Saturday, March 5, 2011

those glorious fruit flavors

The best recipes have flair and festivity but take scarcely more effort than frying an egg. This is one of those recipes, a scrumptious meal complete in 30 minutes flat that presents beautifully and even grants you a 15 minute, unattended window to grab a quick shower before your guests arrive. 

Pork and fruit have a long established affinity so you’ll need a good fruit preserve, but not jelly or jam. Black currant is traditional but almost anything works really well. I made this once with black cherry and it was fantastic. A fine mustard, a bit of white vinegar and a couple good porkchops, plus potatoes for mashing and a vegetable.

Brown the salt-and-peppered chops in a drizzle of good olive oil, just hot enough to sear the outside and create a tasty crust.

Spoon three or four tablespoons of mustard into three or four tablespoons of preserve and mix it well.

Are the chops browning well on both sides?

Great, start your potatoes to boil...

...spoon the mixture over the chops...

...cover the chops with a tight fitting lid and turn the heat way down to a gentle simmer. Potatoes bubbling? Chops simmering? Perfect. Run and grab that shower.
In 15 minutes the potatoes will be getting there and the chops will have cooked through, the sauce will have softened and drained into the pan.

Take the chops out and keep them warm between two plates. 

Now start steaming your vegetable and gently pour about one-quarter cup white vinegar into the sauce. This is critical, the vinegar neutralizes the sugary sweetness of the preserves while letting all those glorious fruit flavors come through.

Turn the heat up, keep an eye on your vegetable, mash your potatoes and bubble down the sauce, whisking it now and then. Don’t let it burn, it will reduce to a rich, flavorful syrup.

Plate the chops, the potatoes and the vegetable and then drizzle that luscious fruit and mustard syrup all over the plate. That’s it. Don’t be surprised if your lucky guests ask for this again, it’s that good. 

And so easy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

taking better care

We get some stuff backwards in this country. Last week a buddy sent over a suggestion for taking better care of our aging population.  “Let's put old people into correctional institutions”, he said, “and the convicted criminals into nursing homes.”

Makes sense. Seniors would have automatic access to showers, hobbies and walks with constant video monitoring, so they would be helped instantly if they fell or needed assistance. They would receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment. 

Bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing would be laundered, ironed and returned to them.  A guard would check in on them every 20 minutes without fail.

They would have regular family visits in a suite built for that purpose.  They would have access to a library and weight/fitness room…

...spiritual counseling, education and a swimming pool...with free admission to in-house concerts by nationally recognized entertainment artists.

There would be private, secure rooms provided for them with an outdoor exercise yard complete with gardens they’d be allowed to tend themselves.

Each senior would receive daily phone calls.

The guards would have a strict code of conduct with attorneys available at no cost to protect the seniors and their families from abuse or neglect.

And most importantly, there would be a board of directors to hear complaints and the American Civil Liberties Union would fight for their rights and protections.

And the convicted in the nursing homes?

They would be left alone and unsupervised for long periods of time. 

They would receive showers about once a week and be fed mediocre, often cold food while their families would have to pay $5,000 per month with no genuine hope of them ever getting out. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Except, at the moment

John Galliano, famous firebrand at Givenchy in 1995 and then head designer at the house of Christian Dior is a fashion icon in his own right, caught up in his own drunken stupidity.

The things he said and were recorded back in December in a Paris CafĂ© were reprehensible and they won’t be replayed here. We have YouTube for all that.

He’s lost his job for this, too, and he should have. But it remains to be seen if he becomes a Mel Gibson with a permanent tarnish or if he shakes this off and launches his own house, no doubt to be influential in the fashion seasons ahead. He is a kind of warped genius.

I’m the first to say I’m relieved and very grateful things I’ve said and done when totally smashed have not ended up in global distribution. You don’t have to be anti-semitic to have dumb-ass moments like that. The fact is humans are flawed, alcohol loosens tongues and this will probably always be so. People say dumb and ugly things.

But this kind of thing used to pass without notice, lost in the moment with no record of any kind and setting up at worst a “he said/they said” situation in the paper press the next day. Not anymore.

Digital tech has changed all that. Say something ugly and within minutes, the whole world will know. I’ve long believed the world becomes a better place when we are all held a little bit more accountable to our actions and our words.
Welcome to our little-bit better world. 
Except, at the moment, if you are John Galliano.

All images stolen from the web and reused without permission or attribution

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

all the way back to the Titanic

Fortune smiled back in April of 2004. A travel writer pal called at the last minute and said “Drop everything, Gregory and grab your camera’s, we’re taking a private tour of the Queen Mary 2.”


The QM2--- still the worlds largest ocean liner--- had just docked in Manhattan back in 2004 as part of her maiden voyage to America. We were to be included in a 20 member travelwriter group that would meet the Captain, tour the entire ship and then have a drink with the (then) CEO of Cunard Lines, Pamela Conover.

And I get to take pictures?? Alrighty, then!
But these photos are from just last October. Future posts will feature our exterior walkabout on the decks and the amazing interiors I shot six years ago. But on this day she was in Brooklyn.

She’s a direct descendent of the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth with a clear lineage all the way back to the Titanic. She’s huge, with more interior volume than even the Empire State Building.

So it was such a nice surprise last Fall to see her again while I was taking the IKEA WaterTaxi to RedHook.

It felt like bumping into an old, good friend after 6 years. This time she was berthed alongside the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Our little watertaxi felt like a bathtub toy as we bounced by!

She looked fantastic.

Happy memories came back from that remarkable Spring day, my first time ever on a world class liner.

The QM2 is an incredible 23 stories high from the bottom of her keel to the top of her smoke funnel.

I shot this photo of her looming over Brooklyn from the IKEA restaurant window. Isn’t it always so great to run into an old friend?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

hardest working retired man


Monday, February 28, 2011

the internal frame

A large but temporary wood and plaster arch was built over Fifth Avenue in 1889, three years after our ClockTower. It was constructed there to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as our first President, 
April 30, 1789.

New Yorkers liked the temporary arch so much a permanent replacement in white marble was designed by celebrity architect-of-the-times, Stanford White. Inspired by the (1806) Arch de Triomphe in Paris, he sited his neoclassic arch just inside the Washington Square Park. 
Two commemorative statues of Washington were added later, 
in 1918.

“Happiness depends more on the internal frame of a person’s own mind, than on the externals in the world.”
 George Washington, May 15, 1787