The Oyster Bar

July 23rd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Oysters are bred and farmed in a score of Prince Edward Island’s bays and coves. Many delicious varieties. Johnny Flynn’s Colville Bay oysters have shells with a distinctive green tinge. They are super delicious. HG is also addicted to the big, briny Malpeque Bay oysters and an interesting variety farmed in Savage Harbor. HG likes to have an oyster feast of eight Colville Bays followed by four Malpeques and climaxed by four Grilled Malpeques (a BSK specialty) flavored with a bit of melted butter. PEI oyster eating has brought back happy memories of gluttonous lunches at The Oyster Bar in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. During HG’s New York days, HG would lunch there twice or three times a month. (Months that had an “R” in them, of course). HG lunched there alone. Didn’t want witnesses to HG’s overindulgence. The lunch: Six Long Island littleneck clams on the half shell. Six Wellfleet oysters on the half shell. Oyster Pan Roast. Nesselrode pie.(This is a custard pie filled with candied fruits and topped with whipped cream.Disappeared from restaurant menus many years ago. Most contemporary chefs have never heard of it). Ballantine’s IPA Ale. The pan roast is the Oyster Bar’s signature dish. In HG’s day, the mix of oysters, chili sauce,Oyster brine, cream, celery salt and paprika was cooked at the bar (where HG always sat) in a special machine by an experienced Italian chef. The wonder mix was poured into a bowl over a slice of dry toast. Celestial. HG/BSK have a record of failure in trying to duplicate this dish. Can’t recapture that Oyster Bar magic.


Black and Tan

September 24th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

An oddity. One of HG’s favorite drinks and favorite sweet confections are named for a brutal, hated military (or police) force. The Black and Tans (the brainchild of Winston Churchill, unfortunately) were a force of World War One veterans recruited to aid the Royal Irish Constabulary to fight the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War for Independence (1919-1922). They had a reputation for fierce brutality, much of it directed against the civilian population. Their name came from their khaki uniforms and black headgear. Some 9,000 served in Ireland and more than a third died or left the service. During their underground terrorist war against the British military in pre-Israel Palestine, the Irgun (and other Jewish militants including young HG, an Irgun sympathizer) often referred to British soldiers in Palestine as “Black and Tans.” Given all of that, it does seem a bit strange that HG often ordered a “Black and Tan” (one half Guinness Stout and one half Bass Ale, the perfect accompaniment to oysters). Howard W., HG’s journalistic mentor and an I.R.A. veteran, would often sup with HG on oysters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Howard would never say “Black and Tan” (he had killed a number of them) but simply order a bottle of Guinness and a bottle of Bass. As for sweets: In the Bronx youth of HG, the young man’s favorite ice cream parlor was Addie Vallin’s (Gerard Avenue and W. 161st Street). The “Black and Tan” was an ice cream soda. Coffee ice cream, milk, seltzer and a slightly bitter chocolate sauce mixed with chopped pecans. An incomparable ice cream soda.

March15 - Black and Tan II

Dutch Treat From The Lower East Side

July 7th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Strolled through the Lower East Side with SJ. Gazed with wonder at the new art galleries, hip restaurants and bars, chic clothing shops (How about 500 bucks for a pair of jeans?). The Essex Street Maket (which used to be a cluttered, ramshackle affair) has now been revitalized and offers artisan cheeses (Saxelby Cheese Mongers) and superb butchers (Heritage Meat Shop) with wonderful charcuterie, fresh meats and fowl. Boubouki, perhaps the greatest Greek pastry shop in existence, offers savory spinach pies and, hands down, the best baklava HG and SJ have ever tasted. Eccentric restaurateur Kenny Shopsin ( a Calvin Trillin favorite) has relocated here from the West Village. HG and SJ ended their stroll on Houston Street at the venerable Russ & Daughters, the best smoked fish emporium in the world.

June is the season for delicious raw herring from Holland. When HG was in Amsterdam he ate scores of these yummies. The ritual is this: Dip the herring in chopped onion. Take a bite. Then a shot of chilled Genever gin. Beer for a chaser. Then repeat and repeat as the sense of euphoria expands. Russ & Daughters (and the Grand Central Oyster Bar) are the only sources in New York for this seasonal delicacy. SJ ordered a platter of the Dutch herring plus some sable, Scottish smoked salmon, red salmon caviar, cream cheese, bagels and bialys. Back to the SJ Brooklyn home for a feast. Present were the SJ family plus HG daughter Vicki and her chef husband Marc Meyer, the dynamic duo behind three New York restaurants — Cookshop, Five Points, Hundred Acres. Vicki and Marc brought a bottle of upscale Genever plus splendid wine. Also present was SJ pal Jay S. (and his bride to be Maya T.). Much joy. Much laughter. Some gin-fueled inebriation. Nothing beats family feasting. And, while much has changed on the Lower East Side, Russ and Daughters has remained the same. A taste monument.

Herring Thoughts

February 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

When Hershele Zvi Freimann, HG’s late, beloved father, arrived in the United States in 1906, he immediately went to work in a Lower East Side sweatshop. Salary: $7 a week. He slept on a cutting table. Bathed in the public baths on Forsyth Street (fastidious HZF went every day). His principal meal of the day cost 12 cents. A schmaltz herring. A pumpernickel bread. A schooner of beer. Irving Howe, in his seminal book on the migration of East European Jews to the United States, World of Our Fathers: The Journey Of The East European Jews To America And The Life They Found And Made, notes that the pioneering labor union organizers plotted strategy over meals of herring and boiled potatoes.

HG honors these traditions of Labor and family. In years past, HG watched the Super Bowl while imbibing herring, boiled potatoes, raw onions and vodka straight from the freezer. This Super Sunday HG and BSK are invited to the home of friends so herring is off the menu, but BSK is curing some salmon — converting the fish into delicious, dill strewn gravlax. Even without the herring there will be abundant vodka so the day will be joyful even if the Giants lose.

In Europe, herring isn’t identified with Jewish cuisine. Most Paris brasseries have pickled herring on their menus (The best is at Stella and Le Vaudeville). At the excellent bistro, Chez Georges, The pickled herring is passed to customers in a big crock. Take as much as you want and seconds are given with a smile.

HG’s best herring memory: Raw herring filets in Amsterdam. Rolled the morsels in chopped, raw onion. HG threw his head back and downed them whole accompanied by Genever Gin and Dutch beer, of course.

A note to New York herring lovers: Russ & Daughters, the Lower East Side temple of smoked fish has these raw herrings in season as does the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Now, there’s the perfect meal. Raw Dutch herrings followed by the Oyster Bar’s wondrous Oyster Pan Roast. Precede it with some oysters and Long Island little neck clams on the half shell. A meal for sea lovers.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Grand Cental Oyster Bar at HUNGRY GERALD.