October 2004November 2004 December 2004

11/26 - Best Turkey Ever

Thanksgiving Update - The best turkey ever. We just feasted on our Heritage American Bronze bird from Heritage Foods, and it was spectactular. This is what turkey is supposed to taste like. The American Bronze breed is an old fashioned breed before they went nuts producing an infinite supply of white breast meat at the expense of flavor, texture and species viability.

We admit that this picture does not do the bird justice. In truth it LOOKS like just about any other bird, but the taste, the moistness, the texture, and the scent all outdid ANY commercial or organic bird we have tasted in years. No more woolen turkeys for Thanksgiving. Heritage birds forever.

Heritage American Bronze Turkey

Keywords: food, birds

Too Many Oysters?

11/23 - Too Many Oysters?

Is it possible to have too many oysters? Kaleberg Labs tries to find out. Read our special report.

Keywords: food, special report, oysters, kale

Rainbow Composite

11/18 - Rainbow

There was a really neat rainbow this morning. One usually doesn't get to see the whole bow, but this morning the light was just right.

Keywords: atmosphere

11/15 - Klahane Ridge

The weather has been rainy and blustery and the snow line has been creeping down. We were up at Klahane Ridge the other day and the path was easy going, but there was already a bit of snow on the ground here and there. As you can see in the picture to the right, there was perhaps an inch or so of snow total, and most of it has melted. Since yesterday's wind and rain this whole area is probably under several inches of snow, and it is not likely to melt until spring. One must take the high country when one can get it.
First Snow On Klahane Ridge

Keywords: high country, trails, klahane ridge, spring

11/05 - New York City Update

We have just returned from a visit to New York City, and we must admit that things are bustling there. The tourist trade seems to have recovered. Thanks to the weak dollar Europeans seem to be shopping again. We did some shopping ourselves. We loaded up on chili and curry powders at Aphrodisia in the Village, we bought some books at the Lenox Hill Bookstore, we found a new annular hat at Boyd's, and we got our building supplies at Home Front, a 7/24 hardware store and lumber yard not far from the Empire State Building.

First, we'll talk about the bookstore. There used to be a really nice little bookstore on Madison Avenue. Not the one owned by the IBM heiress by the Whitney, but the other one. It always had an interesting collection of literature and art books. Even when we didn't buy anything, the place always got us thinking. When it closed, we stuck with the Borders on 57th and the Barnes and Noble on Union Square.

Madison Avenue has been changing. It has always been upmarket, but it is going international. This means it is getting more and more mall like over the years as upmarket global vendors leave Fifth Avenue and move north and east. So, we've been spending more and more time over on Lexington Avenue, and the Lenox Hill Bookstore is our latest find. It's a homey little place crammed full of books, including a lot of good reading. They tend to stock fewer authors, but more titles from those that they do. The art book collection was full of interesting stuff, not just coffee table gifts. This is a sign that they know their customers. We bought a few things for the flight home and some Christmas presents.

As for HomeFront, the hardware store and lumber yard, we stayed for part of a trip at a relative's apartment, and there were a few deferred maintenance items, as they say in commercial aviation. We needed to buy a light switch, a door knob and mechanism, tapes, glues, a screwdriver and some other goodies. We have heard that there is a new Home Depot on 14th Street, but our favorite hardware store is on 29th Street off Third Avenue. They are open seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, and they stock a broad supply of electrical, mechanical and plumbing items. They also sell glass, lumber, steel plates, cleaning supplies and the like. It's a big place for Manhattan, with three floors and a basement, and the staff knows its stuff.

We had a less satisfactory experience at Magnolia Bakery. They still have the buzz, and the lines run around the corner, but the quality of the cakes has been slipping over the past year or two. Has this trend reversed? We couldn't find out. We ordered German chocolate cake, but our box contained spice cake. We wound up doing a forced march to Buttercup Bake Shop where the German chocolate cake is still excellent.

Since we are on the subject of cakes and confections, we should note that La Maison du Chocolat is in excellent form, and that our current favorite hot chocolate is Caracas.

We visited a number of our favorite restaurants including some old favorites like the Union Square Cafe, the Pearl Oyster Bar, Wallse and the Tabla Bread Bar. All were at the top of their form. The knockerle dessert at Wallse has really grown, and there is a rumor that the chef at Tabla may be producing a cookbook some time in late 2005. We can hardly wait.

On a side note, we often go over upcoming Claypool comics while having dinner with one of our Claypool friends. Comic book original artwork is oversized, so it is hard to be discreet.  One of the folks working at the Tabla Bread Bar noticed that one of us was in the business and dropped by to say hello. It turns out he was Daniel Miller whose Creased original graphic novel is soon coming out from Image comics. We haven't a clue about the book, but it shows that the comic book business isn't quite dead yet.

We liked Savoy so much on our last trip to New York that we went back twice on this trip. The big hit was the roasted cauliflower with hen of the woods mushrooms seasoned with a bit of five spice powder. We also loved the fava bean fritters. That, and everything else.

October, as it turned out, was New York State Wine Month, so we had a number of good glasses of New York State wine at our first meal. New York State wines are quite good, and a lot of them haven't bought in to the Robert Parker fruit bomb 20% alcohol thing, so you can still drink them with a meal. At our second meal, all the New York State wines were gone, even though it was still New York State Wine Month. The reason: lack of demand, and a variety of issues revolving around restaurant stocking mechanisms.

We tried two new restaurants. Spice Market, Jean Georges Vongerichten's new place in the trendy meat packing district, and Tia Pol, a little tapas bar in trendy Chelsea. Spice Market was a bust with bad service and mediocre Thai food. We were distinctly unimpressed. Tia Pol, in contrast, with its imaginative little Spanish dishes and well chosen wine list, excelled. It might be a hole in the wall, but the food was excellent, and they had a great neighborhood attitude.

The Lower East Side has been getting trendy, like so many other New York City neighborhoods, so we decided to check it out. We remember Katz's "Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army" promotion from the 1960s, but there have been a lot of changes since then. Katz's is still there, and you can now send a salami to Iraq. Walking around, we could not help but notice that the entire neighborhood, once the epitome of an overcrowded slum, has been moving upmarket.

This is happening one store front at a time.

In some neighborhoods gentrification comes in like a juggernaut. Entire blocks are rebuilt, store fronts are remodeled, traffic is rerouted, and if you didn't have a GPS you'd swear that you were somewhere else. On the Lower East Side the overall fabric seems intact, but here and there you will notice a boarded up store front or an empty shop with a building permit posted. That ratty looking place across the street is now selling designer clothing, and the designer is working at the shop. The menus in the window now feature foie gras.

It seems that the Lower East Side was always about retail, despite the "I can get it for you wholesale" bravado. It was a neighborhood of small shop keepers and pushcarts. We didn't see any pushcarts, but the small shop keepers were there in force. Still, we couldn't help thinking about a 1939 article in Fortune magazine about the New York City pushcarts. Apparently shop keepers used to fight to get the pushcarts on THEIR side of the street since they encouraged foot traffic and often meant 50% more business. Now, we gather, that shop keepers want the pushcarts elsewhere.

We'll keep checking out the Lower East Side and see what develops.

Towards the end of our trip, we checked out the new Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. The subway station and new escalators are great, but inside, it's a mall. That's right, it's just a big shopping mall. There was really not much reason to look around, since we knew what we would find, so we left. We really have nothing against malls, except that they lack serendipity. Maybe we should be thinking of it as the Suburban Embassy to New York City.

So, that was our trip to New York. We'd like to thank San Juan Airlines for making this all much more convenient with their $49 (each way) air taxi from Port Angeles to Boeing Field. At $98 a pop for the two of us it was only a little bit more expensive than the cab from Newark.

Keywords: food, restaurants, shopping, new york city, art, christmas, port angeles, wine

October 2004November 2004 December 2004