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Home Cookin’

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

I write often about the meals we have out, not often enough about the ones in. Here’s one.

After a great meal at Cafe Parco Sunday night and a not-so-great meal out last night, it was time tonight for the lamb chops that we bought Saturday. (Recall that we bought them at The Swinery during the West Seattle outing described here.)

We began with a carrot soup Gail made using a Moosewood recipe and a loaf of bread she bought today at Macrina Bakery. Then came the lamb chops, accompanied by fantastic rösti. There was a time when I ate the real thing, courtesy of a Swiss woman I knew. I can tell you, Gail makes the real thing. Next came the salad, a simple and tasty plate of greens. And then a little more rösti. Why let it sit?

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to photograph the meal when Gail served it. I assembled the scene above three hours later, taking the soup and the one extra chop out of the refrigerator. The rösti was gone. Sorry.

Thanks Gail.

Categories: Family, Food

Emma Aging

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Phyllis, Southdown Sheep, Age 13

[Isa Leshko]

We took Emma to the vet today for her annual checkup. (No, that’s not her. That’s a sheep. Emma’s a cat. I’ll explain the relevance of the photo in a bit.)

Emma is 15 years old now, 15 and 8 months, and today for a change the visit wasn’t a routine in and out. The time had come at last for a discussion of senior cats and their ailments. Emma has slowed down, of course. She’s not much given to running around the yard anymore. When I start up the stairs, she no longer bounds past me. She still manages to jump up on the bed, but isn’t too keen to get onto the desk when I’m working. And worse, she struggles when she jumps down.

We discussed all this with the vet, as well what appears to be the occasional difficulty Emma has walking. Her rear legs or hips look strained. Last year, Gail explained this to the vet, who examined Emma and saw little cause for alarm. This year, when she (the vet) palpated Emma’s hips, Emma complained. The vet suggested that we could consider an x-ray, and recommended some dental care: a cleaning and perhaps a tooth extraction. If we go through with the dental work, Emma will need to be anesthetized, which would provide the opportunity for an x-ray, should we wish.

I don’t imagine there’s much to do about Emma’s hips if we do find a problem. I’m more concerned with giving her pain relief. But, of course, it’s difficult to gauge what sort of pain a cat is in, an issue we also discussed with the vet.

All of which gave us much to think about, and served as perfect preparation for the article I found on the NYT home page when we returned home with Emma: What We Can Learn from Old Animals.

In an unusual project, Isa Leshko, a fine-art photographer who lives in Philadelphia, set out to capture glimpses of animals at a time when they rarely attract much admiration or media attention — in their twilight years. The photographs, part of “a series called Elderly Animals”, are intimate and at times gripping. In one, a thoroughbred horse named Handsome One, age 33, stands in a stable, his hair wispy and his frame showing signs of time. In another, a pair of Finn sheep at the advanced age of 12 embrace as an elderly couple on a park bench might. And in another, a geriatric chow mix named Red lies with his paw under his chin, the signs of glaucoma apparent in his onyx-colored eyes.

The Times has a slideshow of twelve of Leshko’s photos, and you can see more by following the link above to Leshko’s website. What’s striking is the dignity of the animals, a dignity Emma has acquired as well. As she ages, her feral ferocity turns to sweetness.

Categories: Animals, Cats, Family

Seventy Years

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Seventy years and a week ago, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Among the many events the attack set in motion, my parents moved up their wedding plans, marrying seventy years ago today. And today they celebrated.

I spoke to them after their festive meal. Between the food, the wine, the multiple flower deliveries, and the continuous stream of phone calls, they were tiring, but their elation was evident. Congratulations, Mom and Dad, on this wondrous day.

Categories: Family

Pizza, Pizza

November 25, 2011 1 comment

[From the Via Tribunali website]

Joel flew back from North Carolina Wednesday. Despite a delay getting out of Atlanta that resulted in his flight arriving here 40 minutes late, he arrived in time for us to have dinner together. Of course, it was three hours later for him, but he was game to stop at a restaurant on the way home and voted for the Georgetown location of Neapolitan pizzeria Via Tribunali. I wrote about Via Tribunali three years ago, after we went there on the day after Christmas. That post focused more on the accident of our stumbling on it after choosing not to stop at Via Tribunali’s Capitol Hill location in favor of heading farther afield to the Georgetown restaurant Stellar, only to find Stellar closed and then find ourselves at the Georgetown Via Tribunali in our search for somewhere else to eat.

Joel was with us that time too and had been a veteran of the Capitol Hill branch, the original. He had frequently urged us to try it, and we were there at last. My verdict, from the post that day: “Everything was great. A superb meal, well worth driving to Georgetown for.”

Since then, whenever we eat at the better pizza places in Seattle, Gail holds up Via Tribunali as her model, even though we never got back to it. You’ll recall our latest experiment, dinner two months ago at Delancey with Robin and Brooke. We quite enjoyed it, but Gail was convinced it was no Via Tribunali. I didn’t presume to remember well enough.

So two nights ago we were there once again, with Joel and with Jessica as well. We arrived moments before the end of happy hour, so we hastily ordered wine and beer and Jessica, who wasn’t interested in the full range of offerings, ordered a small, happy-hour sized Margherita (pomodoro, fresh mozzarella, grana padano, olive oil basil), which she declared the best pizza she ever had. Gail, Joel, and I bypassed the waning happy hour options, ordering two salads and two pizzas from the dinner menu.

To start, we had the Insalata di Caesar (romaine hearts, caesar dressing, anchovies, grana padana, croutons) and the Insalata della Casa (seasonal greens, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, olives, prosciutto cotto). Hmm. I’m getting these descriptions off the on-line menu, but I don’t remember getting croutons in the Caesar salad. What we had instead were small pieces of what I thought was pita. And we asked for the anchovies on the side, for Joel to eat. Both salads were excellent. I especially liked the prosciutto.

Then we had a Primavera pizza (cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, arugula, grana, basil) and a Salsiccia (pomodoro, fresh mozzarella, Italian sausage, grana padano, basil). Excellent once again. The primavera surprised me. I expected to like it, but to prefer the salsiccia. Instead, I enjoyed both equally, and found the primavera perhaps the more interesting of the two, probably because having sausage and basil on a pizza is common enough, but I don’t recall having a pizza covered with arugula. It turned out to be a great mix of ingredients: light but full of flavor.

For dessert, Gail and Joel shared a piece of tiramisu while Jessica had some chocolate ice cream. I tasted the ice cream. First rate.

Is Via Tribunali the best? Do I prefer it to Delancey or Tutta Bella or Cafe Lago? I can’t say. I enjoy them all. What I can say is that we shouldn’t wait another three years for a return visit. That would be a mistake.

Yesterday was a day off from pizza, what with Thanksgiving dinner and all. And tomorrow we have family plans that will prevent us from eating pizza. So if we were to get to Northlake Tavern and Pizza House while Joel was home, tonight had to be the night. Plus, it was the right night in any case, since Northlake is our Friday standby. Off we went, the same four of us, a few hours ago. Not much to report. We had our usual: salads with honey mustard dressing, the combo (sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives), vegetarian (mushrooms, peppers, onions, olives, tomatoes), and salty dog (secret ingredients; only those in the know have the privilege of ordering order this, since it’s not on the menu, and being in the know means knowing Russ, Northlake’s best customer, who conceived it).

There’s no point comparing Northlake to Via Tribunali. They reside in different food universes. That I have come to love Northlake is one of the great mysteries of my life. I can’t explain it. Nor will I try. What I know is, I’m fortunate that Gail introduced me to it decades ago, that it became smoke free a few years back, and that Russ turned us into regulars.

Oh, and the turkey last night was pretty darn good too, not to mention the fabulous squash soup and today’s lunchtime turkey hash. Thanks Gail.

Categories: Family, Restaurants

Ninety-Four

November 5, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s number week here at Ron’s View. Two days ago, I wrote about Eleven. In this post, I’m giving 94 special billing, as you see. Why? Because today my father turned 94.

You know how you can buy birthday cards for all the multiples of 10 up to 90? (Or maybe 100. I never looked for one of them). And you can buy birthday cards for all the smaller brithdays, 1 through, I don’t know, 10 for sure, maybe 12 or 15 or 18? Well, if I had Mr. Hall‘s ear, here’s what I’d suggest. They should view the scale from 0 to 100 as symmetric about 50 and produce cards in the upper reaches that mirror the ones lower down. As an example, since there are cards for 5-year-olds, there should be cards for 95-year-olds. If there are cards for every age from 1 to 12, there should be cards for every age from 88 to 99. Don’t you think?

I’ll be keeping an eye out for that 95 card for next year. Happy Birthday, Dad.

Categories: Business, Family

New York Weekend

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

The Sheep Meadow, Central Park

[Taken by me on my iPhone]

I’ve written plenty about our week in Nantucket, but nothing about the weekend in New York that preceded it, except for passing reference the day after we got there to our Seattle–>JFK flight and the press of various family events. I’ll say a little more here.

We got to our hotel on 76th and Madison on a Friday evening. My sister and brother-in-law had arrived from Paris a few hours earlier. Once we joined up, we agreed to walk a few blocks up Madison to E.A.T., Eli Zabar’s restaurant and food shop. I had an old favorite, the Meat Loaf with Fresh Tomato Sauce. It’s a whole mini meat loaf, complete with hard-boiled egg in the middle, and it’s good. For dessert, I had their shortbread heart.

Saturday, we headed over to my parents’ place in the late morning, had lunch (takeout sandwiches from E.A.T.), headed over to the AT&T store on 82nd and Lexington to take care of some family business, then walked back to the hotel in moderate heat but high humidity. I took advantage of the break in our day to write another blog post, then we took a taxi down FDR Drive, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and on to La Flor del Paraiso Bar & Restaurant on Atlantic, just a couple of blocks down from Atlantic’s intersection with Flatbush.

The occasion was the wedding rehearsal dinner for my cousin’s daughter and her soon-to-be husband. We got to see assorted cousins we hadn’t seen for months, or years, and one we had never seen before, my recently born first cousin twice removed. And in due course, after hors d’ouevres at the bar, a slideshow of the bride and groom, and speeches, we ate a dinner of chicken, rice, vegetables and more. My sister held out as long as she could, what with the six-hour time zone change, but a little after 10:00 PM, we headed back over the Brooklyn Bridge to the hotel.

Sunday an old friend of mine came over to the hotel from Brooklyn and we had breakfast downstairs in the hotel restaurant, which is a special restaurant in its own right — Café Boulud. We lingered down there, and not long after we went back up to our room, lunch time had come around. Off we went with my sister and brother-in-law to Ristorante Sant Ambroeus, a fabulous Milanese restaurant, gelateria, and tea shop a block up Madison. When in Milan, do as the Milanese do — I had the Costoletta alla Milanese, breaded veal chop Milanese, served in the traditional style with a topping of arugula. Excellent. With the late breakfast, and a large wedding dinner to come, I made the painful decision to pass on dessert.

Sant Ambroeus gelato

With all that food again in mind, I decided the best way to use my afternoon free time was to walk. The rest of the family had other plans, so off I went, over to Fifth Avenue and into Central Park.

Despite the heat, sun, and humidity, I was determined to walk for an hour. I did that and more. I entered just north of Conservatory Pond, went around the south side of it, up past the Boat House (where dozens of employees were picketing), and over to Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, where a group of young men was collecting money in the midst of a street performance that had attracted a crowd of perhaps 200 people. From there, I continued west over the north side of the Sheep Meadow, and then up through Strawberry Fields.

I had entered the gravitational pull of my grandmother’s old neighborhood and became powerless to resist. In her later years, she would hang out at the area that took on the name Strawberry Fields just months after her death (in honor, of course, of John Lennon, who lived in and was murdered in front of The Dakota, directly across the street from my grandmother’s building).

I exited the park on the far end of Strawberry Fields, at 72nd and Central Park West, my grandmother’s building and The Dakota just on the other side of the street. There I discovered multiple tour groups standing in front of The Dakota and taking photos, a few of the photographers, having crossed over to my grandmother’s entrance to get a fuller shot of the building. I had to squeeze my way past them as I headed west on 72nd. Soon I was over Columbus and heading to the intersection of 72nd, Amsterdam, and Broadway, just short of which lies Fine and Shapiro. There are many delis in this world, but only one Fine and Shapiro. I suppose it’s no longer what it used to be. Maybe it never was. But it defines deli for me, and as full as I was, I sure wanted to go in, get a corned beef sandwich, a potato pancake, and some seven layer cake.

North a few blocks on Amsterdam, back east on 76th to Central Park West, up to the corner of the American Museum of Natural History, then back into Central Park for the return trip to the hotel. I crossed the bridge over the northern tip of The Lake, then into The Ramble, from which I emerged by the Boat House and another group of strikers, plus three drummers under a tent providing the rhythm for the strikers. I skirted the north edge of Conservatory Pond and came upon a little open area where two guitarists were playing and a crowd was sitting on the many benches.

As I was about to wilt, well over an hour into the walk, I decided that grabbing an open seat was a good idea. The guitarists turned out to be pretty good. Each had a small amplifier/speaker, and they would play jazz and classical pieces, one providing the rhythm, the other playing at times in unison and at other times taking the lead. I had some shade, I was slowly cooling down, and I decided sitting out there listening to music beat the hotel room. Six songs later, I put some money in their guitar case, headed out to Fifth Avenue, and down the block to the hotel.

There wasn’t much time to get ready before the wedding. Around 6:00, we headed over to FDR Drive and down under the Brooklyn Bridge to the South Street Seaport. Our destination was Bridgewaters, a catering facility in the seaport with the most extraordinary outlook on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, the East River, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

The wedding ceremony siting took full advantage of the view. Between the wedding itself, the bridges, the river, the boat traffic, and the Brooklyn skyline, there was a feast for the eyes. Following the ceremony and family photos, we headed out to the hors d’ouevres and cocktail area, where another feast awaited as the wedding space was converted for dining and dancing. An hour or so later, we were ushered back into the transformed room, the outside now in darkness, the lights of the city all around, the Watchtower sign dominating across the river.

But forget the view. A new element had been added — an overwhelming one — The Rhythm Shop. What a band! What an initial impression! Five vocalists all in a row, elegantly dressed, and a backing band of six. Or more. I may have lost count. A drummer. A drummer/percussionist. A guitar and bass guitar. Sax and keyboards. Talk about high energy. They were something. You can sort of get an idea from the videos at their website, or their youtube clips, but it’s nothing like seeing them in person.

Music, toasts, dancing, salad, more music, more dancing, steak, music, dancing, wedding cake, dessert. The Watchtower keeping an eye on us. Occasional conversation with siblings and cousins in the moments when we could hear each other. An exciting evening. And again, as my sister neared collapse, we headed back to the hotel, arriving near midnight.

The next morning, Gail and I had room service breakfast from Café Boulud as we packed, then checked out and headed to JFK for our flight to Nantucket. A great week awaited, but we sure could have used more time, for the city and the family.

Categories: Family, Restaurants, Travel

Duncan

August 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Duncan, the family cat back on Long Island, died today. He was a good cat, and he thrived for years, but he has not been well for much of the past year.

Duncan came into our family’s life unexpectedly over a decade ago. One of several kittens who appeared in the yard one summer, he was persistent after the others drifted away. Eventually, my family fed him. But with parakeets in the house, his coming in wasn’t an option. As the weather cooled in the fall, he moved into makeshift lodgings by the kitchen door. With bedding and a steady source of food, hewas content.

A year later, he moved again, into the house. The basement was his domain, a door separating him from the parakeets. He would come up to eat or to go outside, but otherwise spent much of his time downstairs sleeping.

Over the years, his domain continued to expand. He still liked his basement bed, but he established alternative sites upstairs. And he treated the parakeets like a gentleman. When one managed to get out of his cage last year and land on the dining room floor, Duncan was there to watch over him and meow until he could be rescued.

But Duncan had not been eating much in recent months, for whatever reason, and that began to take its toll. He remained friendly and affectionate, eager to get outside to keep up with the latest developments. However, it was only a matter of time. And that time came today.

We’ll miss him.

Categories: Cats, Family, Obituary

Good News, Bad News: Travel Dept.

August 15, 2011 Leave a comment

[AP]

Joel is flying JetBlue to Raleigh-Durham Airport today, via Boston. The connection was pretty tight: due in to Logan at 6:39 PM and due out at 7:05 PM. Normally he travels with just carry-ons, but since the point of the flight is that he’s moving to NC for a while, he had a little more to take along than usual. We were speculating last night about the odds of the checked bag making it on the second flight.

This morning, before we headed to the airport, the flight out of Seattle was listed as on time. After we dropped Joel, when I checked on my mobile phone, it was listed as an hour late. Then, when we got home, Joel texted that he was sitting on the plane, just a few minutes past departure time, and indeed JetBlue had revised the online information to show that the flight was just 20 minutes late. A little later, I got another text that the plane still hadn’t taken off. It spent about an hour on the taxiway. Hours later, when I checked to see where the plane was, it had reached western Massachusetts. I then watched — through periodic updates of the map — as it made a big circle over the western and central parts of the state. Finally, it landed about an hour and a half late.

That’s the bad news. The good news? Joel’s connecting flight out of Logan (where he is now) is scheduled to depart five hours late, at midnight, landing in Raleigh-Durham at 2:00 AM. How about that? Is he lucky or what?

We’ve been spoiled. Not counting his three and a half months in Grenoble, Joel has always lived a non-stop flight away from Seattle. This connecting flight thing is going to take some getting used to.

Categories: Family, Travel

Jeffrey Birt

May 10, 2011 Leave a comment

One more obit, this one a little closer to home. Jeffrey Birt, Gail’s cousin’s son, died last Friday at the age of 36, leaving behind his wife and three young children, as well as a large extended family who loved him. Here’s his Seattle Times obituary. And here’s something at the Seattle Fire Department facebook page.

He will be buried tomorrow. A huge and incomprehensible loss.

Categories: Family, Obituary

Emma at 15

April 30, 2011 1 comment

Emma turned 15 last Sunday. We had some guests over to celebrate, though they might have thought they were here for Easter. She was content to avoid them, not coming downstairs even for a minute until they left.

I don’t want this milestone to pass without any mention here at Ron’s View. So, even though I’m six days late: Happy Birthday, Emma. You’re as pretty as ever. (See below, from 10 minutes ago.)

Categories: Cats, Family