Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lavender and Reds

Monday, June 20, 2011

On this lovely day, temperature in the low 80s and mild humidity, I sought a new restaurant, and was able to find one without stretching Chinatown’s geographic boundaries. M Star Cafe, Inc., 19 Division Street, is just east of the Bowery and has tacitly subscribed to Mitt Romney’s crusade to restore America’s greatness by eliminating the accent over the "e".

One long wall of the restaurant has a mural, maybe 18 feet long, with a map of Hong Kong as its background. Painted over the map are 14 caricatures, of which I was only able to recognize Yao Ming and Jackie Chan. The opposite wall held photographs of patrons seated in the restaurant. While space was available, no one asked me to sit still for a picture. I think this was a marketing error as all the other customers were Chinese as were the people in the photographs.

The menu is somewhat eclectic. Ham & eggs and oatmeal are available for breakfast. Sandwiches, including Spam & egg, are served all day along with congee, noodles, and casseroles based on rice or spaghetti. This heterodoxy was further displayed by the plastic stand on the table featuring current specials, Chive Pig Blood w/Beef Stew Sauce, onion rings and "sweet potatoes fries" (à la Dan Quayle). I had baked chicken filet with egg ($6.25), over rice instead of spaghetti. The portion was large, the chicken in boneless pieces, but not a paillard. One fried egg sat on top and another seems to have been cooked in with the rice. Detracting somewhat was the sauce covering, but fortunately not permeating, the dish, what I took to be Campbell’s cream of tomato soup right from the can.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jerry Posman, CCNY ‘63 and WES member, just became the College’s vice president of finance and administration, joining President Lisa Staiano-Coico who took office last year. To honor Stanley Feingold and the cohort of grandfathers surrounding him, Jerry arranged for a campus tour and lunch with the president today for us. About 40 people showed up, 25 riding up from Columbus Circle on the bus provided by the College for us. The ride itself from 59th Street to 140th Street was fascinating in itself, seeing the gentrification a part of upper Manhattan that we had visited daily for four years 50 years ago. While I recognize the social implications of removing rundown, low-rise housing and its needy occupants with modern, high-rise buildings, occupied by a different population stratum, I admit to some pleasure from the elimination of visual crumminess. One highlight for the stomach was spotting a branch of Levain Bakery, originally at 167 West 74th Street, right off Columbus Avenue, at 2167 Eight Avenue, near 117th Street. Levain is famous, to me at least, for delicious, expensive chocolate chip meatballs. They call them cookies, but each weighs 6 ounces or so, and are rounder than flatter. Last time I dared to buy one it cost $3.75 and that was at least one grandson ago. Now, moving uptown (note that Eighth Avenue becomes Eighth Avenue again, shedding its association with Central Park), more folks have the opportunity to over-indulge.

In place of my report on the campus visit, see

I especially recall summer nights at Lewisohn Stadium, the dust bowl that was home to our then-championship soccer team, where I heard Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, accompanied by my First Great Love, at 50¢ a ticket.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The following message popped up on my computer screen this morning: "If you died today, who would take care of your family?" My reaction was: If I died today, who would read the message?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Abandoning temporarily our respective roles on the cutting edge of epidemiology and the law, Bubbe and Grandpa Alan are leaving for a weekend as Boaz and Noam’s grandparents. While we have not had much practice in this regard recently, we expect to be able to pick up where we left off without too much prompting, although I’ll require an update on the affairs of Thomas the Tank Engine.

Today's New York Times, pages 14-15, carries two whole pages of advertising celebrating the 90th birthday of the Chinese Communist Party (11 1/2 years behind Mother Ruth Gotthelf), upcoming on July 1. As Confucius said, 资金 talks, 废话 walks.

Friday, June 17, 2011

And many more

Monday, June 13, 2011

On Saturday night, we went to see "Saving Mr. Ed" otherwise known as "War Horse," which won the Tony award as best play the next night. Tickets throughout the theater, except for the back rows of the loge, Rows D and E, cost $125. Seats in the last two rows cost $75 each. Here’s Grandpa Alan’s advice on how to save $250 – don’t go. While the puppetry is masterful, the story is creaky and predictable. If you insist on spending some money, stick to the last two rows and take an early adolescent who might marvel at the stagecraft and be moved by the simple emotions.

On Sunday, America’s Favorite Epidemiologist left me. She packed her bags and flew to a professional conference in Pittsburgh. When we spoke on the telephone later in the evening, she knew that the Mets were playing in Pittsburgh because they were staying at the same hotel as the epidemiologists. This information went a long way in calming my separation anxiety. I am even more eager than ever to welcome her back on Wednesday in anticipation of some great souvenir of this road trip by my favorites.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stop the presses! Make room in Prosser on Torts. Gotthelf vs. 170 West End Avenue has been decided. And, the winner is Gotthelf. The brilliant arbitrator, showing masterful command of law, equity and the human condition, ruled entirely in our favor. The Contessa’s bathroom will now be restored to its former state of elegance, at least until the next time there is a leak from the apartment above. The subtleties of the case have attracted the attention of several legal scholars, notably Professors David Webber and Nathaniel Persily. Additionally, there is talk of a mini-series tracing the physical and emotional toll on the occupants of Palazzo di Gotthelf during the Leaky Years, and how adversity deepened their faith.

Meanwhile, I am not so sure that having America’s Favorite Epidemiologist occupy the same Pittsburgh hotel with the New York Mets was a good thing. Sunday, before they had the opportunity to interact, the Mets beat the Pirates 7 - 0. Last night, after a day and a night under the same roof, the Mets lost 3 - 1.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Zheng’s Family Garden Inc., 151 East Broadway, is fairly new; about a half dozen tall potted plants stand outside, along the staircase from street level to its entrance. It has seven round tables, large and larger, but when I entered the only activity was two employees picking over raw vegetables. Not long after, though, several people came in, familiar enough with the restaurant’s staff that they may have been Zheng's family. It aims at a Fujien clientele, leaving many menu items untranslated. Part of the menu is labeled Dim Sum, but it consisted mostly of soup or noodles or soup with noodles. It listed Steamed Dumplings at $3.50 and Steamed Dumpling at $3.00. The young man serving me had good command of English, but I decided not to explore the differences.

I wasn’t very hungry, so I only ordered Foo Chow fried rice ($5.50). This contained shrimp, egg, pork, tiny clams, celery and onion, gently sauteed. It was more than satisfactory.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I returned to Teariffic, 51 Mott Street, to see if they still had one of the best bargains in Chinatown, deep fried chicken strips with spices ($3.25). They did and it was. The small pieces of natural chicken are coated with rice flour and deep-fried in a manner that leaves them greaseless. The spices could be sprinkled on top with a heavier hand, but that’s curable. When I was leaving, I noticed 36 origami figures pasted on the wall behind the cash register at the entrance. With some duplications, there were birds, hearts, animals all made from US dollar bills, singles only. I was told that a customer supplied the raw materials and the finished product. Fascinating.

On the way back to the courthouse, I came upon a retail bargain that ranks as All-City (effectively All-World). At least three fruit carts on or near the corner of Canal Street and Mulberry Street were selling doughnut peaches for $1 per pound, and you could pick them from the pile. When you can find these in a regular market, they go for about $4 per pound.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I want to take time
to herald in rhyme
the day of the birth
of my favorite on earth.

She certainly knows
that I’m better at prose,
but I’m compelled to acknowledge this
love for America’s Favorite Epidemiologist.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nice Jewish Boy

This is a photograph of Omar bin Laden, a son of you-know-who. It appeared on the New York Times web site a couple of days after the untimely death of his father. However, it soon disappeared and another photo now accompanies the story in the electronic archives on the family's reaction to events in Abbottabad, Pakistan. I happened to spot and save the image, but technical difficulties, until now, kept me from sharing it with you.

Of course, I know what you're thinking: Who is more embarrassed by this picture, Calvin Klein or Omar bin Laden? Can you imagine Dad's reaction? "Schmuck, couldn't you wear Armani?"

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Monday, June 6, 2011

Happy Anniversary to (alphabetically) David & Irit.

On a long walk to a restaurant that wasn’t there when I got there, I discovered an architectural gem. Kehila Kedosh Janina is a compact, two-story building, covered with tan brick, built in 1926-27, at 280 Broome Street, just a few feet west of Allen Street. According to the landmarking plaque on the front, the building is the only Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemishpere. While did not know from Romaniote, Wikipedia says that it means "a Jewish population who have lived in the territory of today’s Greece and neighboring areas with large Greek populations for more than 2,000 years . . . [whose] languages were Yevanic, a Greek dialect, and Greek." Most were murdered in World War II.

According to the synagogue’s web site (, group tours with "a traditional Greek-Jewish kosher lunch, consisting of Greek salad, yaprakes, bourekas, kourlouia, seasonal fruit, hot and cold beverages" are available on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays for $18 a person. Are you coming with me?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

With the temperature in the 90’s, I was not going to head off in new directions to discover another restaurant, but I got lucky. As I looked down Mott Street, I saw a new sign announcing Wo Hop City Inc., and saw about a dozen tall plants bedecked with red ribbons on the sidewalk, the Chinese sign of a simcha, where Wo Hop has stood for centuries at 15 Mott Street. Inside, there were more plants, balloons and freshly-printed menus with slightly higher prices, but still saying plain Wo Hop. On the preponderance of the evidence, I deem Wo Hop City Inc. as a new restaurant, added to my list.

I ordered crispy fried chicken half ($11.95), which, as in most Chinese restaurants, was roasted chicken, not breaded, deep-fat fried. The dish was pretty good, just above fair. Some of the joints were still a bit red, needing a few more minutes in the oven. The chicken was served with half a juicy lemon, but no spicy salt, a frequent accompaniment. I used the good mustard and watery duck sauce to add flavor.

Even with the new name and temporarily-unsoiled menus, Wo Hop City Inc. is going to lose its place as one of my go-to joints. Wo Hop downstairs, 17 Mott Street, has proved much more reliable recently as a source of delightful dishes.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I was in court this morning, not so unusual you may say. However, today, I was a litigant. Gotthelf vs. 170 West End Avenue, an action to recover for property damage to Palazzo di Gotthelf, was heard in Small Claims Court at 111 Centre Street, just up the block. From March 2007 through November 2010, the bathroom attached to the Contessa’s chamber has had three serious leaks from the bathroom above. We accepted our building’s mealy-mouthed, weasel-worded disclaimers of responsibility on the first two occasions, even as it made cursory repairs each time. Now, contrary to Mae West’s adage, Enough is Enough. The case was heard by an arbitrator, who reserved decision. Let's hope that justice will prevail.

I ate lunch at Excellent Dumpling House, 111 Lafayette Street, which could be fairly renamed the Fast and Excellent Dumpling House. The scallion pancake ($2.25) was wonderful, though greasy, or maybe wonderful because it was greasy. The cold noodle with sesame oil ($4.95) was good, a large portion, but too soupy, leaving some nice sesame spots on my pale yellow shirt even though my face was only inches above the bowl. Next time a smock.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I started the morning stationed over at 71 Thomas Street and had scoped out at least two restaurant possibilities in West Chinatown a/k/a Tribeca. However, when I asked Super Clerk Marty to join me for lunch, he reminded me that today was the annual "Celebrating The Caren Aronowitz Unity in Diversity Program." As a practical matter, this means that the entire architecturally-distinguished rotunda at 60 Centre Street would be devoted to free food supplied by various organizations related to court activities, such as bar associations and employee affinity groups. As a result, the premises were jammed with appropriately diverse diversity proponents eager to honor and respect people unlike themselves as long as they could cook good.

I had some franks in blankets, potato knish, potato latkes, pork and chives buns, roast beef wrap, fried chicken, potato salad, egg roll, chicken tikka masala (a tiny portion from the bottom of the serving tray), Vietnamese summer roll, and a biscuit with turkey, or something similar doled out by a law school classmate whose business card accompanied the food. Out of concern for my carbohydrate intake, I skipped all the dishes based on rice or noodles. I managed to carry some random pastries back to my desk for the long afternoon of legal research.

I’ve just looked at last year’s report for this event, held June 4, 2010, and note a remarkable constantcy in my consumption, just like a true conservative.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Marvelous Mila

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mila, our machatayneste, lives in Newtown, Pennsylvania, northeast of Philadelphia. That places it only slightly off the direct route from Wilmington to New York, a direct route that might have been jammed with people returning from their long holiday weekend at Delaware and New Jersey beaches. So, it was easy to arrange to visit her on our trip home, without any mind to Mila’s proclivity to put out enormous spreads of excellent food for any and all guests on short notice. However, as fate would have it, she pulled out some leftovers for us and four other people who happened to be within 172 miles of her kitchen. I don’t know where to start in reciting the menu, baked chicken and chicken croquettes, brown rice with mushrooms, potatoes with onions, broccoli, humus, ratatouille (or something similar), herring, red stuff to scoop up with pita. As we say at Passover, Da’yaynu (enough), but, just as the Haggadah teaches us, there is more. In this case, Mila’s homemade dark chocolate, multi-layered wafer cake. Avoiding the Jersey Turnpike, we got home in less than 2 hours via Washington’s Crossing to Flemington to Newark. Even the Lincoln Tunnel was not crowded. All thanks to Mila.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grandpa Alan’s Economic Forecast
I want to reassure those of you who are concerned about the state of the American economy. A significant revival is already under way and will restore our financial health to a sound basis. In fact, the secret is no secret, but apparent all around you. You and your family may already be leading the way in effecting the turnaround which should produce the growth in jobs and earnings the nation has been anticipating.

As you know, the decline in housing has been the source of our economic woes. People stopped moving; they did not see the need for more space; construction of housing fell dramatically. While shady lending and investment practices contributed to this reversal of American fortunes, a critical element was ignored and no measures taken to curb its effect. The proximate cause of the decline in American residential construction was cargo pants. Men, women and children were buying and wearing cargo pants, then cargo shorts. Pockets appeared where pockets never were before. People had room to carry items that normally resided in desk drawers, on closet shelves, on tabletops. All this severely curbed the need for interior space. Folks felt comfortable in their living quarters, with room to move around, although slowed down some by the extra weight they were carrying. This situation was exacerbated by the massive backpacks carried by schoolchildren, which, even while opening up living space back home, made subway cars into a near-impenetrable sea of canvas.

Now, without government regulation, the market has, as the blessed market so often does, found a natural cure for the housing crisis caused by the cargo pants onslaught. Skinny jeans. The Wall Street Journal saw this coming two years ago. "Tight Squeeze: Making Room For a New Men’s Fashion," by Ray A. Smith, July 6, 2009: "Skinny jeans, with tapered legs and narrow-peg ankles, seemed like a flash in the pan when they appeared in stores a few years ago. They seemed more suited to women. Today, though, sales of men’s skinny jeans are going strong, and mass brands Gap and Levi’s are getting in on the action." Not only are zippers needed to get the bottoms past your feet, pockets are mere decoration, affording no room to carry anything in dramatic contrast to capacious cargo pants. Those drawers and shelves and tabletops are again accumulating everything that can’t get into your skinny jeans. It’s only a matter of time before the revived clutter and feeling of confinement will drive people into ReMax offices and searching multiple listings to find comfortable living quarters, to coexist with their belongings that now stay at home instead of riding around with them just above knee level.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

With hot and humid summer weather upon us, I was not inclined to wander around in search of a new restaurant, so I headed downstairs to Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, always a reliable alternative for, what Mother Ruth Gotthelf calls, "real Chinese food." However, a sign on the wall led me away from the traditional favorites, and I ordered (2) soft shell crabs, salt & pepper ($11.95). This proved an excellent choice. The crabs were fully digestible, no shells stuck between my teeth or embedded in my palate. They were cooked with scallions, red and green peppers, and garlic. An excellent lunch.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy Birthday to Allison.

Michael Ratner, friend and gentleman, came downtown to join me for lunch. He rated Dim Sum Go Go, 5 East Broadway, still a favorite in spite of their noodle lapse last week. We had the assorted platter, 2 orders of duck dumplings, crab dumplings, shu mai, rice roll with beef, and steamed roast pork buns (miniature sticky buns). It cost, with tip, about $21 each, and we were happy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tops Food Co., 141 East Broadway, is immediately next door to the Miriam Zuckerberg Yeshiva, but I have been unable to find any evidence of interaction between the two institutions. Tops is very small, with seating for 8 or so. A woman standing in the front portions out three items over fried rice for $4. The curry chicken was good and I would enjoy a full plate of it. The soy chicken (there is some thematic consistency here) was also tasty, but fatty. The sweet and sour pork was hardly sweet, sour or pork.

Since I did not linger in the small space, I went next door to the Yeshiva for a quick sidewalk Torah lesson if available. Unfortunately, the windows overlooking East Broadway were closed, although that may have signified a modern miracle, unknown to those of us who spent 40 years trekking across Sinai – air conditioning. It may be just as well that lunchtime remained prayer-free, since I am going to the Mets game tonight and will no doubt implore Divine Intervention to get me through the evening.