Monday, October 31, 2011
I've cooled considerably on columnist Tom Friedman, but what he wrote in a column this weekend must be reproduced, considered and acted upon. “Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery. One consumer group using information from Opensecrets.org calculates that the financial services industry, including real estate, spent $2.3 billion on federal campaign contributions from 1990 to 2010, which was more than the health care, energy, defense, agriculture and transportation industries combined. Why are there 61 members on the House Committee on Financial Services? So many congressmen want to be in a position to sell votes to Wall Street [that’s why].” Oh, I forgot that, according to the US Supreme Court, money is speech and the $2,300,000,000 was merely an attempt to be heard in the marketplace of ideas. That is, to be heard loud and clear, over and over, 2,300,000,000 more times than you or me.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Wearing gloves and a warm coat, I was happy to take a walk on this chilly, bright, clear day. I wound up at Fu Ke Yuan Restaurant, 84 Eldridge Street, a funny little place. I was the only eating customer, while four Chinese ladies sat at a table chattering without any food the whole time. A lot of the modest floor space was taken by about 18 cases of beer, Heineken and Tsingtao predominating with 6 cases each. The menu, at least the one I was handed, was very limited, listing only about 15 main courses, many featuring tilapia, and about 8 noodle dishes. I ordered House Special Mein Fun ($8.95), an alternate spelling of mei fun, vermicelli with shrimp, clam, egg, celery and other things which may have come from under water. The portion was very large; I gave it a hit of soy sauce since the noodles had been boiled, not fried, and needed a little flavor boost.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
I first took public notice of macarons on March 21, 2011, the French confection, not the Passover treat. At that time, I admitted that only one month earlier I had mislabeled the great-tasting macaron I had sampled at Bouchon Bakery, in Yountville, CA, as a macaroon. Today, a little over one-half year later, such confusion would be impossible. Macarons have become commonplace in New York City. See these scribblings of May 12, 2011 and September 1, 2011. The New York Times today has a story “Airy Macarons That Rise Above the Rest,” claiming to compare 209 macarons from 26 local sources. From this mass of baked egg whites, sugar and ground almonds, it selected the 8 best:
ALMONDINE - 85 Water Street (Main Street), Dumbo, Brooklyn and 442 Ninth Street (Seventh Avenue), Park Slope, Brooklyn.
BISOUS CIAO - 101 Stanton Street (Ludlow Street), Lower East Side.
LADURÉE - 864 Madison Avenue (70th Street), Upper East Side.
LITTLE OVEN - 12-07 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens.
LA MAISON DU CHOCOLAT - 1018 Madison Avenue (78th Street).
LA MAISON DU MACARON - 132 West 23rd Street, Chelsea.
TAKAHACHI BAKERY - 25 Murray Street (Church Street), TriBeCa.
VENDÔME at Charbonnel et Walker in Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue.
Note that the local branch of Bouchon Bakery in the Time-Warner Center at Columbus Circle is absent. This requires further research by Grandpa Alan.
Even when I am not sampling cakes and cookies, I’m out there on the edge. Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant, 42 Bowery, is brand new. I spotted it yesterday and walked in today asking if the necessary dragon had been there yet. At least one dragon and two musicians, a drummer and a cymbalist, are needed to chase off the evil spirits hovering around the premises where there has been idle space. The manager told me that no dragon had come by and he had no plans to even have a dragon visit. But, observing that there were tall plants with red ribbons up front, signs of good luck, I threw caution to the wind, sat down and dared the evil spirits to bring it on.
Sing Kee has a very large menu, with shark fin and abalone dishes along with chicken, duck, beef, pork, bean curd and noodles. A list of 39 Chef’s Recommendations includes some interesting items, e.g. chestnut and frog in casserole ($18.95), short ribs beef in a pumpkin ($35) and, for you multi-culturalists, pastrami over spinach ($13.95). Loyal as I am to Ben’s Best Kosher Delicatessen on Queens Boulevard, I skipped the pastrami, which is also available as a lunch special at $5.75, and ordered ½ roast chicken with black bean sauce ($11.95). It was delicious, and very large, ½ of a Grandpa Alan-sized chicken. The skin was very crispy; it must have been rubbed with oil during roasting. The black bean sauce was rich with green onions, garlic and cilantro. White rice cost a buck more, but a bowl of good hot and sour soup was delivered at no cost without asking. Service was efficient and friendly.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
At last, some good news unrelated to eating. Today’s New York Law Journal lists the names of the 7,731 candidates who passed the New York State bar examination given in July, of 11,182 who took the examination. The list ranges from Amy Elizabeth Abbandondelo to Jonathon Albert Zytnick. At the last name, my eyes quickly moved upward and I found Jonathon Seth Zelig. But, my interest is more sociological than personal. It’s no surprise that the list contains 13 Cohens, 7 Goldbergs, 14 Katzs, 9 Levines and 8 Steins. (Alas, no Gotthelfs.) However, there were 31 Chens, 62 Kims, 26 Lis, 9 Martinezs, 9 Patels, 10 Rodriguezs, 9 Shahs and 28 Zhangs. Isn’t that amazing?
I was on the top step of the courthouse at 1 PM, trying to not look too much like Sam Waterston, waiting for my lunch date with M.G., a third-year student at Cardozo. I had agreed to offer him guidance as he approaches the very difficult legal job market. So, here’s my first piece of career advice: When you make an appointment, SHOW UP! After waiting 15 minutes (I used to wait 20 minutes when waiting for a female feminine dame), I walked over to the nearest Halal cart and ordered a combo over rice, pita on the side, which I ate at my desk.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Maybe because Jon Silverberg was not seeking my advice about getting his first job as a lawyer, he was right on time when we met in front of Dim Sum Go Go, 5 East Broadway. Jon, one of the leading Chinese food eaters of his generation, had never been there and I knew it would be a treat. However, before I begin lunch, allow me to tell you my favorite anecdote concerning the two of us.
In 1984, when we had known each other about three years, we were both single and unattached, although always scouting talent. New York Magazine was then one of the most popular venues for singles’ ads, and accordingly fairly expensive. So, we wrote an ad applicable to both of us, sharing the cost, for we both were tall SWJMs who shared many interests. We avoided the gulf between us on baseball teams, while asserting our common Marxism (need I amplify?). The ad produced about 100 responses which we divvied up one evening. After the first round of dates, I recall that we exchanged batches and continued to explore the possibilities. Each of us eventually married, Jon far sooner than I, to women who ignored us in 1984.
We had the assorted dim sum platter, 11 pieces, each distinguished by shape, color and contents. Additionally, we had six other plates, doubling up on the fabulous duck dumplings. The food was so good that it just about balanced the bad taste of our current national politics.