Friday, April 24, 2015

Competitive Instinct

Monday, April 20, 2015
I found the Boston Marathon more difficult today than the New York Marathon or the London Marathon in the past. The temperature was 43 degrees. The wind was blowing and it rained throughout. The roads were slippery in places, and squishy shoes have always tormented me. In the 45 minutes that I stood at the 10-mile mark in downtown Natick, I was quite uncomfortable.  Fortunately, Bakery on the Common, at 9 South Main Street, was only ½ block away, and, in spite of large crowds seeking its shelter and nourishment, we were able to find room for three generations to get warm and refuel. 

This marked the end to a satisfying weekend, which began with dinner Friday night at the well-traveled Bergs, whom we met on our trip to Bulgaria and Macedonia, almost two years ago. Their special guest was Professor Xu Xin, director of the Institute for Jewish and Israel Studies at Nanjing University. This topsy-turvy enterprise was founded in 1992 by Xu Xin; it now is one of nine institutes in China devoted to Jewish studies as an academic discipline. The institute has produced Ph.D.s, published and translated many significant works, sent scholars to Israel, organized conferences in Judaic studies, and built the largest Judaica library in China. Quite amazing. I thought the Sino-Semitic interchange was entirely in one direction, from kitchen to table.

Xu Xin proved remarkably erudite, engaging and energetic in spite of a regimen of international traveling, speaking, teaching, fundraising and overcoming the skepticism of American and Israeli Jews about the scope of his endeavors. It all started when Xu Xin was a graduate student in China, 40 years ago, studying American literature. This led inevitably to Bellow, Malamud, Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer and others, all with the same affliction. He then probed deeper into Jewish history and culture, and Israeli affairs.

The evening, of course, flew by, and the eats weren’t bad either. Note that I was unable to get past the Chinese version of the institute’s web site –

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Stony Brook Steve and Dan K. joined me for lunch today and I took them to Canton Lounge, 70 Mott Street. This was formerly the site of Mottzar Kitchen, which I found to have the best Peking duck in Chinatown, coincidentally at the lowest price (October 24, 2014, June 24, 2014, May 7, 2014, February 18, 2014, August 7, 2013, April 18, 2012). Mottzar closed suddenly, and after a brief renovation reopened as Canton Lounge. I described my meal there, on February 3, 2015, as "mildly pleasant." Then, again suddenly, the restaurant closed for almost two months while extensive renovations were conducted. The name is the same, but there have been physical changes to the interior, notably the step-up area opposite the preparation area has been leveled. Probably too many personal injury lawyers hovered around as people tripped upon arriving or departing. The menu has changed, too; the new one offers more dishes. Lunch specials have gone from $6.50 to $5.75, a rare change in direction. There is no more mention of virgin chicken on the current menu, although it may be disguised as "house special chicken." A large section of this menu is unfortunately labeled "Beam Crud."

We shared a scallion pancake ($2.25), sesame cold noodle ($3.95), and passed around three lunch specials, beef with orange flavor, braised bean curd with mushrooms and chicken with garlic sauce. To be fair, Dan is a vegetarian, so he got a little less passed his way. In any case, the food was no better than average, with the scallion pancake decidedly bad. Canton Lounge offers Peking duck, whole or half at prices close to average, but I am unsure whether I’ll give them a chance to live up to their predecessor after this meal. The company, however, was excellent.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
The admirable Danny Macaroons ( has directed my attention to MilkMade Ice Cream ( MilkMade is a small, Manhattan-based company that reputedly makes very high quality, very expensive ice cream, personally delivered only in the New York metropolitan area. Apparently MilkMade is available by subscription only, two different pints a month at $15 a pint. The flavors change each month. Not all of the names are edifying; Cordially Yours turns out to be amarena cherry ice cream with chipped dark chocolate and a white chocolate ganache, Witches’ Brew is a blend of witch finger grape ice cream and fresh peanut butter (whatever witch finger grape is), and Krampus Kreme is chocolate ice cream with a hint of birch bark, for some opaque reason. On the other hand, there is no surprise that Cara Cara Creamsicle is orange ice on the outside, sweet cream on the inside, Maple Glazed Donut is maple-donut ice cream with chunks of glazed donuts, and Buttered Coffee is brown butter and coffee ice cream. As of now, you don’t get a choice, which may be a significant limitation in the Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave. 

But, duty calls and I am enrolling this week, if only for your sake, dear reader, although I have had a dialogue with my conscience about this. $15 for a pint of ice cream is a lot. Wo Hop can provide two heaping plates of chow fun for that amount. Ordinary people can usually buy three or four 56 oz. containers of good quality Breyer’s Ice Cream for $15. Odd Fellows East Village store will deliver one pint for $12, four pints for $40, but not above 59th Street in Manhattan. Häagen-Dazs (14 oz.) and Ben & Jerry’s (a full pint) sell for $4 to $5 around here. Republicans probably think that $15 in food stamps should last a family for a week. And, I am going to spend it on one pint of ice cream, mind you, hand-crafted locally from locally-sourced ingredients by people who like ice cream. We’ll see.

Time Out New York has started giving out free copies on Wednesdays. Today, I couldn’t resist the cover story, "New York’s 25 Best Pizzas."  I can’t say that I agree or disagree with many of the choices, because, on behalf of diversity, the magazine actually left the isle of Manhattan to explore alternatives in all five boroughs (counties). Of the alleged 25 best, 11 are found in Brooklyn, 9 in Manhattan, 2 in Staten Island, 2 in Queens, and 1 in the Bronx. While I would like to fold in these establishments with my lunchtime forays into Asian cuisine, only Rubirosa Ristorante, 235 Mulberry Street, is even a long walk (about 3/4 of a mile) away. I may have to retire in order to do justice to this subject.

Dan K. continued his jury duty and I had the pleasure of his company again at lunch. To make sure that the food would not disappoint, we went to the head of the class, Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street. Since he is a vegetarian, we ordered nothing that had ever moved under its own power. We had vegetarian egg rolls, vegetable chow fun and mushroom egg foo young. I must admit that it was a very good meal, even though missing my kind of food.

Friday, April 24, 2015
I received a potentially destructive e-mail this afternoon about my supposed "application for a grant from the government." While I was tempted to respond with vulgarity, I certainly was not going to choose one of the options provided for further inquiry. Even if this crap were not so patently phony, I can't imagine having any confidence in a web site labeled "zombiedivinity."

Last year, thanks to Generous Jeff G., I went to one game in each of the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a new experience for me. Tonight, I went to game 5 of the first round of the Rangers vs. the Penquins, which is really a good name for an ice hockey team, although lacking geographic specificity à la the Washington Capitals or the New York Islanders. Names aside, I proudly pulled on my white Rangers jersey on the way out of the courthouse to Madison Square Garden, with a stop at Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen, on West 38th Street, where Rob T. and I powered up for an exciting evening.

A note on costume – I own a blue and a white Rangers jersey, both fairly authentic, but without any player’s name on the back. These days, the Rangers generally wear their dark (blue) jersey at home and their white one on the road, as is the prevailing convention among teams. However, while I am not superstitious, I recall vividly that the Rangers wore their white jerseys at home in 1994, when they last won the Stanley Cup. While I would never consider body or face painting to aid their cause, wearing the historically-appropriate jersey to this game was the least that I could do. And it worked.  Rangers 2-1, advancing to the next round.  But, I am not superstitious.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

How Old Is That Pizza?

Monday, April 13, 2015
I took a little walk this lovely afternoon on Division Street, which begins at the Bowery and goes east, partially just to walk and partially to see if I could finally eat at Division 31 Restaurant, 31 Division Street. Since October 17, 2013, days after it opened, I’ve tried to eat lunch there. At first, they insisted that they only served hot pot, although a menu on display featured lunch specials. Then, service seemed to be limited to dinner only. Then, the doors were locked and tables and chairs seemed to come and go each time I peered in the window. Today, the metal screen was down, seeming to cut off Division 31 from the flow of commerce all together. I settled for Jing Star Restaurant, 27-29 Division Street (February 15, 2102, August 1, 2014), bustling with Chinese customers having dim sum. I had shrimp dumplings, shu mai, beef rice noodle and sticky rice for $10, including tax. 

The Times on-line reports today on its initial discovery of pizza (September 20, 1944), found at Luigino’s Pizzeria Alla Napoletana, 147 West 48th Street.

I ate at Luigino’s regularly when I worked at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, on West 44th Street, Saturdays throughout college. It felt very much like the old section of John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker Street, with high-backed wooden booths, and thinnish-crusted pizza. The problem with the Times article then and now is, I believe, that it was scooped long before by the Daily News (or was it the Daily Mirror?). I remember a clipping on Luigino’s wall of a story, the work of a good publicist, about this strange food, with a photograph of Rockettes from nearby Radio City Music Hall sampling slices. It’s been a long time, but I really believe that this story dated from the 1930s. A search of my brother’s memory, Arthur Dobrin’s memory (they both worked at the Bar Association at some time), and the Internet only yielded the image below. Arthur confirms the newspaper article on the wall, but has no recollection of a photograph in it. My brother simply relishes the memory of good lunches. The E-Bay seller claimed that this menu was from the 1930s, but offered no support for this.
According to a posting on, Luigino Milone, residing at 147 West 48th Street, registered for the draft in WWII. The location was leveled for construction of the Mc-Graw Hill Building in 1969.  Please understand that I don’t profess Luigino’s to be the first pizzeria in New York, or even as "the oldest established pizza house in the city," as Craig Claiborne speculated in the Times, on November 4, 1966. Lombardi’s at 53 ½ Spring Street, a successor now at 32 Spring Street, claims to have been the first in the USA, starting in 1905. John’s of Bleecker Street, 278 Bleecker Street, my favorite, started in 1929, but on Sullivan Street. Whether or not the Times got to Luigino’s first, it was scooped on pizza by the New York Tribune four decades earlier.

My own earliest memories of pizza was the forbidding bar and grill on the corner of Crescent Street and Belmont Avenue, East New York, Brooklyn, two blocks from the real life setting for the opening chapter of Wiseguy, the non-fiction book by Nicholas Pileggi that was the basis for Scorsese’s great movie Goodfellas. I don’t know if the joint had a name, but a red neon sign announced Pizzeria, a word that rhymed with fizz area to me until high school. Needless to say, a nice Jewish boy never entered those premises.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
If you are still hungry, read Pete Wells, the Times’ food critic, on the classic bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a roll.’t-mess-with-my-breakfast-sandwich.html?ref=dining&_r=0.

I have curbed my addiction to these by having a big bowl of fruit and cereal before leaving for work, so that I’m not ready to refuel until lunchtime, when the breakfast grill has been shut down and Chinatown beckons, of course. Eliminating the bacon and even the cheese still leaves you with a great sandwich as long as you keep the roll. I remember stopping at a diner somewhere in the Midwest for breakfast about 50 years ago, in a period of wandering akin to our people in the desert. I asked for two eggs on a roll, freezing the waitress in her tracks. She repeated my order, and paraphrased it in a fashion that I don’t recall. Before my food was delivered, I learned that a roll outside New York is a "sweet roll," properly a Danish. She was puzzled about getting even one egg on a prune Danish. What I wanted would be known out there as a hard roll or a Kaiser roll. Live and learn.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
An interesting article just popped up on on the growth of Chinatown(s) in New York City, with a graphic illustration of the increasing Chinese presence. It will probably appear in print tomorrow. "Chinese immigrants now the second largest foreign-born group in the city and soon to overtake Dominicans for the top spot."

I’ve been to Flushing’s Chinatown a couple of times, but never to the vastly expanding section of southwestern Brooklyn that some consider to house two Chinatowns. Obviously, both areas are out of reach of my lunchtime excursions, and I must confess that the Upper West Side Power Couple usually chooses Indian, Greek or Italian restaurants for dinners out.

Visiting the wonderful world of Lendy Electric Equipment & Supply Corp. at 176-184 Grand Street to buy screws, I went into Paris Sandwich Shop, 213 Grand Street (December 8, 2010), for lunch. I ordered a Vietnamese meatball sandwich ($5) and was glad that I did. Of course, I know better than to ask just what meat goes into the meatballs, but the finished product is excellent. The big sandwich, on a warm, crispy baguette, included shredded marinated carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, that slightly sweet sauce that probably kept Ho Chi Minh alive an additional 4 years, and hot peppers (optional). I noticed that a section at the rear served about 8 ice cream flavors from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, but I deferred.

Thursday, April 16, 2015
I skipped the home opening day of the Mets baseball season on Monday, but I went to the grand opening today of Genuine Superette, 191 Grand Street, at the corner of Mulberry Street. No explanation is given for the name; the site was previously a souvenir shop. One thing that attracted me to this prime Little Italy location was this further intrusion on Italian life and cuisine by outside forces; Baz, a bagel joint on Grand Street, around the corner from Mulberry Street, and Beijing Pop Kabob, directly on Mulberry Street, replacing a classic Italian restaurant. This new joint is informal, with a bright interior resulting from large windows on two sides facing the street, white- painted walls and white-painted exposed brick. Seating is mostly on stools at slightly elevated tables. All the woodwork is blonde, also lending a light feel. 

You order at a counter near the entrance, and your food is delivered to you, as identified by one of those foot-high numbered markers. Genuine Superette claims to use "antiobotic/hormone free and humanely raised" meat and a frying method that results in precisely 47.8% fewer calories. I inconclusively tested this by ordering a buttermilk battered chicken sandwich with apple/celeriac slaw and sambal mayo (trimmings that I can’t explain in words of my own) ($10.56) and "crisp and golden classic" fries ($2.53) without adding turkey chili cheese for an extra $2.76. The food was good. I wish the sandwich, on a hamburger bun, were bigger, which would probably warrant a higher price. The only discordant note was $3.25 for a can of Diet Coke. Bring a canteen. They also serves Odd Fellows ice cream, a highly-reputed Brooklyn-based outfit previously unknown to me. Since Moderation is my middle name, I had to pass on this as well, at least for a couple of days.

Friday, April 17, 20105
Jaya Asian Cuisine 888, 90 Baxter Street, was once the site of Jaya Malaysian Restaurant.  After many months out of commission, they just opened (or is it reopened) their doors.  The menu is predominantly Malaysian, but also includes familiar Chinese dishes, such as wonton soup, chow fun and General Tso's chicken.  However, I inevitably order roti canai ($3.75) in a Malaysian restaurant, and often have nasi lemak ($7.75), considered the Malaysian national dish, as well.  Both were very good here, a bit spicier than some joints venture.  The pancake/crêpe with the roti canai was a bit too flaky, making it hard to zzup up all the accompanying curry sauce.  The nasi lemak was quite traditional, rice, cucumber slivers, peanuts, fried anchovies, hard boiled egg, sambal (hot chili sauce) and a couple of pieces each of potato and chicken in curry sauce (the same as the roti canai). 

The new restaurant was busy, more than half of the 19 tables were kept occupied.  A stout, two-foot high golden Buddha looked over us.   The interior has wooden walls and wooden ceiling, evoking a traditional dwelling, not that I know what a traditional Malaysian dwelling looks like.  Four back-lit photographs of fruit and coconuts hung in one nook at the back of the restaurant, and a long photo mural of interesting street scenes in Kuala Lumpur was on another wall. 

25 lunch specials are offered at $6.95, including soup of the day.  Many are the same as found in regular Chinese restaurants, but "Sassy Shrimp" and "Ladies Fingers Malaysian Style" make you pause.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Keeping Count

Monday, April 6, 2015
Almost exactly one year ago, a unit of Bain Capital purchased Manischewitz Corporation, the country’s largest producer of Kosher foods. Bain, as you recall, was the business home of Mitt Romney. As much as I would delight in seeing a picture of Romney eating gefilte fish, he left Bain about a dozen years earlier. 

With baseball season opening over the weekend, the New York Times published a very interesting look at baseball records. As even the most casual fan is aware, baseball is obsessed with statistics and records, far more than any other sport. This may result from its long history, beginning organized play much earlier than any other professional sport, and from the long season, currently 162 games, producing such a volume of statistics.

The Times study deals with the duration of records, the likely tenacity of current records of achievement. While Babe Ruth’s home run records have been surpassed by lesser lights, other records now seem untouchable. You may not care about baseball, but I think that it is intriguing to contemplate that the highest annual batting average was recorded in 1901 and has never been approached since. No one has even come closer than 25 points since 1941. It was also 1941 when Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 straight games; second best is 44 games in 1978. Rickey Henderson’s 1982 stolen base record seems untouchable. Henderson stole 130 bases that year, which is more than the combined total of 28 major league teams in 2014.

You may have to be a bit geekish to appreciate the numbers, but they do reflect on baseball’s strange relationship to human development. Americans are generally healthier, better fed, better medicated than ever before. In probably every other sport, records regularly fall as athletes grow bigger and faster, training year round, paying serious (and sometimes illegal) attention to conditioning. Yet, even as modern baseball players no longer spend half the year selling cars or insurance, or tending bar, many critical performance levels recede from their grasp. How about that?

Speaking of gefilte fish, I know that many of you have been waiting to hear about Aunt Judi’s seder meals, held Friday and Saturday, always a high spot on the Hebrew and culinary calendar. This year, over two dozen people each night enjoyed the imagination and care that she invested in the two dinners. Interestingly enough, each year these seders begin on, what I consider, a low note. The traditional Goldenberg/Gotthelf hard boiled egg, the first real food of the evening after the symbolic ingestion of matzohs and bitter herbs, has been replaced by the Poloner egg soup, a dish of tepid salt water with pieces of chopped egg. Definitely a non-starter.

Fortunately, we got down to business each night, as in year’s past, with fried gefilte fish, a brilliant update of a classic dish. Previously, I attributed this great accomplishment to Aunt Judi herself, but, as with the seven layer cake at the end of the meal, it is store bought, the only food items not created in her kitchen. Yet, to me, it will always have Aunt Judi written all over it.

On Friday night, the meal continued with brisket in a savory gravy, herbed chicken (the exact herbs a secret), kishka (not the traditional stuffed intestine, but a more benign version), mushroom kugel, roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts, health salad (a suspicious concoction). The homemade desserts were apple strawberry crisp, chocolate chip mandelbread (my personal favorite), and chocolate fudge sandwich cookies.

Saturday night also led off with the fried gefilte fish, as I ignored the egg soup again, followed by corned beef, Aunt Judi’s Famous Meatballs, barbecue saucy chicken, spaghetti squash pudding, cous cous, vegetable salad w/lemon olive oil dressing, cole slaw, and cranberry pineapple relish. The homemade desserts were chocolate chip mandelbread (every appearance a blessing for me), zebra cookies, nut balls, date nut balls, and egg white nut cookies (far more delicious than the name conveys, featuring slivered almonds).

While Aunt Judi mastered the kitchen, as always, Uncle Stu did a formidable job in the wine cellar, offering an array of wines, red and white, that were far removed from the liquid grape jelly conventionally found on the seder table. What exquisite folks to have as in-laws!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
A Passover seder traditionally begins with the younger attendees asking the four questions. The answers to these questions become the script for the evening. I suggest that a fifth question be added, the young ones inquiring "Why will my college tuition be so much more than Mommy’s and Daddy’s and hugely increased from Bubbe’s and Zayde’s?" While US college populations have steadily increased for decades requiring more (and presumably better) facilities, the primary cost factor appears to be a disproportionate growth in employment. Not more professors, associate professors, assistant professors and lecturers per cubic student. More administrators, many more administrators, not just a few administrators. 

According to Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions. The California State University system, distinct from University of California, currently has 23 campuses. From 1975 to 2008, its full-time faculty grew from 11,614 to 12,019, while the total number of administrators went from 3,800 to 12,183. Note that part-timers and adjuncts fill many faculty positions, and it is likely that they were hired in abundance, another scandal in itself. Public sector employees are often reminded that their better-than-average benefits make up, to some degree, for lower earnings, but some leaders of public institutions are not hurting. A study by The Chronicle of Higher Education, released last year, reported the following top five:

E. Gordon Gee, President, Ohio State University (left June 2013): $6.058 million
R. Bowen Loftin, President, Texas A&M University (left January 2014): $1.636 million
Hamid A. Shirvani, Chancellor, North Dakota University system (left January 2014): $1.311 million
Rhenu Khator, Chancellor and President, University of Houston main campus: $1.266 million
Sally K. Mason, President, University of Iowa: $1.140 million
Of course, these salaries, in many cases, are dwarfed by those of certain faculty members – football coaches (as of November 2014). 

Nick Saban, University of Alabama, $7,160,187
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State University, $5,636,145
Bob Stoops, University of Oklahoma, $5,058,333
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M University, $5,006,000
Charlie Strong, University of Texas, $5,000,270
In summary, lay down your pick and shovel and head for the lofty groves of academe, with or without your whistle.

Thursday, April 9, 2015
Except for Aunt Judi's seder meals, the Passover period is a culinary desert, fitting accompaniment to our journey into Sinai as celebrated by the holiday.  I was, therefore, heartened by the headline "The Ice Cream Sandwich Comes of Age," found on-line.

It seemed to offer me new horizons for my return to eating sandwiches, next week.  However, upon examination, some of the supposed "treats" might only be an aid to dieting.  The article speaks of  "regal ube (purple yam) ice cream" at one emporium and "a roster of flavors includes novelties like edamame and foie gras" at another.  O, Ben!  O, Jerry!  Where art thou?

Friday, April 10, 2015
Today’s newspaper carries at least a couple of stories that illustrate why the term "people of faith" may be replaced by "people of fear." 
1. Christian conservatives mobilized to repeal a local statute barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
2. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are refusing to sit next to unrelated women on airplane flights.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Dare To Take A Step

Monday, March 30, 2015
Regard what Ellen Willis, a radical feminist, wrote in 2003:  
“I count myself an anti-anti-Zionist.  This is partly because the logic of anti-Zionism in the present political context entails an unprecedented demand for an existing state—one, moreover, with popular legitimacy and a democratically elected government—not simply to change its policies but to disappear.  It’s partly because I can’t figure out what large numbers of displaced Jews could have or should have done after 1945, other than parlay their relationship with Palestine and the (ambivalent) support of the West for a Jewish homeland into a place to be.  (Go ‘home’ to Germany or Poland?  Knock, en masse, on the doors of unreceptive European countries and a reluctant United States?)  And finally it’s because I believe that anti-Jewish genocide cannot be laid to rest as a discrete historical episode, but remains a possibility implicit in the deep structure of Christian and Islamic cultures, East and West.”

Akimoto Sushi, 187 Church Street, replaced A.A. Yawa Sushi (May 13, 2011) a few months ago.  The menu remains essentially the same, because small Japanese restaurants in New York, like Tolstoi’s happy families, are alike.  The small interior, though, has been redecorated.  The southern and back wall are a natural appearing wood, but more interesting is the entire northern wall made of fitted small stones.  They are real; I tapped them.  But they may have been rolled out on a sheet.  In any case, it was a different look.
I ordered the lunch special of three rolls, with choice of soup or salad, $11.25, only 25¢ more than its predecessor.  I had spicy crunchy tuna roll, yellowtail scallion roll and eel avocado roll.  Each was cut into 6 pieces, one inch or so long.  All tasted very fresh.  The miso soup (I wasn’t going to choose the inevitable few pieces of iceberg lettuce) was hot, but the green tea was lukewarm.  While only about 8 people sat in the 24 chairs available, there was a steady flow of takeout customers and deliveries.  Still service was friendly and efficient.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
“The Supreme Court rejected a free-speech appeal Monday from several California high school students who were told they could not wear a shirt emblazoned with an American flag on the Cinco de Mayo holiday.”  The ban grew from a fear of ethnic conflict in the school that has seen fights between white and Mexican-American students.  This could easily extend to wearing a Mexican flag T-shirt on the July 4th, a Union Jack shirt on St. Patrick’s Day, or an Israeli shirt on Ramadan, although, it is particularly ironic that the red flag, as it were, is the Stars and Stripes.  Maybe it’s not surprising that our Supreme Court (in)justices cannot extend the freedom of speech that they have provided to checkbooks to adolescents.  It’s not the first time that mere human beings, although not necessarily grown to their full height and weight, have been thus disprivileged.  See Morse v. Frederick, 551 US 393 (2007) where the suspension of a high school student who displayed a banner saying “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” at “a school-sanctioned and school-supervised [off-campus] event” was upheld.  

Grazin’ * Farm to Table - Direct *, 56 Reade Street, open only two weeks, replaced a sandwich shop/salad bar that I used to go to when I worked further west.  What set it apart was big platters of well prepared fried and barbecued chicken at salad bar prices, around $5.99 a pound.  Three or four pieces and a diet root beer (they had a first-rate canned soda collection) always satisfied. 
Grazin’ in no way resembles its predecessor.  After a gut renovation, the place has a rustic/industrial look.  The walls are either painted dark gray or are covered in exposed brick.  Photographs of farm land and animals are placed above eye level.  The 20 or so 2 top tables are natural wood with a dark stain.  Bench seating along the outer walls are natural wood with a medium stain.  The industrial lighting fixtures, kept dim, go with the open duct work under the ceiling.  

The menu proclaims “Animal Welfare Approved” and bears a sticker to that effect.  Of course, with a menu focused on hamburgers, I imagine that the concern for animal welfare ended somewhere outside the kitchen.  Hamburgers come with a piece of lettuce, sweet pickle slices and onion.  The cheapest is four ounces for $10.  The basic 6 ouncer is $16 and with decorations goes up to $21.  A lamb burger is $24.  I had the Stines (the name unexplained), with carmelized onions and chevre ($18), french fries ($5) and unsweetened iced tea ($3).  It wasn’t a cheap meal.  The meat and fries seemed of high quality, but were burdened with too much salt (and I usually like salt).  The goat cheese was whipped, which made handling the hamburger a messy affair.  I can commend them for refilling the small glass of iced tea at no charge.

For those of you keeping score, Grazin’ does not add to my restaurant count.  While well located, it has no perceptible Asian elements, but I thought it worth reporting.  
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Jennifer 8. Lee (yes), author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, has now produced a documentary film "The Search for General Tso."  There is a free preview tonight at the Tenement Museum, but we are meeting the Glotzer delegation, visiting from Delray Beach, Florida, for dinner.  I’ll have to seek out the film another time.

Speaking of films, the other day I was able to see part of a documentary on “The Secret Jews of Calabria,” the work of Barbara Aiello, the only woman rabbi in Italy.
It seems that some of the Calabrian Jews who converted during the Inquisition, under threat of death, continued Jewish practices as a matter of observance or habit for centuries thereafter.  Try to see the film, which may be ordered at the web site above.  Similarly, look for a copy of “The Last Marranos,” a film about the community of forced converts who clandestinely maintained Jewish belief and practice for centuries in their native village of Belmonte in Portugal. 
Friday, April 3, 2015
For the last 15 years, our Republican Party has been guided by the principle that Nothing Succeeds Like Failure.  Now, that African interloper has done what his predecessors failed to do -- reach an accord on nuclear weapons with Iran.  It's Obamacare and Bin Laden all over again.  We cannot allow him to be forgiven for this.
Shh!  Pass it on.  We leave Egypt tonight.