Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cousin Bill?

Monday, July 25, 2011

America’s Favorite Epidemiologist and I spent a rare quiet weekend together, reading and watching videos. I did have to reassure her a few times after some pessimistic news broadcasts that the lockout by the National Football League team owners was soon coming to an end, and that training camps would be opening in a very short time. What are husbands for?

I went to the New Malaysia Restaurant, 46-48 Bowery Street, Chinatown Arcade # 28 (June 17, 2010, July 30, 2010) in order to sing its praises again. Its location, in the middle of the arcade (really an alley) that runs from the Bowery to Elizabeth Street, just below Canal Street, makes it easy to overlook and/or forget. However, the food, which has touches of every distinct Asian cuisine, has always been good. Today, I noticed that the back wall of this smallish square room has a flat screen TV monitor showing pictures of many dishes. This might delay your ordering as you wait and see what interesting concoction is coming up next. The photographer’s and stager’s artistry make so many dishes look so good. I had "home style combination" on rice ($6.50) which contained Hainanese chicken, skinless boiled chicken with wonderful chicken broth served on the side, beef brisket, very flavorful, but only three small chunks, and a fried egg, next to a large mound of white rice.

When I looked at the business card I took as I left New Malaysia, I saw that it read West New Malaysia Restaurant. I had not noticed any differences from previous visits, although it had been some time. So, until I have confirmation, I will not tally West New Malaysia Restaurant as a new spot, adding to my count. But, that means I have reason to return quickly to see if I’ve eaten in one or two very good Malaysian restaurants at this location.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I went back to the Red Square Café, 150 Centre Street, and found it in full operation after last week’s bout with leaky pipes. It is a typical Chinatown restaurant, with about 12 tables, some set in booths. It is busy and noisy, in contrast to Mika, its tranquil upstairs Japanese neighbor.

The menu is quite conventional befitting its location just off the jammed sidewalks of Canal Street. Yet, both Chinese people and tourists (yes, they could have been Chinese tourists) came in and out. Red Square offered about 50 dishes as lunch specials, none of which would have confounded you. The main dish with white rice alone was $5 to $6. For $7.50 or $8, they served a combo, including an egg roll and soup (wonton, egg drop, hot & sour) or a can of soda. I had shrimp egg foo young ($5.50) alone, which came with a heaping mound of white rice. While the egg foo young was just good enough, I came away very full, glad to have skipped the egg roll. Service was very hectic; the young staff brought some things quickly and some not at all. While Mika is definitely a place to seek out, if you want superior Chinese food in the immediate vicinity, go one short block to Excellent Dumpling House, 111 Lafayette Street.

When I got back to the office, I scanned my now large collection of restaurant menus and business cards and found 2 copies of New Malaysia Restaurant’s off-white card printed in black and red, which I took on previous occasions. This was in sharp contrast to the brown card with white lettering announcing West New Malaysia Restaurant that I picked up yesterday. The old New card had Chinese lettering and a bright red poppy, while the new West New card had a silhouette of a fork and a map of its obscure location, but nothing in Chinese. Therefore, I am obliged to pronounce the two as unique enterprises, gaining individual status on Grandpa Alan’s list.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I've often rhapsodized about Columbus Park, that recreational oasis that separates Chinatown from the court complex centered around Centre Street. Well, thanks to the observation of a colleague at work, I've learned of my organic connection to the park. But first a diversion.

Joe Temeczko, a retired handyman who had immigrated from Poland through Ellis Island before moving to Minnesota, changed his will in 2001 after the terrorist attacks, leaving his entire $1.4 million estate to New York City, to “honor those who perished in the disaster.” Temeczko died of a heart attack weeks after changing his will. In February 2003, Mayor Bloomberg announced that most of Temeczko’s bequest would be used in Columbus Park and a major renovation project began in 2004.

Here it comes, back on message. One of the Parks Department's lead landscape architects on the Columbus Park project was Bill Gotthelf. How about that?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Always ready to explore the boundaries of human experience, for the first time in my almost 19 months here at 60 Centre Street, I ate outdoors. There is a very pleasant plaza on Centre Street between the Municipal Building and the Thurgood Marshall Federal Courthouse. It has two food kiosks and an array of lattice-work iron tables and chairs. I started across Centre Street at the corner of Reade Street, buying a chicken/lamb combo over rice ($5) from the Halal food guy and ate it at a table on the plaza in the shade.

When I cleaned my plate (styrofoam container actually), I went to Wooly’s Ice cart standing in the plaza which, although feet from my path to and from the subway, I first learned about from the New York Times last week ( Two tall yellow machines (made in Taiwan) sit on this cart, maybe 3 feet by 6 feet, tended by two young Chinese-American men. The machines dispense ices, smoother than scooped Italian ices and softer than sorbet. Two sizes are available, $4 and $6, in two flavors, original and green tea. You get a choice of syrups – leche, chocolate, strawberry and mango – and 2 or 3 toppings according to the serving size – blueberry, mochi (some sort of crumbled rice cake), strawberry, mango and brownie. It might take me the rest of the summer to go through all the permutations, flavor, syrup, toppings, but someone has to do it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Steve Schneider, of the Suffolk County Schneiders, joined me for lunch today, so that warranted a special treat. We went to Xi An Famous Foods, 67 Bayard Street, for spicy and tingly beef noodles for him and spicy cumin lamb noodles for me. The more often I have those hand-pulled noodles, the more I like them, although Steve wanted to know how recently the hand-puller had washed his hands. The only thing missing was a couple of chunks of Italian bread to sop up the delicious sauce at the bottom of the plate when all the noodles were gone.

Not satisfied with just taking Steve to Xi An, I had him trek back with me to Wooly’s Ice cart because summer will soon be gone.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot Enough For You?

Monday, July 18, 2011

When I wrote last week that tonight presented an opportunity for America’s Favorite Epidemiologist and I to engage in post-marital conversation, I was looking at the Mets original schedule, not realizing that a make-up game had been scheduled with the Florida Marlins. Apparently, my lovely bride had also not seen the revised schedule, because, rather than facing an evening alone with Grandpa Alan, she had made a dinner date with her dear friend Diane, the Leather Lady. So, two wrongs made a right: While I will be engaged in watching several dozen grown men playing a child’s game, she will be out on the town, turning heads and defying gravity.

The Sunday New York Times Magazine had an article yesterday by James Traub on the diplomatic role being played in Pakistan and Afghanistan by John Kerry, former President of the United States Except Ohio. Traub wrote that "Kerry’s roots run deep in the New England gentry," as an explanation for his patience and understanding. However, I’ve not forgotten that Kerry’s paternal grandparents were Fritz Kohn and Ida Löwe, who changed their names to Frederick and Ida Kerry in 1900, and converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism in 1901. They moved from a Vienna suburb to Chicago in 1905. Kerry’s mother’s ancestry, on the other hand, goes back to an off-course Carnival cruise that landed in Salem, Massachusetts in 1630.

For comparison’s sake, Joseph Goldenberg (not really his name, but that’s another story) arrived in New York in 1905 and Joseph Gotthelf in 1906. While both crossed the Atlantic by steamship, family lore has it that neither dined at the Captain’s table. In any case, I’d like to speculate that Kerry’s Jewish roots may be more accountable for his diplomatic skills than his roots in Salem, Massachusetts where 19 people where hung as witches in 1692.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wah Kee, 150 Centre Street, was the first stop on this (ad)venture on January 4, 2010, the day I began working at the big courthouse at 60 Centre Street. 18 months later, it has closed and been replaced by Red Square Café, which was my destination on another 90° day. However, when I walked in, I found a sight reminiscent of the bathroom attached to the Contessa’s chamber on certain recent occasions, that is, leaks, water, wet. The staff was so busy mopping and sopping that they could not attend to my immediate need for nourishment.

Fortunately, I did not even have to leave the premises to find an excellent alternative. Mika Japanese Cuisine & Bar occupies the second floor at 150 Centre Street, and it also appears to be newly opened. It offers a serene setting, lots of blond wood, suggestions of parchment walls and doors. I ordered a lunch special, three rolls plus salad for $11. I had a tuna roll, a crunchy salmon roll and an eel roll, all tasting very fresh. In addition to the sushi bar, Mika offered a variety of hot dishes, such as tempura, teriyaki and noodles which I’ll be sure to try on cooler days. Service was good; my water glass was refilled without prompting. The airconditioning was very effective.

You’ll have either of two reasons to be in the neighborhood of 150 Centre Street, jury duty or shopping for counterfeit designer handbags. In either case, keep Mika in mind.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On Associated Press wire today:
"A New Zealand newspaper group is reporting that the deadly February earthquake in Christchurch unearthed a suspected Israeli spy ring." At first, you have to wonder what does Israel have to fear from New Zealand? The flight distance between the two countries is 10,097 miles. They apparently have no contiguous borders. Well, maybe that’s the point. Positing New Zealand as a threat to Israel is guaranteed to prove highly satisfactory to the beleaguered Israeli security establishment. The spymasters will always be right. "What did I tell you, Moishe? We have those Kiwis right where we want them."

What can you do when you only have one hour to have lunch with Alan Heim, who, as a friend of your brother's since their adolescence, had known you for a very long time, who has had a distinguished professional career including an Oscar for motion picture film editing, who married a woman who had also been a dear friend of mine from her college days, and who has always been a wise and witty observer of humanity and its opposite? You talk fast and make a date to meet again next week. By the way, we went to Dim Sum Go Go, 5 East Broadway, because this was an Important Occasion.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

PROVOLONE (See below)

94° at noon, 97° at 2 PM; what more can I say? Actually, I ventured forth nevertheless to pick up a George Gently video reserved at the library branch on East Broadway. I then went into Thien Huong, 11 Chatham Square (October 12, 2010) for some simple Vietnamese food. The grilled chicken over rice noodles ($5.50) was very light on the chicken, but they were generous with the airconditioning. A watermelon slush ($2.75) also helped keep me cool.

NY Times crossword today, 26 across = In favor of the first book?: Abbr.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The prediction for today is 100°, give or take a stroke. With much regret, therefore, I am forced to remain at the Palazzo di Gotthelf to await delivery of a new bathroom shower door. The trucker was unwilling to estimate his time of arrival in spite of my begging him to get here bright and early to allow me to rush off to work. Instead, I'll sit here by the fire with my wonderful memories of other days when I was able to ride the subways when the temperature was 100°.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer in the City

Monday, July 11, 2011

Today's New York Times reported on a fire over the weekend that partially destroyed the building of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on East 85th Street. The story quoted Asher Levitsky, 67, a lawyer whose children attended Ramaz, a nearby school affiliated with the synagogue.

Once, when Andrew Persily, of blessed memory, was involved with fraternity rushing at Cornell University, a freshmen stuck out his hand to Andy and said, "Asher Levitsky." Andy, always respectful of religious tradition replied, "Asher Levitsky to you, too."

I took a very long walk on a very hot day (90°) to arrive at Sticky Rice, 85 Orchard Street. Yes, Orchard Street, once the mercantile center of the lower East Side. I will not riff, at this time at least, on how dramatically this neighborhood has changed, but I don’t even think that there was any place to eat on Orchard Street when your mother schlepped you on a Sunday afternoon to buy underwear. (Corrections welcome.) Now, a variety of eating joints, sharing a hip aesthetic, but with different cuisines, far removed from the Kosher kitchen, are up and down the street where there used to be only dry goods stores (when was the last time you heard that phrase?).

Sticky Rice is a small Thai restaurant, with a long exposed brick wall, partially painted with an enormous cherry blossom mural, a stunning blue glass chandelier and a large brass temple bell hanging from the vaulted exposed brick ceiling. Lunch was a great bargain. I had a combo plate ($6.95) which included one chicken satay skewer, one "classic Thai dumpling" and shrimp pad Thai. All the food was very good to excellent. As an amuse bouche (forshpeis), I got a small plate of crispy fried noodles, almost lo mein in size, in a tamarind sauce. This itself was worth a couple of bucks. Even though the airconditioning struggled against the heat, I was delighted with my visit to Sticky Rice.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It was 90° again at lunchtime and I wasn’t fool enough to walk the 1 ½ miles that I did yesterday. Instead, I headed to Wo Hop, downstairs at 17 Mott Street, which, although quite close to the courthouse. never amounts to a mere compromise. I enjoyed chicken chow fun ($5.75), although there was a slight excess of soy sauce in the cooking.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I went home last night to an empty nest, because America’s Favorite Epidemiologist was visiting the Southampton retreat of her great friend Jill, in the good company of several other women originally from Bergen County, until Thursday night. The timing of this was somewhat unfortunate, since only the Major League All-Star Game was on television last night, an event that I abandoned decades ago along with the Olympics and the Miss America Pageant. Under the circumstances, we would have made conversation for minutes on end. Now, we’ll have to wait for July 18th or August 4th when the Mets have a day off. At least, during hockey season (October to April plus playoffs), the Rangers usually play only three games a week, in contrast to the crowded baseball schedule, providing me with more than ample opportunity to attend to domestic affairs.

I returned to Chatham Sq Restaurant, 6 Chatham Square (March 9, 2010), about 2/3 full of Chinese folk eating dim sum. Unlike last time, I was given a private table, whether for the benefit of me or other patrons I don’t know. A cart came over quickly and I picked baked barbecued roast pork buns (3 on a plate), vegetable dumplings (5) and an interesting shrimp roll (cut into 4 pieces). The shrimp were chopped and shaped into one broad and flat piece, then rolled in an eggy wrapper instead of a big rice noodle. It was not only unusual, but very good. The check was not itemized, so I can only report that I paid $9.75 including tea and tax.

Friday, July 15, 2011

According to today’s New York Law Journal, former Kirkland & Ellis senior partner Theodore L. Freedman was indicted yesterday on charges he misrepresented more than $2 million in income from the firm. Mr. Freedman, a bankruptcy specialist who resigned from the firm in October, was charged with four counts of income tax fraud. According to the government, the IRS form that reports an individual partner's share of income or loss showed Mr. Freedman’s total income for calendar years 2001 through 2004 to be $5,388,699. Mr. Freedman, who prepared, signed and filed his taxes himself, under-reported his income during those years by $2,097,211, prosecutors said. Maybe he should have gone to H&R Block.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Name Game

Monday, July 4, 2011

Even on a national holiday, without having to shave, get dressed and go to work, the world gave me a lot to think about in the form of the Sunday New York Times, delivered to my front door. Just one section of yesterday's paper has put me in a highly reflective mood. I’m talking about the Styles section, once upon a time known as the social pages, where the weddings and engagements only of people you didn’t know were recorded. I was first engaged by an article about the search for local venues for the expected rush of same sex weddings after New York State’s legislative change. The article, Free to Say, ‘I Do,’ but Where?, (I’ve cheated on the problem of punctuation by using italics, else I would have to figure out how to end the title – Where?", vs. Where?,") was written by Tatiana Boncompagni. Have you heard a lovelier name in months? Wikipedia says that Boncompagni is an Italian noble family from Assisi. But, it’s the wonderful sound of the name that enchants me. If I were not devoted to America’s Favorite Epidemiologist in perpetuity, I might seek the good company of Tatiana Boncompagni.

Reading the article, I learned that, among other locations, the Southampton Inn has been swamped with inquiries, according to its owner DeDe Gotthelf. Yes, while the Palazzo di Gotthelf, high above Amsterdam Avenue, does not accept paying guests, you can apparently savor Gotthelf hospitality at the Southampton Inn. Buon appetito.

However, the Styles section had even more to help me pass the time before returning to meting out justice on Tuesday. Among the weddings being celebrated this weekend was the marriage of Second Lt. Judith Li to Second Lt. Nathan Lee, active Army officers who met at West Point. What struck me was the reporting that the bride "is taking her husband’s name." Imagine this conversation:

Hello, Lt. Li. How are you?
Fine, thank you, but I’m Lt. Lee now. I’ve gotten married.
I'm sorry Lt. Lee. I'll try to remember that.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

One reason I am enamored of Tatiana Boncompagni is the number of syllables in her name, as well as its musicality. American names are typically short and direct, George Bush, Miles Davis, Jay Leno. Tatiana Boncompagni contains 8 syllables; you need to gather Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley and Cher together to reach that number. I thought I might enjoy the company of an octosyllabic lunch guest today, when Margarita Krivitskiya, Stuyvesant ‘07, Harvard ‘11, agreed to join me. However, while Margarita did use the feminine version of her family name in the past, adding that precious eighth syllable, she has now reverted to the basic form, Krivitski, consuming only 7 syllables in total. We had a very pleasant lunch in any case, going to Wo Hop downstairs to begin her gustatory education with "real Chinese food" in the words of Mother Ruth Gotthelf. After all, there’s only so much you can learn in the Ivy League.

By coincidence, the evening’s e-mail contained a poetic contribution from Eugenia (Jenny) Fuchs, Stuyvesant ‘07, Chicago ‘11, to wit:

Newsweek snubbed our beloved Stuy.
Here's an explanation why.
The SAT scores were too high.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I returned to the block-long food court at 122 Mott Street/81 Elizabeth Street and went right to the sushi counter immediately inside the door off Mott Street. I picked out a tuna roll ($3.95), with avocado cut into nine 1" pieces, and an eel roll ($3.95), inside out with avocado also cut into nine 1" pieces. A diet Coke at the attractive price of 79¢ completed my lunch. However, even though the sushi counter had its own cashier, one of 6 or so spread among the various food counters, the cash register receipt read Deluxe Meat Market, just like the receipt I got last week at the other end of the hall when I ordered hot food. So, my blog journalisn ethics dilemma is: Do I count this as another restaurant, adding to the count? I’ll sleep on it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Having sought the wise counsel on the subject of journalistic ethics of Rupert Murdoch, I’ve decided to count Deluxe Meat Market (sushi bar), 122 Mott Street, as a separate entity, counted individually from the Deluxe Meat Market mother ship.

The First International Jewish Bloggers Convention will be held in Jerusalem on August 20, 2011. The theme is "The Power of the JBlogosphere: Taking JBlogging to the Next Level." I am pondering whether my efforts reach the next level, or are merely stuck on the old level. found 121 Chinese restaurants throughout Israel. That in itself should warrant a visit. So, if someone out there has idle business class tickets to Ben Gurion Airport, consider that Grandpa Alan might deserve to be taken to the next level.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pegleg Pride

Monday, June 27, 2011

The June 27, 2011 issue of Newsweek features, what they label as, an exclusive survey of America’s best high schools. I was eager to see the recognition of Stuyvesant at the top of the list, but when it failed to appear on the list of 100 I knew that something was terribly wrong. I did not have to look far to see evidence of the inadequacy of Newsweek’s information gathering and analysis. A visual aid to the list of the top 100 was a map of the US showing the location of the schools. New York City, normally less than a flyspot on a US map, was given its own sidebar to identify the 16 schools Newsweek found in New York City, not including Stuyvesant. In fact, 12 of the high schools are well outside New York City. Newsweek puts high schools in Bronxville, Jericho, Great Neck (2), Rye, Cold Spring Harbor, Old Westbury, Syosset, Scarsdale, Manhasset, Rockville Center, and Greenlawn in New York City. At least, Newsweek kept City Honors School in Buffalo outside of the five boroughs. You can’t take Newsweek seriously when it can’t even pass a simple geography test.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I went to 69 Bayard Restaurant, 69 Bayard Street, a familiar haunt, for shrimp and mushroom egg foo young ($7.25). The canned mushrooms they mixed in proved unnecessary; they weren’t even needed to add bulk to the very large serving portion. I sat at the last table on the left side, the smallest in the joint. While I have commented on the restaurant’s walls papered with US dollar bills (see April 27, 2011 especially), I noticed in my immediate vicinity, in one small corner, currency from Bermuda, Brazil, Iceland, Cuba, Fiji, Korea, Trinidad & Tobago, and Colombia pasted on the wall. Having been educated at Stuyvesant High School, apparently unlike the editors of Newsweek, I immediately knew that Mike Bloomberg was not the mayor of any of these countries.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Deluxe Meat Market Inc., 81 Elizabeth Street, is deceptive. When you enter, you see a bakery counter on your right and a prepared foot counter on your left. I walked along the prepared food counter, where things are sold by weight or by the piece, and chose a semi-sticky bun ($.90), a scallion pancake ($1.50), curry chicken ($2.63), stuffed green pepper (2 pieces, $1.22) and "sweet rice" ($1.81), really chicken sticky rice. This edible array required a Diet Coke ($.79). The scallion pancake was mediocre on its own, but dipped in the abundant amount of curry sauce ladled on by the nice lady after she weighed the curry chicken more than redeemed it. Beyond the first group of counters were some tables, chairs and stools where I ate my lunch. By then, though, I noticed that counter after counter flowed into the distance, with several butchers, bakers, dumpling makers tending busy counters. In fact, this food mall went right through to Mott Street, an entire block, where it is located at #122. Since each counter had its own cash register, I believe that Deluxe is only the name of the counter I patronized. Since there were other prepared food vendors and at least one sushi counter along the way, I expect to return and increase my count of establishments.

Columbus Park was bustling on this beautiful day. Tourists were competing for space with Chinese card and Xiangqi players. Yes, gentle folk, what I have been awkwardly calling Chinese chess/checkers for the last 18 months is properly named Xiangqi. It is related to chess, as we know it, but the pieces sit on the intersection of lines, not in boxes. The action is also more explicitly combat-based, with pieces known as generals, advisers, elephants, chariots, cannons, horses and soldiers. For more, see

What I found most interesting was the music-making in the park. In addition to the two Chinese fiddlers, who are almost always seated on the Baxter Street edge of the park, joined by an accordionist today, there was an Occidental piano player, at a decent distance, who brought his own upright piano. It did not appear to be motorized, so I can only wonder how an upright piano got into the middle of Columbus Park.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sacre bleu. Dominque Strauss-Kahn, on track to become the next president of France, apparently only had consensual sex with a chambermaid half his age in his Manhattan hotel room. What a relief to learn that no force was used by the president of the International Monetary Fund in having sex with a chambermaid half his age in his Manhattan hotel room. Now, a return to prominence is anticipated for the man who only had consensual sex with a chambermaid half his age in his Manhattan hotel room. C’est la guerre.

In honor of completing 18 months at 60 Centre Street, I made sure to find a new restaurant. Kuai Le Hand Pull Noodles Restaurant, 28 Forsyth Street, is not so easy to find, located opposite the exit ramp from the Manhattan Bridge. It’s a small place, fitting 20 people at most, with about a half dozen actually eating along with me. There was an illustrated menu on the wall, similar to Lam Zhou Handmade Noodles & Dumplings. I ordered dumplings (12 fried $4, 12 steamed $3), because all the noodle dishes seemed to be soups, and this lovely summer day did not call for hot soup. I enjoyed the dumplings, but had to substitute for Diet Coke, the traditional drink with fried dumplings, because all the sodas in their cooler were full fat. Instead, I accepted, at the urging of the owner-waiter-chef, a can of Wong Lo Kat Herbal Tea. Had the cannery cut the sugar dosage in half, they would have had a tasty beverage, but, as is, Wong Lo Kat does not get the Grandpa Alan Seal of Approval.