Sushi Friday

hachi

Hachi 320 Main Street Middletown, CT 06457 860-346-0727

Middletown has added yet another Japanese restaurant to its main drag. This one also offers a modest number of Thai options, though not enough to qualify as “Asian fusion.”

What I like:  It’s convenient to the library, shopping, city hall, and so forth. The ambience is relaxing. The music (from Sirius XM?) came from the likes of Cantoma and Christopher Goze, along with a couple of women singing in French. Is there a TV? Not to notice. Even when it’s crowded there’s no sense of rush or anxiety. It serves the most intense miso soup I’ve ever tasted. The sashimi has that crunchy-fresh feel and taste. Besides the usual salmon, tuna, and escolar, the sashimi set includes yellowtail, snapper, mackerel, with dustings of scallion/wasabi sauce and, tobiko. The presentation does a star turn – a bamboo screen supports the fish with a frame of green shoots. I had enough wasabi to keep my sinuses clear for a month — yes, that’s a good thing. On the non-Japanese side, the pad Thai has become a favorite. It has a good balance of hot and sweet and spicy with noodles balancing the bean sprouts, egg, and tofu.

What I don’t like: There is no convenient free parking. The service can be over solicitous – two people asking over and over if things are OK cuts into the relaxation. I don’t like waitresses who call me “honey” and “dear.” Huge pieces of ginger can overpower the fish.

Grade: A-

NYC, 4 (end of Day 2)

gentil1

The evening featured a critique of Long Day’s Journey into Night, which the family had attended. Lucey thought the younger son, the Eugene O’Neill character, lacked the theatrical heft required for the part but agreed that Jessica Lange was brilliant.

The conversation occurred at Gentilly Kitchen and Bar, a New Orleans themed place about five blocks from the hotel. Our timing was perfect as it began to sprinkle on the walk over and was pouring not long after we settled in.

The drinks and appetizers could have been enough – there were sazeracs, fizzes, and a variation on a hurricane. Some of us shared a bottle (or two) of Prosecco. Our young waitress appeared intimidated by waiting on twelve people but kept things moving: crawfish and corn filled beignets (light on the crawfish and corn, heavy on the beignet), excellent fried green tomatoes with soft cheese and mesclun, gumbo (did not try because of the andouille), frog leg (did not try), beet salad, (ok). Things got confused as apps morphed into entrées, which included indifferent mac and cheese, more gumbo, low country boil (not strictly a NoLa dish that I didn’t try because of the clams). Everyone received their selections except me. I ordered salmon cooked rare. It arrived on the verge of overdone but still flavorful, accompanied by delightful pea shoots and fresh peas. along with pimiento grits. The latter were just as bland as the plain version.

The evening concluded with more fabulous and insightful conversation on the patio at the hotel.

NYC, 3

Patience or Fortitude?
Patience or Fortitude?

A great day Saturday except that I had to start with a Dunkin’ Donuts bagel because all the real delis were closed.

Lucey and co. were breakfasting on the patio as I headed out. I had decided to reconnoiter the Schomburg library, even though most of the good stuff there was closed, too. The NYC metro is just as dirty and smelly as ever. Plus I had to go local because the 1 train doesn’t make certain stops on weekends. Hurricane Sandy repairs continue.

A very personable man at the library explained the current state of repairs and assured me that a full opening would come in the fall. Maybe the interior is mostly done, but the outside resembles a demolition zone.

I was able to look at an old printed copy of the card catalog where I spotted all of Ann Petry’s works except Legends of the Saints. The reserve room was so cold I had to retrieve my sweater from the coat check. The man behind the counter did not look happy, but the staff was bundled up, too. One of the nice librarians asked for some heat. I stayed until my toes began to turn blue. Took a quick stroll through the bookstore, which has a terrific selection of books, greeting cards, T-shirts, posters, etc.. There is one display about Arturo Schomburg and the origins of the collection, which I had not realized dated back to the nineteenth century. I could take the cold no more. Note to self: on the next visit bring gloves, wool socks, and thermal underwear.

A young hip-hop poet recited and asked for money to stay out of jail on the downtown train.

I had boarded at Houston Street but decided to alight two stops north. Fourteenth Street is deep in the heart of the Village and was mostly crammed with tourists. I wandered a bit and then stopped at Barraca for lunch. It promoted tapas on the sign outside, but the offerings were largely meat in various forms. I was able to find an excellent salad with kale, pumpkin seeds, a tiny dollop of quince paste, orange slices and machengo, to which I added shrimp.

Aside from a large Spanish family seated next to me, the place seemed filled with over-dressed young women. Bachelorette parties?

The mile walk back to the hotel took me past a street festival with a live jazz/funk band and endless merchants selling jewelry, paintings and sculptures, scarves and wraps, and more jewelry. Based on the presence of dogs, small children, and lack of foreign languages, I gauged that I was in SoHo land for real.

Strolled around the hotel’s scaffolding-ridden neighborhood and then bought an enormous scone to have with my tea.

NYC, Day 2

hall

New York always serves up endless surprises. One was the venue for the party. 222 Houston Street now calls itself Houston Hall. For those of you non-New Yorkers, it’s pronounced “HOW-ston” as the Scots arrived and settled in long before Sam’s people invaded Texas. It touts beer from Greenpoint Beer Works in Brooklyn.  Mason jars are the order of the day for beverages except for wine, martinis, and shots.

Its claim to fame, though, predates virtually everyone alive. “Back in the day” it served as a parking garage for the cars belonging to J. Edgar’s henchmen. When Lucey found out we’d be there, she contemplated bringing her father’s FBI file. I thought about doing the same, but the government has never acknowledged that any such papers exist.

The only remaining signs of FBI garage are the cavernous space and an uneven cement floor, which proved challenging for everyone including the servers. It was especially not kind to Lucey’s sister who requires a scooter to navigate. The mise en scene (accent omitted) was long plank tables with attached benches. Big-screen TVs blasted sports, probably without sound, but the place was so loud I couldn’t tell.

I met a number of Lucey’s friends from the worlds of writing and food culture and including two glorious young protégés. It felt good to reconnect with women from Vassar.

The noise made conversation a serious challenge. Nevertheless there was a joyous vibe. We drank Prosecco and nibbled on a variety of hors d’oeuvres: egg rolls (didn’t eat); chips and guac, excellent; an interesting avocado toast; grilled cheese sandwiches in various forms (almost avoided the bacon and enjoyed the one with apple slices despite the Gorgonzola); some pastrami something (didn’t eat); a huge soft pretzel with various dipping sauces including one with bacon, which I discovered to late.

All in all, a stellar evening.

 

Road Trip

birth

Blog went on brief hiatus because of a weekend in New York to celebrate my friend Lucey’s birthday. And a glorious weekend it was.

It started with an uneventful drive to O.S. where I found parking even though train passengers are relegated to the periphery of the lot. The center is designated for business patrons and was empty. Ashland provided a good Americano without attitude from the rude server I encountered on an earlier visit.

The train arrived on time with no seats in the quiet car. Most of the people in my car locked onto their screens, except for a woman behind me engaged in a brutally loud conversation about recycling/pollution. She was headed to Burlington and Waterbury, Vermont, after NYC. I wondered about the pollution effect of all that travel. Couldn’t she Skype or Facetime?

The only delays were a wait in the blazing sun for a cab and horrible downtown traffic to SoHo. The courteous driver dropped me right around the corner from the hotel. I felt sorry that he had to navigate through all that mess for the next fare.

It was 3:30, and I hadn’t eaten lunch, so after ditching my stuff I went to the hotel restaurant for a salad. A text to Lucey revealed that she and her family and friends were on the patio, so I joined them. We laughed and ate and drank, briefly.

Despite warnings about the awful nature of the “fitness” room, I decided to work out there instead of breathing the fumes of a thousand trucks, buses, and cars outside.

The space lived down to its preview. For a hotel that charges $798-898/night (not what we paid), its exercise facilities are pathetic. It’s the puniest, least well appointed workout space on three continents. I used the treadmill. It had no accurate distance measure and disconnected itself when I bumped a little button. The elliptical, bikes, etc. looked just as shabby. After an interminable workout, it was time to prepare for Lucey’s birthday.

To be continued…

A Hero

corvo
Biagio “Max” Corvo

The Max Corvo I knew was a feisty, intelligent man-of-all trades — journalist, politician, civic leader. He lived a long and successful life.

His son Bill gave a presentation Thursday night that cast Max in a different, very heroic light. Max arrived in the United States from Sicily at the age of nine. He enlisted in the military before the United States entered World War II and devised a plan to retake Italy from the Nazis and Fascists. By the end of the war, he had installed a vast network of Americans and Italians from the mountains near the Swiss border to Palermo.

Bill said that his father was proud of the honors he received from the United States and Italy. He most revered the praise of his former teacher, Ida Keigwin. After the war, Miss Keigwin wrote to him saying he did a great job — now go out and do more. And he did.

More Redux

redux

  • My efforts to unsubscribe from commercial websites succeeded, except Rent the Runway. They know clothes, not tech.
  •  Since the reviews of Kuyi Sushi and Edo Ichi, I’ve encountered one more great sushi place. Review should follow next week.
  • The amount of time I spent making speeches in the past year just hit me. No wonder I haven’t written a word except here and in my journal.
  • The most popular entry on my FB page remains the photo of Gene Sullivan, one of the veterans in our writing group ,wearing his festive Marine Corps Christmas sweatshirt with snowflakes, reindeer, and bayonets.
  • The emotional miasma of lDecember/January continues. But I drag myself along.
  • I’m still mourning Susan Wasch and Willard McRae. Their legacies will endure, though.
  • Also still reading the Dave Robicheaux novels, but the formula is getting tiresome.
  • Moat of the stores I visit still don’t allow card “dipping.” Isn’t there a law?
  • Now that I’m aware, QR codes are everywhere.

 

Redux

redux

Redux was supposed to go up every six months. It’s been almost a year. Here’s the next episode.

  • Don’t bother with Go Set a Watchman. Or if you do, clear your palate with a re-read of To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • The email backlog was 780 something two days ago. It’s now down to less than 500 (on one account).
  • Tech hell (Bluehost, Apple, SiteLock) has occupied hours of my time and assaulted my work product. Can I reclaim it? Last post was Tech Hell 3.0.
  • MoMA’s exhibit of “One-Way Ticket” continues to leave images on my soul.
  • Sad that my schedule has precluded further reading of Alexander McCall Smith.

What I’m Reading Now

passingAnother in the series that I finished six weeks ago and another on Bowie’s Top 100. It’s the first where I didn’t say, “Oh, I get why he included it.”  Passing came on the scene in 1929. Commentary and reviews describe it as classic. In 2016, I call it dated and predictable. While Nella Larsen’s fiction may have been edgy ninety years ago, the only surprise is that it found its way across the Pond sometime in the 1960s or 1970s (I’m guessing).

Briefly, Irene Redfield tells the story of her friend Clare Kendry. They grew up together, and their worlds collide as Irene is living a comfortable, wifely existence grounded in the aspiring black middle class. A not believable chance encounter launches Clare back into Irene’s life. Actually Irene is launched back into Clare’s orbit. Disaster, of course, ensues.

Once I’d finished I decided Bowie liked Passing because Clare Kendry is not was she seems, and neither was he.

I won’t read  more of Larsen’s works. Perhaps the more compelling story is the author’s own. She was the American daughter of a Danish mother and West Indian father. The white folks rejected her; her writing career dissolved; she died alone. Now that’s a story.

Do You QR?               

QR mystery
QR mystery

They were one of those ubiquitous things not so long ago, but I hadn’t thought about them in a few years. Until yesterday. Now I’ve been hit with three of them in the past twenty-four hours.

Despite their proliferation, I never used them – and never missed them when they dropped out of sight. Now I’m wondering, do I need this retro/new technology?

It started with The Subway Ride. “Battlefield” required the use of a QR code. I didn’t have the app and was too busy to locate and download it. Plus, my initial research brought up only apps for Android phones.

The veterans’ group watched the other videos on the website, but we couldn’t watch “Battlefield.” No one in the group had QR or had recalled using it. Christy said she’d ditched it after the scavenger hunt that accompanied the One Book program on Ready Player One ended in 2013.

That was that, I thought. Then I went  Friday to the 2016 Senior Studio Exhibition at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. My friend Dodie D’Oench is graduating had work in the exhibit. I loved the ethereal but grounded feel of “Dancing” and the even more elven “Fire Drill.”

I wandered the exhibit and found a QR. Of course I still didn’t have the app so couldn’t reveal the art secret. And I was also so startled, I forgot to note the name of the piece.

Then in the center of the room was a white sculpture with what looked like a red-brown overlay. The title: “Sugar Cubes in QR code pattern, 6000 live ants, plexiglass box.” I laughed out loud, along with whatever in the Universe is messing with me. At least this one wouldn’t scan with a smart phone. I hope.