At Home: New Jersey Peaches

July 19, 2016

Have I mentioned that peaches are my favorite fruit? Each summer, I eagerly await their arrival. A few weeks ago, I bought some pretty good southern peaches (don’t know from which state) at Delicious Orchards. And the other day, I bought a couple of Lori Anne peaches from South Carolina at Wegmans. I remember seeing them there last year but never thought to give them a try. They turned out to be excellent — sweet and juicy. However, my favorites are New Jersey peaches. But I’m picky! For example, I do not like the ones from Battleview. Too fuzzy and not sweet enough. Though I don’t know which NJ farm is the supplier, the ones I like are carried by Wegmans. They just got in the first batch.

At Home: New Jersey Peaches

In Our Backyard, a Robin Builds a Nest in a Bush

July 16, 2016

A few days ago, when we were having breakfast on the patio, I noticed a robin flying into this bush.

At Home: Bird Nest in a Bush

Hmmm… A few seconds later, the robin flew out and off. A few moments later it was back. This time I saw it was holding something in its beak – a twig. Again remaining inside for a few seconds, the robin flew off once more returning with another twig.

Aha! It must be building a nest inside the bush! I’d always thought birds only build nests in trees – and there are lots of those on our property – but obviously not!

The robin departed yet again. I quickly got my camera figuring I might be able to use the telephoto lens to “see” if I was correct. Though it’s hardly the most powerful lens available, it did manage to capture the nest.

At Home: Bird Nest in a Bush

When the robin returned, this time it didn’t fly out immediately. What was it doing? I ventured closer to the bush though not too close because I didn’t want to disturb the bird and snapped these.

At Home: Bird Nest in a Bush

At Home: Bird Nest in a Bush

My guess? It was laying an egg! Via Googling, I learned that unlike most other birds that lay their eggs at sunrise, robins lay theirs mid-morning and lay one at a time each day with a maximum of four.

After a while, the robin flew off but didn’t return. I took one more shot hoping I might be able to see if there was a blue egg in the nest. (I’m sure we all know that robins’ eggs are blue. There’s even a color named after them.) Alas, if there was/is an egg in there, it wasn’t visible to my camera. And there was no way I was going to get up close and personal to find out because I didn’t want to disturb things if there was an egg there.

At Home: Bird Nest in a Bush

I haven’t seen the robin since then. I’ll be keeping an eye out for any further activity and will report back with any news. So, stay tuned!

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

July 11, 2016

July 4th fell on a Monday. Ergo, a three-day weekend. Not that it matters to Michael and me since we are retired, so every day is a weekend! But for Jen and Louis who are still gainfully employed, it meant an extra paid day away from the office. And that’s a good thing! We let them select which day to come out for our holiday barbecue, and they chose Saturday. A few days before, Jen and I discussed possibilities for what to serve at lunch and dinner. After she checked with Louis as to his preferences (Michael said he was fine with whatever was decided), we finalized the menus.

Lunch was simple and pretty quick: franks and beans. I decided to keep my camera zipped up, so no photos. At least, not of those franks and beans. But stay tuned….

We had settled on chicken for dinner’s main course. I chose to do a whole chicken beer-can style.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

I love doing it this way because once you get it ready and put it on the bbq, it requires no tending. Ready in about an hour. However, instead of beer, I used white wine. Since you can fill the container with any type of liquid, the past two times I’ve made chicken this way, I’ve tried first beer and then white wine. Frankly, Michael and I haven’t detected any beer or wine flavor in the chicken. So we’ve come to the conclusion that the liquid makes a bird that is incredibly juicy. Even the white meat!

While the chicken was roasting, we had cups of watermelon gazpacho.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

Chicken’s ready! Here’s some of it carved. Dee-licious!

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

After lunch, we had taken a ride to get Jersey corn. We all agreed these were disappointing as they weren’t very sweet.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

It’s a tradition for us to have the “Clairmont Diner Health Salad” at July 4th barbecues. Michael’s mother gave me the recipe years ago. She got it from one of her sisters who lived in Verona, NJ, near the Clairmont Diner. Since I’ve never been to the Clairmont, I have no idea how authentic this recipe is. But it sure makes for very tasty eating!

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

Before lunch, the topic of pickles came up since I was going to put some out with that meal. Louis said he liked half-sours but not sours. I didn’t recall him every telling me that, so I didn’t have any half-sours on hand. Actually, I don’t like them, but had I known, I would gladly have bought some for him. After all, he is our favorite son-in-law! In any case, the pickles I prefer and always have in the frig are these:

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

Louis was skeptical about liking them since he thought they’d be like sours. But after a nibble, he promptly fell in love with them. So, of course, I put some out at dinner.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

Drinks were lemonade for Jen and me, beer for Michael, and Perrier for Louis.

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

We kept dessert simple. I still had some of the strawberry ice cream I’d made using the second batch of strawberries Michael and I picked at Battleview Orchards in June. I also made Bing cherry sorbet. Delectable! Delectable!

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

At Home: July 4th Weekend 2016

On Sunday, Michael and I enjoyed a barbecue for two with Missouri-style baby back ribs taking center stage. Again, I decided to relax and not be a slave to my camera.

On Monday, the 240th anniversary of our nation’s birth, Michael and I had franks and beans again. Made sense since there were two franks that I hadn’t cooked. This time, I took photos of them and the rest of the meal.

At Home: July 4, 2016

Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta

At Home: July 4, 2016

Hebrew National Franks

At Home: July 4, 2016

At Home: July 4, 2016

At Home: July 4, 2016

At Home: July 4, 2016

Batampte Sour Kraut and Garlic Dills

At Home: July 4, 2016

Homemade Cole Slaw

At Home: July 4, 2016

At Home: July 4, 2016

At Home: July 4, 2016

At Home: July 4, 2016

At Home: July 4, 2016

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

At Home: July 4, 2016

Homemade Bing Cherry Sorbet

Photo sets on Flickr for the two meals can be viewed here and here.

Dining Out: April – June 2016

July 1, 2016

Cafe Boulud

April
New York City
Dinner:
Le Coq Rico
Maialino
Schnipper’s
Blue Smoke
Toloache (Passover)
Telepan (Passover)
Maison Hugo
Grunauer Bistro

Lunch:
Le Coq Rico
Marta
Café Boulud

May
New York City
Dinner:
Natsumi Tapas
The Clocktower

Lunch:
Benoit Bistro

Supper:
2nd Ave. Deli

New Jersey
Dinner:
Surf BBQ
Apella Greek Taverna
The Poached Pear Bistro

Lunch:
B2 Bistro

June
New York City
Dinner:
Le Coq Rico
Agern – 2
The Modern Dining Room
Turkish Kitchen
NoMad
Eleven Madison Park (Our Anniversary)
Monte-Carlo
Rotisserie Georgette
Autre Kyo Ya
Covina
Lincoln
Marta
Le Coucou
i Trulli

Lunch:
Red Hook Lobster
Craft
Bonchon
Dizengoff
Gabriel Kreuther
Eleven Madison Park
The Modern Bar Room
The Clocktower

Brunch:
Maialino

Snack:
Milk Bar

New Jersey
Lunch:
Local Smoke BBQ
Koy Turkish Grill
Inlet Café

Happy Birthday, Jen!

June 22, 2016

DSC00890

DSC00891

My Favorite Season Is Officially Here! Summer!

June 21, 2016

The Summer Solstice 2016 arrived yesterday at 6:34 p.m. That means today is the first full day of summer, the longest day of the year. Looking forward to enjoying a couple of months of what Michael calls “Rozy weather” and eating the fruits and veggies I love best!

Tomato

Summer in a Bowl (EMP 2015)

Father’s Day 2016

June 19, 2016

Untitled

My Dad and Me (June 20, 1943)

DSC00879

Michael, His Dad, and Younger Brother Ed (Circa 1950)

DSC00883

Michael and Jen (June 1971)

Today’s Our 48th Anniversary!

June 8, 2016

Anniversary #48

Making History! Hillary Clinton, the First Woman Nominee for President of a Major Party!

June 7, 2016

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has done it! She has broken the highest “glass ceiling” by becoming the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States. Epic!

Those who know me will tell you that I’ve remained bitter about the 2008 Democratic primary because the nomination was literally stolen from Hillary. After a campaign that was rife with misogyny and sexism, she was actually ahead of Obama in popular votes, so in order to secure the nomination for him, the DNC’s Rules and By-Laws Committee stole votes from her that she’d earned in Michigan’s primary and handed them over to him even though he chose not to be on the Michigan ballot. I was angry that she bowed out and did not insist on a contested floor vote. Despite the fact that she won the NJ primary by 10%, then-Gov. Corzine gave all NJ’s votes – including mine! — to Obama whom I never had any intention of supporting for many reasons and so didn’t vote for in 2008 and 2012.

To be honest, this time around, I’ve been worried that the Democrats would find a way to once again deny her the nomination. They allowed Bernie Sanders to run on the Democratic line even though he never was and never will be a Democrat. And what have he and his minions done? They’ve waged a disgusting campaign against Hillary filled with lies and sexism. Shades of 2008!

Last night, superdelegates gave Hillary just the number of votes she needed to clinch the nomination. And today, Democrats in NJ will give her more than enough pledged delegates to put the proverbial nail in Sander’s campaign coffin!

Primary Election Day 2016

One of those votes was mine!! And this time, nobody is going to steal it from me!

Primary Election Day 2016

As I stood in the voting booth and pushed the button that put that “X” next to Hillary Clinton’s name, the bitterness I’ve felt began to fade, overtaken by the joyous feeling I had when I supported her in 2008.

(Back in January) Celebrating Michael’s 75th Birthday at Eleven Madison Park

June 4, 2016

(Note: Yes, I know it’s 5 months late! But I figured I’d better get this up before we celebrate our anniversary in 4 days.)

Eleven Madison Park

On Tuesday, January 26th, at 8 p.m. sharp, we walked through Eleven Madison Park’s revolving doors. Happily, the previous weekend’s Blizzard of ’16 did not derail our celebration plans (unlike last year when what turned out to be the “snowstorm that wasn’t” made us scotch our plans at EMP for his 74th) though we did have to cancel a pre-celebration dinner on Saturday evening with Jen and Louis. Upon entering, we were greeted by Head Maitre d’ Justin Roller and the reception staff. Then Will Guidara appeared to welcome us and as the others had done wished Michael a “Happy 75th!” We happened to run into Will the previous evening when we were having drinks in The Library at The NoMad before dinner there, so his showing up at EMP wasn’t as much of a surprise as it might have been. Nevertheless, it’s always a pleasure to see him especially since these days it happens so rarely.

Our excitement that evening was further heightened by the fact that it was the first time we would be having the winter menu as well as the new format. In December, Will and Chef Daniel Humm had announced that they would be reducing the 14-course menu to between 7 and 9. As for what else our EMP family had planned for this celebratory evening – and they always surprise us with something! – well, we’d have to wait and see. As will you, so stick with me!

Our captain for the evening was Elizabeth who has a very upbeat personality and always does a splendid job. She explained that some of the courses would have choices, others not.

And so it began….

Michael started with Krug, his favorite Champagne, and I had my favorite French Sparkling Cider. Michael had wine pairings during the meal while I had more cider.

Champagne

French Sparkling Cider (Non-Alcoholic)

As usual, the first bite of the evening was the Black & White Cookies with Cheddar and Apple.

Black and White Cookies

There was no choice for the first two courses though they did, as usual, make accommodations with regard to things I won’t eat: Oyster Poached and Raw (on the right) with Chestnut Velouté and for me, Sunchoke Hot and Cold (on the left) with Velouté.

Oyster/Sunchoke

Velouté

The next course has been on the menu since early last year: Caviar Benedict with Egg, Potato, and Ham; and for me
(since I don’t eat caviar) Black Truffle Benedict with Egg, Potato, and Ham. Accompanied by made in-house English Muffins.

Caviar

Black Truffle

House Made English Muffins

The ever popular house made Rolls served. They were accompanied by something new: house made Cultured Butter with Cheese. And, as always, Amagansett Sea Salt.

Rolls, Butter, and Sea Salt

The foie gras course was next. As always, there was a choice between hot and cold. I chose hot while Michael chose cold: Foie Gras Seared with Maple and Apple and Foie Gras Marinated with Maple and Apple. A special roll was served with the cold foie.

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

Roll

The wine pairing for the foie was this Sauternes:

Sauternes

Next was the fish course where there was a choice of lobster or black bass. We both chose the bass. Black Bass Seared with Black Radish and Sesame.

Black Bass

Wine pairing with the black bass: Gorvia

Gorvia

Celery Root Braised with Black Truffle is another course that’s been on the menu since last year. It’s prepared “en vessie”, i.e., in a pig’s bladder. Previously, one of the sous chefs brought the pig’s bladder to the table, basted it, and then took it back to the kitchen for the dish to be plated. Now, there’s a change. While the pig’s bladder is still brought out, basting, cutting open the bladder and finishing the plating are done tableside by a member of the front of the house staff. As you can see, Tina did a masterful job!

Celery Root

Celery Root

Celery Root

Celery Root

The wine pairing was this Bandol from the Coravin list.

Coravin: Bandol

When the flatware for the next course includes our engraved knives, we know it’s time for the main protein.

Our Engraved Knives

There were three choices for this course: Chef Humm’s signature duck, pork cheek, and mushroom. Since we’d not had it in quite a while we both chose Duck: Honey and Lavender Dry Aged with Salsify and Pear.

Duck

To go along with the main course, something new has been added — two sides served family style: Potato Confit with Potato Purée and Butternut Squash Roasted with Thyme + Squash Custard.

Potato

Butternut Squash

The wine pairing was this Barolo from the Coravin list.

When the main plates have been cleared and one of the maître d’s shows up at our table, we know precisely what that means. It’s kitchen visit time! On this occasion, it was Zach who escorted us there. Now, it’s in the kitchen that most – though not all — of the birthday and anniversary surprises have occurred. And even though we knew that something special was afoot, still, we were totally unprepared for what did happen.

Walking through the service area, there were shouts from staff members of “Happy Birthday!” Then, the moment we appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, the entire kitchen staff and front of the house personnel who were there stopped what they were doing and began clapping. This applause continued for what seemed like a long time. Stunned would be an enormous understatement! It was a lovely way to honor Michael on this milestone birthday.

The guest table was festooned with a banner and decorations plus a party hat for each of us, all of which was created by the very talented Christine. Zach snapped a photo of us…

Kitchen Visit

Chef Shante prepared Maple Snow on a stick…

Kitchen Visit

Michael put his party hat on (I don’t do hats)…

Kitchen Visit

And there was a gift: pocket handkerchiefs.

Kitchen Visit

So, now we’re thinking this was it. No more surprises. Well, silly us!

When we returned to our table, the next course arrived: Cheddar Tart with Apple and Bacon Marmalade accompanied by a serve-it-yourself Green Salad.

Cheddar

There was no pre-dessert, so from here it was directly on to dessert. I had seen, via someone’s tweet, that the Baked Alaska was back, its popularity very much in evidence on many tables. I also knew that there were other options; however, Elizabeth didn’t tell us what they were. I guess that should have tipped us off that something was up. But… Surprise! Surprise! G.M. Billy Peelle wheeled over a table holding four whole pies!

Surprise! Surprise! Pies!!

Now, there is a story behind this which I talked about in this previous post. But for those of you too lazy to click over there…. For the past two Thanksgivings, we’ve been going to both betony and EMP. At betony, they end that meal with a variety of fantastic pies which we raved about at EMP, suggesting they do the same. At last year’s Thanksgiving, they told us they are going to do it at this year’s Thanksgiving. Well, obviously, they decided not to make us wait that long!

So, there they were, baked by Executive Pastry Chef Mark Welker and looking scrumptious: Apple, Sweet Potato, Pecan, and Coconut Meringue. The object, as explained to us by Billy, was for us to have some right there and then to take all of them home. As generous as that was, it posed a small problem. There was no way we could fit four pies in our apartment’s frig. So, we decided we’d eat a pieces of each pie, take home a quarter of each pie, and leave the rest for the staff to enjoy.

The slices they served us were not exactly tiny.

Pies

And there was, of course, a wine pairing.

Kracher

We were stuffed! So, we asked Elizabeth to doggie bag the end-of-meal chocolate treats.

Eleven Madison Park

The package also included two birthday bonbon and three jars of granola!

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

And let’s not forget the pies! We left loaded with EMP-embossed carry bags!

What a glorious evening! A simple “Thank you!” seems totally inadequate considering the lengths to which the EMP staff went to make Michael’s 75th birthday a celebration to remember. They are truly a group – a family – of very special people. And we feel flattered and grateful that they consider us members of that family.

Eleven Madison Park

To see the entire photo set of this celebration dinner, click here.


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