Baa Baa

February 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Looking forward to dinner tonight of New Zealand lamb chops (from Trader Joe’s) accompanied by roasted Kumatos and fingerling potatoes. HG/BSK will be drinking The Velvet Devil Merlot from the blessed state of Washington. Yes, HG loves lamb chops (called them “ompa lomps” in his childhood). HG has posted many appreciations of lamb (see HG archive). TJ’s and Sam’s Club carry excellent racks of lamb from New Zealand. Sometimes, BSK separates the rack and makes “lamb popsicles” using Vikram Vij’s recipe. Lush heaven. The only lamb stew HG ever enjoyed was Spring Lamb Stew (Navarin Printanier) prepared by the late Sandra Segal (she learned to cook in Paris). Back to lamb chops. Best ever were the triple thick beauties served at Leon Lianides’s Coach House in New York’s Greenwich Village (long closed and replaced by Mario Batali’s Babbo’s) (see HG archive for more on Coach House). Perfect meal at Coach House was starter of crab cakes or black bean soup (accompanied by corn sticks); the great chops; pecan pie with vanilla ice cream. A few times a year, Lianides made a Greek tripe stew. Alas, HG was not a tripe fan in those days and so missed the treat.

Gone, Gone, Gone

January 11th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

The bustling, noisy, fragrant Fulton Fish Market on Fulton Street and the East River in lower Manhattan is long gone. Together with the produce market that flourished on the lower west side of the borough. Both moved to Hunts Point in The Bronx. Yes, there’s better refrigeration facilities there plus transportation advantages. However, the Fulton Fish Market had a certain ambiance that was unique. Joseph Mitchell, the late New Yorker Magazine writer, liked to hang around there. He captured its essence in “Old Mr. Flood” and “Up in the Old Hotel” (about the building that housed the Sloppy Louie’s Restaurant). Close to Louie’s was the venerable Sweet’s seafood restaurant (Founded in 1845 and closed in 1992). HG dined there often circa 1959-1962 when business brought HG downtown. One dozen oysters on the half shell. Fried smelts and cole slaw. Martini before lunch. Bass ale and Guinness with the food. Cost: Six bucks. Yes. Check out the 1960 menu on the New York Public Library website and be dazzled. Louie’s was plain spoken but not sloppy. (Opened in 1930 and shuttered in 1998). The owner, Louis Morino, served very fresh seafood at low prices. There were some surprises. HG had his first taste of sea urchin roe (Uni) there. Old fogey HG mourns the transformation of the meatpacking district into a high fashion zone. (However, HG loves Daughter Victoria’s Cookshop Restaurant on Tenth Avenue, the lovely High Line promenade and the wondrous Whitney Museum). The gritty Bronx Terminal Market in the shadow of Yankee Stadium still bears the name but has become a vast shopping center with the usual tenants and dining highlights like Subway and Applebee’s. Before its dread metamorphosis, HG was the battling public relations spokesmen for the wholesale fruit and vegetable merchants that occupied sprawling stalls there. The merchants were fighting displacement. HG fought the good fight but dubious “Progress” won out. And, another colorful, lively bit of New York was erased.

Lunch

December 1st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

SJ has discovered the pleasures of lunch. That’s what he reports in his enlightening blog, OishiGevalt.com. (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.

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.

The Mystery of Canned Asparagus

July 6th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

There is always a can of green asparagus in BSK’s pantry. Observers are bemused. BSK is not a purist. The excellent cook makes good use of canned San Marzano tomatoes, canned Chinese water chestnuts and bamboo shoots; all of Goya canned beans; Portuguese canned sardines; Ortiz tuna. But, flavorless, mushy canned asparagus? A travesty, especially when the glorious vegetable is in season. Permit HG to solve the mystery: The juice from a can of asparagus is an essential ingredient in one of BSK’s favorite dishes: Shellfish in green sauce. Years ago, HG/BSK devoured many heaping bowls of this Spanish dish at the El Farol and El Charro restaurants in Greenwich Village. BSK’s sister, Noel, and husband Yossi M. were HG/BSK’s guests last night. Encouraged by BSK, they now reside on Prince Edward Island, a salubrious match. Agriculturists, livestock breeders and masters of the equestrian arts, they brought with them some wonders from their farm (strawberries and garlic scapes) plus a bottle of Canadian maple syrup vodka. (Now nestled in the freezer, it should be a super after dinner sip). For “supper” (That’s the evening meal in PEI, Lunch is “dinner”), BSK served clams, mussels and scallops in Spanish green sauce. (HG also boiled some shrimp. They went into the sauce separately, since BSK is allergic to crustaceans). BSK left the traditional recipe in New Mexico. That meant improvisation. BSK was a talented “improv” participant as an actress. Still has that talent in the kitchen. BSK’s “improv” of olive oil, parsley, garlic, onions, white wine, flour,clam juice, asparagus juice from two cans, dry sherry, created an extraordinary sauce. The shellfish and their juices further enriched the sauce. Then there was a unique BSK bit of magic. The tangy dish was served over Geechie Boy Grits. The grits soaked up every bit of the delectable sauce. Another BSK culinary triumph.

Fifty Four and Want More

July 4th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On a torrid July 2, 1963, HG/BSK awakened in their romantic West Side artist’s studio apartment. Eeks!! Overslept. Due downtown at chambers of Judge George Postel to get married. Waiting to witness were BSK’s family and friends Julia and Peter Meyerson. Very disconcerted. However, brief ceremony went smoothly. Wedding breakfast at Longchamps on Broadway near City Hall (sad to see the wonderful restaurant chain disappear from New York). Later in the day, there was a festive reception in the elegant Library Room of the St. Regis Hotel. Music was provided by Bucky Pizzarelli and his guitar (now in his 90’s, he is still performing).Young BSK was chic and beautiful in a Jax suit. Dinner at Fleur de Lys, French bistro on the Upper West Side. HG, much to BSK’s later distress, overindulged in garlicky escargots. The result was HG, on the wedding night, smelling like a giant garlic clove. And, today, 54 years later, HG/BSK are enjoying the cool breezes at HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront home. Anniversary breakfast was softly scrambled eggs and John the Baker bread from the Cardigan Market. Yes, Hungry Gerald married the love of his life. But, Hungry Gerald is also Greedy Gerald. Wants many more years with Beautiful Sharon Kent.

Quack Quack

May 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG is very fond of duck in all of the delectable bird’s cooked forms. Roast duck. Duck confit (a must in Paris). Peking duck. Barbecued duck in plain spoken Chinese restaurants. Decades ago when HG/BSK lived in spacious rent controlled comfort on New York’s Upper West Side, a foodie paradise, Sunday dinner was a roast duck fresh from the rotisserie in the Bretton Woods Hotel on 86th Street and Broadway. The juicy, crisp skinned quacker was accompanied by BSK’s salad of avocado, red onion and orange slices. An array of cheeses from Zabar’s with Z’s pumpernickel raisin bread. An abundance of red wine. Halvah with port. Sumptuous feast. HG/BSK revisited duck last night in the form of Thai Spicy Duck Salad (check out the recipe by Joshua Bousel on Google). The duck was a breast from D’Artagnan. HG scored the fat side of the breast (cooking left an abundance of duck fat, the perfect medium for lush fried potatoes). HG cut the meat in half and cast iron panbroiled it blood rare for HG and medium for BSK. The Bousel recipe calls for chunks of pineapple in the salad. BSK substituted slices of tangerine. At table, HG/BSK heated the dish up with daughter in law Exquisite Maiko’s Oni Sauce. Duck breast is pricey. Salad might be equally tasty using grilled chicken thighs or thin slices of pork. Will try since this recipe is a warm weather keeper.

Broadway

January 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Here’s some New York nostalgia: In HG’s younger New York days, Broadway (between 42nd and 57th Streets) was one of the great eating thoroughfares. HG has written memories of that Broadway (When The Great White Way Was Appetizing and The Roast Beef Sandwiches of YesteryearR). Just off Broadway, on Seventh Avenue, was Heartburn Heaven–the Stage and Carnegie Delicatessens, pastrami purveyors. And, there was the Brass Rail and its fabulous “French Dip” roast beef sandwiches. Sadly, all are gone and so has old fashioned New York, Jewish-influenced restaurant cooking. Turf, Jack Dempsey’s and Lindy’s served sublime cheesecake. Now, if you want traditional high cal New York cheesecake you’ve got to to Brooklyn and Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue. And breaking with the trend, Frankel’s, a new Jewish-style appetizing and deli, has opened up in Greenpoint. Yes, Brooklyn is keeping some of those old time tastes alive.

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Eggs A La BSK

December 23rd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Among the varied talents of HG’s beloved life partner (53 years) BSK is mastery of egg cooking. BSK introduced HG to the breakfast pleasure of “egg and soldiers” at the inception of their marriage. The dish is simple: A perfect soft boiled egg nestled in an egg cup. Dip strips of buttered toast (the “soldiers”) in the egg. Joy. Lately, some Parisian bistros are serving this dish as a starter. BSK’s poached eggs are perfect (hard to find good poached eggs in restaurants). For a hearty breakfast, BSK serves them atop butter and cheese infused grits or polenta. BSK’s creamy, soft scrambled eggs on toasted Thomas English Muffins are an indulgence, They scale gourmet heights when topped with red salmon caviar (from Zabar’s or Russ & Daughters) and sour cream. A perfect light dinner is a BSK omelet accompanied by a baguette, green salad and red wine. BSK’s omelets have crisp edges and lush, soft interiors. BSK folds these wonders around a variety of stuffings: feta cheese; bacon; pancetta, sauteed peppers, onions and zucchini; mushrooms; asparagus (when in season). Better omelets than New York’s fabled omelet shrine, Mme. Romaine de Lyon (long closed, alas). Mel Brooks wrote the screenplay for “The Producers” (Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder) while eating there. BSK’s omelets only inspire HG’s sparkling prose on hungrygerald.com.16719617291_d069081f2b_o

Farewell Carnegie Deli

October 2nd, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

HG’s e-mail pal, Charles Curran, the Florida gourmand, informed HG this morning that the Carnegie Delicatessen will close at the end of 2016. Not a victim of The Real Estate Monster. The Carnegie owns the building in which it is located. The closing doesn’t sadden HG. For some decades the Carnegie has catered to tourists. Prices have been high and the sandwiches have been unappetizingly huge. The Carnegie opened its doors in 1937 and immediately attracted a crowd of show biz types: press agents, song pluggers, comedians, bookies and other raffish denizens of the Broadway/Seventh Avenue/Carnegie Hall neighborhood. HG dined there frequently from 1951 to 1983 (the downhill slide began in the 80’s). HG also frequented the Stage Delicatessen (when Max Asnas was in charge) and the incomparable Lindy’s. Those were glory days for Jewish delicatessens with Reuben’s in the East 50’s, Gitlitz in the West 70’s, Katz’s on Houston Street and 2nd Avenue Deli on Second Avenue. And, of course, there were scores of good delis in the boroughs (with the exception of Staten Island). HG’s all time favorite was Reuben’s. Its Reuben sandwich and chicken in the pot were incomparable. Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose” is framed around a group of comedians, seated at a Carnegie Delicatessen table, chatting about a Broadway character. The film captures the ethos of the Carnegie in bygone days. And, the film is a nice bittersweet homage to low level show biz.

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(Photo by James and Karla Murray)