Friday, July 3, 2015

Right Reason

Monday, June 29, 2015
I continued my trip down Sesame Street today.  However, Ping’s Seafood, 22 Mott Street, one of the nicest restaurants in Chinatown, did not serve cold sesame noodles, nor did Hop Kee, 21 Mott Street, sitting directly beneath Shanghai Asian Manor, where I started on a high note.  I turned the corner and found cold sesame noodles at Sichuan Hot Pot Cuisine, 34 Pell Street ($5.25), but I was disappointed.  The portion was large and sesame seeds were sprinkled on top, but the sauce was salty and sharp, almost acrid.  I only ate half of what was on the plate.

Reviewing the US Supreme Court’s opinion on same-sex marriage, much attention had been paid to Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent, wherein he is unable to find same-sex marriage in the Constitution.  Allow me, a mere New York State law clerk to edify him.  First, marriage of any flavor does not appear in the Constitution, but that has not removed it from constitutional law.  Most appropriately, we have a precedent in Loving v Virginia, 388 US 1 (1967), where the Court held that a state violated the 14th Amendment by prohibiting “white” and “colored” people from marrying each other.  The state law deprived plaintiffs of liberty, the “freedom to marry [that] has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men [and maybe women?].”  Roberts and many conservatives choose to agonize over what is marriage, when the issue is what is liberty.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
We went to the bris for Bari and Howard’s son this morning.  If you stand far enough back, a bris is a very lovely event.  The food afterwards was superb.  I concentrated on the sable (smoked cod) and whitefish, not even pausing at the lox.  In order to save room for the rugelach and pain au chocolat, I skipped the blintzes and the omelet station.  The coffee was very good, too.  Mazal tov to all, including the caterer.

It would have been piggish (decidedly not Kosher) to go out for lunch after such a big late breakfast. Also, the airconditioning in my office was particularly effective as the afternoon heated up, so I stayed at my desk.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
A birthday for a beautiful granddaughter.

Bite of Hong Kong, 81 Chrystie Street, is brand new.  It is bright, decorated in white and brown. There are 9 large 4 tops and three large booths which can easily hold 6 people.  Fresh pink carnations were on every table, about 2/3 of which were occupied, only one other by a non-Asian.  The menu is pretty typical and includes 35 lunch specials, either $6.25 or $6.75.  That also gets you soup, a small bowl that looks like dishwater, but tastes a bit better, rice and tea.

I was hungry so I ordered seafood siu mai ($4.95) to start and beef with pepper and black bean sauce ($6.75), a lunch special.  It was fortunate that I chose two things because the portions were small.  In fact, the siu (shu) mai were tiny, four small spheres barely 1/2 inch in diameter.  The contents were so finely ground that you could not tell whether they originated on land, in the air or in the sea.  The beef dish was very good, however, containing green and red peppers, red and yellow onions, celery and sliced beef in a pungent black bean sauce.  The area, still the informal terminal for a lot of Chinatown buses, is getting "nicer" and Bite is a sign of that.

I have excluded my sex life, real and imagined, from these writings for prudential and practical reasons.  Ultimately, it has been relatively ordinary and I would be more embarrassed by boring you rather than scandalizing you.  This distinguishes me from Tavon White, an occupant of the Baltimore City Detention Center, who has fathered five children with four of the female guards while inside the prison.  He seems to be the natural successor to Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Thursday, July 2, 2015
Stony Brook Steve is here for lunch and we returned to Sesame Street.  We went to Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, 50 Mott Street, and found it to be as reliable as it has been in the past (February 19, 2010, July 12, 2010, April 12, 2011, May 8, 2013, June 12, 2013, September 19, 2013, November 6, 2103, March 18, 2015).  We shared cold sesame noodles ($3.95) and two lunch specials, orange flavored beef ($5.75) and diced chicken with black bean sauce ($4.95).  Each lunch came with a tasty bowl of egg drop soup.  The beef was very good, with the sticky, gooey sweet sauce that you spoon up after the plate is otherwise clean.  The chicken was well prepared, but the black bean sauce was bland, in contrast to yesterday's at Bite of Hong Kong.

The sesame noodles were very good, the portion medium to medium-large.  A few sesame seeds were sprinkled on top and the sauce very good, but not quite as good as Shanghai Asian Manor's.  Overall, though, we ate well, in decent quantity, at a very reasonable cost.  I'll continue on Sesame Street next week.

Friday, July 3, 2015
The jurisprudence of Antonin Scalia:
On voting to uphold DOMA -- "We have no power to decide this case.  And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation.”
In oral argument before voting to repeal the Voting Rights Act -- "That’s the — that’s the concern that those of us who — who have some questions about this statute have.  It’s — it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress.”

This inconsistency is quite characteristic of the Supreme Court.  Felix Frankfurter was probably the last justice to attempt to practice a consistent jurisprudence, and he wound up isolated and ignored by his peers, and many legal scholars as well.  Scalia simply pretends that he is not peddling his politics, while his chirpings sound right at home amidst the ever-expanding roster of Republican presidential candidates.

Paul H. forwarded this article on Yiddish, which should evoke nostalgia in many of you.  The rest should envy us.

This is the Birthday of all Birthdays.  We have, in order of seniority, David G., Aryeh G., Nate P. and Meredith S.  Happy Birthday to all.

Finally, a little puzzle to start your holiday.  It's simple, but has some serious implications, or not.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Open Sesame

Monday, June 22, 2015
I spend a lot of time at West End Synagogue, and not all of it eating. I was, therefore, able to recognize an error in biblical history in a profile about a Brooklyn nun who is devoted to work among the poor. The New York Times wrote (in print), "Ms. Martinez de Luco likes to cite a biblical passage from Leviticus in which Jesus tells farmers to leave some fallen grain behind for the needy." Even I know that Leviticus is the third book of the Torah, together the five books of Moses, the Hebrew Bible. While it describes earlier events, it is considered to have been written 500 to 600 hundred years before Jesus appeared. He was definitely not in the original cast. When I went to the on-line version of the article on Sunday, I found, "Ms. Martinez de Luco likes to cite a biblical passage from Leviticus in which farmers are told to leave some fallen grain behind for the needy." Obviously, someone from the Times got religion overnight.

My favorite idiot of the week:
"Houston-based lawyer Charles Cotton, listed as a national NRA board member . . . said that one of the nine people slain, church pastor and [South Carolina] Democratic state Senator Clementa Pinckney, had voted against legislation in 2011 that would have allowed concealed possession of handguns in restaurants, day-care centers and churches. ‘Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead,’ Cotton wrote."

Not far behind is "Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry [who] on Friday suggested the fatal shooting of nine black people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white male was a drug-induced ‘accident.’"

Honorable mention to several Fox commentators who claim that the South Carolina massacre was an attack on Christianity.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Amazon joined Walmart, Sears, Kmart and eBay in announcing that it would stop selling Confederate flag decorated merchandise. If you think that’s just a couple of T-shirts, think again. According to the New York Times, "[s]uch items numbered more than 29,000 on the Amazon website Tuesday morning, including bikinis, shower curtains, ceramic coasters, cupcake toppers and a tongue ring." That blows my Hanukkah gift list sky high.

The Four Seasons, 99 East 52nd Street, is my favorite restaurant. The food, the service, the setting are all superior. However, my visits have become much more infrequent over the decades as my work and residence have moved further away. So, I am only mildly saddened at the news that it will move after 57 years because of a rent increase of over 5 times. My memories of good times there are now older than my favorite shoes.

The landlord explained his thinking about the future of the space in the current issue of the New Yorker. "You want to have the guy coming to the Four Seasons who has the ripped jeans and a T-shirt equally as much as you want the guy with the Tom Ford suit." Well, no. While I don’t wear Tom Ford because he doesn’t make anything in XXL, I find the guy in ripped jeans usually acceptable company only in a subway car. (I exclude honest working men and women who must toil in sharp-edged or abrasive surroundings.)

I know it’s all about free choice and the market, but choosing to wear rags, as opposed to having no choice but, is, I freely choose to say, stupid. And ugly, too. What of the rationale that the wearer is disdainful of fashion, freed from the bourgeois concerns surrounding appearance? OK. Then, explain why Dolce & Gabbana sells "ripped denim jeans" for $537 (marked down from $895), Les Hommes "slim distressed jeans" for $352, and MCQ Alexander Mcqueen "distressed slim fit jeans" for $250 (marked down from $500).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
In the past, I attempted systematic evaluations of scallion pancakes and Peking duck in Chinatown. Now, with summer fully upon us, I will pursue cold sesame noodles hither and yon. I thought that I would take a structured approach, working my way up Mott Street, traditional Chinatown's Main Street. I was thwarted immediately when I found that Noodle Village, 13 Mott Street, in spite of its name, did not serve cold sesame noodles. I moved on to the Mother Church, Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, skipping Wo Hop City, 15 Mott Street, where, for the only time in the last 5 1/2 years, I stopped eating a dish after a few bites and left without paying – cold sesame noodles (July 6, 2010). However, (the good) Wo Hop was overcrowded, and I would have to wait halfway up the stairs to get in. So, I continued to Shanghai Asian Manor, 21 Mott Street, also full, but I decided to stay when I spotted a couple in a booth pulling out currency.

Good move. The cold sesame noodles ($4.75) were excellent. Lots of thick, gooey sesame sauce, although the total portion was barely medium-sized. It also lacked that sprinkling of sesame seeds on top, but it still tasted wonderful. It will be hard to do better, but duty calls me to walk these streets, these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.

The weather is gorgeous today, and my simple lunch gave me time to linger in Columbus Park. The most northeastern corner of the park was occupied by an avid musical ensemble – a (European) violin, a tenor saxophone, a banjo, an Erhu (the two-stringed Chinese fiddle), and a flute, backing up an intense altoish female singer. The results were interesting, what would five musicians and a vocalist sound like if they had nothing in common?

Thursday, June 25, 2015
Robert Sietsma, formerly food critic for the Village Voice and author of The Food Lover's Guide to The Best Ethnic Eating in NYC, has an updated list of cheap restaurants for those of you garbed neither in a Tom Ford suit or ripped jeans. He is worth regarding.

His list includes only two (Manhattan) Chinatown spots, XO Kitchen, 148 Hester Street (July 2, 2010, January 15, 2014), and Big Hing Wong Restaurant, 300 Grand Street, and there some confusion ensues. On May 12, 2011, I reported that I went to Big Wing Wong at that address, the same name as a joint at 102 Mott Street, which later changed its name (Big Wing Wong on May 6, 2010, 102 Noodles Town on June 15, 2012). So, I walked over to 300 Grand Street to settle the name issue. There I found a busy Big Hing Hong. All 11 tables were occupied, if only by 1 or 2 people. The very large menu has about 40 lunch specials at $5.75, including soup and white rice. I skipped that and ordered dim sum, a dozen items for $2.25 or $2.50, prepared to order. I had dried shrimp rice noodles, steamed buns and pan fried vegetable buns. All of them were very good, freshly made and hot, not lukewarm from circling a big room on a cart. The four steamed buns were actually small soup buns. A couple of the staff knew English well enough to deny that the name had ever been Big Wing Wong, as I once thought. Of course, I am omitting Big Wong a/k/a Big Wong King, 67 Mott Street, from this discussion. 

Friday, June 26, 2015
I'm not sure whether to look to sociology, theology or psychology to understand the conduct of radical Muslims. Everyday on almost every continent, they are responsible for violent episodes that often don't discriminate in their victims. Their co-religionists probably have physically suffered at their hands more than any other group, and unquestionably bear the brunt of the scorn, fear and worse from the rest of us. 

The nihilism of radical Muslims seems to result from the tenacity of modern civilization in opposition to their romantic visions of ancient Caliphates. The last time that we shared common ground might have been the seventh century. No, I don't have an answer.

I resumed my sesame noodle review at Hop Lee, 16 Mott Street. It distinguished itself from Shanghai Asian Manor by serving a heaping plate of noodles, with sesame seeds scattered on top ($6.95). The only problem was the flat taste, lacking that wonderful salty/sweet peanut butter flavor that normally elevates this dish to culinary heights. I left over about 1/3. Not recommended.

I intend to eat cold sesame noodles twice a week throughout the summer, if possible, and report my findings.  More than that might be almost as foolish as having Chinese food for lunch everyday. 

Obamacare and same-sex marriage, two historic decisions by the US Supreme Court, back to back. Both decisions will inevitably wind up in constitutional law case books for law students, and produce learned commentaries. It's the other voices that interest me. Among politicians, opposition to one often seems to correspond to opposition to the other. While their arguments may be cloaked in fancy language, their message too often boils down to -- I have it, but you can't. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

I Scream

Monday, June 15, 2015
A&W is not just root beer anymore. It now signifies the newest engaged couple on the North American continent.  

All New York court employees statewide are on the same email system, thousands in number. That explains the following message that I sent this morning:
"In the 21st century, our email system should not require searching on a first name basis. We may be friendly, but there are simply too many Johns, Marys, even Alans, to have to scroll through myriad alternatives to find the person you need to communicate with."

According to today’s New York Law Journal, the 100 largest law firms in New York State employ about 21,500 lawyers in New York State, ranging from 778 employed to 85. Manhattan is where most of these lawyers are concentrated. In fact, over 88,000 lawyers are registered in New York County. Less than 10 of these firms have only one office. Other locations seem to be London or Hong Kong as likely as Los Angles or Chicago. Total number of lawyers employed by these 100 firms worldwide is almost 88,000 (as of December 31, 2014). Wow! Is that good news or bad news?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Can you suggest another side dish? "No support for eating placenta." New York Times headline.

I started the MilkMade superexpensive ice cream last night. It was sheer coincidence that America’s Favorite Epidemiologist was away delivering a paper to other epidemiologists. A Midsummer Night’s ‘Scream, containing Ronnybrook Farm Dairy milk and cream, sugar, egg yolks, lavender, organic pansies, and crisp (sugar, flour, brown sugar, butter, oats), can only be described as interesting, the wonderful adjective that deflects judgment. Much more enjoyable was the June Gloom, containing Ronnybrook Farm Dairy milk and cream, sugar, cream cheese, blueberries, and Mast Brothers chocolate. Note that MilkMade is proud of its local suppliers. This was excellent blueberry ice cream which did not benefit from the addition of chocolate. In fact, the chocolate clumps were a bit of a distraction. If they wanted to include my favorite food, they should have used those chocolate slivers that Häagen-Dazs calls chocolate chips, or those chocolate shavings found in good stracciatella gelato. In all, we had a C+ and an A. My future with MilkMade does not look bright.

Reuters: "Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said he had settled a libel suit against the Forbes magazine group over its reporting on his fortune, which he claimed was billions of dollars larger than the magazine estimated." Has anyone written about the size of his penis?

I was actually glad to receive an e-mail message this morning from my cousin Barbara informing me that she was in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where she hurried on short notice to aid an ill cousin suffering from kidney disease. She explained that she needed $2,550 to transfer the patient back to the USA for a transplant operation, a much better venue than downtown Ukraine. Barbara said that her credit card couldn’t work there. It had been a while since I gotten such a plea and I feared that I had been forgotten by my many friends whose overseas travels so often entailed a financial crisis. I am so pleased to still be regarded as someone with something to offer.

The large bowl of soup offered by Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, isn’t very large, but it usually has wall-to-wall wontons, leaving little room for the soup. This makes the special that they run early each week (I think Monday-Wednesday only) in the warmer months more special. $2 a bowl, half price. Add their unequaled crispy noodles ($1) and you have a very good lunch. I didn’t think that I was hungry, but I had a second bowl for an even better lunch.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
What a special day. The Boyz Club headed for lunch at Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street, to see how well it continues to turn out superior scallion pancakes. It turns out that the entire joint was sold out for a Bar Mitzvah or the Buddhist equivalent thereof.  So, we went next door to Joe's Ginger, 25 Pell Street, and consumed scallion pancakes, soup dumplings, Yellow Fish Filet with Rice Wine Sauce, Spicy Pepper Salt Fish Filet, Orange Beef, Crispy Pork Chop with Pepper Salt, and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce.  The food was very good, even excellent. The scallion pancakes went right to the top of the list. We paid $20 each.   

Oh, it is also my bedmate’s birthday. Almost forgot.

Thursday, June 18, 2015
To celebrate that special birthday last night, I bought ice cream sandwiches from Jacques Torres, his fabulous chocolate chip cookies (slightly reduced in diameter) holding one of his ice cream flavors. We shared one made with "Wicked" flavor ice cream, a dark chocolate with ancho chilli and chipotle chilli, a bracing combination. We have another sandwich, with hazelnut ice cream to share tonight. I must note with sadness that the MilkMade ice creams played no part in our celebration. I don’t question the care in selecting and combining ingredients by MilkMade, but the final product is simply priced several times higher than the results warrant. The best ice cream that I have ever had was at Berthillon, Glacier Depuis 1954, 29-31 rue Saint Louis en l'île, 75004 Paris. It is also sold at other sites, but, as my favorite hotel is just down the block, going to the source is the natural choice. Current prices are 1 scoop for 2.5 euros, 2 scoops for 4 euros. Don’t hesitate.

Friday, June 19, 2015
Good Good Taste, 13A Market Street, will not be found in any travel guide.  In fact, it's hard to find even if you are standing ten feet away.  It's a long, narrow space, about 50 feet south of East Broadway, in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge.  It contains 4 two tops and 4 four tops, with little folding stools to sit on.  I have no idea how long it has been operating, but its surfaces need a good steam cleaning.  Even if a tourist wanders in, the menu will discourage lingering -- Crispy Pork Intestine, Duck Tongue, Fish Head w. Bean Curd Casserole, Pork Blood w/ Baby Chive. 

I ordered Pan Fried Oyster, Home Style ($12.95) and got a good good tasting 12" oyster and scallion pancake.  The young waitress asked me several questions about maybe what I was ordering, maybe how I wanted it prepared, maybe what else I might want, or maybe not.  By combining hand gestures, lip twisting and brow lifting, I indicated that I'll take it the usual way.

My communications skills failed me however when I tried to get a cup of tea.  Nothing that I said came close to anything that she and several fellow homeboy customers recognized.  When I switched to asking for Diet Coke, she brightened up, but told me regular Coke only.  I wonder if the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement would have made a difference?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mission Impossible

Monday, June 8, 2015

The New York Times must have a building somewhere just full of numbers, because it frequently offers us such fascinating statistics.  Today, it publishes a study of the geography of sports championships, where do the trophies go?  Or, as the headline suggests, where don’t the trophies go?
Cleveland, now in the finals of the National Basketball Association championship, leads the way, in a manner of speaking, having won it all never since 1965 in any of North America’s leading professional sports.  That encompasses 147 seasons of fruitless competition in all of those sports combined.  

The other side of the coin is found in Boston, whose teams have won titles in 10% of the seasons in which they have competed over the last 50 years.

Ars gratia artis – “Pole dance routines by exotic dancers in an Albany-area juice bar are an expression of artistic merit, but the private couch dances performed for individual patrons are not, a state tax department administrative law judge has ruled.”  New York Law Journal, 06/08/15.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015  
Michael Ratner and I are going to the Mets game tonight, but first, on the way, we are eating at Ben’s Best Kosher Gourmet Delicatessen (as it styles itself), 96-40 Queens Boulevard, Rego Park, really the best Kosher delicatessen standing.  Michael’s business, before he retired, was located not too far away from Ben’s and he used it frequently for catering and his own meals.  As a result, he had a sandwich named after his company, the Richter & Ratner.  I recall that it was turkey, pastrami and chopped liver, piled very high.  America’s Favorite Epidemiologist and I would share it, although we sometimes substituted roast beef or corned beef for the turkey, when we visited my mother, who lived nearby.  This was a happy byproduct of my mother’s longevity.  

Ben’s has removed the R&R from the menu, but Michael seems to hold no grudge (which would not be true of your humble servant).  We both had corned beef on rye, eschewing more elaborate combinations.  I yearned for a Dr. Brown’s diet Cel-Ray, long discontinued, so I settled for diet black cherry.  

Michael plink plinked his mobile phone to arrange for an Uber ride to the ballpark, a short distance on the map, but awkwardly reached by public transportation from where we were.  I marveled how an available ride popped up, advising us that it would arrive in three minutes.  After several minutes, Michael’s phone rang, the Uberman asking where we were.  Standing right in front of Ben’s door, I bellowed to overcome any deficiencies in electronic telecommunications.  No, he insisted, he was at the right address.  Well, the Uber app displayed his location on Michael’s phone, about one mile further east on Queens Boulevard.  When I tried to explain how he might close the gap between us, he displayed such confusion that I told him to forget it, which apparently generated a charge to Michael’s account nevertheless.  

We decided to deal with that later and got a regular taxicab to the ballpark, arriving just before the teams took the field.  It turned out to be an historic evening, a no-hitter, the first that I have ever witnessed in person.  Of course, it was the other team that registered the no-hitter, the Mets registering no hits.  Actually, the Mets got three hits, that is three batters were hit by pitched balls.  Each was then allowed to go to first base where they remained stock still as their succeeding teammates proved unable to place their bats in the path of pitched balls.  

 “Jeb Bush Tells Germans He’d Confront ‘Ruthless’ Putin.”  We have to hope that this Bush, unlike his brother, does not confront Putin face to face.  After all, when they held a summit meeting, George said, “I looked the man in the eye.  I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy, and we had a very good dialogue.  I was able to get a sense of his soul.”  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
A bill passed by the Wisconsin legislature, pending approval by the governor, eliminates the 48-hour waiting period to purchase a handgun.  This will reduce the time that a bad guy will be asked to hold still while a good guy rushes off to buy a weapon.

I'm getting annoyed with Mission Chinese Food, relocated to 171 East Broadway.  After all, I visited their initial East Coast iteration (January 2, 2013), an interesting dump beneath a tenement on Orchard Street, and I have attempted to visit new/renewed establishment.  The inquiries that I have received about Mission should increase after today's favorable review in the New York Times.
But, as I wrote on January 20, 2015, you can't go there.  The place doesn't open for lunch, as if it were some swanky nightclub.  That's no way to get my money. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015
Even though Jaya Malaysian 888, 90 Baxter Street, had its walls and windows wide open to the street, I found a cool corner in the back as I continue to seek to elevate it to the best Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown.  I wasn't hungry enough to order anything more one dish from the lunch special menu -- beef with curry sauce ($6.95).  The promised soup of the day never appeared, as it never has on any prior occasion.  I didn't mind because the large mound of rice and the 6 ounces or so of curried beef cooked with a lot of onions made for a good portion.  The only problem with my quiet, cool back corner was the poor lighting which made finishing the crossword puzzle a little difficult.

Friday, June 12, 2015
MilkMade Ice Cream delivered its two pints of extravagantly priced ice cream for the month last night – "June Gloom" containing Ronnybrook Farm Dairy milk and cream, sugar, cream cheese, blueberries, Mast Brothers chocolate, and "A Midsummer Night’s ‘Scream" containing Ronnybrook Farm Dairy milk and cream, sugar, egg yolks, lavender, organic pansies, crisp (sugar, flour, brown sugar, butter, oats).  Let’s see if we enjoy these more than last month's flavors.  We'll do our tasting after the weekend.

The anarchic Jews of West End Synagogue are holding their annual retreat this weekend.  The theme is “Reconstructionist Judaism: L’dor  v’dor (Generation to generation).”  We are leaving in the early afternoon for a camp site just over two hours north of New York City.  No Chinese food will be served. 

P.S. Removing me from the isle of Manhattan resulted in this delay in publishing to the world.

Friday, June 5, 2015


Monday, June 1, 2015
A real Chuppah – Saturday, May 30, 2015

The "World’s 50 Best Restaurants" announces its 2015 list later today. I’ll print the link tomorrow. Last year’s list is found at For those who prefer your information predigested, I’ll summarize 2014’s top 10: #1 in Denmark, ##2, 6 and 8 in Spain, #3 in Italy, #4 in New York, ##5 and 10 in London, #7 in Brazil, #9 in Chicago. Chinese food seems to make its only appearance at #24, Amber in Hong Kong, but "the food is fundamentally French." New York’s best, and "the leading restaurant in North America" by that account, was Eleven Madison Park, 11 Madison Avenue. The New York Times gave it four stars (its top rating) just 10 weeks ago.
Currently, it serves more than a dozen courses at $225 per person, all but two chosen by the kitchen, taking more than three hours. So far, I haven’t been able to spare the time.

Speaking of good food: "BEIJING (AP) — Restaurant operator KFC said Monday it filed a lawsuit against three companies in China whose social media accounts spread false claims about its food, including that its chickens have eight legs."

It has rained heavily on and off here over the last 20 hours. This produced a 30 degree drop in temperature in the same period, 86 to 56. That gave me reason to go to Jaya Asian Cuisine 888, 90 Baxter Street, hoping that it would achieve the status of Chinatown’s leading Malaysian restaurant (May 15, 2015, April 17, 2015). About two weeks ago, they started opening the walls and windows to the hot and humid (not yet) summer air, so I planned to skip eating there until after the Jewish holidays. Today, however, the outside stayed outside and the inside was comfortably inside. And that was lucky for me.

I ordered Seafood Scramble Egg Chow Fun ($8.95), described as "Stir-fried Flat Noodles On Light Brown Egg Gravy Sauce Topped Shrimp Squid Scallop & Vegetable." When the large bowl was put in front of me, the ample contents looked decidedly goopy. One taste and I was delighted. The large portion of chow fun noodles and seafood were swimming (well, floating really, their swimming days past) in near-lobster sauce, missing only the pellets of ground pork. A small dish of white rice would have been handy to help with the very generous amount of sauce. I used a tablespoon to get myself into the Clean Plate Club. I have to compare this to the unpublished shrimp and lobster sauce over fried rice concoction that Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, has offered me lately (May 27, 2015) for $14. In this instance, Jaya rules. Keep those doors and windows closed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Here's the 2015 list of allegedly the world's 50 best restaurants.
Eleven Madison Park, 11 Madison Avenue, has dropped from #4 to #5, and Chicago has fallen out of the top 10.  Check out the rest for yourself. 

I had a bit of nostalgia this morning as I rode the Flushing line from Times Square to Grand Central to avoid some ugly weather. Car 1939 had a stuck door. Whether the result of better manufacturing or more careful repair and maintenance, subway car doors rarely stick these days, unlike the good old days. What else of our past will we lose next?

The warriors at Fox News appear to express their indignation about Benghazi and the American invasion of Iraq in inverse proportion to the number of American deaths. It’s no wonder then that they are hyper-belligerent about Iran, since no one has died there yet.

Thursday, June 4, 2015
Last night, the anarchic Jews of the West End Synagogue had their annual congregational meeting, and repeated their error of electing me secretary of the congregation. My primary duty is to record the minutes of the monthly meetings of the Board of Trustees. This gives me the opportunity to subtly distort the ideas propounded by the leaders of our congregation, which is the true meaning of Reconstructionist Judaism.

I have a friend who has been happily married for decades. However, when we were both single and running around together, I observed that he seemed to go overboard in his wining and dining of female companions. Whether the lavish treatment was rooted in precoital anticipation or simple generosity of spirit, it irked me. I used to say, "Don’t drop the atom bomb on Luxembourg." I was reminded of this looking at the editorial page today in the New York Times. All the space, one-half page, was devoted to one editorial, "Let Transgender Troops Serve Openly." I don’t object to the contents of the editorial, an issue that probably involves several handfuls of active and prospective military service members. Some editorial attention by the Times is warranted, but with ISIS, FIFA, Rick Perry, income inequality, and other bad news to deal with, Don’t drop the atom bomb on Luxembourg.

Jon, Eddie and Nathan Silverberg joined me for lunch at Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth Street, that palace of dim summery. It was somewhat busy, but most of the several hundred Chinese retirees who were present last week, stayed home today, or drifted over to another establishment. As a result, fewer wagons came rolling up to our table than usual, or so it seemed. It took us a while to get 17 plates delivered and consumed. All but one cost $2.50; a plate of mei fun was $5.95 and Nathan and I fetched that from the table in the back center of the room where sloppier/slipperier than ordinary items are served up a plate at a time. Weekends, the price rises as even bigger crowds seek out dim sum for brunch, if only for lack of decent bagels and lox in their own neighborhoods.

Friday, June 5, 2015

When I saw this on the way to work, I asked if it is Milt Jackson’s birthday, but no one seemed to know what I was talking about.

I faced the abyss today. It is the 12th annual Caren Aronowitz Unity in Diversity Program at the courthouse. As I have observed in prior years (June 6, 2014, June 7, 2013, June 10, 2011), this event breeds intergroup understanding and tolerance by having hundreds of people jammed unto lines waiting for free food served by co-workers whom you suspect were employed only at the behest of some influential friend or relative. Since overeating is my normal response to such events (in 2013, I confessed to sampling "a dumpling, quiche, Vietnamese summer roll, Mediterranean cigar, sushi, potato knish, ribs, shepherd’s pie, Irish sausage, smoked salmon, Korean chicken, southern fried chicken, sticky bun, jerk chicken, shrimp lo mein, franks in a blanket, macaroni salad, before ending with tiramisu, a chocolate chip cookie, chocolate pinwheel, and a cream puff"), I decided to exercise restraint, if only briefly. Ducking the crowds, I went off to Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, for, well, duck chow fun.   

Friday, May 29, 2015

Wise Guy?

Monday, May 25, 2015
The joke's on me twice, apparently.  Every Monday, including our wedding anniversary, the New York Times prints the "Metropolitan Diary," a half dozen anecdotes and observations by readers about New York life.  Today, I was particularly interested in the tale of a motorist, driving across 66th Street, who was flagged down by two pedestrians, indicating that smoke was coming from under the hood of his car.  One of the men was wearing a work shirt from an automotive dealer and he offered to help, after calling his boss, for $380. This friendly guy took the money, crawled under the car, jiggled and jangled, and commended the driver upon his good luck encountering him in time of need.  The driver later suffered his friends' derision for being played a sucker.

So, about a year ago, as Ken Klein is my witness, I was driving across 70th Street when first one then another guy on the sidewalk waved his arms and pointed to the front of my car.  Sure enough, one of the guys was an auto mechanic, but his telephone conversation with his boss only cost me $180.  He crawled under the car, jiggled and jangled, and told me how fortunate I was that he was crossing the street as I approached, because the potholes had shaken so many things loose under the hood of my car.

That's only the first joke.  Prudently, I took the car into the local Lexus dealer a day later to have everything bolted down solid.  How wise I was, the chief mechanic told me.  The car needed advanced jiggling and jangling, costing $2,200.  Too bad I did not read today’s paper last year.

Over the weekend, the Times had a story on the intersection of two of my favorite diversions, sports and crossword puzzles.
It pointed out that Mel Ott, who starred for the New York (baseball) Giants for over 20 years, “is quite simply the greatest baseball player who ever lived,” at least measured by his 151 appearances in the Times crossword puzzle since 1993.  Obviously, it is the utility of Ott’s name that earned him this distinction, while the supremely-skilled Joe DiMaggio fit into the little squares only twice.  Success in this realm depends on both recognizability and spelling.  Steffi Graf, Yes – Martina Navratilova, No.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
I went to Taste of Northern China, 88 East Broadway, when it first opened in the tiny space formerly occupied by Xi'an Famous Foods (May 19, 2014).  Since then, it has expanded by adding a long and narrow canvas and Lucite sidewalk shed containing two snack tables and 5 knee-high stools.  Inside, there are 8 (bar-height) stools up against a 9" deep ledge.  Three people are crowded behind the counter preparing the food, including a woman hand pulling noodles, supposedly culturally prohibited, although I am unable to find authority for that.  

I ordered a rolled egg pie ($3) and boiled lamb dumplings ($7 in spite of the menu saying $5).  No diet soda was available.  The rolled egg pie was an eggy crêpe rolled around some crunchy green vegetables.  At first, it tasted hearty enough that I thought there was meat inside, but none appeared when I unrolled it.  A good snack.  The dozen dumplings were good also, although they benefitted by a squirt of soy sauce or hot sauce.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015
This morning, as I left the elevator at the ground floor, a young man entered pushing a cart laden with boxes and stuff.  When I heard him ask for the 17th floor with a slight accent, I stuck my head back into the cab and asked “Are you Gotthelf?  From Israel?”  With a slight stutter of hesitation, he said Yes.  I extended my hand and announced that I am Gotthelf from 17P.  He, of course, is a (one T) Gothelf from Israel whose parents bought apartment 17M late last year in order to try the patience of the Post Office.  We didn’t have time to chat, but I told (warned) him that I would seek him out in the next few days.

Dear friend Tom Adcock, inspired by articles in today’s Times about flabby arms and authenticating Hermès handbags, provided these words of wisdom from his late mother-in-law: “Newspapers are full of stories about white people trying to have problems.”
I never said that Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, was perfect.  As with every human enterprise, it is flawed.  However, it is the best at what it does -- serve large portions of classic Chinatown cuisine at reasonable prices.  That's why I eat there once a week on the average.  Accordingly, I encounter a significant flaw regularly, the other side of the coin of one of its virtues. large portions.  Wo Hop does not offer lunch specials or half portions of its dishes.  So, if I want that exquisite combination of shrimp with lobster sauce and fried rice, I have to pay $15.25 plus $7.25 and get more food than even I can manage. 
Last week, discussing this problem with one of the waiters whom I have spent more time with in the last five years than any of my relatives without a doctorate in epidemiology, he offered a solution.  A heaping plate of fried rice with a modest portion of shrimp with lobster sauce on top, 5 jumbo shrimp, $14 total.  This wonderful combination could easily feed two normal human beings, as I was reminded when I made all gone this afternoon again. 
Friday, May 29, 2015
Inspired by the fund-raising success of the Clinton Foundation, I have agreed to make certain public appearances in exchange for donations of chocolate chip cookies, rugelach, seven layer cake and/or babka to the Hungry Grandpa Fund. 

Since it is fitting to have coffee with any of these treats, this map will show us the national distribution of Starbucks vs. Dunkin' Donuts.
 What an exciting few days ahead.  The second and third generations are visiting for the weekend.  That means that the Palazzo di Gotthelf will be carpeted with children, toys, discarded clothing and half-eaten Cheerios.  In exchange, they will learn to chant “Let’s go, Rangers!” as the puck is dropped on game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals of the National Hockey League at 8 PM.  Poor children will have to go to bed before the game progresses too far.  Grandpa Alan will make every effort to approach breakfast tomorrow morning with equanimity, teaching them to accept victory/defeat with grace.  Better victory.
To prepare for this weekend's increased population density, I went to Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth Street, for lunch.  That block-long dim sum joint is always crowded, and today there was the added presence of the "Chinese Retirees Club Local 23 - 25," 30 tables each packed with 10 people, taking up about 1/3 of the restaurant's floor space.  They had entertainment along with their buns, dumplings, noodles and stir fries.  I left as an intense man was concluding "My Way," in English with a Chinese accent.  Indubitably, his way. 

Friday, May 22, 2015


Monday, May 18, 2015
For several reasons, the society pages (I’ll never call them anything else) of the Sunday New York Times gave prominent coverage to the wedding of Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson, stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association, on competing teams. The space must have been allocated well before Friday’s announcement that each was suspended without pay for seven games after they were arrested in their home on charges of domestic violence. But, as often, my interests are more parochial. Near the bottom of the story, we read that the minister "performed the ceremony under a white canopy adorned with hydrangea and coral and white roses." 

As I have noted before (February 1, 2013, May 27, 2013), all sorts of people are being married under a chuppah, the traditional open-sided shelter for a Jewish wedding. Of course, the label is changed to protect the innocent, and this symbol of the newlywed’s home, sheltered from the sky, but open to the world, is called a canopy, gazebo or some other polite term far removed from the shtetl. Now, we have to promote Kosher catering.

Headline: "Wall Street Is Back, Almost as Big as Ever." You only have Obama to blame.

There is currently a kerfuffle over whether Pope Francis greeted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last week as an "angel of peace" or merely encouraged him to "be an angel of peace." Were it Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instead, no one would have suggested calling him an angel of peace.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
I have to report on a failing experiment in progress. I enrolled in the MilkMade Ice Cream program recently that delivers two pints of hand made ice cream to your door monthly, at the extravagant price of $15 per pint (April 22, 2015). The price was a deterrent, but curiosity about amarena cherry ice cream with chipped dark chocolate and a white chocolate ganache, witch finger grape ice cream with fresh peanut butter, and chocolate ice cream with a hint of birch bark led me on. The first delivery was early May, but we are still nibbling away at it, which is an indictment in itself. I started with the Open Sesame (MilkMade reaches a bit in its nomenclature), black sesame ice cream, with a toasted sesame caramel swirl. It’s not even as good as it sounds. My young bride, limiting her sense of adventure to being married to me, stuck to the Tim Tam Slam, chocolate mint julep ice cream with chunks of Tim Tam biscuits, somewhat similar to Kit Kat bars. This concoction, linked to the Kentucky Derby, is flavored with bourbon, but that was not enough to make me want to substitute it for Häagen-Dazs chocolate chocolate chip or Baskin-Robbins Pralines ‘N Cream. I’m going to give MilkMade one more month to convince me that ice cream belongs with heart transplants in the realm where money is no object. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Devotion to a sports team may be passed down in a family, or connected to place of residence. Generally, persuasion or reasoning has nothing to do with it. I am known as a fan of the New York Rangers hockey team, now engaged in the third round of their league’s championship. I credit my brother for getting me started. However, for those of you with little or no rooting interest in the New York Rangers versus the Tampa Bay Lightening, who play a game tonight, I wish to influence you with reason or good sense. When Tampa Bay learned that it had qualified for championship contention, it announced that "any tickets purchased with a credit card not attached to a Florida address will be cancelled and issued a refund without notice . . . [and] only Lightning team attire will be allowed in the Chase Club section during playoff games." The Chase Club is the high-priced section, where television cameras might scan the audience. Let’s go, Rangers!

I read an item in today’s New York Law Journal as an ordinary human being would, since I have no involvement with criminal law. Bernie Madoff’s former controller was sentenced in federal court yesterday only to time served and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service. The judge said that she believes that the perp was genuinely remorseful for knowingly falsifying records presented to the Securities & Exchange Commission and the IRS. The perp told the judge that she was "truly sorry" and "completely ashamed." As in so many other instances, the perp’s remorse only kicked in after she was apprehended. The record is free of any suggestion that she felt sorrow or shame while she was abetting Bernie in cheating Yeshiva University, Hadassah, Town of Fairfield – Connecticut, Dorset County (UK) Pension Fund, Stony Brook University Foundation, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and hundreds of other groups and individuals out of billions of dollars. The train has left the station, lady.

Friday, May 22, 2015
I seem to have been the last to know, but this morning, on the way to work, I saw a young man wearing a sweatshirt saying "Stuyvesant Cricket." In fact, in New York City, 30 high schools now play competitive cricket, and there is a city championship tournament. How about that, David Brodie?

I first entered the Four Seasons, 99 East 52nd Street, in the summer of 1980, just after I started a job in a building around the corner.  Several of us would regularly repair for drinks there after an exhausting day of management consulting.  Eventually, we were acknowledged with extra servings of the veal sausages and steak tartare provided during the cocktail hour.  My name appeared on so many credit card receipts that I was offered, and gladly accepted, a house account. 

My attraction to the Four Seasons was not based on a hope or dream of being asked to join a table of the high and mighty who patronized it.  I was and remain conscious of Balzac's epigram, "Behind every great fortune there is a crime."  It was the place itself, beautifully designed, kept in excellent condition, operated near flawlessly for the comfort of the patrons, even those of us new to middle class respectability.  Yes, it felt as if we had taken a step above and beyond our modest backgrounds.  

Now, the institution is threatened by a dispute with the building's owner, someone who seems to be easily caricatured as a greedy landlord.

My visits to the Four Seasons have been few and far between in recent years, for while it may have stayed much the same, my life changed considerably.  I don't even expect that I will seek it out at its prospective new location, unlikely to be in Chinatown.   

"A Mesa [Arizona] woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of aggravated assault after running over her husband with a Jeep because he didn’t vote in the November 2012 presidential election, police said. . . . [She] started arguing with her husband when she found out that he didn't vote because she ‘believed her family was going to face hardship’ as a result of President Obama’s re-election." According to USA Today. According to my sources, she felt frustrated in not reaching her childhood dream of moving to Greenwich, Connecticut and operating a hedge fund.