Happy 50th Birthday, Jen!

June 22, 2021

Jen's 50th Birthday

Number 53!

June 8, 2021

Anniversary Card Photo 2021

June 8, 1968

At Home 2021: Memorial Day

June 3, 2021

Traditionally, Memorial Day Weekend is when we raise our patio umbrella. However, the umbrella has actually been up since mid-April when an unusually warm day enticed us to have lunch al fresco. As it turned out, Memorial Day Weekend was almost a complete washout with continuous rain, along with cool temps, on Saturday and Sunday. Although Monday was dry, cloudy skies all day and still cool temperatures prevented us from eating outside.

At Home: Memorial Day 2021

We did continue our tradition of having our first franks of the summer season. We had them for lunch on Monday. I did cook them on the grill, but…

At Home: Memorial Day 2021

…we ate indoors. There were the usual accompaniments: deli mustard, sour kraut, pickles, Busch’s vegetarian baked beans, and homemade cole slaw.

At Home: Memorial Day 2021

Alberiño: Our First Meals at a Restaurant Since March 2020

May 14, 2021

Alberiño

I ended my “Fully Vaccinated!” post with this: The last time we ate in a restaurant was March 10, 2020. So, to celebrate being fully vaccinated, we went out for dinner!

The restaurant we chose was Alberiño, in Shrewsbury, about half an hour from our house. We are not doing indoor restaurant dining, and since the weather was fairly warm, Alberiño’s outdoor terrace was perfect for an al fresco dinner.

Alberiño

We masked up to go inside very briefly to the reception desk, and a hostess led us to a table outside. All staff were masked, and tables were spaced for social distancing. Since the restaurant did not require masks when dining outside, we removed ours and didn’t wear them from that point on.

There were no printed menus. Instead, we scanned the code…

Alberiño

…to access the menu on our iPhones.

First up, a drink for Michael.

Rosé Sangria

Rosé Sangria

We assembled our meal from the tapas menu.

Chicken Charcuteria Empanadas

Chicken Charcuteria Empanadas

organic chicken, ground chorizo & jamon, piquillo membrillo purée

Crispy Eggplant

Crispy Eggplant

rosemary, acacia honey

Garbanzo Hummus

Garbanzo Hummus

roasted garlic, tahini, smoked paprika, house-made pita

Gambas al Ajillo

Gambas al Ajillo

roasted wild shrimp, garlic, sherry, pimentón

American Lamb Chop

American Lamb Chop

almond romesco, chimichurri

Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas

crispy potatoes, bravas sauce, garlic aioli

Everything was perfectly prepared and, as I said above, delicious! After 14 months of not going out to eat — something we did a lot in the before time — it was wonderful to once again enjoy a meal at a restaurant. And monumentally relaxing for me because I was not doing the cooking, serving, and clean-up!

You might have noticed that in this post’s title, there is the plural word “meals.” That’s because yesterday, the weather once again being warm enough to dine outdoors, we returned to Alberiño for lunch.

This time, we were given a paper menu.

Alberiño

Michael again ordered the Rosé Sangria, and I got Lemonade.

Lemonade

We started with the one dish on the tapas menu that is always a must: the sensational Crispy Eggplant. It was the only tapa we ordered because for the main course, we went big and shared a Paella.

Valencia Paella

Valencia

organic chicken, chorizo, gulf shrimp, calamari, mussels, asparagus, zucchini, peas, saffron, piquillo pepper

Interesting to note that when we had the Valencia previously, it was different in some respects.

Last week, we didn’t have dessert, but this time we did.

Churros

Churros

fried dough, cinnamon, spiced chocolate sauce

Another splendid meal on the sunny terrace at Alberiño. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that we’ll be back — and often!

Happy Anniversary, Jen & Louis!

May 10, 2021

Happy Anniversary, Jen & Louis (2021)

Mother’s Day 2021

May 9, 2021

Card from Jen and Louis: Hand Painted Watercolor by Jen

Mother's Day 2021

Mother's Day 2021

We came into the city today for the first time since March 2020. In the afternoon, we went to Jen and Louis’s apartment for a couple of hours. We hadn’t seen them since December 28, 2019 (!)* when the four of us had a Chanukah dinner there.

Pretty tulips for me and delicious cheese, grapes, and gluten-free crackers to nosh on.

Mother's Day 2021

*Correction: I was wrong about the last time we saw them. Jen reminded me that we had dinner with them and Louis’s sister and her husband at Oceans, a restaurant in NYC, on February 22, 2020.

Fully Vaccinated!

May 4, 2021

Fully Vaccinated!

Today, we are fully vaccinated! Achieving it wasn’t easy because the vaccination roll-out in New Jersey was horrible. Eligible in early January (Group 1B), we signed up on the NJ State site as well as on other vaccination sites. But week after week, no luck! Finding an appointment was worse than looking for a needle in a haystack. Ultimately, we have our mayor, Jonathan Hornik, to thank for coming to our rescue. On Friday, March 19th, we received an email advising that he was about to make a concerted effort to get all Marlboro seniors vaccinated. Apparently, his office had been receiving complaints about the same difficulty we were experiencing. We immediately signed the necessary on-line forms and figured it would be a while. However, on Monday morning, March 22nd, the phone rang at 8:30 a.m. Shock of shocks, it was a Seniors Dept. staff member calling to tell us that appointments were available the next day! Elation!

On Tuesday, March 23rd, we drove to the County Agricultural Building 10 minutes from our house for our 2:30 p.m. appointment. Checking in at a table in front of the entrance, we noticed two huge white tents alongside the building each holding two lines of people. We were told to go to the further of the two lines in the second tent. There were markers on the floor six feet apart and, of course, everyone was wearing masks. We made our way very slowly along both lines in the first tent and then along both lines in the second tent before arriving at the front and being ushered into the building. It took more than an hour.

Inside, we went to a table where we were officially registered (we had downloaded the necessary paperwork and filled them out at home). We were given our vaccination cards and, since we were getting the Moderna, an appointment for the second shot exactly four weeks away, on April 20th. We then had to contend with another line in a corridor leading to the vaccination room. Once we made it into the room, each of us was sent to a different table (I think there were 7) to get the first shot, after which we waited the required 15 minutes. Total time from arrival to exiting the building: one hour and 45 minutes! We certainly hadn’t expected it to take anywhere near as long especially after hearing from my brother and others who were in and out of their vaccination sites in NY in less than half an hour. We were told that there had been some kind of problem earlier in the day that caused the back-up. In any case, whatever annoyance we felt was tempered by the fact that we had actually gotten the first shot.

The next day, in anticipation of when we’d be fully vaccinated, we made a number of medical appointments in May and, for me, an appointment for a haircut! I’ve been cutting Michael’s hair (we bought the appropriate scissors on Amazon). Since he’s happy with the job I’ve been doing, he wants me to continue doing it.

Fast forward to April 20th. Our appointment was in the morning, at 11:30. As we drove into the Ag Building’s complex, we looked over to the parking lot. Unlike the first time when it was full, this time there were only a few cars. Michael blurted out, “The building must be closed,” while I was thinking: Great! No line! A bit further along there was the sign indicating that the vaccination center was open. And I was right. This time, the entire process, including the required 15-minute after the second shot, took 25 minutes! In two more weeks, on May4th, we’d be fully vaccinated.

Which brings us to today. We did some errands where we went inside buildings which we hadn’t been doing during the past 14 months. The last time we ate in a restaurant was March 10, 2020. So, to celebrate being fully vaccinated, we went out for dinner! Stay tuned for the details.

At Home 2021: Spring

May 2, 2021

I always look forward to signs of spring. Started happening a few weeks ago. First to appear in front of our house were the flowers on this tree.

At Home 2021: Spring

Now it’s leafy. And the azaleas, another sign of spring, are blooming.

At Home 2021: Spring

This tree getting ready to flower is 51 years old!

At Home 2021: Spring

I always thought it was a Japanese cherry. Wrong! Our landscaper recently told me it’s a crabapple, one of two plantings left from the original landscaping done in the spring after we moved into the house in December 1969 (the other being the huge triple trunk tree in the backyard). It has faithfully bloomed every spring with bright pink flowers. I didn’t take a current photo of it in flower. But I do have this shot from a few years ago.

At Home 2018: Japanese Cherry Tree

In the backyard, there was this lonely little daffodil.

At Home 2021: Spring

Last year, that’s all we got.  Just that lone daffodil. So, I was surprised that there are now a few more.

At Home 2021: Spring

I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason the daffodils haven’t done well in the backyard is that there is not enough sun. The first landscaping in 1970  included daffodils on the right side of the house. Because that side of the house gets a lot of sun, they thrived and were profuse.

This backyard plant, the name of which I don’t know, started to show signs of life.

At Home 2021: Spring

Then went to this.

At Home 2021: Spring

Now looks like this.

At Home 2021: Spring

Eventually, it will have flowers.

We have an azalea in the back outside our kitchen window. Here it is with buds.

At Home 2021: Spring

It has now flowered though because it doesn’t get as much sun as the azaleas in front of the house, it doesn’t flower as abundantly.

At Home 2021: Spring

Lastly, another shrub whose name I don’t know shows off its spring colors.

At Home 2021: Spring

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners for Two

April 4, 2021

Passover 2021<

For the second year in a row, the pandemic forced us to celebrate Passover at home with two Seder meals for just the two of us.

The Seder plate, which you can see in the photo of the table above, held the traditional items: a hard-boiled egg, greens (parsley), horseradish (Gold’s), and charoset (made by yours truly). There is supposed to be a shank bone but, alas, our shank bone is in the freezer in our apartment, so I drew a small sketch of one and placed that on the place.

Passover wouldn’t be Passover without Matzoh. You can see a plate with some on the table.

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

Both meals began with the same appetizer.

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

Gefilte Fish, My Famous Chopped Salad, Horseradish

However, there were different main courses each night.

First Night

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

Sautéed Chicken with Mushrooms & Tomatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus

Second Night

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

Lamb Shank in Red Wine Sauce, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Candied Carrots

Michael drank this wine.

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

Dessert both nights was Ice Cream. (Photos taken only on the first night.)

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

For Michael: Breyer’s Strawberry

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

For me: van Leeuwen Vanilla, Jeni’s Salted Caramel,
Fox’s U-bet Chocolate Syrup, Goodman’s Almond Macaroon

You can see the entire photo set of the Passover Seder Dinners on my Flickr here.

One Year Later

March 12, 2021

The evening of March 10, 2020, we returned home to New Jersey from NYC, never imagining that the kind of life we lived would very soon drastically change. We arrived in the city late Sunday evening, March 8th, and went to doctor appointments for me on Monday and Tuesday, the 9th and 10th. Those of you who frequent this blog know that dining out has always been a major part of our life especially when we go to the city and stay in our apartment. So, we had three meals out.

MONDAY, MARCH 9TH

Lunch at Blue Smoke Flatiron

Whenever we’ve been to Blue Smoke, we always start by sharing the Deviled Eggs, the best around.

Deviled Eggs

I’m not keen on Blue Smoke’s bbq.  But we both really like the excellent Blue Smoke Burger. Cooked perfectly to our medium rare specification, it comes with accompaniments. We always share it at lunch.

Blue Smoke Burger

Blue Smoke Burger

Drinks

Barg’s Root Beer for me (front) and Diet Coke for Michael

Sadly, we will never again be able to eat at Blue Smoke Flatiron just a few blocks from our apartment. A victim of the pandemic, it closed permanently. The Battery Park location remains open, but it’s inconveniently located for us.

Dinner at Majorelle

Majorelle is one of our favorite restaurants for upscale dining. Gorgeous floral arrangements decorate the beautiful dining room, a signature of the manager Charles Masson who for many years managed his family’s restaurant La Grenouille where floral arrangements abounded.

Majorelle

Majorelle

The French cuisine at Majorelle is always perfectly prepared and seriously delicious. Service is polished and attentive; seating is extremely comfortable; and the room is blessedly quiet! No music. Just the pleasant hum of conversation.

Gougères

Gougères

Bread Basket and Butter

Bread Basket and Butter

Bordeaux

Bordeaux

Saint Jacques au Citron et Kohlrabi

Saint Jacques au Citron et Kohlrabi

Sea Scallops with Lemon and Kohlrabi

Foie Gras Poêlé au Porto

Foie Gras Poêlé au Porto

Pan Seared Duck Liver with Port Wine

Filet de Boeuf Périgueux

Filet de Boeuf Périgueux

Grass Fed Filet of Beef with Truffle “Périgueux” Sauce

Magret de Caneton à l’Orange

Magret de Caneton à l’Orange

Breast of Duckling with Orange

Grand Marnier Soufflé

Grand Marnier Soufflé

With Crème Anglaise

(We both had this dessert.)

Banana Ice Cream

Banana Ice Cream

(Compliments of the House)

MIgnardises

Mignardises

TUESDAY, MARCH 10TH

Dinner at Eros

Eros is a Greek restaurant located a short walk from our apartment. The food is well-prepared and delicious. Service is friendly and efficient; the surroundings are pleasing; and the noise level is fine — except for Thursday and Friday nights when there is a d.j., so we avoid going there then. On the 10th, since we were going back to NJ, we ate at 5 p.m., and were the only diners there the entire time. I guess you could say we were social distancing to the extreme before social distancing became a thing.

Pita

Pita

Olives

Olives

(Compliments of the House)

(Chardonnay

Chardonnay

Melitzanosalata

Melitzanosalata

Eggplant Salad

Spanakopita

Spanakopita

Spinach and Feta Cheese Pies

Dolmades

Dolmades

Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice

Whole Lavraki

Whole Levraki

Imported Branzino

(We shared it.)

Roasted Lemon Potatoes

Roasted Lemon Potatoes

Galaktabouriko

Galaktabouriko

(All diners receive this dessert compliments of the house.)

The day after we came home, we went to ShopRite together to get a few things. On Sunday, March 15th, I went to Wegmans to pick up a bag of Yukon Gold Potatoes (I like their house brand), and on the way home stopped in briefly at Dunkin’ Donuts to buy a vanilla crème filled donut for myself. A day or two later, the quarantine began.

One year later, we still have not been back to the city, and those three restaurant meals were the last times we dined out. Since we are in the group most vulnerable to the virus, we have been exceedingly careful. We have not been inside any supermarket or food purveyor, only ordering delivery to our house or doing curbside no-contact pick-up. Restaurant dining of any sort is out of the question. Our efforts to get an appointment to be vaccinated have so far been in vain, so when all this “new normal” will change remains to be seen.