My Dad Would Have Been 100 Years Old Today

April 22, 2014

Dad

He was born on April 22, 1914. He didn’t come close to making it to 100. He died on January 15, 1981, a few months short of his 67th birthday.

I did a Father’s Day essay about him in 2009 and followed up the next year with a Father’s Day photo essay. As I mentioned in the written essay, he missed out on a lot. But happily, he did not miss out on being a grandfather and was alive until Jen was nine-and-a-half.

Dad, Michael, and Jen

Dad, Michael, and Jen (Circa Mid-1970′s)

Passover Dinner at Lattanzi

April 21, 2014

Lattanzi Passover Dinner

We’d never been to Lattanzi before. An Italian restaurant located in the Theater District on Restaurant Row (W. 46th St. between 8th & 9th Aves.), it’s noted for a section of their menu devoted to the cuisine of the Roman Jews. Every year they serve a special Passover menu (not kosher) during lunch and dinner throughout the holiday’s eight days. I’ve been wanting to try it, but we’ve never managed to do until now. Since were doing our “Seder Express” on the second night, the first Seder night provided a golden opportunity for Michael and me to finally have Lattanzi’s Passover dinner.

Arriving promptly for our 9 p.m. reservation, we received a pleasant welcome but were asked by the maître d’ to wait a few moments while they finished setting our table. The short wait was worth it because even though I spotted two vacant tables for two, they were much smaller than our more capacious table for four.

The front room where we were seated is fairly large with very attractive décor. The doorway to the side room was directly across from out table. I’m guessing that room is about the same size as the front. The maître d’ told us they also have private spaces, but I didn’t inquire where they’re located. Since Lattanzi is in a townhouse, perhaps upstairs?

Lattanzi Passover Dinner

The joint, as the song goes, was jumpin’! In the front room, every table save the two deuces I mentioned was occupied, and I had the distinct impression that the side room was just as busy. Not everyone was doing the Passover menu. It also became apparent that there was no requirement for the entire table to order it as I noticed that when waiters brought food to the table right behind ours only a few of the six diners were being served the Passover meal.

We were provided regular menus containing a Passover menu insert (See above.) plus a separate wine list. When we told the captain we were doing the special menu, he removed the menus but left the wine list. After perusing it, Michael ordered a glass of pinot noir to go with the main course lamb.

The first thing to arrive at the table – and, I might add, very promptly — was a basket of matzo. This matzo was like no other we’d ever had. Tissue paper thin, the pieces were coated with garlic-infused olive oil. Without a doubt, the. most. delicious. matzo ever!

Matzoh

The meal proper began with Minestra di Riso per PesachPassover Chicken Soup with Rice. For Ashkenazi/Eastern European Jews, rice and other grains are verboten during Passover; however, for Sephardic Jews, which would include those from Rome, they are not. Though the broth had nice flavor and the rice was fine, Michael and I agreed that something was missing. Matzo balls! I suggested that we crumple some of the matzo into the soup. Good, but not quite the same.

Minestra di Riso per Pesach

The second course was Spigola Arosto con Spinaci SaltatiBaked Striped Bass with Sautéed Spinach, Raisins, and Pine Nuts. The fish was perfectly cooked and had excellent flavor. The spinach accompaniment was delicious. I usually don’t like raisins but didn’t mind them at all here.

Spigola Arosto con Spinaci Saltati

The main course was Agnello per Pesach con Carciofi alla GiudiaBaby Lamb for Passover with Jewish Style Artichokes. Since the type of lamb was not specified, we didn’t know what cut to expect. Thus, it was a delightful surprise to be served two nice-sized chops. As with the fish, the chops were perfectly cooked, juicy, and with great lamby flavor. The Jewish style artichokes are a signature of the restaurant, so I was very eager to have them. They are sautéed in olive oil and garlic which makes the outer leaves crispy while the interior remains tender.

Agnello per Pesach con Carciofi alla Giudia

For dessert, Ricciarelli di SienaAlmond Cookies Served with a Glass of Sweet Wine. The cookies were the meal’s only disappointment for me. I didn’t care for them though Michael thought they were o.k. However, I like sweet wine, and the Moscato was a big hit with me.

Ricciarelli di Siena

Moscato

Service was very efficient. The kitchen was definitely up to the task of handling the crowd since food was pumped out without long delays between courses, and everything was at the correct temperature, i.e., hot food hot! Actually, the intervals were just right. Though we were in and out in a little over an hour, it didn’t feel rushed. By the time we left, the front room had pretty much emptied out.

We enjoyed this meal and may consider making it an annual event. But for now, our curiosity regarding Lattanzi’s regular menu has been peaked, so we intend to go there to check it out in the near future.

The photo set of this dinner on my Flickr is here.

Lattanzi Passover Dinner

Saturday Supper: Asparagus Soup and Haddock with Leeks and Tomatoes

April 20, 2014

I’ve rarely seen haddock at Wegmans fish counter. So, when I stopped by yesterday afternoon intending to get either haddock’s sister fish cod or, perhaps, halibut and saw the sign for haddock, I asked the young man behind the counter about it. He pointed to two long, pristine filets. “It came in fresh this morning,” he said. “This is all that’s left.” I chose the larger of the two pieces. It weighed just over half a pound. Perfect! We do portion control, and this would make four ounces for each of us.

We started the meal with hot asparagus soup. I adore asparagus, and this is one of my favorite soups.

At Home:  Asparagus Soup

For the main course, first, I prepared the leeks which would be a bed for the haddock. I sautéed the sliced leeks briefly in butter, added white wine, and cooked them until tender. Next I made the sauce: orange juice (freshly squeezed), grape tomatoes, shallots, capers, and parsley. Finally, I roasted the haddock at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes and then assembled the dish. It had been so long since I’d last had haddock, I’d forgotten that its flavor is sweeter than cod. It was cooked perfectly, and the other elements on the plate worked very well with it. In a word (if I must say so myself):  Delicious!

At Home:  Haddock with Leeks and Tomatoes

Note: These are our daily Passover dishes: milk glass, service for 8. I bought them the first year we were married which makes them 46 years old.

Passover 2014 “Seder Express”

April 19, 2014

Passover 2014 "Seder Express"

On Tuesday, we celebrated the second Seder night of Passover in our apartment with our usual “Seder Express” – our Cliff’s Notes version which touches the highlights of the first half of the Haggadah and gets us quickly to the meal. After the meal, we finished the ritual second half in “express” fashion by singing a few verses from each of the major songs and closed with “The Hatikvah.”

Joining Michael and me were Jen, Louis, my brother and his wife, and Louis’s sister, who was attending her very first Seder. Unfortunately, her husband was unable to be with us. They sent us the gorgeous floral arrangement that graced the center of the table.

Shulchan Oruch (Festival Meal)

Gefilte Fish is the traditional start. I use Mother’s Old Fashioned in a jar.

Passover 2014 "Seder Express"

My “Famous” Chopped Salad is served at all holiday meals.

Passover 2014 "Seder Express"

The main course: Pot Roast, Potatoes cooked in the meat’s gravy, Glazed Carrots, and because they’re in season steamed Asparagus dressed with lemon.

Passover 2014 "Seder Express"

When it comes to dessert, the ranks would revolt if I didn’t make my Cheese Pie with Egg Kichel Crust. (Recipe here.) For Louis, I make a personal-size pie with a gluten-free walnut crust.

Passover 2014 "Seder Express"

Another thing I make every year is Marcy Goldman’s Caramel Chocolate Crunch. (Recipe here.) Other sweets on the table that weren’t homemade: almond macaroons, jell rings, and a gluten-free cookie assortment.

Click here to see the entire set of photos from this dinner on my Flickr.

Wishing everyone a Zeisen Pesach!

NYT Sunday Puzzle – April 13, 2014

April 16, 2014

NYT Sunday Puzzle - April 13, 2014

Title: It’s Taxing

Apropos of the April 15th tax deadline, the theme answers are common expressions containing words related to tax filings which give the expressions another meaning in line with the clues.

25A. Agreement for an amount to be taken from one’s salary? = Withholding Consent
33A. What C.P.A.’s wish for their clients? = Many happy returns
49A. C.P.A.’s advice for lowering future-year liabilities? = Roll the credits
67A. Chart used to calculate a married couple’s taxes? = Table for two
81A. I.R. S. update? = Schedule change
93A. Last-minute way to reduces tax for a desperate filer? = Emergency shelter
104A. C.P.A.’s masterstroke = Brilliant deduction

Note: My dad was a C.P.A. :)

Saturday Supper: Grilled Eggplant “Sandwich” and Penne with Leeks and Asparagus

April 14, 2014

Have I mentioned that I love eggplant in any way, shape, or form? We started with what I call a grilled eggplant “sandwich.” Between the eggplant slices were roasted red pepper (from a jar), grilled red onion, and goat cheese.

At Home:  Grilled Eggplant "Sandwich"

Asparagus is another of my favorite vegetables, and they are in season. So, for the main course, I put together penne with leeks and asparagus, the latter cut into small pieces on the diagonal to mimic the quill shape of the pasta. The chopped leeks were sautéed in butter to which I added white wine and heavy cream to make a sauce.

At Home:  Penne

NYT Thursday Puzzle – April 10, 2014

April 10, 2014

NYT Thursday Puzzle - April 10, 2014

The theme’s clue is provided by 59-Across: Popular day trip destination … or a hint to the starts of the answers to the starred clues. Answer: Six Flags. There are six starred clues, and the first word of each is a type of flag.

13A. *Kind of affair = Black tie
19A. *1971 song with the lyric “Helter skelter in a summer swelter” = American Pie
25A. *Creator of Sheriff Deadeye and Cauliflower McPugg = Red Skelton
33A. *Sketchy history = Checkered past
40A. *January events = White sales
48A. *Some illegal transmissions = Pirate radio

I was surprised to see Rex Parker rate this puzzle as Medium to Medium-Challenging since I found it comparatively easy for a Thursday. I did almost end up with three mistakes in the upper right quadrant; however, after giving the finished puzzle another perusing, I made the necessary corrections.

Having never been a big Red Skelton fan, I’m only familiar with his Clem Kadiddlehopper and not the two characters mentioned in the clue but still easily got the answer by filling in a few letters of his last name.

Regarding “American Pie, I’m only familiar with the repeated chorus verse + the repeated line after each verse, “…the day the music died.” Curious about where the line quoted in the clue comes, I went to YouTube. I didn’t remember how long the song — about 8-1/2 minutes. The quoted line comes about halfway through.

There is a Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson, NJ, about 40 minutes from our house. We went right after it opened in 1977. Jen was six, and it’s the kind of thing parents do with kids that age. There were, of course, rides. Plus, there was the safari park which visitors drove through in their cars to see the various animals that roamed “free.”

NYT Sunday Puzzle – April 6, 2014

April 8, 2014

NYT Sunday Puzzle - April 6, 2014

Title: At Times

Theme: Familiar two-word noun phrases. The second word ends in ER thereby describing the actions of certain people (one who does x) with reference to the clues and giving the phrases an alternate funny meaning.

23A. Clumsy pharmacist, at times? = Medicine dropper
28A. Dressage rider, at times? = Colt revolver
47A. Old-fashioned barber, at times? = Foam rubber
54A. Inexperienced shucker, at times? = Oyster cracker
65A. No-limit Texas hold’em player, at times? = All better
74A. Farmer, at times? = Chicken tender
84A. Sleeping sunbather, at times? = Back burner
103A. Dieter, at times? = Snack counter

I never look up things while doing the puzzle. I know some puzzlers do, but I feel that’s cheating. When I’m completely at a loss, I often get things right by filling in the surrounding answers. Here are two such answers I looked up after finishing the puzzle:

71A. Dual-sport athlete Sanders. Answer: Deion. NFL Pro Football Hall of Famer and baseball player. Oy! While I don’t follow football, I am a Yankee fan and should have known this since he played for them. However, that was back in the early 1990’s, and I’m not now the avid fan I was when I was younger.

20A. 1986 girl’s name song by Boston. Answer: Amanda. Never heard of this band or the song.  But no problem.  Everything is on YouTube!

Saturday Supper: Grilled Romaine and Tacos with Rice

April 6, 2014

I was originally not going to be cooking last night. We were in the city on Friday and had intended to stay until Sunday. But we changed our minds and came back to NJ yesterday afternoon. So, I needed to put something together for last night’s supper.

At Drew’s Bayshore Bistro, one of our favorite things to order is the Southwestern Caesar Salad. Taking a cue from Drew’s concept, I’ve done various versions of grilled romaine. I brush the romaine with olive oil before grilling. For last night’s meal, it was topped with cheddar cheese, red onion, and Russian dressing.

At Home:  Grilled Romaine

Main course soft tacos were filled with leftover chili, lettuce, tomato, onion, taco sauce, sour cream, and cilantro. The Mexican-style rice contained onion, green and red peppers, tomato, salt, freshly ground pepper, and cilantro.

At Home:  Taco and Rice

Dining Out: January – March 2014

April 2, 2014

Eleven Madison Park

This hideous winter with its myriad snowstorms and incessant Arctic-level temperatures put a serious dent in our dining out activities making this the shortest quarterly list I’ve ever posted.

January
New York City
Dinner:
Turkish Kitchen
Eleven Madison Park (Michael’s Birthday)

Lunch:
Betony

New Jersey
Dinner:
SamVera

Late Supper:
All Seasons II Diner

Breakfast:
All Seasons II Diner

February
New York City
Dinner:
NoMad

New Jersey
Dinner:
Drew’s Bayshore Bistro

Lunch:
Bonefish Grill
Indian Grill
Big Harlee’s BBQ

March
New York City
Dinner:
Café Boulud
The Peacock

Late Supper:
Sarge’s Deli

Lunch:
Eleven Madison Park
Pippali

New Jersey
Dinner:
Sofra Turkish Cuisine

Lunch:
A&L BBQ
Trattoria Tre Coloré


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.