Friday, November 22, 2013


I was in first grade at the Sacred Heart School in Scranton, PA on November 22, 1963. It was a Friday. Pizza Day. And I had an earache.

The pain was so bad that the school nurse made the decision to send me home early, with my square slice of  Proferra's pizza wrapped in wax paper and a napkin. I lived just 2 blocks away from my school, and my mother, 8 months pregnant with my brother, and with my 3-year old sister in tow, met me halfway, and we walked the block back to our apartment, where she put my sister down for a nap, put some drops into my pained ear and had me nap on the living room sofa.

I woke up to the sound of Walter  Cronkite reporting about a shooting in Dallas, TX, and the possibility that someone took a shot at the President of the United States. I woke up immediately and began watching the unfolding drama and tragedy. I was wrapped in a blanket, and shivered uncontrollably as I watched the unimaginable.

The rest of that day was a blur, but I do recall  eating dinner that night on TV trays in the living room, riveted to the marathon of news coverage that blanketed every channel on our TV that day. It was a sad weekend and on Sunday, after going to  a somber mass at our church, we returned to watch the live coverage of Lee Harvey Oswald being brought out of a building and being shot by a man wearing a fedora.  Right in front of our eyes. I remember thinking that the world was going crazy.

It was a quiet return to school on Monday, but something had changed. I was just 6 years old, but I felt different;  stunned, confused and sadder than I had ever been before.

That is how I remember that day, 50 years ago.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Le Beaujolais Nouveau.....

......est arrive!  One of my favorite days of the year, simply for the sheer fun of it, when this sprightly wine is released just in time for Thanksgiving (and Hannukah too!), and just in time for some leisurely quaffing.

And again, the reason I am so fond of this wine is that is allows the drinker, I think, to taste the entire cycle of wine making: the earth, the vine, the leaf, the grape, the juice and all the flowers and berries and fruit from nearby fields. It is quite an exciting whirlwind of smells and tastes in just a few sips.

And the wine flat out goes with anything you might eat, from cheeses to veggies and fruit, fish, fowl and meats, pastas,  even dessert.  Versatility is the key word here.  This year's  vintage explodes with strawberry and raspberry and even some apple in the nose, and smacks your mouth with black cherry and raspberry, more of that apple taste, more than in previous years, and even a little citrus, while still holding onto the earthy, slightly vegetal tastes that remind you of the vineyards from where the grape (Gamay) came. Swirl your first sips of this year's Nouveau  and you will feel it all, a remarkable experience, actually.

The Nouveau will really show its stuff with holiday dinners, though,  because it is able to straddle all of the diverse flavors of a holiday meal, from Hannukah latkes to cranberry relish, herbal stuffing, butttery potatoes candied yams and roast turkey, even (gasp) green bean casserole.  I happen to think it goes pretty well with pecan pie, too, if that is part of your holiday dessert selections. It will also hold its own with pumpkin and sweet potato pie and chocolate desserts.

So, kick back and enjoy this year's  Nouveau. It's shockingly inexpensive ($8.09 at my local Joe Canal's store in Lawrenceville) and fun to drink!