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.

Hangouts

November 7th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

HG misses a certain type of codified New York City hangout for journalists, writers, poets and theater people. The species was exemplified by Elaine’s on Second Avenue where Woody Allen and scores of writers and performers received special treatment from the owner, Elaine Kaufman. The food was indifferent but HG enjoyed Elaine’s rough edged charm. Like HG, Elaine was a product of The Bronx and HG often greeted her with the soubriquet: “Elaine, the shapely Evander Childs alumna.” (Evander Childs being the name of a Bronx high school) She died in 2011 and the place was refurbished under new owners. Don’t believe it has recaptured the old ambiance. HG was lucky to spend some time with Elaine (some months before her death) at Le Veau d’ Or, the old time French bistro on E. 61st Street. HG had just finished lunching with SJ when Elaine came in. The two New York oldsters had some laughs and much cognac drinking. She, like her eatery, was an original. Pre-dating Elaine’s was Costello’s, a bar on Third Avenue and 44th Street. It opened when the El rumbled overhead and became a favorite with the staff of the New Yorker and their pals. Became a tourist attraction after James Thurber paid a Depression-era bar bill, by painting a 24 foot by 24 foot mural of his “War of the Sexes.” A.J.Leibling, Ernest Hemingway and John O’Hara drank there. According to legend, Hemingway broke his walking stick over O’Hara’s head. Details are sketchy. Like many good things in New York, Costello’s was demolished to make way for an office skyscraper. The mural disappeared. An art world mystery. Cedar Bar (never called Cedar Tavern) has disappeared from Greenwich Village’s University Place. It was the hangout of Motherwell, De Kooning, Pollock, Kline, Rothko and other distinguished artists (they were just gaining renown in the 50’s and 60’s). They were a hard drinking crowd much prone to fisticuffs. Lee Krasner, Pollock’s widow and a wonderful painter in her own right, said of the habitués: “They treated women like cattle.” HG would take HG’s little daughter, Victoria ,there on Saturday afternoon outings. HG would drink martinis and Victoria, perched on the bar, would eat peanuts and smile at her adult admirers. Presumably, Victoria’s early exposure to restaurants and strong drink has spurred her and chef/husband, Marc Meyer, to own and run four highly regarded New York restaurants: Cookshop, Vic’s, Hundred Acres and Rosie’s. Another Village hangout of artists, writer and poets (namely Dylan Thomas), was the White Horse Tavern on Hudson Street. Became famous for the presence of Thomas and Delmore Schwartz. Legend has it that Thomas consumed 18 shots of whiskey before walking (or stumbling) to his death.Though strongly identified with Thomas, it was actor Charles Laughton who made it famous. He would give away White Horse beer mugs to friends and fans. White Horse is still operating. Not very literary or poetic, it’s favored by college students. Best of the Village hangouts catering to journalists and writers, was the Lion’s Head on Christopher Street. Pete Hamill, Jimmy Breslin, Joe Flaherty, Frank McCourt, Norman Mailer, Sidney Zion, Vic Ziegel, Dennis Duggan and many others hung there. (An aside: Duggan reported for the New York Times and Newsday and was a fount of New York lore. HG was disturbed by Duggan’s unhealthy lifestyle and lured him to a gym on E. 45th Street where HG was a regular. Dennis didn’t like the mandatory exercises or the spartan atmosphere. After ten minutes, he said: “Okay. I came to your lousy gym. Can I have a drink now?”) The Lion’s Head closed some years ago but there’s now a Lion’s Head on Amsterdam Avenue much frequented by Columbia students. When HG was a journalist in the early 1950’s, HG spent much time at Artists & Writers (always called Bleeck’s) on W. 41st street near the offices of the old New York Herald-Tribune. Served very good German food and the convivial Trib journalists loved playing “the match game.” Lucius Beebe, the society columnist and elegant dandy, played with three custom made golden matches nestled in a velvet case. A class act. All of this has been swept away by time. Still functioning is Sardi’s, the theater restaurant a few blocks north of Artists & Writers. The endearing Vincent Sardi is gone and the food has gone downhill. A shadow of its former self. Lindy’s, Stage Delicatessen, Carnegie Delicatessen in the West 50’s, is where you found comics, song writers, press agents, bookmakers, gamblers. Lindy’s and Stage are gone and the Carnegie flourishes, selling overstuffed pastrami sandwiches to tourists. Russian Tea Room on W. 57th Street is where the classical music and ballet communities gathered as well as famous actors, producers and directors. HG once saw Jackie Onassis and Mike Nichols enjoying the Wednesday special, Siberian Pelmenyi. (this was a type of small ravioli served in strong chicken broth reinforced with mustard and sour cream). RTR is now an overpriced, over fancy place that has lost its luster. The hip Russian Tea Room crowd shifted to the Cafe Edison, a down to earth eatery in the Hotel Edison. The cooking was down home New York Jewish and the customers called the Cafe “The Polish Tea Room.” Alas, it closed this year, another victim of the real estate steamroller. HG imagines that the new generations of writers and painters and actors have their own places to drink and revel in the New New York, but HG doesn’t know them and can only hope they have as much fun in them as HG had in his own time.

First Minister Carwyn Jones February 27, 2014 vists New York and participates in A Dylan Thomas Tour in Manhattan, New York, USA

Art In Restaurants

July 5th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

One of the nice things about living in Santa Fe is the art. Of course, there are scores of galleries (some kitsch but mostly first rate) and a surprising number of museums for a city its size. But, there’s quality art almost everywhere–in banks, restaurants, public buildings, shops, offices, etc. HG’s doctor, for example, has a splendid Dali hanging in her consulting room. One of HG’s favorite spaces is the very good Compound Restaurant on Canyon Road. In an old adobe building, the restaurant was designed by the late Alexander Girard and the sun washed interiors are decorated with a few striking pieces of primitive art. (Girard contributed 106,000 pieces to Santa Fe’s Museum Of International Folk Art). New York has some splendid restaurant art, much enjoyed by HG during HG’s long residence in HG’s once beloved city (now a theme park for the international oligarchy). The now threatened Four Seasons Restaurant in Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building has a Lippold sculpture, Bertoia curtains, and a revolving display of paintings by modern masters (The Picasso ballet curtain, alas, has been removed). There is no better place for cocktails than The King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel. (HG/BSK have a special fondness for the hotel since, just abut 52 years ago, the duo had an afternoon reception in the elegant Library room following a morning wedding). King Cole, that merry old soul, is celebrated at the bar with a majestic Maxfield Parrish mural. Gaze at it in wonder as you sip a martini during your next New York visit. But, bring an active credit card. Drinks and snacks are very expensive (but worth it). Another wondrous interior is the Cafe des Artistes (now called Leopard at des Artistes).on W.67th Street. The walls are adorned with frolicking, bare-breasted forest nymphs painted by Howard Chandler Christy. Enchanting. (Some 5l years ago, HG/BSK lived next door to the des Artistes at 27 W. 67th and sometimes popped into the cafe for a drink). The long closed Jams Restaurant introduced Alice Waters-influenced California cuisine to New York. The owners, Melvin Masters and Jonathan Waxman, hung striking modern art on the walls. There are two restaurants with caricatures on the walls–Sardi’s and Palm. Sardi’s features theatrical figures and Palm has Depression era stuff by cartoonists from nearby newspapers (The artists got a free meal). Palm has restaurants throughout the country and has caricatures of local personalities (and good customers) on its walls. When HG resided in Denver, HG often lunched at the Denver Palm outpost at a booth beneath a flattering caricature of HG. Fame.

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Cafe Royale

March 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The Cafe Royale, ah, the Cafe Royale!! Few people (and they are few, mainly men and women in their 90’s) who can say those words without a warm smile. The Cafe Royale had a long run: 1908-1952. It was located in New York on the corner of Second Avenue and E.12th (now a movie theater). For much of the cafe’s history, Second Avenue was the home of the Yiddish theater. There were numerous theaters and vaudeville venues. Stars galore: Jacob Ben Ami; Jacob and Celia Adler (their relations included Luther and Stella); Maurice Schwartz; Molly Picon; Menasha Skolnick. Aaron Lebedoff, Leo Fuchs and Moishe Oysher were vaudeville luminaries. Munii Weisenfreund (he changed his name to Paul Muni) and Walter Matthau were among the many actors who left the Yiddish theater to attain fame on Broadway and in Hollywood. HG only visited Cafe Royale in its final year — 1952. It was a sad place then, inhabited by old Yiddish actors bewailing (over numerous cups of tea) the death of a once vigorous theater. In its heyday, the Cafe Royale was the Yiddish Sardi’s—a schnapps and schmaltz fueled joint that teemed with Yiddish-speaking performers, composers, producers, set designers, musicians, press agents, dancers, playwrights—plus ardent fans and hangers on. It was one big Yiddish schmooze-fest and kibbitz. According to HG’s older friends, the Cafe Royale was the scene of theatrical feuds, naughty romance and artistic argument. The food and drink were savory. Voices were loud. Waiters were irascible. Hy Kraft, screenwriter and playwright, wrote a play about Cafe Royale, Cafe Crown. It opened on Broadway in 1942. Directed by Elia Kazan, it had a four month run. Kazan didn’t think much of Kraft as a playwright but said “He had a talent for the Jewish anecdote.” And, the play is as stuffed with Jewish jokes and anecdotes as an old Cafe Royale patron sitting back after a meal of chopped liver and Hungarian goulash. Joe Papp of New York’s Public Theater was fond of the Cafe Royale, the Yiddish theater and Cafe Crown. He revived the play in 1988 in a production starring Eli Wallach. Cafe Crown had another life in 1964. Kraft adapted it as a musical and HG/BSK went to the opening night. HG/BSK were pals with theater folks close to Kraft. The musical was not a success but it introduced a very engaging young actor, Alan Alda. HG/BSK joined Alda and his wife at Sardi’s for a post-theater dinner and found him to be a modest and amusing young man, surprising in someone whose star quality was so evident. Hy Kraft (he wrote it with Johnny Mercer) had a big hit in the Broadway musical (later a movie) Top Banana. It made Phil Silvers a star. Hy Kraft was an indomitable liberal. He defied the Red hunters and was blacklisted in Hollywood. Later, he battled against the American presence in Vietnam. The tragedy of his life was the early death of his daughter, Jill, a lovely and talented ingenue.

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Hats and Girdles

March 6th, 2013 § 3 comments § permalink

When HG was growing up, men wore hats. Fedoras for the most part and Homburgs for the rich old guys. There was a switch to Panamas (real and faux) during the summer. Some dudes wore straw hats (known as skimmers or katies.) Among kids there was a New York City legend that you could knock, with impunity, a straw hat right off a man’s head if it was worn after Labor Day. (HG Never saw it happen). And, women wore girdles, thus creating the anatomic oddity — uni-buttocks. Only very racy damsels jettisoned girdles for garter belts. (This was HG’s experience. Admittedly, a quite limited experience but not for want of effort.)

It seems men’s hats are making a modest comeback. SJ, always in style, has been seen sporting an attractive fedora. Girdles, fortunately, are at one with the corset and the buggy whip. Gone forever. Cocktails seemed to be disappearing a few years ago in favor of wimpy glasses of white wine or even wimpier glasses of mineral water. Now, hip diners all over the country are demanding creative pre-dinner libations. And, they seem to be willing to pay the price. Are women still cocktail addicts? They were in HG’s young manhood (there were even cocktail dresses designed specifically for the Happy Hour). Many times HG happily observed suburban ladies in Sardi’s knocking off two (or even three) Manhattans or Martinis during a pre-theater matinee lunch. And, they could meet the challenge of alcohol. Lots of smiles. Lots of laughs. But, definitely not blotto. Which was more than HG could say about the Martini swigging macho guys falling off stools at Sardi’s bar.

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.

Innards.

January 12th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

They are not good for you since they are virtual cholesterol bombs. However, HG, like virtually the rest of the world excluding the U.S.A., loves innards. Kidneys. Splendid in a steak and kidney pie. Lush in a creamy mustard sauce. HG liked them at Sardi’s, the New York theatrical hangout, where they were grilled and served with lamb chops. Of course, rognons (kidneys) rule in France where they are often cooked blood rare.

Don’t see tongue on menus very often (Except when eating Korean food!). Al Cooper’s, a steak house in the New York garment district, served a thick cut of tongue with creamed spinach and super hot mustard and horse radish. Sweetbreads are a treat. Hotel Algonquin on W. 44th used to serve grilled sweetbreads on a slice of Virginia ham accompanied by thin cut French fries and Sauce Bearnaise. Yum.

Calf’s liver. Should be served pink. The accompaniment of fried onions and crisp bacon is obligatory. The dish reached Olympian heights at Dinty Moore’s (not to be confused with the dreadful line of canned beef stews) a long shuttered restaurant in the theater district (Dinty also did the classic corned beef and cabbage). HG likes chicken livers sauteed crisp and pink. Good with scrambled eggs or in a frisee salad or served over pasta (with plenty of olive oil, garlic and parsley). The chicken fat, fried onion and black radish drenched chopped chicken livers at Sammy’s Romanian are a naughty treat.

HG likes head cheese, tete de veau and all the other elaborate things done with the interior of a cow’s head. One of the best edibles in the world is a cow’s (or lamb’s) brains. The French do brains best, sauteed gently in butter, topped with warm capers and accompanied by a potato puree.

HG has dined on lungs and heart. Got them down, but not a treat. HG does not know if bull’s testicles should be classified as an innard. In any case, prairie oysters are un-yummy.

HG’s favorite innard is tripe. In the form of green chili menudo, HG enjoys it every ten days at the delightful El Parasol restaurant in HG’s New Mexico neighborhood. The ten day limit is self imposed, HG’s response to BSK’s gentle health warnings.

'Offal Taste' Photo Series by Stephanie Diani