Friday, August 24, 2012

Sweet Dreams

Monday, August 20, 2012
Unlike Fareed Zakaria, I try to place my borrowings in quotation marks. Here is a gem from the business section of today’s New York Times:

“Nine years ago the candy company Just Born purchased Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, the Philadelphia candy bar introduced in 1917 as a World War I ration, with plans to transform what had been a popular regional treat into a national brand. A new wrapper introduced in 2004 not only significantly changed the logo and color scheme, but also removed the historically prominent ‘Goldenberg’s,’ which was thought to sound too homespun for a national player.”

Got that? Homespun, as in “Do you have any Homespun rye bread left?” Or, “Chelsea Clinton and Caroline Kennedy both married Homespun men.” Admittedly, I have a special interest in this usage because I am Homespun and an artificial Goldenberg as well (see July 16, 2012). However, if there is a Euphemism Hall of Fame, this makes it on the first ballot.

Basketball superstar LeBron James has joined my “Algebra Rocks” campaign contra Professor Andrew Hacker (see July 30, 2012). The sports section of today’s New York Times reports that “he [James, not Hacker] would like to play at the Rio Games in 2016. James said he had ‘done the math, and I’ll be 31.’” Let X = LeBron James’s age at the next Summer Olympics . . .

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Usually children are admonished not to play with their food. However, some adults may also make a mockery of the holy rite of ingestion. Rudi Gurvich, a good person although far too skinny, sent me this article identifying allegedly the world’s most expensive dishes:

Not surprisingly, two of the six are found in Dubai, apparently aiming to wrest the crown of vulgarity from Donald Trump. 3,676 dirhams, $1,000.74, gets you the Golden Phoenix Cupcake that includes Italian chocolate, 23-carat edible gold sheets, organic strawberries and lots of edible gold dusting. You can wash that down with the “27.321” cocktail, costing 27,321 dirhams, $7,437.73. This libation is made from “55-year-old Macallan single malt natural colour whisky from Moray, Scotland, dried fruit bitters, homemade passion fruit sugar, and served in an 18-carat gold glass.”

I am unhappily surprised by the location of the next two items, the Frrrozen Haute Chocolate, at $18,713, and Le Burger Extravagant, a mere $293, served at Serendipity 3, 225 East 60th Street, Manhattan. I must confess that, when I returned to New York in 1980 from my ill-fated sojourn to the Left Coast, I went to Serendipity Sunday-after-Sunday for many months, and ordered the same thing – a frozen hot chocolate and a cheeseburger. At the time, Serendipity’s cheeseburger was one of the most expensive around, but I don’t think the whole meal cost more than $10 including a generous tip. Back then the frozen hot chocolate was not “adorned with 5g of edible 23-carat gold and infused with gold flakes,” nor was the hamburger made with “Japanese waygu beef, infused with 10-herb white truffle butter, seasoned with Alderwood smoked pacific sea salt, topped with cheddar cheese, shaved black truffles and a fried quail egg served on a white truffle-buttered Campagna roll and finished with a blini, crème fraiche and Kaluga golden caviar.”

More than a crosstown bus is needed to enjoy Sushi Del Oriente, “nigiri sushi wrapped in 24-carat gold leaves and sprinkled with five 0.20-carat African diamonds,” at 85,727.59 Philippine pesos, $2,029.92. It is only available as part of a catered meal by Karat Chef of Manila. You must fly east (from New York, at least) to London’s Kai Mayfair, 65 South Audley Street, which has one Michelin star and has been voted the best Chinese restaurant in London by Zagat’s readership. It offers Buddha Jumps Over the Wall soup for £108, $169.68, containing “shark’s fin, abalone, Japanese flower mushroom, sea cucumber, dried scallops, chicken, Hunan ham, pork and ginseng.” As with most of these other treats, remember to order in advance.

On the other hand, Pho 88, 51 Bayard Street (April 18, 2011, January 31, 2012), did not require any advance notice for its beef with vegetable salad and peanuts costing 34 dirhams. In fact, I didn’t even need a reservation for this pleasant Vietnamese restaurant. I thought, though, that for 34 dirhams the portion could have been larger.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
My dear niece Shoshana sent me this link last night, the only nice thing to happen while I sat in the stands at CitiField enduring another Mets loss. This is a creative update on that traditional Homespun dish, gefilte fish. Please try it and invite me over to sample the results.

Another television show that I’ve never seen, Made in Jersey, was setting up shop on the courthouse steps when I arrived this morning. It seems to be a lawyer show from the ads I have seen promoting it. At 11:20, I went downstairs to get coffee from the little man in the cart and found them filming lawyers and cops who looked like lawyers and cops. I waited around a bit, not just to give them a chance to discover me, but to see if the young actress in the towering high heels could stand relatively still on the steps without toppling over.

Chatham Sq Restaurant, 6 Chatham Square (March 9, 2010), was no more than 10% full at lunch time, but felt and sounded busy. I skipped the dim sum, although it looked good on the one cart circulating around the very-decorated room. Instead, I ordered “Hong Kong style” chow fun with curry flavor ($9.95). While my geography is less than perfect, the huge portion of noodles, shrimp, slivers of two kinds of meat, egg, purple onion, scallions, green pepper, bean sprouts and a sprinkle of sesame seeds is called “Singapore style” everywhere else it is served in Chinatown. The curry flavor was a little strange. It seemed absent for the first few minutes of ingestion, but then grew and remained throughout my walk to the courtroom at 80 Centre Street, where I have a standing Wednesday afternoon assignment. I think I would have preferred the sensation in reverse order.

The portion was so large that three normal human beings could have shared it for lunch. I myself ate only half and, for the first time in this 32-month (ad)venture, I asked to have the remainder packed to go. When I got to the courtroom, I donated the more-than-ample remaining portion to a colleague who works with me each Wednesday.

Thursday, August 23, 2012
I was fortunate to have Jay Stanley for company at lunch today. Jay, the oldest of Charlotte & John Stanley’s three wonderful children, and himself now the father of three, lives in the greater Washington, DC area. His work for the ACLU brings him to New York periodically and we strive to spend a little time together on those occasions. His father, from a proper Anglican household, taken from us much too early, grew up in Rye, New York, went to prep school, Kenyon College in Ohio and Cambridge University before arriving at Cornell University. There he had the ___________ luck (adjective) to wind up with a Jewish kid from public schools in Brooklyn, Stuyvesant High School and CCNY, who took his first airplane ride just weeks before moving in with John at 106 Harvard Place, Ithaca, New York, a real dump. The mixture was often volatile, sometimes incendiary, but, in the long run, produced some of the best moments of my life.

Jay and I went to Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth Street, a Chinatown showplace. Jay is a serious tri-athlete these days after a distinguished career as a teen-aged couch potato. But, together, we could not reach $20 in food, the threshold for a discount coupon that I’ve been holding onto for months. We ate well and heartily, even if we had to pay full price, as little as it was.

Friday, August 24, 2012
Many of us, as we grow older, consider relocating in order to simplify our lives, economize, escape harsh weather and/or settle in safe and friendly surroundings. If this is on your mind, please consider Lubbock, Texas. It’s not just the demographics and geography that should attract you to Lubbock, but the quality of its public servants, as well. County Judge Tom Head just had this to say about the prospective reelection of President Obama on the local Fox 34 News.

“He’s going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N., and what is going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy. Now what’s going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops. I don’t want ‘em in Lubbock County. OK. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say ‘you’re not coming in here.’”

Lubbock is served by the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport. American Eagle, Southwest and United Airlines service Lubbock, with flights to and from Dallas, Austin, Las Vegas, Denver and Houston. I suppose Las Vegas warrants the international designation. There is no Amtrak service, but the West Texas and Lubbock Railway operates 107 miles of the former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, hauling fertilizer, construction aggregates, grain, cotton, chemicals, peanuts and plastics. The Greyhound Bus Terminal is at 801 Broadway, downtown.

Visit Lubbock, the local tourist board, uses the slogan "The Texas you've always dreamed of."


  1. On at least one visit to Serendipity in the early 80's you were accompanied by 4 very attractive young women. As we stood in line just in front of the buff but very short Sylvester Stallone who was accompanied by a statuesque blond (not his wife), you informed the host as he was writing down names of those waiting for tables (all customer service employees at Serendipity at that time were gorgeouos gay men) that, despite being rather far down the list, we were the "Next" party. Not amused, the host took one of our names and you requested a seat downstairs because in your words sitting upstairs was "declass'e" "Not tonight,honey" he replied as he led Stallone up the stairs. As I recall we followed a few minutes later and were seated at an adjacent table. Our service suffered as most of the waiters were too enamored with their famous guest to pay much attention to your gorgeous companions.

    On another occasion (the same night?) Andy Warhol was seated at a table visible from the door as we waited in line. Alas, we were not seated nearby.

  2. Andy Warhol was already seated when we arrived. I was very surprised at how short Stallone was, but, on the whole, my attention was fixed on my very gorgeous companions.

  3. Actually, I spelled our name for the host, N A umlaut C H S T.