Friday, November 1, 2013

Mazel Tov

Monday, October 28, 2013
We went to the wedding of Aunt Judi and Uncle Stu’s youngest son yesterday, and, while the food did not reach the heights of Aunt Judi’s personal efforts, it was quite good on the whole, most notably the hors d’oeuvres.  There was Peking duck, sushi, tacos, lamb carved from the bone, egg rolls, corned beef, pastrami, turkey, coconut fried fish, vegetable, chicken and beef dumplings, shish kebab, franks in blankets, chicken skewers with peanut sauce, quesadillas, rare grilled tuna, and a variety of salads for the V people.  Dinner was an afterthought.  Also, if you knew where to look, there were a couple of bottles of single malt whiskey around in addition to the ordinary bar offerings.  My companions, the two Drs. Webber, looked smashing and I got the nearest parking spot to the front door of the New York Academy of Medicine, a beautiful spot for such an event.  It is still a couple of hours before lunch today, and I’m uncertain whether I’m ready to eat again so soon.

My devotion to duty led me out the door at lunchtime and led me to discover Bobalife NYC, 11 Pell Street, a new beverage shop, which also offers a few food items.  I ordered crispy fried chicken ($3.50) and a green apple slush ($3 for a large sold at the price of a small).  The largish portion of lightly-coated, almost greaseless chicken was good and the slush wasn’t too sweet although quite fluorescent green.  The shop has only two tall, small round tables each with three rickety stools, or maybe the table was rickety.

There was no sign of 1901 when I passed Mosco Street today, the film makers having moved on.  However, in its “normal” state, Mosco Street doesn’t seem to have gotten past 1938, although Fried Dumpling, its only eating establishment, unnumbered in the middle of the short block, still sells 5 dumplings for $1 which is more like 1968.

Wednesday, October30, 2013
I made my third attempt to have lunch at Division 31 Restaurant today.  This time, three young women and one young man joined to (inadequately) explain why only hot pot was available in this otherwise well-furnished, newly-opened joint with a extensive printed menu of unserved food.  None of them was able to tell me when this condition would be corrected.

I had hot pot in China, so my lack of enthusiasm for it at Division 31 is not based on lack of experience.  I find three things wrong with hot pot, individual canisters of boiling broth into which you drop meat, seafood, vegetables and spices from an array in front of you.  Similar to fondue, but you don’t pull out the individual bits and pieces that you put in.  First – Hot pot is not meant to be a solitary activity.  It should be conducted in a group of jovial folk encouraging each other to toss completely unrecognizable ingredients into their respective pot, drawing mirth from their colleagues’ culinary efforts.  You just can’t have hot pot alone in silence.  Second – Why go out to eat when you have to do all the work yourself?  Since most of us lack household serving staff (Whither Downton Abbey?), a restaurant affords us the occasional opportunity to be indulged, to have at least some of our wishes attended to.  Third – Hot pot may produce novel, but not necessarily tasty, results.  Who knows what he is doing?  Even if all the ingredients were familiar to me, how many permutations and combinations would I have to go through in order to produce palatable results.  Think of a counter whereupon sits butter, sugar, flour, chocolate chips, maybe oats, maybe raisins, maybe coconut, maybe walnuts or pecans.  Even as the image of an excellent chocolate chip cookie begins to emerge from this tableau, how many of us know the proportions and sequences necessary to create one of these heavenly items?  So, your typical civilian hot potter will produce no more than a pile of hot, wet meat, seafood, vegetables and spices, even if lucky enough to avoid being scalded by spattered broth.

I retreated to Yung Sun Seafood Restaurant, 47 East Broadway, which was hardly busier than when I first visited on April 22, 2013.  The large, bright space was occupied by 12 round tables holding only one “Western” couple, a young Chinese woman more interested in her phone than her food, and four Chinese friends/relatives happily chattering away, although I really can’t distinguish happy Chinese chatter from ordinary Chinese chatter.

I ordered an oyster cake (75¢), a four-inch round, flat, fried disc, filled with minced vegetables, a sliver of oyster and two boiled peanuts.  Pretty good.  I also had fried fish filet in curry sauce over rice ($4.50).  The pungent sauce contained red and green peppers, yellow onion, scallion, and bamboo shoots with a large mound of white rice.  The pieces of fish were strangely spongy and textureless, causing me to check several times whether there was anything under the breaded coating.  I hope that the calorie count was equally vaporous.

Thursday, October 31, 2013
Yippee, hooray!  I’m going to my first Rangers game of the season tonight in the expensively-redecorated Madison Square Garden.  I’m especially delighted to have Moshe as my companion.  Since he was born and brought up in Israel, he never saw ice outside of a cocktail until he reached middle age.  Hockey, compared to football or baseball, is a simple game, and I am not likely to overwhelm him with pedantic details or arcane rules, a blessing for him, no doubt.  Let’s hope that the results of the game leave me feeling blessed.
Two things drew me to Noodle Village, 13 Mott Street, after ABC Chinese Restaurant, 34 Pell Street, would not sell me half a Peking duck.  Since they sell a whole duck for $32.95 and I usually enjoy their food, I thought that half would be a pretty good deal.  So, ABC must wait for you and me.  Noodle Village has a new marquee across the top of its storefront.  It consists of six sepia-tone photographs of Chinatowns at different periods.  I said Chinatowns, but not Chinatown, because I could not identify any of the settings as local.  I thought that the sight of steep steps pointed to either San Francisco or Hong Kong for one picture.  I’d need a ladder and some time to even begin to guess at the other locations, but, in any case, it makes an attractive sign.  A more conventional sign in the window was the other attraction.  It proclaimed Noodle Village as the winner of a recent contest for the best won ton soup in Chinatown.  That and the light drizzle falling were sufficient impetus (impeti?) to leave thoughts of duck behind and sit down for some soup.

The waitress informed me that the shrimp won ton noodle soup ($6.75 large) was the prize winner, and I muttered that it better be at that price.  Well, it sort of was and sort of wasn’t.  The large portion was barely medium-sized.  The broth was nice and hot, but too weak to be identified as either chicken-based or vegetable-based.  There were plenty of noodles, which of course made less room for soup.  The shrimp won tons, however, were outstanding, fat with shrimp.  On balance, I think Chinatown, our Chinatown, can do better.
Friday, November 1, 2013
The results of the New York State bar examination were released today in the New York Law Journal. 8,098, 69% of all test takers, passed, while 88% of graduates of New York law schools taking it for the first time passed.  The number sinks down to 37% of foreign-educated candidates.  I  couldn’t resist looking at the names of the passing applicants through an ethno-sociological lens, as I have done in the past.  Here is some data:

31 Chens
18 Cohens
11 Goldbergs
5 Gomezs
6 Gonzalezs
5 Kellys
49 Kims
8 Levys
32 Lis
33 Lius
6 Murphys
25 O’ names, e.g., O’Malley
16 Patels
6 Perezs
11 Rodriguezs
8 Shahs
19 Yangs
34 Zhangs

Finally, I am considering celebrating their success with Antonio Garcia Rodenburg De Medeiros Vieira Junior, Hwee Lee Danna Dolly Er, Li Li, Demian Hieronymus Christoph Von Poelnitz, Scheherazade Anjum Wasty, and Shazana Zumpfe-Cochran.

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