Saturday, June 17, 2017

Outer Boroughs

Monday, June 12, 2017
The New York Times published its list of the best movies of the 21st century this weekend.
I cannot affirm or rebut its choices, because it seems that the number of hockey games that I attended this season exceeds the number of these movies that I have seen this entire century.  You will notice, however, in my partial defense, that many of these selections fall between obscure and unknown.  
. . . 

While I have several well-publicized vices, I have kept at least one secret until now.  With all my gallivanting around Manhattan (primarily), I have found secret satisfaction at my neighborhood's hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, Wok City, 153-155 Amsterdam Avenue, so small that it shouldn't even have a whole number for an address, no less two numbers.  It is perpetually busy, with three high schools immediately nearby, along with Julliard around the corner, and several large construction sites, in addition to a gaggle of high rise residences.  With six stools against a narrow ledge, almost all the business is takeout or delivery.  

Usually, I order sesame cold noodles ($4.25), a large portion that earns a solid B+ rating.  Today, I ventured into the list of 39 lunch specials, mostly $6.75 including white or fried rice, for shrimps with lobster sauce.  It was prepared to order, contained 5 good size shrimps, and improved with the addition of mustard and soy sauce.  It still lacked that garlic touch that defines a first-rate lobster sauce, somewhat offset by saving subway fare to leave the neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017
I'm not an epidemiologist, but I was drawn to the title of this article atop my young bride's pile of reading material that gets straight to the point: "Infectious disease risks from dead bodies following natural disasters."  
. . .

I had the pleasure of spending several hours with Hadassah Nakiza, a college student from Uganda on her first visit out of her country to spend the summer in the United States.  Hadassah is a member of the Abayudaya Jewish community in Uganda, which began practicing Judaism in 1919.  Here's more information.

We walked from Tribeca through to Chinatown.  We stopped at the African Burial Ground National Monument on Duane Street, where the bones of at least 420 colonial era slaves and freedmen (women and children, too) were uncovered in the excavation for a government building in 1991.

We continued to another historic site, the First Shearith Israel Graveyard, established in 1682 by the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue a/k/a Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, itself dating from 1654. 
It sits on St. James Place, just off Chatham Square, and is now only a fraction of the original property, as is the case with the African Burial Ground.  

These sites were the highlight of our time together.  We had lunch at Buddha Bodai Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant, 77 Mulberry Street, one of two certified Kosher restaurants in Chinatown, because Hadassah keeps Kosher, and I thought that an assortment of their dim sum would please her.  
But I've been wrong about women before.  She nibbled and picked and poked; I don't think that she made it to 100 calories.

Fortunately, at the corner of Mulberry Street and Bayard Street, in a completely renovated space that used to be a fruit and vegetable store, a dessert joint just opened, Justin Tea Inc. a/k/a 196˚C NIce Cream, 69 Mulberry Street.  In addition to a large menu of teas hot and cold, it makes ice cream right in front of your eyes, in the same fashion as Smitten Ice Cream, 5800 College Avenue, Oakland, shooting liquid Nitrogen into a swirling bowl of ingredients.  You're not going to get me to say that I was smitten with Smitten, but I liked it a whole bunch (March 6, 2017).  

Justin, however, did not evoke that level of esteem, probably because of the inexperience of the staff, who took far too long to produce one generous cup of ice cream for $6.95.  The finished product wasn't bad; Hadassah dug into it and I sampled one spoonful.  For future reference there is a Häagen-Dazs store one block away at the corner of Bayard Street and Mott Street.  

I delivered Hadassah to the lovely and talented Viviane Topp at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, after 4 hours in the 90˚+ heat, I went home, took another shower and headed to Ben's Best Kosher Delicatessen, 96-40 Queens Boulevard, Rego Park, to dine with Michael Ratner before we went to the Mets game.  Michael, who bears no grudge that his name has been removed from one of the multi-meat, special sandwiches that Ben's features, and I enjoyed our food far more than watching the mauling that the Mets later endured.  I had a simple roast beef/pastrami combination that was a tribute to the art of sandwich making ($20.95).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Speaking of pastrami, the ever informative New York Times today describes the efforts of a Tuscan veterinarian to introduce pastrami to the Italian diet.
. . . 

Closer to home, the paper has a very interesting article and chart about the political preferences of clergy from 36 measurable denominations, Reform Judaism to Wisconsin Lutheran (more of them than I might have imagined), that is, from most Democratic to most Republican.  The study was done by matching about 130,000 identified clergy with voter registration records.   

There's a lot of other good stuff reported here, including that clergy in the three major branches of Judaism - Conservative, Reform and Orthodox - live in higher income census tracts than any other denomination.  Good to be a Jew for a change.

Thursday, June 15, 2017
My advocacy of Ben's Best Kosher Delicatessen was put to the test today when, as a byproduct of running an errand in the deep southern reaches of Brooklyn, I had lunch at the Mill Basin Kosher Deli, 5823 Avenue T, Brooklyn.  In many regards, Mill Basin holds its own against Ben's.  It is about twice as large, more recently redecorated, brighter and displaying a nice collection of art.  Prices seemed to be a tad lower, a buck or so here and there. 

The food?  I ordered a sandwich combining corned beef and brisket on rye naturally ($19.70) and a side of French fries ($4.95).  The meat was high quality, lean without being asked for, but losing some taste with the missing fat.  I didn't bring any measuring instruments, but I think Ben's sandwiches generally are bigger.  A fair judgment on Mill Basin would require more visits, chopped liver, kishke, pastrami, chicken soup.  I don't mind subjecting myself to such an experiment, but Mill Basin is at least one hour away by land from Palazzo di Gotthelf, so we may never know.
. . . 

Would you consider it ungrateful or simply unnecessary for Jews to seek Jewish food in China?

Friday, June 16, 2017
Lyn Dobrin, pillar of Long Island journalism, posed an interesting quiz to us.  "What are the 10 Yiddish words that any foreigner coming to New York should know?"  Our household submitted the following list, in alphabetical order:

We will accept substitutions, but not additions.  Comments from you foreigners are also welcome, that is, Europeans, Latin Americans, Asians and anyone residing more than 7 miles west of the Hudson River, north of Westchester County, or south of New Brunswick, New Jersey.
. . .

Another errand took Stony Brook Steve and me into Queens today, giving us the opportunity to have lunch at a famous spot.  
It turns out that Goodfellas and good food don't necessarily go together.


  1. Surprised schlep is not on the list

  2. Don't think macher, nosh, nudnik and qvell belong...voila: a 6 word list, much easier to memorize for the outlander...

  3. Considering a certain NY golfer, the only Yiddish word one needs to know is "PUTZ."

  4. I'd substitute schmooze for schmuck.

  5. I love corned beef and I love brisket. The combination on one sandwich is a mish mash of two excellent tastes.
    Would you put won ton soup and egg drop soup in the same bowl?

  6. This foreigner (from the South) found schlep to be the most useful word in NYC followed closely in usefulness by chutzpah, nosh, mensch, kitsch, schmooze and schmuck (a particularly useful term when dating in Manhattan)

  7. I saw 9 of the 25 movies. Interesting I wondering if I can see them on Netflix?