Friday, July 24, 2015

Post-Modern Ice Cream

Monday, July 20, 2015
The theological insight of the week emerged from Donald Trump’s appearance before a Christian conservative conference on Saturday. Becky Kruse, of Lovilia, Iowa, noted Mr. Trump’s comment about not seeking God’s forgiveness. "He sounds like he isn’t really a born-again Christian."

I’m back to Heaven on Earth, Chinatown and my pursuit of superior sesame noodles. It is 93 degrees, so, fortunately, the first place I went into, the very close by Tasty Dumpling, 42 Mulberry Street, had them for $3.50. Tasty is a reliable source of good, inexpensive food in a totally characterless setting. The plates are paper and the forks are plastic. Much of its business is takeout which allows the 4 four tops to accommodate those of us who are either preoccupied or insensitive to our surroundings.

The large portion of noodles had ample sauce, many slivers of cucumber on top, but no sesame seeds. It rates a B, not memorable, not offensive.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
The Palazzo di Gotthelf is normally occupied by only two people, quite a contrast to last week’s time spent under the roof with 7 others, not all of legal drinking age. I keep looking around to make sure that a toy or a small child is not underfoot as I move about. There is a noticeable difference in background noise, as well. Last week, it was the sounds of nature, primarily the wind and winged creatures, interrupted by shouts of "it’s mine," and "no" from the youngest generation. This week, I listen to the traffic noise, the sirens on emergency vehicles, and the Hound of the Baskervilles who has been ensconced in a nearby apartment. I am not prepared to declare a favorite.

Trip Advisor has declared favorites including the supposed 25 best zoos in the world.
I don’t consider myself particularly chauvinistic, although my own list of favorite anythings has a distinctly New York tilt. The reason is my familiarity with local sights, sounds, flora and fauna, and my investment in distinguishing among them. In any case, I was surprised that the Bronx Zoo did not make the top 25 list of zoos. I’m not familiar with any of the selected group, but I think I know why the Bronx Zoo was overlooked, when the Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska, the Colchester Zoo, Colchester, England, and the Taronga Zoo, Mosman, Australia made the list. With all due respect to the civic leaders of Omaha, Colchester and Mosman, the Bronx Zoo has some formidable competition for tourist time and money that might overshadow its efforts at animal husbandry. The out-of-towner, who is likely the source of and audience for Trip Advisor ratings, may never get to the Bronx Zoo after delving into some of the other pleasures of a visit to New York City. A trip to the Bronx probably targeted Yankee Stadium at most. So, it is left for us 8 million New Yorkers alone to enjoy the gorilla forest, the giraffe house, the pheasant aviary, the bison range and the monkey house and, as we do in so many other regards, keep our opinions to ourselves.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
The New York Times takes an early look at the bagel:

In an interview posted on-line, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. railed against the "post-modern" concept of liberty allegedly adopted by the majority in the same-sex marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges. "It’s the freedom to define your understanding of the meaning of life." However, the freedom to define your understanding of the meaning of life is precisely what Alito touts in writing for the majority in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which permits corporations to limit insurance coverage to employees based on the religious beliefs of the owners who "assert that funding the specific contraceptive methods at issue violates their religious beliefs . . . [a]nd protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies." In sum, Samuel "God-forbid-you-call-me-post-modernist" Alito finds that the meaning of life as understood by the owners of Hobby Lobby is Good Old Fashioned Liberty while those rainbow-bedecked creatures are trying to assert Post-Modern Liberty.

I thought that I would wait a while until I had more cold sesame noodles and then I didn't. Old Sichuan Cuisine, 65 Bayard Street, is a small dreary place, with any interior that appears to have been no more than half finished, and the completed half ill conceived and ill executed. That didn't stop the "cold sesame glass noodles" ($4.95) from rating an A.

The portion was large, with sesame seeds, cucumber slivers and little chive ringlets on top. There was a generous amount of sauce, which, if a little stickier, would have earned the dish an A+.

Thursday, July 23, 2015
10 Below Ice Cream, 10 Mott Street, is still in its first week of operation, but three column inches in the food section of Wednesday’s New York Times has called attention to it. It is "a shop that uses a Thai method. Cream or custard is poured over into a chilled metal container and worked with trowels until it freezes to a creamy consistency. . . . Fruit and other ingredients can be folded in. It’s then scooped, in rolls, into a cup with optional toppings." You have to see it to understand. 

In any case, I was there with about a dozen Chinese-American teenagers who were so giddy that I can only imagine that they had just received their Ivy League acceptances. I ordered S’mores Galore, too safe and dull a choice. The base ice cream is vaguely vanilla for all concoctions, the add-ons providing taste and identity. A generous cup is $6, tax included. The small space, actually down 6 steps, is newly-painted battleship gray. There are two ledges, two small, high round tables and about 10 stools to park yourself. Right now, it serves nothing but ice cream. If I return, it will be to try the peanut butter and fig jam combo.  Sounds very post-modern to me.

Friday, July 24, 2015
Kiki’s Greek Tavern, 130 Division Street, got even more space in Wednesday’s New York Times. The favorable review noted that it is somewhat of an anomaly, a Greek restaurant planted in the expanded turf of Chinatown. Indeed, the name on the awning is "written in Chinese characters, with no English translation," an equal challenge for a visitor from Athens or the Upper West Side.

Stony Brook Steve, having seen the same article, ventured downtown to join me for lunch.  The place successfully aims to be funky, with an interior resembling an old warehouse.  It uses a lot of wood, barely finished.  There are two rooms, the front room off the street has 10 tables for 2 or 4 people, and a side room, set at a right angle, has 6 high tables for 2 or 4 (tightly squeezed) and a long, high counter for 8, all with high wooden stools.  We estimated that any two patrons might not exceed the age of either one of us.

Service was very friendly and the very typical Greek-American menu was moderately priced.  We shared a plate of taramosalata ($6), creamy fish roe, and a portion of grilled loukaniko ($10), sausage with barely discernible orange peel.  Instead of pita, they served a (whatever the Greek word for) Tuscan bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted over an open fire. 

Steve ordered a Greek salad (horiatiki $10) for his main course, while I, having to lift the scales of justice this afternoon, had moussaka ($11).  It was very good, even though it came without the side of heartburn that I was used to.  In fact, all the food was very good and made Kiki's worth visiting and reporting.  However, in spite of its location and the writing over the front door, it does not make in onto the list of Chinese restaurants.  

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