Dinner at Home on le 14 juillet

July 19, 2014

In 1986 and ’87, Michael, Jen, and I traveled to Europe. Both trips included stays in Paris.

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Jen and me, 1986

(Photo by MKR)

Both times we were there on le 14 juillet. Parisians celebrate French Independence Day with the annual Bastille Day Military Parade down the Champs Elysées including a formation flyover by the French Air Force.

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(Photos by MKR)

In the evening, there were fireworks. Raucous crowds jammed the streets making it difficult to get around.

In New York City, there are celebrations as well, the largest and longest running one being the Alliance Française’s “Bastille Day on 60th Street.” Along the stretch between 5th and Lex, booths offer tastes of French foods and drinks, and there is also entertainment. In the early years, we found it enjoyable. But after not having been for several years, we went again a couple of years ago and found it was not what it once. Food offerings were meager, and many vendors were the same ones who can be found at the ubiquitous street fairs that pop up each weekend on various avenues in Manhattan. Chinese massage, peut=être? Quel dommage!

A great way to celebrate is at a French bistro, many of which have special menus and events. The late Park Bistro was a favorite spot for us to mark the day with a delicious meal. Had we been in the city last weekend, chances are we would have attended the ticketed Bastille Day event on the 13th at Montmartre.* But we were in NJ, so on Bastille Day, I put together a French-themed dinner for the two of us.

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Belgian Endive Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans, and Vinaigrette

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Basque Seafood Stew with Scallops, Shrimp, and Steamed Red Potatoes**

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Bing Cherry Clafoutis

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Bing Cherry Clafoutis, Homemade Bing Cherry Ice Cream, Blueberries, and Homemade Whipped Cream

*We did have a scrumptious dinner at Montmartre on Friday, the 11th, dining al fresco in their thoroughly charming garden. Photo set here.

** My seafood stew is based on a recipe in Pierre Franey Cooks with His Friends.

NYT Thursday Puzzle – July 17, 2014

July 17, 2014

NYT Thursday Puzzle - July 17, 2014

The theme answers contain the word “back.” The first word of the phrase ends with “back,” the first part of the word is spelled backwards, and the “back” is omitted from the answer.

17A. Singer in the sea, literally = PMUH whale (HumpBACK whale)
27A. Plan B, literally = LLAF position (FallBACK postion)
42A. Gridiron maneuver = RETRAUQ sneak = (QuarterBACK sneak)
57A. Little kid’s lift, literally = YGGIP ride = (PiggyBACK ride)

It took me a while to figure out the clever tricks. Once I did, I was able to complete this puzzle quite easily. However, what almost kept me from finishing without any errors was 52-Across: Stocking stuffer. I filled in “TOY” but eventually realized that the correct answer was “TOE.” Cute clue!

At Home: Celebrating the 4th on the 5th

July 8, 2014

A few weeks ago, Jen suggested that she and Louis come to the house for a July 4th barbecue, a tradition they’d missed last year. July 4th would fall on a Friday, making it a three-day holiday weekend. I suggested that we keep an eye on the weather forecast and pick the best of the three days. While the forecast for Friday, July 4th didn’t bode well — rainy and cool compliments of the outer western edge of Arthur, the season’s first hurricane — Saturday and Sunday were looking very good. They decided on Saturday, the 5th. And the weather couldn’t have been more perfect: sunny, low 80’s, with no humidity.

Jen and I discussed menu basics: franks and burgers for lunch; ribs for dinner. Jen would buy buns for Louis from a gluten-free bakery near their UES apartment, and I would fill in the rest. As for dessert, Jen came up with the idea of a clafoutis. It would, of course, have to be gluten-free so that Louis could eat it. A quick internet search showed that finding such a recipe would not be a problem.

Michael picked them up at Matawan station a little past noon. Twenty minutes later, they were at the house. First order of business: Lunch!

Louis and I had burgers. I had mine without a bun. Michael and Jen had franks with regular buns. Louis also had a frank without a bun.

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Gluten-free Buns

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Burger on Gluten-free Bun

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Hebrew National Frank on Regular Bun

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Busch’s Baked Beans

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Sour Kraut and Pickles

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Watermelon for Dessert

After lunch, Jen and Louis went off for a short walk. We all spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the patio. Then, dinner!

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Amuse: Watermelon Gazpacho

Baby Back Ribs out of the oven and ready for the grill:
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On the Grill

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Half Rack

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

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New Jersey White Corn

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Homemade “Clairmont Diner Health Salad”

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Gluten-free Blueberry Clafoutis

“Red, White, and Blue”: Gluten-free Blueberry Clafoutis, Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream, and Homemade Whipped Cream

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Michael and I took Jen and Louis back to the station to catch a 9:30 p.m. train. As we were sitting in the car waiting for the train to arrive, we heard the sounds of fireworks. We didn’t know exactly where they were coming from, but turning in our seats, we could see the colorful displays lighting up the sky. A fitting end to our Independence Day celebration.

The photo set of this July 4th celebration can be seen on my Flickr here.

Dining Out: April – June 2014

July 4, 2014

Eleven Madison Park:  Our 46th Anniversary

April
New York
Dinner:
The Gander
Lattanzi (Passover)
BLT Prime (Passover)

Lunch:
Eleven Madison Park

New Jersey
Dinner:
The Pass (2)
Bonefish Grill

May
New York
Dinner:
Eleven Madison Park
Gramercy Tavern Dining Room
Maialino
The Modern Bar Room
Maysville
Blue Smoke
Café Boulud
Bâtard
Beautique

Brooklyn
Dinner:
Rucola

Lunch:
Red Hook Lobster Pound
Union Square Café
Bo’s Kitchen & Bar
betony
all’onda
Café el Presidente
Madison Square Eats

Late Supper:
Sarge’s
Lyric Diner

June
New York
Dinner:
Nerai
Eleven Madison Park (46th Anniversary)
Rotisserie Georgette
General Assembly
NoMad
Gramercy Tavern Dining Room
betony
Felidia
Hearth

Lunch:
per se (46th Anniversary)
Turkish Kitchen
Tocqueville
Almayass
Eleven Madison Park
dbBistro Moderne

Brunch:
Trestle on Tenth
Shake Shack

Breakfast:
Russ & Daughters Café

Late Supper:
Lyric Diner
The NoMad Bar (2)

Late Night Snack:
The NoMad Bar

NYT Thursday Puzzle – June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014

NYT Thursday Puzzle - June 26, 2014

The theme can be found in the answer to 40-Across: How breakfast is served … or how the answers to the eight starred clues should be entered? Answer: In bed. Ergo, the fills for the theme clues are embedded between “B” at the beginning and “ED” at the end. While the in-between word relates to the clue, the resulting whole word is totally related.

17A. *_____Motel = BroachED
24A. *Dressing choice = BranchED
49A. *Longtime TV weatherman = BrokerED
58A. *Divide up = BallotED
3D. *Bit of hair = BlockED
11D. *Bit of excitement = BrushED
38D. *Leeway = BroomED
42D. * Like Pisces, in the zodiac = BlastED

It’s been quite a while since I last finished a Thursday puzzle error-free. Actually, that was back to April though I have finished quite a few since then but all with one mistake. Despite its rather strange theme set-up, this puzzle was relatively easy for me. In fact, for some reason known only to my brain, I had more trouble finishing this week’s Tuesday’s puzzle. Go figure!

NYT Sunday Puzzle – June 22, 2014

June 23, 2014

NYT Sunday Puzzle - June 22, 2014

Title: Dime Store

Theme: A rebus in which the ¢ sign (“C” Across and “I” Down in the same square) occurs ten different times. It’s also the first letter in each string that spells “cent.” Ergo, 10 cents (96-Across) = one dime thereby referring to the puzzle’s title.

23A. 2014, for Doublemint gum = ¢entennial
25A. Mexican president in the early 2000s = Vi¢ente Fox
40A. Middle-of-the-road = ¢entrist
44A. Like mother-of-pearl = Irrides¢ent
66A. Several days ago = Re¢ent past
70A. Bugs that are technically misnamed = ¢enterpedes
93A. Agent’s cut = Per¢entage
96A. Total value of the symbols created by the special crossings in this puzzle = Ten ¢ents
113A. Something square to eat? = De¢ent meal
116A. Defendant’s cry = I’m inno¢ent

Some interesting answers:
1A. Letter-shaped opening in a machine shop = T-slot

20A. River that drains the western Pyrenées = Ebro

50A. White-crested ducks = Smews

55A. Country whose name is an anagram of another country’s capital = Mali (Lima, Peru)

46A. When repeated, White Rabbit’s cry = I’m late (“Alice in Wonderland”)

Happy Birthday, Jen!

June 22, 2014

Jen Birthday 2014

Father’s Day 2014

June 15, 2014

Dad, Michael, and Jen

My Dad, Jen, and Michael (Circa 1974)

It’s Our 46th Anniversary!

June 8, 2014

Anniversary #46

As We Get Set to Celebrate Our 46th Anniversary, a Look Back at Our 45th

June 7, 2014

Eleven Madison Park: Our 45th Anniversary

I never did post about it. So, as Michael and I get set to celebrate another year together, now seems an appropriate time to take a look back at what took place at Eleven Madison Park on Saturday evening, June 8, 2013.
First, some background info. Last year, our anniversary coincided with the Big Apple BBQ weekend.* During that annual event, EMP participates by offering music and liquid refreshments on the outdoor patio. When we stopped by in the afternoon, Will Guidara told us that he wasn’t going to be in that evening but some special things were in store for us. That there would be a surprise wasn’t exactly unusual since for previous birthday and anniversary celebrations, our EMP family had “cooked up” various amazing ways to do so. However, in our wildest imaginings, we could never have conjured up what actually transpired.

The task of doing some “research” was given to Service Director Billy Peelle. He told us he’d spent time reading through my entire blog (Poor Billy!) hoping it would yield an idea for a surprise that would especially suit commemorating our 45th. But he came up empty. His next move was contacting Jen. When he asked if she could tell him something about our wedding, she quipped, “Well, I wasn’t there.” Further conversation with Jen elicited the information that Michael and I had met at the (defunct) Concord Hotel, in the Catskills. It was during a Singles Week in August 1967. Having finished dinner, I was dawdling around the front lobby. Michael was at the top of the lobby’s staircase when he spotted me. Since I’d previously caught his eye one day as I walked through the lobby in my tennis whites, he came down the stairs and approached me. Would I be interested in having a drink with him? I replied that I didn’t drink but would be happy to keep him company. In the bar room, he ordered a Scotch on the rocks, we began chatting, and the rest, as the expression goes, is history. For Billy, where and how we met was just the kind of information he was looking for.

Now, in photos and some commentary, the tale of June 8, 2013.

Eleven Madison Park: Our 45th Anniversary

The EMP wizards managed to locate a spoon from the Concord Hotel’s silverware service. A fantastic souvenir for us!

Eleven Madison Park: Our 45th Anniversary

Michael started with a cocktail from the Manhattan cart while I had the virgin cocktail Gingered Ale.

Manhattan Cart

Manhattan

Gingered Ale

Savory Black & White Cookies with Cheddar and Apple start the food ball rolling.

Black & White Cookies (Savory)

Black & White Cookies (Savory)

Champagne

Champagne for a Toast

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin Snow with Smoked Summer Melon and Surf Clam

White Asparagus

White Asparagus Custard with Caviar and Rhubarb

This was added to Michael’s Champagne to make a White Velvet.

Bodegas El Maestro Sierra

For Michael:

Caviar

Royal Sterling Caviar with Buckwheat and Buttermilk

Since I don’t eat caviar:

Asparagus

Asparagus Salad with Bitter Almond, Buttermilk, and Miner’s Lettuce

As we waited for our next course, a carving table was wheeled up. Executive Sous Chef Dmitri Nagy appeared carrying a pan in which sat a huge tranch of roasted foie gras. Chef Daniel Humm was in the house. He arrived to do us the honor of carving and plating the foie gras. Since it’s no secret that I’m the Foie Gras Queen, all of this was a very special surprise.

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Foie Gras Roasted with Blueberry and Spring Onion

For the Foie Gras:

Black Muscat

Carrot

Carrot

Carrot Tartare with Rye Bread and Condiments

For the Carrot Tartare:

Keg Beer

Keg Beer from Long Island

Halibut

Halibut Seared with English Peas and Variation of Egg

For the Halibut:

Aligoté

Lobster

Lobster Butter Poached with Snap Peas, Morels, and Sweetbreads

For the Lobster:

Barley Ale

At this point, we were escorted to the kitchen which we have visited countless times. Chef Humm honored us by assisting in the preparation of our cocktails.

Kitchen Visit

Kitchen Visit: Cocktail

Although the kitchen had been the scene of surprises on previous special occasions, we were still totally rocked back in shock when Chef Humm presented us with this gift:  framed Concord Hotel postcards including one showing the front lobby with staircase, as noted above, the place where Michael and I first met. On the back, many members of the staff had signed it.

Eleven Madison Park: Our 45th Anniversary

Eleven Madison Park: Our 45th Anniversary

We returned to the dining room.

Squab

Squab Roasted with Mushrooms, Garlic, and Pine Nuts

Lamb

Lamb Crisped with Ramps, Bib Lettuce, and Meyer Lemon

Then came this OMG! surprise:

Eleven Madison Park: Our 45th Anniversary

The knives are stored and each time we dine, they are brought out for us to use when the main course is served. We used them for the first time with this course:

Lamb

Lamb Roasted with Freekeh, Mint, and Ramps

For the Squab and the Lamb:

Carcaghjolu Neru

Picnic Basket

Picnic Basket

Picnic Basket: Greensward Cheese, Pretzel, Pickled Strawberry, and Ale

Egg Cream

Egg Cream

Egg Cream: Malt with Vanilla and Seltzer

Another special treat: Severing a 1983 Bottle of Porto with Hot Tongs.

Severing a 1983 Bottle of Porto with Hot Tongs

Severing a 1983 Bottle of Porto with Hot Tongs

Severing a 1983 Bottle of Porto with Hot Tongs

Severing a Bottle of 1983 Porto with Hot Tongs

1983 Porto

Cheesecake

Cheesecake: Sheep’s Milk with Berries, Orange, and Vanilla

Card Trick Chocolate

Card Trick Chocolates

Siphon Coffee

Siphon Coffee

The meal ended with Chocolate Covered Pretzels with Sea Salt and, coming full circle, with sweet Black & White Cookies with Apricot.

Pretzel

Black & White Cookies (Sweet)

They weren’t quite done with gifts: Made Nice Canvas Bags and Tee Shirts

Eleven Madison Park: Our 45th Anniversary

Eleven Madison Park: Our 45th Anniversary

The last gift. Pastry Chef Angela Pinkerton made us this Strawberry Shortcake Tart.

Eleven Madison Park: Our 45th Anniversary

It’s particularly significant because the header photo of this blog is a picture of the strawberry shortcake tart that used to be served several years ago when EMP offered a dessert cart at lunch.

Eleven Madison Park: Our 45th Anniversary

Signed Menus

I think you can see why our 45th anniversary celebration will forever remain one of our most memorable evenings. I can’t imagine our EMP family will ever be able to top it. But with those endlessly inventive folks, you never can tell.

Kitchen Visit

45 Years and Counting….


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