Friday, April 6, 2012

Into the Desert

Monday, April 2, 2012
This morning, Chambers Street and Reade Street were covered with trucks carrying gear, people and supplies for the filming of “Golden Boy.” I imagine that this is based on the Clifford Odets play which was on Broadway in 1937, starring Luther Adler as the young boxer whose father wants him to become a violinist (they don’t make them like that anymore). William Holden played the movie lead in 1939, in his first starring role. In 1964, Sammy Davis, Jr. starred on Broadway in a musical version. Going to the Internet, I found that Lincoln Center intends to stage a revival in November, but found no mention about an upcoming movie or TV show.

Sheng Wang, 27 Eldridge Street, is not particularly inviting. Down three steps, it feels in needs of a steam cleaning. It was busy, however, the 11 tables holding about 20 people. The menu consists almost entirely of noodles, hand-pulled and “peel noodle,” which I believe is called knife-cut noodles in other venues. There are 31 varieties of each, that is 31 varieties with either noodle. Most of the noodle dishes are served as soup, but I looked for a dry version and ordered beef fried hand-pulled noodle ($6). The noodle was lo mein, or a reasonable facsimile, while I’ve usually seen hand-pulled noodles as more fettucini -like. The portion was hearty, lots of bok choy, slivers of fried egg and sliced beef. Now, Sheng Wang did not have to fight off Peter Luger’s or the Palm for this beef, but it was tasty eating around the gristle.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Golden Boy was back in the neighborhood of the courthouse this morning and I approached a crew member to find out about this so-far unreported production. I rattled off the names of William Holden, John Garfield (who was in a Broadway revival when he died of a heart attack at age 39) and Sammy Davis, Jr., without sparking a sign of recognition. When I gave a brief summary of the story, he said it sounded more interesting than the cop show they were filming. Sorry, he corrected me, they don’t use film anymore.

Television and movies are recorded on some electronic medium, which allows for myriad special effects and easier editing. Even if electronic recording has simplified the process (I almost said film making process), it’s remarkable how big an encampment is needed to do what they do. Typically, there are six to eight 30-40 foot trailers containing dressing rooms, equipment and supplies. There is always a food wagon with a small tent nearby with a spread of snacks or real food at mealtimes. In spite of what many of you might think, I have never cadged a blueberry muffin or a bagel as I passed by.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Lao Di Fang Hand Pull Noodles Restaurant, 28 Forsyth Street replaced Kuai Le Hand Pull Noodles Restaurant (July 1, 2011, November 10, 2011). While I don’t know what difference this made to the pulled or the puller, the interior has been redone with most vertical surfaces covered with very faux brick wallpaper. They offer a printed menu with pictures of 18 dishes to aid Fujian-impaired members of the public. While only 3 of the 46 dishes listed on the menu mention soup, in fact, almost all the dishes with noodle or ball in their name are soups. I ordered wonton, Fukienese style ($2) and was not surprised to get soup. The many wonton were delicate and translucent in a tasty, mildly salty broth. Plain noodle w. sesame peanuts sauce ($2) were good and had to be slurped carefully to avoid decorating my shirt front. Because the kitchen is in the rear, as at Sheng Wang, I could not see my noodles hand pulled.

Thursday, April 5, 2012
Jews most notably fast on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. There are several other days during the year when very observant Jews fast as well. I’m not exactly fasting for the next two days, but, in preparation for Aunt Judi’s imaginative and abundant Seder table Friday and Saturday nights, I’m trying to moderate my intake. While usually I issue my weekly report on Saturday, I plan to hold off until Sunday in order to recite the menu for both night’s Sinai slog.

Friday, April 6, 2012
29 people from 4 generations gathered around the Seder table in Englewood tonight. Mother Ruth Gotthelf, exercising her 102-year old independent streak, decided to stay home at the last minute, but 95-year old Aunt Bertha represented the World War I generation effectively. Of course, Moses aside (although perversely, Moses goes unnamed in the Passover story), the star of the evening was Aunt Judi, Queen of the Kosher Kitchen. She had to overcome the strange Poloner family tradition of starting the meal with cold chopped hard-boiled egg soup, not intact hard-boiled eggs to be personally peeled and salted to taste by the diners. I just keep drinking wine until the real meal begins with the heavenly deep-fried gefilte fish. I took two pieces, one more than everyone else, and could have made a meal of this delicacy. There might have been a salad or two on the table, but I moved right to the cranberry (sauced) brisket and the turkey roulade. Filling out the plate was squash kugel, roasted parsnips, carrots, red onions and red potatoes, and vegetable kishke. By the way, if you're having trouble with any noun, use Google. I think there was also a strawberry rhubarb compote, but I just didn't have any. Fortunately, my modest sweet tooth was accommodated by chocolate chip mandelbrot and exquisite chocolate chip meringue drops, well blobs more than drops. I was so engaged by the meringue blob-drops that I passed on the chocolate brownies and chocolate nut cookies. Can you imagine that? The fresh fruit was not even under consideration. Of course, Saturday night we repeat our Sinai slog and maybe have another chance to sample those treats.

Saturday, April 7, 2012
Another chance to flee Egypt and get well fed at the same time. Only 24 people attended tonight, although Noam slept entirely through the evening in an upstairs bedroom and only appeared nestled in his mother's arms as they packed up to leave. But, I am not prepared to omit my second grandson from the count even if the pursuit by Pharoah and his army did not awaken him.

Tonight, I realized the value of the cold chopped hard-boiled egg soup instead of the really traditional hard-boiled eggs to open the Seder meal. I don't waste one square millimeter of stomach capacity on this unnecessary concoction, leaving valuable space for all the good things to come. Sure enough, first out of the box again tonight was the deep-fried gefilte fish, the only thing until dessert to be repeated, for which I am very grateful. The main courses were chicken with garlic in white wine sauce and Aunt Judi's Famous Meatballs, always a crowd pleaser. The side dishes, which made a very ample meal for the several vegetarians in attendance (whom I'll spare the embarrassment of naming on this occasion), were excellent, mushroom kugel, apple kugel, vegetable kugel and cous cous. The cranberry relish complemented the chicken very nicely. I spied a bowl of cole slaw, but was not distracted by it. For the sake of closure, I started the desserts with the brownies that I missed last night. Now, I'm not sure if I should have had fewer chocolate meringue cookies last night to make room for a brownie. Had I done that, it's possible that the ecstasy I experienced individually on consecutive nights might have amounted to less in immediate proximity. In retrospect, I'm pleased that my journey into the Promised Land began with a brownie.

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