Saturday, March 11, 2017

Old Wine, New Bottles

Monday, March 6, 2017
On Saturday, we went to Brown Sugar Kitchen, 2534 Mandela Parkway, a deservedly esteemed local institution, for a late breakfast.  The one-hour wait made it necessarily late, but, anticipating that, we gave our name at 10:30 and went off for some local sightseeing.  When we sat down, the automatic order was the waffle and chicken ($18), a cornmeal waffle, brown sugar butter, apple cider syrup and two pieces of buttermilk fried chicken.  Fabulous.  The waffle was light and airy, the butter and syrup perfectly matched with it (maple syrup available as an extra, but unneeded).  The chicken approached the epitome of fried chickenhood.  The place stays open only to 3 PM daily and, when we left shortly after noon, it looked like enough people were waiting to keep a full house until then.

Over the weekend I also learned what a "Walk Score" was.  We accompanied our Lovebirds to an open house, since the house they occupy is not available for purchase.  The property that we visited was quite charming in the Craftsman style and the realtor's flier said that it had a walk score of 75.  Qu'est-ce que c'est?

True to its name, the walk score rates a location by its walkability, the degree to which daily errands can be performed without an automobile.  A 75 in Oakland isn't bad, considering how hilly and spread out it is.  The Palazzo di Gotthelf rates a 99, not surprising given its centrality to the progress of Western civilization.  Check your own nest.  

San Francisco Business Times reported on the opening of a new, large Chinese food mall.  The founder "said there's still a 'stigma' around Chinese food for large portions and cheap pricing."  Suggested motto: Small portions, high prices?

The Sunday New York Times made it all the way out to California, so I saw the following headline, which might be read several different ways: "White Dominates Snowboard Event."

Oakland went out with a bang.  Sunday night, for our last dinner, we went to Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery, 5421 College Avenue, an attractive joint holding about 18 tables covered with white table cloths, an unusual sight in the Bay Area.  We shared pan-fried chive cakes (dumplings) and crispy vegetable rolls; I then had chicken satay skewers with a great peanut sauce (and isn't it always)  and Chiang Mai curry noodles with stewed beef.  All the food was very good averaging around A-.

To end the evening, we went to Smitten Ice Cream, 5800 College Avenue, where they churn the ice cream to your order using liquid nitrogen to freeze the concoction in a few moments.  I had a cup of "TCHO 60.5% Chocolate," predominantly a local Berkeley chocolate mixed with some Valrhona cocoa powder, producing maybe the best chocolate ice cream in the once-Free World.

Today, we flew home where the clocks are right and things happen when they are supposed to.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
The anarchic conduct of some students at Middlebury College has aroused a sudden interest in the First Amendment among some of our Republican friends.  Were they as attentive to the 14th, 15th and, oh yes, the 16th Amendment.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
In case you don't believe that we are well on the way to making America great again, follow this link.  You will hear with your very own ears Richard Nixon on December 14, 1982 tell his fawning acolyte Henry Kissinger that "the press is the enemy."  

To prove that I had not forgotten how to walk after only one week in California, I chose to traverse the 2 miles to bb.q Chicken a/k/a bb.q Olive Chicken, 25 West 32nd Street, on foot.  I sought bb.q for several reasons; A) this is the first New York outlet of a Korean chain in 57 countries; B) during my explorations downtown, I only encountered three Korean restaurants -- the excellent Kori Tribeca Restaurant, 253 Church Street (May 28, 2013, July 30, 2015), the long shut Jup She, the Korean Plate, 171 Grand Street (December 30, 2010) and Gunbae Tribeca, 67 Murray Street, a hidden gem (December 18, 2015); C) it has a high reputation for fried chicken and the luscious memories of Oakland's Brown Sugar Kitchen were still fresh in mind.   

bb.q was good, but no threat to Brown Sugar.  The very deep joint is self-service.  You pick from a cabinet of hot food and a cabinet of cold food and beverages (coffee sits apart).  The chicken, thighs, drumsticks, breasts and/or wings, is cooked in olive oil plain or with sauce, honey garlic, soy garlic or "Red Hot" garlic.  About a dozen "K-Food" items are also available, such as bibimbap, the traditional Korean rice bowl, and duk-bokki, tube-shaped rice cakes in a spicy sauce.  Asian-appearing customers seemed to prefer the K-Food, while the round eyes went for the chicken.   

I came for the chicken and I had it straight up, 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks, $10.49.  It was nice and crispy, with a subtle spiciness that stayed with me.  Note that the chicken sits boxed waiting to be picked up; if it sits too long, it will cool down and lose its crispiness.  Since it was the heart of lunch hour, I had no problem with the temperature or texture of the chicken.  A man brought food from the dark recesses at the back of the restaurant frequently.   

The space has an industrial feel, exposed pipes and vents against big, exposed brick walls.  bb.q is close to Macy's and Madison Square Garden and it offers a good alternative for casual eating in the vicinity.

While we were obviously delighted by Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland and City View in San Francisco, we failed to realize that Santa Cruz was about the happiest place to be, according to the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being Survey.  

I am deeply skeptical about (maybe hostile to) this survey, which places the Holy Land (admittedly the Greater Metropolitan Holy Land) at 101, tied with Mobile, Alabama, far behind Syracuse in 69th place.  

Friday, March 10, 2017
So you have an Ivy league degree, even better if you graduated from CCNY.  But, like me, you're just a chump when it comes to what really makes the world go round.  
"Profitable Companies, No Taxes: Here’s How They Did It"


  1. New Lebanon scores a 27 on Walkscore. I truly do not know how it got past single digits.

  2. 782 Westminster Road
    Flatbush, New York, 11230
    Commute to Downtown New York
    29 min 38 min 48 min 60+ min View Routes
    Walk Score: 94 Walker’s Paradise
    Daily errands do not require a car.
    Transit Score: 85 Excellent Transit
    Transit is convenient for most trips.
    Bike Score: 74 Very Bikeable
    Flat as a pancake, good bike lanes.

  3. Moving to 4th Ward, a lovely part of "Uptown" Charlotte (so named due to its position at the highest point in the city). The walkabilty score is 91 which I argue is too low due to the model taking a route to some business in the opposite direction of anything of importance. There is a supermarket in the building, and the BofA Corporate Center just 2 blocks away. David will catch the light rail to UNCC another half block from there. There is food of every sort within an easy walk and Bojangles delivers if you are feeling tired (Cajun chicken biscuit and sweet tea) Definitely at least a 95.

  4. 99 walkscore in Ann Arbor, 223 East Ann Street; also 95 bike score with the mistaken notion that Ann Arbor is "flat as a pancake"--obviously the person never tried biking (or walking) up Hill Street.