NYT Sunday Puzzle – August 2, 2015

August 2, 2015

NYT Sunday Puzzle - August 2, 2015
Title: Literally Speaking

Theme: The letters in the circled squares follows the directions given by the full answer.

(Note: The letters in bold are in the circled squares.)
20A. Result of a successful audition = Callback
25A. Instant = Split second
37A. In bits = Torn to shreds
46A. Kind of pie = Mincemeat
54A. Lose that loving feeling = Drift apart
62A. Diner offering = Scrambled eggs
72A. Art type = Mixed media
83A. # # # = Hash marks
90A. Like 0’s and 1’s in binary numbers = Intermingled
105A. Card sharp’s deception = Fast shuffle
112A. Whole – Unbroken

Sunday puzzles become available on-line at 6 p.m. on Saturday. I print them out and use a pencil. (Yeah, when it comes to doing puzzles, I prefer the old-fashioned way.) I started working on this one just after 6 yesterday, continued off and on until I took a break to prepare dinner, came back to it, plugged away, and finished before midnight. I did struggle a bit with a few of the theme answers and others. But overall, this was a fairly easy puzzle.

Some answers I didn’t know or didn’t remember:

18A. Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Answer: Aruba.

19A. Grammy-nominated song by Alanis Morissette. Answer: Thanku.

30A. “Fifty Shades of Grey” woman. Answer: Ana

31A. Boat on “Jaws.” Answer: Orca.

110 A. “Red” Holy Roman emperor. Answer: Otto II.

113A. “Taken” star. Answer: Neeson (Liam). .

32D. Foe in “Rocky.” Answer: Creed (Apollo).

64D. Adorn, in old literature. Answer: Dight.

72D. Country once known as French Sudan. Answer: Mali.

NYT Thursday Puzzle – July 30, 2015

July 30, 2015

NYT Thursday Puzzle - July 30, 2015

Theme: 45-Down: Creator of the characters added in 17-, 28-, 44-, and 57-Across. Answer: Alcott (Louisa May). Characters’ names added on to the four familiar phrases are the sisters in Little Women.

17A. Hardy brown spice? = Tough nutmeg
28A. Company that will get you a second spouse? = Bigamy business
44A. Extremely tacky production of a Shakespeare play? = Macbeth n cheese
57A. Country instrument played by a migrant? = Travel banjo

Not too difficult for a Thursday puzzle. Before I figured out the theme, I already had some letters for 45-Down and considered filling in “Alcott” but didn’t do so. However, it became immediately apparent that it was the correct answer when I got the first of the theme answers, 57-Across. Since I next got 17-Across, I presumed the other two names had to be at the end of the phrases. Obviously not.

Some interesting answers:

1A. Chronicler of the English Restoration. Answer: Pepys (Samuel). I was an English teacher. Enough said….
10D. TV news host Melissa _____ -Perry. Answer: Harris. I watch very little TV news so don’t know her.
43A. Lexington’s _____ Arena. Answer: Rupp. No idea. Via Wiki, named for University of Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp who died in 1977, a year after the arena opened.
53D. Duncan of Obama’s cabinet. Answer: Arne. I follow politics.
62A. Actress Gunn of “Breaking Bad.” Answer: Anna. Watched and enjoyed this series.

NYT Sunday Puzzle – July 19, 2015

July 19, 2015

NYT Sunday Puzzle - July 19, 2015

Title: The Short Form

Theme: Familiar phrases in which one word is abbreviated. That abbreviation becomes a word helping to form a silly phrase that relates to the clue.

23A. “Belt it out, Adam!”? = First person sing (singular)
38A. “I forbid you from providing special access”? = Don’t give an in (inch)
42A. Your father’s blockheadedness = Pop density (population)
66A. Coin flip with a penny? = Turn of the cent (century)
92A. Emotional problem that’s surprisingly fitting? = Apt complex (apartment)
94A. Prepared some amazing Mediterranean fruit? = Cut quite a fig (figure)
112A. Do a bad job as a watchman? = Lookout for no one (number)

I filled in the upper right section of the puzzle almost immediately, including 38-Across. Once I had that, the theme became quite obvious. For some reason known only to my brain, I had the most difficulty completing 92-Across. I got “Apt” right away, but “complex” eluded me for quite a while. Overall, this was an easy and enjoyable puzzle.

A few answers in the “you learn something new every day” category:

21-Across: Border river between China and Russia. Answer: Amur.
87-Across: Title parrot in a 1998 film. Answer: Paulie.
74-Down: Math set with an unspecified number of elements. Answer: N Tuple.
88-Down: Flower that symbolizes immortality. Answer: Amaranth.

At Home: July 4th BBQ on the 3rd

July 4, 2015

Jen and Louis were off yesterday, so they came out to the house for the annual July 4th barbecue. From the train, Jen texted me: “We’re hungry!” My reply: “Everything’s ready!”

Instead of having lunch and dinner as we’ve done in past years, we had decided to have just one early afternoon meal. The weather was perfect for eating on the patio.

While Michael went to Matawan Station to pick them up, I skedaddled to Staatl’s Farm to get some corn. It will be a couple of weeks until their own corn is ready, but they have Jersey white corn from further south.

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)

We started things off with gazpacho and guacamole – both homemade – along with tortilla chips that are gluten-free, a necessity for Louis, but which also happen to be delicious.

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)
Food Should Taste Good Brand All Natural
Multigrain Tortilla Chips

For the main part of the meal, there were Missouri-style babyback ribs (recipe from The Thrill of the Grill, by Chris Schlesinger & John Willoughby), homemade barbecue sauce, the aforementioned corn, and “Clairmont Diner Health Salad.” The health salad recipe was given to me years ago by Michael’s mother. She got it from one of her sisters who lived near the diner and swore it was authentic.

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)

Dessert was kept simple: various flavors of ice cream, gelato, and sorbet.

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)

At Home:  July 4th Cookout (2015)
Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

The ice cream was the last of the batch made from strawberries I pricked myself at Battleview Orchards in late May.

Happy July 4th to all!

Dining Out: April – June 2015

July 1, 2015



New York City


Braised Lamb Shank
BLT Prime

Roasted & Braised Chicken

Cara Cara Orange Salad
Union Square Café

Cole Slaw

Carpentras White Asparagus



Picnic Basket Fried Chicken
Blue Smoke

Super, Duper Stack Burger
Genuine Superette

Plain Pie
Rocky Slims

Spring Veal
Eleven Madison Park

Late Supper:

Hemant's Tandoor Grilled Lamb Chops


New York City


Bien Cuit


Sugar Snap Peas and Charred Beets
Untitled at the Whitney Museum

Eleven Madison Park


New York City


Tomato Salad
The Clocktower

Foie Gras Torchon

La Gamelle

Compliments of the House

Anniversary Gift
Eleven Madison Park

Seared Foie Gras


Lord Baltimore Cake
The Simone

Pesce a la Griglia

Keens's Coffee Cantata

Striped Bass “en Paupiette”
Café Boulud


Rocky Slims

Roasted King Salmon
The Clocktower

Chicken Liver Cavatelli

Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium

Sigara Boregi
Turkish Kitchen

Foie Gras Sautéed with Rhubarb
The Modern Dining Room

Lobster Ravioli
Del Posto

Sturgeon & Sauerkraut Tart
Gabriel Kreuther

Pink Lady Apple Tarte Tatin for Two
The Clocktower


Burgers and Fries
Shake Shack

Pastry Basket

Late Supper:

Eggplant Timballo
The Leopard at des Artistes

Harissa Charred Yellowfin Tuna
Boulud Sud


The NoMad Library:  Scotch Olives
The NoMad Library


The NoMad Library
The NoMad Library

Click here to see the complete photo sets of all the places listed here on my Flickr.

The Foie Gras Queen Returns!

June 30, 2015

Well, she hasn’t really been gone. But considering that since the beginning of this year, I’d had foie gras just seven times – a rather paltry number by Foie Gras Queen standards — you might say I was on a semi-hiatus.

In fear of losing my queenly status, I needed to do something about it toute de suite. An excellent opportunity presented itself earlier this month when we celebrated our 47th anniversary. During our week-long stay in NYC, I had foie gras in some way, shape, or form six out of the seven days. Thus, in one week, I was just one foie gras short of the number I’d had in the previous five months.*

Monday: My week of foie gras started on our anniversary at Daniel. Quite the production number, the foie gras was flambéed and plated tableside.

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Foie Gras
Kirsch Flambéed Hudson Valley Foie Gras
Bing Cherries, Almond Cream, Anise Hyssop, Dandelion Salad

Tuesday: As I detailed in this previous post, we were at EMP. The tasting menu-only format always includes foie gras. Diners are given the choice between foie gras cold or hot. Since we’d had the spring menu’s cold version during a prior visit, we both chose the hot.

Foie Gras
Foie Gras
Seared with Sorrel and Horseradish

Wednesday: Dinner was at NoMad. Though there is a foie gras torchon dish on the appetizer list, Michael and I decided to have the new Charcuterie Board for two. Lucky for me that among its various items was a jar filled with – Yes! — a torchon of foie gras.


Charcuterie: “The Butcher’s Block”

Now, here’s the thing. When I made the reservation via OpenTable, I didn’t mention our anniversary. However, since NoMad is the sister restaurant of EMP (both under the Made Nice company umbrella), turned out that little EMP birdies told the staff at NoMad about it. So, NoMad’s executive chef James Kent, who was previously the chef de cuisine at EMP, hatched a surprise. Along with the charcuterie, he sent out a seared foie gras dish he created especially for us! We were totally floored and extremely appreciative of this gesture.

Seared Foie Gras
Seared Foie Gras with Rhubarb

Thursday: We did the tasting menu at Betony. Before opening Betony a little over two years ago, Chef Bryce Shuman was the executive sous chef at EMP. Like the tasting menus there, Bryce’s tasting menus always include foie gras. In this one, that would be twice.

Foie Gras Bonbons

Foie Gras Brulée
Foie Gras Brulée

Friday: The Modern Dining Room was the setting for lunch where another EMP alum, Chef Abram Bissell is in charge of the kitchen. His menu there always includes both hot and cold foie preparations. Though I like torchons and terrines, I do favor seared or roasted foie gras, so that’s what I chose.

Foie Gras Sautéed with Rhubarb
Foie Gras Sautéed
With Rhubarb, Basil, and Lime

Saturday: We had dinner with Jen and Louis at The Simone. While the regular menu did not include a foie gras dish, happily for me, it was one of the specials.

Sautéed Foie Gras
Sautéed Foie Gras with Apricot

Thinking about this variety of foie gras dishes, I realized something interesting. While hot foie gras is traditionally accompanied by something sweet, fruit being a favorite choice – as at Daniel and The Simone – you might have noted that in several instances, the accompaniments were savory in nature, for example, the rhubarb at both NoMad and The Modern. In those cases, there was enough of a hint of sweetness added to make the dish work very well.

Which was my favorite? Honestly, I’m hard-pressed to choose. Each and every one was seriously delicious. All in all, a terrific comeback for the Foie Gras Queen!

*P.S. I actually ended up equaling the previous five months’ total with another foie gras dish at the end of the month. However, rather than include it here, I’ll discuss it in an upcoming post about the brand new restaurant where I had it. Have I piqued your interest? If so, stay tuned!

Links to the complete photo sets:
Eleven Madison Park
The Modern Dining Room
The Simone

NYT Sunday Puzzle – June 28, 2015

June 28, 2015

NYT Sunday Puzzle - June 28, 2015

Title: Getting in the Final Word

Theme: This one’s a bit complicated to explain. Answers are familiar phrases containing the word “in,” but “in” is not written out. The first part of the phrase crosses the last part which is a single word.  Ergo, the first part is “in” the second part. Also, one letter in the final word needs to be mentally dropped to make it the correct word for completing the phrase.

3D. With 18-Across, “To be on the safe side…”/18A. Gay rights, e.g. = Just/Cause = Just in case

16D. With 21-Across, remembering/21A. Like some enemy waters in wartime = Keeping/Mined = Keeping in mind

30A. With 13-Down, shorthand pact for a wild trip/13D. Unlikely butchers = What happens/Vegans = What happens in Vegas

52A. With 49-Down, 1995 Oscar-nominated Pixar theme song/49D. Good name for a lawn care guy = You’ve Got a Friend/Moe = You’ve Got a Friend in Me

80A. With 58-Down, request for an official document/58D. Twisting = Could you put that/Writhing = Can you put that in writing?

101A. With 90-Down, reacting to a gut punch, perhaps/90D. Bristol, for one = Doubled over/Palin = Doubled over in pain

87D. With 104-Across, talking with a fake rasp, perhaps/104A. Cleverly crafted = Calling/Slick = Calling in sick

109D. With 125-Across, got the booby prize/125A. Tiniest thing = Came/Least = Came in last

It’s definitely been a dry spell — a whole month, actually — since I last posted a puzzle. So. it was nice to finish this one error-free. Clever and entertaining.

Happy Birthday, Jen!

June 22, 2015

Jen R.

Father’s Day 2015

June 21, 2015

Dad and me (1943)

Michael and Jen (1971)

Our 47th Anniversary Celebration at Eleven Madison Park

June 19, 2015

Eleven Madison Park:  Our 47th Anniversary

O.K., Wizard fans! I’m not going to make you wait until next year to read about our 47th anniversary celebration at EMP and to learn what surprises they had in store for us. But before I get into it, I should tell you that for the second year in a row, we were not able to celebrate there on the actual date. Unlike last year, it was not because of anything related to the Big Apple BBQ because this year, our anniversary did not coincide with that event which took place the following weekend. This time, EMP was closed for a private party on Monday, June 8th, so we moved our reservation to Tuesday, the 9th. Let me assure you that did not in any way make it feel less special.

We were in the reception area being greeted by various members of the staff when… Surprise! Will Guidara was in the house! A few moments after we arrived, the man himself with his dazzling smile and ebullient personality was actually there in the flesh! These days, he’s rarely in during our monthly visits, so the fact that he made it his business to be there to offer us anniversary wishes was such a treat and started the evening off on a high note.

At our table, the lovely card pictured above awaited. During our discussion about the menu with our captain Elizabeth, she suggested doing something unique – something we’d not done before. Normally, diners select one of the two options for the main savory course. Chef Humm’s signature duck is always one of the choices. For the spring menu, the other choice is the aged veal, which we’d had in April and loved. Why not, Elizabeth posited, have both? Since we’d requested that the carrot tartare be eliminated (although we like it, we’d had it way too many times), this would be a splendid way to fill that gap. We also decided to have the seared foie gras preparation since we’d already had the terrine version. We were offered two choices for the cheese course as well. I chose the Farmer cheese (I love its creaminess and mild flavor) while Michael opted for the local selections. We also had a choice for dessert between strawberry and chocolate. Since it was strawberry season, and it’s one of our favorite fruits, that was a no-brainer. Michael then chatted with Dev, the sommelier, about pairings. Of course, there would be some wines from the Coravin list served in Zalto glasses. I requested my favorite French Sparkling Cider. And so on to the meal….

Michael’s favorite Champagne

A bit of Krug for me for a Champagne anniversary toast


Krug for Michael

Black and White Cookies

Black and White Cookies with Cheddar and Apple

Morel Custard with Trout Roe

English Peas
English Peas Glazed with Buffalo Yogurt and Garlic

Radish Salad with Pike and Nasturtium

Caviar Benedict with Egg, Ham, and Asparagus

Benedict sans Caviar (for me)

House Made English Muffins
House Made English Muffins for the Benedict

House Made Rolls, Butters, and Salt
House Made Rolls, Butters, and Sea Salt

Foie Gras
Foie Gras Seared with Sorrel and Horseradish

Lobster Butter-Poached with Dandelion and Ginger

I don’t remember exactly when but during this part of the evening, Chef Daniel Humm stopped by our table to offer his best wishes. As with Will, we hadn’t seen much of Daniel lately, so it was great having the opportunity to chat with him.

Just after the lobster course, Zach, one of the maître d’s, appeared. After offering his felicitations, he escorted us to the kitchen. Shaved ice cups were prepared. Michael’s contained liquor; mine did not.

Kitchen Visit

We chatted with Zach and other staff members. Executive Sous Chef Dmitri Nagy, who was in charge of the kitchen that evening, spent a few minutes with us.

Kitchen Visit
Executive Sous Chef Dmitri Nagy facing towards the camera

Normally, the preview of the Asparagus “en vessie” (in a pig’s bladder), which would be our next course and which we’ve had previously, is done tableside. But they surprised us by presenting it in the kitchen.

Kitchen Visit

When we make these kitchen visits, I usually just take a few photos of the shaved ices being prepared and maybe a shot of the pass. This time, Zach kept encouraging me to take photos of other areas. And when we left, instead of leading us out the way we always come in, which is through the service area, he took us to the side exit, along the way exhorting me to continue taking photos, which I did. From this exit, we came out near the reception area.

In retrospect, we should have suspected that something was up. But we didn’t. And that’s because on these special occasions, we get so caught up with having such a good time, we don’t think about what they might have planned, which is why we’re always taken by surprise.

We followed Zach through the dining room back to our table. When we got to it, we stopped short and gasped. A gift had been placed on the table.

Anniversary Gift

Here’s why this was so amazing. The day before, I’d posted this wedding photo on the blog. They made a very fine copy of the photo and had it surrounded by a heavy lucite frame. Staff members then signed their good wishes on the front of the frame. The lovely bow was the finishing touch. I know they monitor my blog, but to come up with this?! And to get it done in just a day’s time! Utterly astounding! I’ve said many times before that we don’t even bother trying to figure out how they are going to surprise us because it’s bound to be something even in our wildest dreams we couldn’t imagine. And so, once again, they’d done exactly that with this beautiful memento.

If we were on a high before, our spirits were now way up in the stratosphere as we finished the rest of the meal.

Asparagus “en vessie” with Potato and Black Truffle

Duck Roasted with Lavender Honey, Rhubarb, and Spring Onion

Our Engraved Knives
Our engraved knives: EMP’s gift to us on our 45th anniversary

Veal Dry-Aged with Ramps and Bone Marrow

Farmer Cheese
Farmer Cheese (for me)

Local Selections (for Michael)

Whey Sorbet with Caramelized Milk and Yogurt

Strawberry Variations with Vanilla and Elderflower

Chocolate Course: “Name That Milk”

Siphon Coffee
Siphon Coffee

Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt

Along with the homemade granola that all the guests receive as a parting gift, Elizabeth had the kitchen pack us a boatload of those pretzels to take home. Anyone celebrating a special occasion also receives the candy bar. This version was chocolate covered coconut.

Celebration Candy Bars

From the moment we walked through the revolving door at 8 p.m. until we exited near 2 a.m. the next morning, it was another memorable evening. “Thank you!” hardly seems adequate to tell the wonderful folks at EMP how much we appreciate what they did for us and always do. We’re truly honored that they consider us members of the EMP family.

Eleven Madison Park

To see the entire photo set of this dinner, including the wines for Michael’s pairings, click here.

Uppity Woman

I'm just one of those Uppity Women. Live with it.


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