Life is Happiness, Indeed!

I’m not even going to apologize for absence, it’s been so long. Life has been a whirlwind the past couple of months, and I’ve been lucky to have the chance to cook a hot dog, no less a blog-worthy meal! What’s been going on, you might ask? Well, a new job, for starters, and switching from my previous soup-cooking, coconut-flour muffin baking routine was a bit…jarring. If someone would PAY me to cook, eat out, and find breweries, life would be happiness, indeed (who’s getting the Candide reference there – anyone?) hey, Times Union/Schenectady Gazette/Saratogian…if you’re reading, I’d LOVE to do that!

But, besides the job, life has been quite interesting at the empire recently, and is only calming down. a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to testify before the House Sub-Committee on Foreign Relations in regards to property rights in Cuba. Preparing for that, both mentally and tangibly (writing my testimony), put just about every skill I own to the test. As someone who grimaces at the thought of public speaking, to testify before Congress should be enough to conjure up countless nightmares ranging from forgetting to wear my clothes that day (all the easier to pass through the metal detectors!), to getting sick while being filmed by C-SPAN, to simply forgetting my notes and having to wing it (perhaps the scariest of them all). I shouldn’t have worried; seven hours of intense tutelage courtesy of my opera-singing daughter, who knows a thing or two about delivery and presence, (not to mention stage fright,) worked wonders, and I felt like I owned Congress by the time it was my turn to testify (go, me!) It was truly a great experience, and I feel little less like an invisible voter and much more a part of the American democratic process. I highly recommend it.

Interspersed into this mix, there was some vacation in Maine (at Rock Camp – yes, that is actually a thing), where Mike G. and I found some pretty rocks, gems, and ate lobster. Kind of my ideal vacation, I think. Poland Mining Camp, for those who are so inclined, is run by a lovely woman named Mary Groves, who knows more about rocks than I do about shoes. The accommodations are rustic cabins, complete with fireplaces. Mary cooks you breakfast, you pack a lunch, and you’re off to the mines for the day. Our only complaint was the pretty lame Baxter Brewery beer we picked up on our first night there. We suffered through that and moved on to some tasty offerings from Sebago that I wish they sold at Minogue’s here in ‘toga. On the way back west, we got in two great stops – a night at York Beach (more lobster!) and Jack’s Abbey Brewery in Framingham, which is worth another stop when we have more time. I stuck around the ‘ham for a weekend for my annual “girl’s weekend” (which was long overdue!) and them headed on home.

Of course, the following week, it was time for another trip to Massachusetts, this time for a Schechter cousin’s reunion, although, since several of us had never met before, I’m not entirely sure we can call it that…whatever. Getting to know my cousins has been the highlight of this year, and whatever else comes from my endeavors with the Certified Cuban claims brings, getting to know my cousins will be the best reward of all.

So, after spending most of June driving around the northeast in what seemed like a never-ending loop, I’m back home for a stretch, and it feels fine.

Here’s the briefest of reviews for various restaurants I’ve been to recently, both on my travels, and at home, where I’ve been just too damned tired to cook!

Abeels, Rock City Falls NY: wanted it to be incredible, but it was just eh. Good crab cake, kielbasa cooked beyond recognition.

Alaturco, Ballston Spa NY: amazing dipping oil for the pita (get extra!) unpretentious, good eggplant (and I don’t like eggplant)

Osaka Sushi, Wilton NY :  great! Get the tuna tataki. Get three tuna tataki. You’ll want them. i don’t like that weird spicy tuna stuff that sushi places have these days, though…back in the day when I used to frequent the dearly beloved Kotan on West 3rd St. in NYC, spicy tuna actually had visible, separate pieces of tuna that were cut up, kind of like lox bits….what happened to that? No where I go seems to have that any more….spicy tuna is now this pink, smooth, glop. That’s OK, there’s lot of rolls without it (and they’re usually cheaper than the fancy rolls anyway!)

Cuchi Cuchi, Cambridge, MA: too much fun, yummy small plates, great cocktails. The waitresses kind of dress like I used to in the ’80’s when I went clubbing in the East Village (i.e. retro-punk-hippie-bombshell wannabe). Sigh.

Ice cream place in Cambridge, around the corner from Cuchi Cuchi – (DENA, SUE, or JEN, please comment with the name!); cardamom ice cream. That is all.

Lebanese Taverna, Washington D.C. – I died and went to Beirut. Incredible decor, great food, and bellydancing. Puffy little football shaped bread to dip in the best hummus I ever had (get the hummus sampler), kibbe, killer cocktails. The belly dancer balanced a scimitar on her hip bone while rolling her abs. A must see.

Rest stop observation: they don’t have single serve Cabot cheddar in Delaware, they have Wisconsin cheddar instead. Stock up on your Cabot in N.Y. Also, they have cups of oatmeal, but no hot water – WTF?

And now, for your listening pleasure, Life is Happiness Indeed, from Bernstein’s Candide. Truly, the best of all possible shows.

the girls representing schechter photo-18

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