Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bye-Bye Sinai

Monday, April 25, 2011

Since I am only about 3/4 of the way through my symbolic trek across Sinai, the journey from Egypt to Canaan, from slavery to freedom, from renting a studio in midtown to owning a two-bedroom apartment on the upper West Side, there is little to report of my lunches. However, there are notable sights in the vicinity of the courthouse. The area in front of the Moynihan Federal Courthouse around the corner is littered with television broadcasting trucks and tripods standing ready to record and transmit the reactions to an anticipated verdict in Raj Rajaratnam’s insider trading case. So far, the jury is out.

At the same time, a female fashion model was posing immediately in front of the New York State courthouse. She was wearing a cognac-colored, short, fitted leather jacket over a cranberry-colored dress with a deeply-ruffled hem. Her shoes were dark tan suede spike heels with an extra inch stacked on the sole, a look encouraged by orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors. But, here’s the fashion note that many women may come to regret – she was wearing stockings with seams. Of course, I was standing behind her, a perspective possibly lost to the camera. Indeed, I hope that the camera never espies this unwelcome retro look, and women can continue to pull on their pantyhose without the contortions needed to see the view from the rear.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dr. Goldfinger, my urologist, told me that Fuleen Seafood Restaurant was his favorite in Chinatown, so I thought I would try it again (April 20, 2010 and July 27, 2010) as my journey across the forbidding desert was coming to an end. I sought a dish that, served with the proper amount of sophistry, would pass over, under, around or through the Passover strictures on food. Crispy baby chicken (half for $8.95) served the purpose well. Accompanied by a squeeze of lemon, spicy salt and a few potato chips. No rice, which would be another buck, take room away from the large portion of chicken, and is barred to Northern European Jews during Passover, but not Southern European, Middle Eastern and Asian Jews. Go figure. The chicken was a very good choice, the skin crispy and almost fat-free, freshly cooked, accounting for the longer than average wait to be served, time well spent working on the Sunday crossword puzzle.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The bargaining unit (dare I say "Union") that represent court attorneys is having a lunchtime meeting to inform us of the possible impact of budget cuts on staffing. This may not be a topic that aids digestion, so I ate a sandwich in my office before attending. We were told that the dearly soon-to-departed would be announced on May 18th.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chinatown Leads, Guggenheim Follows published the following today (print version tomorrow):
"It’s a concept that takes Warhol one bold step further: receive $100,000 in prize money and instead of spending it, tack 100,000 used $1 bills to the walls of a museum. But the notion that, as Warhol, the man who painted ‘200 One Dollar Bills,’ once said, ‘making money is art’ is exactly what Hans-Peter Feldmann, the German artist who was awarded the $100,000 Hugo Boss Prize in November, does not want art lovers to think next month when they step into a large gallery off the Frank Lloyd Wright ramp of the Guggenheim Museum in New York and see a room covered floor to ceiling with 100,000 $1 bills."

However, 69 Bayard Restaurant, 69 Bayard Street (between Mott Street and Elizabeth Street, one block south of Canal Street and one block west of the Bowery – for those who collect coffee table art books, but don’t own a street map) has had its walls covered with a vast number of dollar bills for years, as I’ve reported several times(March 15, 2010, November 29, 2010, February 3, 2011). My guess is over 1,000 dollar bills.

As it happens, admission to the Guggenheim Museum is $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors (65+) with ID. For $18 each, four adults can go to 69 Bayard Restaurant and have 4 egg rolls ($5.50), roast duck chow fun ($4.25), clams with black bean sauce ($9), beef with mushrooms ($8.25), moo shu pork ($6.75), extra pancakes (4 x $.20), white meat moo goo gai pan ($8.50), scallops with lobster sauce ($10), and vegetable fried rice ($4.50) for a total of $57.55. Tax and tip brings this to $71.94, tea and fortune cookies thrown in. So, you saved six cents, really enjoyed yourself, avoided contact with mock profundity and exaggerated self-regard, while surrounding yourself in "a totally immersive environment" just like the museum promises. Of course, the Guggenheim will feed you. Its restaurant, the Wright (not named for the Mets third baseman), offers a Chef's Tasting Menu @ $68. And here’s where it leaves 69 Bayard Restaurant in the dust; each of you can have the Chef's Tasting Menu With Wine Pairing @ $110 while 69 Bayard Restaurant doesn’t even have a sommelier.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Danny "Macaroons" Cohen sent me to Lam Zhou Handmade Noodles & Dumplings, 144 East Broadway, and the boy knows from what he’s talking. The space is small and very narrow. There are two tables and two counters running on opposite walls that might hold 20 people at the most. While noodles were the focus of most of the dishes on the menu printed on the wall and those eaten by other customers, they were in soup on a day too warm for me to want soup. Instead, I ordered 12 fried dumplings for $3 and the traditional Diet Coke for another buck. It was a wonderful return to Chinatown lunches after Passover. With a shpritz of soyish sauce from one of the obscurely-labeled bottles on the counter, I had a good simple meal at a very good price.

Leaving Lam Zhou, I saw directly across the street a large building inscribed with Hebrew letters. Crossing over, I saw a weathered bronze plaque identifying the Miriam Zuckerberg Yeshiva, which is so pre-Facebook that no matches were later found for it on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or When I came closer, I saw through an open window that it was, in fact, operating as a Yeshiva. One student sitting right by the window confirmed this and asked me to come in for Mincha, the afternoon prayers. Others joined in, urging me to do the right thing. I politely declined, trying not to breathe still-in-the-process-of-being-digested fried dumplings on them. I told them, however, that I was going to shul tomorrow without bringing up the denominational divide between us. Shabbat shalom.

By the way, who gets married on a Friday, anyway?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Let My People Eat


Driving home in the miserable rain storm Saturday night, I realized why the excellent dim sum lunch at Golden Unicorn, on Friday, April 15, cost as much as it did. I forgot to report the stuffed sweet potatoes, small columns of mashed sweet potatoes circled by a strip of potato skin. The contents were very pale, seemingly from a regular potato, but the flavor indicated sweet potato, or yam (there is a difference supposedly). This extra dish accounted for the large tab at lunch.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pho 88, 51 Bayard Street, opened yesterday; I missed the dragons by one day. It is an attractive medium-small Vietnamese restaurant with a friendly staff, comfortable with English. It had about one dozen red-ribbon bedecked plants and flowers on the sidewalk outside, and another two dozen or so inside adding to the fresh look of the interior.

I had Goi Cuon, 2 rice paper-wrapped shrimp rolls ($4.25) and Bun Bo Xao Sate, grilled beef with satee (satay) sauce over rice vermicelli and shredded lettuce ($5.95). Both dishes were very good, in appropriate-sized portions. I spoke to the middle-aged woman owner, whose lovely young daughter was working the cash register, and explained that I had supported Eugene McCarthy back in the day. We got along very well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We attended the first seder last night, at the home of Judi and Stu Poloner, a very fortunate choice of in-laws for me. To be candid, Stu is a first-class human being, but Judi is a fabulous meal planner and cook. Their level of religious observance requires a late start and even later finish for the seder, with nary a word of the Hagaddah missed. The reward for such devotion though is always a great meal of both familiar and unfamiliar dishes, all strictly Kosher, in abundant quantity. Oh, you can get a little spiritual uplift too while raising the wine glass countless times, but only getting the signal to drink four times.
For a start (I skip that strange hard boiled egg soup that the Poloners have propagated for generations), there was the traditional non-traditional fried gefilte fish, taking one of my favorite dishes (when properly prepared) to new heights. The fish balls (akin to quenelles for the Francophiles out there) are coated in a fine dusting of matzo crumbs, deep fried and served cold with powerful horseradish. This was followed by some salads which would only take up valuable gastric space and, thus, to be avoided. The main courses were chicken Marbella, an excellent version possibly borrowed the The Silver Palette Cookbook, and roast veal. These dishes were accompanied by skinless kishke, mushroom pilaf, apple kugel and cranberry-tangerine relish. Stu, possessor of sensitive taste buds, offered, as usual, a choice of fine quality wines in addition to the grape-flavored motor oil found on most seder tables.

America’s Favorite Epidemiologist and I had to leave before desert, but well after 11 PM, in order to see Boaz, Noam and their parents, our guests for the next two nights. However, our late return to Palazzo di Gotthelf came after they had all gone sleep. Today, we expect to catch up with news of Thomas the Tank Engine, Lightening McQueen and other active members of the Natick, Massachusetts social set.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Last night, we were fortunate again to have our seder with the Englewood Poloners, this time with Mother Ruth Gotthelf in tow and joined by our second and third generations. In all, there were 23 people at the table, born between November 26, 1909 and August 15, 2010. The menu had some carryover from Monday night, specifically the fried gefilte fish (there is a God), the kishke, the cranberry-tangerine relish and the unnecessary salads. New main courses were Aunt Judi’s Famous Meatballs and brisket. Both of these are so good that you want to come back the next day for lunch and make thick sandwiches of each, except it’s Passover and sandwiches are a week away. A conundrum. Additional side dishes were farfel and a squash kugel that easily could have been served as a dessert, sweet, light, fluffy.

We left as actual dessert was being served (with the need to get my mother home before the rooster crowed), but Aunt Judi was dear enough to slip me some meringue chocolate chip cookies on the way out to ease my separation anxiety. Chag sameach.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

As confirmation of Mitt Romney’s warnings that, in the absence of his leadership, we are destined to decline to the level of France, I have received Spam in French, to wit:

"Veuillez confirmer votre mot de passe et votre adresse de messagerie secours en nous envoyant les informations demandées à de Google Mail dans un délai de 72 Heures ou en remplissant le formulaire ci-dessous." Responds this all-American guy, "Heck, no."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Two restaurants closed recently and their space stands empty: Pho Cho Ben Thanh, 76 Mott Street (August 9, 2010), and New Won Ton Garden, 56 Mott Street (January 13, 2010). New Won Ton Garden morphed into H.K. Wonton Garden, 79 Mulberry Street (March 1, 2011), operated by younger relatives. Pho Cho was clumsily situated down a steep flight of stairs, poorly airconditioned and unremarkable in its offerings. I await their physical replacements.

Tonight, I am going to my first Mets game of the season, accompanied by the lovely and talented Steve Schneider.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The return of Grandpa Alan

Monday, April 11, 2011

This city slicker returned from a weekend in the country with his digestive system awry, so I had only a bowl of chicken rice soup at Wo Hop downstairs.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A day breathing big city air restored my appetite, so I headed out in the rain to find a new restaurant. The other day, I spotted a place on Bayard Street that seemed newly opened, but when I got there today, it only looked like it was about to open. Feeling a bit damp, I put aside my explorations and went into New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, 50 Mott Street, which I had first visited February 19, 2010, soon after it opened. In spite of its varied menu, I ordered simply, Shanghai won ton soup ($3.95) and a scallion pancake ($1.95). They both were very good, the won tons a little more delicate than usual, the hot broth fighting the wet, chilly weather and the scallion pancake equally tasty and greasy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When I went to work this morning, I was concerned about the tripartite demand on my time for this evening. I had tickets for the first game in the Gotthelf/Glotzer Mets subscription series, the hockey playoffs begin with the Rangers on the road in Washington, and the board of West End Synagogue, struggling to maintain a role in the International Jewish Conspiracy, was holding its monthly meeting. Well, this dilemma fast faded a few minutes after I sat down at my desk, when I learned from my office mate Michael, e-mails, telephone messages at work, at home and on the cell phone, that I had purportedly told the world by e-mail that I was stranded in London without funds and was seeking financial assistance. That part had its amusement value, but the scoundrels changed the password on my internet account and, after sending the false cry for help, erased my entire list of e-mail addresses. I will be recreating the list for the next several days, no doubt. If you are reading this, I have succeeded, at least up to your place in the alphabet. The worst part is the loss of my world-class collection of fraudulent financial schemes described in approximations of the English language. That may be even more difficult to rebuild, but I received a kind note from Dr. David Adams, Coordinator, Malaysian National Sweeptakes (sic) Compensation Award, shortly after I regained control of my internet account. So, I guess I’m on the road to recovery.

Another sign of my resilience was finding a new restaurant, A Son Fuzhou Restaurant, 7 Eldridge Street. What was special about this small place, holding 5 round tables and 4 rectangular tables, was the complete absence of English. The menu was entirely in Chinese. It contains only numbers, – the telephone number and prices. You could have a $6.50, a $12.95 not too spicy, and a side of $3.95. The name of the restaurant does not appear in English on the menu; I only learned it from the sign out front. Fortunately, one interior wall is mostly covered with 8 x 10 color pictures of dishes, and the only other patrons were a young couple. Did I mention that the waitress did not speak English? The young girl at the next table, with bright red-copper hair, understood a little English. She was from Fuzhou Province on a visit to her parents. I pointed to pictures on the wall and she tried to find the right word to describe the food. I did not try to exhaust her supply of edible nouns and quickly chose the dish of fried fish ($16.95 – the waitress had learned something in die Goldene Medina), which was pretty good although about four dollars too much. I only used chopsticks to show that I, unlike lunch, was not a fish out of water.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

By lunch time today, I had recovered 67 of you for my e-mail list. I hope to approach the pre-hijacking number of communicants by the weekend.

I picked up new eyeglasses today. Chinatown probably has the densest concentration of optical shops in New York, and that means the world. There are at least nine on Mott Street alone, although two are well into Soho. Why is that?

Friday, April 15, 2011

I’m continuing to rebuild my contact list, but I need your assistance, especially those who wouldn’t cough up a few quid to spring me loose from that uncaring London hotel. Call or e-write all your friends, family and neighbors and ask them if they heard from Grandpa Alan this weekend, and, if not, have them send me their e-mail address. They shouldn’t be left out. Also, I’ve set up a Gmail account to front end my Yahoo account for additional security. In the future, my messages may emanate from either account. Best to respond to

Golden Unicorn Restaurant, 18 East Broadway, is not virgin territory (May 3, 2010), but I felt a return visit was desirable as part of my recovery process. I noticed that the eyes of the dragon and the phoenix on the wall were not blinking, but all else seemed the same. This time I had shrimp in wide rice noodle, roast pork sticky buns, beef balls and shrimp wrapped in bacon. Everything was very good, but, with tea and tax, the bill came to over $19. No one offered me the Big Nose discount that I have come to expect when eating dim sum on a weekday.

The following is an interesting tale:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Early April

I interrupt this week to report on a stupid article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, dated April 3, 2011. It featured a few photographs taken by a Dutch photographer of people riding the subways between Grand Central Station and Wall Street. The Times wrote that the "resulting images speak to their anxiousness and uncertainty." The photographer was quoted as saying of the period in late 2008, "It was a very hard time for all New Yorkers, which is very visible in the pictures." Balderdash. With one exception, the people shown do not appear to be partners in the imploding Lehman Brothers or bank executives just risen from their knees after begging Washington for a bailout. They look like ordinary New Yorkers going to work in the morning, pressed close together and anxious primarily to get a cup of coffee to carry to their workplace. In fact, the one well-dressed executive type shown is very familiar to me and he is far from an economic bloodsucker digging us into a deeper financial pit. It is Dr. Roger Platt, a major figure in New York's public health system, a compassionate and dedicated physician, with a wonderful family and a great apartment. While Roger looks quite sober in the photograph, especially with his gray hair and beard, he always looks like that. And, no matter what Roger might look like on or off a subway train, to comment that "[a]lmost no one is smiling," is a ridiculous observation. What should a crowd of subway riders look like? If I entered a subway car loaded with people with goofy grins, I would exit immediately. If all this came as a surprise to the Dutch photographer, I'll be sure and avoid the Amsterdam underground on my next trip abroad.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ten Ren’s Tea Time, 79 Mott Street, is related to the Ten Ren retail tea shop at 75 Mott Street, a major league enterprise where even my boyhood friend Arthur was able to find his favorite rare tea leaves. TRTT offers only about six food items along with dozens of tea and beverage choices. The shop is long and narrow, with only 8 small square tables fitting two people at most. It has an active takeout business for its liquids.

I ordered crispy chicken ($4.50) and spring rolls ($4). Both dishes were very good and together made a respectable lunch. The spring rolls were the size and shape of cigar butts in a thin wrapper, lightly fried. The chicken was natural, that is, not machine formed, and coated in rice flour before frying.

TRTT also sold packaged rugelach and chocolate chip cookies under their brand. The prices were noteworthy, 4 rugelach for $1.50 and 2 medium-sized chocolate chip cookies for $1. If they are any good (believe it or not, I did not partake), this would be a great deal, although a strange place to find it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Last night at Madison Square Garden was turning into a disaster, in spite of the good company of Professor Nathaniel Persily. The Rangers fell behind the Boston Bruins 3 - 0 early in the second period. As you are so well aware, a three goal deficit in a hockey game is as big a challenge as making French toast with hard-boiled eggs. Then, I noticed that my gray slacks had chewing gum stuck to them, transferred from the armrest separating seats 7 and 8, section 309, row C. For the first time ever, I considered leaving a hockey game early, but, as a wee tot, I learned from my brother to stick it out. Mirabile dictu, the Rangers scored 5 goals in a row and win 5 - 3 with the Garden going nuts.

It seemed appropriate then that I had lunch with Gil Glotzer, justice seeker, so that we might divide up the tickets to the partial subscription we share to Mets games for the new season.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stanley Feingold is here for our periodic brown-bag luncheon, held today at Nick Lewin’s office. While no one in the crowd would venture a guess as to the Republican presidential candidate in 2012, the current leader for the Democratic nomination in 2016 was Andrew Cuomo.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Most Chinatown bakeries have seating, but that still isn’t a reason to go inside except in a driving rainstorm. They generally offer big selections of pastries and cakes that exceed even my tolerance for sticky sweet things, and an assortment of savory items that could theoretically be eaten for lunch. However, these savory items are very, very doughy buns containing a dollop of stuff. The differences between stuff requires more sensitive taste buds than mine, although I am able to distinguish the stuff by color.

White Swan Bakery, 24 Bowery, is a cut above most others, because it has a small counter serving about half a dozen dim sum in addition to the usual bakery fare. I had shrimp dumplings, meat dumplings and a large portion of mei fun for $6.50. The noodles were B level, at least a full grade above the dumplings. I washed this down with a peach green tea slush ($2.95), not entirely consisting of sugar.

Friday, April 8, 2011

America's Favorite Epidemiologist and I joined other members of West End Synagogue, an impotent arm of the international Jewish conspiracy, on a weekend retreat to the northwestern corner of Connecticut. In fact, my young bride lead a session on transmitting Jewish values to your children, at least those who have not been inoculated. She did a wonderful job directing the discussion and drawing out the personal experiences of many in the audience. Our group of 60 or so upper West Siders survived the encounter with rustic New England, although 2 people were injured playing Ping Pong.

Just as I opened with a slight diversion, I must close with another. I thought, and you no doubt hoped, to be rid of macarons. However, the New York Times on Wednesday reported on the opening of a Bosie Tea Parlor, 10 Morton Street, which is beyond the boundaries of an entropic Chinatown. It stocks "the inevitable macarons (20 flavors including yuzu and chai, all $2 each, $20 a dozen)." Don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Marching On

Monday, March 28, 2011

Just when I planned returning to chocolate chip cookies, I read an article about Paris in the Travel section of yesterday's New York Times. "For macarons, I learned there was only one place to go: Pierre Hermé on the Left Bank. If I was alone, I took the delicate ganache-filled meringue cookies to the Square des Missions Étrangères, a small spot of green in the center of the well-to-do Rue du Bac neighborhood, and ate them in gleeful silence." Imagine reading that will eating a tuna fish sandwich at your desk.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I’m wireless. I stayed home today and the company that may be called Verizon installed fiber optic cable and a wireless router in the Palazzo di Gotthelf. The pair of installers were neat and efficient and, by day’s end, at less cost than we were accustomed to paying, we were blessed by the NHL Network and other benefits of civilization.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rong Hang Restaurant, 38 Eldridge Street, is relatively new. It is open and airy with seven round tables with turntables and 2 smaller round tables. The two interesting chandeliers on the ceiling are less effective in establishing the decor than the large beverage cooler, almost fully stocked with Heineken's, standing next to the cashier.

The cuisine appears to be fuzhounese, with frogs, various intestines, duck’s tongues (Where is the rest of the duck? No other parts are offered on the menu), and seafood. Not a chicken in sight. I ordered hot and spicy yellow fish ($8.95) which was cooked with mushrooms, red peppers, green peppers, onions, bamboo shoots, cauliflower, garlic, tomatoes, and pea pods in a brown sauce. It was tasty, but not particularly hot and spicy. The sauce was good and abundant, crying out for a side of fried rice, which, as I have lamented before, you just can’t get.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Teariffic, 51 Mott Street, is not quite that, but it is very good. It’s a step up from Quickly (March 14, 2011), but similar in concept, featuring a much wider variety of beverages and snack foods, about 100 of the former and 50 of the latter. The store is about 15' x 25', with about 1/4 of the space taken up by the food and drink preparation area. It has 15 square, dark wood tables, moved around to accommodate various size groups. You sit on dark wood backless stools, very Asian in feel. A woman at the cash register by the front door takes your order and delivers to your seat.

I had deep fried chicken strips with spices ($3.25), one of the best deals in Chinatown. The portion was large, main course size. The chicken was real, not odds and ends glued together, and near greaseless. I also had steam (present tense) vegetable dumplings ($3.25, in fact 13 of the 14 Authentic Delicacies were $3.25 and the last was Assorted Snacks Combo for $3.95). The eight small dumplings were good, but cooled off very quickly. Soy sauce and duck sauce were served in little plastic pouches.

I walked into an empty Teariffic, so much so that I wondered if it was open at the height of the lunch hour. In a few minutes, however, a dozen or more people were sitting on the cute stools following in my wake.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ding Bing. I typed "new york rangers schedule" (pardon me for succumbing to the lazy habit of not using capital letters) into a Bing search box on my Internet screen. The first response was a list of the first three games this season of the TEXAS Rangers baseball team. Then and only then came two handfuls of web sites pertaining to my beloved New York Rangers hockey team. Is it any wonder that our nation's children trail the world in math and science?