Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Modest, but Heartwarming Success Story

Once upon a time, there was a little bbq cubbyhole -- it was too small to be called "a restaurant" -- named Harry's Oklahoma-Style Smokehouse BBQ. The name took up more space than the business. It got good reviews in the local papers and we love bbq, so we went for some.

Situated on a corner, it was: a wide space next to the door, a counter across that with the menu hanging behind it. I think there may have been one small table with two little chairs. We ate at one of the two tables outside on the sidewalk. It was good and I gave it a very positive review.

But we only went back once -- Lomita is not exactly next door. But Richie had an appointment not far from it, so I went along and we had lunch.

Imagine our surprise! Harry's is now as large as its name! There is a dining room, a huge space off of the kitchen where the men's and ladies are located along with steel storage shelves, cleverly blocked off from view with bamboo, pull-down shades. The entire space was spotless and nearly glistened. Continuing the Grannie's old house theme, the ladies room also had a rickety, old wire bookshelf laden with cookbooks!

The dining room was country kitchen style with open-front cabinets displaying china, lots of vases with faux flowers and baskets piled into a display. Three round tables and a rectangular one held wooden chairs for four.

We started with an order of beer-battered onion rings ($4.95) which came with a sauce that was slightly vinegary,slightly peppery. I asked about it and was told, "It's ranch dressing with some spicy seasoning added in." Money down, the spicy seasoning was Tabasco. Interestingly enough they came with a little pile of thin-sliced carrots and red cabbaage and an orange quarter to squeeze over them. It was surprisingly good and I reccomend trying it.

Richie ordered the sliced bbq tri-tip ($8.95.) His choice of a side (which comes with the sandwiches) was molasses baked beans. He could have had oven rice or potato salad or creamy mac and cheese or cole slaw two ways (mayo or vinegar) or sweet potato, steak or garlic fries or cornbread with honey and butter or corn cobbetts.

I went for the pulled pork with cole slaw (Memphis style, served with the meat on the bun) and a side of potato salad. ($8.95) The potato salad had chunks of sweet pickle which gave it a country feeling.

Feeling expansive (and for sure getting that way) I ordered a slice of pecan pie. It was piping hot! Theymust have nuked it just before bringing it in. It was clearly homemade - the crust gave that away - with a rich filling. ($4.95) I declined the vanilla ice cream on top.

Lunch for both of us (we drank water) was $22.90 because Harry's is running a promotion -- each sandwich was $5.50!

Harry's Oklahoma-Style Smokehouse BBQ, 25501 Narbonne Avenue, Lomita 310-326-9842 Open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


It looks like it's going to be another nice day so I'm in a good mood. For no reason at all, I got to thinking about US Presidents and how their faces change from campaigning to actively leading our country. They all begin to look like ducks! No kidding. The bridge of their nose thins and their nostrils flare and: they look like ducks.

Most of them get grayer as they advance through their term, but it's not due to stress which is an old wives' tale. In fact, 50% of all 50 year olds are heading toward gray. Most people start finding the odd white hair in their mid-30s.

So I have to ask: what would be the fun of taking -- nay, campaigning for -- a job that would turn you into a white-haired duck?

A Fun Site -- This is another Nina, but we share an interest in obituaries. Whenever Richie and I are on the road and I have a chance to read the local newspaper, I always read the obituaries. "Other Nina" goes farther -- she seeks them out and prints them in her blog! A former Navy man and avid boater's obit said, "He sailed away October 10, 2010" Although I grinned, I later thought, "Yeah... how appropriate."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Pyschology of Heat and the Dangers of Answered Prayers

Yesterday in downtown Los Angeles, temperatures climbed to 113 degrees. It was the hottest day ever there since 1877 when temperatures began to be checked on a daily basis. Here, 20 miles away at 6:45 a.m. it was 73 inside the house and 70 outside.

The peak of the heat here was 105 out on the balcony (in full sun, it must be said.) We are not used to "at home" heat. If we're going somewhere that we know is hot (Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Laughlin, NV) we don't mind it at all. But when it comes home to us ... nuh uh!

Most houses near the beach do not have air conditioning (nor central heat) because, basically, we don't need either. We usually get a week in July that is abysmally humid, but that's about the extent of the weather excitement.

To combat the heat, we draw the curtains - light equals heat - and I shut the balcony door tight. That's where we get all of the morning sun. Thank God for double-paned glass. I climb up on a step ladder and re-drape the towel across the parallel short curtain rods inside it and the skylight goes dim. Now the living/dining aea is only barely lit. Flick on the ceiling fan for the illusion of a breeze and the day can commence.

What's beyond ironic is that since mid-April, we have been wrapped in daily fog/marine layer/overcast (your choice) and have had perhaps four days of full sun from sunrise to sunset. This drove me wild! Every day gray ... I bitched and moaned, had a waltz with Seasonal Afflictive Disorder (aka SAD and rightfully named.) I longed for sun. I hated it that some mornings the sun would wake me up, but by the time the coffee perked the fog/marine layer/overcast and had rolled right back in. This is cheating!

And then yesterday, I got my wish. Couldn't have asked for any more sun. It was 105 out on our balcony, the house was as hot as a pizza oven and it was grim. The cats lay listlessly in the coolest spots they could find; the bird didn't have anything to say, just maintained a sullen silence -- the only comfortable animals were the three goldfish!

Today, my new best friend is back -- let me introduce you to fog/marine layer/overcast!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Double, Double Onions

I think that if you're going to eat something that's advertised as "onion flavored," you ought to be able to taste the onions!

This minor obsession began when Trader Joe started selling onion-chive spreadable cream cheese. (I think Kraft does one, too.) I thought, "Hmm, with a nice crisp onion bagel, you'd Have Something" so I promptly bought both and enjoyed them immensely. Note to fellow greed hogs -- I keep the bagels in the freezer, pull one out, nuke it in the microwave for one minute, then slice it into THREE slices -- you get more cream cheese this way...

Then, yesterday by the cash out guy, I noticed Onion and Chive Corn crackers ($1.29) with all kinds of stuff in them -- flax, hemp, poppy, black and white sesame seeds -- and since I still have half a carton of onion-chive cream cheese, bought a box.

The crackers' texture is vaguely Frito-ish but the onion-chive flavor is definitely there. Good texture and they don't shatter when they hit the cream cheese. I'm enjoying them, but mark my words -- next time I go to buy a box, the price will have skittered up -- $2.25 would be my best guess. Trader Joe has a habit of doing that -- Sicilian olives -- 99 cents a can; next time I looked they were $2.99 a can!

Cream cheese -- 2 T = 100 calories
Onion-Chive Corn crackers -- 16 crackers = 140 calories.
If you want to be really healthy, make your own onion-chive cream cheese, but buy the spreadable cream cheese -- it's easier to work with and you don't have to add a dash of milk to it to make it "spreadable."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Lengthy Explanation and a Profound Apology

Explanation: (Get comfortable, this is going to take a moment.) I am not a computer expert. I can do what I need to do on a computer (write, print, save and research) but none of the knowledgeable things others can do. Like make a Website, make a spread sheet, write a newsletter.

This doesn't make me a Luddite! Oh, you don't know what that is, but hear it occasionally? I didn't really know either. helped out.

During the Napoleonic Wars, British textile weavers and workers became furious. The Industrial Revolution meant that new machines had been created that were simple enough for relatively untrained, un-weaving-skilled workers to run them, putting the artisans effectively out to pasture.

A man named Ned Ludd appeared to lead them in acts of factory disruption (they burned down those with the new machines in 1811 and 1812) thus earning the rage of the British Army. The two factions fought and the Luddites lost. Punishment included execution and dispersal to "penal colonies." (Note: see how many "Weavers" are listed in the Australia/New Zealand phone books...)

Basically, Luddites are opposed to industrialism, automation, computerization and just any new technologies at all.

Actually, I'd be a DOS-osauer if I could remember why I loved that system. It was used primarily in the days of 5 in. floppy discs which were replaced by 3.5 in. hard discs (still called "floppies") and later still by CDs and now people use external, plug-in memory chips.

Aside: the best way to "save" something is to print it out. I have a foot-tall stack of 3.5s and if I ever want to know what's on them, I'll have to buy an external drive just for them.

All of the above is to explain why, when I write this column and go "inside" (blogger dashboard, it's called) I never paid any attention to any of the commands there except "New" "Publish" "See" and "Edit."

Yesterday, being idle (as I am most days) I decided to see if I could find out if I have any readers and began clicking on the various headings in there. To my delight, yes, people read me! To my abject sorrow and horror, some have left comments that I never read because I stupidly didn't know they were there! I am genuinely appalled at this rudeness and wish to apologize profusely for it.

Since I hate that this is largely a monologue and in the past have encouraged comments as part of an on-going dialogue, it is especially shameful that others complied and I didn't! The horror!

Now that I do know about "Comments" I will check daily. Dialogue beats monologue every, single time.

On another note, same subject: a friend told me that to be listed as a "Follower" (as if!) that person has to go through a whole bunch of rigamarole with the site provider. I wouldn't bother with that and recommend that you don't either. (And God help me if "They" are reading this.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Front Row, Center - The Kitchen!

Last night we joined Pat and Bob at their house (one of the many hi-rise condos overlooking the Redondo Beach Pier) and, after a drink, we sauntered over to Lou-E-Luey's (160 Redondo Boardwalk 310-937-7044 - previously reviewed) for dinner.

We hadn't made reservations (and am not sure it's possible to do so) thus it was delightful (for us, not the owners) to see the place was damned near empty. Usually, it's a question of being shoe-horned into a space...

We got our usual table -- a long, padded bench running along the wall, then a narrow table and then a pair of bar-stool height chairs on the opposite side of the table. The chairs are tall because to sit on the bench, you have to go up a pair of steps, each about 6 in. high.

Pat and Bob were no less scintillating than on previous occasions, but elevated as I sat, empty as the resto was, I had an excellent view of the kitchen. And I was fascinated!

First, the space is only about 8 to 10 ft. long. The aisle is maybe 32 in. wide. In this tiny space are: right hand side - stove with a grill, deep fat fryer and another stove with four burners and an oven. On the left counter is the mise (sauces, garnishes, last minute ingredients) and, off in a cubbyhole is the garde manger or cold ingredients that are served cold.

The chef wore a beat-up looking white coat; the line cook a black t-shirt and apron and non-descript pants. (Didn't want you to think that they were cooking half naked, which might have been interesting but highly unhygenic.) Both wore baseball caps. A woman (in no discernible uniform unless a bright pink t-shirt and stretch pants is it) worked the garde manger. I didn't see much of her. She stayed in her cubbyhole lair, dealing out cole slaw, salads, cold dishes.

How they cook -- the line guy had a shelf over his stove, stacked high with 8 in. skillets or "omelet pans" and he used one per order whether it was a t-bone steak (that's night's special) or a seafood quesadilla. He kept plates and completed orders in the oven and didn't use a hot pad so will assume the oven wasn't all that hot OR that these items weren't in there long enough to get too hot to hand. This method insures that a table gets its food more or less at one time.

They both cooked over flames that were easily 6 in. high; we're talking intense, fast heat and critical timing. Both cooks seemed unconcerned as flames flared up around them.

The chef wasn't as visible (due to the line cook's bustling back and forth from stove to mise, but one of his jobs seemed to be heating up the night's vegetables (asparagus, green beans, carrots) in his little omelet pan. At first I thought they were cooking up fancy-lettuce salads! And feverishly scanned the menu to see if "sauteed salad" was an item. (It isn't.)

The chefs worked together amiably enough; during lulls in customers, each cleaned up his station, got more omelet pans or whatever else was needed. Then more customers would come in and back at it they went.

There are a lot of restaurants that make a point of having a visible kitchen (Roy's, Rancho Mirage, quickly comes to mind as well as several NY/Las Vegas celebrity chefs) but it you want to see Real Restaurant Work, I'd recommend Lou-E-Luey's. This is down and dirty (not meant literally!) use of an extremely small space with grace and efficiency.

Better still, both chefs were well-fed-looking men which always heartens me, the customer. They're eating it, they like it well enough to eat a lot of it -- bring ME some!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Summer Is Here!

Summer finally arrived here in the South Bay on Friday, September 24, 2010. Summer didn't peek out during late April, or May, or June (traditionally gray anyhow; so no big loss) or July nor even August. But this weekend we're going to have summer! Off to relish it! FINALLY!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chef Ree-shard...

Richie has long been interested in cooking (probably because he's a big fan of eating.) It is a luxury for me when he'll say at breakfast,"I'm going to make such-and-such for dinner tonight."

Years ago, I bought him his own apron, a very snappy affair in black with white pinstripes and the words "Z Squire" across the top of the bib. The "Squire" is a joke -- shortly after we bought this house (our first and quite probably our last) I found him standing out on the balcony, arms crossed in a lordly way, surveying our back yard (which is all of 25 ft. by 25 ft.) I said, "You look like the squire, studying his lands..." and he grinned back, "I am."

Here's what the Squire made for dinner last night:

(This serves four; cut measurements in half for two)
2 cups balsamic vinegar
3 T olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
4 thick, center-cut pork chops
1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges
Pepper to taste
2 ripe, but firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 T honey

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Boil the balsamic vinegar until it's syrupy and set it aside.
Brown the garlic in a pan you can put in the oven and add the pork chops, taking out the garlic and setting aside.

Tuck the onion wedges in with the pork after you've flipped them to cook the other side. Wait awhile and add the pear wedges. Stir the red wine vinegar and honey together; toss the garlic back in and roast it all for about 30 minutes. Go in and move things around a little at the 15 minute mark. Add the balsamic vinegar decoratively across each chop and serve.

He served this with white rice and Pierre Franey's HARICOTS VERTS ET OIGNONS VINAIGRETTE
1/2 lb. green beans
1 T finely-chopped parsley
2 teas. red wine vinegar
1 teas. Dijon mustard
3 T olive oil
Thin red onion rings to garnish

Cook the green beans, mix up the sauce and pour it over the beans, tossing to coat and garnish with the onion rings.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getting Back to Our Roots

All across the country (except for Southern California*) while people tanned their skins and the sun highlighted their hair ... deep underground, far from the sun, root vegetables were growing. From slender bulbs to bursting skins, the carrots, parsnips, turnips and potatoes of all kinds were growing while heedless, above them, we cavorted in the sun. (Damn that's poetic!)

It's Fall! Here's a recipe from an ad for McCormick spices...

1 teas. "roasted" ground ginger (check your supermarket spice shelf)
1 teas. thyme
1/4 teas. cumin
Black pepper to taste
8 cups assorted vegetables -- carrots, red onion, butternut squash, parsnips, red potatoes...
2 T olive oil
2 T orange juice

Mix the olive oil and orange juice together, toss the vegetables in it and sprinkle them with the spices. Roast at 450 degrees or untl the vegetables are tender and golden brown.

From the October issue of Bon Appetit

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup chopped onion (and I'd use a red onion)
A 2 1/2 lb. red cabbage, quartered and then cut into 1/2 in. strips
1/2 teas. caraway seeds
White pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 T red wine vinegar

Heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic untl they begin to brown. Add the cabbage, caraway seeds and white pepper to taste. Toss until the cabbage is wilted and then add the broth.

Turn the heat down, put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the vinegar and keep cooking until the cabbage is tender.

* From California on down through Baja, Mexico, an off-shore "lull" prevented us from getting any sun. Day after day -- starting in April! -- it was overcast/foggy/marine layer - whatever you want to call it. "Unpleasant" would be my word.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Canny New Yawkuh

"Eating My Words" by Mimi Sheraton William Morrow 240 pages $23.95

For eight years, Sheraton was the restaurant critic for the august New York Times. She's written 12 books, numerous articles for Vanity Fair and other magazines.

She has an engaging styleand I liked her book, despite a certain snobbery that prevailed more than it might have with another writer. Apparently, working for the NY Times conveys such prestige that you can be rather rude to lesser mortals.

What I admire about Sheraton is the hustler in her. She conned so many publications into sending her on expensive trips -- one assignment was to check out the food served in Business class by flying around the world (!) on as many different airlines (11) as she could!

Another time, she was helicoptered out to a pair of drilling rigs far out in the Gulf of Mexico to see if oil well crews are fed as well as is rumored. (They are -- and then some.)

She ate in school cafeterias in an attempt to change institutional cooking; she studied the problems hospital kitchens have feeding staff and patients (so may different diets; keeping the food warm until it gets to the patient.)

On a lighter note, she also traveled the country checking out the food served in baseball parks!

That's the kind of inventivness that impresses me. I closed the book and mused, "I wonder how I can get me some gigs like this..."

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Very Stubborn Guy

"Walking Papers; The Accident that Changed My Life, and the Business that Got Me Back on My Feet" by Franceso Clark Hyperion 220 pages $23.99

Now 31, Clark, age 24, dove into the shallow end of a swimming pool and was instantly paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors told him that he would never breathe on his own again nor get out of his hospital bed. Determined to prove them wrong, Clark drove himself mercilessly to regain at least some of what he'd lost.

He hated being suctioned, so he tried singing (for hours at a time) instead. That worked. He pursued rehab exercises like a demon, inspired by his own want and by the example of his new hero, the late Christopher Reeve.

His biggest problem from the very beginning was the negative attitude of his doctors, nurses and therapists. "Forget about getting better! Just get on with your life" he was told. He found this unacceptable.

Clark's Botanicals came about because of the condition of his skin. It was cracked, dry, and peeling due to his inability to sweat out toxins. He and his doctor father tried all kinds of herbal combinations until they finally found a set that worked successfully.

He went into the business -- making up the vials, marketing, distribution -- and proved successful.

There is a touch too much of "Aw shucks, I'm no hero - not a giant like Christopher Reeve" for my taste, but what he managed to do regarding recovery was awesome enough to make me overlook most of it. Stubborness aka "patience" is a great virtue...

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Rock Shrip Chimichangas F.H. Riley's, 400 New York Avenue, Huntington, NY 631-271-7600

I had the rock shrimp chimichangas (shown above) which were $9 and a side of Caesar salad ($6.50) Both were very good! This is a newish place in Huntington and well worth a visit. Good service, too. Google their menu; it's worth a spin through.

DiRaimo Pizzeria, 76 Wall Street, Huntington, 631-673-5755 This is our go-to pizza stop and has been for years. It's also the yardstick for West coast pizzas out here. DiRaimo's does something I haven't seen out here and that is "garlic knots." These are strips of leftover pizza dough, tied in a "knot," rolled gently in olive oil, studded with chopped garlic and baked. Yowzzer! Bring 'em on!

Deninos Pizzeria and Tavern, 524 Port Richmond Avenue, Staten Island 718-442-9401 Richie, his brother and I were in Staten Island, visiting their cousin. John suggested we walk the two or three blocks over to Deninos and so we did. It didn't seem like a good idea once we were inside. The bartender was looking rather sullen (perhaps because he had only two customers -- at opposing ends of the bar) and the sole waitress seemed to be aout 17 years old and unsure of herself. We were the only lunch customers and she dithered about what table she should put us.

But: when we finally got a table, ordered and the food had come - great idea! I had a shrimp po'boy composed of: French-fried shrimp set on melted mozzarella cheese which lay on top of a thin smear of tomato sauce, all on a crusty Italian long roll. It was delicious and it was $7!

Bistro Cassis, Huntington (previously reviewed) now serves escargot in the traditional six snail dish, but each snail now wears a jaunty top hat of toasted bread -- a tiny little circle of it. The Caesar salad came with a "tower" spilling out the salad. Evidently, a thin slice of rye bread is wetted, wrapped around a PVC pipe about 4 in. long and 3 in. wide and toasted. The pipe is removed and this then becomes the tower for the salad. It was showy, sure; but it didn't bring anything new to the dish. I like the olive-oil sauteed croutons at Rin Roof Bistro a lot better...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Feeding the Thousands

Gosman's, Montauk, NY
Crab-stuffed shrimp
For years and years, Gosman's has been a major tourist attraction. It was founded in 1943 by Robert and Mary Gosman, fish packers and agents for the Fulton Fish Market. It started as a clam bar and now has for sale food (several restaurants,) clothing and tourist services. It has several restaurants, all facing the water (and Montauk has the Atlantic Ocean, the Sound and a lake.)
We ate at Gosman's Dock, the main restaurant which sprawls out before you -- a sea of white table linen and sturdy wooden captain's chairs. Nearly every window has a water view of some kind or the other.
A basket of walnut-raisin bread, sandwich white bread and paper-wrapped assorted crackers came out first.
They had a 1 1/2 lb. lobster for $27.95 which came with cole slaw and French fries. The lobster meat was ... mushy/watery. So much so that I asked my sister-in-law what was wrong with it? (One of her sons is a lobsterman and she knows lobsters.) She said that the lobster may have been molting -- "Perfectly safe to eat!" she reassured me. Yes, well ... lobster-flavored sludge was what it was. The cole slaw was acceptable, but the fries were fat, undercooked and cold. The melted butter with lemon garnish may not have been "real" butter, but more likely those little square containers you get with waffles.
Service was sloppy - my wadded up lobster bib was still in the middle of the table as coffee and desserts were being served. The waiter spilled a glass of white wine all over Richie's shirt. He was truly sorry and Richie was properly nice about it, but ... thank God it wasn't a red wine.
The most damning comment I can make is: high school cafeteria food for $$$$ prices.

Friday, September 17, 2010

An Embarrassment of Richs

BOLO: small dessert thief
Spuntino, 687 Old Country Road, Dix Hills, NY 11746 631-547-9300

My brother-in-law and his wife have instituted "pasta night" most Tuesday nights with their son, his wife and their five year old daughter. We were invited to partake of this family ritual while we were there.

It's a nice, roomy, new restaurant in a shopping mall so there's plenty of parking. "Oh, dear" I hear you mutter about the shopping mall part. I know -- mall restaurants are often national chains and not, er, very spontaenous with the menu.

Spuntino's menu has:

12 appetizers

5 soups

6 salads

12 heros

5 baked pasta dishes

27 fresh pasta dishes

14 side orders

11 specialty pizzas

11 brick oven pizzas

7 calzones and rolls

4 panini imbottiti (your guess is as good as mine...)

and 2 wraps (chicken Caesar and chicken fresca)

On Tuesday nights, certain pasta dishes with salad and a cannoli for dessert are $11. Portions are generous but more importantly, the food is good. I enjoyed a crisp Caesar salad ($6.50) and a side order of garlic and oil pasta ($4.75) but I didn't get a cannoli -- little Amelia snagged it while I was in the ladies room. Hey, no complaints! I was as full as an egg.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Accomodations on Long Island

There is a dearth of hotels/motels on Long Island. Out here in Southern California there seems to be one around every corner. Not so there. There are nice hotels on the Island -- but they're all 25 to 50 miles from where we want to be (Huntington.) Because we went to Montauk for a night, we stayed in two different ones.

Hotel Huntington (not its real name) is Indian run and given their laisse faire attitude about Brahma cattle wandering city streets, we shouldn't have been surprised to find: only one hangar in the closet; that the plate in the shower that indicates hot and cold was dangling sidewise. That they ran out of bagels, cereal every morning by 6:30 a.m. It was a smoking room and the desk had to bring up an ashtray. The coffee pot plugged into a dead socket; we had to move it into the bathroom. The right hand bedside reading light didn't work.

The shower-spa bath is about 5 ft. from the bed! (The toilet and wash basin are in a separate room.) We had to put a hand towel on the bottom of the shower every morning or we would have gone sailing out onto the bed that we'd just gotten up from.

Hotel Montauk (not its real name) is pretty much bare bones. Missing in action were: a hair dryer, Kleenex supply, a phone or any means of contacting the office several hundred yards away -- God help the person who falls and can't get up -- a coffee maker. There is no guest use computer -- "Oh, just turn your computer on! Every room has fi-os" which would have been dandy if I'd had my computer with me. There are no king-sized beds; only doubles. No smoking in the room, but there was a front porch with chairs right outside the door.

Speaking of smoking... I called "our favorite" hotel and was told, "Oh, there's no smoking at all on the property!" Stunned, I said, "Not even in the parking lot? On the beach?"

"Oh, no, (smugly) we signed on with the New York state Clean Air Act (and you may be very sure money was involved) and now our entire property is smoke free!"

At that exact second, my cell phone made a rude noise and disconnected. How did it know? Damn that thing is understanding!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

35 A & B -- Lookin' Good!

Coming home we were in what the airlines call "The Main Cabin" and what we refer to as "Steerage." We were on a 767 and the seating is XX XXX XX. Happily 35 A & B is the pair of two seat spaces on the left.

We'd stopped at a deli and bought sandwiches and chips; we bought drinks on the plane. Given all the ways the airlines are trying to make a buck off of the passengers, a drink is still a bargain. A cocktail (Bloody Mary or Gin & Tonic, say) is $7 each and a restaurant generally charges around $8 to $10.

Richie knew one of the flight attendants and he and the guy had a chat. Just before we landed, he came to our seats, handed Richie a silver trash bag (standard on MAA) and said, "Next time you have prime rib, try this." It was a bottle of Wente Vineyards Shorthorn Canyon Syrah. This hasn't happened to us in more than 20 years! Back then, if Richie knew a crew member, that person would almost always give us a bottle of wine or champagne to take hom.

But I'm thinking we all better enjoy such meager delights while we can. Drudge Report had an article on "Sky Rider saddle seats" which are said to be coming to certain European airlines.

I tried to pull up the image for you, but couldn't. Go to Google Images and type in Sky Rider saddle seats. You will see a row of saddles on posts meant for Main Cabin passengers! The promoter said that cowboys used to be in their saddles for up to eight hours at a time and that it didn't bother them. I hate to tell this guy, but cowboys haven't ridden horses in years! It's ATVs or helicopters now.

Now you see why 35 A & B were not all that bad...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Next Husband Is Going to Be a Chair

Specifially, one of the seats in First Class on a Major American Airline (MAA.) Due to the fact that we were flying on the middle day of a three-day weekend, we got to ride up front.

The chairs are wide, deep and extremely cushy ... but what won my heart was the power settings on the chair arm:

1. Massage - deep rollers up and down your upper back
2. Bed - it flattens out to become one - complete with comforter and a big pillow
3. Take-off/landing position -- puts you where you're supposed to be for these events
4. Dining - straight back, feet on the floor (but it doesn't swing your tray out for you.)

Plus! Five more settings for the leg rest, the lumbar region (blows up and deflates to your specific choice) and Recline - various degrees of that.

Alas, the food billed as "Brunch" wasn't all that appealing - especially considering what Civilians have to pay to ride up front.

Blueberry pancakes with fresh berries and maple syrup. This was billed as "an American classic." Where in America might this be, one wonders...

The Santa Fe Breakfast Panini - a flatbread sandwich comprised of: an herbed omelette with Monterey Jack cheese, chorizo-flavoring, sauteed red onions and mushrooms garnished with roast tomato and corn salsa. We both had this and it was good.

Oatmeal - Steel-cut oatmeal garnished with fresh berries and brown sugar.

Breakfast breads -- the scone was a brick of crumbly, sweet bread. Bagels.

Take my word for it -- the chair was better!

Monday, September 13, 2010

New York Oddities

It's entirely possible that few of us have ever seen one of the above in real life. It's a pull-down fire alarm and it's on a corner on Staten Island, NY.

Huntington Township rules do not allow you to fill your own gas tank. Instead, an attendant sits on a little stool between the pumps, waiting for you to drive up.

On the way to JFK, a breathless radio annoucer said that New York State has abolished lever voting! Yes! In this year of our Lord 2010, they now have paper ballots!

An undercover police car, lights flashing and siren roaring flew by behind us. In addition to the wail of the siren, a new affect had been added -- it sounded like machine gun bullets being fired. WAHHH rat-a-tat-a-tat.

In Montauk, we were having a before-dinner drink at Fishbar, 467 E. Lake Drive, which faces out across the water toward the other side of the land. We noticed an enormous yacht at anchor and asked the bartender, "Who owns that one?" (nod.) The bartender told us that it belongs to the CEO of Enterprise rent-a-cars. He served on the USS Enterprise during World War 2 and is such a patriot that he named his car company "Enterprise" and his yacht bears the name of the squadron in which he served.

We should have stayed for dinner -- their motto, printed on the bottom of the drink check, is: Drink like a fish! How could you go wrong in a place like that?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Montauk, NY

See what a big mouth gets you?

Saturday, September 11, 2010


In marking this day, President Obama has stated, "We are not at war with Islam (Ed. note: 2nd largest religious population in the world) but with extremists." I would point out to the President that these were not Methodist extremists nor Catholic (who had a good run during the Inquisition.) They were Islamic extremists. Never forget....

Friday, September 10, 2010

We're Baaack!

Had a great time and beautiful weather. More tomorrow - arms are tired after a 5 1/2 hour flight home.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On The Road

Gone to Long Island, back Friday.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Reunion

Shrimp Cocktail (Richie didn't shoot fast enough)

Cheese Souffle and BLT Wedge Salads
This was served to fellow alumni of the Peppertree Apartments last night. Dessert was Trader Joe's Lemon Bars and vanilla ice cream. Of course we had a champagne toast!

Friday, September 3, 2010


AAA has a list of Web sites designed for the aging driver. If you're a local, you'll be relieved to learn that Richie and I both passed handily. Others are: -- how well is your car configured to you? - screens the eight things that cause the most crash risks -- driver training -- designed to provide family members of older drivers with needed information. Translation: prying the car keys from arthritic, old fingers.

American Airlines has debuted what it is calling an "online press kit" for their new Web site This is a site designed to get black travelers to off-beat destinations used to research their personal history and/or antecedents. Or so I understood it.

"Relish" the Wednesday food magazine supplement in the local paper mentioned as a source of free e-vites or online invitations. Said to be created by artists who "volunteer" their works gratis. I checked it and a random designed I picked "suggested" a $10 donation to the artist...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Attention Junkie

I'm referring to Prinz Frederick Von Anhalt, married to Zsa Zsa Gabor. This is Gabor's longest-running marriage, quite possibly so because she has been said to be in a comatose state since 2002. It could be argued that if you don't know you're married, are you? I willl leave that to abler scholars than myself.

Prinz (considered a name, not a title in Germany from whence he sprang) told us that Zsa Zsa broke her hip in a fall that occurred while she was watching "Jeopardy" and got up to answer the phone. This seems unlikely - comatose state + "Jeopardy" ? "to answer the phone" - surely there are Persons around the house that do that sort of thing?

He has issued breathless bulletins from her bedside - "She's getting better! She asked for the Last Rites! She's home! She was taken "by private ambulance" back to the hospital!" This made me wonder if the poor old thing was still alive. Can you use a "private ambulance" to transport a corpse to a hospital so that it can be pronounced there?

And now, this morning, comes the latest. Prinze wants to have Zsa Zsa's body plastinated post death. Plastination is a process by which a body is deprived of water and fats in the tissues which are replaced with polymers. All or parts of the deceased go through these four steps: fixation, dehydration, forced impregnation in a vacuum and, finally, hardening. (And that's enough for us all to know.)

Prinz stated that his wife has always wanted her beauty immortalized. (Dude, she's 93!) Perhaps a flattering oil portrait might be a better idea? For sure, it would take less room.

But Prinz lives to be in the limelight. Previous gags (as I think of them) include announcing on February 16, 2010, his run for Governor of California (I seem to remember he wanted to legalize drugs and prostitution, old fun-lover that he is) to the withdrawal announcement on August 2nd due to his wife's ill health.

As it happens, I have a source in the household who told me that in regularly scheduled meetings, Prinz and his public relations counsel meet to swill champagne, smoke dope and invent stories.

Some that were discarded: Prinz was in the car with Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed when he got an urgent phone call, left the car and the inebriated chauffeur impatiently drove off without him.

Former President Bill Clinton called him on the eve of daughter Chelsea's wedding to beg him to walk her down the aisle, saying, "Ah'm jes afraid Ah'll bawl mah fool head off..."

He regularly accompanies Russia's Putin on his dubious adventures (shooting things) and advised Putin to lose the shirt and go bare-chested "for your image."

So much to do, so little time to waste .. but never too much trouble if it gets Prinz in the media...