Archive for June, 2015


Basil – Finally Again

Late afternoon yesterday, SYR and I had the pleasure of stopping by Basil (see here and here) – 270 Kingston Ave; Brooklyn, NY 11213; Telephone: 718.285.8777. While many eateries, in the kosher world, become too complacent as their quality declines, Basil still maintains their high standards.

I started my meal with an ice cold Weihenstephan Beer. Brewed in Germany since 1040, at the world’s oldest existing brewery, it is a golden-yellow wheat beer, with its fine white foam, with aromas of cloves and a refreshing banana flavor. It is full bodied and with a smooth yeast taste. It paired superbly with the Wild Mushroom Pizza I shared with
SYR (it comes with a delicious goat cheese, mozzarella and truffle oil)…


and the Garlic-Truffle-Mayo and Parmesan Fries I had. SYR opted for a Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Breadcrumbs side.


they had a “delicate buttery and lemony taste,” she said. She washed it all down with a 2011 Baron Herzog Chardonnay. She described it as having, “intense floral aromas which were followed by notes of fresh peach, pear and citrus with hints of toasty vanilla oak. Soft in texture and well-balanced.”

We finished the meal with a selection of in-house pastries, which included a melt in your mouth chocolate croissant, an apple turnover, a cinnamon danish and more; a great finish for a great meal! We shouldn’t have waited so long to come back…



An Azerbaijani Grill

This past Friday, very early in the morning, I left for Shabbat – with friends – to their Eagle Lake summer home in the Poconos. This community is located about 20 minutes out of Scranton, PA., next to man-made Eagle Lake. It was a very beautiful day, perfect for barbecuing. Since we had just arrived, done some shopping, and were getting ready for Shabbat there was little time to properly marinade the meat. My hosts put me in charge of barbecuing; after checking out the pantry to see what was available and checking the refrigerator to see what kind of meat, I decided to make a rub. The meat turned out to be 3 lbs of a nice London Broil, they wanted it very spicy I was told.

Considering the limited choices I picked:


I ended up using more than 1 bottle of some of these...

I ended up using more than 1 bottle of some of these…

CS Fast and Spicy Meat Rub


  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (for a superb aroma)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground Lemon Pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon Steakhouse Onion Burger
  • 1 teaspoon Magic Salt Free Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Meat Magic


  1. Mix well and the above quantities will yield enough rub for one skewer of pieces of meat
This is a very low and interesting Azerbaijani barbecue. It sits very low and the skewers are inserted on 5 sets of parallel grooves.

This is a interesting Azerbaijani style barbecue. It sits very low and the skewers are inserted on 5 sets of parallel grooves.

I cut up the meat into 2 inch cubes, each cube was then rubbed with the above mixture, put on a skewer and barbecued for about 7 minutes (having turned the skewers once at the 3.5 minute mark). Each skewer had 8 pieces of meat.

The first 5 out of the 7 skewers of meat I barbecued.

The first 5 out of the 7 skewers of meat I barbecued.

Between the three adults and two preteens there was nothing left!

The meat came out juicy, spicy but flavorful, and very aromatic. Shabbos day and Sunday rained non stop, but even then we ate all the meals outside in the wooden 12 ft by 12 ft gazebo, the windows were covered with mesh and plastic to keep the insects. On motzey Shabbos the temperature went down to 49F, I guess the mountains – 120 miles out of Brooklyn – are a different world. In fact, my Brooklyn allergies did not affect me even once during the three days in the Poconnos!

We saw quite a few deer throughout, and on Sunday as we were leaving back to New York we even managed to see another visitor by the community’s garbage containers…

A black baby bear, busy foraging through the garbage bags, seemingly unconcerned about the five golf cart and two vans filled with humans surrounding him...

A black baby bear, busy foraging through the garbage bags, seemingly unconcerned about the five golf cart and two vans filled with humans, armed with cameras and iPhones, surrounding him.

I wonder how far Mamma Bear was…



Lunch and a Walk in Central Park North

Yesterday, SYR and I had the pleasure of having lunch with the famed Lévana Kirschenbaum at her apartment, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. While everyone who has read this blog over the years knows of my love/hate relationship with fish (more hate than love, actually), I really enjoyed her sushi grade tuna steaks. Juicy, flavorful and without a hint of fishiness they were truly delicious!!!


A delicious tossed salad, a cup of sake in the lower  left corner and a some tuna steaks in the back...

A delectable tossed salad, a cup of sake in the lower left corner and a some tuna steaks in the back…

Grilled Mushrooms, Grilled Zucchini and Carrot Salad...

Grilled Mushrooms, Grilled Zucchini and Carrot Salad… Fantastic!

After such a great lunch (which we capped with Lévana‘s superb Chocolate Chip Cookies) the three of us went for a walk in Central Park North…

...a wooden bridge

…a wooden bridge

Some of the Park's inhabitants...

Some of the park’s inhabitants…

Great company, great meal, great walk, great afternoon, what more can one ask?



The Merchant of Venice


David Serero, as Shylock, in a Sephardic version of Shalom Alechem.

David Serero, as Shylock, in a Sephardic version of Shalom Alechem, at the play’s opening.

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter
and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If
you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the
rest, we will resemble you in that.

The Merchant Of Venice Act 3, scene 1, 58–68

Last week I attended David Serero‘s production of Shakespeare‘s The Merchant of Venice for the American Sephardic Federation, at Manhattan’s Center for Jewish History. Mr. Serero adapted, directed and starred (as Shylock) in this play. Taking the Bard’s words – as a departure point – he introduced some Sephardic songs into his script, with his beautiful and powerful baritone intoning the introductory Shalom Alechem and a couple of others, while Dina Desmone – as Portia – sang a Ladino love song.

Though shorter than the original play, this version (superbly acted by SereroDesmone, with James Bocock – as Antonio, Joseph Talluto – as Bassanio, and Ron Barba – as Prince of Morocco/Salerio/Duke of Venice, and Noriko Sunamoto as the piano accompanist), illustrated with strong emotions what a Jew is. Much has been argued about Shakespeare’s antisemitism, yet while Shylock is not a  very sympathetic character, his hatred is shown as nothing more than the fruit of the prevailing feelings of the day towards the Jews. Perhaps it is time to rethink the way Shakespeare thought of of us. Did he indeed see us as blind, greedy money grabbers; or did Shylock‘s portrayal serve to show up the hypocrisy and prejudice of contemporary society?

Thanking the cast, the accompanist and the audience...

Thanking the cast, the accompanist and the audience…

David Serero‘s adaptation revisualized the original in a more Jewish, yet universal, view of blind prejudice and its pernicious effect on everyone. Though William Shakespeare may never have met a Jew, in real life; though almost 5 centuries passed since the play was first written; horrible massacres were perpetrated since, for no reason other than ignorance and unbridled bigotry. The world learned little from the blood spilled, little from the devastation of war; the savagery of hatred is still alive and well as we look at events around the world…


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