Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Other Whaling Town III - Christmas 2012


I always go to Nantucket for Christmas.   This is the second year that I've made the journey from Hudson - sometimes known as the other whaling town (if I'm posting about it from Nantucket) - to Nantucket - the other whaling town as I write from Hudson.  And, it's the second year that I've left a half unpacked and situated house to make the trip.  Last year I had just moved to Hudson from NYC and was living in a rental house surrounded by boxes that contained a lifetime of collected goods.  This year, two yard sales later, it seems as if that collection has doubled when I moved into my new, just purshased home.  How did that happen and where will I put everything?
I digress.

Allegra and I made the trip across the Mass Pike, and down I 495 in record time - and, I did not get a speeding ticket like I did last year.  We arrived in Hyannis and jumped on a little plane that took us across the last 30 miles to the island - as opposed to taking a 2 hour ferry ride.  We arrived to a somewhat balmy Nantucket.  The island stayed pretty clement the whole I was there.  That smokey sou'wester that was blowing kept the island temperate.  So much for schlepping piles of winter warm winter clothes.  Happens every time.

Christmas Eve afternoon includes a trip to downtown Nantucket for the red ticket drawing.  The event, sponsered by the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce was begun as a way to get islanders to shop locally instead of going to the mainland for their holiday purchases.   Particpating merchants give a red ticket for every $25.00 spent by shoppers at their businesses.  This year shoppers spent a whopping 9.5 million dollars on the island. (are you listening Hudson?).  Tickets are drawn at the Christmas Eve event.  There are five $1,000. winners and one $5,000.00 winner.  Even people who don't win a prize are happy to be at the Main Street event where the atmosphere is full of good cheer.

Meals at my sister and brother-in-law's home (where I stay) are always delicious - but nothing quite beats a plate of  just shucked, simply sauteed Nantucket bay scallops.  The scallops are, of course, the most prestigious of  all fluted-shell creatures.  Take it from me, without prejudice. 


Laura, my sister, sauteed some chopped garlic (from her garden) in olive oil.  When the the garlic was slightly golden she added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a splash of dry white Vermouth.   Then added the scallops and cooked them 'til they were just opaque - 60 - 90 seconds.  They got a sprinkle of freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley to serve.  They should be served with something to sop up the briny, bright pan juices.  For our dinner the scallops were served with olive-oil rubbed, toasted Bonfiglio & Bread baguette, imported from Hudson.


Our main Christmas day meal is "breakfast" - crepes, with various fillings from savory to sweet and back again - which is usually eaten sometime in mid-afternoon, or at 5pm,  or even later.  Regardless of the hour, the job of making them goes to Jimmy, my brother-in-law.
This year, in addition to some of the classic fillings; last summer's blueberries and honey, and maple syrup and mascarpone, we also wrapped the very custardy, thin-as-paper pancakes around slices of delicately smoked sturgeon, and brandied cherries with creme fraiche.


Boxing Day - the day after Christmas.  Legitimately called that by one of the hosts of the party that I attended on that day.  She is half Swedish and half English.  It was her Swedish side that was featured in the generous smorgasbord of food that was offered.    Baked ham with nostril-flaring homemade mustard sauce, Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce and horseradish cream sauce, smoked salmon on brown bread, beet and herring salad  (a Swedish Christmastime-only salad) that includes apples, dill and sour cream among its other ingredients, the absolute best Jansson's Temptation - potato and anchovy casserole (with plenty of butter and cream)- that I've ever tasted, and was told that I could have the recipe only if I insured the maker that I would get Swedish anchovies - which really aren't anchovies but instead sprats preserved in brine, "anchovy-style".   So, the next time you or I go to IKEA and get some anchovies, I'll get the recipe.

And,  Steve's Mashed Potatoes pureed to a silky-smooth texture with milk, butter, cheddar cheese, salt and freshly ground pepper.
And, Anna's Lemon Pie:
.   Make the pie crust with 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into bits, 1/2 cup powdred sugar, 2 tablespoons ice water.  Blend the ingredients together, form a ball, flattened the ball into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.   Roll out and cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie dish or fluted tart pan with removable sides.  Blind bake the crust for 10 minutes.   then add a filling made with 4 eggs and 1 cup sugar whipped until fluffy. Add the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 3 lemons,  and 2 tablespoons sour cream, creme fraiche or heavy cream.  Pour into the crust and bake for another 15 minutes or until the filling is set.  Let cool and serve garnished with a shower of powdered sugar.

Then there were drinks with friends and a walk or two with Allegra.   It seems to be too much - but then again, never enough.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sinkless Kitchen

I've moved into my new house and am faced with the overwhelming task of unpacking everything
and finding places for it all.  Didn't I just do this a year ago?  Yes.  But this time it's for real - I own the place.  The house that I lived in all of last year, my first year in Hudson, was a rental.  After about a month and a half I realized that although the house was roomy and in a nice neighborhood, I felt that the landlady was watching my every move and I kind of gave up on decorating desires (holes in the walls, moving furniture on her precious floor, etc.).  Not to mention cooking.  While  I did make some delectable dishes on the the $300. Sears range (which I shared with you on occasion) - it was an unsatisfying experience in many ways.   Baking was just about out of the question - cakes got tough on the outside and remained gooey and almost raw on the inside.  Forget about my favorite  pizza.  It was never right

I bought a beautiful Electrolux Professional series range for the new house.  It's a sturdy workhorse that resembles its more well-known colleagues; the Wolf and the Viking - and costs just a tad under those celebrity cookers.  My reasoning for choosing the Electrolux over the others was because I had lived with a Viking for years in the City - and while it was beloved - it cost a small fortune to repair (same reason I gave up my Volvo once I moved upstate and I was doing more than just recreational driving) - the Electrolux is more main stream and easier to repair.  At least I think so.

My kitchen is painted Majorelle blue - the color made famous by Yves Saint Laurent in the gardens that he rescued and restored on his Marrakech property.  My contractors called the color "blurple" - which what it is - a deep cobalt lightened with undertones of purple.   The range is installed  (the inside of the oven is also blue, like speckled- blue camping tinware) - as is the refrigerator (in the pantry - which used to be a tiny bedroom off the kitchen).  The uninstalled dishwasher is there - but the sink is not.  It's due to arrive any second.  So my cooking attempts have been very limited - Oh, did I say that I don't have any work surfaces to speak of.  Yet.   It's not ideal to use the bathroom sink and bathtub as water and dishwashing sources.  So, I've stayed very simple.  Oatmeal.  Salads.  Pasta.  You know.

In a week or two this blog should start communicating the results of cooking experiments in the new kitchen.   Did I mention that the kitchen faces southwest giving me a lovely view of the Catskill Mountains - and now, with the leaves missing from the trees, a sliver of the Hudson River.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time at the new Bonfiglio & Bread (still no website - you can "like" them on Facebook, however) here in Hudson on upper Warren Street feeding my carbohydrate addiction.   And everyday there are new choices.  Last week I had lunch with friends and chose Bonfiglio's panade.   Panade is most often asscociated with onion soup but really it's a savory bread pudding and the ideal dish to make with leftover bread and other things that are hanging around the kitchen. 

To inspire you - here's what Rachel, of Bonfiglio did for the panade (at least I deduced) that I ate:
.  Soaked some of the bakery's leftover bread, sliced, (but cubed bread is good in a preparation like this too) in their leftover butternut squash soup.  Baked the mixure with grated cheese  - maybe cheddar - in a round pan.
.   Served a VERY generous wedge of the butternut squash panade on a bed of sauteed kale (also leftover) with a chopped fresh parsley and red onion salad.
.   You can't ask for more goodness.


r.i.p. Allegra's cousins, and new friend; Dewey, Hercules, and Roxanne

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Staff of Life

The staff of life - bread.  It is the manna from heaven.  The substance that was sent out of heaven to the Israelites as they struggled through the wilderness.  It tasted like a wafer made with honey and kept them on their journey.  From then on -basically since the beginning of recorded history - food made by mixing flour and water (and at times, various other ingredients) is bread.  It's basic nourishment.

Hudsonians have recently been blessed - yup, blessed - with a kind of manna from another place.  Can't say where but sure am glad that Bonfiglio and Bread (no website yet - but LIKE them on Facebook and you will receive daily updates) has landed on our side of the planet. 

Gabriele Gulielmetti and Rachel Sanzone, formerly of Loaf, have opened their bakery/cafe upstreet on Hudson's main drag, Warren Street.   I became a Loaf fan a few summers ago when visiting friends in town and was directed to Swallow where Loaf was selling their wares at the time.  I was won over at first bite.  I blogged about my experience and two weeks later received an email from Gabriele that said, more or less, " If you're the same Susan Simon that I think you are - I was your neighbor on 5th street (NYC)..."  you see, e piccolo il mondo

Now that he and partner, Rachel, in business and in life  have an expanded space - resembling a panetteria in the hippest Roman neighborhood - they have also been able to expand their repertoire.  You can watch their minds singing through ideas as they bake several varieties of bread, sweet breads, cinnamon buns topped with vanilla caramel, bialys, and pizzas daily. Special breads such as challah are baked for the Friday night Sabbath, and panettones and other specialties will show up for holidays and other special events.   In addition, there's always a sandwich of the day - the day that I took these photos (notice I didn't say "the day I was there" because it seems that I'm there just about everyday) it was grilled cheddar cheese with roast loin of pork and pickled jalapeno peppers.  The bakery's thickly sliced, buttery, grilled "sammy" bread oozed with molten cheese that seemed to erupt over tender slices of pork and bits of firey peppers.   Look for Rachel's soups and baked pastas too.

This place is dangerous.   Now I have an additction to their pain Viennoise - a sweet bread studded with chunks of chocolate or raisins and glazed with honey and butter.

Relative youngsters, Gabriele and Rachel haven't even turned the big 3 - 0 and look what they've done.  Gulielmetti thought he would be a sculptor and Sanzone turned her college major from biology to history and then just like that they became bakers using the same kind of mind sets that would have propelled their original career paths.

I knew Gabriele's late mother and father.  Maybe they sent that manna from the place where they now reside. Without a doubt, they are very proud.

SUSAN SIMON SAYS:   Try this recipe using Bonfiglio and Bread pain ancienne - baguette, with its perfect crust and crumb.
My friend Contessa Nally Bellati, true to her half-English heritage, regards "pudding" (British for dessert) as her favorite part of a meal.  In the decades of our friendship, Nally has made more versions of trifle and bread pudding than I can remember.  What I do remember is how much I loved them all.   Here's a bread pudding that she made on one of her visits to the States.

serves 8

1 crusty baguette
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sweet orange marmalade
2 crisp sweet apples such as Gala, Fuji or Golden Delicious, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Cointreau
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

1.   Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the baguette into 1/2-inch slices.  Butter the bread and cover each slice with marmalade.
2.   Butter an 8-cup baking dish.  Cover the bottom of the dish with about 1/3 of the bread slices, butter and marmalade sides up (you may have to cut a few slices to makes a good fit).  Place a single layer of half of the apple slices on top.  Scatter half of the cranberries or raisins over the apples.  Repeat with another layer of bread, the remaining apples, and the remaining cranberries.  Finish with a layer of bread, butter-and-marmalade sides down.
3.   In a bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla, and Grand Marnier or Cointreau together.   Add the milk and cream and whisk to thoroughly combine.  Pour over the bread.   Use your hands to press down the bread to assure that the top layer has saturated with the liquid.  Evenly distribute the sugar over the top.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the custard is set and the top layer is golden.  Place under a preheated broiler for exactly 2 minutes to caramelize the top.  Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving in an Artist's Studio

You may think that it doesn't make much sense to give you a recipe for cranberry sauce the day after Thanksgiving.  There is however great logic to my decision.   I wanted to see the finished product presented  and enjoyed before I  published the recipe.   Seem reasonable?    Cranberry sauce is good for as long as there are fresh cranberries around  and then some as raw cranberries freeze to perfection (I've held on to them for almost a year in the freezer), and the cooked sauce lasts, refrigerated, for just as long.  Cranberry sauce is not just for Thanksgiving.   Turkey is my least favorite use for the sauce.  I love it inserted into toasted Cheddar cheese  sandwiches.  And as we discovered last night it's just the right  accompaniment to gorgonzola cheese.  I like it in yogurt, and on a piece of cheese cake.  It makes a good base for a fruity vinaigrette, and when mixed with mayonnaise elevates a turkey or chicken or ham or tuna sandwich right up to the top level.

I'm lucky to have a sister who sends me cranberries from the Nantucket bogs - the world's largest naturally contiguous  bog (and certified organic) - every year around harvest time.  The berries arrive with tiny, threadlike stems, some leaves, some rotten berries and some that are still green, they are NOT sorted in a warehouse, instead just sold straight out of the rakes - well, just about. To make the sauce I sort out stems, leaves and rotten berries, and leave a few green ones for the incredible amount of pectin that they produce.  The sauce thickens up in the blink of an eye.

This is how I made this year's  CRANBERRY SAUCE:

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

2 pounds fresh, rinsed cranberries
1 orange, thinly sliced then cut into 1-inch sections
juice from three oranges
2 cups organic light brown sugar
1/2 cup pure honey  (I use my brother-in-law's  honey whose bees drink from the cranberry blossoms in the bog a short flight from their hives)
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
4 or 5 cardamom pods
butcher's twine

1.   Add the cranberries, orange sections and juice, sugar,  and honey to a large non-reactive saucepan over medium heat.  
2.  Tie the cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom up in the cheesecloth and stir into the cranberry mixture making sure that it's completely immersed in the berries.
3.  Cook, stirring occasionally until almost the berries pop and the sauce is the consistency of loose jam, 20-30 minutes.  Let cool with the spice sachet inside.   Remove the sachet from the cooled berries and squeeze the syrup from the cloth.   Stir through the sauce.    Refrigerate the sauce in a tightly-lidded container until ready for use.

I was fortunate to share Thanksgiving meal with old friends who I met, decades ago on Nantucket, and have lived in Hudson for over 20 years.   Don't you just love when life's circles close.  

Margaret (no website - Google Margaret Saliske to see her work) set the table in her studio near some of her sculpture and  a few of her husband, Tony's Hudson River Valley landscape paintings.  We were in place, in place.  A small group of family, and I who has been around at least as long as most of them.  As the song says, "the vittles* we et were good you bet and the company was the same".


* .   roast turkey with chestnut and mushroom dressing, pan juice gravy
   .   roasted acorn squash
   .   spicy, sauteed Swiss chard
   .   roasted potatoes
   .   pan roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon
   .   cranberry sauce
   .   Kunik cheese and Amish-made gorgonzola cheese
   .   pecan pie
   .   raspberry linzer torte


Make these tea sandwiches for one of your wintertime gatherings - or when someone asks you to contribute to a potluck meal:

makes 48 two-bite sandwiches

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup cranberry sauce - above recipe
24 slices very thin whole wheat bread (Pepper Ridge Farm makes it)
1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese cut into 1/4-inch slices

1.   In a bowl, blend the butter and cranberry sauce together
2.   Line up the bread in pairs.   Butter each slice of bread with the cranberry-butter.  Cover one side of each pair with Cheddar.  Top the other side, pressing gently but firmly.  Trim away the crusts.  Cut each sandwich on the diagonal to make 4 triangular sandwiches.
3.   Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered with damp paper towels, until ready to serve.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Disaster Averted, Distraction Not

This is the first time in over a year that I've let so much time lapse between posts.  And I don't have the excuse of having been without power due the destructive storm innocently called Sandy.  I was prepared for her arrival - she just never really demonstrated much force here in the upper Hudson Valley .  I remember a summer lightening and hail storm that did more damage than she did. So how did I prepare?   I cooked up a BIG pot of kale and mustard greens.  Actually, simply sauteed the leaves, ripped off their ribs, in olive oil with garlic, and hot peppers and finished with freshly squeezed lemon juice.  I knew that these cooked greens would last days longer than fresh greens and would serve as a backdrop to versatile preparations.   A poached egg on the greens,  for that matter an omelet with greens( and grated any kind of melting cheese), or chopped hard cooked eggs with greens would make rather tasty meals.   Fully aware that if the power had gone out that the first thing in the freezer to thaw would be the sausage so I preempted the possibility and made a potful of pasta e fagioli  - pasta and beans  (I actually used chick peas) with bits of grilled sausage tossed into the mix - the potful of starch and protein - cooked with an inch of its life would surely have lasted a few days - unrefrigerated.  And gotten tastier as each passed and the flavors of the ingredients absorbed each other.


Another freezer package that I knew would not have survived 12 hours without electricity were those plump strawberries from Blue Star  that I froze in June with hopes to let them defrost  on New Year's  Eve in order for them to accompany a first bite of panettone on New Year's Day (the Italians believe - among many other things - that a first-of-the-year morsel of the classic sweet bread augers well for the upcoming year).  Instead, I let them thaw and cooked them for a few minutes with light brown sugar and cinnamon.  I made pancakes - nothing special - just Bisquick pancakes - Yikes! you say?   Yep, from time to time I use a classic convenient food.  Pancakes with June strawberry sauce - for dinner.  Very satisfying.   And of course, a strawberry - banana smoothie makes for an excellent breakfast.


Not finished yet.  There was a big old cauliflower staring at me through its bag.  Something had to be done with it.  So I made soup:

.  Cut the cauliflower into florets, placed them on a parchment paper -covered baking sheet with sliced red onions, sprigs of fresh thyme and some red pepper flakes.  Tossed everything with olive oil and roasted them at 350 degrees F. until the cauliflower and onions were nicely browned - about 30 minutes.
. Added the cauliflower, onions and thyme leaves (removed from their stems) to a large saucepan and covered it with about a quart and 1/4 chicken broth.  Simmered the soup until the vegetables were soft.  When it seemed that the vegetables were about 2/3 of the way finished I added maybe 1/4 cup crumbled Black Ledge blue cheese from Cheese! in the Hudson Farmer's Market.  The cheese had begun to dry out but hadn't lost any of its wonderful nutty flavor.  It was a perfect addition.
. Pureed the mixture with an immersion blender.  Reheated soup and served it with a dollop of whole milk yogurt and some crumbled blue cheese.
Something happens to the cauliflower when it's roasted.  Its flavor changes.  The soup tasted almost like a veloute of Jerusalem artichokes.  Maybe it was the addition of the cheese too.

Would you be surprised to learn that more than two weeks after I made all of that food that I've just finished it?   Egad.  Better safe than sorry.  I guess.

Now, I avoided nature's disaster simply by geography.   I'm sorry for my friends and strangers in my favorite city, New York, and along the east coast, who suffered the supreme discomfort of lack of electricity (ancient doggies who had to walk up and down many, many flights of stairs several times a day) - and so much worse.

I am, however, extremely distracted from my normal routine because of the recent purchase of a new home - which is really an old wreck and needs more work than I ever could have imagined - even although everyone warned me this would happen.   Honestly, it makes me nervous all the time.  Except for the moments when I imagine all the beautiful colors on the walls.  Thanks to some friends, I was directed to Hudson Paint in Red Hook, NY.   I was bowled over by the colors and then learned that the wall paint was made with lime.  I was hooked.  In addition to all the benefits of having my walls painted with a substance that has low VOCs and is a natural disinfectant - my walls, when covered with the gritty paint will look like frescos - blank frescoes.
So, excuse me if I get distracted for awhile again.  You're never far from my thoughts.  Color = food, food= color.
FINALMENTE - finally.  BONFIGLIO & BREAD  (formerly LOAF) is set to open its 738 Warren Street doors on Friday, the 16th November.
VIVA  Gabriele e Rachel.   Can't wait to patronize you.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cocktail Party Prolonge # 3

My sister and brother-in-law came to visit me in Hudson a few days ago.  It was the first time that they had visited Hudson since I have lived here.   I thought that a tiny bit of festivity was in order.   I had already invited a friend over for a drink before I knew that they would be coming here with certainty.  Traveling from their home - that other whaling town, Nantucket, an island 26 miles out to sea - is often fraught with complications due to weather, and making ferries and/or planes.   When their plans were finally set I invited a few more friends and came up with the kind of menu that I'm fond of constructing based on a Victorian-style of entertaining - a cocktail prolonge - which I've discussed in several previous blogs.  For those of you who are new to this blog or don't remember what I described go to the previous link and this one.   Basically I talked about a cocktail prolonge as being exactly as described - a prolonged cocktail party that includes a good variety of two- and three- bite offerings served with plenty of good drinks and concludes a few hours later with one substantial dish; pasta, risotto, or casserole, etc. And of course, a little something to sweeten the palate.

My logic for planning this type of party is that the number of people in attendance determines the variety of nibbles that I make.   We were small number of people so I offered few things each made with three ingredients only.

Smoked Salmon on Toasted Quinoa Bread  (from Bonfiglio & Bread, formerly Loaf - for now sold only in the Hudson Farmers' Market - opening soon on upper Warren Street) with caper butter.   I find that the Ducktrap brand smoked salmon from Maine available at the local Hannaford's very good.

Watermelon Radishes with Black Olive Ricotta.   Watermelon radishes are available from several different vendors right now at the farmers' market.  They're crunchy and sharply flavored - and beautiful to look at.  I mixed chopped Kalamata olives with whole milk ricotta to make a contrasting spread/dip to enjoy with them.

Cheddar Cheese Toasts with Mango Chutney.   Once I again I turned to Bonfiglio & Bread to provide me with a perfect baguette to cut into slices to hold a piece  of Adirondack cheddar (Cheese! at the farmers' market) topped it with a dollop of mango chutney. I baked the toasts in a 350 degree F. oven until the cheese had melted and the toast was brown.

Assorted Cheese, Crackers and Roasted Pears.   I choose, again from Cheese!; "pollembert"  a goat milk kind of Camembert shot through with fennel pollen, and "black ledge blue" a a buttery yellow natural rind cheese dotted with blue - its maker call it "distinctive but accessible" .   I wait for the pear season to make roasted pears which are the very best accompaniment to cheese - any variety.

Risotto with Pomegranate and Duck Confit was the dish I made to finish up the party.   Remember the duck confit  and duck broth that I made in the sweltering heat of the past summer?   A recent sighting of pomegranates in supermarket bins inspired me to visit the duck.  I thought, what a perfect combination.  Duck wants a bit of acid fruit to accentuate its rich flavor.   For the record this is not the first time that I've used pomegranates with risotto and it's not an original idea.  A few years ago, in the Veneto region of Italy, I ate an amazing risotto made with prosecco and pomegranate.   I've used that idea ever since in various permutations.
Follow the recipe in the link, which, by the way, is also the link to my first recorded cocktail prolonge , up until the part that gives directions for bay scallops.   Use duck broth and water where the recipe calls for water only and shredded duck confit crisped in its own fat to top the finished risotto instead of the bay scallops.

We sweetened our palates with caramelized applesauce, a selection of ice creams and shortbread. 

SUSANSIMONSAYS:  My friend, Chris Jones and I participate in the Hudson Reads (contact me for details) program as mentors.  It's completely rewarding for us and the kids that we read with once a week.  If you have an hour - or even a half an hour to spare once a week (of course, if you're nearby) - join us.  You won't regret it. 
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, I hope that you're all safe and dry.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some Of The Things That I Miss About NYC

There are many things that I like about my new home in the Hudson Valley and I can tell that those situations  are going to multiple the longer I stay here.  (That commitment is about to become an earnest endeavor with the acquisition of a home - oy!).  However, there are some things that just need a city the size of New York.
While there is an abundance of fresh-from-the-farm produce and products in my neighborhood - you've heard me go on about them non-stop - there isn't really good Japanese food (among others), and I'm talking mostly sushi and sashimi, within miles and miles and miles of here.   I have an incessant hunger for raw fish that tastes like the ocean and unusual varieties of seafood that are flown in daily from Japan.   I was spoiled silly when I lived in the city on the same block with the illustrious Jewel Bako restaurant and a mere 4 short blocks from the city's landmark sushi restaurant, Hasaki.
When I was in the city recently I was introduced to another Japanese restaurant that's situated just a few blocks east of where I lived for decades but never went to - because that's just how much of a prisoner of my immediate neighborhood I was.  So provincial. 



My friends, Rita and David - and Rita's sensei - maestro -Mr. Mutsuo Tomita (she studied ikebana - a way of considering the art of the flower - with him for years and they have remained good friends) dined at Takahachi (East Village location).  I was in salt water heaven with my chirashi - a big bowl of sushi rice covered in at least 6 varieties of raw fish, cooked eel, egg custard and shredded daikon radish.   Mountain yams cooked in white miso,  seafood dumplings, kushikatu (deep fried skewers); okra and bacon, tofu, and shrimp, and hen of the woods tempura completed the meal.  It not only thoroughly sated me but also made me miss this way of eating even more.


I like a good book party.  I like one even more when a friend's book is celebrated.   Louise Fili's magnificent monograph, "Elegantissima" was feted at Sfoglia restaurant, one of Louise's clients.  The place closed its doors to diners and turned itself into a party space.  Tables were laden with a selection of cheese, cured meats, olives, bread, house made; grissini, ricotta, wine crackers, jam and bean salad. Waiters dressed in black passed mini arancini (saffron rice balls filled cheese), lamb meatballs sitting in spicy tomato sauce and skewers loaded with grilled eggplant and mozzarella.

Excuse me for the  out-of-focus photo of Louise and some of her staff - just about all of them from past years who helped create the images in the book - attended the party. 

I just like walking around my old neighborhood, looking at the statue of Vladimir Lenin posing as as the Statue of Liberty (?) atop a building naturally called "Red Square", and bumping into people that I haven't seen in months.  They greeted me like it was yesterday that we last saw each other - it hasn't even registered that I moved away.   That's how time flies in the city that's in perpetual motion.   Oh, "Hi, how are ya'?"   I love that some things stay just as if I never left.  

SUSANSIMONSAYS: For your consideration:  Nancy Sharon Collins' new book.  This is a detailed, illustrated history of engraving.   As Collins' says, "It parallels the history of movable type and letterpress printing."

At HuMP- Hudson Museum of Photography at  552 Warren Street:
MOONMAN images by Stephen Johnson