Archive for the 'New York' Category

30
Dec
10

Blizzard of the Heart


New Yorkers are a funny bunch. We can get impatient, short-tempered; we often appear callous or indifferent as we rush into the routines and responsibilities dictating our lives. But hit us with a crisis, and the vast majority of our ethnically rich mosaic rises to the occasion like a collective consciousness of transcendent higher-selves, who when awakened, mobilize will, wit, limb and spirit admirably, to meet the challenges of the moment.

This blizzard appears to have caught not just the city short in resources and manpower, but somehow managed to plow right past that special NY spiritedness that historically carries us through such crises. The impediments seemed to get the best of us this time around. Perhaps we were self-involved with holiday vacation with family and friends… let’s hope so… Or maybe it was the Bloombergian wheels on the trucks pulling the tale spin round and round, or the peculiar molecular weighted heaviness of this particular snowfall that made this accumulation harder to bear.

In this Great Blizzard of 2010, it seems the collective response of our good citizens was a discordant tonal series of anger, frustration, malarkey, saturation and abandonment. Maybe we’re just tired of being tall-talked, clinging to endless loops of recorded messages that never answer the question, of new and improved stream-lined services that have composted public service into rotted marquis and escalating monthly fees.

Brooklyn, Wednesday noon, two days after the snow stopped...

As I navigated through the everestian snow peaks of my Brooklyn neighborhood in new water-resistant boots and smart REI like layers, I couldn’t recall a time when I’d seen our streets left so desolate in a snowstorm. Not a plow truck in sight or ear-shot, no heroic bus drivers braving the inclement weather to get the stranded to safety, no policeman-momentarily ticketing quota free, offering pedestrians a helping hand.

Wednesday afternoon, stuck tractor trailer blocking traffic both ways on Avenue J...

The few drivers I saw would rather impatiently honk their profanities from the safety of their heated vehicles than lend a helping hand. Bundled neighbors fended for themselves-unless they were lucky enough to land illegals to shovel the drive and sidewalks. (What a great time for a snow border round-up. Oh, that’s right, we’re naturalizing them all now, well thank goodness for that, or we’d never shovel out of this mess!). I didn’t see one car stop to give a cold-wet-tired citizen trudging through the mountainous sludge a lift, not even for a couple of blocks. Actually, most were lucky not to get run over by the zealot kings of the four wheel drive. Where were we?!?

Cars couldn't always stop on time...

I’m hoping I just caught some random off-moments, in my new water-resistant boots, (that, by the way absorb about an hour’s worth of wetness before becoming totally saturated. Hey, the label never promised water-proof, some truth in advertising, though made in China I concede), and that somewhere out there in our great metropolis, people were doing what New Yorkers are known for; riding the storm, answering calls of distress with aplomb, clearing the way and moving on with our lives. The rest, G-d’s sunshine will dissolve in time… until next time.

Thursday morning and another Brooklyn side-street... Didn't the snowfall stop three days ago?!?

The sinking feeling that perhaps we had devolved into “its every man for himself” – or that we’d collectively frozen others out of our hearts – left me icy and apprehensive and in a contemplative funk. G-d knows, we’d be justified. Our lives are really challenged these days. Take your pick: whole governments caving to terrorist demands, America losing it’s once lustrous stars of glory, freedom and the democratic way, economic pillars plummeting like Hollywood back-lots – swept away by winds of deceit and greed – a collapsing health care system where doctors’ Hippocratic oath has been Obamacized with a new. improved, hypocritic oath. (A preamble to future, real life, versions of Soilent Green?). Trust your doctor to help you find pathways to death in a time frame that works for the greater good of all! Or is it our jeopardized jobs that keep us feeling flighty and on edge- jobs that grow more mechanical and disinterested as we learn the more jolting personal side-effects of obsolescence, or is it the dissolution of social norms that are seriously compromising our families and values. Take your pick…we’re an American avalanche waiting to happen.

Though vulnerable and porous, we are a good people who need each other now more than ever. The power of who we are and what we can accomplish together is stronger than any challenges that present themselves. Our compassion will speak the loudest in the tales that our children and children’s children will retell till the end of time. Our humanity is our biggest asset as humans, and without it, we are but Babelian beasts uttering meaningless speech signifying nothing…

SYR

02
Dec
09

Dining in Style


New York’s top kosher steakhouse is, without a doubt, Prime Grill (60 East 49th Street; New York, NY 10017; Telephone: 212.692.9292). But, do not take my word for it! Many well known actors, politicians, top business leaders, even those who need not worry about eating kosher, find their way to this eatery. In fact, as Executive Chef David Koloktin puts it, some of New York’s biggest business deals were hammered out during many a lunch at Prime Grill‘s tables.

Smoked Black Cod

On this occasion SYR had the Smoked Black Cod, for an appetizer. It was served with poached egg, toasted curry couscous cake, shiitake mushroom chips and champagne vinaigrette. I ordered their Classic Beef Tartar served over beef-carpaccio with citrus-caper vinaigrette, sun dried tomatoes & pistachio baked crustini. Superb selections, both!

Classic Beef Tartar

For the main dish I had a Delmonico with Peppercorn Sauce, Tobacco Onion Rings, mixed greens and a marrow bone. SYR had her favorite, the 14oz Ladies Cut with Yukon Gold Potatoes and we both shared the Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes. Again, the artistry (both in the presentation and the perfect, just right, flavors) of the kitchen staff under Chef David’s direction was astounding! But… I still plan to come back on a Thursday evening for the special on my personal favorite the Black Angus Beef.

Delmonico Steak

We washed it all down with a delightful 2006 Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon. For dessert SYR ordered a Caramelized Banana Tart with Vanilla Cream and Bacardi Coconut Sorbet while I had the Warm Chocolate Cake consisting of Molten Chocolate Cake and Vanilla Ice Cream. She had a coffee, while I sipped a slightly warmed up glass of Luis Royer Cognac XO (European Style!).

All in all a perfect dinner, but… you expect that at Prime Grill.

CS

Prime Grill on Urbanspoon

25
Nov
09

Thanksgiving and the Jews


The first Jew to set foot in Colonial America, was Joachim Gans, who came here in 1584 having been recruited by Sir Walter Raleigh as he set out on an expedition to explore the Virginia territory. In 1654 a group of 23 Dutch  Jews arrived from Brazil, on the shores of New Amsterdam (New York), fleeing the Inquisition recently instituted in Portugal’s new colony. Like the Mayflower Pilgrims before them, this group came to the New World in search of opportunities and religious freedom. Life wasn’t easy; dreams could only be realized through an incredible amount of determination, hard work, sweat, tears and personal sacrifice.

I can just imagine these Dutch/Brazilian Jews in the new land celebrating Thanksgiving with a slowly cooked Moqueca Capixaba (a Brazilian dish consisting of: fish, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, chili pepper and additional ingredients). Fish was plentiful,  requiring no shechita.

As the years and centuries progressed, Jews realized unparalleled success in the New World, engaging in  fields of study and a variety of livelihoods unrivaled in our history… We educated ourselves and our children, excelling in areas in academia, maths and sciences, commerce, technology and the arts.  We suddenly had new freedoms and exploited unprecedented opportunities. 

In 1946, my dad, a teenager at the time, arrived to these shores,  on an orphan transport boat called the Ernie Pyle. In his hand was a shabby little suitcase that contained his Tefillin and a herring. Shortly after his arrival, speaking but a few words of English, he landed a job in a baby blanket factory, sewing & sweeping floors. His one meal a day was dinner at Ratner’s, one of the famous dairy eateries of its day, where he’d sit down to a bowl of soup and all the bread he could eat. The Hungarian wife ( and amazing cook) he married two years later, kept him happy and content in the kitchen and in life. May they continue together in health and happiness till 120!

Dad’s early days in the new land remind me of an old joke:

Abe Cohen goes to a restaurant every day for lunch. He always orders the soup du jour. One day the manager asks him how he liked his meal. Abe replies (with a Yiddish accent) “Vass goot, but you could give a lidle more bread.”

The next day, the manager tells the waitress to give him four slices of bread. “How was your meal, sir?” the manager asks. “Vass goot, but you could give a lidle more bread”.

Next day the manager tells the waitress to give him eight slices of bread. “How was your meal today, sir?” the manager asks. “Vass goot, but you could give a lidle more bread”.

The manager is now obsessed with seeing Abe say that he enjoyed his meal, so he goes to the bakery and orders a 6ft long French loaf. When Abe comes in – as usual – the next day, the waitress and the manager cut the loaf in half, butter the entire length of each half and lay it out along the counter, right next to his bowl of soup. Abe sits down, and devours both his bowl of soup and both halves of the 6ft loaf of bread. The manager now thinks he will get the answer he is looking for. When Abe comes up to pay for his meal, the manager asks in the usual way: “How was your meal TODAY, sir?” Abe replies “It vass goot, as usual, but I see you are back to giving only 2 slices of bread!”

How times and country have changed us all! America is still  a land of opportunity, if we can just get past the gauntlet of recorded voice messages that stand between us and our daily bread. Though the the ‘Goldeneh Land’ has lost some of it’s glitter, we have much to be grateful for.  We enjoy freedoms in this country that others less fortunate literally die for each and every day.  Though our health care system is in shambles, we have access to medical care, medication and vaccines that don’t even exist in other countries. We benefit  from technologies we never dreamed of; at our fingertips we have the power to transform the world or to destroy it.

In our tfilos we thank the Almighty each and every day, three times a day.  We acknowledge His mastery over Creation and bless His handiwork in everything we eat and partake of in His world. All our accomplishments are through His divine grace. Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the US, it brings families together from near and far, as collectively America remembers all we have to be thankful for.

Wishing those that celebrate this holiday a Happy Thanksgiving filled with good cheer, good conversation, good food, in the company of loved ones.

In the holiday spirit, I’ll leave you with a personal heimishe recipe for turkey stuffing and simple turkey baste. Enjoy!!

Challah Stuffing

(serves 10)

1 large challah, dried out (leave out overnight)
2 cups shredded carrots, sautéed
2 cup sautéed minced onions
2 cup sautéed finely diced celery
2 cups wild mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts (washed and drained)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, optional
1/3 cup canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced, and sautéed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
2 cups chicken stock
2 eggs
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Directions:

Soak Challah in water, remove crust top when moistened, and squeeze out all water, break into small pieces. Add eggs, oil, stock and seasoning. Sautée vegetables; when cooled to room temperature, add into mix . Stuff inside turkey cavity, alongside turkey or bake in a separate casserole.

Turkey Baste

¾ c. oil
dried garlic powder
onion powder
sweet paprika
dried parsley, dried dill, salt and pepper.

Place sliced onions, celery, clove of garlic, (brussel sprouts-optional garnish) in bottom of roasting pan.  Add water.

Turkey

Place turkey in prepared roasting pan, tented with aluminum foil.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes per pound.  Baste 4-5 times with oil/spice mixture. Bake uncovered for last 15 minutes.

Here is my simple, homemade turkey (the guests always love its finger lickin’ goodness!):

turkey

As a dessert, some may want it as a side dish with the turkey, you might make this simple to follow but delicious recipe:

Cranberry Crunch Mousse

2 Rich’s Rich whip 8 oz topping
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar

Whip up topping. When whip is formed add vanilla and confectioner’s sugar.

1 12 oz. package fresh cranberries
1 8 oz bag of mini marshmallows
8 oz honey glazed pecans chopped

Chop cranberries in food processor for about a minute, don’t pulverize. Fold cranberries, marshmallows and chopped pecans into whip mixture and serve chilled.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 8-10

SYR




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