Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The many nicknames of a dog

Our dogs all have nicknames, but one in particular has more nicknames than about any dog I know. And he will answer to all of them. He's a very, very bright boy. Too bright, in fact.

So let's talk about Dodger. He was named Dodger because he was dodging cars on the parkway in Brooklyn, and also because he came from Brooklyn, that makes him a Dodger. Alright, alright, the Dodgers left Brooklyn long ago...but it still works.

So anyway...when we brought him home, his sisters already had "e" nicknames: Ber-nick-E and Moosie. So naturally we had to give Dodger an "e" name, too, so he wouldn't feel left out. Thus, Dodger Lee. Or Lee Dog. Or just plain Lee. This led to D. Lee Dog, which sounded very official. Or shortened, just D. Lee. Of course, D. Lee Dog had other implications. After all, he's a boy, and he has a dealie - a very LARGE dealie. If he were human, he'd make John Holmes blush. So then it was Dealie Dog, "the dog with a dealie." Or Dodger Wadd.

Because he is obsessive/compulsive, he licks himself quite often, and he cleans himself like a cat; so, KittyCat Dog. He's small and brown so we call him Little Brown Dog. He also goes by LBD. Or Mr. Brown. Little Man. Dodgie. And then, of course, the requisite Jewish names since his rescuer daddy is Jewish: Leestein (that's pronounced 'steen'). Leibowitz. Leeberg. As I said, he will answer to any one of these names.

Because his name ends in "er", you could pronounce it as French: we say "Do-zhay." And because we call him Lee Dog, we'd imagine that as French also, as Le Dog. Now, as you may know, the French don't pronounce "le" as "Lee", it's actually pronounced somewhere between "Lou" and "Luh"; so we can just say "Le" and he will come running. Yes, it's disturbing, I know. And we did it to him. Well, I did that one to him.

One thing he won't come running to: "Dog" or "dogs." He doesn't consider himself a dog and he won't answer to anything except his name or nicknames. If we call "Hey, dogs!" we also have to say, "Hey, Dodger!" or we'll only get two of the three.

I'm sure there will be more names in the future, and there are some I have probably forgotten to include here. But for now, these are the Dogs of our Lives.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

FABulous Dinner

Well, if there's one thing I can always count on, it's for my husband to treat me right.

Last night, I caught a train into the city to meet him for dinner and he had made a reservation at Brasserie LCB. Let me give you a little background here: LCB stands for La Côte Basque. La Côte Basque was a French restaurant headed up by Chef J.J. Rachou, and was widely renowned as one of the finest restaurants in the city, if not the world. Since coming to New York for the first time in 1987, I wanted to go there.

A little background: when I visited here in 1987, I visited with a group of seven other people, and on one of the nights of our seven-night trip, the plan was to go to a very nice restaurant. So the group was to suggest ideas and the restaurant would be chosen from among the ideas. It didn't go quite that way. I made my suggestion, but it was pretty clear that a couple key decisionmakers of the group had already decided on Tavern on-the-Green, a place which I had absolutely no desire to go to, and that was going to be that. I had other suggestions besides La Côte Basque: Le Cirque; Windows on the World; and the Rainbow Room. At any rate, enough rant; I didn't get to go to La Côte Basque. And as it turned out, the Tavern was horrible. The service was bad, the food was extremely overrated, and when we complained, the staff basically ignored us. I have never gone back, and will never.

When I moved here, I told Jess I wanted to go to La Côte Basque at some point, because it had always been my dream to do so. But it just never happened, and early in 2004, La Côte Basque closed its famed doors. I felt cheated.

Then, the other night, Jess discovered that La Côte Basque was living again in the form of Brasserie LCB, and so that is where we went for dinner. It's not as formal as the original, according to reports, but several of the dishes that made the former La Côte Basque famous are still on the menu.

Let me say this: I didn't actually think it was possible for the place to live up to my expectations, having built upon them for the past 17 years. However...

I had an appetizer of French onion soup that was, without question, the best I have ever had in my life. I felt as if I was tasting it for the first time, the way it was supposed to taste. The soup is supposed to have a base of beef broth or bouillon - most broths in this type of soup are either heavy or very salty, or are actually onion broth, which makes it far too strong. This was a very delicate beef and onion flavored broth that was perfect. It was loaded with thinly shaved onions that were neither too strong nor too sweet, which were hiding under a generous piece of baguette that had been properly dried so it was not at all mushy, it was just perfect. The melted Gruyere was mild and provided the perfect balance to the rest of the dish. Jess commented that his cream of pea soup was equally impressive. I wanted to taste it, but was a little self-conscious of doing so in a place as nice as this. So I didn't. But I will next time.

At any rate, the service was highly attentive, and a bread basket yielding baguettes, rosemary, olive oil, and olive bread, and a splendid raisin bread passed the table four times. I took the raisin bread twice and the baguette once, each one a little bite of heaven served with the clean, crisp French butter which can readily be identified on the palate. (I love butter, but domestic butter tastes greasy and heavy in comparison to French butter.)

For the entrée, I had intended to order the filet mignon, but upon Jess' urging me to order something more out-of-the-ordinary, I ordered Red Snapper encrusted in Herbs de Provence. Jess, on the other hand, ordered the Steak Frites. Hypocrite! It was okay for him to order steak, but I had to order something different. Oh, well. I hoped the fish wouldn't be completely disappointing.

Understand that I am not a big fish person. It's very difficult to cook fish my liking. It's either too dry or too fishy or too rare. Snapper is almost always too dry, but I thought I would give it a try.

It was nothing less than spectacular. Served atop a bed of amazingly-prepared vegetables, including cauliflower, parsnip, carrot, and mushrooms, it rested over a pillow of light-as-air whipped potatoes and was decorated with a sweet red pepper and sun-dried tomato coulis. The fish was perfectly cooked, juicy and light, and the coulis was positively amazing.

Jess' steak was juicy and flavorful, and his french fries were quite good, but I felt I got the better dish. He also had a delicious and unusual salad of field greens accompanying his meal, which was quite tasty.

For dessert, we each chose something chocolate. I chose the Dôme au Chocolat and Jess had the Chocolate Lava Cake with White Chocolate Ice Cream. Both were exquisite in their own way. Mine was more of a chocolate mousse domed over a chocolate crust and delicately topped with whipped cream and a raspberry, plated with vanilla and mango sauces that were nice complements, not at all overwhelming. Jess' cake was more decadent, but no less delicious, the plate decorated with vanilla, raspberry, and mango coulis.

We will definitely be returning. While it wasn't inexpensive, it was not an expensive meal by New York standards, and in fact, we felt it was actually a good value. Magnifique.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Two days since knotty left New York. New York is a little less bright in the absence of knotty's flame. Actually, a lot less bright, because that's some flame. :)

We can't wait for you to come back again! And hopefully we can make it out sometime in the spring or summer for a long weekend to see you and Tony.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Hanging out with a knotty boy makes for a great weekend

At long last, we finally got to meet knottyboy this Friday! He's every bit as charming and hysterical in person as in his blog. We had a great trip out to the east end of the Island, stopping at one of our favorite restaurants, Modern Snack Bar, followed by a wine-tasting stop at one of our best LI vineyards, Pindar on the Island’s north fork, where we spent the better part of an hour in the tasting room. Then, we headed back home, crossing Shelter Island, driving down through Sag Harbor and the Hamptons, and back along Sunrise Highway and the Ocean Parkway.

On our way home, we picked up Byrne at the train and made the quick ride to the house, where we enjoyed some bloody marys followed by panini sandwiches made with grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, muenster, and basil pesto mayo. The panini sandwiches were very good; crispy, crunchy, and flavorful, but I felt they were missing something. I wasn’t alone. Knotty made the very sage observation that I could have also included dried cranberries and, coincidentally, I was thinking the same thing – so I made a second sandwich for Byrne and Jess to share that included the cranberries that I just so happened to have on hand – and they agreed, the addition was the right touch.

Following the sandwiches, we enjoyed some baked chocolate custard with freshly whipped cream, something Knotty described, tongue in cheek, as “sex in a ramekin." I think he liked the cooking. I hope so.

After dessert we had a glass of Pindar’s Johannisberg Reisling Ice Wine and retired to the living room for conversation by the fire. It was a fantastic evening.

So this morning, I got up, made the coffee and chatted with Knotty as I made a batch of my soon-to-be-famous pumpkin pancakes. He had to leave at about 10:30, and we were sad to see him go. It was as if we had known him for years, and we only got to enjoy his company for a few short hours. Hopefully, he will grace us with a return visit!