Monday, July 4, 2016
Stony Brook Steve and I ventured forth and had lunch at El Mitote, 208 Columbus Avenue, a small Mexican café, my second visit. With the temperature in the high 80s, we passed right by the handful of outside tables, and sat in the almost comfortable inside. I ordered the Barbacoa (origin of the word barbecue) braised lamb tacos, shredded, spicy lamb generously piled on three small, soft tortillas. I partially rolled each one up and somehow covered only my hands with the shower of sauce that emerged with each bite. A fine, messy dish.
If you think that merely singing "Happy Birthday" over the telephone to your three-year old granddaughter is adequate, you are sorely remiss in following the "Grandparents' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities." Accordingly, the Upper West Side's Power Couple drove to Massachusetts on Saturday in order to participate in Sunday's Exciting Birthday Celebration, featuring a pink-frosted, otherwise all-chocolate, layer cake made with TLC by the only Harvard-educated member of our family.
Saturday night, our total group of nine went to Chinese Mirch, 140 Worcester Road Framingham, MA, for dinner. Mirch is a chili pepper used in Indian cooking and the restaurant's name signifies the combination of cuisines. Another branch had operated in Manhattan's Curry Hill, but is now closed. I could not keep track of everything that appeared on our table, but I fondly recall what I consumed, namely Vegetable Ball Manchurian (minced carrot, corn and green bean fritters), Cumin Lamb (stir-fried with Xiao-Shing wine and dried chili flakes), Lettuce Wrap (with crisp corn), Hyderabadi Chili Chicken (with Chef's Indian Spice Mix) and Shag Paneer (cheese cubes sauteed in spinach). The women and children, with the notable exception of my young bride, sought refuge in the figurative lifeboats of bland, unspiced food, unrepresentative of the kitchen's prowess. Fortunately, the hearty young man seated opposite also enjoyed the hot and spicy cuisine as much as I did.
New York has a kind of business called an appetizing store. I doubt if the term is used anywhere else, with the possible exception of colonies of displaced Jews in Southern Florida. It is not the opposite of an unappetizing store. Rather, it is a grocery store specializing in Jew food -- lox, whitefish, pickled herring, bagels, and such. While there used to be one in every Jewish neighborhood, now there are a few eminent establishments remaining that draw from far and near, notably Zabar's and Russ & Daughters. Thanks no doubt to an aggressive PR person, the New York Times has an article this weekend on Sable's, a successful appetizing store on the Upper East Side.
What caught my eye was this sentence: "In 2005, Sable’s provided the caviar for the wedding of Michael R. Bloomberg’s older daughter." Just think, the Bloombergs, inevitably lured by their genetic ties to millennia of Hebraic civilization, rushed to Sable's to evoke the flavors of the shetl for their simcha. Next, we will find out that Bernie Sanders bought a jar of mustard at the Second Avenue Delicatessen.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
While we are celebrating New York, after a fashion, let's note another distinction. New York is not now considered the rudest city in America. http://www.travelandleisure.
It seems that we have been outclassed (??) by Miami and Phoenix. But, don't ask me. I can't think of any reason to visit either place.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
The Boyz Club had lunch at New Style Hand Pulled Noodles, 23 Pell Street, née Shanghai Gourmet, a longtime favorite. Branding aside, the interior appeared unchanged, but the menu effectively combined new and old. We tried several items that SG had done so well, specifically the soup buns (very good) and scallion pancakes (superb). We also shared String Bean with Szechuan Style, beef chow ho fun (wide noodles, presumably hand pulled), and spicy cumin lamb with spongy buns, and agreed that each dish was excellent, notable because this group rarely agrees on anything. Generous souls that we are, we rounded way up and paid a total of $16 per. Kudos to the New Style Hand Pullers for making such a successful transition.
Friday, July 8, 2016
Has our choice boiled down to killer cops or cop killers?
An added benefit of going to El Mitote is the immediate next door presence of Magnolia Bakery, 200 Columbus Avenue, originally of Greenwich Village, now with branches around the world. Once upon a time, Magnolia might be avoided because of its association with Sex and the City. However, a serious devotion to carbohydrates now requires patronage at Magnolia, which has retained its focus on cupcakes, layer cakes, dessert bars, pies and cookies (a/k/a the work of the Lord). No salads, soups or sandwiches drain the time or energy of the creative kitchen crew. In fact, the only vegetable found in Magnolia goes into the carrot cake. Delicious, too.