Monday, October 24, 2011


(Clockwise from upper left: baby lettuce mix; arugula; "spicy mix"; wild romaine, green leaf and red leaf lettuces. Center: striped radishes)

Some Sundays I feel like I've hit the veggie lottery.

Sunday is the day we pick up our weekly share from the Honey Brook Organic Farm in Pennington, NJ, about which I've posted a lot here. This Sunday was perhaps the salad greens lottery, but it was impressive nonetheless.

The photo above shows just a small portion of the total haul this Sunday. I plated handfuls of the most impressive stuff, and, while trying to channel my inner Eric Menscher (a former Philadelphia Inquirer photog who had just taught a workshop I attended on Saturday at the Philadelphia Food & Drink Writers Meet-Up at Daniel Stern's fabulous R2L restaurant, 37 stories above center city Philly), tried to display the inner beauty of some of these greens.
I obtained 2 POUNDS of a baby lettuce mix, so bright and glistening and colorful, the photo doesn't do it justice; a half pound of arugula (which is a lot of arugula); a half pound of "spicy mix", which seems to include baby chicory and mache and mustard greens among other zippy leaves; and 4 heads of fall lettuce, including wild romaine, with its finger-like leaves, red leaf and green leaf lettuce. There were also gorgeous pink and red and white radishes, field tomatoes, among other veggies, but the greens just stood out so much, I had to post this.

Salad days are here. Oh baby.

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Did You Ever Wonder...."

Andy Rooney broadcast his final regular segment for 60 Minutes last night, and it was a classic. In case you missed it, you can view it above here.

I met Rooney once, we shared a laugh, and it was a memorable 30 seconds of my life.

I was working at the Adam's Mark Hotel at the time, as the hotel's advertising and public relations manager. Philadelphia's The Book and The Cook food festival was at the peak of its popularity and in full swing, and the hotel was asked to put up some of the celebrity chefs that were in town that year. One of those chefs was David Burke, Executive Chef at the Park Avenue Cafe in New York City. He was a big headliner that year, very popular and very in demand around town. He was a great guest, very affable and gracious, and I drove him to a couple of appearances, as well as back and forth to the annual chef-media party at Jack's Firehouse restaurant in Fairmount. As I drove him to the train back to NYC after his time in Philly was done, he gave me his business card, and said, "If you're ever in New York, gimme a call and come in for dinner."

About 6 months later, I had to be in the Big Apple and took him up on his offer. When we got to the restaurant, Burke had set us up at an "A" table, dead center in the main dining room, and, after schmoozing with us for a bit, served us a brilliant tasting menu of many of his greatest hits, from an amuse' of truffled wild mushrooms in an egg shell, right down to his signature cheesecake lollipops. It was a perfect meal in every way. He was chatting with us at one point, explaining one of the dishes he was about to bring out, when he pointed to the entrance, and said, "Look you just walked in!". It was Walter Cronkite and his wife, Betsey, and Andy Rooney and his wife, Margie. Burke left our table, and went to help whisk the famous foursome to another dining room in the restaurant.

About a half hour later, I went to the mens room and a moment later, Rooney walked in and took his place at the urinal next to mine. "Hello, Mr. Rooney," I said. "Hello, " he replied, and added, "You'll excuse me if I don't shake hands." We both laughed out loud. I washed my hands, he remained in place, and I walked out without a handshake.

You know, despite all of the imitations done of Andy Rooney, Joe Piscopo's being the most famous, he never once uttered the phrase "Did you ever wonder..." on one of his 60 Minutes segments. Just a little trivia.