angels Catholic School boys. Would return famished – the celebratory end-of-fast meal many hours away. In a recent communication, Peter H., the renowned writer, reminded HG of an incident of sinful gluttony in HG’s youth. HG’s late Mom made sensational rugelach. These pastries had a flaky crust and were crammed with walnuts, raisins, cinnamon and honey. Not to be resisted. And, naughty HG did not resist. Mom and Pop were at the Kingsbridge Heights Synagogue (Yom Kippur was the one day when they both attended). So, HG ate one of the 10 rugelach which were meant for the end-of-fast night meal. The day went on and the greedy lad kept nibbling and soon all of the rugelach were gone. Mom came home. Began screaming “Gahnuvim!!” (thieves). The rugelach were close to the rear door. Mom was convinced that a rugelach burglar had entered. Told HG to call the police. HG confessed. Using early public relations skills, HG told Mom the rugelach were too tempting and should have been placed under lock and key. Mom didn’t buy this justification. Mom and Pop did not believe in corporal punishment (thankfully) but there were many harsh words from them. This did not prevent naughty HG from participating in the lush night meal. After all, a growing boy had to eat.

Waste Not. Want Not.

September 28th, 2019 § 1 comment § permalink

HG’s late beloved Mom grew up in a tiny, impoverished “shtetel” in the Minsk province of Russia. She was a thrifty woman who managed to feed her family amply during The Great Depression. Nothing was ever wasted. Leftovers were recycled into some tasty and some outlandish meals. Every drop of a chicken was utilized. Chicken soup (with noodles). Boiled chicken with horseradish and boiled potatoes. Chicken skin rendered into chicken fat and “grieven” (fried crisp skin much like–sacrilege–a pork rind). Liver was incorporated in chopped calf’s liver or sauteed as a special treat for little HG. Bones, gizzard, neck were the basis of stock and chicken feet (despised then and now by HG) gave a gelatinous touch to “tzimmes”, carrots cooked with honey, ginger, chicken fat and garlic (delicious). Even the wishbone had a function. Mom covered it in crochet. It hung on a wall and was a repository for thimbles and needles. No, BSK is not an obsessive like Mom, but she has a dab hand at using leftovers and food remnants. A few nights ago, BSK made a parsley pesto for a crudites dip. It wasn’t eaten as HG/BSK and guests devoured many oysters. Not wasted. BSK put it to good use as a sauce (with additional oil, garlic and stock) for a pasta dish of pappardelle with perfectly done fresh cauliflower florets dusted with parmesan and red pepper flakes. Waste not. Want not.

Fifth Avenue Department Stores

September 20th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

When HG lived in Manhattan during the 1950’s and ’60’s, New York’s Fifth Avenue was lined with department stores and women’s fashion emporiums. Bergdorf Goodman (still there as it has been for more than 100 years) was at the corner of 57th Street with Tiffany’s (still there) and Bonwit Teller (gone) across the street. The fashion parade continued with I. Miller Shoes (gone), BSK’s fave for classy footwear; DePinna (gone), excellent men’s suits, shirts and ties; Best & Co. (gone), famed for women’s gloves; Saks Fifth Avenue (still operating and flourishing). To the dismay of folks who wanted to preserve the avenue’s elegant image, E.J. Korvette (gone), the pioneer discounter, opened on Fifth (it was where HG bought a bargain TV). South of 42nd Street, there was Franklin Simon (where BSK bought a lovely hat for the HG/BSK wedding reception at the St. Regis Hotel); Arnold Constable, Lane Bryant (for the ample lady); Lord & Taylor; W.J. Sloane Furniture; Russek’s (the great photographer, Diane Arbus, was from the family who owned the fashion store). B. Altman was on the corner of 34th Street and Fifth. Ohrbach’s was nearby on the north side of 34th. All have vanished and some of the luster that made Fifth Avenue unique. However, keeping avenue elegance alive are Van Cleef & Arpels (744 Fifth) and Cartier (653 Fifth), the jewelry and watch shops much patronized by New York’s new generation of wealth and oligarch tourists. Many of the department stores had pleasant lunchrooms. The best was at B. Altman. And, HG often had a steaming bowl of soup at Lord & Taylor.

Courtesy Patricia Cummin/Flickr

Failure

September 14th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has happy memories of perfect New York meals. At Veau D’or: Brains in back butter preceded by sausage with warm potato salad. At The Russian Tearoom: Blini with red caviar, melted butter and sour cream preceded by borscht. At Paul & Jimmy’s: Poached striped bass in brodo with a starter of linguine with white clam sauce. At Christ Cella: Lump crab meat cocktail, New York strip steak, Roquefort cheese salad. At Gitlitz Delicatessen: Pastrami and chopped liver on rye with coleslaw, Russian dressing and pickles. At Delsomma: Penne in broccoli sauce, pork chops with vinegar peppers and potatoes. At Fornos: Margaritas and roast pork with Spanish potatoes and broiled bananas. At Luchow’s: Pfefferlinge (wild mushroom fricasee) and Schlemershnitte (steak tartar covered in Beluga caviar). Blue Ribbon: Grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut and home fries followed by apple pancake. Artist & Writers: Dry martinis and koenigberger klops (meatballs in a dill and sour cream sauce). Paramount Dairy: Warm gefilte fish in fish broth and kashe varnishkes with mushroom and onion gravy. Nom Wah (of yesteryear): Dim sum. (HG has written about HG’s perfect meals at Gage & Tollner in a previous post). These are all joyous meals but they pale compared to the meal HG would relish often at the counter of the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Eight chilled oysters on the half shell. Oyster Pan Roast. Nesselrode pie. The pan roast was prepared behind the counter in a special pot by a dour, unsmiling older Italian. It was incomparable, redolent of the sea and the richness of farmland. For years, HG/BSK have tried to replicate this dish. The ingredients and cooking technique are simple. However, HG/BSK have always failed. Their attempts created a pallid dish, in no way comparable to the Oyster Bar wonder. HG tried again last night using big, plump Red Head Select oysters. The result: FAILURE.

“Hit Em In The Kishkes!!”

September 5th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

From the 1920’s into the late 50’s Jews –as fighters, managers and promoters–were prominent in the world of professional boxing. The lighter weight divisions were dominated by Jews like Benny Leonard, Ted Kid Lewis, Ruby Goldstein, Abe Attell and many others. Later. in the heavier divisions there there were the Brownsville Brooklyn battlers like Al “Bummy” Davis, Morrie Reif, “Schoolboy” Friedkin and others, Also, heavyweights like Maxie Rosenbloom, Max Baer and “Kingfish” Levinsky. Jewish managers like Al Weill and Mike Jacobs dominated. Post World War Two America brought prosperity and opened opportunities for Jews that had been restricted by quotas and restrictions. Young Jews became lawyers, doctors, etc. Like Jewish criminals (Lepke Buchalter, Buggsy Siegel, Arnold Rothstein, etc. ,etc.), the Jewish world of boxing faded into the past, only remembered by nostalgic oldsters. An old guy like HG remembers watching Jewish battlers in New York at St. Nicholas Arena, Broadway Arena, the Forum. There was a belief that African- American fighters shrugged off blows to the head. Jewish fight fans would shout to their favorites: “Hit’em in the kishkes!!”. The Yiddish word “kishkes” means stomach or belly. The Jewish fighters followed this advice. Often misguided.

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