Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Food Cooking”

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Sixteen

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Sixteen

“Luco. Hi. What a nice surprise. What’s that man doing up on that pole?”

Without taking his eyes from hers, he answered.

“I’d say he’s about to do a half-gainer into the sidewalk.”

“I don’t think I want to see that.”

“No. Let’s not watch. Let me buy you a cool drink. It’s hot out here.”

Marlee had just finished an iced tea, but she didn’t decline his offer.

As they walked they alternated between long minutes of silence and moments when they talked on top of each other.

“Marlee, have you enjoyed the street fair, so far?”

“Yes, I have. I’m not sure that I quite understand it all, but it has been… fun.”

“Good. It can be a bit daunting the first time you experience it. Actually, this year’s fair is rather calm.”

“A man hanging from a light pole, ready to fall into the street, is calm?”

“Well…he hasn’t fallen yet.”

“That’s the standard measurement? If he doesn’t fall to his death, things are calm?”

“Pretty much, but this is The Haight, so the calibration may be a bit screwed to the weird side of the scale.”

“I’m picking up on that.”

Sensing that Marlee wasn’t sharing his blasé acceptance of The Haight’s laissez-faire attitude toward life and death, Luco changed the subject.

“Tell me, Marlee. Just about everyone in San Francisco is into the Arts: Music, Acting, Painting, and so on. What is your Art?”

“I’m a musician. I play the cello.”

“Really? Professionally or just for the beauty of it?”

“Both. I was with the Cleveland Chamber Music Orchestra. I haven’t really played since my move here. I miss it.”

“Have you auditioned anywhere yet? There must be someplace that can use a talented cellist?”

“I need to get back in shape before I audition for anything. The cello can sound really awful if you’re not in top form. I need a place to practice.”

“Hmmm…I know that there are spaces over here on Page Street, at the old Gumption Theater space. I know that they have practice rooms. A lot of rock and rollers use them.”

I wasn’t aware of that, thank you. It would be convenient.”

“I’m a good man to know in The Haight.”

“So I gather.”

“And, I know that Pete, the owner of the People’s Café wants to put on some live music a couple nights a week. Interested?”

“Sure. Why not? It might be fun. Thanks, Luco.”

They shared a relaxed smile.

“Marlee, have you had anything to eat yet?”

“No. Any recommendations for a newcomer like me?”

Actually Yes, Mike Koberski’s ‘Flame Kielbasa’ is the stuff that dreams are made of.”

“Dreams or heartburn nightmares?”

“He’s right over there.”

Luco lifted his hand, using the book of poetry as a pointer. Marlee recognized the cover.

“‘Sonnets From The Portuguese?’ I would never have guessed you to be a fan of Browning.”

“What? Oh, this? I bought this for a friend. It’s not really my style.”

“A friend? I’m sure she is.”

“Actually…,” started Luco, but a sharply accented voice cut him off.

“Luco, my old friend!”

Through a thick pall of white smoke arising from the collection of barbeque grills, Marlee could make out the portly figure of a man, red-faced and sweating.

“Luco, come here,” called out the smoky-eyed chef.

Cutting through the frenetic crowd, Luco, taking Marlee by the hand, guided them over to the busy food stand. They went around to the side, close to where Mike Koberski was keeping tabs on dozens of spicy sausages as they popped and hissed in the flames. Mike waved a large stainless steel barbecue fork in greeting.

“Hiya, Mike. How’s business?”

“Today will be a great day, nice and warm.” He eyed Marlee through the smoke. “How’s your day, Luco?”

“Just fine. Mike, This is Marlee Owens, a newcomer to the street and to the Fair.”

Mike smiled and nodded. A large drop of sweat fell from his chin and sizzled on the grill.

“Welcome, Marlee. I see you’ve already met the most eligible bachelor in The Haight.”

Marlee smiled back and shot a quick glance at Luco, who looked a bit embarrassed, even though he was laughing.

“Nice to meet you, Mike and I don’t think that Luco is all that eligible. I hear he’s going steady with himself.”

Mike roared.

“You’re OK, girl. Have a ‘basa, on me.”

One bite of Mike Koberski’s ‘Flame Kielbasa’ and Marlee felt homesick for Cleveland. Both Mike and Luco were taken aback watching Marlee down the sausage without blinking an eye. Most people had a cold beer on the side to douse the fiery spices.

“Mike,” said Marlee, wiping her mouth daintily, enjoying the astonished looks on the men’s faces. “That was great, but Luco said you had a ‘Flaming’ kielbasa that is supposed to be really hot.”

“That was it,” stammered Mike.

“Oh? Well…it was very nice. I’m from Cleveland and we’d call that a ‘mild’ kielbasa. Very nice. I’m sure the little kids love them.”

Mike and Luco looked at each other, not quite knowing what to say. Marlee stood there, smiling sweetly at them, enjoying their confusion.

“One more thing, Mike. Give me a beer. My mouth is on fire.”

He handed her a cup of Bud Light and she poured it down her throat, not stopping to breathe. Both men started to laugh. After finishing the beer Marlee coughed and wiped her eyes.

“I had you two guys going there for a minute, didn’t I? Jesus H., Mike. What do you put in those things, napalm?”

“Yep,” said Mike. “Not far from it. Old family recipe. A fine mix of spices that will make the kielbasa nice and hot or take the rust off of any chrome surface.”

Marlee took a paper napkin from the counter and wiped at her eyes.

“Well, Mike, if I can’t sleep tonight I’ll know who to blame.”

“No matter how chilly it gets tonight when the fog comes in, you’ll be warm and comfortable,” added Luco.

Mike reached out and grabbed Luco’s arm.

“Christ, I almost forgot. Luco, I was hoping I’d see you today. I need your help.”

“You got it. What can I do, Mike?”

Mike turned to Marlee who was beginning to lose the flush from her cheeks as the fiery spices subsided.

“Marlee, you like sports? Baseball?”

“Sure. Baseball is life. The rest is details.”

“Great. Luco, I got two tickets to the Giants game next Saturday. I can’t go. Some family thing my wife forgot to tell me about until last night, but maybe you and Marlee might like to go?”

He looked at Luco and then at Marlee, and back again at Luco. Feeling a bit cornered, Luco finally spoke.

“Well…it sounds good to me. What about it, Marlee? Care to see our beautiful ballpark?”

Her initial reaction was negative. She didn’t relish the idea of spending a whole afternoon with a man she perceived as a depressed lothario, but it was a public place and it had been quite a while since she had been to a big league game.

“Who are they playing?”

“The Cardinals. It’ll be a great game,” said Mike, reaching into his shirt pocket for the tickets.

Marlee let a smile out for some fresh air.

“All right, Luco. If you promise to be a gentleman, I’ll go with you to the game.”

Luco bowed to Marlee. “I will be such a gentleman that you won’t even recognize me.”

Mike handed a slim white envelope to Luco as he winked flirtatiously at Marlee.

“Here you go. Enjoy the game for me. I’ll be sitting in a lawn chair in San Jose, sweating like a pig and eating birthday cake.”

“Thank you, Mike,” said Luco, “And I promise to behave myself, Marlee. I won’t climb any light poles while we’re together.”

“You better not, Bucko, because I won’t catch you if you fall.”

“’Bucko?’” Luco looked at Mike who was trying to not laugh as he turned a grill full of sausages.

Despite all of her misgivings and alarm bells, Marlee had to admit that she was attracted to the dark-haired barista. There was something about him. Several somethings, in fact, that had her emotions caught in a small tug-of-war between her mind and her heart. She was drawn to him on a very basic, physical level, while at the same time there were things about him that told her to walk the other way.

That book of sonnets in his hand was obviously for some other woman. His glibness with female customers and their intimations of breathless, passionate liaisons bothered her.
But, she thought, nothing could be safer and noncommittal than a few hours inside a stadium filled with 40,000 screaming baseball fans. Any smooth moves there would be easily deflected amid the chaos and Cracker Jack.

After a Day to Remember, one filled with music, colors and new friends Marlee walked with the flow of people heading home. Her trek was thankfully only one block. The sensory indulgence was exhausting and she was grateful that her apartment was so close.

She checked her mailbox and slowly climbed the stairs up to her door…which was standing wide open. Her heart skipped a beat as she hurried up from the landing. There was no sound coming from inside the apartment. She moved slowly through the open door straining to hear anything or anyone. She had her keys bristling in her clenched fist. There was no one in her bathroom. A quick glance said the same for the kitchen. She could see that the living room was empty. That left just her bedroom and its closed door. The only sound she could hear were those rising up from the street just outside her windows. She rested her hand on the doorknob. On Haight Street a Diesel bus roared away from the bus stop as Marlee turned the knob and pushed open the door.

The bedroom was empty. There was nobody in her apartment, but she was cringing with the sensation that someone had been there. Nothing seemed to be missing. Everything was as she had left it just a few hours ago. It was all the same, but there was a difference. It wasn’t until two days later that she noticed that her copy of “Leaves of Grass,” the one she thought was missing, was in its place on her bookshelf.

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Back It Up Over Here

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF WONDERFUL PEOPLE who follow this strange blog and who are into recipes, cooking, and the very creative Culinary Arts. I’m not really all that sure what they are getting out of it, but I am most grateful for their attention. I mention this because today’s blog is about food. Specifically it is about the monthly special at a local eatery.

Every Thursday Dawn and I take our son, Alex, out to dinner and just a mozzarella stick’s throw from Alex’s house is “Charlie’s Pub and Grub.” It is just a neighborhood bar that has transformed itself from a real Punch Palace roughneck bar into a nice place to go for a casual meal.

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Merry Christmas! 

 

Merry Christmas To You All Around The World !

christmas

 

 

 

Enjoy this day with your Family and Friends!

 

Fa, la, la, la, la.

Finger Lickin’ Good

 

I JUST READ THE DARNDEST THING – a restaurant review that made me lose my appetite.

Straight from the home town of Godzilla and Hello Kitty comes a story that, under other circumstances would probably reconvene the courtrooms of Nuremberg. (Under 40? Look it up.)

The restaurant named “Resoto Ototo No Shoky Ryohin” has opened its doors in Tokyo and somehow gotten all of the usual permits and government approval to become the first eatery in the world to legally serve (Brace Yourself) Human meat. The name of the restaurant translates into English as “Edible Brother.”

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That Is One Ugly Dog

There are dogs everywhere in Terre Haute (That’s French for “That is one ugly dog.”). I like dogs, but a dog is not always what it seems.

The other day I was about to head off from home to take care of some errands and chores around town. I’d already had my morning coffee and I was ready to face the day.

I got into the Toyota and headed down the driveway. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed some motion coming my way. “Oh,” I said to myself. “A dog is coming down the street.” I stopped the car out of sheer courtesy. As the dog approached I again spoke to myself. “Oh, that is one ugly dog.” Then the dog passed right in front of me as I sat in the car. It was then that I spoke to myself yet once more – this time out loud.

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Do You Know The Muffin Man ?

THE TIMER IS COUNTING DOWN. Tension fills the air. The crowds are a-buzz with antici…….pation. I am on Muffin Watch.

It is Saturday morning at Gramma’s House. We have all had our tea so our hearts are once again beating.

My wife, the lovely and culinarily adept, Dawn, has put some muffins in the oven and handed me the responsibility of keeping watch on them. Everyone seems to be a bit nervous – no – they are scared. They are fearful that I will drop the ball on this and instead of hot steamy muffins dripping butter or jam we will have charcoal briquettes. I mean – really now! I am a college graduate.

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A Basket Of Brisket

WELL, HERE WE GO – OFF TO TEXAS! Surprisingly our flights were uneventful – which is what you want. Eventful airplane flights make the news and that is never a good thing. Things even went smoothly in our dealings with the TSA aerobic organisms. I think they were having an “On-The Job Slumber Party. They were just waving people through without even looking at them. I bet I could have walked through there toting a Howitzer and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It always makes me feel so safe.

Once we got to our ultimate destination (Corpus Christi) we did what any sensible person would do – we stopped for lunch at Whataburger. It’s a tradition that goes back to the days of the Alamo and Davy Crockett I think. A Family thing, you know.

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A Walk On The Wild Side

I DID SOMETHING TODAY THAT I HAVE NEVER DONE BEFORE in all my 120 years. It was risky some people told me. A close friend pleaded with me not to even try to do it.

“You may not get out alive.”

Don’t you just love a little Hyperbole? At least I was hoping it was Hyperbole.

I decided to not take any unnecessary chances – so I took my wife, the lovely and ever so courageous, Dawn, with me.

On our first travel day, as we headed off to Georgia, we threw all caution to the wind and – brace yourself – had dinner at “The Waffle House.”

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Congratulations To Heather

I WAS DRIVING AROUND TOWN YESTERDAY, taking care of errands and chores – the usual stuff. As I drove past the neighborhood Taco Bell I noticed something on their marquee. It read

“Employee of the Month – Heather.”

Nothing really unusual about that except that Heather has been the Employee of the Month for two months in a row there. She must be something special. Perhaps she can make tacos faster than anyone else. I don’t know, and to be honest – I don’t really care. Anyway I offer my Congratulations to Heather. I just hope that her obviously superior skills don’t have a negative impact on the other employees. People can be so petty sometimes.

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Rooty, Tooty, Point And Shooty

NAME THREE ACTIVITIES THAT CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS:

1) Sky Diving

2) Space Travel

3) Breakfast

The first two are pretty obvious, but the third can be downright deadly.

About a month ago in the town of Decatur, Illinois the pancakes went flat at the local IHOP when some customers became a bit unruly and the Manager stepped in to make everything Fresh and Fruity once more.

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Thank God Texas Has A Lot Of Room

TAKE ME TO THE BUTTER CHURN is a cry I hear on a regular basis when we go south to visit family. “The Butter Churn” is a restaurant/feeding station aka buffet just a waddle or two away from the family home in Sinton, Texas. And every time we visit, along with an assortment of several generations of nieces and nephews, we go to The Butter Churn.

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Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

joy1HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!

The sun is back rising in the east. Up is up. Down is down and Baseball is soon to reappear and…

My favorite little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant is open again. It was closed last August when two “youths” decided to burn down the Dollar Store next door. A brilliant move it was not. Not only did the fire gut the Dollar Store, but smoke and water damage destroyed my favorite little family run restaurant. All of this just a bagel’s thrown from St. Arbucks. But now…

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I Always Cry At Weddings

wed1THE WEATHER IS BEAUTIFUL RIGHT NOW and I am longing for Springtime. You know what they say – “Springtime when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of Chimichangas.” No, that’s not right, but then again…

Las Vegas, the Disneyland for Adults, is always striving to top itself. It all started out as a dusty desert gas station and has transformed itself into the tangible definition of “Will you look at that!” It is the only town where Elvis, Howard Hughes, and Liberace all felt at home. And they’re all dead.

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The Turkey That Gobbled Tokyo

food1I’M A CITY BOY. Well, a Small Town Boy who grew up in town. I’ve never been hunting. I’ve never been camping. I have no desire to do either of those things. My idea of roughing it is a hotel without room service. If I need food I go to the Kroger store. Stalking down a deer or a turkey is too much work and holds no appeal for me. If my turkey doesn’t come wrapped in a net bag with one of those little “I’m Ready” pop up thingys in it I consider it unnatural.

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Throwback Thursday from January 2015

Throwback Thursday from January 2015

Colleges Across The South Abandoned

Ramen Noodle Truck

I SAW THE FOLLOWING news item yesterday and I thought that it might have repercussions beyond just traffic problems.

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Authorities closed all southbound lanes of Interstate 95 north of Rocky Mount early Wednesday after a tractor-trailer carrying ramen noodles wrecked near N.C. Highway 4.

No other information about the wreck has been released, but boxes of noodles were spilled over a larger portion of the highway.

The state Department of Transportation said the closure could last all morning. Lanes are expected to reopen by 3:30 p.m.”

I thought that when the word of this crash got out all hell would break loose.

My brain created its own little movie of college students all over the South dropping their textbooks and i-phones and rushing to the accident scene.

The first reel, even under the opening credits, would show speeding traffic along Interstate 95, and then the Semi in question loosing traction and slamming into a bridge abutment. Next comes a slo-mo following shot of thousands of those little cellophane packets of the Ramen Noodles spreading out across all lanes like little flavored migratory butterflies.

Music comes up: Paul McCartney and Wings – reunited to sing: “Food on the run.” I can almost smell an Oscar nomination coming for the soundtrack.

The next shot cuts to hordes of skinny underclassmen and women sensing the possibility of free meals, scattering across the landscape, heading toward the Interstate. It is meals just ripe for the picking. An overturned truckload of gold bullion (not bouillon cubes) would not draw such a response.

Those Ramen Noodles don’t grow on trees, y’know. One must strike while the saucepan is hot.

In my collegiate days (Pre-Ramen) we were limited to making grilled cheese sandwiches with a steam iron or instant soups that tasted like flavored sea water. If an accident like this had happened back in the late 1960s I would have been moving with all imprudent speed to scoop up as many free and easy meals as I could stuff into my backpack.  

Most days I can look at news stories and just yawn. Things don’t vary all that much from Six O’clock News to Six O’clock News. If you want to get my attention you’ve got to do something original, or at least really dumb. Spreading several tons of Ramen Noodles across an Interstate highway gets my attention. It also makes me hungry.

Talk amongst yourselves for a while. I’m going out to get some lunch.

No Man is a Thousand Islands

200wNO MATTER HOW MUCH PEOPLE HAVE, THEY WANT MORE. No matter what people have, they want something different. That behavior pattern may be deep seated in our DNA going back millions of years – back to the days of our “Hunter-Gatherer” subsistence world. If we hunted and gathered the same things millennium after millennium we might like a change. Given the odds that we might starve to death – we would want more. Of course, one does not expect to such behaviors exhibited today.

Oh, yeah? Have you been to a salad bar lately?

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Throwback Thursday From January 2015

Throwback Thursday from January 2015

The Last Biscuit Protocol

last biscuit

 

BY AND LARGE we are a polite society. Of course, the exceptions to that are loud, obnoxious, and to be avoided at all costs – particularly around dinner time.

Whenever the family gathers, like at Christmastime, or other major events, we can have a considerable number around the table. And, for the most part, they are members of that polite society. But that politeness can lead to some interesting observations. Let me explain.

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Six Kolaches Over Texas

kol1SOME THINGS ARE WORTH EATING.

Other things are not.

A nicely done “medium-rare” steak – Yes. A “well-done” steak – No.

 Fried Chicken – Yes. KFC – No.

Airline Cookies, Cheap Mexican Food, and Beets – No, No, and No.

Kolaches – YES!

Kolaches? Wazzat?

Sit and learn, my child.

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I Am Leftovers

food1YOU WOULD THINK THAT AN ENTIRE WEEKEND would be enough time to recover, but I still feel like that beached whale. I am still giving thanks – only now it is thanks that I’m still alive, having survived my gluttony.

By this time of life I should know better and be more into a Zen-like state where I don’t engage all of my senses in a spate of overdoing it at the dinner table.

“Oh, Grasshopper, you are personally responsible for the famine in Asia. Because of you millions of people will go to bed without any pumpkin pie. The children will never know the meaning of Kool-Whip.”

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I Think I’ll Have Some More

foodA COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO I asked for suggestions about where we should go for a right fancy Thanksgiving feast. It has been our tradition to go out for our Thanksgiving dinner, but our usual buffet spot is closed for remodeling.

We got several good tips and a couple of wiseacre suggestions too – and thanks for the invitation to join you for dinner, but India is farther than I care to drive.

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