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.

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