Monday, September 29, 2014
We watched the inaugural show of the 40th season of "Saturday Night Live" over the weekend The host and the musical guest were unknown to us, but that was probably generational. Imagine millennials being offered Henny Youngman and Sarah Vaughan. The big problem with the program, though, was the absence of anything funny, humorous, or mirthful. I almost chuckled at 12:43 AM, after more than an hour of ill-executed material that probably wasn't even funny on paper. By then, America's Favorite Epidemiologist was in the arms of Morpheus, so she could not confirm whether there was even a moment of relief from the late night tedium.
Fortunately, earlier in the evening we had a more rewarding experience at a preview performance of “The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time,” just imported from London. The play, based on a popular book, deals with the difficulty of parenting an adolescent boy, who falls within the autism spectrum (although never made explicit). It drags in the second act, and there is some confusion about the context of the presentation, but the conflicted characters are engaging and the staging is quite imaginative. It opens in another week, and maybe they’ll do some trimming by then. Do see it. It might be interesting to compare the New York Times review of the London production with what we read next week. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/
03/14/theater/reviews/curious- incident-of-the-dog-in-the- night-time-in-london.html? pagewanted=all
New year – new restaurant. 21 Shanghai House, 21 Division Street, replaced Gold River Malaysian Cuisine, I’m sorry to say, because I’ve become quite taken with Malaysian cuisine, and there are so few alternatives. In any case, 21 Shanghai House just opened after renovating a good part of the interior. The cashier’s station has moved; a wall of large tiles is new. Different artwork is on display; no flat screen television was evident.
The menu seems pretty conventional. I had a scallion pancake ($2.50), which would have been good if not so greasy. From a list of 20 lunch specials, all $5.50, I chose shrimp with lobster sauce, which was verbally corrected to shrimp with egg sauce, and turned out to be scrambled eggs with shrimp. Accompanied by a large mound of white rice, it was an acceptable lunch dish. Nothing sets this place apart, especially on a street with a handful of lower-priced, cafeteria-style joints and a few “real” restaurants, such as Fuleen Seafood Restaurant and Jing Star Restaurant. In order to succeed, I think it will need to rely on friends and family rather than the kindness of strangers.
There is a 12-hour time difference between New York and Hong Kong, so, even though it is pre-dawn there now, live feeds show thousands of student-led protestors in the streets demanding free elections. I wonder if the repressive regime is inspired by the Keep Out the Vote message of some American politicians. It’s interesting that our R*p*bl*c*n friends are willing to err on the side of too much money in politics, but are militant in limiting the numbers of voters at the booth.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Here’s some news for you big spenders. Michelin released its New York City restaurant rankings today, and found six worthy of three stars, one less than last year. Comments from each joint’s website, except as noted.
• Per Se, 10 Columbus Circle – Website under construction. New York Times review of October 11, 2011, called Per Se the best restaurant in New York City: “Its synthesis of culinary art and exquisite service is now complete. It represents the ideal of an American high-culture luxury restaurant.” Choice of a nine-course vegetable tasting menu or a nine-course chef’s tasting menu; each costs $310.
• Masa, 10 Columbus Circle – “The otherwise simple décor is intentionally sparse to act as a blank canvass on which the food will be allotted space to shine. The courses build on seasonal properties utilized only in their freshest most delicious state. Each dish is composed to ensure that the most basic, innate character of the ingredients persists.” $450, not including tip, tax or drinks, 20-25 Courses. “Menu Changes Every Day Depending On Seasonal Availability And Chef Inspiration For The Day.” Must reserve with a credit card, and cancellations less than 48 hours in advance cost $200 per person.
• Jean Georges, 1 Central Park West (a/k/a 15 Columbus Circle when it was an office building) – “Impeccable service, tableside preparations, and floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of Central Park and Columbus Circle all contribute to an unforgettable dining experience. Jean-Georges offers a three-course prix-fixe menu and two six-course tasting menus: a traditional tasting of the chef’s signature dishes, and a seasonal tasting featuring fresh market ingredients.” Three course dinner, $128; “Chef Vongerichten’s Assortment of Signature Dishes,” $208, wine pairing $148 extra.
• Le Bernardin,155 West 51st Street – Because Le Bernardin’s website is very unpoetic, simply reciting its many honors and awards, let’s look at the New York Times review of May 22, 2102: “No other restaurant in the city makes the simple cooking of fish (and the fish at Le Bernardin is cooked simply, when it is cooked at all) seem so ripe with opportunities for excitement. Some of the thrills are the hushed kind, like the way black garlic, pomegranate and lime support the crisp skin and white flesh of sautéed black bass. Others are scene-stealers, as when a white slab of steamed halibut is slowly surrounded by a crimson pool of beet sauce that, with crème fraîche stirred in, will turn the delirious pink of summer borscht.” Four course dinner, $135; chef’s tasting menu, $198, $336 with wine pairing.
• Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, 200 Schermerhorn Street (Brooklyn) – “Settle in to the kitchen counter at this intimate 18 seat space for a unique dining experience featuring the cuisine of Chef Cesar Ramirez. This prix-fixe dinner [$255 plus NY tax and 20% service fee] consists of over fifteen small plate courses.”
• Eleven Madison Park, 11 Madison Avenue – “Our [$225] multi-course tasting menu focuses on the extraordinary agricultural bounty of New York and on the centuries-old culinary traditions that have taken root here.”
Of course, I've never been to any of these restaurants. I've gotten close once. We dined at Nougatine at Jean Georges, which sits in front of Jean Georges. It's more casual and cheaper, but it still has a sexy vibe based on proximity. I have to admit that, except for brushing past Bruce Willis, I don't remember a thing about the evening. Early in this century, America's Favorite Epidemiologist treated one of her two favorite husbands to dinner at the French Laundry, Yountville, California, Per Se's parent restaurant. Back then, with only a modest amount of wine, dinner for two cost about $400, and he was worth it.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
The Boyz Club met today at Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street. The secret of an excellent lunch (I’ve never eaten dinner here) is to order one scallion pancake ($2.25) (no worse than second best in Chinatown) and three lunch specials ($4.95-6.25) for every two people. See http://www1.beyondmenu.
com/27851/new-york/shanghai- gourmet-new-york-10013.aspx?r= 27851. You’ll have a good variety of dishes, a more than ample amount of food and spend about $12-13 apiece.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
I don't find the biblical tale of Noah and the ark particularly inspiring. There are just too many things that don't make sense, including forgetting to get the unicorns on board. Notably, it shows a petulant deity, effectively reversing Creation. No matter, my thoughts turned to Noah last night when I learned that, for the fifth time since we moved into the Palazzo di Gotthelf 11 years ago, water from the apartment above was leaking into our happy home. This, of course, while we are only beginning to plan for repair of the water damage to our wood floors caused by the faulty installation of our new refrigerator. Of course, Noah was spared from the Flood, which was not our luck. On the other hand, aside from his family and a bunch of animals, he lost everything else. We didn't face such thorough destruction. Internet, cable TV and Netflix remain undisturbed.
Friday, October 3, 2014
We fast tonight and tomorrow, hoping to make a clear delineation between the past and the future. In the past, our Rabbi Marc Margolius has wisely asked us not to undertake extreme makeovers, but to aim for a 5% improvement in our conduct. It might seem trivial, too little to bother with. But, the basis of great fortunes has often been compound interest.