Garlic And Chicken Fat

April 19th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s two favorite writers on food and restaurants are Calvin Trillin and SJ (No nepotism. SJ’s blog,, is both appetizing and brilliantly perceptive about many aspects of Japanese culture). HG shares with both writers a love for garlic and chicken fat, staples of HG’s late Mom’s Eastern European kitchen. Sammy’s Rumanian, the raucous, venerable restaurant in Manhattan’s lower east side features HG’s “Holy Trinity”: Garlic, Chicken Fat and Vodka. Here’s what Trillin has to say about Sammy’s: “Following the Rumanian tradition, garlic is used in excess to keep the vampires away. Following the Jewish tradition, a dispenser of schmaltz (liquid chicken fat) is kept on the table to give the vampires heartburn if they get through the garlic defense.”). Happy HG is looking forward to a dinner of chicken sautéed in olive oil with thirty gloves of garlic (plus lots of herbs from BSK’s garden). There will be a loaf of fresh ciabatta to soak up the juices and to spread with savory soft garlic. Count Dracula, beware!!!

High Cal (Yummy) American Road Trip

May 31st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK and Toby, The Wonder Dog, will soon take off on a four day motor trip across mid-America. Santa Fe to Riverside,R.I.. Hopefully, HG/BSK will get there in time for a day of family festivities celebrating brilliant granddaughter Arianna Riva’s graduation from Brown University. Toby is anticipating a happy reunion with Pip, the Riva family’s super smart and charming dog. HG has spent some time researching the best places to eat that are close to the highways HG/BSK will travel. A good source for down home goodies is Michael and Jane Stern’s Roadfood Website. Their recommendations are not for the weight watcher or cardiologist. Big emphasis on lush burgers, mammoth breakfasts, barbecue and three-inch high pies. Oklahoma seems promising. There’s Sid’s Diner with their famous onion fried burgers and Coneys (That’s what hot dogs are called in the western provinces). The tube steaks indulge in overkill. The grilled Coneys are smothered in chile, fried onions and cheese. HG can hardly wait. Sid’s is near Oklahoma City. A bit further east in Tulsa, HG is looking forward to grilled flounder and hush puppies at White River Fish Market (BSK will join HG in devouring these treats). HG/BSK will go through Kansas City, Mo.. The duo will ignore Calvin Trillin’s barbecue mecca, Arthur Bryant’s, and concentrate on Stroud’s for America’s best pan-fried chicken. HG anticipates some conflict when HG/BSK approach Indianapolis HG has promised BSK there will be no long schlep from the highway or their motel lodgings in search for some obscure purveyor of local, esoteric delicacy. However, when HG/BSK approach the Indiana metropolis, HG will plead the case for a visit to Shapiro’s at its downtown location. Shapiro’s is a 110-year hold Jewish “kosher style” delicatessen. Pastrami, corned beef, real rye bread, matzo ball soup. You get the picture. Long regarded as one of the ten best Jewish delicatessens in the land. Certainly, it is the only Jewish delicatessen with biscuits and gravy on the menu. BSK’s birthday will be celebrated at one of the very good Pennsylvania Dutch restaurants in Allentown, Pa. Expect full reports from HG on HG/BSK’s All-American road fressing.


Appetizing Writers

September 28th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

HG likes to eat (and drink). And, when not indulging in these ever bright pleasures, HG likes to read about them. The most appetizing book about these subjects is Between Meals: An Appetite For Paris by A.J. Liebling, the New Yorker writer who had a prodigious appetite and a prodigious talent. He said of himself: “I write faster than anyone who writes better, and better than anyone who writes faster.” The book deals with Liebling’s culinary (and amorous life) in Paris. It’s witty, erudite and wonderfully evocative of that magical city. M.F.K Fisher is another writer who has written well of France, food, love and loss. Her prose is impeccable. Her recipes are terrible. Waverley Root has written definitive books about the food and wine of France and Italy. Nice analysis of tastes and regional specialties. Alexander Lobrano, Patricia Wells and blogger John Talbott are reliable reviewers of today’s Paris restaurants. Best of all New York restaurant reviewers was the late Seymour Britchky. Irreverent, funny and accurate. He died in 2004 and HG misses his acid reviews of pretentious restaurants. The New York Times, of course, has been the leader in restaurant reviewing. Craig Claiborne was the pioneer. Good judgment but much impressed by mediocre Chinese restaurants and Jewish delicatessens (probably due to a provincial Mississippi youth). Mimi Sheraton was HG’s favorite Times critic. Sheraton combined a love of “haimish” cooking with a taste for big, international flavors. HG also much enjoyed Ruth Reichl’s work at the Times before she moved on to Gourmet Magazine (sadly,no longer published). Current critic Pete Wells is at his best when he’s being destructive. Otherwise, he seems a bit too arch and precious. Sam Sifton, the food editor, is splendid. He’s made the Times a rich source of recipes and ideas for delicious home cooking (Melissa Clark is a standout. HG finds Mark Bittman uneven). Joseph Wechsberg, who wrote about European restaurants (and much else) for the New Yorker is ripe for rediscovery. And, HG recalls with fondness the down to earth midwestern flavored food writing of Clementine Paddleford (great name) of the long demised New York Herald Tribune. Calvin Trillin is the poet laureate of barbecue and other indigenous American foods (however, HG can never understand his love for the vastly overrated Mosca’s Restaurant near New Orleans). Jane and Michael Stern’s books about highway and roadside restaurants were lively and wildly influential but their selections are very uneven. They liked some terrible Tex-Mex and hamburger joints in Colorado but led HG/BSK to some very good eating in Montana and Washington. So, take their recommendations with caution.


State Of Maine

June 21st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK (accompanied by Toby, The Wonder Dog), will soon be motoring through Maine, on the way to HG/BSK’s oceanfront home in the green, blessed, gentle paradise known as Prince Edward Island. HG has packed plenty of oyster knives, clam knives and protective gloves. Lots of shucking is anticipated as HG/BSK will bring bivalve deprivation to Johnny Flynn’s Colville Bay oysters and By the Bay Fish Mart quahogs. There will be some obligatory food stops in Maine. Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery (in business since 1956) is the ultimate in clam shacks. Unsurpassed fried clams, oysters, scallops and fish. Great potato fries and onion rings. Home made sauces (chipotle mayo is an HG fave). Huge lobster rolls. Very busy but very efficient. Calvin Trillin, the wonderful writer, always stopped there on his way to and from his Nova Scotia vacation home. In Bangor, HG/BSK will dine at Zen Asian Bistro, a restaurant that offers Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese specialties. HG/BSK have never tried it but the menu looks good. HG is very fond of Bangor. It was the home of relatives (HG’s Mom’s side): The Cohens, Nyers and Alperts. These immigrant Jews, a number of whom trekked across Russia from Belorussia during World War One, somehow wound up in this gritty town when it was the center of the lumber industry. They made a big contribution to Bangor. One son became a distinguished district attorney. Another founded the Maine ski industry and was named Maine’s “Businessman of the Year.” And, one of the original immigrants (two years old when he arrived in Bangor), was diminutive (just five-feet-two) but brave, skilled and courageous. He was the captain of a merchant marine ship during World War Two and led his ship safely through mines and German submarines to deliver needed war material to Britain. During the late 1920’s (just before little HG arrived), HG’s family would travel to Bangor for their summer vacation. They swam in the sea off Bar Harbor. When HG’s Mom would describe the temperature of the water, she would shiver dramatically and make loud B-r–r-r!! sounds.


Big $$ For Old Time Treats

May 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Eight dollars for an egg cream. You read it right. That’s what that old timey New York candy store beverage costs at Russ & Daughters Cafe, recently opened on Orchard Street in New York’s Lower East Side. Scrambled eggs and caviar: $180. A helping of Transmontanus caviar: $175. Don’t know what a plate of kasha varnishkes costs or the price of bagel-Nova salmon-cream cheese. Presume they are lofty numbers. Since the smoked fish and caviar comes from the venerable Russ & Daughters “appetizing” store around the corner on Houston Street, HG presumes it’s all mighty tasty. But, those prices!! These are noshes meant for Russian oligarchs. The Russ & Daughters store has been a longtime favorite of HG/BSK and family. The store has been around for 100 years and has a devoted, fiercely loyal customer base. SJ is often first on line waiting for the store to open during Christmas season. SJ spends about $200 and gets enough culinary marvels for HG/BSK, the Riva family and SJ’s family to enjoy their gala Jewish/Russian/New York version of the traditional Italian Christmas Eve “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” When HG/BSK lived on Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, HG was at R & D every Sunday morning. HG often encountered Calvin Trillin, the New Yorker and The Nation writer. Among many attainments, Trillin was the poet laureate of Russ & Daughters. HG’s pal, Peter Hellman, the distinguished journalist and wine authority, performed a similar function for Zabar’s, the megalopolis of smoked fish and much else, located on the Upper West Side. HG will continue to order R & D treats online. Unless there are some price adjustments, HG will stick to take-out and forgo the Cafe.



May 8th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Calvin Trillin, the wonderful New Yorker (and The Nation) writer, is no fan of traditional Thanksgiving Day turkey-and-trimmings gluttony. He has lamented that English pilgrims rather than Italians landed in Plymouth. He wrote: “If it were Italians we would be having Spaghetti Carbonara instead of turkey.” Like Trillin, HG is a Carbonara fan (although HG has learned to embrace the turkey). BSK frowns upon the idea of having the dish too often since the rich mixture of pasta, eggs, bacon (or pancetta or best of all, guanciale – Italian pork jowl) is not number one on the cardiologists’ list of favorite foods. (Dish is also a challenge to a trim waistline). Nevertheless, it remains a special once-in-a-while treat. The trick in Carbonara is keeping things hot. Here’s how HG does it. Chopped pancetta is sizzled in a pan until browned. Eight ounces of Fettucine (HG prefers it to thinner shapes of pasta) are put up to boll. Six room temperature eggs are scrambled with lots of top quality grated parmesan, chopped parsley and plenty of ground black pepper. Moments before the pasta is at a perfect al dente, a bit of hot pasta water is added to the pancetta. Then, into the pan go the noodles followed by the beaten eggs. With the heat on high, everything is mixed quickly with some more pasta water to thin the sauce. Served in heated plates. Robust red wine, of course, and it’s nice to have Pavarotti roaring away on the Bose.



August 21st, 2013 § 5 comments § permalink

Calvin Trillin, the brilliant (and funny) writer, once speculated that if Italians, rather than the English, had landed at Plymouth, we would joyously be eating spaghetti carbonara at Thanksgiving instead of his hated turkey. Like Trillin, HG is a lover of this dish which, as legend would have it, was developed after WWII when GI’s stationed in Italy would share bacon and eggs with the hungry populace. It is deceptively simple to prepare: Room temperature eggs are beaten in a warm bowl with plenty of parmesan cheese and crisp cooked bacon (or pancetta, or the cured pig jowl known as guanciale). The dish is topped with abundant ground black pepper and chopped flat leaf parsley. Goes nicely with a rough Italian wine like Montepulciano d’Abruzze. Last week, Gifted daughter Lesley R. did her own variation on this dish. Alongside two different varieties of Prince Edward Island bacon, Lesley R. added sautéed zucchini and fresh fava beans which created the perfect, complementary textures to the classic creaminess of carbonara. Hooray for innovation.


New Yorker Food Issue

December 6th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The annual New Yorker Food Issue is out and has some good reading for the food obsessed. Calvin Trillin has a piece on the cuisine of Oaxaca, Mexico. Makes you want to grab the next plane to that city even if you have no desire to eat caterpillars and worms, two local specialties. Mimi Sheraton does a riff on sausages including a description of a goose and goose liver sausage she ate in Hamburg some years ago. Very appetite provoking. HG has always felt Mimi Sheraton was the best of the New York Times restaurant reviewers. She reigned between 1975-1983. She was fair, balanced and funny. She concentrated on a restaurant’s food rather than going on and on about the hipness (or lack) of the restaurant’s clientele. Sheraton has written some good books. From My Mother’s Kitchen is a delightful memoir and very evocative of a vanished New York. As a plus, it has some good, down to earth recipes. HG liked Craig Claiborne, the original Times reviewer. However, like many a New York transplant from the South, Claiborne never met a Jewish delicatessen or Chinese restaurant he didn’t love. The man had great judgement in matters concerning French cuisine. But, when it came to pastrami or shrimp in black bean sauce — Fuhgeddabout it!!

Day of the Big Bird

November 27th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

At one time, HG subscribed to Calvin Trillin‘s jaundiced views concerning the Thanksgiving Day turkey. Trillin mused that American cuisine would have improved if Italians had landed at Plymouth rather than English Puritans. An Italian landing would have meant Spaghetti Carbonara on Thamskgiving Day rather than turkey, a bird Trillin does not admire. HG is very fond of both Carbonara and the prose of Trilllin, but HG has become ever fonder of The Big Bird and all the trimmings. This Thanksgiving, HG and BSK were blessed with having BSK’s family (folks with big appetites) at the table. The family group was composed of BSK’s sister, Noel;her husband, Yossi, and their two sons, Eric and Matthew. Also present was Eric’s beautiful girl friend, Lisa. The two young men are big guys — well over six feet and well over 200 pounds. Much muscle. Lisa (a Norwegian horse vaulting champion) is a powerful lass who bench presses over 200 pounds. Combined with Yossi, a rangy Israeli who is a renowned Clean Plate Ranger, this quartet can do a lot of damage to a large turkey. With some help from HG, BSK and Noel, the group totally demolished a 16-pound turkey, mounds of mashed potatoes, brussell sprouts roasted with pancetta, stir fried haricot verts, corn bread-sausage-pecan stuffing, two varieties of cranberry sauce. Plus the obligatory gallon of savory gravy (enhanced by BSK’s lovely roux and some judicious spicing). No second day turkey sandwiches. Only a skeleton went into the turkey broth pot. Dessert was BSK’s nut and cinnamon apple crisp (with vanilla ice cream) plus Noel’s honey cake. Adding to the jolly times were six bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau (very good this year) plus Samuel Adams ale, pre-dinner iced vodka and post dinner Israeli dessert wine (resembled a good French sweet Sauterne). Much to be thankful for.

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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