Friday, July 29, 2011


Went to a restaurant last night called Aperitif. It's a combo bistro, lounge and bar. French flair in regards to cuisine but with added other European flavors. I was able to get a cooking demo with Head Chef Luis Varas Klein. He prepared Sole Meuniere, a filet of sole sauteed in a lemon caper sauce, served with boiled-then-sauteed potatoes shaped like fingerling and thinly julienne carrots and both yellow and green zucchini. I video taped it for youtube.

My friend Nancy joined me for the dinner part and helped me indulge in a tasting. The menu has a long list of small plates and was interested in sampling.

Nancy had a flight of wine, while I had a chocolate martini. Our server, Jonathan Gonzolez, was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and was able to give a great explanation for each of the items that we ordered. To make sure that I would remember it all, I video taped him as well.

Special of the day was the Lobster Napoleon, with celery in a tarragon aioli. The crust is a buttery and thick phyllo dough and using lobster from both the tail and claw.

Shrimp and Avocado Tower had grilled and chopped shrimp, with hearts of palm, and cucumber, topped with frisee and served with a mignonette sauce on the side.

Lobster Ceviche with tail and claw meat marinated in olive oil and orange, lime and lemon juice. It was served with a strawberry and champagne vinaigrette.

Haven't had Steak Tartare in quite a long time. They use a sirloin with 3 egg yolks, gerkins, capers, and worcestershire sauce.

Smoked Salmon Rolls using wild salmon that is smoked in house. Cream cheese inside, a little fish roe atop and it sits on sour cream.

Shrimp Beignets were a take on Louisiana beigets fluffy and airy with a little spice, served with mango and cucumber slaw and a soy and mango emulsion.

Duck rolls using duck breast and confit and "pulled" like when you're having pulled pork and wrapped in a phyllo dough and served with slightly spicy orange sauce, their version of a duck sauce.

Grilled Octopus with red onions, and chick peas. Octopus is marinated and grilled. There seemed to be other spices used and didn't quite tempt my palate. As for the octopus itself, it was perfectly cooked and not rubbery.

Then came the Camembert Fondue adding white wine, olive oil, truffle oil and shallots to the chesse. Sliced apples and a special "bread" made on the premises that contained almonds and figs.

Having had the Sole Meuniere, we wanted to sample another entree. We chose the Magret de Canard, a seared duck breast served with a sweet potato puree, sauteed spinach, and a pomegranate reduction.

Had to have a dessert! Flourless chocolate cake with no sugar but not bitter accompanied with a vanilla custard.

When asked if I wanted coffee, I said, "No thanks, I'm on a diet".

Friday, July 15, 2011


I new restaurant had opened in my area some months ago called Independence Cafe. From the first look it appeared to be selling deli sandwiches and salads. They had decided to include freshly made hot choices such soups, Angus beef hamburgers, and things like chicken cacciatore.

I dropped in to see how they were doing as well as my wanting to write a follow up piece regarding the hot specials. Chef Jim had moved on and Chef Timothy Leonard took his place. Seems that Timothy has not only been "chef-ing" but has his side job called Funhouse Entertainment where he dresses as a clown, walks on stilts, etc.

Since I was there for a late lunch, I asked to sample his special spin on a Philly Cheese Steak. It contained: Angus Beef Steak, American Cheese, chopped red and green peppers, onions, ginger, soy sauce and Mandarin Sesame Dressing. That has got to be the tastiest "Philly" that I've sunk my teeth into. I also sampled the cole slaw that is made on the premises. Better than the ready made kind that one normally gets. Creamier and less vinegar tasting.


I gather that at some point between my birth and now that they have changed the looks of one's birth certificate to look more like what was or is a Baptismal Certificate. I believe that I remember them as being a substitute for a birth certificate but I'm not sure if it was for all sects of the Christian religion. Anyway, years ago these birth certificates appeared more like a photo copy of one...unless it was just mine that did so. Well over the years, this piece of paper, having been folded enough times, is now in four pieces. I thought it was time to get a copy (which I don't think will be a copy of the original).

Time to do a search online and get the options. If I do this all online, it will cost me the $15 for the piece of paper, about the same amount to have it checked out at Vital Records, plus the cost of shipping.

Another option is for me to obtain the application by calling 311 and either sending it in or going directly to the office in lower Manhattan. Since I have to go to the same area to get license to marry people (I'll tell you about the later), I decided on that option and called 311.

I gave the woman all of the information including my email. I hang up and soon check my email to find the confirmation number but that I'm being sent Adoption papers.

I call again. This time the woman takes down the mailing information and when we get to the "city" part asks me if it's Queens. Now, if you live in New York City or know about New York City, one never writes, "Queens, New York". I told her the town and when she reads it back says, the town, Queens, New York". I am certainly going to make a call to 311 as I am curious as to whether this is being outsourced!!!

For those of you who don't cannot call a city agency directly. You have to call 311 and that person will give you either the information or connect you to someone who you can complaint to, etc. You can best believe that these people have access to online information and do not know that answers to anything!

Back to the last call. She gives me the confirmation number to write down. I ask her if she could simply email me. She tells me that she can't do that because she finished closing up the information that I gave her. I asked her why she didn't ask me for my email address and didn't have an answer but somehow got around it because in actuality, she didn't want to have to reopen another thing to redo getting the info.

I will follow up on this to let all know as to what I did receive.


The great thing about a blog is that aside from my travels I get to share every day experiences. Take, for instance, my ordering a futon from Target and doing it online. Seemed perfect for what I want in my living room. Something smaller than a sofa but can convert to a bed of some sorts in case I want to sleep where the air conditioning is in my house.

After placing the order I waited a few days after the emailed confirmation to get a email giving me a tracking number and date of arrival. Now, I must have nodded out when the UPS guy came (I have this extremely conformable chair that is a sort of lounge type one that tends to make me take a nap)I didn't hear the doorbell. He placed this long thin package at my basement door with a note telling me so.

I went downstairs to the basement to open the door. The problem was that he leaned the package against the door so that I was unable to open it. I then had to go out, around and down the steps to move the 45 pound package so that I can go back in through the front door and retrieve it.

Now I have the task of getting it up the stairs. I must say that I questioned the package wondering if they got all of the cushions in it. I thought, "How thin are these farkin pillows and bedding that they are able to slip them in this?"

I then decided that if I opened it and took out each part I could take it up the steps more easily. No cushions are anything futonish. It was simply the metal furniture.

After maneuvering this piece, using the banister as leverage, I sort of slid it up the steps stair by stair. Keep in mind folks, I just celebrated my 62nd birthday and have lost much of my muscles that allow me to lift things, let alone having a bad lower back and a bit of arthritis in one hip.

I now call Target dot com, which I find is outsourced to the Philippines, to get someone who tells me that the second package won't arrive until the next day. The tracking number, however, does not say anything about a second package. The Target person is unable to explain why both packages couldn't arrive at the same time and asked if I want to be connected to the complaint department. I never got a second email from the regarding a second package.

Okay, so the next day, the UPS guy brings it. I alerted him to the fact that his leaning the package the day before was not workable and told him why. He apologized. I have a new guy and it will take a bit of time for him to get the gist of UPS stuff arriving.

It is now in the main entrance of the house and I decided that it would be much easier if I opened it and took in the cushions one or two and a time. The SCHMUCK who did the packaging stapled the staples into the top cushion! Now I have holes in it!!!

I looked up the phone number for the main office in Minneapolis and placed a call. "Don't complain to someone who can't do anything about it" is one of the things I learned when I took EST.

I was trying to get to someone and the person sounded a bit far away. Yes, it was outsourced to the Philippines as well. I told the person that I want to speak to someone in the United States.

After getting nowhere and telling me that I needed to speak to a person at Target Online, I did so. I explained all to the guy and he wanted to see what he could do to correct the situation (I did throw in, "What would you like to do to keep me as a customer"? (Always say that as well as saying, "This is unacceptable".)

He tells me that there are two options. One is that he can get hold of the manufacturer who will send me a replacement or if he does get this one...both packages would have to be sent and then I would need to return the package with the metal furniture. In other words they can't send a replacement for only the package with the cushions!!!

He offered to keep up with communicating to the furniture company, called me the next day and told me that a replacement cushion package would be taken care of. I am so looking forward to seeing, 1)if they send the whole set or somehow has decided which cushion, 2)if they staple into one of the cushions.

Next, the furniture. You have to install the legs and back piece. I did check to see that all of the hardware was there including two types of wrenches to tighten the lug nuts. I did miss the instruction that highly suggested that two people put it together.

I am almost done except for one screw to find that either the screw is not good or the last lug nut as the lug nut will not twist onto the screw!!!! This means that I will have to call them again!!! I wonder what the will have to send in order to get this!!! Tune in on a near future blog.