Monday, December 7, 2015
Open Table is a convenient web site, allowing you to make restaurant reservations filtered by cuisine, location and time. It also has its own reviewing system and it just released the top 100 American restaurants, according to its participants.
Given the geographic breadth of the list (Charleston, South Carolina to Paia, Hawaii), it’s no surprise that I missed the top 10 entirely. As I have noted before, best restaurant lists these days are dominated by joints offering fixed meals, usually in the low three figure price range. Seven of Open Table’s top ten operate that way, whether offering sushi, Italian or French food, or an American "multi-taste Grazing, Rooting, Pecking menu." Mother Ruth Gotthelf had it right all along. One night it was her divine salmon croquettes with spaghetti; another night lamb chops with mashed potatoes; Friday night chicken. You also did not tip when getting your coat back.
When the top 100 list is examined, we find that 22 states are unrepresented; maybe that might be expected for Alaska, but how about Iowa where all those Republicans have been spending so much time before the caucus scheduled for February 1, 2016. You would think that Mike Huckabee or Ben Carson, after a weary day on the campaign trail, deserves to sit down to a hearty plate of Sea Scallops Ceviche with Persian Cucumber, Radishes, Sea Lettuce, Finger Lime, White Sturgeon Caviar, or Sweet potato and yam gnocchi, bacon, maple, pecan, pomegranate, and brown butter, or even Malted wheat malloreddus with cotechino, as found at some of the top joints.
My diversity initiative has stalled. My calls have gone unanswered by the Patels, the Caseys, the Ramirezes, the Leungs, the Gardinos and the Holmqvists. Therefore, we went with the Schneiders to see Fiddler on the Roof on Saturday night. It was a very good production; Danny Burstein does a fine job as Tevye, on stage much of the time, and the focus of the story. In any case, it's almost impossible to knock Fiddler on the Roof, and I too could barely resist singing along to the familiar tunes. How ethnocentric of me.
In case you did not attend Stuyvesant High School, here is a list of the 99 next best public high schools in the United States:
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
113 over 78. I was surprised that my blood pressure was so low given the state of the world. But, hours spent with the estimable Michael Perskin, M.D., showed that my physical condition, at least, was quite healthy and the ravages of time have not begun to seriously ravage. As a reward, I mostly ate ice cream and potato chips for the rest of the day.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Michelle K., a lovely and talented co-worker gave me a holiday gift today, the famous Collin Street Bakery of Corsicana, Texas "Original Deluxe Fruitcake." This outfit sells about 1.5 million fruitcakes a year, mostly by mail order. The business, founded in 1896, is so successful that its former corporate accountant was sentenced to 10 years in prison three months ago for embezzling $16.7 million dollars.
In addition to her general kindness, Michelle gave me the fruitcake because I recognized and enjoyed it last year at an office holiday party, when apparently no one else did. I admit this in spite of the insistence by Calvin Trillin, the greatest philosopher of our time, that there is only one fruitcake, which is shipped from person to person each Christmas so no one has to eat it. He espoused this view at least as far back as 1981. Cf. https://books.google.com/books?id=3iwEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA138&lpg=PA138&dq=fruitcake+and+calvin+trillin&source=bl&ots=RAFkZvRIam&sig=dcYUV58glPGhk5ee1g2oGHBTHUI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjkmuyNms_JAhXDbD4KHYutACoQ6AEISTAH#v=onepage&q=fruitcake%20and%20calvin%20trillin&f=false
You might be interested in where Katherine Hepburn got her chocolates. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/nyregion/mondel-chocolates-shop-in-manhattan.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-3&action=click&contentCollection=N.Y.%20%2F%20Region®ion=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article
She and I lived only three blocks apart for many years, but I was surprised to learn where she went for chocolates because it was far removed from our neighborhood, Second Avenue and East 49th Street-Turtle Bay vs. West 114th Street and Broadway-Columbia University. New York City, in spite of the size of its population and geographic scope, has really been a collection of neighborhoods, although that may be changing with the onslaught of development (gentrification). I certainly don’t automatically oppose the leveling of nasty old buildings and construction on junk-filled lots, but I am concerned about the disappearance of low-rise, reasonable-rent housing and the small businesses that serviced the residents, rich and poor.
I think that we can be spared the opening of one more macaron café when it becomes very difficult to find a freshly-baked rye bread. And, the very-occasional residents of the luxury housing that has recently sprouted in Manhattan are not the type to go strolling to the corner candy store to pick up their newspaper, or to take their clothes to the dry cleaners. At least, the old rich criminals who populated the better addresses seemed to be part of their neighborhoods, while the new rich criminals (many foreign-born, but not the object of D.T.’s scorn) connect only to a patch of sidewalk between building lobby and curb, where their limousine awaits.
I have to tell you about 11 Fifth Avenue, where my dear friend Andy lived with his father in the late 1960s. It is a lovely building in a fabulous location, between 8th and 9th Streets, in the toniest part of Greenwich Village. At the time, I was living at home, teaching secondary school. Many evenings and weekends, I would drive into Manhattan (believe it or not) to hang out with Andy, and to get away from home and secondary school. Because of the frequent time spent in and around 11 Fifth Avenue, I observed the following ritual: At 9 P.M., Carmine DeSapio, deposed leader of Tammany Hall, the New York County Democratic Party machine, the most powerful politician in New York State at his peak, resident of 11 Fifth Avenue, dressed elegantly in a gray herringbone topcoat with a black velvet collar in cooler weather, came walking out the front door, turned left on 8th Street, and went to the candy store about three doors down, to buy the early edition of the New York Daily News, which had the highest circulation of any American newspaper at the time.
Andy got married and moved out before DeSapio went to federal prison in 1971, there is no longer a candy store or newspaper stand anywhere nearby, and the current owner is trying to sell the Daily News, now the fifth largest US newspaper.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Newspaper clipping: "In an appearance on Capitol Hill, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said Wednesday that the [San Bernardino] couple, who met online, had been talking of an attack as far back as two years ago. They were ‘talking to each other about jihad and martyrdom before they became engaged and married and were living in the U.S.,’ Mr. Comey said."
Imagined dialogue: "Honey, I was reading Martha Stewart’s Weddings magazine and she says, in America, family and friends give gifts to couples when they get engaged and when they marry. In fact, to make it easier, many couples tell certain merchants what they would like to get to start their life together. They call it registering. You put yourself in a Bridal Registry."
"Dear, that sounds very nice and convenient. What do you think that we should ask for?"
"Well, sweetheart, I think I would like a Cuisinart, bathroom towels in a dusty rose color, and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher."
Friday, December 11, 2015
"Vatican Says Catholics Should Not Try to Convert Jews"
There goes my dream of being an altar boy.