Thursday, December 15, 2011

The 2011 Global Around Town Holiday Gift Guide

Welcome back Dear Friends.

With the Holidays upon us,

here are some last minute gift ideas that I hope you'll enjoy!

1. First up, something I'm dying for, 

The Theme and Variations 2005 Teapot and Coffee Service
by Fornasetti.

How surreal, and Dali-esque!

I love all things Fornasetti!

The plates are really nice too!

2. Do you want something delicious to fill that gorgeous coffee pot with?

I've been enjoying the coffees from George Howell's Terroir for years.

His recent roasts of Aged Sumatra 

have been some of the purist 

expressions of that 


"Notes of brandy and tawny port, fresh sweet tobaccos, 
roots, leather, autumn leaves and butterscotch..."

Last time this limited release was available

I ordered two packages.

You may want to do the same.

3. Up next a very exotic incense that you or your loved one
may love wafting around your home. 

I splurged on a small pack of this

Minorien Fu-in Kyara Ryugen

a while back, and will occasionally 

treat myself to some. 

This very special incense 

will transport you to faraway lands whether lit 

or simply sitting in its beautiful 

Paulownia box.

"This is Minorien's Masterpiece. It has a wet smell of Kyara that is very deep. You will also note an excellent tone that reflects, in abundance, the very nature of the incense tree. You will enjoy a gentle aroma of the highest quality of pure "Kyara smell."

4. I could not put down Michael Ondaatje's newest novel 

The Cat's Table.

"In the early 1950s, an 11-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table”—as far from the Captain’s Table as can be—with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: One man talks with them about jazz and women, another opens the door to the world of literature. The narrator’s elusive, beautiful cousin Emily becomes his confidante, allowing him to see himself “with a distant eye” for the first time, and to feel the first stirring of desire. Another cat’s table denizen, the shadowy Miss Lasqueti, is perhaps more than what she seems. And very late every night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and his fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever. 

As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship and the boy’s adult years, it tells a spellbinding story—by turns poignant and electrifying—about the magical, often forbidden discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage."

5. A few months ago I was lucky enough to have attended

 a concert by this brilliant trio

at our stunning 

Finnish Embassy. 

The setting, 

the generosity,

the food, the drink, the company, 

and above all the music...


Psalms and Folk Songs by Kuara

Markku Ounaskari drums
Samuli Mikkonen piano
Per Jørgensen 
trumpet, voice

just may be the 

Best Record of 2011.

Much of the music here is based on 

"Russian Psalms and folk songs 

from displaced Finnish peoples

(Karelians, Udmurtians, Vepsans) 

- all approached from improvisational 

perspectives. It feels like a voyage over unfamiliar terrain, 

or as Markku says

 "like a journey through the night"."

Just a few thoughts for you my Dear Friends.

Wishing you 

a warm & wonderful 



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Famous Aire's Fabulous Strawberry Shortcake

Let's see.......Shortcakes

1st buy a box of Bisquick.

2. Follow the instructions on the box , EXCEPT : use MORE sugar than the recipe. Like 1 1/2  extra tbsps. Maybe throw in a little extra butter. You'll only need to use a big wooden spoon to mix. 

3. the recipe says to make 6. They're huge ! Make 8.

4. The box says to bake the shortcakes , split and serve w/the strawberries and whipped cream , but you can also make them the day before . Then, to serve, split , using a bread or other serrated knife and great care as they're a bit crumbly.....and place split-side down on a cookie sheet and heat in the oven @ like 250 for a few minutes to toast them up a bit. You may want to pick them up using a spatula to plate them.

5. The recipe suggests a kind of sandwich approach : 1/2 shortcake, layer of strawbs/top 1/2 of shortcake/ more strawbs and whipped cream. BUT I like to serve them more like Eggs Benedict. 2 1/2s of shortcake , side by each, both topped with loads of strawberries and......

WHIPPED CREAM                        


1. The recipe calls for Cool Whip or some such . Of course you can do that. Or, even canned. I prefer to make fresh. It's so easy and yummy too. You probably know how to make whipped cream, but if you don't , then here you go :

2. A pint of heavy whipping cream will make a boatload . 

3. Take a mixing bowl. Tall and narrower is way better than lower and wider. Use metal,glass or ceramic , NOT plastic. Slosh a tiny bit of water around in it and dump it out. Then put it in the freezer for a little while 5, 10 min. whatever... just until it's nice and cold. 

4. Pour cream into bowl. Add a couple or 3 big tbsps of confectioner's sugar with a couple of capfulls of vanilla extract. Whip with whatever kind of mixer you have at very high speed until thick and gloppy enough.... to taste. CAREFUL !!!! This should only take a few minutes, so DON'T OVERDO IT !!! If you overbeat, it'll get all liquidy and soupy. So when you think you're almost done, just stop and see if it's thick enough. If not yet... just give it a couple of quick poofs with the mixer and check again. Repeat a few times if necessary.

5. Slather on top of strawbabies on top of shortcakes. I like mountains !

Strawbabies : 

1. Follow recipe on box if you like. I like to make lots. So you can certainly use more than 4 cups if you like. I do. More is often....more. And for a change I actually use LESS sugar than the recipe calls for. But sugar to taste.

That's it !!! So load 'em up....either sandwich or benedict style... and PIG OUT !

Friday, October 7, 2011

Does Hollywood Do It Again?! David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

If you are like me 

you read and loved all of 

The Millennium Trilogy.

You then raced to see all 

of the movies 

as soon as they were released. 

Since then I've been reading everything I can by

Henning Mankell,

Karin Fossum, 

Jo Nesbo,

Camilla Lackberg,

and other fine Scandinavian authors.

It has been a pleasant 

if chilly


When I heard that there would be a 

Hollywood version of 

The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo

I was nonplussed. 

The Scandinavian version 

was just fine with me. 

Why did we need another,

Hollywood version? 

Well the previews are out

and quite frankly

the new version

looks better than I had thought. 


Stieg Larsson's works stand up to 

numerous interpretations. 

The preview above has 

peaked my curiosity.

What do you think?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Old Friends, New Friends - Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg





charming  &  romantic.

His music was too.

You can often hear wonderful tunes of his like 

Comic Strip

Viens petite fille dans mon comic strip
Viens faire des bull's, viens faire des WIP !
Des CLIP ! CRAP ! des BANG ! des VLOP ! et des ZIP !

J'distribue les swings et les uppercuts
Ca fait VLAM ! ça fait SPLATCH ! et ça fait CHTUCK !
Ou bien BOMP ! ou HUMPF ! parfois même PFFF !

Viens petite fill' dans mon comic strip
Viens faire des bull's, viens faire des WIP !
Des CLIP ! CRAP ! des BANG ! des VLOP ! et des ZIP !

Viens avec moi par dessus les buildings
Ca fait WHIN ! quand on s'envole et puis KLING !
Après quoi je fais TILT ! et ça fait BOING !

Viens petite fill' dans mon comic strip
Viens faire des bull's, viens faire des WIP !
Des CLIP ! CRAP ! des BANG ! des VLOP ! et des ZIP !

N'aies pas peur bébé agrippe-toi CHRACK !
Je suis là CRASH ! pour te protéger TCHLACK !
Ferme les yeux CRACK ! embrasse-moi SMACK !

streaming from my windows.

If you're lucky

you might hear strands of

Bonnie And Clyde...


Docteur Jekyll Et Monsieur Hyde.

Don't miss his music

and a glimpse into his life when 

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

comes to the screen 

or your DVD player. 

I've been dying to see this ever since I saw the 1st preview.

Great Jewish Music: Serge Gainsbourg

is another fine recording

and a nice way to experience

Gainsbourg's music interpreted by others.

Elysian Fields, Fred Frith, Blonde Redhead, John Zorn, Cibo Matto, Marc Ribot

and others...

 make sensitive, fun contributions.

I recently picked up a copy of

Monsieur Gainsbourg revisited,


"Features 15 total tracks from the likes of Franz Ferdinand with Jane Birkin, Portishead, Cat Power and Karen Elson, Michael Stipe, Jarvis Cocker & Kid Loco, The Kills, Cat Power with Karen Elson, Tricky, Marc Almond with Trash Palace and more." - Amazon

... and couldn't listen to it. 

It was hard, and angular and loud. 

It wasn't fun. 
It didn't groove.
It didn't sway,
and I had to turn it off!

Do treat yourself to 

The Music of Serge Gainsbourg.

And while you're at it

keep your eyes peeled for the movie

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.

You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Best Meatloaf In The World

My Dear Brother Aire

recently bestowed upon me 

the frequently requested recipe for 

The Best Meatloaf in the World.

Here it is:

Now as you know, this and all my recipes are whatever that yiddish phrase is that sounds like " shit-a-rind ".......and therefore are unstructured and always sketchy or vague in terms of quantities or amounts, so you'll have to use your own imagination and native ingenuity.

You will NEED the following :

1) however much meat you want to loaf. I ALWAYS use "meatloaf mix" , which is 1/3 pork,1/3 veal,1/3 beef (ground) .I usually make 2 at a time cause I usually have 2 - 8 diners whenever I make meatloaf ( by POPULAR  demand !) and who doesn't love a meatloaf sandwich from leftovers??? I'd rather make too much than too little. So I use between 3 and 6 lbs.

2) Dry onion soup mix. I usually use 1 1/2 - 2 packs for 3 - 5 lbs.

3) Eggs: 2-3 ? beaten  

4) something cruchy....I like PLAIN croutons smushed up smaller. They're always like " Caeser Salad Croutons" or " Italian Garlic & Herbs". I like plain or as simple as I can find. Or you can toast Pepperidge Farm or Arnold's white bread, 2-3 slices, and cut it up into tiny little cubes. Or use something of you own devising....french bread or whatever. I hate just using breadcrumbs. Mom used to tear up little pieces of white bread. That's where I got using toast and graduated to croutons from. However much you think you need. I probably use like 2 or 3 hand scoops.

5) KETCHUP , WORSTERSHIRE SAUCE , ( must have ) and optional but recommended: Peter Luger's Sauce , Pickapeppa , Heinz 57 , Tiger Sauce .......etc. I recently used Kech & Worst and added Luger's and Pkpa...... very good...BUT use way more kech & wors than others. I always use alot of everything.  BUT remember this has to be firm enough to make into a loaf and you're using eggs in this too, so remember not to get it too goopy.

6) optional.....chopped parsely , paprika , pepper ( I use these ) or as I like to refer to them " The 3 Ps".

I think that's everything ......... 

Mix all this together and hopefully come out with a mixture that will be firm enough to form into loafs.....and will not dry out while baking but come out moist...BUT that also won't fall totally apart when you slice it. It's a delicate balance. Achieved only through trial & error , sheer genius or just plain old dumb luck.......but achieve it you must if your meatloaf must be firm yet MOIST !!!

Form into loaf or loaves. I'm very precise with mine. I like them to be more brickesque than domed. Mine can vary from 1 1/2 to 3 lbs per loaf. Put them in something that has sides. Not like a flat something . As they will create  lots of liquids and goos. I like to use one baking dish per loaf but you can use 1 big one for 2.

Ice with lots of Ketch. I also sprinkle on alotta the 3 Ps.

Pop them into the oven @ 350 and bake for 55 minutes. I don't mean an hour. I mean 55 minutes. For some reason this is the correct time for almost all meatloaves except very large ones. Remove after 55 min. Hopefully you can hoist them out of there goo and put them on a platter. This can get tricky if they're not real firm and will probably require 2 spatulas. Either goo or on platter, let sit for 7 - 30 min before slicing. A few extra min is good. But if your guests are very late it doesn't matter cause it's still good even at room tempish , especially in the summer if you're also serving Aire's Famous Potato Salad.

And there you have it . Use it wisely. The Power of the Loaf should only be used for Good. Never take it for granted. Too round out the meal I suggest a simple lettuce and tomato salad and of course Aire's World Famous Strawberry Shortcakes.

Bon appetit !!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Old Friends, New Friends - Jean-Pierre Rampal and Marielle Nordmann

Welcome back Dear Friends,

Dear Readers.

More and more, as life goes by, 

I feel as if I'm bombarded with noise.

Who really needs more depressing news of our economy, 

of hooligans looting our cities,

of Middle East turmoil?

I frequently just have to turn it all off!

Jean-Pierre Rampal and Marielle Nordmann

team up for a soothing balm

on their 1990 recording

Music for Flute & Harp.

Here you'll find music by

Saint-Saens, Faure, Ravel  and others

that is



and lyrical.

You may want copies for 

the home and the car.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Memorable Meal

Dinner For The Steins

(My beautiful cousins Carrie Jo, Matt, and Zane were in town to remember my Dad. 
This is the meal I created for them. It was the 1st time they'd visited my home. My dear friend Paolo Caserotti joined us for the evening as well.)

2009 Vietti Roero Arneis

Jumbo Lump Maryland Crab Cakes served with a Tomato & Fennel Coulis and a Lemon Mayonnaise

Cannelini Bean Salad with Shaved Radish, Asparagus, Scallions, and Zucchini

2004 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello de Montelcino

Broiled Loin of Lamb served with Farroto con Funghi, and Grilled Radicchio & Endive

Frommage - Gorgonzola Dolce, Taleggio, and Reggiano Parmesan 
served with warmed Olive Fougasse & Ciabatta, and Strawberries in Balsamic with Black Pepper

La Praline Walnut Dacquoise

Sumatra Espresso

Paolo's Parade of After Dinner Drinks - Limoncello, Cognac, Aquavit...

La Praline Assorted Macaroons

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dad - May 15, 1922 - May 29, 2011

I was chatting with my brother Eric the other day

and I told him,

that for Dad's service,

I'd like to rise from the grave

seated at a grand piano

playing the Aria from


Goldberg Variations.

This stunning piece of music is 

an example of the exquisite 

thought & beauty

that my Father was so fond of.

Sadly, a piano could not be arranged in time.

Dad grew up in The Bronx

where he used to play stickball,

eat Chinese Food,

and read

Science Fiction.

Dad was a curious lad

and always had an enquiring mind.

He loved games and puzzles, 

was a wordsmith, 

and as he grew older 

his games and puzzles grew increasingly 

more complex and into complicated equations, patterns,

languages, and systems. 

Dad, until his last days,

could be seen cocking his head to the side, and seemingly,

by tapping his fingers together, or waving a hand,

or patting his chest,

was making various calculations.

Considering String Theory no doubt.

All that Dad really wanted to do

was contemplate these beautiful truths

and their variations, and to share them with 

whoever was interested.

T'was a noble pursuit.

A noble life.




a Writer,

and a Painter...

Here are 

A Few Words My Father Lived By

"Sums are not set as a test on Erasmus."

"Drawn I sit, Serene rest is inward."

and he sometimes asked...

"Are we not drawn onward, we few drawn onward to new era?"

Or more recently, during some of his hospital stays...

this could be heard...

"Nurse, I spy gypsies. Run!"


and with Dad's 

fondness for puzzles, patterns, and words 

it is no surprise that he enjoyed a good 

palindrome now and again. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tough Times

Welcome back 

Dear Readers,

Dear Friends.

As some of you already know,

things around here have been rather tough lately. 

My Dad,

who suffered a stroke around four years ago,

was hospitalized a number of times

in the past couple months.


at around 8:00 AM Sunday May 29th,

with Juliana, his loving caregiver

holding his hand,

and singing

"You Are My Sunshine"

to him, 

he just kinda hiccuped a couple times

and closed his eyes. 

We'd just celebrated Dad's 89th Birthday  

on May 15th.

We will miss my Dad,

Dr. Joseph Henry Engel,

and I will continue to try to celebrate him & my Mom,

by sharing my 

love for 

The Arts

with you.