Friday, May 27, 2011

Wedding Bells

Monday, May 23, 2011

About six weeks ago, two wedding invitations arrived in the same day’s mail. More significantly, the weddings were planned for Sunday, May 22nd at nearly the same time; one in central New Jersey, the other in Suffolk County, New York. We had meaningful ties to both events. Lainie, the eldest daughter of my cousin Michael Goldenberg (my mother is a Goldenberg) was marrying Jesse Roth, while Jordana Klein was marrying Adin Meir, the middle child and younger son of Leah and Aryeh Meir, very longtime friends of America’s Favorite Epidemiologist. And, Aryeh was the rabbi who joined us in wedded bliss eight years ago this week.

Anthropologically, the Goldenberg-Roth wedding had more to offer, since it would be held according to strict Orthodox Jewish rules, notably separation of men and women except during the meal, which says all you need to know about the status of food in the Jewish hierarchy of values. The Klein-Meir wedding, to be conducted by Rabbi Meir, would follow more contemporary Conservative Jewish customs. In spite of the simultaneity of the invitations, the choice of venue had been made months before when the Klein-Meir faction sent out a charming photograph of the young, nature-loving couple high up some mountain with a request to hold the date. On the other hand, the strict piety of the Goldenberg-Roth pair had effected a different courting ritual, held entirely at sea level. They had first met late last year, and very quickly decided to marry, first informing most family members of the news by means of the wedding invitation.

I wore the Silverman Tuxedo (Trademark pending) and America’s Favorite Epidemiologist looked smashing in a champagne-colored silk suit. Unlike the Goldenberg-Roth affair, where men and women were not permitted to dance together, the Klein-Meir affair had a 13-piece band that kept people on the dance floor most of the evening. Actually, resort to the dance floor was necessary because the decibel level of the music was so loud that conversation was impossible, and sitting in place near-painful. As a result, some of the guests Sunday came equipped with their own ear plugs, a precaution that escaped me. Mind you, this criticism is applicable to almost every wedding and B’nai (Bar and Bat) Mitzvah party I’ve been to this century.

Tokyo Mart, Inc., 91 Mulberry Street, is a medium-size Japanese grocery store, with a small selection of tea pots, chopsticks and other tableware. It also has one sushi chef preparing for take-out and delivery orders. However, I spotted a rickety stool in a corner next to a small table and I plopped down and asked for $10 omakase (chef’s choice). The chef was eager to oblige and I soon had a collection of fresh sushi in front of me, including eel, clam, tuna and salmon. The take-out menu pictures 37 different varieties or combinations available, costing between $3 and $9.50, except for one lobster combination at $11.50. While you are probably as welcome as I was to sit on the rickety stool, it makes more sense to take your food to Columbus Park, the jury room or your cell.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan. He is 70 years old today. I recollect seeing him twice in person: early 1965, in Bailey Hall, Cornell University, where he performed acoustic versions of most of the songs from the (about-to-be or just released) album "Bringing It All Back Home"; June 1989 at the Royal Concertgebouw in the Hague, while on a two-week solo vacation in the Netherlands. The first occasion was thrilling. I already knew Dylan’s music, as it was up until then, but he emerged as a rocker with Subterranean Homesick Blues, Maggie’s Farm and Mr. Tambourine Man. 24 ½ years later, I was delighted by the continuing vitality of his music, and a bit surprised by the high quality of his performance, since Dylan was touring exhaustively then, as he continues to now.

Mama Eatery, 46 Mulberry Street, is the third closest restaurant to the back door of the courthouse where I work, but I’ve never gone in until today. From the outside, it looks Chinese, with a picture of a tea pot as its emblem and wooden beams surrounding the large front windows. Glancing inside, however, and at the menu conveyed another feel. But, risk-taker that I am, I ventured forth today. The interior is bright, modern, with aluminum chairs and tables, track lighting and a large oval cut-out in the ceiling that seemed to be covered by egg cartons. You order at the counter and, if you choose to eat in, a tray is brought to you quickly. There are Asian touches, veggie spring rolls, Katsu chicken hoagie, Thai beef, and a selection of bubble milk teas. On the other hand, you can have bagels and lox for breakfast, Caesar salad, Philly cheese steak, and a variety of burgers – beef, turkey, chicken, tuna and "Gardenia."

I ordered a teriyaki panini (trying to effect a Eurasian fusion) ($7.50), which was quite good and large, although it could have been called chicken fajita without changing an ingredient. It came with a choice of onion rings, cole slaw or French fries (another ecumenical twist). I took the French fries, more frites than McDonald's. At 1 PM, the place was mobbed with court personnel and jurors from surrounding buildings. Mama makes my list, good food aside, because of its location, minor menu influences and, apparently, an all-Chinese staff.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Today is the upper West Side’s Power Couple’s eighth wedding anniversary, setting a new world’s indoor record for me.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dim Sum Go Go, 5 East Broadway, is one of my favorite restaurants and, probably, the one I most frequently recommend. I walked in knowing exactly what I was going to order, but glancing at the lunch menu of non-dim sum dishes, I saw Singapore chow fun ($12.95), a pinnacle in Chinese cuisine. For the price, 50-75% more than I’ve typically paid, I expected a special treat. The portion was quite large, the ingredients well-prepared and carefully seasoned, but, considering the cost, I rate the dish C+/B-. The biggest problem was the noodles themselves. Chow fun are broad, thick noodles that sometimes fold up on themselves during cooking, making a thick, chewy clump. Dim Sum Go Go’s noodles were fettucini size and style, 3/8 inch wide and thin. They made the dish less interesting, and, for $12.95, I need to stay interested.

Friday, May 27, 2011

We are exploring the exotic delights of Wilmington, Delaware for our wedding anniversary, on this long weekend.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New York Hospitality

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal courthouse usually draws the crowds as it handles terrorists and insider traders, but today the eyes of New York and the rest of the world turned to the state courthouse at 100 Centre Street, which handles local criminal cases. I counted 15 television transmission trucks with their antennae erect this morning waiting in the rain for the appearance of the next president of the Republic of France.

Tavish McMullen is our houseguest, because entry to the suite he had reserved at the Sofitel Hotel is barred until CSI, FBI, SVU, ATF, IMF, DEA and Woody Allen complete their investigations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thomas Adcock, the distinguished journalist, reminds me that, as dire as May 18th may prove for some employees of New York State’s court system, May 21st is the end of the world for almost all of us, according to the Most Reverend Harold Camping. It may, therefore, actually be beneficial to be unemployed after May 18th. You can then have a few days of unrestricted merrymaking before the end of the world without losing any time showing up for work.

With the weather ranging from murky to miserable, I had no intention exploring new fields, but as I kept walking and walking I came to Saha Thai Cuisine, 227 Centre Street. It is a small place, 4 tables for four and six tables for 2, with a coherent, pleasant decor. While it has a long list of lunch specials for $6.95 or $7.95, I ordered a full size portion of pad Thai with chicken ($8.95). The portion was large, with a generous amount of chicken cooked in with the noodles, green onions, egg, chopped peanuts and crunchy bean sprouts. My only complaint was the tea, $1.50 for a cup of hot water with a tea bag in it. At least, I got more hot water without asking.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I was scheduled to attend conferences this afternoon in a part devoted to cases involving the City of New York. Enough people trip on sidewalks, in the streets, in public buildings, or are in accidents with municipal vehicles to keep several judges fully occupied with their cases. These conferences are held at 80 Centre Street, the building between the main courthouse at 60 Centre Street and the newly-renamed Dominique Strauss-Kahn Courthouse at 100 Centre Street. I chose to exit my building and walk across the street in full view, head high, wearing a bright red and gold tie that flashed confidence. No one stopped me.

Thursday, May 19, 2011
Opening sentence of the lead article in today’s New York Law Journal: "New York court administrators laid off 367 nonjudicial employees yesterday to comply with state budget cuts ordered by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the state Legislature."

And the answer is found in the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim:
Good times and bum times,
I’ve seen ‘em all and, my dear,
I’m still here. Flush velvet sometimes,
Sometimes just pretzels and beer,
But I’m here.

My 10th law school reunion is tonight and I'm going without the need to turn it into a job searching mission. I hope to see some kids I went to school with, expecting that the last ten years have not been as kind to them as they have been to me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Good news for your stomach. The minuscule Xi An Famous Foods at 88 East Broadway has added a tiny sister at 67 Bayard Street. The new establishment has room for 30 very close friends or about 14 strangers to sit on wooden stools at small tables and eat. The narrow space has a television screen mounted on the back wall showing recorded food preparation, which you witness live at the older place. Here, the kitchen is in the basement, delivering the orders by dumbwaiter very slowly and erratically, challenged by the number of customers who place their orders with the cashier upon entry. The menu seems the same at both eateries. I had spicy cumin lamb noodles ($7). Adding to the wait may have been the hand pulling of the noodles, a feature of Xi An. In any case, the very spicy, pungent dish was excellent, full of onions, garlic, cabbage, pepper flakes and braised lamb over the hand pulled noodles. My lips were still burning two blocks away as I walked back to work.

The reunion was a bust for me. I reunited with only 1 1/2 kids from the class of 2001; I arrive at that math because I saw 2 people, but only spoke to one. I had a good conversation with Professor Stewart Sterk, a favorite of mine. A graduate of a much earlier class (Cardozo combines classes at five-year intervals for reunion) told me that his brother, a very decent chap whom I know, has MS. At least, I got home early enough to see the Mets win their second shutout game in a row.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sweets to the Sweet

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yesterday, Mother’s Day, America’s Favorite Epidemiologist solidified her position as America’s Best Daughter-In-Law.

Congee Chinese Restaurant, 98 Bowery, lists 27 varieties of congee, the Chinese porridge I’ve never been attracted to. Fortunately, it has about another 150 dishes on its menu and it was easy to choose a lunch dish. Actually, I added one dish to the menu when I saw that it had Singapore style mei fun and several versions of ho fun (chow fun), and asked if they could whip up Singapore style ho fun ($6.95). I received a large, excellent serving of this wonderful dish, laden with shrimp, pork, chicken, scallions, bean sprouts, and eggs, giving off the aroma of curry. The portion could have served and delighted two people.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today’s favorite news report deals with Newt Gingrich’s impending announcement of his presidential candidacy. Quoth the Times: "Mr. Gingrich is presenting himself as a family man who has embraced Catholicism and found God." They got it so wrong. By displaying this much Chutzpah, Gingrich is proclaiming to the world, "I am Jewish."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

It’s going to be a good day. Thomas Keller, renowned chef, is opening Bouchon Bakery, 1 Rockefeller Plaza (49th Street), today. Now, this ain’t Chinatown, but if you are queueing up early to see the Christmas tree, you must stop in. It’s supposed to serve sandwiches, salads and soups for take-out. But, that’s beside the point. Clearly visible in the photograph accompanying the squib in yesterday’s New York Times are pistachio macarons. I was privileged to sample this divine treat when America’s Favorite Epidemiologist bought one at the original Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, California, in February. (You might recall that I was still calling it a macaroon back then.) You need not be reminded that New York City is far removed from Yountville, but I hope that Keller’s fabled fastidiousness will compensate for the continental drift.

I walked for about 30 minutes before going into Big Wing Wong Restaurant, 300 Grand Street (presumably related to the institution of the same name at 102 Mott Street), just for the sake of walking. Big Wing Wong is long and narrow, with a dozen tables. I ordered shrimp dumplings ($1.75) and orange chicken over rice ($6). The portion of chicken was generous for a lunch dish, and the mound of rice next to (not under) it was even larger. When the dumplings arrived about 15 minutes later, I had already paid the check, reduced accordingly. No harm, no foul.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A.A. Yawa Sushi, 187 Church Street, is far west of Chinatown, but it is an Asian restaurant south of Canal Street and north of Chambers Street, so I am including it in my inventory. It is also a helpful reference for those serving jury duty at 71 Thomas Street, where I spent my morning aiding a judge. I don’t think this is Alan Alda’s private restaurant, or a Japanese detox center, but otherwise the meaning of the name eludes me.

The restaurant is small, 10 tables, mostly for 2 people, and a small sushi bar. Service is friendly and quick, although all the sushi is prepared to order. I had a lunch special, 3 rolls and miso soup for $11. I ordered a tuna roll, spicy salmon skin roll and a yellowtail and scallion roll, and enjoyed them all.

I was so persuasive yesterday that, on the way home from work, I went to the inauguration of Bouchon Bakery. It was very busy, located diagonally across from the Rockefeller Center skating rink. There is a risk from the other side of the street, however, where the NBC studio broadcasting the Today Show sits. Until at least high noon, you might encounter Kathie Lee Gifford, neƩ Epstein, and sour the sweetest confection Thomas Keller concocted.

As a tribute to America’s Favorite Epidemiologist, who submitted an important grant proposal earlier in the day, I bought three macarons exclusively for her, pistachio, caramel and I forgot. Later in the evening, she consumed two of the three. I desisted entirely, except for the fabulous chocolate chocolate chip cookie I bought for myself.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fully Employed

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Office of Court Administration (OCA), my ultimate employer, has announced that it plans to continue firing staff to meet budget pressures, after terminating about 70 of its headquarters crew. Now, it is moving into the field around the state, looking at lawyers, clerks, court officers, janitors, and technology folk. OCA has announced that the firings will occur May 18th, a Wednesday, the end of our two-week pay cycle.

I have no way of predicting my fate. I've been with OCA over 9 years, but in the New York County law department 1 year and 4 months. Further complicating the reckoning of my seniority (which is a factor, but not the only one) is my dividing my time between Civil Court and Supreme Court, one of those Talmudic distinctions in court structure no longer found even in Jerusalem. One thing to remember though, one rabbi is worth 10 years.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On the first day of the rest of my job, I found New Tu Do Restaurant, 102 Bowery, which I thought was in fact new. But, it was only new to me since it had moved across the Bowery about 2 ½ years ago. It’s a medium-sized place, looking bright and new inside, with a mirror down one long wall, a pagoda effect at the ceiling line, and a 3' x 5' glass panel etched with an image of the Statue of Liberty.

I ordered Banh Hoi Thit Bo Lui, described as grilled beef on rice vermicelli and salad ($11.95). However, the ingredients were not served on top of each other, but rather on four different plates, a dozen pieces of beef rolled and grilled, cucumber slices, shredded carrots and marinated tear drop onions, squares of woven vermicelli (rice noodles), and a heaping plate of greens that I could not figure what to do with, even as I cleaned off all the other plates. A mildly sweet sauce came with it, and, of course, as with any Vietnamese restaurant, containers with 5 sauces were on each table.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Not that I’m obsessed with May 18th, but would you like to know about other famous events on May 18th?
323 – Alexander the Great died.
1152 – Henry II of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine.
1652 – Rhode Island passed the first law in North America making slavery illegal.
1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor of the French by the French Senate.
1860 – Abraham Lincoln won the Republican Party presidential nomination over William H. Seward.
1872 – Bertrand Russell born.
1897 – Dracula, a novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, published.
1904 – Jacob K. Javits born.
1911 – Gustav Mahler died.
1910 – The Earth passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet.
1917 – The Selective Service Act of 1917 passed, giving the President of the United States the power of conscription.
1934 – Dwayne Hickman born.
1953 – Jackie Cochran became the first woman to break the sound barrier.
1970 – Tina Fey born.
1980 – Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington, killing 57 people and causing $3 billion in damage.
1995 – Elisha Cook, Jr. died.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New York City has taken fusion cuisine to new levels. We have Cuban-Chinese, Indian-Chinese, Japanese-Chinese, Kosher Chinese as examples. Today, Cinco de Mayo, I’m reminded that we have Mexican-Chinese, particularly Chinese-owned and operated taquerias. This began apparently with Fresco Tortilla on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan in 1991, started by a young immigrant from Fujian Province, who subsequently opened a half dozen or more restaurants. Former employees then went ahead on their own and opened more restaurants, usually named Fresco Tortilla as well. Google found 17 places in Manhattan called Fresco Tortilla in whole or part.

There is a Fresco Tortilla at 383 Canal Street, so that’s where I headed for lunch. Now, you geographers might know that 383 Canal Street is between West Broadway and Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue). That is very far from Chinatown. In fact, it is about two short blocks from the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, running under the Hudson River to New Jersey. I was willing to consider it part of my (ad)venture because of its position on Canal Street, a main artery of Chinatown. However, there ain’t no Fresco Tortilla at 383 Canal Street, at least not anymore. Although disappointed, I wasn’t ready to abandon ecumenical dining so quickly though. Having walked many blocks, I turned around and walked many more blocks due east to Emperor Japanese Tapas Shabu Restaurant, 96 Bowery. Now, roll that over your tonsils for a moment.

The decor was random, but the space offered some attractive architectural details, specifically one long exposed brick wall and a very high ceiling covered in tin. The dozen of so large tables had 4 burners embedded on the surface for the shabu shabu, a Japanese hot pot. Although the redundancy was eliminated from the name of the restaurant, I'm very old fashioned about these things. However, I didn’t want anything so fussy as shabu shabu, or shabu, for that matter. Instead, I ordered a bento box with eel teriyaki, rice, marinated grass and honeydew chunks ($7.75 tax included). Bento boxes must have been the creation of one of those neurotics who do not want different food touching on the plate. They are neatly compartmentalized, with rice in one square, fruit in another square, eel (fortunately at rest) in its own square. I don't mean to spoil it for my neurotic friends, but it all gets together in the end.