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.

Vodka Enhanced

April 28th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

After HG’s late afternoon exercise ritual of varied stretches and 45 minutes of swimming in the lap pool, HG tries to mitigate the health benefits he has accrued by diving into a large glass of vodka on the rocks. HG is not a believer in the high priced vodkas. Just hype and advertising. However, HG does enhance his proletarian vodka. Sometimes HG adds a dash of Angostura Bitters or Peychaud Bitters or Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters. (A dash of Peychaud also enhances a mediocre brandy). When HG wants a taller beverage, HG mixes vodka with a bit of Campari, Aperol or St. Germain. (HG does not fancy vodka and tonic). Curiously, vodka was never present in the Belorussian/Jewish immigrant home of HG’s youth. Like many Jewish immigrants of the early 1900’s, HG’s Dad fancied rye whiskey, namely Park & Tilford (pronounced “Pok un Tilfeh”), the favorite tipple in Lower East Side bars. When HG was a journalist in the early 1950’s, HG continued the Park & Tilford tradition at the Mirror Bar on New York’s E. 45th Street. Three shots of P & T for one buck. The house bought the fourth. A nice cocktail interlude.

Mother Knows Best

February 11th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s Mom often prepared HG’s favorite after-school snack: A slice of Pechter’s Pumpernickel liberally covered with chicken fat and topped with sliced onion and kosher salt. As HG matured, he pondered his Mom’s heritage which encouraged such obviously unhealthy food. Well, the small town — well, shtetl really — Belorussian lady knew something. Chicken fat (aka Schmaltz) is rich in lineolic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid with many health benefits. So, comrades, schmaltz it up with impunity. It is essential with chopped liver. Very good with garlicky chopped eggplant. Enhances fried onions. HG likes to stir it into a bowl of Goya garbanzos topped with microplaned garlic and sea salt. (HG intends to pair it with Duvel Belgian Ale while watching key NCAA basketball games).

Chicken fat can be ordered online from: Or, make it yourself (many easy recipes — such as this ONE — to be found online ). DYI chicken fat provides crispy and delicious bits of chicken skin known as “gribenes” — Jewish cuchifritos. For a carnivorous meal drenched in chicken fat go to the Shrine of Schmaltz: Sammy’s Roumanian Restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side. Wash the golden grease down with plenty of frozen vodka. L’chaim!!

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