Monday, May 7, 2012
These days, a telephone call to almost any enterprise consisting of more than a poet and her cat is usually greeted by this recorded message: "Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed." This is annoying for two reasons. First, it delays the conduct of your business while you listen to this jabber when all you want to do is order OxyContin on behalf of Rush Limbaugh. Second, and this really gets me, it wastes all the time and effort I made in memorizing menu options to save time in the first place. For instance, Dr. Perskin, my insightful internist at NYU Medical Center, was simply 2512, spaced evenly as soon as my called was answered. While it took some time, I had this down pat, because 2512 held up to a mirror reads "short guy" in Hebrew. "I’m not feeling well, so I think I’ll call the short guy." See, how efficient that was? Now, I have to listen to the new array of numbers, find a rational pattern and commit it to memory. Can’t they leave well enough alone?
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
So, where was Grandpa Alan when Brad Richards tied up the hockey playoff game with 6.6 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime where Marc Staal scored the winning goal 1 minute 35 seconds into the extra period, ending the game about 2 hours earlier than the last overtime game 5 nights ago with another Rangers win? Right in front of the television set. As a devoted husband, my expressions of joy were restrained in order not to disturb the beauty sleep of America’s Favorite Epidemiologist.
Nam Cafe, 75 Baxter Street, was a pleasant surprise. It’s a tiny place that recently opened. Right now, there are three small tables and three more table tops awaiting bottoms. Its success will have to rely on take-out and delivery business which should not be a problem if the Metropolitan Corrections Center, formerly known as the Tombs, directly opposite, will allow its prisoners to place phone orders.
I had the combo vermicelli salad ($10), pork, shrimp, spring rolls over vermicelli, lettuce, peanuts in chili lime sauce. The contents were fresh, the pork and shrimp char-grilled. The sauce, however, was all at the bottom of the bowl as if it were put in first. The portion was only medium-sized, a bit less than the price warranted. A small pot of delicious, smoky black tea was included, and I was more than satisfied on the whole. Of course, a brief report on my recent trip to Vietnam fascinated the young man and his mother (both born in Saigon) who operate the place.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Art Spar, fellow WES board member, joined me for lunch. Art has a weekly meeting in the neighborhood with a young student as part of his involvement with Big Brother in a program about to be cancelled because of budget cuts. We made a date and I believed that he deserved a special treat because of his volunteer work, so we headed to Xi An Famous Foods, 67 Bayard Street. I had him primed for their selection of hot and spicy food. Just as we entered the small shop, a city inspector came in too. She looked around the ground floor, occupied by the cashier and a handful of tables, and headed to the basement where the cooking is done, including handpulling the noodles, and then sent upstairs on a dumbwaiter. For the next couple of minutes a few dishes came up, but soon everything stopped dead with the inspector underfoot.
The young woman at the cash register, normally taking orders, was completely flustered and never passed along my request for Concubine’s Chicken. Art and I were not the only hungry customers stymied by the turn of events, but we were the first to leave, saving our patience for spending time with our respective grandchildren. We went right to 69 Bayard Restaurant, 69 Bayard Street, to admire the engravings of George Washington on the walls and devour some classic Chinatown Cantonese food in contrast to the more adventurous, but quarantined Xi An cuisine.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Last night I was spared the agony of watching the Rangers underperform in a playoff game that would have eliminated the other team by attending the West End Synagogue’s monthly executive committee and board meetings. I peeked at my smartyphone during the evening to see the score, but this caused only momentary pain as it went from 0-0, 0-1, 0-2. In the few minutes to walk home, the Rangers revived slightly, leaving the final result as 1-2. But, instead of sitting and watching in front of the television set and moaning and groaning for more than 2 ½ hours, I furthered the International Jewish Conspiracy.
I also did something last night at the meeting that I had not done for years, I drank instant coffee. It was terrible, worse than I recalled. Normally, at WES functions, we serve real coffee out of restaurant-grade urns. A relatively small, in-house gathering, such as a board meeting, does not merit this level of service. I pledge in the future to prevent WES from serving instant coffee to any guest, visitor or non-member of any stripe to prevent a resurgence of anti-Semitism.
Friday, May 11, 2012
Last night, there was no Rangers game, no Mets game, so I generated my own excitement. When I started eating a chocolate lollipop, not a Tootsie-Pop mind you, but a 2" disc of high-quality chocolate on a stick, I was surprised to find that it contained nuts, or a piece of a nut, or actually part of a tooth, my tooth. What makes this particularly interesting is our scheduled departure on Monday evening for a 15-day trip to Israel and Jordan. Fortunately, there was no pain and the ugly molar is towards the back of my big mouth. I went right to the dentist this morning on the way to work and he advised doing nothing until my return. Then, I can look forward to a root canal and a crown.
Therefore, there was going to be no gnawing on spareribs at lunch today. Instead, I had a plate of near-great beef chow fun ($7.95) at New Mandarin Court, 61 Mott Street (4/12/10, 7/13/10, 11/16/10, 11/7/11), a very reliable restaurant. The portion was very large, an immediate attraction for me, and it was loaded with slices of beef, between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. There was no unnecessary roughage, only yellow and green onions stir-fried in. However, the noodles needed to be a bit more al dente and the whole dish could have used a dash of spicy/salty/peppery flavor in order to achieve greatness. They must be given credit for a noble effort and encouraged to stick to their wok.