Friday, August 5, 2016

Gotthelf To Gotthelf

Monday, August 1, 2106
My radar system has apparently failed me. The Museum of Ice Cream, a temporary installation, opened on July 29th and will stay open until August 31st. I was unaware of its existence until I read that all 30,000 admission tickets have been sold.

Obviously, I stand no better than 30,001. However, once I read about what one might do, see and taste at the Museum of Ice Cream, I think that staying home, close to my freezer compartment, offers greater satisfaction. The museum seems to focus more on the sight and feel of ice cream (walking into a swimming pool of rainbow sprinkles, actually hard plastic pellets), rather than the taste.

Trying to trace a possible relative, I discovered the Gotthelf Art Gallery (GAG), in San Diego, California. It is housed in the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center on the Jacobs Family Campus of the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture, quite a mouthful, paying tribute to enough Jews to hold a decent seder. For better or worse, worse in my mind, naming rights seem to be a critical element in Jewish fundraising, where hardly a door knob goes unlabeled. 

GAG has been open for over 16 years, funded by Roanne and Henry Gotthelf, Southern Californians who may have once been in the New York metropolitan area. There is evidence that Henry went to Syracuse University at the same time that I was at CCNY, and that the couple later lived in New Rochelle. Nevertheless, I have no idea who they are. While cousin Jerry Latter has done a fabulous job documenting the Latter family, which includes my father's mother, the Gotthelfs remain a black box, a Polish black box at that, even harder to penetrate.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Another baseball game last night and another frustrating loss, to the dreaded Yankees no less. The evening was only partially redeemed by companion Jerry S. (a good guy in spite of his rooting interest) showing up with tickets for section 110, row 5 instead of the tickets that I held for section 514, row 13. That removed about 35,000 people between us and the action on the field.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
After last week's official heat wave, we have been blessed by mild temperatures and low humidity so far this week. To enjoy this welcome change, I chose to walk the one kilometer to Mee Noodle Shop, 795 9th Avenue, which had proved so satisfying last week (July 26, 2016). This time, I focused on the noodle part of the joint's repertoire and asked for Singapore chow fun, which does not appear on its menu in spite of its great length.

This presented no challenge to the kitchen, which produced an excellent serving of curry-spiced noodles, pork, chicken, carrots, yellow onions, scallions, pea pod and cabbage ($8.25). But, Mee's efforts cannot be pronounced the best of all, because they failed a critical test. When you order noodles of any type at any place you should get a whole lot of noodles. Good or bad, a serving of noodles upon presentation must give you pause, "Can I eat all that?" Mee's noodles tasted great, but there weren't enough of them. Spare no expense (at least for a dollar or two more) and have the noodles fall over the side of the plate.

One virtue of this modest portion of Singapore chow fun was that it left room and incentive to continue eating. So, I walked over to Gotham West Market, 600 11th Avenue (45th Street), a location that once would have been approached on foot only by a New Yorker with a rap sheet. Today, with glossy high-rise residences on almost every corner of this neighborhood, Gotham West has created a food court of eight or nine joints serving variously Mexican food, ramen, tapas, BBQ, sushi, pub food, coffee and more than 100 beers, a good excuse for a song. 

My destination was ice cream, Ample Hills Creamery, a Brooklyn-based operation that mainly provides ice cream to better restaurants, while maintaining a few of its own stands, including one at Gotham West. This was no museum; there was no conceptual piece about the gestalt of ice cream, no contemplation of Eskimo Pie as the cultural expropriation of indigenous peoples' cuisine.

Zagat's has rated Ample Hills best in New York and my limited experience today does not conflict with that determination. I had two scoops in a medium-sized cup for $4.95, a reasonable price these days among the ice cream artisans. From the 12 flavors on hand, I chose Salted Crack[er] Caramel, salted caramel ice cream, with saltines covered in butter, sugar and chocolate (strongly resembling chocolate-covered graham crackers), and Chocolate Milk & Cookies, the most cookie-laden cookies and cream ice cream that I have ever had. Both flavors went to the head of the class.

Thursday, August 4, 2016
Yesterday, I ventured slightly more than one mile from home for lunch, with rewarding results. Today, I drove over 90 miles to Stone Ridge, New York, a hamlet north of Poughkeepsie, in order to have lunch with Susan Gotthelf, my niece, and Emma, her 11-year old daughter, a trip that satisfied more than just my appetite. They are here from Buenos Aires, where Susan has lived for 25 years, visiting her mother. One of Emma's brothers is a college student in California and the other is entering his senior year of high school in Argentina. Mother and daughter, however, are embarking on their own exciting adventure, moving to Shanghai, where Susan will become head librarian of an international high school.

They leave in less than two weeks and will undoubtedly face dramatic contrasts in the way of life in the two countries. After brief visits to both countries, I might characterize (caricature?) Argentines as casually indifferent to efficiency while Chinese manically pursue it in an often clumsy fashion.

By the way, we ate at Lekker's 209, 3928 Main Street, Stone Ridge, a comfortable café that does its own baking and makes its own soda and ice cream. I had one of the day's special sandwiches, shredded duck and melted brie on thick, toasted slices of country white bread. Commendable.

As to the West Coast Art Patron Gotthelfs, I have only encountered a full voice mailbox when trying to communicate with them. I may resort to a real letter.

Friday, August 5, 2016
The Boyz Club met today at Gazala's Place, 709 9th Avenue, a Druze restaurant recommended by Rob T.  Recollecting the excellent meal that I had at Elkheir Druze Cuisine in Haifa in late June, I was eager to try the local version. Gazala's, named for chef/owner Gazala Halabi, is a small, narrow joint with no money wasted on decor. Constantine, the young Russian waiter, was very helpful, although the menu on the whole was typically Middle Eastern. 

We shared a plate of cold and hot appetizers -- hummus, falafel, stuffed grapes leaves, meat cigars, tahini, lebanee (whipped goat cheese), taboule, and babaganoush, with large rounds of a crêpe-like bread. Then, we shared three small "pies," flattened pitas topped with herbs (mankosha), ground meat, and cheese. Lunch came to $15 each, a fair amount we agreed for very good food.

We Americans are involved in a major political campaign and are finding ourselves distressed at times by the quality of the rhetoric and appeals being made.  However, we should not forget that others are facing important elections and we might learn from how they approach their voters.  I am thinking specifically of the upcoming local and municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the incumbent Palestine Liberation Organization a/k/a Fatah is trying to hold off Hamas, the Islamic militant group.  As reported in the New York Times, Fatah claimed "one of its main achievements as having 'killed 11,000 Israelis.'"

Poor DT almost sounds sane by comparison.  

1 comment:

  1. AS USUAL A WONDERFUL WEEK IN REVIEW. Sorry didn't mean to do that in all caps.