Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Scrappy Gen and Ben's Deli

My good friend Jennifer prepared this fabulous post for your reading pleasure - Enjoy!

Two visits two New York City in less than two months is a record for me. We had lunch with Suzee on October 23 and last Saturday I was back again, but I didn’t have time to see my old (as in long time, not age) friend.

Promises, Promises, playing at the Broadway Theatre, was the destination for my parents, my aunt, my sister and me. My Aunt is a big fan of Burt Bacharach, the music composer, and this was her last chance to see the musical, which closes on January 2. Sean Hayes was hysterical in the leading role and Kristin Chenoweth has a beautiful voice. The original movie, The Apartment, was a fairly serious one, but this show is fun and highly enjoyable.

We took the train to Grand Central Station from New Haven and arrived with a couple of hours during which to eat lunch. My Aunt’s friend had recommended that we try Ben’s Kosher Deli on 38th Street, a short ten or fifteen minute walk from the train station.

We were there early for lunch at 11:45 and quickly got a table. Before we had our coats off, we had been served big bowls of coleslaw and pickles, both dill and half sour. All three were crunchy and delicious.

The menu has a very large selection, but a couple of items appealed to our whole group; the famous Ben’s stuffed cabbage, the matzah ball soup, the hot pastrami on rye and the potato pancakes.

We all declared the stuffed cabbage a winner. The sauce tasted slightly sweet. The appetizer serving of one cabbage is enough for a lunch meal. Of course, we didn’t stop there and also had a half a pastrami on rye. The pastrami was tasty, but could have been better with a little less fat. My Dad had the matzah ball soup. I tasted the matzah ball and it was light and well peppered. The only item none of us loved was the potato pancake. Maybe it was New York style. We were hoping for a lighter, crisper pancake.

The service was good and quick, particularly considering it was the height of the shopping season. Would we make a return trip to Ben’s? Yes. In fact, I don’t have a choice as my husband, MJ, is not very happy that he missed out on the meal and has vowed that we will return. Perhaps to attend Boychick’s Bar Mitzvah.

Before we left New York to return to New Haven, my Mom and Aunt wanted to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. Doing this on a Saturday evening in late December is not something that I recommend, unless you are really good with crowds. It was absolutely crazy, but we did glimpse the tree.

My favorite part of our trip though was seeing these talented fellows:

The Salvation Army employees were singing and dancing their hearts out with microphones and karaoke. They gathered big crowds as they worked their magic and people dusted off their hearts and dug deep into their pockets to show their appreciation. It was a neat thing to see.

All in all, we had a great trip to New York and loved Ben’s Kosher Deli. The only thing missing from the trip was seeing Suzee.


How about Ben’s and shopping in January?


Scrappy Gen

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rick's Favorite Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of those incredibly low calorie breakfasts that is so satisfying. I think oatmeal is really my favorite "whole grain" and definitely my favorite baking ingredient. All that extra fiber along with the chewy texture and homey flavor is something of which we should take advantage, in my opinion.

Rick loves this preparation, and so do I. Unlike baked goods, I can just make enough for right now, and I have some tricks to make it just a little more decadent, without totally ruining the benefits of this tasty ingredient.

I make the oatmeal leveraging the directions on the package - a 2:1 ratio of water to grain. So 2 cups of water to 1 cup of old fashioned oats for the two of us. Then I start my tricks! I add about a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the pan, and I core and chop a ripe pear (leave the peel on). Then I turn on the stove to start the cooking process. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until the oatmeal is the consistency you like.

Split the oatmeal into 2 bowls, and sprinkle about a tablespoon of brown sugar in each bowl, and add about a 1/2 cup of milk as well. Then, crumble 2 or 3 walnut halves into each bowl as well. Don't mix it all up - that way the little bit of sugar will dance directly on your tongue! And the nuts add this crunchy dimension, and the fruit adds sweetness too.

Every time I eat it, it reminds me of a cross between oatmeal cookies and apple crisp. What a way to start the day, huh? Yum!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Murray Hill Haunt - The Wharf

I think I have found another good pub in Murray Hill! Yay! I stopped at The Wharf after doing power Christmas shopping. The best time to find a cool pub - when your feet hurt from walking all over town, and your packages are getting heavy. Trudge in the door, plop all your bags on the seat next to you at the bar, and gratefully sit down. If you are lucky, they will have Blue Point Toasted Lager on tap!
I saw on the specials board that the soup of the day was potato cheddar with bacon. Oh my. It warms the soul and dances on your tongue. It really should be on the regular menu, it's so fabulous!

I admit, in addition to the food, the other thing a cool pub requires are chairs with backs. Now these are the tables in the bar area - note there are not any backs to these chairs. The bar chairs have backs though :) I think it's important to have full disclosure.

After a cup of that incredible soup, I enjoyed the lobster macaroni and cheese. I told the bar tender - I'm a lobster snob. Is it really good? And she assured me she'd just had some last week, and she was pleasantly surprised how good it was. So was I! Yum!!!

The dish was appropriately cheesey with a decidedly cheddar slant. The pasta was cooked well - nothing mushy about it. Since the lobster consisted of claws and knuckles, I'd assume this was frozen fare, but in combination with the cheddar flavor, it really tasted fresh! There was a smattering of crunchy breadcrumbs on top - if you are into that you will be pleased. I'm not, but I still liked them.

If you find yourself in the Murray Hill area, ignore all the other pubs on Frat Row (aka 3rd Avenue in this area), and head straight to The Wharf. Good stuff there!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cirque Du Soliel - Wintuk

Last night went to see Wintuk - I got a comp ticket, and this was the last year they were going to offer it in NYC. I walked over to Madison Square Garden, and after getting lost in the Andrea Boccelli line, I now realize that MSG has 2 venues - the arena (where I saw Lady Gaga earlier this year) and the WaMu Theater (where Wintuk was held). The arena has great seats all around. The WaMu Theater was so poorly designed, I'll bet 50% of the seats had an obstructed view (the head in front of them). And the seats are very uncomfortable.

The show started on time, but surprisingly, people kept arriving and were seated during the show. It was very distracting. I'm not sure if it's true of all Cirq shows (though it was for Banana Schpeel) that there is really no story. And this show had even less dialog. In the first 45 minutes, there might have been 20 spoken words.

The show was filled with physical comedy, and I'll bet that children would really enjoy it. Unfortunately, I didn't.

It seemed unprofessional. Given that some paid more that $200 per ticket, that was surprising. In addition to seating people while the show was in progress, Cirq was not even able to maintain a playbill for this show to let you know who the performers were.

So, if you are in the mood for a child like show sans the adult jokes, or perhaps you want to expose your children to theater as a way to ease them into something where appropriate behavior is required, perhaps this is for you.

For me, I'm not sure I'd actually pay for a Cirq show given my experiences so far.