NYT Sunday Puzzle – October 4, 2015

October 4, 2015

NYT Sunday Puzzle - October 4, 2015

Title: Sound Argument

Theme: A childish debate (28- and 109-Across) and the phonetic sound of “is.” There are *four theme answers where the “is” sound must be inserted and **four where it must be deleted. By adjusting that sound as needed, wacky phrases become common phrases.

21A. *Shrink who’s always changing his diagnosis? = Fickle therapist (Add f[is]ckle = physical)
26A. **What ballet patrons dine on? = Dancing cuisine (Delete cu[is]ine = queen)
40A. *Oregon State’s mascot played by actress Arthur? = Bea as a beaver (Add B[is]ea = busy)
54A. **A deal on Afro wigs? = Buy one get one frizzy (Delete fr[izz]y = free)
80A. *How actor Bill feels about houseguests? = Murray loves company (Add M[is]urray = misery)
95A. **Find cake of Jell-o in the back of the fridge? = Dig up dessert (Delete d[ess]ert = dirt)
113A. *Fall colors? = Autumn spectrum (Add Aut[is]mn = Autism)
121A. **Question from El Al security? = Are you for Israel (Delete [Is]real = real)

Understanding the theme was a challenge. It was one of those puzzles where even after filling in most of the theme answers, I still couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. The proverbial light bulb came on when I realized it was all about phonetics.

Dining Out: July – September 2015

October 1, 2015



New York City


Roasted Dover Sole

The Clocktower

Cherry Tomatoes


Duck Breast


Roasted Pineapple


Foie Gras Two Ways





Chicken Under a Brick



Eleven Madison Park


Corn Agnolotti

The Modern Bar Room


New York City




Crème Glacée

Ai Fiori


Margherita Pizza


Blueberry and Nectarine Tart


Fairytale Eggplant

betony (Produce Playoff 2)

Pigeon Pie

The Clocktower

Colorado Lamb Rack in Hay Stack

Gabriel Kreuther

Sweet Corn Custard

The Modern Dining Room



Eleven Madison Park

Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken

Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken

Margherita Rosso



Salvation Taco

Kohlrabi and Peach Salad

The Vine


Creekstone Prime Skirt Steak

The Clocktower

Late Supper:

Pollo alla Diavola



New York City



Kat and Theo

Soufflé Chaud Chocolat


Grilled Red Snapper

all’onda (Rosh Hashanah)


Tocqueville (Rosh Hashanah)

Jersey Corn Tart

Little Park

Pippali Samosa


28 Days Dry Aged NY Strip Loin

Black Barn

Roast Chicken


Frozen Cheesecake

Rocky Slims


Pepperoni Pizza

Rocky Slims


Nick’s Pizza Bar

Red Hook Lobster Pound

Madison Square Eats

Dégustation de Charcuterie

Bar Boulud

Corn Agnolotti


Foie Gras

Eleven Madison Park

Cheese Blintzes

B&H Dairy

Late Supper:


Maialino Bar Room

Photo sets of all these meals can be viewed on my Flickr here.

NYT Thursday Puzzle – September 24, 2015

September 25, 2015

NYT Thursday Puzzle - September 24, 2015

Theme: Silly phrases within which two letters are strung together five times.

17A. One volume in the Encyclopedia of Movie Pets and Sidekicks? = Tonto to Toto tome
27A. Let someone’s father borrow this Arp or Duchamp? = Lend a dad a DaDa
46A. Statement from the proud snake as its eggs were hatching? = I am a mama mamba
58A. Recounting of the time you introduced the Egyptian goddess of fertility? = This is Isis I said

I caught on early to the theme though it did take a bit of doing to actually figure out the phrases. A fun puzzle and fairly easy for a Thursday.

Rosh Hashanah Dinner at Tocqueville

September 23, 2015

This is the third time we’ve done Rosh Hashanah dinner at Tocqueville.* So, you could say it’s become a tradition for Jen, Louis, Michael, and me. The ambiance is lovely, service is first rate, and the special Rosh Hashanah menu never fails to be delicious. Best of all, no work for me!

As usual, the meal started with foods traditional for this particular holiday: sliced apples with honey and a fabulous round challah.

Apples and Honey


Diners at Tocqueville always receive an amuse. I didn’t jot down the details for this one, but it was tasty.**


With the assistance of the sommelier, Michael selected a Médoc and had two glasses during the main part of the meal.


For the first course, Jen, Michael, and I chose the Chicken Bouillon Soup with Chicken Truffle Ravioli. The bouillon, poured tableside, had deep chicken-y flavor. As for the ravioli, they were the stars of the dish. Matzo balls are nice, and kreplach are fine. But those ravioli rocked!

Chicken Bouillon Soup

Chicken Bouillon Soup

Louis is gluten intolerant, so he eschewed the soup and instead had Sashimi and Tartare of Bluefin Tuna and Yellowtail with Mixed Greens and Fresh Wasabi. Beautifully plated, it was, he said, delectable.

Sashimi and Tartare of Bluefin Tuna and Yellowtail

When it came to the main course, it was two against two. Jen and Michael had Mauer’s Mountain Farm Breast of Guinea Hen and House Made Sausage accompanied by Crushed Fingerling Potatoes, Yellow Foot Chanterelle Mushrooms, and Asparagus.

Mauer's Mountain Farm Breast of Guinea Hen and House Made Sausage

Louis and I had Roasted Loch Etive Sea Trout with Sautéed Spinach, Carrot-Ginger Purée and Tarragon Champagne Emulsion, the emulsion poured tableside.

Roasted Loch Etive Sea Trout

Roasted Loch Etive Sea Trout

Michael and I have had guinea hen before at Tocqueville though not this particular preparation. It was superb, so no surprise that this version was too and that he and Jen were more than satisfied. As for the trout, Michael and I had had this same dish once before. The fish is actually salmon trout, so in color, texture, and flavor resembles salmon rather than trout. It was terrific the first time and, I felt, well worth repeating. The fish was cooked medium rare, the skin was crisp, and the tarragon champagne emulsion kicked things into OMG territory. Louis concurred that it was, indeed, a sensational dish.

There were two options for dessert: Warm Chocolate Soufflé with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream or Warm Apple Tart with Acacia Honey Ice Cream. Again, it was two against two though this time, it was the men vs. the women. Michael and Louis chose the soufflé while Jen and I had the tart. Tocqueville’s desserts are uniformly excellent, and these were no exception.

Warm Chocolate Soufflé

Warm Apple Tart

To accompany his soufflé, Michael had a glass of Banyuls, a perfect pairing for chocolate desserts.


All dinners at Tocqueville conclude with mignardises.


Once again, Tocqueville provided us with a delightful Rosh Hashanah dinner, a lovely way for the four of us to start the year 5776.

L’shana tova tikatevu! May you be written for a good year!

*Previous Rosh Hashanah meals were in 2012 and 2013.

**Louis’s amuse was served without the bottom crouton.

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

NYT Thursday Puzzle – September 17, 2015

September 19, 2015

NYT Thursday Puzzle - September 17, 2015

Theme: One word in the answers is spelled out as it sounds using a single letter followed by three of the same letter.

17A. Charles Lamb collection first published in 1823 = SAAA of Elia (Essays)
25A. Track star known as the Buckeye Bullet = Jesse ONNN (Owens)
36A. Duty on gasoline or tobacco = XIII tax (Excise)
39A. Annual gala usually held in September = The MEEE (Emmys)
47A. Prince and Journey output = ATTT music (Eighties)
58A. Informal group that includes the Universities of California, Michigan and Virginia = Public IVVV (Ivies)

It took me a while to figure out what exactly was going on here. The first theme answer I got was 47-Across. The three T’s in a row seemed wrong even though they had to be right since I knew for sure the intersecting down answers were correct. Also, that clue was pretty much useless to me since I know very little about Prince’s music and have never heard of Journey. I do, however, know about Jesse Owens (25-Across) and filled that in early, spelling Owens the normal way. But later on, in order to correctly fill in 11-, 12-, and 13-Down, I ended up with three N’s in a row.  That’s when the proverbial light bulb went on re: the trick of this theme. And that enabled me to fill in the other theme answers.

5776: L’Shana Tova Tikatevu.

September 13, 2015

Rosh Hashanah Symbols

At Home: Beer Can Chicken Without the Can

September 9, 2015

It had been several years since I last did beer can chicken. I first learned about it ages ago on a Food Network program. For those who may not be familiar with this method of roasting a chicken, it’s actually pretty simple. Season a whole chicken with salt and pepper, brush the skin with oil, open a can of beer, slide the whole chicken over the can, place it on the outdoor grill, put a disposable tin plate on the coals to catch dripping, close the lid, and cook. The results: a beautifully browned bird, juicy and full of flavor. I did it a few times, but then ran into a problem. I began having trouble getting beer in the proper size can. You see, in order for the chicken to sit correctly, it requires a 12-oz. can (like a normal-size soda can). With a taller can, the bird would topple over. Unfortunately, the liquor stores near our house stopped carrying the smaller size cans. So, I just put beer can chicken out of my mind.

Fast forward to recently. When I mentioned to Michael that I was considering spit-roasting a chicken on our outdoor grill, he commented that it’s too bad we can’t do the beer can chicken. The thought then occurred to us that maybe someone had come up with a way to do it without the can. So, we Googled. Turns out, someone did!  Barbecue expert Steven Reichlan had put together this kit.

At Home: Beer Can Chicken

We found it on Amazon. (Is there anything they don’t have?!) Michael ordered it using some of his Amazon Prime points.

At Home: Beer Can Chicken

Now that we had the equipment, we needed a whole chicken. That should be easy, I thought. Well, not so fast. I have always bought only kosher poultry even after I stopped keeping kosher because it has, in my view, superior flavor and juiciness. This is in large part due to the kosher laws’ requirement that poultry be salted and soaked; in essence, they’re brined. So, off to ShopRite to get an Empire chicken. I like to get whole chickens 3 lbs. or slightly over which is a good size for just the two of us. But the chickens there were more than four pounds. Wegmans also carries Empire, but I encountered the same situation vis-à-vis size. The kosher chickens at Whole foods were not Empire. Not that it mattered since those chickens, too, were over 4 lbs. At that point, I decided this was an opportunity to try a non-kosher chicken for the first time. I found one at Whole Foods that was just under 3 lbs.

At Home: Beer Can Chicken

One thing I have to say about this non-kosher chicken. It was a lot cleaner than Empire’s. Not a pin feather in sight! I considered brining it, but the only vessel I had on hand large enough to hold the required amount of liquid and the bird was made of aluminum, a material that can’t be used for brining (it has to be glass or stainless steel). So, I sprinkled the inside of the chicken generously with salt and pepper, coated the skin with peanut oil, and applied more salt and pepper. I poured beer into the container and put on the lid.

At Home: Beer Can Chicken

At Home: Beer Can Chicken

After positioning the chicken on top of the can, I carefully carried it outside. I had already pre-heated the grill. Since the chicken would be roasted using indirect heat, I turned off one side of the burners before setting the chicken on that side of the grill and closing the lid.

At Home: Beer Can Chicken

An hour later, the chicken was ready for its close-up.

At Home: Beer Can Chicken

While the skin had a nice bit of crunch, to be honest, I didn’t find this chicken as flavorful or juicy as a kosher chicken.

At Home: Beer Can Chicken

A few weeks later, when I was able to find an Empire 3-pounder, we gave it the beer can treatment, and it was definitely superior on both counts.

*A note about the beer. Using Amstel Light, we didn’t get much beer flavor in the roasted bird. We thought that beer’s flavor might be too weak. So, when we roasted the kosher bird, we used Paulaner Wheat Ale, which has a stronger flavor. But we found it didn’t result in much beer flavor either. That leads us to think that the beer is used to impart moistness rather than any beer flavor.

At Home: Labor Day BBQ for Two

September 8, 2015

The weather — sunny and mid-80’s — could not have been more perfect for our Labor Day barbecue.

While the grill was heating up, we started with some orange flesh melon. I’ve pretty much given up on cantaloupe since I’ve had more misses than hits with them. While these melons are much more expensive, the cost is well worth it since you can judge them by smell. At the store, a good one, i.e., juicy and sweet, exudes a lovely aroma that when taken home perfumes the entire kitchen.

At Home: Labor Day BBQ for Two (2015)

At Home: Labor Day BBQ for Two (2015)

Clairmont Diner Health Salad

I’ve mentioned previously on the blog that I have a tradition regarding when I serve hot dogs. I start on Memorial Day and end on Labor Day. This time around, I had just one frank and one knockwurst left, so we shared them. I added a burger which we also shared (in keeping with our aim of portion control).

At Home: Labor Day BBQ for Two (2015)

At Home: Labor Day BBQ for Two (2015)

At Home: Labor Day BBQ for Two (2015)

At Home: Labor Day BBQ for Two (2015)

At Home: Labor Day BBQ for Two (2015)

When it came time for dessert, Michael finished off the remains of some ice cream straight out of the container. And after cleaning up, I made myself a black and white ice cream soda though instead of seltzer, I used what was left of my cream soda.

At Home: Labor Day BBQ for Two (2015)

At Home: Labor Day BBQ for Two (2015)

NYT Thursday Puzzle – August 27, 2015

August 28, 2015

NYT Thursday Puzzle - August 27, 2015

Theme: Names that begin with two initials. The two letters are alphabetically in reverse order.

6A. Box with handles? = C.B. Radios
17A. “The Invisible Man” author = H.G. Wells
22A. Washington M.L.S. team = D.C. United
35A. “The A-Team” character played by Mr. T = B.A. Baracus
49A. Educational institution near Plano, informally = U.T. Dallas
60A. Some return addresses = P.O. Boxes
64A. “Four Quartets” poet = T.S. Eliot

This seemed way too easy for a Thursday puzzle (I had more trouble with Wednesday’s), and I completed it in under an hour. I quickly figured out the initials theme, but the reverse alphabetical component escaped me. Found that out when I checked Rex Parker.

NYT Sunday Puzzle – August 16, 2015

August 16, 2015

NYT Sunday Puzzle - August 16, 2015

Title: As It Were

Theme: Found at 124-Across: Back then … or a hint to the ends of the answers to the starred clues. Answer: In the past. The last word in each of the theme answers is the past tense of that word.

22A. *Pricey wrap = Mink stole
23A. *Triple Crown winner who himself sired a Kentucky Derby winner = Seattle Slew
51A. *Carpenter’s tool with a cord = Power saw
94A. *Deep Throat’s identity – Mark Felt
122A. *Start a construction project = Break ground
13D. *Smidgeon = Little bit
36D. *Tom Seaver = New York Met
45D. *Dr. Seuss’ genre = Kiddie lit
48D. *Challenge for a right-handed golfer = Dogleg left
83D. *W.W.II propagandist = Tokyo Rose

I didn’t “get” the theme and had to go to Rex Parker for the explanation. Still, I was able to fill in just about all of it in about an hour-and-a-half last evening (Saturday). This morning, I realized I needed to correct a couple of errors that were keeping me from filling in the remaining answers correctly. Ergo, another perfect puzzled!

In the category of “I learn something new every day”:

14A. Island near the Mariana Trench. Answer: Guam
82A. _____Hall, shortest Harlem Globetrotter. Answer: Too Tall
16D. Luxury Hyundai. Answer: Azera.
30D. Wielder of the hammer Mjolnir. Answer: Thor.
95D. Danish king who conquered England. Answer: Knut.
125D. Oscar-nominated Joaquin Phoenix film. Answer: Her

Uppity Woman

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


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