50!

June 8, 2018

50!

June 8, 1968

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At Home: First Franks of the 2018 Season

May 30, 2018

Those who come here with any regularity know that chez nous, the hot dog season begins on Memorial Day Weekend and will end on Labor Day Weekend. This year’s inaugural event took place on Saturday which, weather-wise, turned out to be the best of the holiday weekend’s three days. With our brand new umbrella in place, lunch for two was on the patio.

At Home: First Franks of the 2018 Season

Our franks of choice are Hebrew National. They come in packages, but I prefer to buy them from Wegmans where they come on strings. They didn’t have any regular franks, so I bought two “specials.” Each weighs about 4 ounces which is perfect for portion control.

"Specials"

To start:

Chilled Zuchini Soup

Chilled Zucchini Soup

Accompaniments:

Deli Mustard

Sour Kraut & Pickles

Sour Kraut and Pickles

Red Cabbage Salad

Homemade Red Cabbage Salad

My plate:

"Special" with Mustard & Sour Kraut

On the side:

Vegetarian Baked Beans

Busch’s Vegetarian Baked Beans

Drinks:

Sodas

For dessert, Michael had two scoops of Breyer’s Vanilla (which I didn’t photograph), while I had Red Velvet Cake from ShopRite’s in-house bakery. It’s one of my favorite dessert, and theirs is surprising delicious! It comes two slices to a plastic see-through box which makes it difficult to pass up. This is the top half of one slice. An exercise in portion control.

Red Velvet Cake

The complete set of photos for this lunch can be viewed on my Flickr here.

At Home 2018: New Umbrella Up!

May 26, 2018

As happens every year at the start of the Memorial Day Weekend, Michael puts up the patio umbrella. However, when he tried to do so on Friday, he discovered that the 21-year-old umbrella that matches the patio set had an unfixable problem. Obviously, we needed to buy a new one. Since there was no way we could get a matching umbrella, we figured we’d get one in a solid white or green. Checking on line, we found that Central Jersey Pools 15 minutes from our house sells patio umbrellas. Michael snapped a photo of the fabric with his iPhone. When we showed the photo to the gal who was helping us, she immediately recognized the fabric, and even knew its name! She told us that at the time we bought the set (from Fortunoff’s), that fabric was No. 1 in popularity and remained so for 10 years. Once we told her the table size, she selected an umbrella in green that was a perfect match.

Et, voilà!

At Home 2018: New Umbrella Up!

At Home: Azaleas in Bloom

May 23, 2018

At Home 2018: Azaleas in Bloom

I took this about two weeks ago. The blossoms are now fading.

Happy 10th Anniversary, Jen and Louis!

May 11, 2018

Untitled

A day late.  Hard to believe it’s been ten years.  Time really does fly….

At Home 2018: On a Summer-like Day in Very Early May, a BBQ Lunch for Two

May 2, 2018

We had our outdoor grill serviced a couple of weeks ago. So with today’s temperatures hitting 89!, it was the perfect time to fire it up and have a bbq lunch for two — our first bbq meal of 2018. I’m not sure, but May 2nd might be the earliest we’ve ever started using the outdoor grill. (During the cold weather months, I use the indoor grill which is part of our cooktop.)

At Home 2018: BBQ Lunch for Two

For the first course, I made a Red Cabbage and Carrot Salad.

At Home 2018: BBQ Lunch for Two

I pan-fried Crinkle-cut Fries.

At Home 2018: BBQ Lunch for Two

Michael likes a slice of raw onion with his burgers while I prefer my onion grilled. The burgers came out a perfect medium-rare. No rolls. Sour pickles are a must.

This is my plate.

At Home 2018: BBQ Lunch for Two

Delicious!

The outdoor furniture is in need of a thorough cleaning, but that will probably not happen until Memorial Day weekend, so we ate indoors.

At Home: The Annual Flowering of the Japanese Cherry Tree

April 29, 2018

At Home 2018: Japanese Cherry Tree

At Home: The Daffodils Recover

April 23, 2018

Daffodils Recovery

Sunshine and warmer temps did the trick.  And a few more — white instead of yellow — have blossomed.

At Home: Daffodils vs. Severe Winds and Torrential Rains

April 19, 2018

When we left for NYC last Thursday evening, none of the daffodils had bloomed yet. Not too surprising since the weather hasn’t been exactly spring-like. But they did look ready to open.

It was a short stay, and we returned to the house Saturday morning. Looking into the backyard, I discovered that — lo and behold! — the daffodils had blossomed. I guess Friday’s temps in the 70’s was just the signal they were waiting for. And no doubt they were happy with Saturday’s 80 degrees.

Being busy that day, I didn’t get a chance to take photos. Which is a shame because the weather then made a total U-turn back to winter, dropping 40 degrees (!) overnight. Sunday was cold (mid-30’s) and rainy with severe winds. And things got even worse with Monday’s torrential downpours.

Poor little daffies! They were no match for such horrendous conditions.

At Home 2018: Daffodils

At Home 2018: Daffodils

At Home 2018: Daffodils

The complete daffodil photo set is on my Flickr here.

Passover Dinner at Cafe Boulud

April 13, 2018

Cafe Boulud

Early in March, an email landed in my in-box from Café Boulud which said they would be doing a Passover dinner on both Seder nights, Friday and Saturday, March 30th and 3st. At first, I thought this might be something new that they were doing. Alas, I was the victim of a very poor memory because Jen reminded me that we had attempted to reserve for their Passover dinner last year but by the time I tried to reserve, they were completely sold out. This time, I jumped on it immediately. I called Jen, and we decided that Michael and I would go alone to Café Boulud on Friday, and on Saturday, we’d go to Rotisserie Georgette* as we did last year with Jen, Louis and Louis’s sister and her husband if they were available and wanted to come. Happily, Lesley and Philip were on board, so I booked both restaurants.

We arrived at Café Boulud promptly at 8:30 p.m. Though the dining room was packed, our table was ready. There was only one unoccupied table near ours which, Asst. Maitre d’ Mark DiPasquale informed us, had just been vacated by a very large party. It was now set for four but a few minutes later, the staff enlarged it to accommodate an incoming party of six.

Now, we need to ask that all-important question related to Passover: Why was Café Boulud’s Passover dinner different from all other restaurant Passover dinners we’ve had? Yeah, that’s not exactly how it goes. But anyway, here’s the answer: This was the first Passover meal to start with a Seder Plate. A proper Seder plate with all the symbolic items. Plus, a little side bowl of salt water.

Seder Plate

Salt Water

Of course, there was Matzoh.

Matzoh

The only thing missing was a Haggadah. If we had brought one, we could have conducted our own Seder right there. We did do a bit of ceremony by dipping the karpas into the salt water before eating it. And I peeled the hard-boiled egg which Michael ate.

Café Boulud always serves an amuse. However, instead of the usual tasty one-bite morsel, this meal started with something more substantial: wonderfully crispy and delicious Potato Latkes with Sour Cream and Applesauce.

Potato Latkes

For the rest of the meal, there were choices for each course.

First Course
Michael never pass up chicken soup, so he chose Matzoh Ball Soup with Chicken Broth, Carrots, and Turnips. I tasted some broth and a piece of the matzoh ball and agreed with him that they were excellent.

Matzoh Ball Soup

Knowing that chicken soup was one of the courses we’d all be getting at Georgette, I opted for Smoked Ora King Salmon with Deviled Egg, Horseradish Cream, and Dill. I love salmon — in fact, anything smoked — and deviled eggs, so what could be bad?! And the horseradish cream was the perfect accompaniment for the salmon.

Smoked Ora King Salmon

Main Course
Michael consulted with our captain Julian regarding a wine to pair with his main course.

Gigondas

Since he was going to have the main course lamb shank at Georgette, Michael chose Roasted Chicken.

Roasted Chicken

I, on the other hand, was going to have chicken at Georgette, so I went with Niman Ranch Beef Brisket.

Niman Ranch Beef Brisket

As you can see, Michael was given half a chicken: breast, wing, leg, and thigh. It could easily have served the two of us. And that’s what it ended up doing because he only ate the quite sizable breast, which he said was delicious, and we took the rest home. While I didn’t taste any of the chicken at the restaurant, I had the thigh at home, and it was very flavorful.

Now, about that brisket. I normally avoid brisket like the proverbial plague because I find it too dry. However, I chose it not only to avoid having chicken two nights in a row but also because I felt if anyone could change my mind about brisket, Chef Aaron Bludhorn could. And I’m happy to report than he came through. This cut of Niman Ranch beef was of the highest quality with just the right amount of fat to insure juiciness. Braised to melting softness, this brisket was spectacular! Two big pieces were too much for me (I did give Michael a taste), so I finished one and took the other home.

Certainly there were sides. Three were served for the table, all in generous portions.

Horseradish Potato “Kugel” Gratin

Horseradish Potato “Kugel” Gratin

Sautéed Spinach

Sautéed Spinach

Tzimmes Stew

Tzimmes Stew

The kugel was great, a welcome change from roasted potatoes. And the spinach was delicious. However, while I like carrots, the tzimmis included raisins which I detest. Portions being, as I said, more than ample for two people, we took the leftovers home. When I served the tzimmis, I divested my portion of the offending element.

Dessert
Michael again consulted Julian about a wine pairing for dessert.

Tokayï

We both chose Pavlova with Lemon Curd, Mixed Berries, and Raspberry Sorbet. A serious yum! The perfect end to a perfect Passover dinner.

Pavlova

But we weren’t quite finished.

Chocolate Covered Matzoh

Chocolate Covered Matzoh

And as every meal at Café Boulud ends, the signature Madeleines.

Madeleines

Cafe Boulud is one of our favorite NYC restaurants, and its food is always first-rate. Mega-kudos to Chef Bludhorn and his team for knocking this Passover dinner way out of the gustatory park!

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

*Note: This year’s Passover menu at Rotisserie Georgette was nearly the same as last year’s. The exceptions: the lamb shank was a new main course choice, and instead of one of the sides being Brussels sprouts, there were lentils.

The complete photo set of this year’s Passover dinner at Rotisserie Georgette is on my Flickr here.