Recipe For Happiness

September 10th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The New Yorker Magazine writer, Adam Gopnik, HG’s favorite essayist, wrote a charming account of his psychoanalysis, “Man Goes to a Doctor” in his collection Through The Children’s Gate. The protagonist of this lightly comic but deeply felt memoir is Gopnik’s late, imperious analyst, a European Freudian of the old school. During an analytic session, Gopnik expresses a desire to visit Venice. The analyst immediately makes a reservation for Gopnik at his favorite Venetian hotel. He then gives Gopnik a list of good Venetian restaurants (all old fashioned and traditional). “Order linguine con vongole (white clam sauce). You will be happy, at last.” Excellent advice. HG has rarely been happier than when eating linguine con vongole. Many decades ago HG/BSK and family would collect clams from the bottom of Long Island’s Great South Bay, a short stroll from HG/BSK’s home perched on a sand dune facing the Atlantic Ocean. HG had a very effective clam shucking instrument and could shuck a few hundred clams in a short time. This meant raw clams on the half shell (with a dash of lemon juice); clams casino (clams dotted with bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, drenched in olive oil, topped with bacon and given a quick broil in the oven) and the main course — BSK’s incomparable linguine con vongole.


Balzar & Gopnik

May 13th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Brasserie Balzar on the Rue des Ecoles in Paris was (before its takeover by the Flo Group) HG/BSK’s favorite dining spot. Just a sprinkling of tourists. It had a true Parisian ambience. It was patronized by Left Bank publishers, writers, arts and antiques dealers plus many academics from the nearby Sorbonne. Many pretty women. Chic without pretension. The decor and lighting were slightly deco and infinitely comfortable. The waiters were wonderful. True professionals. No servility and no arrogance, collaborators with the diners in creating a delicious experience. The food? Classic, plain spoken French. Roast chicken. Broiled liver. Oysters. Mussels. Skate wing in black butter with capers (HG’s favorite). Choucroute garnie. Tarte tatin with gobs of creme fraiche. Sadly, Balzar is now just a shadow of itself, another soulless Flo brasserie like Coupole, Vaudeville, etc. You can read about efforts to save the old Balzar in Adam Gopnik’s book, Paris to the Moon. In HG’s opinion, this is the best book ever written about Paris and contains many brilliant perceptions about French culture, food, manners, etc. Gopnik has also written a very rewarding book about New York, Through the Children’s Gate–A Home in New York. It’s a wry and knowing view of New York (plus many insights into the rewards and trials of parenting). There’s also a comic masterpiece in the book, a chapter titled, Man Goes To See A Doctor. Its portrait of Gopnik’s psychoanalyst is indelible. Gopnik is a fount of wit and erudition. But, he’s not perfect. Born in Montreal, Gopnik prefers that city’s sweet, honey flavored (feh!!) bagels to New York’s robust bagels, the traditional companions of cream cheese and Nova.


Jewish Montreal

May 15th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

On the way to summer fun (kayaking, sun bathing, swimming, beach walking, cycling, oysters, mussels, lobsters, fresh fish) on Prince Edward Island, HG and BSK will spend a week in Montreal. Have leased an apartment in the colorful Plateau district and will be joined by SJ, Exquisite Maiko and their 2 children. Gifted Daughter Lesley says she will join us for a few days. And, admittedly a long shot, Restaurateur Daughter Vicki and chef/husband Marc say they will try to get away for a brief visit. Guaranteed: Loads of fun and feasting. HG is eager to try the much vaunted Jewish food in Montreal. This means Schwartz’s (smoked meat); Fairmount Bakery (bagels); Wilensky’s (fried salami with mustard on a “pletzel”/onion roll). Will pass on Moisha’s, an expensive steak house, but will dine at Au Pied de Cochon, A Quebecois restaurant that is on the cardiology black list (savory foie gras and snout-to-tail pork specialties). Have heard good reports about Montreal dim sum, Lebanese take-out and cheap, spicy Portuguese chicken. A full report will be forthcoming. While noshing on Jewish specialties in Montreal, HG will ponder why some of his favorite Jewish writers come from that city — Saul Bellow, Mordecai Richler and the New Yorker Magazine’s brilliant Adam Gopnik. Of course, Montreal’s Leonard Cohen is an HG favorite in his roles as poet, song writer and performer.

The English Language

January 8th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG becomes concerned about the beauty of the English language at a time when “fun” has become an adjective rather than a noun; a time when the adverb has been banished and “You’re welcome” has been replaced by “No problem.” However. There is still England and The Economist, a magazine that calls itself a newspaper. Every issue contains memorable English prose. Over the last months there was a review of a book: “God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis.” The review (as does the book, says the reviewer) proves that one can write about this significant appendage without prurience, pornography, puritanical fastidiousness or forced hearty jollity. And, there’s an obituary of Brian Cobby, “Britain’s Male Speaking Clock.” From 1985 to 2007, it was Cobby’s voice, on the other end of a telephone line, that gave Britons the correct time — accurate to within five milliseconds. This is an obituary that muses amusingly about Time and its various manifestations while, at the same time, painting a portrait of a delightful, typically English, eccentric. And any fan of HBO’s wonderful series Treme will love the article “Home-Grown and Spirit-Raised: An Exuberant New Orleans Ritual Commemorates the Friendship of Escaped Slaves and Native American.” in the Dec / Jan double issue. HG is no Economist press agent and HG is only faintly an obsessed Anglophile, so HG recognizes that good English prose can be found in some American publications. Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker always gives HG pleasure.

The Best Food Book In Creation

May 30th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink, is an anthology from the pages of New Yorker Magazine and edited by David Remnick. In HG’s opinion, it is the best food book ever created. There are articles that will make you hungry (A.J. Liebling on the Paris restaurants of his youth; Joseph Mitchell on the old New York steak dinner or “beefsteak”; Joseph Wechsberg on French chef Fernand Point). Some will make you think (Adam Gopnik on French cuisine). Some will make you laugh (Calvin Trillin, Ogden Nash, Steve Martin, Dorothy Parker, Woody Allen and S.J. Perelman). Some may make you weep (Alice McDermott’s bittersweet fiction, “Enough,” on the varieties of appetite and desire). And, there’s one that may make you queasy. HG refers to “A Rat In My Soup” by Peter Hessler. The intrepid author visits Luogang, China, where two restaurants, The Highest Ranking Wild Flavor Restaurant and the New Eight Sceneries Wild Flavor Food City specialize in rat (yes, some tasty cat and snake dishes are also available). Hessler dines on Simmered Mountain Rat With Black Beans and Spicy and Salty Mountain Rat. He discovers, no surprise, that rat really isn’t very tasty. Anyway, “Secret Ingredients” is savory fare, indeed

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