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.

Big CIty Pleasures

December 17th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

After the serenity and quiet of HG/BSK’s homes in New Mexico and Prince Edward Island, Canada, the duo find New York and Brooklyn intense and tempestuous. There are sweeping changes on every avenue. New shops. Flashy condos. Neglected neighborhoods have now become fashionable. The population diversity is extraordinary. The streets are cleaner than HG remembers but the noise has become intolerable. Very heavy, rude hands on the auto horn. Super honking. Despite the noise, crowds, traffic, etc., HG/BSK are having a wonderful time. It is good to see old friends. And, of course, there is the food. Still the best in the world. HG/BSK had a pleasant brunch with Peter H. and Susan C., old pals of many decades and quintessential New Yorkers. The venue was Dim Sum Go Go on Chatham Square in Chinatown. Good dim sum (not as good as Asian Jewels in Flushing, the dim sum champ). Long stroll though Chinatown, Little Italy and Soho before arriving at HG/BSK’s favorite clothing supplier, Uniqlo, the Japan-based creator of affordable, comfortable apparel. Dinner was at Numero 28 Pizzeria on Bergen Street in Brooklyn. This is a warm and welcoming restaurant. A jazz trio (saxophone, bass, keyboard) filled the room with great sounds. HG/BSK, SJ/EM and their family supped happily. Crisp, tender fried calamari; beautifully prepared tuna tartare; a big arugula salad with shavings of parmesan. Rare to find such great starters in a pizzeria. The pizzas were very good, Crisp, with nice charred edges. Fresh toppings. After drinking much red wine, HG finished the evening with a very inventive after dinner cocktail prepared by the Japanese barman. A wow. Next day was sunny and unseasonably warm, perfect for strolling on the new guttering ornament of Manhattan: the High Line. Riveting Hudson River views. Lovely plantings. High design seating. The High Line ends at the new Whitney Museum. The museum dazzles. It is perfect in every detail. Lighting. Art arrangement. Gallery flow. Indoor and outdoor access. Comfortable seating where one can rest while concentrating on the art. Ah, the art. HG/BSK saw two shows. A Frank Stella retrospective which bowled HG over. Stella’s ambition, power and ability to expand the boundaries of painting and sculpture are given dramatic emphasis in this mind boggling show. There is also a remarkable retrospective of the African-American painter, Archibald Motley. HG/BSK had never seen the works of this remarkable artist. HG/BSK were particularly impressed with his work of the 1930’s. The energy and color of African-American culture (sometimes treated satirically by Motley) pour out of these canvases. The Whitney has an elegant restaurant, The Untitled. HG/BSK rested their eyes and had some creative small plates: Smoked char salad for BSK and steak tartare for HG. Each was a diminutive wonder of culinary creativity. In the evening, HG/BSK met old friends and former business colleagues, Donald and Susan K. They dined at Blue Ribbon Brasserie in Park Slope. Wondrous oysters from British Columbia. A splendid, generous platter of escargots (with plenty of good bread to soak up the buttery, garlicky lustiness of the sauce.) Pork chops with kale and mashed potatoes. HG finished with the largest hot fudge sundae ever confected. Fortunately, SJ joined the party at dessert time and was able to consume part of the mountainous high calorie treat.

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Hoops Magic

May 15th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

In HG’s Bronx youth basketball ruled. Sure, there were plenty of softball games, rough and tough sandlot football battles, bleacher seats at Yankee Stadium (to watch the Yanks) and at the Polo Grounds (to watch the football Giants). But, the game that captured the hearts and minds of Bronx guys was basketball. Every Sunday, HG played three-man ball on the asphalt courts of Public School 86 (on Reservoir Avenue) or the Williamsbridge Oval (near Mosholu Parkway). Winning threesome kept the court. Losers left and another trio took their place. First team to score 16 points won. HG was no star. Just a very competitive and fearless journeyman. After games were over, the hungry young men shared huge, greasy pizzas at Joe’s Pizzeria on Jerome Avenue or numerous hot dogs with sauerkraut and mustard at nearby delicatessens. Saturday night was reserved for college games at Madison Square Garden. St. John’s, N.Y.U., C.C.N.Y., Manhattan, L.I.U. all had powerhouse teams and legions of manic fans. Apres game it was off to the Blue Ribbon, a German restaurant, for huge apple pancakes and beer. Currently, HG is watching the NBA playoffs. The players, in HG’s opinion, are the greatest athletes in the world. They combine size, strength, coordination, speed, grace, endurance and a fiery will to win. In recent days HG has seen ferocious, brilliant games culminating in last second heroics by Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce and Lebron James. Yes, Europeans call soccer “the beautiful game” and Canadians are nuts about hockey…Fuhgeddabout it!! The game that’s got everything is NBA play-off hoops. And, depleted after vigorous TV watching, HG sits down to sumptuous eats prepared by BSK. Beats the hell out of pizza and hot dogs.

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Teutonic Memories

December 9th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Pleasant dinner last night. Divided the cooking duties. HG fried potatoes and cooked bratwurst (simmered in beer for 15 minutes and then grilled to a brown crisp). BSK made sublime sauerkraut. Drained Bubbie’s kraut and cooked it with onions, apples, olive oil and a bit of chicken stock. Subtle, non-acidic flavors. So. Kraut and spuds were first rate. Brats were okay. Just okay. Plenty of pungent Polish mustard and Bubbie’s Bread and Butter pickles plus Shiner Bock Beer (“The Pride of Shiner, Texas”) helped the cause, but just barely. It made HG muse: “Where are the brats of yesteryear?” For years one could get inexpensive, succulent platters of brats-kraut-home fries in scores of German restaurants throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Luchow’s, Blue Ribbon, The Heidelberg and Volk’s were the leaders of the pack and HG quaffed much beer at these Teutonic shrines of hearty eating. Other than The Heidelberg (opened in 1936) they are all gone, alas. Of course New York, being New York, still offers authentic German Food — and the great Yorkville butcher Schaller & Weber sells some of the finest brats around — but the golden age of cheap and delicious NY German restaurants is over.

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The Original Blue Ribbon

January 29th, 2013 § 8 comments § permalink

The Blue Ribbon was a German restaurant located in New York on W. 44th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. (Don’t confuse it with the cluster of wonderful Blue Ribbon restaurants run by the Bromberg brothers). The original Blue Ribbon opened in 1914 (and managed to survive the World War One anti-German hysteria). Delighted robust eaters for many decades until it closed in 1975. Served all the traditional dishes (kassler ripchen, grilled wursts, wiener schnitzel,sauerbraten, sauerkraut, fried potatoes, etc.). A warm room paneled in dark wood. Comfortable seats and pleasant lighting. A perfect venue for lovers of hearty food washed down with the best of German beers. It was a favorite with Germans who had fled Hitler. (Plus some bad Germans — namely a wartime espionage ring which used the restaurant as a rendezvous before being captured by the FBI). HG dined there very often with journalists from the New York Times. The real estate editor, the late Glenn Fowler, was a frequent dining companion. He introduced HG to steak tartare. Glenn would mix it at the table with a host of ingredients — egg yolks, anchovies, chopped onions, capers, English mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, ground pepper and a dash of Tabasco. Very memorable. Best ever. The Blue Ribbon was a short walk from the original Madison Square Garden (50th and 8th Avenue) so it was an HG favorite for a snack after basketball, hockey or fights. HG would choose the apple pancake, a giant affair, at least 18 inches in diameter, oozing sauteed apples enriched with cinnamon, ginger and powdered sugar. Dark beers in chilled mugs within reach, HG and buddies argued about the athletic events. A frequent Blue Ribbon customer was Erich Maria Remarque. His novel, All Quiet On The Western Front, was one of the first books burned by the Nazis. He manged to avoid their clutches by escaping to Switzerland (his sister, Elfriede Schutz, wasn’t as fortunate — she was beheaded by the Nazis for “defeatism”). There are many mentions of the Blue Ribbon in Remarque’s novel about New York in the 1940’s, Shadows In Paradise. Remarque didn’t spend all his time writing and eating. He had a long affair with Marlene Dietrich and a shorter affair with Hedy Lamarr before marrying the beautiful actress, Paulette Goddard. Remarque’s name lives on in New York. Goddard gave New York University $20,000,000 to found the Remarque Institute of European Studies. Permit HG a digression. The first director of the Institute was the late Tony Judt. In HG’s opinion, Judt is the greatest historian of post-World War Two Europe. He was an engaged intellectual who wrote many penetrating studies of world affairs. If you want to have some understanding of the difficult world we live in, you must read his books.

How Did We Do It?

May 27th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

That’s a question HG often puts to himself. HG is referring to drinking habits in the 50s and for most of the 60s. In those halcyon days, HG lunched daily in Manhattan restaurants with journalists, pals or HG’s public relations clients. Typical lunch at the Blue Ribbon, very good German restaurant on W. 45th (convenient for journalists from Times, Herald-Tribune, Newsweek and Business Week): Two dry martinis with Rollmops Appetizer (Bismarck herring rolled around a dill pickle); steak tartare or bratwurst or Kassler Rippchen (smoked pork chop) washed down with two large, dark beers. Cognac and a cup of black coffee to finish. At Russian Tea Room, HG drank chilled vodka throughout a lunch of Eggplant Oriental, Borscht with Pirozhki (flaky meat pastries) or Siberian Pelmeni (tiny Russian ravioli in a rich chicken consomme infused with generous quantities of chopped dill, sour cream and strong mustard). Wine, of course, accompanied the food at Sardi’s, Four Seasons, Gino’s. Patsy’s, Charles, Christ Cella, etc. But, two martinis always jump started the lunch. After lunch, an energetic HG was back at work. Focused. Productive. HG was not alone. Men (and women) drank cocktails at lunch — Martinis, Manhattans or Whiskey Sours. How could we function with so much lunchtime booze? We did. And, it was fun.