Friday, August 19, 2011

August 15th is a Special Day

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Noam. We will be celebrating this coming weekend with Big Brother Boaz and the boys’ wonderful parents.

Yesterday, I called David Brodie, Cardozo LLM ‘01, in London for an update. David is a magistrate in Hackney, a section of Northeast London that has been a center of rioting, looting, personal injury and property damage. Please note that I would be the last one to connect David’s administration of justice and this breakdown of social order.

With Tim Pawlenty out of the presidential race, I had to provide my own excitement today, so I walked to Congee Village, 100 Allen Street, just a few feet south of Delancey Street, which was pure shtetl 100 years ago. It took just over 16 minutes by the shortest possible route at a moderate rate, but utilizing my patent-pending long strides. Congee Village is fairly large, operating on two levels. The larger upstairs room has the feeling of a Philippine or Malaysian hut (but how would I know), with lots of wood, bamboo and cane chairs, and two flat panel TVs showing an ABC network soap opera with closed captions.

At first, I ordered half of the house special chicken ($9), but when the waiter came back from the kitchen to tell me that it would take 20 minutes or so to prepare, I switched to sauteed chicken with onion in black bean sauce in sizzling hot plate ($8.95) an apt description of the excellent dish I received. The large portion of sliced white meat chicken was cooked in black bean sauce, yellow onions, green onions and slivers of ginger, and the metal serving plate indeed sizzled. I was given rice at no extra charge. In all, the walk was worth it, but the temperature was only in the mid-70s.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Okami Fusion Sushi, 63 Reade Street, is very easily missed, and I have for almost 10 years working in the neighborhood. It’s small, a couple of doors away from another Japanese restaurant, that I’ve also passed on, and on the south side of Reade Street that has been a construction site for high-rise residences for several years now. It has 3 tables large enough for four people and 3 tables large enough for two people. But, it’s busy with takeout orders and that turnover helps keep the sushi fresh. I had the lunch special, 3 rolls, salmon skin, yellowtail and spicy tuna, with miso soup ($11). I have no idea where the fusion came in and I emerged without any apparent exposure to fusion or fission. With A.A. Yawa Sushi, 187 Church Street, around the corner offering a nicer setting and Natsu Japanese Restaurant, 321 Broadway, around the other corner and cheaper, Okami looms small.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lendy Electric Equipment & Supply Corporation, 176 Grand Street, is the parent to Lendy Electric’s Lighting Showroom, 137 Bowery, home to reasonably priced halogen light bulbs. Today, I headed to the mother ship (Big Lendy) to buy light switches and door stops, small but vital elements in the renovation of Palazzo di Gotthelf. Big Lendy is situated in the midst of Little Italy and seems to have been around as long as many of the restaurants surrounding it. Of course, Little Italy is really little these days with the growth of Chinatown, long since sprawling across Canal Street. An unfortunate byproduct of the shrinkage of Little Italy is the loss of Italian restaurants that did not cater to tourists alone. What remains is a crowded collection of unmemorable joints up and down Mulberry Street. I exclude Torrisi Italian Specialties, 250 Mulberry Street, from this judgment, because it is beyond the tourist district and highly reputed, although I haven't been able to get in yet. Of course, there is my favorite Forlini’s Restaurant, 93 Baxter Street, which is obviously not on Mulberry Street, and is crowded with judges, prosecutors, cops, criminal lawyers, criminal-lawyers and plain criminals at lunch time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Today, British police arrested James Desborough, the Hollywood reporter for the defunct News of the World tabloid, in connection with phone hacking. I normally would not take my space or your time with this news, however, the coverage in the New York Times produced a sentence that will long live in journalism and in journalism about journalism: "Mr. Desborough was apparently also the first reporter to announce that Peaches Geldof, Bob Geldof’s daughter, was getting a divorce after a quickie marriage."

When I left the back door from the basement of the courthouse, which I often use because it is closer to much of Chinatown than the front door, I was surrounded by reporters, cameramen and cops. I was quite surprised because this exit does not draw the crowds of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Courthouse next door, or the New York criminal court up Centre Street. However, the presence of bigger cameras and microphones than those carried by the "reporters" tipped me off to the filming of a Law & Order: Attenuated Plot episode. Whether my expression of righteous innocence ever appears on your TV screen remains to be seen. In any case, when I returned from lunch less than an hour later (Excellent Pork Chop House, 3 Doyers Street, for pretty good chow fun [$5.50]) all signs of show biz were gone.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The upper West Side's power couple hit the road today to celebrate Noam's first birthday in Natick. Not only will we have the company of Big Brother Boaz, Noam and their parents, but America's Loveliest Nephrologist is flying in from San Francisco for the festivities. Needless to say, although I'll say it, my young bride is thrilled and delighted with the prospect of being with her kids and their kids for the next several days.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who's Feeding the Senator?

Monday, August 8, 2011

The mystery surrounding Senator Addison Mitchell Abraham Mordichai McConnell, Jr.’s Chinese food is deepening. I first saw the New York Times headline “Deal Was Forged Over Choices and Chinese Food” last Tuesday. Then, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that “ Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and his staff, cramming down Chinese food Saturday night,” put the finishing touches on the budget deal. That placed the comment in newspapers throughout the country, as an on-line search will immediately reveal. My efforts since then to identify the source of the Chinese food, however, have not succeeded. In spite of the widespread coverage of this meal, no one is willing to name names. Several telephone calls and e-mails to the Times reporters only evoked the suggestion that I ask the Senator’s office, which I did by a telephone call and e-mail on Friday. Now, I find reason to believe that there is more cooking here than moo goo gai pan. It seems that McConnell is married to Hsiao Lan “Elaine” Chao, born in Taiwan, who was George Bush the Lesser’s Secretary of Labor. Her father, who was educated in Red China with some leaders of the present regime, is a very wealthy businessman engaged in Chine-US trade. McConnell’s office confirmed that his father-in-law gave the couple a gift of about $20 million in April 2008. Is it possible that McConnell’s meal came directly from Beijing with the intention of further crippling the American economy for the benefit of you-know-who? Or, is it sufficient for the Commies to enrich McConnell to the point where he can afford to pay for Chinese takeout on his own?

I, on the other hand, paid for my own shrimp fried rice at 69 Bayard Restaurant. Although the temperature was only 87̊, it was enough to deter me from exploring. 69 Bayard’s airconditioning was in splendid shape, keeping the room in the low 60s. I drank two glasses of hot tea, in fact. The restaurant’s decor continues to evolve. Not only are the walls entirely covered in paper money, mostly pictures of George Washington, but now all the bills seem to be written on with thick markers, with messages of all sorts. Is this legal? Well, United States Code, Title 18 - Crimes and Criminal Procedure Part I - Crimes Chapter 17 - Coins and Currency § 333 calls for a fine and/or imprisonment to whoever “mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together” any US currency “with intent to render such [currency] unfit to be reissued.” You be the judge.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I sent Senator McConnell’s office another e-mail inquiry about the source of his Chinese food yesterday, but still no answer. I think there’s another angle worth exploring. Jim Backus, an actor best known as the voice of Mr. Magoo, allegedly died in 1989.

You be the judge.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Senator Magoo’s self-reported personal wealth was estimated to be as high as $32,756,000 in 2009, but at least $7,102,036. What I like about the guy is, while he graduated law school in 1967, every job listed in his official biography, starting while he was still in law school, was in the public sector – chief legislative assistant to US Senator, deputy assistant attorney general, judge-executive Jefferson County, US Senator (since 1985), and now he has a ton of money. Is this a great country, or what?

The power of suggestion worked today. In the morning, I conferenced (discussed the progress of) cases for a judge. One of the cases was a trip and fall on the sidewalk in front of Great N.Y. Noodletown, 28 ½ Bowery, so I went right there for lunch. I had been disappointed there before (November 24, 2010, February 3, 2010), and wanted reason to upgrade my opinion. It was not to be. I wasn’t very hungry and had dinner plans, so I only ordered duck rolls (2 for $4) and boneless sea bass rolls (2 for $4). The duck rolls were very greasy, in a wrapper, slight amount of cold duck (not the beverage) in the center, almost as much duck fat. By contrast, the boneless sea bass rolls were very good. The two cigar-shaped pieces of fish were fried with a rice flour coating. Fortunately, I ate and enjoyed them last.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cousin Bill is busy at work, it appears. The southern tip of Columbus Park, bordering on Worth Street, held two basketball courts and an exercise area that, when busy, resembled the graduate division of the University of Attica. A few days ago, heavy equipment starting tearing up the surface of this playground. So far, there is no indication of what will be installed here. It may just be a refurbishment or a new installation, such as a hotel room simulation for Dominique Strauss-Kahn to pause in and seek relief on his way to Criminal Court across the street.

Not long after I visited New Bo Ky Restaurant, 78-80 Bayard Street, on April 16, 2010, it was closed by the Board of Health. Now, with its “A” rating prominently displayed in the window, I returned, and ordered country style chicken on rice ($4.50), which came with a small bowl of tasty chicken broth. The chicken stopped there, however, because the bird lying on the mound of rice was duck. I like duck so much that I ate what was served. Of course, it is near-impossible to get duck in Chinatown without much fat, even if they call it chicken.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Alan Heim, our Ambassador to Hollywood, taking advantage of his sojourn on his native streets of New York, came by for lunch again. And again, as I had with other good company, I led him to Xi An Famous Foods, 67 Bayard Street. Today, I had ox tail with hand pulled noodles ($7.50), a small, but delicious chunk of bony meat. This meant an entire week for me without breaking new ground, but I have not abandoned my mission. As eagerly as Mitt Romney moves away from what he zealously advocated in the past, I shall move towards new Asian restaurants in the greater Chinatown area in the future.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Food For Thought

Monday, August 1, 2011

I encountered the immediate impact of the economic lunacy in Washington when I saw that the price of mangos in Chinatown was around $1.50 each instead of the typical $1 or even 3 for $2.50. I stayed mangoless under the circumstances, just as this country appears to be leaderless.

I’ve been comparing the anarchy on the streets of Europe and in the halls of Congress in reaction to the near-global economic crisis. In Europe, students, civil servants and blue collar workers seem to be self-centered, asking for higher wages, earlier retirement ages, shorter working hours. I admit to saying periodically "Shut up and go home" to the televised images of such protesters. In Washington, by contrast, our anarchic protesters seem to be eschewing personal benefits, but rather are intent on sticking it to someone else – specifically, those who rely to some degree on government benefits and services. That includes old people, school children, sick people, salaried people, but just not defense contractors, agribusiness, lobbyists and those who profit from loopholes in our tax code, for instance.

I don’t doubt that many, maybe most, TeaPartyistas are ordinary folk, from ordinary backgrounds. What surprises me is that their animus is ultimately directed to their peers, as if they view their "betters" (the wielders of power and money, however aggregated) as immune from scrutiny, regulation and discipline. Is it awe, envy, fear or a Calvinist sense of predestination that silences the outrage at the ever-widening gulf between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of us, including the vocal opponents of government programs and policies. In the words of Yul Brynner, "It’s a puzzlement."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

With the temperature at 91°, I have a dilemma. Most of the Asian restaurants that I know I haven’t yet patronized require a round trip on foot of at least 1 mile. Of course, I sometimes discover new places as I wander aimlessly. However, in weather this warm, I’m very reluctant to trek or wander, so I return to familiar places, today Teariffic, 51 Mott Street. Hope is on the way, though. There are three empty stores on Mott Street south of Canal Street, #s 48, 56 and 76, all in the process of renovation. There’s no guarantee that restaurants are headed there, but I’ll bet on (and hope for) two out of three.

The New York Times had a headline today on a story about the stinking, rotten, destructive budget deal that read: "Deal Was Forged Over Choices and Chinese Food." I’ve sent an e-mail to one of the two by-lined reporters about who provided the Chinese food to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as he worked in his office over the weekend. I’ll share the answer when it arrives in case you’re ever stuck in Washington.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The morning started with a bit of glamour. The park/plaza in front of the subway exit at the Brooklyn Bridge stop, opposite the courthouse, was in use for filming "Law and Order: Special Vehicles Unit." The scene was two lawyer/prosecutor-types walking up to a food truck parked at the curb. To give it a slice-of-life feel, several other lawyer-types and actor-cops walked by. Everyone caught on camera was, needless to say, very good looking, which was a dramatic departure from real life, especially in the vicinity of the courthouse.

Natsu Japanese Restaurant, 321 Broadway, was not only better than I expected, but actually good. It’s on a block with McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Baskin-Robbins and a couple of salad bar joints. The space is bright and open, with a three-foot high mirror running the entire length of one wall. Opposite is a sushi counter, with a refrigerator case of packaged sushi of greater variety than usually seen. Next to that is a cashier to take your order. Beyond her was a small open kitchen preparing the hot food to order.

I chose a lunch special, beef teriyaki bento box ($8.95). It came with miso soup (unadvertised), a very ordinary-looking green salad that was elevated by an orangey-gingery dressing, four small pieces of an avocado, artificial crab roll, three small gyoza (sauteed dumplings), white rice and the beef. The tender beef slices were served with broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and sauteed onions, in a tasty sauce. Everything was fresh. I mixed together the onions, sauce and rice left after the beef was gone for my dessert. I didn’t even consider going into Baskin-Robbins, right next door, sharing a wall, open for business.

Still no answer from the New York Times’ Washington bureau. Could they possibly have more important things to do?

Friday, August 5, 2011

I have bad news/goods news. Hsin Wong Restaurant, 72 Bayard Street, a reliable source of classic Chinatown Chinese food has closed. The possible good news will be its replacement, a new restaurant for me, very close to the courthouse.

On the other hand, the following appeared on the New York Law Journal’s front page today and I’m not sure if it’s good news or bad news.

"A woman has averted, at least for now, dismissal of the lawsuit she filed against an Upper West Side sushi restaurant that she insists sold her semen-laced sauce with her tuna roll."