Archive for March, 2012

Mad for NoMad

March 28, 2012

NoMad, which officially opened on Monday of this week, is the new restaurant owned by EMP’s Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, — probably the most eagerly anticipated restaurant opening of 2012 in New York. Because of our long relationship with EMP, we were invited to preview NoMad during “Friends & Family.” As soon as we received the emailed invitation, we were on the phone and secured a reservation for the very first dinner service on Wednesday, March 25.

It was an unusually balmy evening as we made our way to the restaurant in the also new boutique NoMad Hotel, on Broadway and 28th St. About a block away, we spotted a familiar figure coming toward us. It was Chef Humm. He was on his way to check in at EMP where, incidentally, we’d had dinner the night before.

After exchanging hellos, he said he’d see us later when he’d be back at NoMad. (The two restaurants are only a few blocks from each other.)

Entering NoMad’s reception area, we were greeted with warm hugs by Kristin Millar. As a member of EMP’s reception team, she had welcomed us many times there before leaving last year to become the head receptionist at Ai Fiori when it opened. Now, we were thrilled to see her “back in the fold” at NoMad in charge of reservations and reception. After our jackets were checked, she asked if we’d prefer to tour the restaurant before or after dinner. We decided on after. She then led us into the lounge area where a smiling Will stood waiting to greet all arriving guests. He told us they had special plans for us – a tasting menu. He did request that I not take any photos. (He explained his reasons which I won’t go into here, but they made sense to me.) Actually, it was nice to just sit back and not concern myself with anything but enjoying the food — and, as always, Michael’s company.

Kristin escorted us into the dining room, seated us at a table for two along the left wall, and told us she’d be back when we were done to take us on the tour. The dining room is beautiful with a turn-of-the century feel, including elegant red draperies and pillars adorned with large white squares picturing various herbs and such. Seating is very comfortable. In fact, the chairs are the same design as those at EMP but covered in period fabric rather than EMP’s leather. And there was music. Watching a video of Daniel and Will doing a Google Q&A, I noted Daniel’s remark that there would be music. I’m loud noise-phobic, so that worried me. But I needn’t have been since the music – jazz and other styles, including a bit of (recognizable to me )rock ‘n’ roll – was kept at a reasonable level. With tables about 80% occupied, the overall noise level was pleasant.

Cailene, our server, arrived with a cheery greeting. Bright and bubbly, she took attentive care of us throughout the meal. When Michael asked about wine, she said a red and a white were available on the house; however, he could certainly do a wine pairing for which there would be a charge. He opted to do pairings, so Cailene sent over a sommelier. Danielle discussed Michael’s wine preferences (reds whenever possible), and he was very pleased with her selections. Cailene also had a surprise for me. The bar was preparing one of my favorite non-alcoholic drinks at EMP, the Orange Julius – and, she emphasized, with a straw! At EMP, the bar usually sends out the O.J. without a without a straw, so I always ask for one. Will has told me he agrees that it really needs a straw, so I was really touched that he had made sure the straw would not be forgotten. As I often tell him, he is the best!!

Though there were menus at our place settings, we only glanced at them. I didn’t take any notes as I had intended to get a copy to take home but then forgot to do so. However, Eater came to the rescue by posting the menu (it’s not on NoMad’s website yet) though there are a number of things we had that don’t appear on it. So, in those instances, I’ve been left at the mercy of my less than stellar memory.

Our tasting menu consisted of seven courses, the same number listed on the menu and will be served “family-style for two or more people.” However, while the majority of our courses were served family-style, we also had individual portions that came from the hors d’oeuvres and snack sections as well as from the a la carte.


NYT Sunday Puzzle – March 25, 2012

March 25, 2012

Woot! I’m on a roll!!

NYT Sunday Puzzle - March 25, 2012

Even after getting all the answers to the theme clues, I still couldn’t figure out what the theme meant. So, off to Rex Parker (aka King of Crossworld) for elucidation: “…phrases made up of two words wherein a letter appearing twice in the first word and then another letter appearing once are flipped to make the second word…” Okay, then….

23A. Ordeal that’s no big deal? = Trivial Travail
27A. Large cloth sign with nothing on it? = Barren Board
29A. Toy hammer? = Mattel Mallet
50A. Soft yet easily breakable “Star Wars” creature = Brittle Tribble
66A. Hemispherical computer add-on? = Domed Modem
68A. “Red ‘em, cowboy!,” e.g.? = Rodeo Order
79A. Big house that’s not as big? = Smaller Slammer
99A. Goddess of Gas? = Ethane Athena
102A. Get part of one’s shirt under control = Corral Collar
108A. What the Gorgon Stheno does in Greek myth? = Pursue Perseus

23 Across was the easiest and the one I got first. Not being familiar with the Gorgon Stheno (108A) didn’t stop me from getting Perseus. But I was cluelesss about the Tribbles (50A) since I’m not up on “Star Wars” characters. For 68A, I kept thinking Rodeo Rider, but “Rider” didn’t work with the surrounding answers. When I filled in “Orator” for 45 D: Podium person, that put two “O’s” in a row, which seemed weird until I figured out that the second word should be “Order.” And for 79A, I was briefly stumped until I realized that the “big house” referred to was slang for jail.

19A. Hitchcock thriller set in Brazil. Answer: Notorious. I haven’t seen this movie in ages, so I didn’t remember that it takes place in Brazil. Ergo, it took filling in some answers around it to get it.

22A. Nation bordering Svizzera. Answer: Italia. Though I knew that “Svizzera” was Switzerland in another language, I didn’t know which. I speak French (it would be “Suisse”), so that let France out even though it has the correct number of letters. Germany? Austria? Liechtenstein? Too many letters. That left only one: Italy (Italia).

54D. Reckless driver’s loss, perhaps. Answer: License. At first, I wrote in “Control,” but I got nowhere with the surrounding clues. When I got “Tribble,” the “L,” which was the first letter of 54D, immediately gave me the correct answer.

106A. Poppies, e.g. Answer: Herbs. Huh?! To me, poppies are a flower. There are, of course, poppy seeds (often used in hamantaschen and other baked goods), but I’ve never thought of them as an herb.

117A. Vodka brand. Answer: Skyy. I’ve heard of Stoli, but this was a new one on me. The two “y’s” were very odd, but that had to be right because I knew all the answers in that section of the grid were correct.

NY Times Puzzle – Thursday, March 22, 2012

March 24, 2012

NY Times Puzzle - Thursday, March 22,2012

Theme: eaks/akes

I figured out the theme fairly quickly. Each answer contains a play on those words.

19A. Entrees for one of Dion’s backup singers? = Belmont steaks
30A. Discounts at garages? = Parking brakes
36A. Severely reduced wagers? = Chopped stakes
52A. What mechanics may do as part of a tuneup? = Service brakes

19A. first tipped me off to the theme. Dion and the Belmonts was one of my favorite rock ‘n’ roll groups in the 1950’s.

Completing an error-free puzzle came down to filling in one letter. The problem was that I didn’t know the correct answers to the two intersecting clues containing that letter. So, I left that space blank from Thursday until this morning when I decided to just guess. And I guessed right!

17A. Wing part = AILERON
5D. Rookie: Var. = TIRO

NYT Sunday Puzzle – March 18, 2012

March 22, 2012

I’m feeling really, really good about finishing this puzzle without any errors because it was really, really hard!! Rex Parker (aka King of CrossWorld) labeled it “Challenging.” And when I emailed the P.G. to ask what he thought of it, he replied: “Last Sunday’s puzzle was the hardest Sunday puzzle that I can remember in a long time. It is definitely quite an achievement if you finished it with no mistakes.”

Thanks, P.G.! Your compliment gave me a huge case of the warm and fuzzies.

NYT Sunday Puzzle - March 18, 2012

Title: Rear-End Collision

Trying to figure out how exactly the title applied to the theme answers was difficult. My first thought was that the last two letters of each answer would probably be in the same square. However, it turned out to be a lot more complicated. Each answer was composed of a common two-word phrase, and all the letters of the second phrase were bunched together, two in each of the remaining squares.

15A. Burro, e.g. = Pack An/im/al
26A. When the pressure’s on = Crunch Ti/me
45A. Big media event = Press Co/nf/er/en/ce
53A. Widely popular shows, say = Crowd Pl/ea/se/rs
55A. Bunting is part of it = Squeeze Pl/ay
71A. Some morning fundraisers = Pancake Br/ea/kf/as/ts
86A. Late rallies = Clutch Pe/rf/or/ma/nc/es
99A. Car safety feature = Crumple Li/ne
101A. Data storage device = Compact Di/sc
111A. Mexican cooking ingredients called “flores de calabaza” in Spanish = Squash Bl/os/so/ms
135A. Diamond substitute = Pinch Ru/nn/er
142A. Occasions to try out riffs = Jam Se/ss/io/ns

Rex Parker also noted something that had not occurred to me — “the first words can all be verbs that indicate some sort of SQUEEZing or CRUMPLing or COMPACTing action, but in the phrases they are all adjectives.”

I found it interesting that three of the clues – 55A, 86A, and 135A — pertain to baseball. Since I know all about the game, getting those answers was easy.

As usual, I started working on the puzzle Saturday evening. By Sunday evening, I had completed it with the exception of the first three letters of 143A. Peeping Tom’s home: _ _ _ ENTRY. I hadn’t a clue what the answer was and trying to get it by filling in the last letters of the three Down clues that crossed it was no use because I was stumped about those as well. Aaargh! So near to completion and yet so far! I decided to sleep on it. Late Monday afternoon, I took up the puzzle again. As if by magic, one by one, the answers came to me.

First, 126 D. Airing: ONTV
Then, 125D. Cartoon character voiced by Mel Blanc: DINO
With the “V” and the “O” filled in, the answer to 143A. became obvious: COVENTRY
The “C” automatically filled in 135D. Bencher’s target: PEC


Spring 2012 Is Officially Here!

March 20, 2012

The first day of spring arrived today at 1:14 a.m. EDT. But Mother Nature has been jumping the gun for several weeks, and now she’s busy hopping ahead towards summertime temps getting close to “Rozy weather.” I’m lovin’ it!


Spring 2012

Spring 2012

This is surely confusing the heck out of all the trees and plants. The Japanese cherry on our front lawn looks ready to bloom. That normally doesn’t happen until the beginning of April.

Spring 2012

It’s been ages since I last heard Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.” Seems appropriate for this day as the bees will now be humming, and flowers will start blooming. Croatian pianist Maksim Mrvica plays it here:

Being optimistic, Michael removed the snow stakes along the driveway two weeks ago. Last year, snow removal cost us over $700. This year: 0!

NYT Sunday Puzzle – March 11, 2012

March 11, 2012

Echoing the Staples ad tag line: “That was easy!”

NYT Sunday Puzzle - March 11, 2012

Title: 100 Years Ago

The Titanic sank on April 14, 1902.

63A. Theme of the puzzle = Titanic
27A. American millionaire lost with the 63-Across = John Jacob Astor
33A. With 88-Across, 1960 musical partly about 63-Across, with “The” = Unsinkable/Molly Brown
96A. What 63 Across crossed to begin her 88D/13A = English Channel
3D. 2003 James Cameron documentary about the 63-Across = Ghosts of the Abyss
5D. 63 Across’s destination on her 88D/13D = New York City
38D. 1955 Walter Lord book about the 63 Across = A Night to Remember
65D. Where the 63 Across’s 88D/13D began = Southampton
88D. With 13 Down, disastrous event for the 63-Across = Maiden/voyage

I knew all the answers to the theme clues straight out with only one exception. I wasn’t familiar with Cameron’s documentary but got it by filling in the surrounding answers. I have seen his 1997 movie. Interestingly, John Jacob Astor appears in one scene. I got a kick out of seeing Eric Braeden in the role since for many years he’s played Victor Newman on “The Young & the Restless.”

My favorite movie about the Titanic is the 1953 version starring Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Wagner, and Thelma Ritter. I read the Lord book many years ago – one of the best on the subject. I’ve also seen the British docudrama based on his book (same title) starring Kenneth More and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” in which Debbie Reynolds played Molly.

Springing Ahead…

March 11, 2012

…and with clocks now changed, it looks as though Mother Nature is springing ahead of the vernal equinox (March 20). Temps this coming week will be well above normal. Definitely no complaints from me!

Springing Ahead...

NYT Thursday Puzzle – March 8, 2012

March 9, 2012

NY Times Puzzle - Thursday, March 8, 2012

I’m either getting better at completing the Thursday puzzles, or this one was just easier than usual. I think it’s the latter.

The theme was supplied by 34 Across: Moral lapse that is reflected by the answers at 17-, 24-, 46-, and 54-Across. The answer to 34 Across: Broken Promise. But I couldn’t figure out the connection, so I checked Rex Parker. Turns out, the first letter + the final letters of each answer = a word that’s a synonym for the “promise.”

17A. “HeeHaw,” for one. Answer: Variety show = VOW
24A. Noted Irish crystal. Answer: Waterford = WORD
46A. Physician with a D.O. degree. Answer: Osteopath = OATH
54A. “When a Man Loves a Woman” singer. Answer: Percy Sledge = PLEDGE

[Note: I finished last Sunday’s puzzle (March 4) but made one seriously stupid mistake that had me royally pissed with myself!]

Purim – March 8, 2012/14 Adar 5772

March 8, 2012

As the story is told in the Megillah

Back in the 4th century BCE, King Ahaseurus ruled the Persian Empire, and all the Jews were his subjects. After executing his wife, Queen Vashti, because she disobeyed him, he held a beauty contest to find a replacement. Mordechai, leader of the Jews, convinced his cousin, Esther to enter the contest without divulging that she was a Jew. Ahaseurus, entranced by her beauty, chose her to be his new queen.

Ahaseurus’s prime minister, Haman, hated the Jews. By decree, all people under the king’s rule were forced to bow down to Haman. When Modechai refused to do so, Haman convinced the king to order that all Jews be exterminated. The date for their execution was chosen by a lottery: the 13th of Adar.

Led by Mordechai, the Jews fasted and prayed for deliverance. He also asked Esther to intervene. She invited the king and Haman to a feast at which she revealed her true identity. The king’s love for her won out. The Jews were spared, Mordechai was named prime minister, and Haman was hanged on the 13th of Adar. On the 14th of Adar, the Jews celebrated.

Purim - March 12, 2012/14 Adar 5772

On Purim, the story is read out in temple from the Megillah. Whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, feet are stamped and groggers (noisemakers) are twirled. On this day of celebration, adults are supposed to eat, drink, and be merry. Carnivals take place (my Hebrew school held a great one every year), and children dress in costumes while engaging in shalach manot, which involves going door-to-door and offering gifts of candy, fruit, and hamantaschen.

Hamantaschen are, of course, THE food of Purim. Triangular pastries patterned after and named for the three-cornered hat Haman wore, they can have various filling like poppy seeds, prunes, or apricots. I don’t care for poppy seeds, so I always make mine with prunes and apricots.


NYT Sunday Puzzle – February 26, 2012

March 2, 2012

After an 8-week dry spell – the longest interval I can remember — another Sunday puzzle completed with no errors. Though I completed several during that period, they contained one or two mistakes, stupid or otherwise.

NYT Sunday Puzzle - February 26, 2012

Theme: Back to the Start

It wasn’t too difficult to figure out the meaning: In each of the theme answers, the last word is missing three letters, and going “back to the start,” they are the first three letters of the first word.

23A. Aide for a V.I.P. customer = Personal Shop(per)
25A. Multiple Grammy winner who was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” = Toni Brax(ton)
35A. Prozac, for one = Anti-Depress(ant)
59A. Freudian Concept = Pleasure Princi(ple)
78A. Mountains, rivers, plains, etc. = Physical Geogra(phy)
99A. Fancy salad ingredient = Artichoke He(art)
117A. London transportation = Undergro(und)
119A. Marlon Brando film = On the Waterfr(ont)

I didn’t have a clue about the following:
26A. Paper nautilus, e.g. = Octopod
89A. Actor Hill of “Moneyball” = Jonah (Michael saw the movie but I didn’t.)
92A. Spanish winds = Aires.
124A. Fastener patented in 1939 = Twist Tie

These I got quite easily:
20A. Stern taking a bow (in two senses) = Isaac
48A. Gore in fiction = Vidal
86A. “The Magnificent Seven” co-star = (Steve) McQueen. (My first thought was Yul Brynner. But though the number of letters in his last name fit, it became immediately apparent that they wouldn’t work with the surrounding answers.) .
122A. “Cheers” bartender Sam = Malone (I watched it during the early years.)