Red Salmon Caviar

August 16th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The real Russian/Iranian caviar—beluga, sevruga — is unbelievably expensive. Can only be enjoyed by oligarchs, billionaires and other plutocrats. Some 58 years ago HG would order these treats (inexpensive then) from Caviarteria in New York and heap tablespoons on lightly toasted and buttered slices of Pepperidge Farm Thin Sliced White Bread. No adulteration of taste by additions of lemon juice, chopped onions, chopped hard boiled eggs and sour cream. Drank icy Polish Vodka Wyborowa from a bottle covered with frost from the freezer. This is a happy memory. However, HG is pleased that one of the great affordable luxuries, Red Salmon Caviar (the color is closer to orange) is readily available online from Zabar’s (HG’s choice) and Russ & Daughters, two New York smoked fish institutions. When living on the upper west side of Manhattan, HG/BSK would have a favorite brunch at The Russian Tea Room on W. 57th Street (this delightful eccentric restaurant was a show biz, dance and music hangout but after many ownership changes and glitzy renovations it is a hyper-expensive shadow of its former self). The brunch would start with “Eggplant Orientale”, a Slav version of baba ganoush. This was followed by stacks of blini drenched in melted butter and topped with red salmon caviar and thick sour cream. Oh, my!! Gifted Daughter Lesley R. makes her version of this with thin crepes (HG murmurs: “More, more.” ) SJ contributes superb latkes that get the caviar-and-sour cream adornment. This takes place at the family feast of the fishes (Russo/Jewish version) on Christmas.Eve in Rhode Island. When back in New Mexico, BSK makes BSK’s inimitable omelets. Very soft on the inside (the French call it “baveuse”) with gently browned exteriors. BSK fills the omelets with red salmon caviar. Scoop of sour cream on top. Heaven.


December 21st, 2016 § 1 comment § permalink

How to explain HG’s passionate attachment to vodka? There was a time when HG was the spokesman for Vodka Wyborowa, the superior Polish vodka. HG always had a plentiful (gratis) supply available. Those were the days (1959-1963) when Russian cavIar was cheap. (Caviarteria was HG’s source). Buttered toast (Pepperidge Farm thin sliced white toast) topped with a big spoonful of Beluga. (No lemon or other useless condiments.) Vodka Wyborowa from the freezer. Ah!!!! HG’s vodka love can be traced back to HG’s Belorussian ancestry (HG’s ancestors distilled vodka as part of their mill operations.). Strangely, HG never saw his beloved father, Hershele Zvi Freimann, ever drink vodka. His alcoholic indulgences were Park & Tilford rye whiskey, home brewed cherry brandy (Vishniak), and Slivovitz (fiery plum brandy). Unlike his son, Hershele had a happy time but never got drunk. vodka-small-jpg-824x0_q71_crop-scale

More Birthday Feasting

December 4th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Generous and thoughtful daughter, Vicki F., the New York restaurateur (Cookshop, Vic’s, Rosie’s, Hundred Acres), birthday gifted HG with a lush package from Zabar’s, the Upper West Side food landmark. Happy 87 (can’t quite believe this number). The package contained: American farm raised caviar (as good, or better, than the Iranian and Russian products); Alaskan Salmon red caviar; blini; creme fraiche. The makings for an indulgent feast. Invited David F., friend, neighbor and HG’s favorite vodka drinking companion. Meal began with the American caviar on gently warmed blini topped with creme fraiche and a bit of finely chopped onion. HG and David F. accompanied it with copious icy vodka. (BSK drank sauvignon blanc). BSK then made BSK’s inimitable feta cheese omelets. Brown edges with soft, flavorful interiors (the French describe such omelets as “baveuse”). The dreamy and creamy omelets were topped with the Salmon caviar, sour cream and chopped onions. Jollity reigned as copious vodka and wine were consumed. Meal concluded with an endive and watercress salad plus ripe Comice pears with chunks of parmesan. Yes, much joy can still be found in a very divided America. Many, many thanks, Vicki.


Celebrating Number 85

November 11th, 2014 § 8 comments § permalink

85. Hey, that’s a lot of years. But, HG, the birthday boy, is not only Hungry Gerald but Greedy Gerald. HG wants more. More life. More years. More food. More wine. That’s because HG has the best wife, the best children, the best grandchildren and the best dog (Toby, a new member of the family). And, of course, HG/BSK divide their time between two delightful and very different paradises: New Mexico (the Land of Enchantment) and Prince Edward Island (The Gentle Island). In New Mexico, HG/BSK have the benefit of interesting, generous, amusing friends. Among them are Polly B. (the renowned photographer); David F. (novelist and historian); Karen K.(film producer). This trio gathered with HG/BSK and Gorgeous Granddaughter Sofia for a birthday feast of red salmon caviar (from Zabar’s) and home made blini (via the Roger Sherman recipe from Canal House Cooking, Vol. 3). Also Gaspe Nova Scotia smoked salmon and sable (from Russ & Daughters, a very generous gift from Restaurateur Daughter Victoria). On the table was creme fraiche and thick sour cream; scallion cream cheese; whitefish salad; pickles; capers; caper berries; sliced sweet onion and tomatoes; black olives. Jewish rye and pumpernickel bread (from Zabar’s). Genuine New York bagels (Russ & Daughters). The group toasted HG with Kristal champagne (a startling pre-birthday gift from Antony and Claudia C.) and then went on to a variety of cold, dry white wines. Dessert. Ah, dessert!! This was provided by Karen K., acknowledged as The Dessert Queen. HG has written about Karen K.’s wonders before but this time the talented lady outdid herself. Dessert was flan. A wondrous flan that hovered somewhere between traditional flan and an ethereal creme brûlée. A dream custard with toasted flakes of almond to provide a contrasting crunch. Providing some overkill, HG sliced pistachio halvah accompanied by Bushmill’s Irish Honey Whiskey. Polly B. and David F. gave HG a magnificent straw sombrero as a birthday gift. This will be indispensable on PEI’s beaches even though the hat makes HG look like an exotic variety of Jewish mushroom. Thanks to all (including little granddaughter Teru) who sent birthday greetings and wishes. A joyous birthday, indeed.


Hey, Salmon Have Eggs Too

October 7th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Have you looked at caviar prices recently? Only Russian oligarchs, New York landlords and unindicted hedge fund operators can afford the Russian-Siberian-Iranian sturgeon eggs. Long gone are the days when HG bought a pound of beluga for Christmas Eve feasts. However, salmon have eggs, too. And, red salmon caviar from Alaska is affordable. Zabar’s in New York sells the good stuff for $70 a pound and a pound goes a long way. Salmon caviar is versatile. Great with softy scrambled eggs topped with sour cream or Greek yogurt. Wonderful in a baked potato with an exuberant amount of butter and sour cream. Splendid when topping SJ’s state of the art potato pancakes. Best of all: With blini or crepes fresh off Gifted Daughter Lesley R.’s Rhode Island griddle. Grandson Haru (now in the picky picky eater stage) becomes a boy of appetite when confronting a bowl of red caviar. Gobbles it au naturel. Cheapo caviar — herring, cod and whitefish eggs — are horrid. Stick to salmon.

Kitchen Caviar

July 10th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

There is an addition to HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island kitchen. It is a Russian poster advertising caviar. An appetizing — and rivetingly beautiful — piece of art. Featured in the poster is what appears to be a one pound tin of Beluga, a smaller tin (Sevruga, perhaps?) and a leaping sturgeon. All set against a background of intense blue. This is a gift from our recent houseguest Nir Bareket (and his lovely long time companion, Wendy W.). Nir, who lives in Toronto, found it in a Toronto gallery. It is another example of Nir’s remarkable eye. Nir is a distinguished photographer. His 50-year career as a photographer will be the subject of a retrospective sponsored by the City of Toronto. The show will open in April 2014. HG/BSK hope to be there.


Bernard Wolfe

June 15th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Spent a delightful hour chatting on the phone with Miranda Wolfe, daughter of the late Bernard Wolfe, an extraordinary writer who wrote just about everything: novels, short stories, journalism, ghosted Broadway columns, television, screen plays and customized pornography which he produced for one reader — an Oklahoma oil zillionaire (Wolfe was in good company in this customized porn business as the eccentric Oklahoman also hired, amongst others, Henry Miller, Anais Nin and Gene Fowler. What they all had in common was a need for quick cash). Sorry. Don’t want to emphasize the pornography. This was just a miniscule portion of Wolfe’s output (and he found it distasteful). Make haste and read BW’s works.. A good start would be Really The Blues which he wrote with jazz musician Mezz Mezzrow. (This book heavily influenced influenced the Beat Generation of writers — Kerouac, Ginsberg, etc.. For a treat, listen to some of the music forgotten Mezzrow made with Sidney Bechet. Check it here!). The Late Risers defined the cool Broadway hipsters of many decades ago. The Great Prince Died is a historical novel based on the Mexican exile of the great Russian revolutionary and anti-Stalinist, Leon Trotsky. Later, the title was changed to Trotsky Dead. At one time, Wolfe was bodyguard/secretary for Trotsky (he wasn’t present when Trotsky was pickaxed to death by a Stalin assassin).

BW also wrote Limbo, a prescient sci-fi novel.

Wolfe had quiet sartorial elegance and a well stocked mind. Unlike many writers, he excelled at both talking and listening. HG enjoyed some memorable dining with Wolfe. Bernie’s favorite restaurant (and HG’s) was Fornos. a happy Spanish place that flourished on West 52nd Street many years ago (here, BW was formally addressed as “Senor Lupo”). The excellent food was preceded by classic Margaritas and ended with Banana Daquiris. Very hard to leave sober. Bernie liked the Oak Room of the Algonquin hotel where he would compose his meals carefully and creatively after some knowledgeable consultation with the waiter and captain. Alas, the composition of a meal is a skill that has virtually disappeared in New York (but, not in Paris).

In the 50s and early 60s Russian and Iranian caviar was cheap (If you listen closely you may hear the sound of teardrops falling on HG’s keyboard). HG recalls a caviar feast HG (and his ex-wife) hosted at their town house apartment in the Gramercy Park neighborhood. Some two pounds of Beluga (from Caviarteria) were devoured with thin, buttered white toast and washed down with abundant, icy Polish Wyborowa Vodka. In addition to Bernie, the other guests were screenwriter/painter/novelist Fred Segal and his then wife, Sandra. The caviar was followed by cognac and Upmann Brevas cigars, Maduro leaf. Not exactly an homage to healthy living. HG and his ex-wife survive. The others, sadly, are gone. Miranda Wolfe is busy working on Bernie’s voluminous and distinguished literary legacy. Hopefully, many gems will be reissued. Pornography has been described (by the French, of course) as books read with one hand. HG will be reading the reissued Wolfe works with one hand. The other will be clutching a glass of ultra chilled Polish vodka.

A Happy Memory With A Sad Ending

September 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

In the early sixties HG was a regular attendant at a fitness club on E. 45th Street in New York. Racquetball, weight lifting, saunas and steam baths. Manly stuff. Every Saturday morning HG engaged in a vigorous weight routine with a large, jolly fellow club member. He was a big guy with a big laugh, big muscles and a big mustache. He had an enviable job with the Romanoff Caviar Company. So, after the steam bath, sauna and piercing hot and cold showers, clean and joyous HG and Big Guy, swathed in towels, sat down for their Saturday snack. This consisted of a pound (or more) of the best Beluga caviar (procured by Big Guy) and a bottle of frozen Polish vodka, Russian black bread and sweet butter (all provided by HG). At today’s prices, the two healthy gourmands consumed about a thousand bucks worth of caviar every Saturday.

Unfortunately, after one caviar feast Big Guy had a massive heart attack and died. He was much mourned.

Scrambled Eggs And Caviar: Billionaire Food

March 16th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Unless you’re a Russian oligarch, Goldman Sachs partner or Middle Eastern oil sheik, caviar has become unaffordable. HG is talking about the real stuff: Osetra, Beluga, Sterlet or Sevruga from the Black Sea. For HG, a wistful memory. But, all is not lost. HG can still feel regal by indulging in scrambled eggs on buttered toast topped with modestly priced (but very good) red salmon caviar. Proper ingredients are essential: Fresh eggs from a humane hen house, high quality sweet butter, sweet cream, creme fraiche (Whole Foods carries a good quality brand), Pepperidge Farm Thin White Bread and, of course, good quality red salmon caviar (Zabar’s will overnight it to you).

Melt generous amount of butter in your saucepan under very low heat. Gently scramble eggs with sweet cream (HG likes to add a few drops of Tabasco). Add eggs to saucepan (keeping heat low). Swirl eggs in pan, adding a bit more sweet cream. You want very creamy eggs formed into gentle curds. Top the white bread toast with eggs, add caviar and a spoonful of creme fraiche. HG likes this dish with chilled Prosecco or Gruet New Mexico Blanc de Blanc. HG doesn’t want to be a billionaire. HG just wants to eat like one.

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