Peter Hellman

October 18th, 2017 § 1 comment § permalink

Peter has been a loved and admired pal of HG/BSK for many, many decades. HG met Peter when Peter was a young journalist working for New York Magazine. Publicist HG was Peter’s guide in the greedy world of New York real estate and the result was many bylined articles as well as a number of front cover stories. The HG/PH collaboration deepened into a solid friendship. Over the years, Peter’s journalism has enlivened many publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Wine Spectator. His interests are omnivorous as reflected in his seven books.They include crime (“Chief”, the cases of New York’s Chief of Detectives, Albert Seedman; the Holocaust, “When Courage Was Stronger Than Fear”; Israel, “Heroes: Tales From The Israeli Wars”; real estate, “Shaping the Skyline”, the career of the late real estate visionary, Julien J. Studley; wine, “American Wine Handbook.”) HG believes Peter’s true passion (besides family and friends) is for wine. For some ten years he was a contributor to Wine Spectator and a wine columnist for a New York newspaper. His passions have coalesced in his newest book, “In Vino Duplicitas.” The book jacket describes it well: “True crime pairs well with fine wine in the astonishing story of Rudy Kurniawan, perhaps the most notorious–and unlikely– wine forger in history.” Peter has the unique ability to make complex maneuvering exciting and available to the reader. So, “In Vino” is an education in fine and rare wines as well as an absorbing insight into the eccentric world of wine collectors who pay thousands of dollars for a bottle of wine that they may never drink. Besides writing about wine, Peter likes to drink wine. He has a fine palate and is a sipper, not a guzzler. Many years ago, Peter stored a collection of fine wines in the cellar of the Montclair, N.J. home occupied by HG/BSK. The wines were there strictly for storage in a cool environment. During those rare times when HG did not have a good bottle for the evening meal, HG “borrowed” one of Peter’s bottles. These “borrowings” gradually increased into the realm of theft. The wines were glorious and HG did not exhibit restraint. After a year, Peter arrived to find his collection drastically diminished. He forgave HG. The friendship continued.

HG Overdoes It

October 4th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

HG felt good last night after swimming 40 laps in HG’s sun dappled New Mexico indoor pool. Wanted to feel even better so drank two hearty glasses of vodka and orange bitters before dinner. HG’s turn to cook dinner. HG chose to sautĂ© four pounds of Trader Joe’s free range chicken(there would be leftovers) in a mix of butter and Sicilian olive oil (Was HG’s choice of “chikin” spurred by the news that Chick-Fil-A was opening New York outlets ?). Anyway, HG browned the chicken parts to a savory mahogany shade. Removed them from the pan and cooked a lot of chopped garlic, shallots and fresh rosemary (from BSK’s herb garden) in the lush and buttery pan juices. The chicken went back in the pan with a glass of Pinot Grigio and left to simmer into tenderness. When finished, HG added Maille Dijon Mustard and lemon juice to the pan, gave it a swirl and poured it over the heated platter of chicken. A wow of a dish. HG also fried a bunch of tiny Ratte potatoes as an accompaniment. (BSK would add a green salad to the meal). Proud of the culinary accomplishment, HG toasted himself with a few glasses (size XL) of very good Chilean red wine (selected by BSK, HG’s favorite sommelier). Drank more wine with dinner. Following the splendid meal, HG relaxed with a snifter (XL) of grappa. And, then a second grappa (XL). HG arose to adjust the Bose. Took a noisy tumble. Fortunately, nothing was broken. Very minor bruises. BSK helped HG to HG’s feet. When assured that the mature gent was healthy, BSK (in a stern tone) noted that excessive alcohol contributed to the fall and that falling was one of the leading causes of demise in the senior citizen community. A point well taken. No pre-dinner vodka (except in dire circumstances). Two glasses of wine with dinner. A modest sip of brandy or grappa after dinner. HG vows: Austerity and Moderation. Says dubious BSK: “We shall see.”

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Great Montreal Cuisine at 3 Petits Bouchons

June 13th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

HG and BSK are in Montreal for a brief stay before heading to their Prince Edward Island sea paradise. Big change from hot, arid and forest fire-plagued New Mexico. Rain and cool breezes. Felt good. HG/BSK are staying in the Plateau neighborhood, Very reminiscent of Greenwich Village of yesteryear. Lots of bars, cafes and ethnic restaurants. Young people. Funky low rise buildings. Hungry HG/BSK head to 3 Petits Bouchons. A bistro and cave a vins, this is a warm toned, stone walled, intimate place. Superb wines. Great cuisine. Some of the highlights were grilled octopus served with a unique sauce and grilled potatoes; cod with fiddlehead ferns and asparagus (sauce grenobloise), Duck confit (served on an imaginative Waldorf salad). Cheese plate with crisp nut breads and jams. Drank a Regnie from the Beaujolais region and a Sylvaner from the Loire. Both wonderful. Deft service. A warning: Not cheap. Canadian import taxes make the wines, while delicious, boost the bill into the stratosphere.

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HG’s Tips For a Fine Parisian Spring

March 31st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Advice from HG if a “Springtime In Paris” is contemplated. Bring a good raincoat and walking shoes. Paris is a great walking city and nice surprises lurk around every corner. Rent an apartment. Cheaper than a hotel and you can feast in your own kitchen on all the great cheese, bread, charcuterie and wine that is easily available. Wine is much cheaper in Paris than in the United States, so indulge without guilt. A restaurant lunch is a much better value than dinner, so make that your meal of the day. Always nice to have some oysters (and bulots) in a brasserie in the early evening and then purchase a good roast chicken for dinner in your apartment (The places that sell roast chickens usually have tasty little roast potatoes as an accompaniment). Paris has the world’s best chocolates. Buy some and have them with red wine for dessert. A fresh baguette with French salted butter and cafe au lait should be your daily breakfast. Paris is a movie town and scores of American films are usually on view. Just check to see if the movie is “v.o.”–In English with French subtitles. Be disciplined about museums. Yes, the Louvre, Gare d’Orsay, Pompidou. Musee Picasso, Musee Rodin are great. But, be selective about what you want to see. HG and BSk rarely spend more than two hours at a museum or special exhibit. Beyond that eyes get glazed, feet get heavy and artistic insights diminish. Though New York is really a better and more cosmopolitan food town, the ambiance, sparkle — and affordability — of Paris restaurants remain unique. Your best online dining guides are: Alexander Lobrano’s “Hungry For Paris”; John Talbott’s Paris and the blog Paris Update. If you log into Paris Update you will not only get the latest on dining, shopping, etc., but you can access David Jaggard’s “C’est Ironique,” a witty and perceptive chronicle of life in Paris. Jaggard is a journalist, translator and composer. He’s lived in Paris since the 80’s and is one of the funniest writers around. Don’t miss him. Bon appetit!!

Table Utensils

February 6th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

It may seem an obvious point, but good tableware enhances dining and it is often overlooked. HG and BSK are not pretentious table setters. But, there are some utensils treasured by the duo. Laguiole steak knives not only do an efficient job on steaks, chops and roast chicken, they introduce history to the table. These slim elegant blades stem from the Moorish-Spanish navaja blade which at some point merged with the French everyday knife, the capauchadou. The Laguiole knife, designed by Jean-Pierre Calmels in 1829, was born in the French city of Thiers in the Aveyron region and the authentic Laguiole knives are still manufactured there. Calmels gave the knife a distinctive “bee” symbol. This “bee” has imperial origins. Supposedly, Napoleon awarded “bee” symbols to brave soldiers. Other than knives BSK has collected the couple’s deliciously over-sized, silver plated forks and soup spoons from various London antique market stalls. The stall merchants always assured BSK: “They’ll shine up luvly, Miss.” And, so they did. Over the years, BSK managed to find some nice, old fashioned fish implements and forks with bakelite handles. Not used often, but they’re fun. HG likes to decant a good wine. Fancy decanters are hard to wash. HG found the perfect solution at the shop in the Paris Musee d’Arts Decoratifs: An oversized, thin glass carafe with an indented top for pouring. HG has added a glass funnel for further aeration. Gives wine added verve.

Culinary Harmony In The BSK Kitchen

January 28th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK mixed five culinary cultures to create a comforting, harmonious meal for HG and BSK. It started with a three-egg omelette prepared in the classic French manner: Plenty of butter; gentle brown exterior and soft (the French describe it as “oozing”) interior. BSK filled this lovely creation with plenty of Greek feta cheese and a dusting of Mexican oregano. This was topped with a pork enhanced green chile sauce (spicy but not overpowering). BSK creates and freezes lots of this wonderful sauce every autumn. That’s when New Mexico green chiles are in season and the aroma of roasting chiles fills the Santa Fe air. Accompaniments were warmed corn tortillas (pita could have been substituted) and freshly made, fiery pico de gallo from the Pojoaque Super Market. Beverage was deep red Nero d’Avolo wine from Sicily. As a bow to the Orient, BSK and HG cooled their palates with a dessert of green tea ice cream. Ah, wouldn’t it be splendid if the world’s cultures could exist in the peaceful harmony they achieve in BSK’s kitchen?

A Nambe Night – Healthy and Good.

December 5th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Nambe is a town just a few miles north of HG and BSK’s home in New Mexico. You might recognize the name from the unique metal alloy designs marketed under the NambĂ© label. Two interesting women, our good friends Vicki B. and Sarah N., are temporarily domiciled in a historic adobe dwelling tucked away in a corner of the Nambe Pueblo. The house is not faux Southwest. It’s the real thing. A shepherd’s fireplace (shepherd sleeps on a shelf above the fireplace). Old dark beams. Thickly plastered walls. Low ceilings. A delightful place to be on a chilly evening. The women, though not puritanical, are health conscious. Dinner was cauliflower soup, creatively spiced and soothing. Then a lovely chunk of crisped chicken with sliced sweet potatoes in a sauce that had hints of New Mexico chiles. Dessert was a melange of Greek yogurt and stewed and fresh seasonal fruit. A goat blue cheese from a Santa Fe Farmers Market artisan helped the group finish off the red wine. The meal was preceded by New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and smoked trout consumed in front of a copper hooded raised fireplace. The meal was as healthy as it was delicious. Adding to the delights of the evening were Vicki and Sarah’s accounts of their mental and spiritual adventures. Warm and stimulating pleasures on a cold night.

The Joys Of Fresh Garlic

June 6th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

There’s fresh garlic, just pulled from the earth, at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. This is the way garlic should taste. Subtle, savory, vaguely sweet and with a higher water content which drowns out all burn or bitterness. For most of the year HG and BSK (like most of the world) make do with dry (mostly over the hill) garlic from the grocers. So now is the time for spaghetti with very good olive oil, sauteed fresh garlic, some hot pepper and chopped Italian parsley, And, time to sup on Spanish garlic soup accompanied by grilled bread rubbed with fresh garlic and ripe tomato. The Farmers Market also has delicious small turnips and lovely radishes. BSK likes to fill her metal barbecue basket with spears of zucchini. thick slices of sweet onion, red peppers, turnips, radishes — and a few head of fresh garlic. When roasted over the barbecue, this melange is the perfect accompaniment to grilled spatchcocked chicken previously marinated in lemon juice and herbs. Oh yes, I’ll have another glass of that chilled Coppola Rosso.

Cocktail Discoveries

May 6th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Joy in the HG household. HG has discovered a new pre-dinner cocktail: The Vesper Martini. This has become a favorite in Santa Fe’s hip sipping circles. Here’s how you do it. Fill a shaker with ice. Add one part vodka and one part gin. A modest splash of Lillet (the French, slightly sweet aperitif wine). Pour into a (pre-chilled in the freezer, of course) martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. A lovely, lethal drink with a nice French accent.

HG has also made some good, inexpensive wine discoveries. Italy’s Contadino sparkling Pinot Grigio (BSK’s pre-dinner choice) which is wonderful drunk straight or mixed with Aperol in the classic Venetian “Spriss.” Also, Argentina’s Trivento Reserve Malbec tickles the HG palate with a spicy complexity.

Lambrusco

April 22nd, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Lambrusco is a lightly sparkling wine much identified with the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and the area’s robust cuisine. HG and BSK never drank much of it until son-in-law Profesore/Dottore Massimo R. introduced HG and BSK to it during their recent visit to Bologna. Now they are converts. Lambrusco is a very pleasant warm weather wine. It has a slight sparkle and should be drunk well chilled. Nice as an aperitif and good with spicy food. HG and BSK drink Le Grotte Lambrusco. Available at Trader Joe’s for six bucks a bottle. SJ also recommends the Bianco and Rosse Lambruscos produced by Lini 910 At $15 dollars a bottle they are one of life’s affordable joys.

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