In Court

I was in court this morning: Deep in the cellars of Ginza, facing clerks whose greeting was repetitive and well-meaning, but lacking specific meaning.  Nonetheless, having appeared in courts before, the same just two and a half years ago, I was able to accept my fate.

What I saw: Refrigerated white beef, layered with rich, beautiful fat; dried fish; fresh fish; pickled vegetables; soba; yuba; unagi; yakitori, etc.  For the ride to the airport: Bento unagi, hai!  For Cambridge: Yuba, miso, unagi, hai!

The court here is the most beautiful one on earth and replicated across the city at Takeshima, Isetan, etc.

From My Window…

The guards are allowing a distant view of cherry trees in full blossom, all the more poignant, and evocative of tears, due to their remoteness, being out of reach.

Cameras snap in the alley, a nation fervent about its flowers.

Fish, eel, rice.

Undisclosed Location

I have been taken to an undisclosed location.

Yesterday, we picked wasabi roots and fresh strawberries and later got into hot water.

This morning it was bike rides at temples where weddings were held beneath blossoming trees.

Now placed in P.C. and waiting for interview with the G.I.C.  (Guy in Charge)

Kidnapped!

Well, not really.

But after 13 hours in the air–hot nuts, a pork chop, sake, and a mushroom omelet–I am in a strange place where NO ONE speaks English.  Not much, anyway.

I did, however, enjoy a great, fatty steak and more sake.  The food in Japan is astonishing, really the best on earth.  Gorgeous textures, deep flavors, subtle variations in heat, delightful variations of sweet and salty.

Tomorrow?  Tea farms.

On the Road

I woke up this A.M. to my favorite weather: Pouring rain.  The only thing missing?  Bill Evans or Chet Baker.

Walked the dog in the blackness, took cab to the airport, now in Newark.

The driver to Logan, from India, is also a chef and with three other friends is seeking to open what he called, “A NYC style Indian restaurant with good, simple, authentic food” that he feels is missing in Boston.  How true.  I took his card.  Shout out to Sobi!

I find that a good way to stay fit is to leave home.  Very little appetizing: Tomato juice, water, and a pre-frozen Sara Lee bagel.  Yikes.

In about 45 minutes, I’ll be flying to the Far East: Simenon, lots of book reviews, and lots to eat.  But mostly I’ll be unconscious snoozing blissfully.  Love the time in the air, suspended, and passive.

The New York Report

Having found little to whet my appetite where I live, I headed to Manhattan for monthly sustenance.  The report, blow by blow, follows.

Friday, March 19th

The afternoon began with a cold Italian beer at Alfredo’s on 49th & 5th.  Food here is not worth mentioning although the soup is good and if you like huge portions, I don’t, this could be your place.  It is a good, quiet place to meet a friend, which is why I was there.

A better bet, one of the best, in fact, is Lupa on Thompson & Houston.  Thank goodness the restaurant is not in my neighborhood.  I’d eat here twice a week.  A perfect dinner of tripe followed by pappardelle  with lamb ragu served by a very hip person in a room buzzing with good vibes.  The tripe was insanely delicious.

Later that same night, nearing midnight, it seemed like a good idea to go to Sakagura to have edamame, fried chicken, and a favorite sake from Niigata.  The restaurant is hidden in a basement on 43rd at 3rd.  Dark room, very Japanese meaning discreet and lively at the same time.  (One of my favorite places in town.)  It was a good idea.

Saturday, March 20th

The usual: Toasted poppy with lox spread, black ice, and Tropicana, lots of pulp, at Pinnacle on 3rd at 46th.   (The Tropicana always makes me think of grandma in East New York.  A good thought.)

Lunch: My favorite restaurant on earth, Esca, 43rd and 9th.  Omigod.  We’re talking monkfish, pan seared and served with very cool watercress and wheat berries and then the first shad roe of the season.  It came with pickled vegetables.  (Dave said hello.)  All good.  Later, inspired by a friend’s tweet on the subject, we headed over to Nougatine in Columbus Circle for JG’s cheeseburger, which was crazy good.

Sunday, March 21st

See 3/20, Pinnacle.

What better way to celebrate the first day of spring than to walk from 46th & 3rd, where the apartment is, to Houston & 2nd?  The old East Village…back in high school, I remember going to the Fillmore, seeing all the hippies.   Coffee at Porto Rico on Bleeker and then lunch at Lil Frankie, where idiosyncratic staff in idiosyncratic digs serve one of NY’s best pizzas.  The day ended at Citarella: Aged strip steak, little Yukon’s, and watercress, radicchio, and frisee.

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NYC

Off to NYC to eat at a few of my usual favorite places:

LUPA: Every neighborhood should have a place so pleasant with food this good.  We’re talking simple and ingredient driven food.  The pasta is pretty wonderful.

ESCA: My favorite restaurant on earth for casual dining.  The fish is extraordinary.

NOUGATINE: Good and a place for good behavior.  Grown-up dining!

We’ll see what we pass by, too: Pinnacle, Halal food, Citarella, Papaya King!

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NYC Will Grade Restaurants and Other Top Stories

1.  NYC will grade restaurants!  A measure approved two days ago will require all NYC restaurants to display the, “A,” “B,” or “C,” they receive from the city’s board of health.  The ruling goes into effect in July.  Imagine what that is going to do for business.  Restaurants are already suffering from the recession.  Is there a better way to inform the public?  In turn, why not have a rating system for publicly elected officials and require them to wear their letters.  As much as I admire Thomas Farley, NYC’s health commissioner, I’d give him a gentleman’s “C” for this measure.  http://www.nrn.com/breakingNews.aspx?id=380794&menu_id=1368

2.  In the U.K., there are calls to outlaw halal and schechita slaughter.  These are, respectively, the Islamic and Jewish methods of killing animals.  Cut to the chase?  The animal has its throat slit and bleeds to death.  In an article in The Guardian (3/17/10), Nesrine Malik defends the practice: “Isn’t there some hypocrisy in heartily consuming meat but being precious about how animals are butchered? Apart from lethal injection in a Swiss clinic somewhere, I cannot imagine that any method of execution is particularly pleasant. If you’re squeamish about the killing, surely vegetarianism is the only tenable position.”  She’s onto something here: Assisted Suicide in Animals.  I think it could catch on.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/17/halal-slaughter-regulation

3.  “I cannot recall,” will no longer be a viable excuse now that the FDA’s collection of data on food contaminants is up and running.  Each week, more products are taken off the market due to risks.  We’re talking ordinary things used day to day.  The latest?  Black pepper:  “The recalled products contain black pepper distributed by Mincing Overseas Spice Company. The pepper has been recalled by Mincing because it has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella.”  http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm204986.htm

4.  Hangover cures.  In today’s Boston Globe, hard-hitting story listing an array of cures from many cultures.  These include pickle juice, sour plums, expresso, and oregano tea.  They left out the more traditional New England cure, which is, “The Eye-Opener,” typically vodka.  http://www.boston.com/travel/gallery/hangover_cures/

5.   It may not seem as if it’s in the same league as grading restaurants, killing animals, contaminated food, and getting drunk, but on a strictly personal level I am finding that toast, blood orange juice, and a mid-morning coffee from Dunk’s is having a ritual effect on my mood.  I’m a better person for it.  We all need to find rituals to start the day that use food as Virgil to guide us through hellish times.

St. Patrick’s Day: Gut Yontif!

Here in Boston, it’s the start of The High Holy Days what with St. Patty’s Day once again upon us.  No snakes, and to celebrate we’re talking corned beef and cabbage and plenty of beer and whisky.

It wasn’t until I was exiled to Detroit from 1980-1982 that I began to celebrate the holiday in earnest.  First stop was The Tipperary on the West Side, south of Fenkell, where a besotted lass stood at the door to this dark pub, brooding architecturally and so splendid it could’ve been a movie set, smooching the would be Irish among us.  Little smooches, but on the mouth, and affectionate rather than inviting.

From there it was onto several other pubs all over town that attested to the Irish who’d come in search of jobs decades earlier.  Pints and shots and designated drivers!

Here in Boston it’s gonna be more o’ the same.

And prayers have been answered!

He’s back.  Tiger is back.  See what happens when you admit that there’s a Higher Power?

This man has not made the admission.

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