Mattress

Playbill cover for Encores!2024

 

As in Once Upon A, not the kind from Caspar or Tempur-pedic.

I saw the original show with Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred, the performance that brought her well-deserved fame. (I’ve had a long affinity for her as people used to tell me we looked alike or ask if I was her. Back in the day there was a sort of resemblance; now she’s been nipped and tucked so that she no longer retains her essence. On the other hand, she’s 90 so she can do whatever she wants.)

 

 

No one ever claimed that Mattress, the one Broadway success by Mary Rogers, was a staggeringly great musical but it was fun.  (As is Mary’s book, Shy, which is highly entertaining and gossipy but also very sad. Her parents, Richard and Dorothy weren’t even remotely snuggly and that, combined with Dick’s depression and Dorothy’s haute approach to life didn’t add up to a cheery childhood.)

 

The Mattress revival at City Center is well-done with a terrific cast including Sutton Foster (very carefully avoiding Burnett’s approach) and J. Harrison Gee of Some Like It Hot fame as the Jester with more numbers than this role usually gets which isn’t a bad thing. His eye and lip glitter aren’t bad either.

And now to food. Searching for “foods to eat in bed,” I found lots of recipes, all of which require cooking. My view of bedroom food is that it should be easy to throw together, portable and not likely to end up all over you, your sheets or the floor. When stuck I used to rely on a peanut butter, Swiss cheese and mayo sandwich, a fave of my first husband’s. Unless you’re on the anti-mayo wagon, don’t scorn it. No need for a recipe: take a piece of decent bread, (side note: bought a loaf of supposed sourdough at Pain Quotidian recently which was ghastly but has ended up as delicious bread pudding), spread with Hellman’s Mayonnaise (no substitutes please), a healthy dollop of your preferred PB  topped with one or two slices of Swiss cheese, preferably one like Finlandia as opposed to those reduced salt versions that lend a new meaning to bland.

Bedtime snack

That’s it. Grab a napkin and you’re set. While you munch listen to Shy, sung here by Sutton Foster.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CswHHvTbeV8

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Films, Food and Fun in Palm Springs

The Palm Springs International Film Festival has a certain rakish charm. According to people met on line prior to seeing films, PSIFF, now in its 35th season, is much more organized than in the past. My friend and I stayed at the Palm Springs Hotel, a fifteen room, quirky spot that doesn’t have a restaurant but has a pool and hot tub as well as old-fashioned metal room keys that defeated me for days. The hotel is within walking distance of Rick’s, a popular restaurant for breakfast or lunch; nearby is another Rick’s serving dinner.

Among the films my travel companion and I liked were BlackBerry, Ezra, the Trouble with Jessica, Zone of Interest and, to a certain extent, 20,000 Species of Bees. Despite the presence of Juliette Binoche, I wasn’t as thrilled as critics have been with The Taste of Things–watching a meal being prepared for over an hour felt incredibly slow—I doubt I’ll ever look at veal loin the same way again. But what a relief to not lug metal pots around a 19th century kitchen! (Should you care to watch the trailer and see that veal click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKKCGtoIOVY )

In between films we explored the area. Sunnylands, where Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg welcomed political, business, educational, and entertainment leaders to their 200-acre winter home in Rancho Mirage, CA, is complete with a mansion, guest houses, a nine hole golf course and the greenest grass ever, although they recycle water to keep it that way. The very new Agua Caliente Cultural Center includes a permanent outdoor exhibition with native plants, rock formations and water features; inside are galleries incorporating digital animation, projections, some in a theater setting, and displays of artifacts, all stunning and dealing with the Cahuilla Nation, As Easterners very conscious of saying “Native Americans,” we were struck by the use of “Indian” everywhere including the Palm Springs High School where the team name is —you guessed it—the Indians.

Restaurants abound, some good some not so. One night before a film we ended up dining on soggy sandwiches upstairs in a ‘lounge’ at the Camelot theater, an enormous contrast with the chic white décor and delicious lunch at Eight4Nine in the Palm Springs Uptown Design District. (A stop for a date shake early in our trip was well worth it.)

We arrived at the PS Art Museum just as a wildly enthusiastic docent was starting her tour which we joined, stopping at many exhibits including one devoted to contemporary glass. Another day we went to the Architecture and Design Center to learn about Albert Frey (1903-1998) who introduced Desert Modernism and was involved with NYC’s original MOMA structure.

Walking around Indian Canyon we were greeted by this sign; happily, there were no actual snakes present.

 

 

 

 

 

In keeping with the Agua Caliente Cahuilla spirit, here is a recipe for Three Sisters Stew. The Three Sisters are beans, corn and winter squash usually planted together—the corn stalk serves as a pole for the beans, the beans help add nitrogen to the soil that the corn needs and the squash provides a ground cover of shade that helps the soil retain moisture.

Three Sisters Stew –courtesy Veg Magazine

1 large butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1 bell pepper green or red, cut into short narrow strips
14 ounces canned diced tomatoes with liquid
2 ½ cups canned pinto beans drained and rinsed
2 cups corn kernels fresh or frozen
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 hot chili pepper fresh, seeded and minced; or substitute one 4-ounce can chopped mild green chilies
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder (taste and add more if you like spicy)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

How to:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove stem from squash and cut in half lengthwise. Cover with aluminum foil and place halves, cut side up, in a foil-lined shallow baking pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until you can pierce through with a knife, with a little resistance.

When cool enough to handle, scrape out the seeds and fibers. Slice, peel, then cut into large dice.

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.

Add the squash and all the remaining ingredients except the last 2, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ideally let stew stand for one or two hours before serving, then reheat and add the parsley or cilantro.

While you eat watch this video and hear the Agua Caliente Indians sing: https://www.facebook.com/AguaCalienteIndians/videos/2120262831660829

 

 

 

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All Aboard for Art

When significant developments take place in New York City I try staying current but  knew nothing about Grand Central Madison (GCM), the terminal below Grand Central proper that connects the East Side to the Long Island Railroad. Looks like The Municipal Transit Authority dropped the PR ball because the other senior auditors —also au courant New Yorkers—in my Art in New York Class at John Jay College didn’t know about this space either.  GCM opened in late January, 2023; it’s a wonderful (and useful) space that includes the longest escalator in New York,

For long escalator fans

stunning tiles in blue, purple, light green and cyan and knock-out public art.

Among the permanent displays are huge glass mosaics by Yayoi Kusama and Kiki Smith that are both stunning and more or less impervious to damage as they can easily be wiped clean. Kusama’s work, the 120-foot long A Message of Love Directly from My Heart unto the Universe, features heads, suns, amoeba-like shapes and her signature polka dots. It’s full of color and life.

Part of Kusama mosaic

Smith’s abstract River Light is composed of blue and white irregularly-shaped tiles that reference sunshine glinting on the East River. Four smaller Smith works nod to Long Island with depictions of wild turkeys, a deer standing among golden reeds, Long Island Sound and an abstracted wave pulling back from a rocky beach.

Kiki Smith with deer mosaic

 

The permanent installations incorporate a three-part work by Nick Cave, Each One, Every One, Equal All, a mosaic version of his Soundsuit sculptures, which camouflage the wearer’s shape hiding gender, race, and class and make noise when the wearer moves. These practically dance off the walls.

There are also changing exhibits including digital artwork such as a video of people watching and reacting to being ‘watched’ and another of a playful man and his hat. Down the center one corridor is a panel of photographs by Paul Pfeiffer showing a street performer known as Da Gold Man who has appeared for years as a living statue in Times Square. On one side panels show Gold Man in various poses; on the other are his clothes which could easily pass as advertising for jeans and tee shirts (especially if you favor clothing dipped in gold.)

Da Gold Man photo

 

    

Lauren Kaplan discussing a mosaic at GCM

 

 

 

 

The class tour was led by delightful, knowledgeable Lauren A. Kaplan who teaches at Hunter and John Jay; has run adult programs at MOMA; school programs at the Guggenheim and offers private and small group tours in museums and galleries throughout New York. (For more information: : https://kaplanarttours.com

 

And what could be more appropriate than:

Melon Mosaic Salad— courtesy How Sweet Eats by Jessica

(This amount serves 4-6—increase ingredients to serve more people.)

2 cups watermelon cubes

2 cups cantaloupe cubes

1 to 2 seedless cucumbers, peeled and cut into cubes

1 to 2 avocados, chopped

1 8 ounce block feta, cut into cubes

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons fresh herbs, like mint, basil and chives (if you like)

Cut up or buy pre-cut ingredients trying to make them all roughly the same size. Plate pieces like a mosaic, drizzle with a good vinaigrette (Jessica uses a ‘hot’ honey dressing I thought too complicated), sprinkle with salt and pepper. (If you opt to make this ahead toss it all into a baggie and let it marinate with the dressing—don’t add avocado until ready to serve.)

Serve humming Chattanooga Choo-Choo or I’ve Been Working on the Railroad—up the GCM theme by adding Long Island Iced Tea.

 

 

 

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More on trip to Cinque Terre

Hi reader,

Here is a link to the article running in GoWorld Travel. All the commercial messages were added by the editor or site.

https://www.goworldtravel.com/cinque-terre-things-to-do-there/

 

 

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Paint the Town Red–and Yellow, Turquoise, Peach…

Italy’s Cinque Terre (Five Towns) was created by a series of rock folds that were pushed and raised together during the Tertiary period, roughly sixty-six million years ago, the era that marked the end of the dinosaurs. The towns: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manorola and Riomaggiore, sit on the Ligurian Sea, part of the Mediterranean.

After almost a week in Florence (another story), I went to Cinque Terre to join a watercolor workshop, specifically watercolor en plein air, which gave me new respect for Monet, Renoir and Sisley

Claude Monet

toting their stuff around. Could have all that lugging have contributed to Van Gogh’s madness?  Probably not but I could have used a caddy to help deal with my folding easel, collapsible stool, palette, water containers, spray bottle, sponge, brushes…

Our group, one of many workshops run by Il Chiostro, www.ilchiostro.com, was based at La Cabana, a hotel high on a cliff overlooking Monterosso, serviced by a (steep) path and frequent shuttle service to and from the town below. Not only was the setting lovely, it got us away from the town which gets crowded especially when cruise ships disgorge passengers. Ambitious hikers can trek from town to town; we visited several by train and traveled by ferry to Porto Venera, a town slightly south of Riomaggiore.

 

Houses in Cinque Terre are a glowing rainbow of color as they cling to the cliffs— perfect for painters. Besides masses of tourists and great gelato, each of the towns have lots of restaurants serving terrific pastas, bruscetta, foccia and seafood—anchovies in various guises are part of many offerings as are squid, mussels, cuttlefish, etc. My two fave dishes of the week were faggotini, pasta shaped like a purse with a filling of soft pecorino cheese

Faggotini

and pear and a pumpkin (rather like our acorn squash) risotto. More complex than they seem, I am unlikely to reproduce either.

 

In between bouts of painting there was plenty of free time to explore the area, shop, swim or just hang out enjoying the views often with a glass of wine in hand. Other than a five minute sprinkle one day the weather was warm and sunny.

Montorosso beach

 

Pesto appears everywhere in Cinque Terre, sometimes made with the addition of potatoes and green beans. This is a more streamlined version:

 

 

 

Pesto

 

¼ cup pine nuts

1 or 2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper

½ cup olive oil

¼ Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

Put pine nuts, basil, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are chopped but not totally mushy. (Purists do this with a mortar and pestle; be kind to yourself and don’t.)

With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil. Then add the cheese which some recipes direct you to incorporate after the pesto base is out of the food processor-why, I can’t  imagine but suit yourself.

In Cinque Terre pesto is often served with trenetti; you can use linguine or almost any long pasta shape you prefer. I freeze extra pesto in ice cube trays and pop them out when wanted.

Serve with white wine (or sparkling water or whatever you like); the area’s whites are pale yellow and delicate.  If you want to toast in a group, the easy Italian way is to touch one other glass (rather than scrambling to connect with everyone), while saying: Toccato uno, Toccato tutti meaning ‘touch one, touch all.’ If you said cheers I doubt if anyone would object. Just smile.

Drinking while painting could be fun although your artwork may suffer a tad. On the plus side, carrying a wine glass up hilly paths seeking the perfect point of view is a lot less taxing than toting an easel.

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Heraclitus Was Right

Heraclitus was the ancient Greek who wrote “you can’t step into the same river twice.”   On the money!

I rented the same adorable, quirky house in Bucks County as last year when the whole thing was blissful perfection.  Although the house remains adorable and quirky this year’s experience had a few bumps. On day two I launched my rented car into the gully at the side of the ‘challenging’ driveway requiring a visit from AAA.

Car in gully

It took the (very unpleasant) AAA guy an hour to extricate it. In addition, I suspect Avis will not be thrilled with the damage to the front right fender. On the plus side, the car emerged drivable and no one was hurt.

Last year was bug-free. This time something—not a simple mosquito—fed all over me. Four days later the itching subsided.

All my electronics worked except my laptop which refused to hold the Wi-Fi signal.

However, these were minor matters. My houseguests were delightful as were many adventures. There was a painting-and-pottery show at which guest #1, a pottery devotee, admired the work and chatted with the potter. Guest #2 and I went to the Moravian Tile & Pottery Works on the National Registry of Historic Places and had a great time seeing the place, learning about the founder, Henry Chapman Mercer, and meeting a young tile-maker who demo-d some of the processes.

A demo at the tile works

I connected for lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen for years. The produce stands were great; I ate some of the best corn ever. Frenchtown, just across the Delaware, remains entertaining if crowded on weekends. Older daughter and her partner came for Labor Day weekend which included a visit to the Stover Grist Mill open only once a year for tours; a mini-hike; dinner at Caleb’s American Kitchen, an excellent restaurant in the ‘hood, and Scrabble.

To my mind, a caprese sandwich when tomatoes are really good spells summer (OK, end of summer.) Note: The pesto called for isn’t classic pesto; it’s what the recipe creators call “creamy basil sauce.”  Real pesto—homemade or bought would be fine as well and especially great if you’re anti-mayo.

 

Caprese Sandwich – courtesy Cookie and Kate

1 baguette (16 ounces) or any good, sturdy bread you have (personally I like sourdough)

1 tablespoon thick balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups arugula

 8 oz mozzarella

2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds

Flaky sea salt or kosher salt

Creamy basil sauce (this makes extra

1 small or ½ medium clove garlic, roughly chopped (not for me)

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup (1 ounce) lightly packed fresh basil

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

C and K begin by toasting bread which isn’t necessary to my mind.

To make basil sauce they suggest using a food processor. I concur but a mini chop would also work. As written it makes about ¾ cup. Leftover sauce is great on raw veggies.

To assemble the sandwiches, lightly drizzle balsamic and olive oil over half of the cut sides of bread. Layer some arugula on top, then weigh it down with rounds of mozzarella.

Top with the sliced tomato, then sprinkle the tomato lightly with flaky salt.  Spread the basil sauce generously over the cut side of the remaining slices of bread. Place them face down over the tomatoes. Serve or take on an end-of-summer picnic. Hum something Italian and maybe pour rosé wine if it’s a dinner or especially celebratory lunch.

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Purl Two

One of the cheeriest places in New York just now (and until December 10, 2023) is Madison Square Park where an exhibit of crochet runs up and down lampposts and twenty-foot tall specially planted telephone poles. The installation, My Neighbor’s Garden, is the work of artist Sheila Pepe who says she drew inspiration from community gardens and front yards in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where she lives with her wife, artist Carrie Moyer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pepe created the 15,000 yards of crocheted colored shoelaces, paracord, rope and garden hose—ablaze in red, pink, purple and orange– with groups of friends and strangers. Some of the women came to help after seeing an Instagram post seeking crocheters.  Pepe provided guidance on stitches and lengths. It appears that all the materials used are weather resistant.

section of Pepe’s work in Madison Square Park

Around the poles twining flowers and vegetable plants are climbing and expected to mesh with the crocheted fiber. Some sections are roundish panels of crochet that reminded me of the macramé phase in the sixties (although I never want to house a spider

A bit like macrame?

plant again.) The whole thing is a riot of style and color, inspired by crocheting circles of long ago when women gathered to talk about issues of the day like women’s rights and abolition.

Pepe, who identifies as a lesbian and feminist, learned to crochet in the sixties from her mother. Her work has been shown in many settings; here is a link to her exhibit history https://www.sheilapepe.com/exhibitions.

In 2024, she will be artist in residence at Dartmouth College. 

I do not know how to crochet and barely how to knit although I had a period of knitting enthusiasm and made a sweater from my granddaughter that she first wore as a dress—four or five years later if finally fit as a sweater. I know I had a fling with macramé—who didn’t—but happily no relics of that have survived.

If anyone knows of a recipe involving crochet please let me know. Meanwhile, cucumbers grow on vines (although Pepe’s installation doesn’t include this veggie as far as I know) so here is a recipe for Cucumber Salad.

1 pound seedless cucumbers, thinly sliced (Food Network, from whence this came, suggests slicing with a mandolin. Not so fast. Just slice as thinly as possible unless you like the idea of a possible wound.

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

Put cucumbers, sugar and salt in bowl; leave to marinate for five minutes. Stir in vinegar and onion. Refrigerate five minutes before serving.

If you’d like to celebrate Ms. Pepe, get out that crochet hook or knitting needles and start a new project. Feel free to send it to me when it’s finished.

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Lovely, Lively Lisbon

After a terrific ten days in northern Portugal with GrapeHops, a wine-food-and-fun-focused group, I took a train south to Lisbon.  An elegant, beautiful city, Lisbon is also (relatively) inexpensive and packed with friendly people, many of whom speak English. (My Portuguese consists of ‘obregado,” i.e., thank you, polite but not especially helpful in conversation.)

As I had only three-plus days, I began with a free walking tour led by Sara, an exuberant Guru guide, who led us climbing a zillion steps up to the Alfama area.

At the top there is a great view of the harbor with one or two humongous cruise ships in port. Along the way we stopped to sample ginjinha, a local drink served in tiny cups (or in a chocolate cup should you be inclined.) Our vendor was one of the local women who (reportedly) brews her own version which tastes a bit like cherry cough medicine.

 

Ginginger seller in Alfama

 

My first night’s dinner was at Monte Mar Lisboa, right on the Tagus River, with boats sailing past. It’s a lovely, albeit full of Americans, seafood restaurant with excellent service and was a perfect night to eat outdoors. I Ubered there and took the metro back to my adorable hotel, Nicola Rossio, very close to the metro stop.

The Museu Nacional Do Azulejo (Tile Museum) is housed in a convent founded in 1509. The building is wonderful and the history of tile in Portugal from the late 15th century to now is fascinating. If you go to Lisbon don’t skip this.

The famed Gulbenkian Museum is also excellent but, if you have to choose,  I’d go for the tiles—more unusual and relevant to the area. But I had my cake and ate it, as in visiting both.

I squeezed in a day trip to Sintra via train, When I arrived I somehow got ‘adopted’ by a delightful family with whom I shared a driver up to the Pena Castle. They elected to wait a longish while for tickets to walk around the upper level outside; I bailed and went off to the Moorish Castle with its ancient food storage silos, battlements, towers and—thank heaven, a café as it was about three PM and starvation was setting in. At the Castle I reunited with my ‘family’ who were going on to  another attraction.  Instead, our  driver dropped me in town where I strolled around,  admired the winding, cobblestoned streets, ate a superb pastry and caught a train back to Lisbon.

During my time with GrapeHops, in Guimares, a medieval city in the north, one of the items served (among many other) at lunch was Huevos Rotos  or “broken eggs.” It’s delicious and why not? Eggs, superior Iberian ham, what we would call excellent homemade potato chips … what’s not to like? I don’t recall the specific wine (or wines) that we drank with this lunch but am sure they were plentiful, appropriate and delicious.

 

Huevos Rotos (adapted for American palates, sorry purists.)

This looks like it serves about 4 depending on what else you eat with it.

  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil, for frying
  • 4 ounces, Serrano ham or
  • 4 large eggs
  1. Heat a few tablespoons of the olive oil in heavy bottom frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally. When the onions are soft and transparent, about 8 minutes, remove them from the pan and reserve them on a plate.
  2. Peel and cut the potatoes lengthwise, and then into “fries.” Heat all but 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil in the frying over medium heat. Salt the potatoes and fry them in the pan. When the potatoes are done, remove them from the pan with a slotted spatula.
  3. Cut the ham into bite-sized pieces and divide between bowls. Fry eggs sunny side up in a splash of extra virgin olive oil. Put eggs in bowel over the potatoes and ham.

White port and tonic is a great summer drink, very popular in Portugal. If you elect to try this, aim for a good quality port and keep it in the fridge. Drink this or a good white wine (Portuguese if you can get your hands on one).

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The Beginning or the End?

By which I refer to college commencement, inspired by my granddaughter’s receiving her MA in Education this past weekend. Eight strong we trooped to Geneva, NY, where Hobart William Smith is located, to be with her.

Some of us stayed in Seneca Falls, where the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in 1848.  The Women’s Rights National Historic Park Visitors’ Center is a good start to visiting the area. The Center houses a number of exhibits including a timeline of women’s history events; panels that lift up to reveal truths about women’s lives and a section on women and work that could use a little updating.

Next door is the Wesleyan Chapel that at various times served as laundromat, opera house, movie theater, and a mechanic shop. The present restored iteration is where The Declaration of Rights, modeled on the Declaration of Independence, was presented in 1848 by a large group of women and some male supporters including Frederick Douglas. Apparently the actual document is missing. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/find-the-sentiments

My female family members on the podium

We moved onto the National Women’s Hall of Fame, built in what was once a mill that produced socks. Only the first floor is complete although three more are planned and partly in the works. Some played a card game of matching the faces of famous women past and present, some wove yarn into a sort of timeline, some eyed the bench that Susan B. Anthony may have once sat on.

Luckily, by Sunday, when commencement took place the weather was sunny if a tad on the chilly side. Besides the pleasure of seeing our graduate get her diploma (last year she was felled by Covid so didn’t get to walk), we loved the bagpipers who serenaded the procession in and out. The ceremony was a little long but enjoyed by attendants human and canine.

This is a family in the Napoleonic tradition in that it marches on its stomach so food played a sizeable role. Saturday night we ate at Sackett’s Table, so farm-to-table that the food practically walks in unaided. Meat-centric but with plenty of options for non-carnivores, you can also buy meat and other foods to take home. I had never seen a tomahawk steak

Tomahawk Steak

before and was knocked out –had it been swung at my head I would have been. Even the booze is locally sourced.

 

 

 

 

Sunday after graduation we had a large, late lunch at the spacious, contemporary Quincy Exchange in Corning to make the trip for those driving back to NYC an hour shorter (which sadly, it failed to do because of hideous traffic.) Quincy, self-described as an American Bistro, has an innovative menu and an airy feel. 

Since I’m dealing with food, I must mention Banister’s Bed & Breakfast in Seneca Falls where some of us stayed. Built in 1860, four of the last five owners were lawyers, hence the name. Breakfast is lavish, exemplified by the Watermelon Pizza, one course during our Saturday morning repast.

To make it, cut a piece of watermelon into a wedge. Top with a thin layer of cream cheese in lieu of mozzarella and assemble fruit artfully on top. Delicious, pretty and zero work.

A chorus of Pomp and Circumstance please.

 

 

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Chinese in America

After a lovely dim sum lunch with my cousin at Jin Fong, (the new iteration which I wish were as large as the old version wrecked by Covid), I went to the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) at 215 Centre Street.

A more highly designed version of MOCA has been developed by sculptor and architect Maya Lin although it’s unclear whether when or if it will materialize be due to budgetary issues. While the current museum isn’t as glamorous as the proposed new one purports to be, it does its job admirably, showcasing interesting material devoted to Chinese American history.

Current MOCA

Proposed Maya Lin new version at same site

In the entrance two young men in costume were learning the Chinese dragon dance, coached by an older guy who was clearly an expert. Moving past, I went through the exhibit, In a Single Step, which deals with the many layers of the Chinese American experience in the U.S.

I knew that the Chinese were, (and still are), treated badly as expressed by this old poster. I did not know that a ball of opium was as big as a basketball.  One section of the exhibit presents examples of “yellowface” in mainstream culture while showing how Chinese Americans have survived in economically marginalized environments.

The area devoted to Chinese food is both poignant and funny, exemplified by a magazine ad that manages to put down  China’s superb cuisine and dredge up the social mores of the sixties. I remembered a radio jingle “La Choy makes Chinese food … swing American” and cringed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbgiV1jYIrY

 

Another food-related exhibit Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in  America opened under MOCA’s umbrella at 33-33 39th Avenue, Flushing, NY, explores how Chinese food is interpreted through personal stories of 33 Chinese and Asian American chefs. (Sounds worth seeing.)

If visiting MOCA interests you it’s currently open only Saturdays  with other days  by appointment.

No way on this earth will either you or I produce a genuine Chinese meal. However, I’ve made sesame noodles many times (and would make them more often if I had the will power to keep peanut butter around.)

Sesame Noodles

Serves 4-6 ( seams skimpy for six —maybe double recipe for that number)

8 ounces Chinese egg noodles (or your preferred kind of noodle)

2 large carrots, grated

1 cucumber, grated

Half of a small red cabbage, finely chopped

1/2 cup thinly-sliced scallions

Toppings: chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds,  lime wedges

 

Sesame Peanut Sauce:

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2–3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional)

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon each: garlic powder, ground ginger, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes

How To:

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until combined.  Taste and add extra soy sauce, if needed.  If sauce seems too thick (it should be thin enough to drizzle), whisk in a tablespoon or two of water.

Cook the noodles al dente according to package instructions.  Drain, then rinse with cold water in a colander until noodles are chilled.

Add noodles, carrots, cucumber, cabbage, scallions and sesame peanut sauce to the  bowl.  Toss until evenly combined.

Serve with passed garnishes.

Who needs take out?

 

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