Friday, July 31, 2015

Times Square Room w/Bath: $1:50

Crews have been disassembling a building near my office for more than a year. It's finally down and the walls are talking!
How long ago was it that one could get a room for a dollar, and a room with a bath and lunch in New York's Times Square for less than $2? Well, the hotel opened in 1904.
UPDATE: A blogger who researches old New York dug up a newspaper ad that says the hotel was exclusively male and "absolutely fireproof."
Another image shows that the wall once brushed bricks with a brownstone. That's exceedingly rare in Times Square, today.
See the full post on Jeremiah's Vanishing New York.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Butterflies in the Urban Garden

This butterfly just spotted in my garden, near New York, New York. It appears to be a Spicebush Swallowtail.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

8 Course Menu, One Hot Philadelphia Night

Chef Nicholas Elmi.
Photos By Dimitra DeFotis
I was honored to be a guest at a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Philadelphia dinner at the petite Laurel Restaurant.

Our party of eight spoke briefly with owner-chef Nicholas Elmi, who was named reality television's Top Chef in 2013. He told us the restaurant has applied for a liquor license, though it remains BYO for now. So each household brought at least two wines. There was alchohol left over - and much tasted and tossed.

Some highlights:  The first course, at left, was one of my two favorites: a light vegetable start, with nearly indiscernible slices of razor clam. With smoked trout roe, green tomato gelatin, cucumber and ponzu, accompanied by Pol Roger 1999 champagne. Some of our wines needed to be on ice -- it was 90 degrees and we were outdoors.

Second course was pink and blue: Foie gras with rhubarb, granola. The Chenin blanc was too heavy - I enjoyed a Sauternes. I think sweet-and-puffy grains belong in breakfast bowls - whole wheat berries might be better.

By the fourth course, with enough bottles tasted to lose count, I was never happier to eat starchy gnocchi - a light ricotta version. It was served with pickled spring onion, potato espuma. It was served with two Italian red wines. And there were still four more courses.

Gnocci, Tuscan & Altesino 
Brunello di Montalcino
Next was a risotto with Australian truffle, which is a new phenomenon that is already $1,100 per pound. But Chef Elmi said Australian truffle is $300 cheaper than the typical truffle. Less fragrant, still earthy. He said it wasn't ready for harvest for years. My review: it's fine but still not fabulous. See the photo of the biggest mound of truffle I will ever see on my plate.

My notes, at this point, say "Lord Have Mercy." This was my other favorite course: fish from the Carolinas, called Walu. Peach Chanterelle, Swiss chard, seaweed butter. Two white wines.

Subsequently there was duck. There was a tiny loaf of bread, and there was a lot of water. The rear garden was pretty.
Tokaji Hugarian dessert wine.

Dessert was just what the doctor ordered: caramelized white-chocolate pudding, almond and cherry. Port and a Sweet wine served. I begged for a coffee. Amazing experience.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

More Sun, More Water

Heliotherapia - salt, sea and sun - somewhere on Long Beach Island, New York.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Nigella at Dusk

First bloom of a plant in my city garden, grown from seed: Nigella damascena. Otherwise known as Love in a Mist. Perfect for a Friday night at dusk!

Actual flower is about 1.5 inches in diameter. Packaging says it is Persian, and is related to the Indian culinary and medicinal spice kalonji, but has a "more showy flower and seed pod." Plant is feather-like. Could be mistaken for a weed and took forever to come up. Probably needs a sunnier spot with more water.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Foodies! Astoria Has A New Loukoumades Truck

New in Astoria: a green and yellow food truck selling Greek honey donuts, with walnuts and cinnamon and many other variations.

You'll love them as much as the ancient Olympians did! And now you can do a 100-meter sprint from the elevated train to a truck that sells them for about a dollar apiece.

The truck is officially called #MrLoukouma: a ~$10,000 outlay on wheels, so eat hearty, with strawberries and yogurt too! So long, Belgian waffles with speculaas spread. Two Greek boys with four wheels took your corner :)

Post script UPDATE: Greek Fage yogurt is co-branded. See - New York City vendor number 1818.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

One World Trade Center at Night

At Ground Zero for a meeting at Conde Nast offices in the new 1 World Trade building.

This is what the main entrance of the new structure opens to. The memorial and windy green grounds are very beautiful at night.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yuengling Lager Coming To Chicago?

In the Slavic Easter tradition, people bring baskets of cheese, bread, eggs, sausage and other treats to the midnight Resurrection liturgy to be blessed for the feast that follows.
At a Chicago gathering I attended, someone also brought Yuengling lager in cans -- thanks to a secret shipment from his East Coast mother! He tells me the Pennsylvania brewer acquired a Rockford, Illinois-area brewery and Yuengling may be available in the Windy City by December. Hopefully in bottles ...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Spring On 5th Avenue

The indoor cherry blossom mega-bouquet at the Neue Gallery convinces me that spring will come, somehow. But the snow still is pretty.

War Bonds & Human Bonds

The Neue Gallery in New York is exhibiting World War I posters juxtaposing beautiful Austrian style and the futility of war:
The gallery is really a museum dedicated to a narrow window of history that interested two collectors. The exhibition notes that 100 years ago, Europe's cataclysmic war brought down four empires: Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman and Russian with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914.
The war was expected to "cleanse society," but euphoria gave way to despair, as hunger became widespread and staples dwindled. Disease and death followed. The loss of life with industrialized warfare is shocking to remember: 9 million military and 12 million civilian lives. The exhibit quotes Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, who described the initial days of World War I:
"Trains arrived with freshly arrived recruits. I found the entire city of Vienna in a state of intoxication. ... Suddenly flags unfurled, bands and music were everywhere. Young recruits marched in triumph and their faces were radiant because one cheered them ... The little common people who no one otherwise notices or celebrates. ...I found something great, magnetic, irresistible and even seductive in this first popular awakening. .. Hundreds of thousands felt something as never before that they should better have felt in peacetime: that they belonged together."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Accept No One's Definition Of Your Life

"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life. Define yourself."
That's a Harvey Fierstein quote via Zelda Williams, daughter of comedian Robin Williams, as she returned to social media. She dropped out for just a bit after some people said dumb things regarding her father's suicide.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nutty Coconut Honey Granola

Appalled at the price of granola, I made my own, finally. It certainly smells amazing as it bakes. I modified Martha Stewart's recipe using my stash of ingredients, including a two-pound container of oats ($6) -- the minimum a New Yorker pays for puffed-out, puny portions of granola.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Facts About Ebola

Fact #1: you probably won't get Ebola if your modern NYC hairdo is dyed granny blue. Photo at right is public-service information on a New York City subway train.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Yorker Cartoonist: Revenge of the Pen

Charlie hebdo deaths2A poignant illustration and comment from cartoonist Liza Donnelly, forwarded to me: "My heart goes out to the families of the cartoonist and others who were killed in the senseless violence at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Cartoons are incredibly powerful, and it is the responsibility of the cartoonist to use her power for good. The cartoonists who were killed did just that in their own way; it is a provocative way, but that is their right.  I mourn the loss of these cartoonists as champions of freedom of expression.  My solution to revenge their killing is to draw for peace at every opportunity."

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter Sleep: 2014 Turkish Film Now in US Theaters

An interesting Turkish film shot in Cappadocia, Winter Sleep, is now showing in New York City. Hope to see it as it was nominated for many awards.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Orata: Is It Lavraki?

In Greece, Lavraki is a near mythical fish, ever elusive. When Greek journalists stumble upon a great story—snag that rare exclusive scoop—they call it a Lavraki, says Milos, a Greek fish restaurant in New York, on its website.

It's sea bass and is often called Bronzino on U.S. menus.