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.



December 29th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

In writing about family and Christmas, HG didn’t mention HG’s magnificent daughter Victoria. She (and super chef husband/partner Marc Meyer) didn’t make it to Rhode Island this year. Not surprising when you are running four hot and busy New York restaurants (Rosie’s, Vic’s, Cookshop, Hundred Acres). How Victoria manages to juggle being a top restaurant executive, wife, stepmother is beyond HG. She never seems ruffled. Her face is always aglow with welcome. In a city replete with tension and attitude, a Victoria-Marc restaurant is always a happy haven. (And, of course, the food is marvelous). On HG/BSK’s recent visit to New York, Victoria lavished generosity upon the duo. The Yiddish word for free loader is “shnorrer.” HG/BSK are world class “shnorrers” when Victoria is around. Gentle Readers, makes this new year resolution: Dine at Rosie’s (Mexican); Vic’s (Italian); Cookshop (Mediterranean); Hundred Acres (American regional). Say HG sent you.


Locavore VS The Imports

October 1st, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Yes, HG is very much in favor of the new stress on local farm-to-table eating. Alice Waters started the trend at her immensely influential California restaurant, Chez Panisse. Marc Meyer, HG/BSK’s favorite chef, is a leading advocate of this philosophy at the four New York restaurants he owns with wife/partner Victoria Freeman (HG’s talented daughter) : Cookshop, Rosie’s, Vic’s and Hundred Acres. However, when dining at home, HG/BSK bend the locavore rules A LOT and certainly do utilize imports. Last night’s meal mixed local and imported foods and was outstanding. Started with a platter of tomatoes and basil (both from BSK’s New Mexico garden) plus mozzarella (An import, sadly, Not to be compared to the fresh made daily cheese HG would purchase at Belgiovine’s Grocery in Montclair, N.J.). Main dish was lamb chops (Featured at Trader Joe’s, they are a New Zealand import. Superb. Comparable to the chops HG/BSK would savor at the long closed Coach House Restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village). Accompaniments were fingerling potatoes (local) and a big surprise, haricot verts imported from Guatemala. BSK steamed them and then gave them a quick sauté in Sicilian olive oil with a melange of herbs from BSK’s garden. These were the best haricot certs HG ever tasted, far superior to Paris’s best. (go figure). HG mixed a bowl of Fage Greek Yogurt (Despite the name, it’s made in the United States) with garlic, olive oil, sumac cumin, zaatar, smoked black pepper. All of these imported spices gave the yogurt a Middle Eastern flavor that enhanced the tastes of lamb and potatoes. Before the meal, HG drank Polish vodka. With the meal there was Spanish Garnacha red wine. International and local dining at its best.


Family Feasting

August 27th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Toby, The Wonder Dog, breakfasted this morning. Looked around his Prince Edward Island domain. Where has everyone gone? Just HG/BSK seemed to be at home. Toby trotted up the stairs to check bedrooms. Empty. Yes, daughter Victoria, the New York restaurateur (Cookshop, Hundred Acres, Vic’s, Rosie’s) and husband-partner-chef Marc M., left PEI early this morning. SJ, Exquisite Maiko, Handsome Haru and Teru, the wee dynamo, left last night. Unusual quiet reigns. Victoria and Marc braved a ferocious storm to arrive for a three day visit. Much beach fun and lusty feasting took place. It was agreed that chef Marc would cook only one dish, his incomparable brandade, during his visit. He, of course disobeyed. Made an wonderful ceviche of fresh sea scallops in a puree of jalapeno pepper, cucumbers, cilantro and lime juice to jump start the first feast. There were also some briny Malpeque oysters, EM’s signature sauté of sole and bok choy dotted with crisp garlic chips plus a very savory platter of EM’s stir fried shrimp. Oh, my. The next day a birthday party was planned for EM. Victoria, Marc, BSK, Handsome Haru were off to Panmure Island for clamming, swimming and paddle boarding (with a stop in Montague for sweet corn and birthday cupcakes). SJ, HG, EM and Teru were off to the fishing port of Naufrage (EM wanted to pick up some fresh-off-the-boat mackerel in order to make EM’s superb tataki). No mackerel came in that day but the group watched as a 500-pound bluefin tuna was unloaded, quickly processed (this is a gory spectacle involving chainsaws and sharp knives that didn’t faze wee Teru at all) and sold to a dock-side buyer. HG picked up a batch of just cooked lobsters plus Colville Bay oysters at The Lobster Shack in Souris. The clam team had good luck. Dug some four dozen quahogs. Ingredients for a big EM birthday feast were set. Once more, Marc got got busy in the kitchen and constructed a sumptuous stew of clams, corn, potatoes, herbs and plenty of smoked Spanish paprika. Wonderful taste of the sea. This was followed by lobsters with melted butter, loads of sweet corn, little potatoes from Yossi M.’s spud patch. Gifts for birthday girl EM. Much hilarity. Next day was breezy and sunny. (SJ and family left early for Brooklyn with stopover in Rhode Island). At the end of the day, Marc made his lush brandade with fresh haddock (rather than the typical salt cod). Ate it on the outdoor table facing the glistening sea. Magical moments. This was preceded by shucked Colville Bay oysters. Then, indoors to watch the sunset and eat Marc’s pasta with broccoli and chickpeas. More Marc mastery. Finished with green salad. Drank a lot of Spanish red wine. Goodbye hugs for Victoria and Marc. A joyous visit.


Happy Surprise

August 30th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

SJ returned to Prince Edward Island after his labors in steamy New York. SJ was accompanied by a surprise, a surprise carefully concealed from HG: a visit from the joyous, golden presence of Restaurateur Daughter Vicki. The excellent woman did not come empty handed: Wine, cheese, salumi, artisan pasta were amongst the treats she brought. Three days of feasting began with each family member displaying their culinary chops. Exquisite Maiko sourced a dozen mackerel, so fresh they were still frozen in rigor-mortis, from a Naufrage Harbor fisherman who refused to accept any money for his catch. She deftly produced mackerel-3-ways: tataki (roughly chopped raw fish with scallion, ginger and soy sauce); Shime Saba (marinated mackerel filets served with ginger and scallion); Sashimi (beautifully sliced raw fish with a sauce of ponzu and EM’s own secret Onion Dressing). EM also produced a variety of salads: fresh water shrimp with avocado, soy-sauce and wasabi, cellophane noodles mixed with strips of egg crepe, etc. And, to show off her mastery of the flame EM cooked some tiger shrimp to perfection in the Spanish style with crispy garlic and a dusting of smoked pimenton. BSK countered with BSK’s spectacular sauteed sea scallops. Naturally, scores of Colville Bay and Savage Harbor oysters were consumed. Ears and ears and ears of seasonal corn on the cob (shucked by Grandson Haru and cooked using BSK’s infallible method) and the first tomatoes of the PEI season (with local feta cheese) were on the table. SJ produced a great platter of herbaceous linguine. This was the SJ technique: SJ chopped every herb in the garden (basil, mint, sage, parsley, marjoram, etc.); sliced 2 cloves of garlic paper thin (in the Goodfella’s style), added some chopped anchovy and mixed it all together with salt and pepper. He then heated about a 1/2 cup of olive oil until it was almost smoking and poured it over the herb-anchovy- garlic mixture causing a huge sizzle and the release of an extraordinary fragrance or herbs, garlic and olive oil. Tossed it over warm pasta and mixed it all up. SJ also produced some very good pizza topped with sliced potatoes, olive oil and mix of goat cheese and mozzarella. Restaurateur Vicki did a knock-your-socks off pesto. RV bought a huge bag of the freshest basil from the Charlottetown Farmers Market and using methods learned from RV’s husband, chef Marc Meyer, did a pesto that had sublime texture, taste and aroma. The ambrosial mixture clung to every fold of the special pasta RV brought from New York. Yes, these were three days of incomparable family fun and festivity.(Sadly, daughter Lesley R. and family were back in Rhode Island and so LR couldn’t contribute her exemplary Italian/Provencal dishes and delicious countenance). And, what did HG contribute to this delightful extravaganza? HG ate. HG drank. HG made judicious and complimentary comments. True artists, after all, need an appreciative and knowing audience and HG was glad to oblige.

Sad News By The Sea

June 21st, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

The news of James Gandolfini’s death brought sadness to HG/BSK’s arrival at their Prince Edward Island paradise. Gandolfini was a long time friend of HG’s daughter Vicki F., the New York restaurateur (Cookshop, Five Points, Hundred Acres). Vicki met him when he was a bartender. After he met great success he became an investor in her restaurants. HG/BSK only knew him through his acting artistry but Vicktoria attests to the fact that he was a gentle, caring person and a good friend. She said renown did not alter his character. His passing is a true loss in every way.

James Gandolfini

The Cedar Bar – The Good and The Bad.

May 21st, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

The last remnants of the Cedar Tavern (always referred to as the Cedar Bar), 82 University Place in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, are being demolished to make way for a waxing salon. Nostalgia can can cloud vision. But, not Lee Siegel’s vision. The writer has a very balanced account of Cedar Bar in a New York Times Op-Ed piece and comes to some surprising conclusions. Permit HG to review the Cedar Bar history. In the 1950’s and early 1960’s it was the hangout of the hard drinking, rambunctious New York school of abstract expressionists and other painters who became modernist icons — de Kooning, Rivers, Pollock, Kline, Guston, Motherwell, etc. Their presence attracted writers, film makers, poets, musicians and a motley crew of bohemians. It was a macho crew so there were plenty fisticuffs and alcohol fueled rage (and hilarity). Needless to say, misogynistic and homophobic language and behavior flowed free. Siegel points out that women were always treated badly. He quotes Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock’s wife and an extraordinary painter in her own right: “I loathed Cedar Bar. Women were treated like cattle.” Gays were insulted and made uncomfortable. One saving grace of the Cedar was it was very inter-racial. It was a bar where HG always felt comfortable drinking with his African-American girl friends. (Yes, women were treated shabbily. But, not African-American women. The Cedar’s ferocious leftists saw to that.)

HG was a man of his time. HG loved the Cedar Bar and shared most of the nasty attitudes of its habitues. When HG lived in the Gramercy Park neighborhood (more than 50 years ago) HG had a Saturday routine. Little daughter Victoria (now the distinguished restaurateur — Five Points, Cookshop, Hundred Acres) was placed in her stroller and the duo was off on a stroll through 23rd Street (great bookshops), Gramercy Park (HG had a key for a short period), Irving Place (a grilled cheese sandwich for little Vicki at Pete’s Tavern), Washington Square Park and, as a final destination before returning home, Cedar Bar. Vicki was perched on the bar where she munched pretzels and peanuts and was admired by all for her remarkable blonde cuteness. As for HG, there were numerous martinis while HG participated in vigorous discussion. A very boozy and joyful afternoon indeed.

Balthazar Excess

December 30th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has a Christmas tradition. When in New York around the holidays, HG lunches with Restaurateur Daughter Victoria (Five Points, Cookshop, Hundred Acres) at Balthazar, the great, huge, bustling brasserie in Soho. The place is a miracle. From the age-dappled mirrors to the polished brass to the gleaming dark wood, It looks like, feels like, smells like, sounds like (loud) an old school Parisian brasserie. Service is deft. Given the extraordinary turnover, the food is surprising — ranging from good to excellent. The bread (especially the flavorful dark) is noteworthy and the Macon and Beaujolais Villages sold by the carafe are a value. The HG/Victoria lunch is an epic, lasting between three and four hours. (Victoria says it is a matter of making up for the years when we were out of touch). The centerpiece of the traditional lunch is Le Grand Plateau de Fruits de Mer. Victoria (who really knows food costs) says it is a bargain at $90. Le Grand is a two-tiered tower of oysters, clams, whelks (bulots in Paris); room temperature steamed mussels; sea scallop seviche; giant prawns; cracked crab and calamari salad. A preposterous amount of sea critters. Accompanied by appropriate condiments, lots of buttered dark bread and many, many glasses of chilled Macon, HG and Victoria had a joyous and gluttonous feast. But, the meal didn’t end there. The duo shared some brandade and finished with a shared dessert of profiteroles doused with lots of warm chocolate syrup. An offer of grappa was turned down. Enough, surprisingly, is enough. HG, BSK and friend Stevie P. returned to Balthazar the next day to lunch on duck confit, steak tartare, watercress salad, pommes frites, onion soup and creme brulee. Equally good but restrained.

Ups, Downs and Up Again.

December 24th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Dim Sum Go Go represented a new wave of dim sum in New York’s Chinatown (at East Broadway and Division) when it opened more than ten years ago. No huge noisy space with inscrutable women pushing carts. Just a pretty, modernist room with dim sum dishes served a’ la carte from an extensive menu. The Dim Sum was a revelation. Served piping hot, the flavors, ingredients and shapes of the dumplings broke the mold of what New Yorkers (up to that point) had come to expect from Dim Sum — there were green Sea Food dumplings as delectable as a tiny purse, a variety of strictly vegetarian choices with fillings like Chinese parsley and bamboo hearts, there were delicious sharksfin dumpling, pale yellow and springing with freshness and flavor. After some good years, Dim Sum Go Go seemed to go into decline. Yes, it was much favored by tourists because of guide book praise. But, gourmands like SJ and HG found it wanting. The good news is that the eatery seems to have regained its form. Daughter Victoria, the renowned proprietress (with husband Marc M.) of Cookshop, Five Points and Hundred Acres, hosted a brunch and it was splendid. Particularly enjoyed the crab dumpling, shrimp dumplings (har gow), the steamed spare ribs, spring rolls and pork buns. The place has retained its popularity so make a reservation.

Noo Yawk Birthday Feast

December 22nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Birthday dinner for SJ. Restaurateur Daughter Victoria (Five Points, Cookshop, Hundred Acres) is a long time pal of chef Jonathan Waxman (you may have seen him on TV in one of his many appearances on shows like Top Chef , etc.). So, the birthday dinner was planned for his West Village restaurant, Barbuto. Victoria’s instructions were succinct: “Feed us, Jonathan.” And, so we were fed gloriously and sumptuously. The table for six (Birthday Boy, Exquisite Maiko, HG, BSK, Victoria and Zena B.) was served family style. First course was four big platters — fried brandade cakes with aioli; Italian charcuterie with crusty bread; a wondrous shredded kale salad shot through with a tart lemon-anchovy-pecorino dressing; a citrus salad enlivened with slivers of jalapeno peppers. Chilled prosecco. Second course: Two pastas — Gemelli with broccoli di rabe and tagliatelle with a rich, shredded pork ragu. Oh, my!! Much California Jackhammer Pinot Noir. Was difficult to pace oneself appropriately and do justice to the Third Course: Monkfish in wine sauce; rare, sliced steak; Jonathan Waxman’s signature roast chicken; crisp and crusty roast potatoes. With courage, fortitude and appetite, HG sampled all. Honest, straightforward cuisine at its best. Dessert was a perfect semifreddo. Gasps of contentment. Sighs of overindulgence. Happy, happy birthday SJ. Thank you, Beautiful Zena, for making a surprise appearance. Thank you, Victoria for creating this dinner. Thank you, Jonathan, for your warm hearted hospitality.

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