Friday, July 22, 2016

One Pence Does Not Buy Much

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Before we go down to Chinatown for lunch, let's take a look at popular culture.  Today's paper refers to "the running squabble between Ms. _____ and Mr. ____, a gripping but unfortunate beef that puts two of the leading pop stars of the day at loggerheads."  If I had not read the article, I would not have any idea how to fill in the blanks.  I don't know about you, but even when the names are revealed to me, I don't give a damn.  My exposure to their work has been fitful, probably a few minutes here and there on "Saturday Night Live."  That gave me no reason to further explore their work; I can only distinguish them by gender and race.  

Am I missing something?  At what point does being an old coot take over your critical faculties and lock you into a negative mindset about anything new or different?  Or, has experience given you an ability to fast forward through the riot of entertainment/cultural offerings available?  How much time and effort should we divert from enjoying Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis or Joan Baez to attend to the latest pop phenom?  And there's my petard, waiting to hoist me.  How did those greats emerge?  Do I have the responsibility to help uncover future greats?  Can I trust someone else to do it?

I went downtown to meet Ilana M., a former colleague from the court system, for lunch at aux Epices, 121 Baxter Street (April 16, 2013, August 22, 2014).  Behind the French name, aux Epices has a pan-Asian menu.  It's a small place with tables close together, close enough to encourage the two women next to us to ask us we recommend what to eat and where to shop nearby.

I ordered three "small plates," crispy anise duck rolls (3 four-inch cylinders, $6), Hijiki fish dumplings (5 boiled dumplings, $6), and a crab cake (served with a small salad, $8).  The crab cake was excellent, with a mustardy aioli sauce.  The other two dishes were well prepared, but nondescript.  The rolls did not taste of duck and dumplings did not taste of fish.  Their flavor came from the sauces accompanying them.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
I'm still trying to work out the math when someone's third wife, speaking in her second language, only plagiarizes 7% of her speech.

In case you don't want to wait until November, the New York Times tells us that Hillary Clinton has a 75% chance of winning the presidential election.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
I was privileged today to have lunch with Joe F., my rabbi.  Joe isn't ordained or anything.  He's a successful lawyer, who has met a lot of people during his career, always honoring his commitments, keeping secrets and promises, and standing up for friends in need.  That's what I mean by a rabbi.  He is nimbly handling a serious medical problem now, as he has handled challenging personal issues for himself and others over the years, myself included.

We ate at Joanne Trattoria, 70 West 68th Street, the family enterprise for Lady Gaga's parents.  While I think that prices reflected a celebrity bonus of a buck or two, little else about the restaurant evoked show biz glitz.  The food was quite good.  We shared a Tuscan bean salad ($18.95), big enough for three hearty eaters.  I had an oven-baked frittata ($19.95), with mushrooms, spinach, mozzarella and hot Italian sausage, chosen from a long list of ingredients.  This was one of four breakfast items served at lunchtime Wednesday through Sunday, in addition to the fairly conventional Italian menu.  No one sang.  

Friday, July 22, 2016
In these stressful days, you sometimes come across some cheerful information.  In this case, it is the high density of libraries in the Czech Republic, about 10 times per capita more than the USA.

If you don't want to take the trouble to read the article, at least enjoy the photograph that accompanied it, a little bit of heaven in my eyes.

Since Irwin P., another CCNY grad, was willing to venture forth in the 90+ degree heat, I joined him for lunch at Wa Jeal Sichuan Chili House, 1588 Second Avenue.  Its good reputation attracted me, even though it is far removed from my cherished Chinatown.  The restaurant is not very big, about 20 two tops in different arrangements.  It is decorated in tasteful Chinese restaurant style.  Service was attentive, although only two other tables needed to be attended to while we were there. 

Wa Jeal's regular menu shows prices befitting its Upper East location, but we made a wise and strategic choice by sticking to the lunch menu.  It offers 38 dishes mostly at $8.95, a few at $10.95, soup and rice included.  We ordered 3 lunches to provide variety -- spicy eggplant, chicken with mushrooms and beef chow fun (all $8.95).  We accepted the waitress's offer to substitute spring rolls for the hot soup.  All the dishes were good and generously proportioned for lunch specials.   However, the spicy eggplant was not particularly spicy hot.   The big glass of water that I kept immediately at hand, prompted by the restaurant's name, proved unnecessary.

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