We drove into the city on Friday. Our children had planned a special
weekend for us to celebrate our 40th anniversary. Forty years with the
same womanóthatís longer than Iíve been alive. We arrived at Marjorie and
Jonathanís apartment, where they had spent the preceding week in a blitzkrieg
32-inch HDTV with satellite, TiVO, stereo surround, and 6 remote controls
It is now quite exquisite. We sat in their enormous backyard on a perfect June afternoon. Jonathan served champagne (Mummís) to accompany some nachos and homemade salsa, as well as some fresh asparagus with an absolutely fabulous dipping sauce of mayonnaise, lemon, and wasabi that Marjorie prepared. In the background, the pool boy skimmed the surface.
Marjorie put aside the rib steaks that we had brought from Providence to sit in a special Korean marinade of red pepper, sesame oil, cilantro, olive oil, and other hot spices.
Andy and Neal arrived, and we shared some more hors díoeuvres.
Jonathan, Master Of The Craft, put the steaks (and pressed dry tofu
for Neal) onto his new Weber grille. The meat was fabulous, as was the
tofu (líhavdil),and with it.
Marjorie served a great dish of soba noodles with mint and scallions, and a refreshing snap pea and radish salad. The wines were a blockbuster í93 Barolo and a perfect and stunning í82 Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, smooth and long on the palate. For dessert, sorbets brought by Neal and Andy: mango, coconut, chocolate, lemon. All of this al fresco in their yard, a haven of quiet and tranquility in the city.
What a joy to celebrate 40 wonderful years with 4 wonderful children, and a granddaughter on the way. Marjorie is showing very nicely and looks radiant. To put together a dinner like this, six months pregnant--no, pregnant or not--was a stupendous achievement. We all said: "Mahjorie! You outdid yourself! We're stoffed! We're bloated! Everything was delicious! You have to send us the recipes!" If you want the recipes, read the hyperlinks underlined in this paragraph.
Saturday morning, I rode my back through Lower Manhattan. The city was
quiet, with little traffic, and I could take in the various neighborhoods,
Little Italy, Chinatown, Ukranian-Polish, and Chinatown. The Jews, despite
the 2nd Avenue Deli right next door to M & Jís apartment, are all gone.
I foraged first at Russ and Daughters
on Houston, also around the corner, for nova, chive cheese, pickled herring,
bagels, and bialys as good as it gets. Then a new place, The
Donut Plant, on Grand Street. It is an old Jewish bakery, refurbished
by the grandson of the owner into a donut shop, which claims to have the
best donuts in New York. I think they are right: vanilla, apricot, valronha
chocolate, cinnamon bun, and cherry. They were light and fresh and flavorful.
We wolfed everything down at the apartment with excellent coffee and cappuccino.
Carol and Marjorie went out shopping, and Jonathan and I drove to Costco
in Brooklyn, the wholesale warehouse that supplied the provisions for their
wedding in San Francisco. The variety, the volume, and the prices are beyond
belief. We bought $340 worth of olives, canned tomatoes, batteries, socks,
beer, etc. There are two floors, and you go between them on side-by-side
escalators. Shoppers ride on one escalator, and an employee locks the carts
onto the other.
When we arrived back at the apartment, I pulled in front of the building
to unload. You will remember that the headquarters of Hellís Angels is
across the street. There are orange pylons guarding the empty spaces, keeping
them free for the membersí bikes.
As we unloaded, a huge, bearded, earringed, pigtailed Hellís Angel, wearing a leather vest with many medallions came over to make sure we did not tarry. When we finished, I asked him innocently, "Would it be OK if I park here?"
He looked me and my BMW up and down. "I was gonna park my van thereÖ.wait a minute." He made a call on his cell phone.
"You gonna stay overnight?"
"Yes," I answered.
"OK, you can park there. Just pull it up close to the car ahead, and leave room behind you for my van."
I thanked him, and as I started into the apartment, he noted, looking at my license plate, "War Veteran."
"Nam," I answered, "Iím older than you."
He was defensive: "Nixon finished it before I could get over there. What a waste! They wouldnít let us win. What a waste!"
"It was awful, man," I told him with full eye contact.
"At least you made it back alive," he consoled me.
Then we met Neal and Andy at the theatre to see Albeeís The Play About The Baby. We had great seats in the second row. What a bizarre play this is. Like Whoís Afraid of Virginia Woolf, itís about an older and younger couple and a baby. The performances were stunning, all four actors, particularly Brian Murray and Marian Seldes. But what was it about? What did it mean? Was it an allegory about loss, aging, America, The New Germany? Only Albee knows. Jonathan and I agreed that most likely it was written by some Harvard English Major asshole with a gift for words, a bitterness about life, who relishes coming to a party, showing off how clever he is, and spoiling everybodyís evening.
We went home to rest a bit.
Then met Andy and Neal at their apartment, which is now completely furnished
They served us some caprese and sparkling wine and we watched some of Andy's videos of early Bette Midler that were such a hit at the New York Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and some videos of early home movies of the Hoffman family. It seems that Marty Hoffman attended the same school of cinematography as my father, with lightning pans and scenes of no more than three seconds each.
Then on to Babbo
What a fabulous dinner: a chickpea crostini amuse-geule,appetizers of lambs tongues with mushrooms over escarole with crème fraïche, briny sardines with red peppers, minted "love letter" ravioli with lamb sauce, followed by secondi platti of duck breast and confit with lemon zest, branzino with lemon marmelade, red-hot squid in vegetable-tomato broth, squash ravioli, beef cheek ravioli, and goat cheese tortellini.
The wines were a white from Northeast Italy and a Sagrantino di Montefalco
Umbrian red. For dessert, a semolina lemon upside-down cake and a pine
nut tart. For a surprise, the waiter brought an assortment of supreme homemade
sorbetti: chocolate, lemon, rhubarb, huckleberry, green apple, and mango.
Around the edge of the two plates was written in chocolate: Happy 40th
A wonderful evening with our wonderful children.
That's right! If you pay with a credit card, it doesn't really cost you anything.
Sunday morning, although we had planned to go to Barney Greengrass, we recalled Saturday's breakfast with such relish that we went ahead and did it again. This time to Kossar's Bialy Bakery on Grand for fresh onion and garlic bialys--the world's best. Then back to Russ and Daughters on Houston for the best nova we every had, some tofu chive cheese and Roumanian eggplant salad for Neal, and pickled lox in cream sauce with onion to die for. All our lives we had believed that Murray the Sturgeon King on Upper Broadway reigned supreme in the realm of pickled lox. Le Roi est mort; Vive le roi!We ate in the back yard on yet another perfect day.
Back home, we saw Art at Trinity Rep, with Timothy Crowe, Fred Sullivan, and Dan Welch. Welch is the weakest link, but the other too are wonderful. It is about what constitutes art, friendship, and the evolution of relationships. Not a very deep play, but a lot of fun because it's full of repartée and sarcasm, and it's only 75 minutes long with no intermission. You can get home for pizza.