Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh, so far behind

For some strange reason, maybe like I was having too much fun and spending too much time in restaurants, I never finished my posts from New York City. Now that I have been home for two days and have a few minutes, I will try to wrap up the trip in less than 1000 words. I think I left off with Sunday night at the Blue Note; so let's move on to Monday. We decided to do a touristy thing today, which proved to be very interesting. We took the NBC Studio tour. We saw three of the studios, the most interesting being the one used by Saturday Night Live. The stage that is used by the musical groups is much smaller than what you see on TV, thanks to the magic of television. We also saw the "new" studio for Dr. Oz, to which I responded, "Who?: - sorry Oprah. Next was a lovely walk down 5th Avenue to Macy's, for a snack and drink in the Cellar, and some window shopping. We then took the subway to Greenwich Village for a walk around the neighborhood. It is very nice in the village, with all the tree shaded streets. Our dinner reservation was nearby at DBGB Kitchen and Bar, a Daniel Boulud eatery on Bowery St. While all the meals we had were very good, this was my favorite, primarily due to the unusual menu of house made sausages. I started with a wonderful, and nicely presented, "iceberg and blue" salad, followed by a sausage duo of the TOULOUSE; a pork, duck gizzard & garlic link served with cassoulet beans, and the TUNISIENNE; a lamb and mint merguez with harissa, and lemon braised spinach and chickpeas. Frank started with the Butter Lettuce and Chive salad, followed by his selection for the sausage duo; The BERLINER: a tender german-style wurst, winter radish choucroute, green apple, curry, and the BOUDIN BASQUE a spicy blood and pigs head sausage with scallion mashed potatoes. All were amazing.
After a short stop at the hotel, we started our traditional last evening walk around the city, this time in Time Square area, followed by an "until next time" drink at the Marriott Marquis lobby bar overlooking Broadway.
We got a late start on Tuesday, our last day in the city. We had lunch reservations at Aquivit Cafe, where Chef Marcus Samualsson works his magic. (Yes, his last name is spelled correctly). The cafe is co-located with Aquivit restaurant, but in a more casual Swedish minimalist setting. We both enjoyed the prix fixe lunch; I opted for the Herring Plate for may appetizer, the Seared Gravlax for my main course, and the Arctic Circle for dessert. Frank started with the Mixed Lettuce Salad, followed by the Swedish Meatballs, and also concluding with the Arctic Circle. Everything, including the service was superb, especially the dessert; probably the best of the trip. It was a cylinder of goat cheese parfait, filled with a passion fruit custard, and topped with raspberry sorbet.
Stick with me here - that is the last food discussion, and the trip is almost over. Our last stop of the day and of the trip was the Frick Collection, an old mansion on 5th Avenue that now houses a wonderful collection of art, by artists such as Titian, Turner, El Greco and many more. The setting and the art was very different from what we saw at MOMA, but no less wonderful.
Some final thoughts: We commented frequently during the trip, that Mayor Bloomberg must be putting some happy juice in the water supply, as we found a much more friendly city that in prior visits. We were also pleased to see that much of Broadway in Time Square had been made into a pedestrian area, with small cafe tables and chairs for a nice touch. This was repeated in front of Macy's. This was a wonderful, relaxing trip, without the rush to see all the major sites. The trip was a nice mix of culture and food, and just plain fun walking in a wonderful city. We checked off four more restaurants from our wish list, and three big time chefs; Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samualsson, and Danny Meyer. Obviously we ate well. And I kept my promise - this was only 721 words. 
That's all I'm Saying!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Saga Continues

As I was saying earlier today, we had a great meal at Union Square
Cafe yesterday. To finish the dinner I ordered apple streudel with
sour cream ice cream and Frank had the chocolate bread pudding, both
highly recommended by our server, and rightly so.
After dinner and a walk to Greenwich Village, we attended the 10:30
performance at The Blue Note jazz club. We were treated to an
ourstanding 90 minute set by the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band.
Ok, now I am only one day behind with my posts, but today will have to
wait, as we have more things to do before our last evening of the trip
is over.

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A Busy Day in the City

The weather was great yesterday and we expect a repeat performance
today with temps in the low 60s and clear skies.
We started our day yesterday with the visit to MOMA which I have
already mentioned. It is 5 floors filled with wonderful art by some of
the most famous artists, and some works the I just do not understand,
like Jackson Pollock. We followed this with a window shopping walk
down 5th Avenue, then a walk through Central Park. Since it was a
lovely fall day, the locals were out in mass enjoying their Sunday
and the fall colors.
After a long walk back to the hotel for a short rest, we caught the
subway to Union Square and our dinner at Union Square Cafe. Watch out
everyone - here comes the food... We shared an appetizer of tuna
tartars with fennel crackers, oh so good. I selected the grilled lamb
chops for my main course. (sorry Pat). The four perfectly cooked and
tender chops were served with an excellent potato gratin. Frank
ordered the duck breast which he allowed me to sample. All I can say
is that it was wonderful.

Since we are already into another busy day, hold that thought, i will
finish this post later.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

More from MOMA

The museum was great with a large collection of works by famous
artists like this Chagal, Monet, Picasso, and many more.

Museum of Modern Art

A Jasper Johns painting for Dr. T

We arrived 30 minutes early for our 10:30 PM reservation and headed to
the "standing room only" bar for a glass of wine. The restaurant and
bar were packed, but after a short 15 minute wait, the hostess seated
us at a nice corner table. In typical French fashion the tables are
close together, but in our little corner we did not feel like we were
dining with the people at the next table. Much to our enjoyment the
decor was very French as was the food. The service too was very good,
always an important factor to us.
I started with escargot, typically prepared in the shell with garlic
and butter. Frank ordered a very nice beet salad. The fresh bread
served with the meal was oudtstanding and is made in their adjacent
For our main course, I ordered the duck confit, oh so French and oh so
good. Frank ordered their bar steak and fries. The steak was perfectly
cooked, tender, and tasty, although a little overly salty. We
concluded our meal with espresso and dessert I had an individual tarte
tatin, very good. Frank had a banana tart, also very good.
I definitely recommend the restaurant, although it falls just short of
our experience at Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Las Vegas
That's all I'm Saying.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oops. - A Correction

Fred Astaire was not Singing in the Rain. It was Gene Kelly. Oh my!!

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Singing in the Rain

OK , that was Fred Astaire. Dick and Frank were only walking in the
rain, with their umbrellas raise to the skyscrapers of New York City.
Fortunately the rain has been infrequent and light today.
Our 6:25 Tampa departure on JetBlue had us at JFK Airport by 8:40. We
were in midtown by 9:30, checked into our hotel (room not available
yet), and having breakfast at Pigalle, the little French brasserie
connected to the hotel by 10:00AM. I had a very nice Croque Madame, a
grilled ham and cheese, topped with two fried eggs. Frank had fried
eggs topped with chicken livers in a cream sauce. Yummy.
After breakfast, we walked down to 42nd Street then up Broadway to
Columbus Circle for a quick window shopping visit in the Time-Warner
Center. We saw the matinee performance of West Side Story, which was
very good. Post theatre, we stopped at the Marriott Marques for a
drink or two and a cheese plate to hold us over until dinner. Tonight
we have very late dinner reservations at Balthazar, so the dinner
review will have to wait for tomorrow.
All in all, a very good first day in the Big Apple.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Travel Alert

I have been bitten by the travel bug again. Of course, for me, that bug is always lurking nearby. Since I am feeling better and to celebrate the successful first treatment, we decided to take off for New York City this coming weekend. We leave at O'Dark 30 on Saturday for a three night stay in the Big Apple. I will try to blog while I am there, but if not, I will catch up on my return. We have tickets to "West Side Story" and dinner reservations for all three nights. We will dine at Balthazar, Union Square Cafe, and DBGB, Danial Boulud's new casual restaurant in the Bowery. Balthazar is a French bistro, and we have trouble turning down dining at any "bistro". Finally, Union Square Cafe, was opened in 1985 by Chef Danny Meyer and has been on our list of restaurants to try for years. I even have a Union Square Cookbook. We will also check out the Museum of Modern Art, MOMA, which we have not visited since their extensive remodeling. It will be a weekend of fun, good food, and cool weather, with who know what else added in to the mix. Check back for travel and food updates from NYC.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Lovely Day in the Neighborhood

Today was one of those rare, near perfect fall days, with the temperature in the low to mid 60s; blue sky, and a light (OK, sometimes strong) breeze off the bay. By last Thursday, I was feeling almost back to normal, a week after my treatment. While it took longer than I expected, at least I have a better idea what to expect after the next treatment. With encouragement from Frank, I returned to the gym yesterday for some cardio and light weight work. It felt good. We then hit the Saturday Morning Market for lunch. Dinner was a wonderful fruit and arugula salad, followed by pan seared grouper with a lemon butter sauce and green beans and grape tomatoes. Today, feeling ready to venture out on a nice walk, considering the fall weather, I headed down toward the Vinoy Hotel, about a 15 block walk, listening to "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. I made my first visit to the recently opened 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House. I ordered a Shock Top on draught, not realizing that I was ordering a (heaven forbid) "domestic" beer. Well, my euro-snobbishness was minimized by this decent tasting Belgium style white beer by Michelob. For lunch, I ordered the New England Lobster Roll which was filled with a large quantity of lobster meat in a small amount of mayonnaise. The portion size, served with a side of plank fries (think steak fries), and celery root slaw, was more that adequate, although a little pricey at $14.95 (but it was fresh lobster). However, the sandwich was a little bland. I am not sure what it needed, but it lacked some zing. And it wasn't up to the Lobster roll at Legal Seafood. 400 Beach is owned by the same person who owns Parkshore Grill, just down the street. Parkshore is, in my opinion, one of the best overall dining experiences in downtown. I will return to 400 Beach sometime for dinner, to see how it compares at dinner to its sister restaurant. 
Next stop was the Museum of Fine Arts, to renew my membership and check out the latest special exhibit, "I Heard a Voice" by Leslie Dill. The exhibit was interesting, but far from a high point in my museum experiences. OK, let's be honest here, Simpson, I didn't like it all that much. Although, this is the first time I have been encouraged to use my cell phone in a museum. The special exhibit had a associated audio program available via cell phone, narrated by the artist. Just like the audio tours you pay for, you press a number and # on your cell phone when you arrive at designated works of art to hear more about the piece. 
Well, I think I have rambled on enough for one post. It was a good day; I felt good; the weather was lovely, and I spent a few hours enjoying my city
That's All I'm Saying.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back at Work

Today was another step in my recovery from the treatment last week. I returned to the office, albeit a little later than "core" hours, but not by much. My energy level gets better everyday, although I still feel fatigued at times. I actually fixed my own dinner tonight, only a big deal in that I had not felt like standing in the kitchen for more than five minutes at any time before tonight. Plus, why should I cook when Frank offered to come over and fix dinner on Saturday (seared salmon and a roquette (rocket) salad) and again on Sunday, (organic grass-fed filet mignon with a caprese salad made with tomato and burrata). If you haven't had burrata, and can find some, (try Whole Foods) do so. It is a combination of mozzarella and cream, with a mozzarella outer shell and a lovely soft mozzarella and cream center. It was so good, and a nice accompaniment with the tasty grass-fed beef. Yum.

That's All I'm Saying!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I am home !

I was finally released from Moffitt on Saturday around noon. It is really nice being home, not that Paolo and Lucia were excited by my return. More like "Ho hum, he's back, it's nap time now"

I am still a little fatigued, but feeling better all the time. It was great being in my own bed last night, although sleep was erratic. 

The treatment procedure was long, and took a lot more out of me than I expected. I was in IR (Intervention Radiology) from 8AM or so, until 1PM. Recovery went fine, although that too was long, or so it seems when you are laying in bed all day.

That is all I'm saying (for now).

Friday, October 9, 2009

Moffitt Mariott

Service is great, the food is not, and the decor is what you would
expect in a hospital, clinical and boring.

I am still in ICU, waiting on a regular room. My surgeon just stopped
by and said they would release me in the morning. Yea!

That's all for now.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Whirlwind Restaurant Weekend in St. Petersburg

     Whew, I need a rest. This has been a busy weekend for dining out. So, tonight, Sunday, I am staying home and cooking something for myself. The whirlwind started on Friday, with Frank, our friend Carol F. and me going to The King and I, a small, Thai restaurant on Central Ave. I had the crispy duck curry... very good. Saturday lunch found me at Paddy Burke's Irish Pub with my friend Glen from Orlando. I had the Irish BBQ Burger; the BBQ Sauce was made with Guinness (what else) and I washed it down with a Guinness. Saturday evening our friend Karen stopped over for a visit and dinner, which was at Primi Urban Cafe. That was my second Saturday in a row at Primi. This week I had the Wild Mushroom Ravioli in a brown butter sage sauce. Wow, it was really outstanding. And... finally... my good friend Bob, came by for lunch at Lucky Dill Deli. (Yes, Bob, it is another 15 minutes of fame for you, compliments of The Urban Flaneur). Eat, Eat, Eat!!! Now I need a break.
     Unfortunately I will get a forced break this week as I will be dining on hospital food for a few days. I will be admitted to Moffitt on Tuesday, with my treatment scheduled for Wednesday. I will be "out" for 5 to 6 hours, while they administer my first treatment for the tumors in my liver. As I mentioned in a more private email to may of my readers/friends/family, I was very fortunate to qualify for a new research trial for targeted chemotherapy. I expect to be released no later than next Saturday. There will definitely not be any food posts this week. Depending on my recovery, and my level of motivation, there may be a post from the hospital with a update on my progress.

That's all I'm Saying !