NYT Thursday Puzzle – April 16, 2015

April 16, 2015

NYT Thursday Puzzle - April 16, 2015

Theme: (20-Across) You go your way + (49-Across) enim og lli dna (and I’ll go mine). In the top half of the grid, across answers go the right way, while in the bottom half, they go BACKWARD/DRAWKCAB (33- and 38-Across).

It took me a bit to figure out the gimmick, but once I did, filling in the grid wasn’t very difficult for a Thursday puzzle. It was fun determining the bottom half across answers and then filling them in backward.

Passover Dinner at Telepan

April 11, 2015

We’d been to Telepan once before. I’m not precisely sure when that was. However, given that Telepan has been open nine years and that dinner pre-dates when I began taking photos of our restaurant meals (2007), I’m guessing it was around 2005. Obviously, we didn’t exactly rush back. While we liked the ambiance, our server had an abrupt and off-putting demeanor. But more important than that – actually, most important – the food was nothing special, a disappointment considering the positive reviews we’d read at that time. It’s also apparent that our opinion was in the minority since Telepan remains one of the most popular restaurants on the Upper West Side.

As I mentioned in my post about our Passover dinner at BLT Prime, there would be no Seders this year. Instead, we would be dining out. My research regarding which restaurants were offering special Passover dinners yielded a short list. After choosing BLT for the first Seder night for the four of us, Michael and I needed another for the second. (Jen and Louis would not be going with us.) Telepan was offering the special dinner for only the first and second nights. When we looked at the menu, we both found it immensely appealing, so we decided to give the place another chance.

Telepan

Arriving promptly for our 8 p.m. reservation, we would have been seated immediately, but the table the hostess led us to didn’t appeal to me. The restaurant has an odd layout with two somewhat narrow dining areas separated by a thick wall, both leading to a more wide open space. This table was in one of the narrow areas, and I preferred to sit in the more spacious area. (Michael didn’t mind deferring to my preference.) After checking, the hostess said a table in that area would be available in a few minutes. We agreed to wait at the bar, at which point she informed us that if we ordered drinks, we would have to settle our bill there before going to our table. Though we didn’t intend to order anything at the bar, frankly, I think a restaurant of Telepan’s caliber should have a system whereby one’s bar bill is transferred to the dinner bill.

The wait was much shorter than expected, and we were soon seated at a two-top at the rear of the dining room. Though the décor seemed similar to what I remembered, I had read that it had been refreshed in 2013. White linen covers the tables, white walls are adorned in various spots with large framed photos of vegetables (very colorful), windows are dressed with simple green drapes, and lighting is perfect. The pleasantness of this ambiance was furthered by a low noise level and – hard to believe these days — no music!

DSC05893

Our server was prompt bringing menus and eliciting our water choices (as always, sparkling for Michael and tap for me). We told him we would be doing the Passover menu. A prix-fixe, it included an amuse, soup, a fish course, a meat course, and dessert. Only the fish and meat courses had choices, two each. Both of us selected the same dishes for those two. After perusing the wine list, Michael ordered one glass of a Brunello.

Brunello

We were surprised that the bottle was not presented at the table and the wine poured there. Again, something a restaurant of Telepan’s caliber should be doing with wines by the glass.

Matzo

Matzoh

We’d never seen small squares like these before. (They were actually smaller than the photo makes them appear.) They were accompanied by butter which, happily, was soft enough to be easily spread, a huge plus when dealing with matzoh.

Amuse

Amuse

Dried Fruit Chutney-Apple Salad, Potato Latke with Smoked Trout, and Chopped Liver on Matzoh

The salad had a nice mix of textures and flavors plus a tasty dressing. The latke was crisp, and a layer of cream was topped with the lightly smoked trout. Another great combination of textures and flavors. We know from chopped liver and this was heavenly chopped liver. An impressive start!

Spring Vegetable Soup

Spring Vegetable Soup with Matzoh Balls and Dill Oil

Michael, who is a chicken soup maven since it is his favorite soup, said this was one of the best versions he’s ever had, far superior to the soup the previous evening at BLT. I’m not a big chicken soup fan but had to agree it was delicious. Great depth of flavor in the broth, tasty vegetables, and light matzoh balls.

Wild Striped Bass

Wild Striped Bass with Asparagus, Black & Gold Rice, and Lemon

Striped bass is one of my favorite fishes. It was cooked perfectly so that the flavor-filled flesh retained its juiciness. I usually don’t eat fish skin. But in this case, it was so thoroughly crisp that I couldn’t help gobbling it up. I adore asparagus and always welcome its appearance this time of year as a sign of spring. I’m not sure what types of rice constituted “black & gold,”* but it was cooked precisely and was seriously delicious.  To sum up this dish in one word: Fabulous!

Roasted & Braised Chicken

Roasted & Braised Chicken with Olive, Spicy Chick Peas, and Chard

This dish was nicely done. Getting white meat chicken to remain succulent is a challenge, but it was more than met here. The olives, chick peas* (the spice level was fairly understated), and chard were a pleasing combo.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake

Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake with Coconut Sorbet

This is the dessert that at one time was on practically every restaurant menu (and is still the signature at Jean-Georges). The interior of the warm cake was properly melty. I love coconut sorbet, so I was happy to have it in lieu of vanilla ice cream, my other favorite accompaniment for this type of dessert.

A truly fine dinner! However, I do have to say that the pacing was very uneven. While the timing between the amuse and the soup was fine, it was off for the rest of the meal. The wait between the soup and fish course became long enough for us to notice and for me to joke to Michael, “Maybe they’re out catching the fish?!” It wasn’t as though the place was slammed since not every table was occupied, and there were no overly large parties. We surmised some problem in the kitchen, but our server never came by to offer an explanation. Happily, when the fish finally arrived, it was at the correct temperature – hot! — and, as already described, delicious. The pacing then took the opposite turn. We had barely finished the last bite and had our plates cleared when the chicken was served. Not much in the way of breathing room either before the dessert came out.

One other small quibble. I would have preferred the portions to have been a tad smaller because by the time I got to dessert, I was feeling a bit full. But that’s a totally personal thing and a minor complaint given how wonderful the food was. In that regard, Telepan fully redeemed itself.

*Note: For Ashkenazi Jews, rice and chick peas are among the foods forbidden during Passover. Not so for Sephardic Jews. At home, we keep to the restrictions during the eight days but are not so strict when dining out. While the alternate fish and meat dishes were Ashkenazi-friendly, we much preferred the dishes we chose.

The entire photo set for this dinner can be viewed on my Flickr here.

Happy Siblings Day!

April 10, 2015

DSC05894

Mel and Me (1948)

Passover Dinner at BLT Prime

April 4, 2015

Why is this Passover different from all Passovers before it? The answer, Dear Friends, will not be found in the Haggadah. In fact, yesterday, the first night of Passover, our Haggadahs remained on the shelf, as they will tonight. That’s because this year, I decided to make things very easy for myself by totally departing from tradition. So, no Seders, “Express” or otherwise! Also, I did no baking. Ergo, no Caramel Chocolate Crunch and no Cheese Pie with My Kichel Crust. I bought a couple of cans of macaroons and a box of Ring Jells, and that was that!

However, just because there would be no Seders did not mean forgoing festive meals. So, yesterday evening, we went to BLT Prime (Yes, that would be the steakhouse!) where — Surprise! Surprise! — they offer a special Passover menu for the entire eight days. I actually discovered that they were doing this last year. Since I don’t recall seeing anything about it prior to that, it might have been the first time. But in any case, Michael and I tried it and were thrilled with how delicious the food was. This time, Jen and Louis joined us.

I have to admit that I liked last year’s menu better. Nevertheless, everything was well-prepared, and we all enjoyed the meal.

Matzoh

Matzoh

Matzoh Ball Soup

Matzoh Ball Soup with Chicken Broth

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Parsley Pistou

Braised Lamb Shank

Braised Lamb Shank with Kale and Horseradish Salt

Potato Leek Hashbrowns

Potato Leek Hashbrowns

Glazed Carrots

Glazed Carrots

Asparagus

Asparagus

Ice Cream Sundae

Ice Cream Sundae

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream* and Hazelnuts

And the best part? When we were finished, I didn’t have to clean up!

This evening, Michael and I will be doing the special Passover menu at Telepan. Stay tuned for that report.

*Note: The ice cream on the menu was banana, but I requested vanilla.

The entire photo album for this dinner can be seen on my Flickr here.

NYT Thursday Puzzle – April 2, 2015

April 3, 2015

NYT Thursday Puzzle - April 2, 2015

Theme: Anagrams and Synonyms. Four answers are synonyms for THUS, which is spelled out by the black squares on the grid, and three anagrams.

1A. Cabanas (HUTS)
8D. Rear (TUSH)
21A. Seal (SHUT)
26D. Ergo (THUS)

Though I pretty quickly realized that anagrams would be involved, it took me a little while to figure out the synonyms aspect. Overall, a pretty easy puzzle for a Thursday.

In the “you learn something new every day” category:
4-Down. Tropical palm. Answer: Areca
9-Down. Thessaly’s Mount _____. Answer: Ossa

Dining Out: January – March 2015

April 1, 2015

Tocqueville

January

New York City

Dinner

Grilled Seafood Sausage
élan

Duck à l’Orange (for two)
Rotisserie Georgette

Whole Grilled Branzino
Upland

Scallops and Langoustine Potage

The Modern Dining Room

Raviolo al Uovo
Maialino

Veal Chop alla Rossini
Del Posto

Whole Charcoal Roasted Pheasant for Two
betony

Lunch

LBT Burger

The Little Beet Table

Brunch

Beer-brined Half Chicken
Marta

Prime Rib Burger
Cherche Midi

Cara Cara Orange Salad

Union Square Café

February

New York City

Dinner

Slow Cooked Lamb Neck

Upland

Sigara Boregi

Turkish Kitchen

NY Strip Steak

BLT Prime

Lavraki

Loi Estiatoria

Duck Foie Gras Confit

Monte-Carlo nyc

Sweetbreads and Birch Syrup

Aquavit

Rare Salmon

Del Posto

Pan Seared Duck Breast

Café Boulud

Lunch

Five Lettuce "Caesar"

Upland

Chicken Milanese

Union Square Cafe

Beef Filet En Croute (for two)

The Modern Bar Room

Squid Ink Spaghetti

Gramercy Tavern Dining Room

Lobster Newberg

Eleven Madison Park

Brunch

Arctic Char

NoMad

March

New York City

Dinner

Porterhouse Pork Chop

Gato

Husk Meringue

Cosme

Roast Peppered Duck

Union Square Café 30th Anniversary

Chicken and Crepes

Dirty French

Sautéed Ocean Trout

betony

Onion Naan

Haldi

Lunch

Luke's Lobster

Luke’s Lobster

Pizza

Rocky Slims

Fennel

Eleven Madison Park

The complete photo sets (albums) of all these meals can be viewed here on my Flickr.

Harbinger of Spring

March 30, 2015

Winter has been refusing to loosen its grip, so it appears March will go out if not like a lion then like a chilly cub. However, a few days go, looking out to our backyard through the upstairs master bath window, I noticed that this one branch had buds on it. I’m going to take it as a sign, albeit a small one, that warmer spring temperatures are just around the proverbial corner.

At Home:  Harbinger of Spring

Spring? Really?!!

March 20, 2015

The vernal equinox, aka Spring, officially arrived at 6:45 p.m., EDT.  But you wouldn’t know it from today’s weather.  Winter just didn’t want to let go! It started snowing late morning and continued all day.

Snow:  First Day of Spring 2015

Snow:  First Day of Spring 2015

We’re in the 4″-6″ zone, but it looks as though we got only about 2 inches.

NYT Thursday Puzzle – March 12, 2015

March 14, 2015

NYT Thursday Puzzle - March 12, 2015

The theme is found at 54-Across: Warning before a detonation … and a hint to 16 of this puzzle’s answers. Answer: [Fire] in the hole. The 16 answers (which include 54-Across) are missing the word “Fire.” The “holes” are the 2×2 black squares adjacent to each answer.

9D. Metaphor for quick-spreading success = Wild fire
10D. British W.W. II plane = Spitfire
24A. Risks disaster = Plays with fire
26A. Illegal place to park = Fire lane
28A. Rat-a-tat-tat = Gun fire
29A. Stinging insects = Fire ants
31D. Failure = Misfire
32D. Feature of a big outdoor party = Bonfire
34D. Like a hearth = Fire lit
35D. Emergency tool for breaking down doors = Fire axe
47A. Start shooting = Open fire
50A. Many a calendar beefcake = Fireman
53A. Impossible to fail = Surefire
58D. Chapter 11 event, maybe = Fire sale
59D. Building safety feature = Fire exit

Pretty easy for a Thursday puzzle and fun to complete.

In Like a Lion…

March 10, 2015

It’s too early to know if February will turn out to be the cruelest month of 2015. Regardless, there’s no denying that the unending sub-zero and single digit temperatures were horrible! Adding to the misery were several snowstorms and dangerous icy conditions. A day of respite here and there (you know things are really bad when you’re thrilled to see temperatures in the mid-30’s!), but it never warmed up enough to allow the snow to dissipate.

Hopes that March would not adhere to the proverbial “In like a lion…” were immediately dashed the first week by the continuation of frigid temps and yet another snowstorm all day last Thursday.

Yes, pretty to look at.

March 2015 Snowstorm

But enough is enough! We got about 7 inches on top of snow that had turned to rock-hard ice.

March 2015 Snowstorm

Late in the afternoon, Todd – always dependable! — came by to plow us out.

March 2015 Snowstorm

Temperatures were still Arctic-like on Friday.

March 2015 Snowstorm

But did you notice the slight warming trend?  And there was an even better forecast temperature-wise for the week ahead.

March 2015 Snowstorm

Indeed, yesterday and today, when I went out to do some errands, the outside temperature on my car’s thermometer read 50! What a thrill not having to bundle up like Nanook of the North!

It would be great if this continues and the rest of March is like the “lamb” half of the proverb.


Uppity Woman

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

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