Glorious Food: North (Armonk, NY)

Sunlight coming in through the window, I lie back in my warm bed and close my eyes. My WindowFeb14left hand is stroking my red dog’s fur, if she could purr she would. So would I. Half of an apple cinnamon muffin with a sugary crumb topping melted away with my strong cup of coffee. A wonderful start to the morning after an even better evening.

I do believe that my calling in life is to go out to restaurants and review them or watching television shows and rating them.  Last night we treated ourselves going out for dinner at a restaurant called North in Armonk, N.Y.

It is something we have not done in months. With no income our dinners have consisted of scrambled eggs, toast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, home-made chicken soup and pizza. We never complain. Last night was an exception to perk us up.

It worked. We were delightfully grateful that every mouthful “danced on our tongues,” our greatest compliment. From appetizer(s) Flatbread “pizza” with mushrooms and cheese, and bacon, apple, fennel salad, every bite was amazing.

I do not eat fish, usually. It is rare for me to find a fish dish that is acceptable I am definitely picky. I ordered monkfish, in a lemon-butter sauce with tiny grape-size potatoes. I swooned. My husband had swordfish which was almost as good but I definitely won. Though I tasted his swordfish and I even liked it. (That’s never happened before.)

After we finished the meal I felt sad that we weren’t starting it. Sad. Our lovely friend and waitress, Maria, was there, a sweet smile on her face, animated, knowledgeable and sincere. Her helper, Rebecca, was as charming and helpful.

For those who know me I could not leave without dessert, my husband and I are genetically programmed to NEED dessert. Even though we were bursting out of our outfits we, of course, had to look at the menu and decided to share a huge chocolate chip cookie (served in a frying pan) with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Let me say this, I applaud this restaurant because when I ordered a Diet Coke (feeling a bit guilty) they told me that they do not serve anything with artificial ingredients but they asked me if I would like to try a natural soda sweetened with agave. Bravo! This speaks to me, it is the CVS (phasing out cigarettes) of restaurants.

The evening was divine, our date was heavenly and a real treat. After paying and saying goodbye we lovingly clutched the apple crumb muffins they give to each patron after we paid the bill.

If that’s not heaven, what is?

*PS For those who are unfamiliar with my blog this could be the start of another “Gazpacho Chronicles” from last summer.

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Free Write Friday-Words

A golden pearl necklace.

A golden pearl necklace. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A white pearl necklace.

A white pearl necklace. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

train – burlap – fiction – pearls – vertigo

Elizabeth sat upright, wearing a navy suit and sweater in the train. Her only adornment was a string of  pearls that she had been given by her mother, passed on by her grandmother on her 18th birthday.

Normally she would be dressed in jeans and her college sweatshirt with no pearls, her hair down but her mother forced her to wear this dreary outfit once every six months to visit her grandmother or “Grandmama.” Her mom really didn’t ask for much so she did it, but complained more and more each time.

The old bag was horrid, so demanding and old school, prejudiced and controlling. She only wanted Lizzy to be “associated” with upper crust white people like herself. Ugh. Lizzy smiled to herself, she definitely wanted to show grams the latest picture of her and Steve, her wonderful boyfriend who happened to be black, kissing in one of those photo booths. Just the thought of it made her laugh out loud.

Her mom was definitely cooler but when it came to her own mother she acted like a puppet probably because the old bag was a rich  bitch. “This is the last time I am doing this” she said out loud to nobody in particular. But, the train had stopped at her station and she willed herself to get out and walk towards her “Grandmama’s ” house although she had to admit, she wasn’t feeling as proper as she looked.

When her grandmother came to the sitting room she offered Elizabeth a cup of tea from the silver tea set which she accepted graciously.Her grandmother’s face turned sideways abruptly and stayed like that. Lizzy had no idea what she was doing. In a few minutes she was stabbing her cheek with her index finger. Lizzy started to giggle, “what on earth is she doing?” she thought. She really tried to stop but once giggling starts it takes on a life of its own. She bit her lip, trying to stop but burst out laughing. When she was quiet for ten seconds grandmother said firmly “Elizabeth Warren, I demand you to kiss me on my cheek!”

At that, Elizabeth lost it, she really did, first she stood up and howled and then when she calmed down she stood up in front of her Grandmother and said “Excuse me? You DEMAND a kiss? First of all that’s gross and second, no one demands me to do anything. Do YOU understand? Her grandmother was so shocked she said she was getting vertigo and that she might faint but Lizzy knew she was faking it.

“How dare you talk to me that way, Elizabeth! I am going to phone your mother and tell her what you have done.” “Feel free” Lizzie answered politely. She was mad at her mother for putting up with this but there was no way she was going to stand for it.

She stood directly in front of grandma and slowly unbuttoned her blue jacket to show a tight Tee shirt that had The Grateful Dead design on it, she pulled off her navy pants and showed off her beige leggings. She went to the garbage and disposed quite elegantly of her navy blue pumps and was feeling quite pleased with herself. She had taken a huge bag which had her ballet flats in them, because she planned to go to a concert afterwards anyway. She thought for a moment whether or not to ditch the pearls but she decided to leave them on, after all, her mom gave them to her.

Her grandmother’s eyes were wild with anger yet she was speechless, no one ever had disobeyed her like this before. Finally, before she left, Lizzy sat down on the couch and told her grandmother what her life really was like. She showed her the hemp bracelets that Steve made for her, dyed in different colors, she even tied one on her grandmother’s wrist. She made sure to show her the photo booth photos, she stood up, thanked her Grandmother for tea, exited quietly and shut the door behind her.

When she finally got home after seeing the concert her mother asked her how her visit was, with her grandmother. Apparently her grandmother hadn’t called. She grinned widely, shrugged her shoulders and said “fine.”

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FWF Kellie Elmore

“I am a very old man, yes, I am older than this tree that grows in the backyard of my son’s house. I sit on the green bench so I can watch the tree in all weathers, I have lived here for 200 days now. Enough days, too much. I am dying, I need to go home.

Two hundred days and twenty days ago my beautiful wife, Shuen-Lie of sixty-seven years died, my son from America come to China, I am with pride. Soon, he moves my things together. I say good-bye to him and he gets large and shakes his head the way I used to saw trees and branches to make huts, back and forth, NO, NO, NO in angry voice. But in our culture you do not say no to an elder. He does, he takes my things, brings me to plane to America to live.

It has been 200 days since he take me away, he said “it was best for me to be closer to him.” Who was it better for I tried to ask him, but he keep pretending not to hear. He does not look in my eyes now.

We lived in our little town in China so happy,  but I was so weak, so sad that when my wife, Soon-Li  passed away, mother of our son, that I could not think anymore. I just needed time, I needed time for my sorrow to settle inside me. That is what I needed but he won’t listen.

My son came from America too fast, too fast. I was still very sad, I needed more time to be with my friends who are my people. They understood, we were all together every day, every night. Now my half was gone.  I know. It happens to all of us someday.The hurt in my body would leave but not the love.

I also worked on a fishing boat since I was a boy, It was my job since I was six to catch fish with my hands, for the family. Well, you see my hands now, so many years of work building huts from trees, fishing, I work every day. As I got older, I got better. I learned that with experience. Everyone needs to learn that in their own time.

My son and his wife bring me to America so they can “help” me, watch me, but it is my heart they took out. I want to be in my country, to be with my people who understand me, who have grown up with me. I know they love me here but love talks in many languages. I love my grandson they call “Sam” an American name. My sadness will be missing my grandson but he knows I want to go home. He loves me that much to help me now. That is pure love, white love.

The lights are too bright here, everything is rush rush and too loud. I do not like this. In my world I was a healer. People came to me for my help, now I meditate alone and ask to be listened to, to be back in my country, to die in my bed.

My grandson is a man now, he bought me a ticket, he will take me to airport, we go now to tell his parents, it is my word, the elder’s word that we listen to, as it should be.”

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Baby Boomers: What Are We Now, Chopped Liver?

English: The New York Times building in New Yo...

English: The New York Times building in New York, NY across from the Port Authority. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)LickIt must, because apparently The New York Times no longer wants the Boomer section anymore. Yep, they are kicking us boomers straight to the curb. that’s the reason that The New York Times has kicked Baby Boomers to the curb. Why? They won’t say and believe me their fans have asked.

Like a swift unexpected kick in the ass, readers of The New York Times (loyal readers I might add) found out that they were removing the Booming column that delighted us all. Really? Yes, true fact. No explanation other than “blah blah blah.” It would be in here or there maybe on Tuesdays but without Michael Winerip who we have all grown to like and respect. I liked this dude, he was real and approachable.

What the hell are you thinking? I guess we are not important anymore, make way for Generation Whatever.  I was born in 1956 to the best of my knowledge I’m a Baby Boomer. Please remember this, we haven’t dropped dead just yet. You needed us back then (hint: Woodstock) and now you have cut out a large part of your readership. We are still consumers and you have let us down.

Eliminating or phasing out the Booming section is disappointing, I could relate to Michael Winerip’s essays and now we’re getting shoved aside, as if we don’t feel old enough. The New York Times, with whom we’ve been faithful to, is giving us the heave-ho. It feels like yet another slap in the face to those of us in The Sandwich Generation.

Everyone wonders what the reason was that they decided to take that section out. But, of course we don’t expect them to tell us the reason. That is way too old-fashioned. Manners? Nah, that was in the fifties. Back where if you didn’t get a job the boss called you on the telephone and told you why, when things were simpler, more honest, and we didn’t have a hundred choices of everything from paint chips to lipstick to television channels to drugs.

Let’s face it, it’s not the best of times for many of us. The economy stinks (I’m trying to be professional here) unemployment is really high, we’re caught between taking care of our aging parents, ourselves and our grown up children.We are still known as The Sandwich Generation, remember that? It’s been the Winter from hell and it isn’t over yet and while the Booming Section didn’t change our world it added a little fun.

Don’t flatter yourself New York Times. You’ve become replaceable as apparently we have too. We stayed with you through all your changes, now it’s our turn to say good-bye.

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Boomers: 1946~1953 to 1964

This would make baby boomers, in the year 2010, somewhere in the ballpark of 46-64 years old.

Gen X: 1965 to 1976~1982

– See more at: http://theechoboom.com/2010/09/dateage-range-of-baby-boomers-generation-x-and-generation-y/#sthash.MrX7nqmo.dpuf

Boomers: 1946~1953 to 1964

This would make baby boomers, in the year 2010, somewhere in the ballpark of 46-64 years old.

Gen X: 1965 to 1976~1982

– See more at: http://theechoboom.com/2010/09/dateage-range-of-baby-boomers-generation-x-and-generation-y/#sthash.MrX7nqmo.dpuf

“The Taste” 2 (Aren’t You A Sweetie Pie?)

English: Marcus Samuelsson doing a lecture at ...

English: Marcus Samuelsson doing a lecture at Google in NYC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never do follow-up blogs on here, but somehow the show “The Taste” just begs to be written about, don’t you think? It’s a great food show but somehow it’s also like a comical farce. Do you believe the characters? Love them but surely they must also be picked for their entertainment value as well as their culinary skills. Right?

The judges, are the most entertaining: Ludow running around, literally running around yelling and screaming at everybody. How can that not be comical? Anthony Bourdain brooding, muttering “I hate dessert” like a five-year old. Nigella Lawson just standing there doing absolutely nothing, the “yellow” star of the day goes to Marcus Samuelsson. Not for the winning dish either but for his calmness and class and just the right amount of instruction. KUDOS, Chef Mark and Team.

I do agree with the other contestants that just because *(sorry, I don’t remember her name) dessert was unusual and unique she should not have won. I never heard anyone say they “loved it.” I heard nothing about the exquisite flavors or different textures, all I saw: scrambled eggs with sugar sauce. Come on guys, really? That was the BEST taste for you or just one that was different?

Anthony Bourdain’s utter dislike for desserts and sweets is legendary, why have that challenge when he is so biased? Would you have a tea drinker judge a coffee contest?  It doesn’t make sense. Why even put it on the show?  If you KNOW one of the judges will hate anything creamy, sugary or sweet why have that challenge at all? It’s a no brainer.

I think that this was a waste of an episode it really should not have been aired, and the special guest star chef, perky* Miss Sunshine? Wow!  Is she always like that? She must be eating a ton of sugar and I get that because I am a HUGE dessert person. I GET desserts, it’s genetically programmed from my German mother and Viennese Dad.

While I was sorry to see *Ms. Food Truck go home because I did think she had have a spark and a passion about cooking I think they kept the right person. Damn that zest and if we have learned anything from that show and for life it is this: Trust your gut instincts. If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. You can use that every single day of your life, many times over. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Pretend I’m Oprah and listen.

* I apologize for not knowing their names, they were not, as of yet, on Google.

The Taste: Nigella vs. Jacquelyn

Nigella Lawson at a Borders book-signing

Nigella Lawson at a Borders book-signing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Hey Nigella, It’s Me, Jacquelyn!” Okay, it’s not really Jacquelyn, it’s just me, a friendly blogger, but I have to say, that really was one of the most entertaining shows I have watched recently.  Jacquelyn, you go girl. I just wish you had walked off the set sooner, like in the middle of one of Nigella’s obnoxious, wishy-washy lectures, her fluttering fussiness and her anxiety driven non-direction, micro-management. Frankly, if I was in your shoes, I would have left way before you. And, unfortunately I probably would have thrown the beer (I’m assuming it was beer but it could have been water or soda) in her lap or face to get more attention.

Jackie, I really don’t think you were treated kindly at all, Nigella did not have control of the kitchen so you, just walked off stage. Kudos!! The timing was a bit awkward, I admit, but subtlety is often quite wonderful. You kept them guessing alright, that did have a stroke of genius to it. Unfortunately, it made Nigella look like the poor, angelic victim and you a bit of the bad boy but I’m sure there are more people than just me that were rooting for you. Believe me. I would imagine the other judges and contestants were rooting for you too.( Perhaps not in front of the camera.) I don’t think Anthony Bourdain was as horrified as he was portrayed,he was practically doing a high-five with his team. I don’t blame him for one minute.

Nigella, please calm down and learn how to talk with people not at people all the time and stop changing your mind and give your contestants some credit. No? Nigella, you need to relax, take a chill pill, ( and no, I am not going THERE) and have a few lessons with a therapist on how you come across. I’m not doubting your ability to cook, of course not. But do you really think that a show like this is showcasing your full set of positive attributes? Right, I don’t think so either. I’m not judging really, I’m a horrible cook and the only thing I can bake is banana bread. So, you definitely win in THAT category. But, relating to your team? I’ve got that by a mile.

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Haiku Heights

English: Flying Herring Gull (Larus argentatus...

English: Flying Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) on the baltic sea (4) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CADENCE

Seagull, seagull, see

Wisps of foam gathering speed

shells drift to the shore.

*     *     *    *    *     *     *    *

Time, passes, sun shines

Children leave in their own time

Wisdom and breathing.

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Kew Gardens’ Own Bob Dylan

In Memory of Al MayoAlMayo

There is an official obituary about our friend Al Mayo that was written in the *New York Daily News and it was very accurate. However, I just don’t want people to remember him that way alone. It feels wrong to me.

The person who died, from my childhood neighborhood, was a lovely man, an old friend that passed away in January. A friend of mine called to tell me the horrible news of Al’s suicide. This was no ordinary death, it was a violent, brutal, grisly death. I don’t want this kind soul, the friend of everybody to be known by his suicide, or his obituary instead of his life, his cheery personality, his effusive grin, his loving and peaceful self.

I refuse to think of him in any other way than the newspaper’s photo that was published. It was a wonderful photo (above) where he is grinning, a twinkle in his eye, kind and sweet.  Al was all about peace and love, not violence, not to anyone. In his last years his body was ravaged by cancer, he couldn’t eat, talk, swallow; he had no life, he took his life, violently.

He said hello to everyone and he was like a fixture in our neighborhood, you knew that if you walked around the block you would most probably see Al Mayo smiling, leaning against a store, grinning widely, resting on his cane.

He didn’t have an easy life, he lost part of his leg in a motorcycle accident when I was young so he was probably in his late teens but nothing stopped him. He accepted what happened and moved on. He would be smiling and talking and spreading good cheer to all the neighbors in our little town. His lifelong friends stayed his lifelong friends.

Everyone was utterly shocked by the news but my friends M. and H. and I were shaken at the news, not as much that he had committed suicide but how. For a very peaceful man, he committed death in a very violent way, making sure that no one else would be hurt. Al, only wanted to end his life, never anybody else’s life. He wouldn’t harm a soul.

Al had cancer for a few years, unbearable, painful cancer that left him unable to eat, to swallow, to lead a normal life. If Al couldn’t lead a life that was close to normal, there wasn’t any Al left, he tried so hard and went through so much.

Now this sweet soul, friend to everyone is gone forever. We will all miss you Al and we will always remember your bright, warm smile.  We will miss our own elected “mayor.” You were Kew Gardens’ own, Bob Dylan, that’s how important you were to us, will always be.

Al Mayo, Rest In Peace.

Special thanks to Harry Klein, my friend and best friend of Al Mayo.

*Click on photo for NY Daily News Article

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Popcorn, Previews And Fruit Cocktail

English: Unpopped corn kernels, prepared for p...

English: Unpopped corn kernels, prepared for popping. – Studio photo of Popcorn. Taken in 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years I was the type of person that would not start eating her popcorn until the movie started, the official movie. I would wait out the commercials, the “Exit” sign warnings, the “Please Do Not Disturb Your Neighbors” and “No Smoking” announcements. I didn’t even start eating my popcorn during the previews which to me, are almost as good as the movie itself. I had rules, my own strict, self-imposed rules.

Until last night where I saw the movie “Gloria” and as soon as we sat down and immediately I began munching on the popcorn and sipping Diet Coke. Hey, look at me! I surprised myself and then thought, “what on earth have I been waiting for all these years?”

Delayed gratification is fine when you are young and you want to save the best for last. The way I used to eat “fruit cocktail” or “fruit cockentail” as one of my kids used to call it was representative of my style. I would eat the most banal fruits first, picking out the pears and eating them first. Then I would sequester the peaches and eat them after that. Next to last would always be the plump, juicy grapes, it was a close tie for first and second but really who could not have the fake cherries as their number one favorite. I mean really, I was a kid.

I think if I would have it now (and don’t put it past me) I would take a spoonful of everything right up front, maybe sequester a few grapes for the end. The squishiness in my mouth is utterly delightful. But, the cherries? No big deal anymore. They don’t elicit the same excitement as they used to do when I was little. In fact, they have no taste.

Maybe growing up and getting older you realize you don’t have to wait to the end to enjoy the best things last. Why wait? I’ve always been surprised when my daughter used to read a book’s ending before starting it. This to me was unheard of but you know what? I kind of understand it now.

I don’t think I could ever do it, it’s just not my style but I understand her now, apparently she was a better teacher than I was. She always wanted to see her birthday cake as soon as it came in the door unlike her brother who wanted to wait until the last second, when I would come in with the candles lit. I admit it, I am more like he is.

I’m learning from my two kids, more and more. I love it.

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Mindfulness, Mine

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness t...

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness techniques can help alleviate anxiety , stress , and depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, I heard that heavy snow is in the forecast for the entire week and upcoming weekend. Guess what? I don’t even care! I am not even upset about it or cranky.

This would usually put me in a tailspin or a slight depression but I’m not feeling it. What? It’s true, I’m not grumpy at all.

In fact, all I can picture in my head is green grass and red, perky tulips. Who am I?  What on earth has happened to me?

Everyone who knows me will attest to the fact that every single winter from start to finish, and that’s usually May, I complain compulsively about the freezing temperatures and how my body and soul aches every single minute. Granted, having Fibromyalgia, does not help matters at all but still, I hate, HATE cold weather.

Yet, today in the movie theater, seeing Labor Day, watching a record of 7 previews,  I’m smiling. Right before I started eating my naked popcorn and drinking Diet Coke, an image appeared to me. I swear. I saw red tulips and green, green grass (no, not that kind.) I have not taken any hallucinogenic or any other kind of drugs and I am as surprised as you are. This lovely image popped into my head and I felt happy and calm.

A view inside some tulips, showing the stamens...

A view inside some tulips, showing the stamens and stigmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hear the new buzz word is “Mindfulness.” I have tried to be mindful of where my head and emotional self are long before this became popular. I’m happy that it is a new “thing.” I need all the help and support I can get. I have tried not to worry in advance and not look back either.

Maybe the beautiful sight of the red tulips and the green grass is my go-to symbol for my new mindfulness? At least it’s showing I am trying which is better than not. You can’t stop trying to grow, to learn and to teach yourself different things.

I am going to try to hold on to this calmness as long as I can and even when I start getting cranky ( is it inevitable? ) I hope at least I will remember the photos in my head. Or, perhaps one of you will remind me that I did have that lovely image for real.

I really am being mindful of that.

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