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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Actors who have given me much pleasure - we lose one this morning - Saeed Jaffrey - a Jewel of the International Cinema

I grew up; a child of the movies  having much love and respect for many foreign actors, especially ones whose voice and diction thrilled me to no end. Such actors as Philip Ahn, Phillippe Noiret, Alistair Sim, Terry-Thomas, Jean Rochefort, Sydney Greenstreet and so many others. The death this morning of the British/Indian actor, Saeed Jaffrey has sadden my life a bit more.
Mr. Jaffrey was a character actor of enormous accomplishment, urbane wit and avuncular charm.  His very unparochial career let him straddle two different kinds of cinema - Hindi and English language and to all her brought intelligence, a lifetimes' accumulation of technique and style and a seduction, resonant voice. I shall miss him,, but was happy that I was alive to experience his screen performances. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I am off to France on Saturday............What ho!, What Joy!

And as one of my favorite childhood literary characters ( Mr. Toad of Toad Hall) put it so well, I leave you with this:
"AH! The open road, the dusty highway, the heath, the common, the hedgerows, the rolling downs! Camps, villages, towns, cities! Here to-day, up and off to somewhere else to-morrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sid Caesar rembered

Today is the 1st anniversary of Sid Caesar's death.
I grew up watching in the early 1950's his ' Your Show Of Shows' and still to this day , I find him one if not one of the funnest performers I ever saw. His classic sketch ( done in April of 1954) a take of on 'This is Your Life"; still remains one of the funnest moments in television.
But looking back this morning. Sid Caesar did more than just make you laugh.

When people remember the shows, they not only remember the comedy, they remember their parents, grandparents, brothers, sister, aunts and uncles.
They remember a time when everyone was together and everyone was laughing.
...whatever was going on at home,for at least an hour and a half on Saturday night, people got to laugh and they got to see their parents laugh.
A shared laughter that we don't see anymore.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The world today is a bit sadder for the loss of Tom Magliozzi - Part of the Car Talk Radio out of Boston on NPR

Tom Magliozzi, one of public radio's most popular personalities, died on Monday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 77 years old. Tom and his brother, Ray, became famous as "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers" on the weekly NPR show Car Talk. They bantered, told jokes, laughed and sometimes even gave pretty good advice to listeners who called in with their car troubles. If there was one thing that defined Tom Magliozzi, it was his laugh. It was loud, it was constant, it was infectious.
In a world of madness these days, here was two gentlemen, on every Saturday morning, who made you laugh with delight and I even don't care about cars, but listened in, because they brought humor for a few hours to a world of distress and sourness. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

House of Cards, the best political thriller ever on BBC.

  Forget the USA version with Keven Spacey, it could not hold a candle to it 

"You might think that, I couldn't possibly comment"

Friday, October 24, 2014

If David Niven could sing, he'd be Matt Monro

In the later part of the 20th Century and certainly into the 21st, in music, rhythm has over taken melody and that is a sad loss.
For me, I was fortunate to have lived in a bygone age of great singers, great songwriters, great arrangers and of course, the best were  Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra and Matt Monro.
This morning I am remembering Matt ( who died far too young) and his purity of voice and no imperfection in his singing. He was, ( to put it in the language of the early 1960's) like Sinatra; the James Bond of easy listening. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, whose beautifully made evening wear was beloved by the fashion world died last night

When you talk about style and grace  in today's coarse and vulgar world, certainly one of the great stars not only in fashion, but in humanity, the name Oscar de la Renta will always come up.
His death leaves the world a bit less stylish today and I am only going to say, what another great and stylish designer once remarked when asked about his designing for women. 
He said "If you look at the women who wears my dress and you only see the dress and not her, then I have failed as a designer"
Mr. de la Renta certainly made you see the women who wore his dresses.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Who’s killing the great sauces of France? The answer is simple..Today’s Chefs.

It seems to me that chefs today; even in France, don't use rouxs or a lot of the classic sauces anymore ( if at all). The question to me then becomes “Are we better off or are we worse off?”                            Worse, oh so much worse. 

Today we have a cult of (so-called) culinary stars, but I bet, if I went to them and asked them to make a classic consommé or classic velouté or hollandaise-based sauce, and God forbid to ask them to create, an Nantua, Chasseur or Espagnole sauce, could any of them do it? NO!! Most of these are culinary school graduates, whether it's Johnson & Wales or CIA or another school, but I'm sad to say that a lot of them (maybe most of them) probably couldn't without being shown how. That's kind of sad. For a great classic sauce does not conceal, ……………………but revels a dish.

 So, I always judge a chef on how he cooks a roast chicken and how he can make at least 5 classic sauces, if he can’t, no matter how famous he is, to me, it is not worth sampling his food. As a teenager, my bothers and I would cook up a large pot of Béarnaise sauce and sit in front the TV and devour it. My sauce training started early and has continued for over 60 years. Chefs that I see today are a fussy lot and their tasteless food shows it. Its all show and no taste. In this age of I can’t eat this or that, I say Phoew!

 I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. 

 Oh! Mr. Escoffier, where are you today?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Too Late Blues - A Requiem for the 1960's and the loss of elegance and glamour in our lives

When I hear the recording of Percy Faith and especially this song, I am transported back to the early 1960’s, the last era in the United States that embodied glamour and charm. And Percy Faith for me defined that era with his lush and romantic music. How lucky I was to be alive then.

His recordings were a distinct counterpoint to the gritty blues and edgier and uglier rock music of the mid 60's, which reflected the turbulent social shift of the era. His orchestral music was a reflection on what we wanted the world to be--beautiful, ordered, no notes out of place. Alas, it was not meant to be and romance was thrown out with other outmoded ideas like respect, civility, and action rather than protest. Sometimes, my memories embellish the memory far more than it originally was! But, its my thoughts, so who cares, except me. 

This recording has been on CD player for the last 4 hours and it is as lush and perfect as I remembered. it is music for a grand, sweeping romance. It reminds me that a woman looks ever so much more seductive in a form-fitting black dress and elbow-length white gloves than she does in a midriff shirt, jeans with a 3" rise, and be-jeweled flip-flops. It is music that never scored a divorce, break-up of family, hate or dissent. It scored looking into someone's eyes and feeling that spark of chemistry, that jolt of sexual energy, all while having the grace and style to wait until the time and mood was just right. This music might move you to tears if you're of a certain age  or it might move you to dance with your darling. It will move you nonetheless, with its deceptively lush strings and horns that belie musicianship far deeper than cotillion dresses and white dinner jackets. If you love romantic and elegant, superbly crafted orchestral music, you will love this music. Thank you, Percy Faith.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The MGM Musical Sound and its Genius - Connie Salinger

The overwhelming resurgence of interest in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie musicals, as spearheaded by young British conductor John Wilson and his Orchestra, is one of the great success stories of recent years. 
With sell-out UK tours, huge record sales, and an annual televised showcase during the BBC Proms season, Wilson’s achievements have led to an increased awareness and appreciation of the talented craftsmen that originally created this timeless music back in the 1940s and ‘50s in Hollywood musicals. 
Chief among these talents was M-G-M’s resident musical genius – master arranger and orchestrator, Conrad Salinger
Regarded by his esteemed colleague Sir Andre Previn as being “the greatest arranger who ever worked in the movies,” Salinger’s signature style of orchestration helped establish the classic, lush M-G-M sound, which is still wowing the crowds over 60 years later. “He made those musicals sound his way, no matter who the songwriter was,” acknowledged Sir Andre Listen to the Salinger sound at its best with the Broadway Melody performed by John Wilson and the orchestra.

(excuse the commercial insert - Jeez) 

Hail to the Cigar and Cigar Smoker - How rare we are these days

The best adventure stories used to start in the smoking-room after dinner. The hero, would throw another log on the fire, settle back in a deep arm-chair and light up his favorite cigar. There would be a long pause while he lit up and then he'd say to his companion: 'Did I ever tell you how we caught up with that German spy, Richter?' 

 There was something ritualistic and reassuring about that pause while he lit up. Whatever the thrills and spills along the way he was still alive to tell the tale – and to take a deep puff before he did so. The cigar has survived as a potent symbol. Its aroma still lingers in men’s clubs; men still draw comfort from the ritual of selecting, storing, cutting and smoking it. 

The Oldest established of all in London (and my go to place for great cigars for many many years) is Robert Lewis of 19 St James's Street, SW1, established in 1787. With a regular stock of over £500,000 worth of cigars in their basement, Robert Lewis can justifiably claim to carry one of the largest and widest ranges of cigars anywhere. 

Here you will find Cuban Havana cigars are the best-sellers, but also supply cigars made in Jamaica, the Canary Islands, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.

Three customers who must have been particularly well-recognized were Edward VII, Sir Winston Churchill and Groucho Marx. Churchill bought most of his cigars there from 1900 to 1964, while Napoleon III presented the firm with a plaque, and Edward Vlll bequeathed them his own cigar box. 

 The most important aspect of cigar appeal is ritual. Like food, religion, marriage, death or politics, man quickly clothes most of his activities in ritual if he possibly can.

 Another crucial factor in the allure of cigar smoking must be romance: and nowhere can there be a more romantic name for a cigar than the best-known of all, Romeo y Julieta. The name is magical!!!

No doubt Freud could have expounded at length on what that precise need really is. Meanwhile, the cigar smokers will tell you that it's all quite simply a matter of taste and enjoyment. Cigar smokers really do enjoy puffing away and because their cigars clearly offer a familiar, reassuring pleasure all wrapped up in mystique, ritual, romance and filled, perhaps, with a little adventurous exploration along the way.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday afternoon blues..........feeling romantic and remembering.....remembeing Matt Monroe

He’s known as a “Singer’s Singer”, a man who influenced generations of performers, from Karen Carpenter and Cass Elliot to Michael Bublé. Even Frank Sinatra, to whom Matt Monro was frequently compared, acknowledged his gifts. Yet, his success in the United States was modest, never coming close to his popularity in his native England. and yet, There are a few singers I go to, to feel romantic -Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Jack Jones ( in his prime) and Matt Monroe. How lucky I was, to see them while they were alive and if they only knew what an impression they made on me and my life...incalculable... One great song and two great singers..

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Importance of Self-Indulgence

Today I learned of a client/friend losing his battle with cancer and it made me once again, sit back and reflect on my life (it’s been great! I can tell you that) and what the future holds out for me. Dealing with the sad news, I once again, embraced the value of self-indulgence. The good life is good and one should always take the time and resource to treat oneself, not every once and awhile, but regularly. My late Edwardian grandfather taught me the value of enjoyment in savoring what ever you did, even the little things. Drinking fine whiskey, smoking a great cigar, sampling smoked salmon, or having a table set properly and laden with all the things you enjoy and above all, all of this should be an experience, in and for itself; one does not hurry and expect to enjoy the same results if one is rushed – you should embrace the mediation, the introspection of the products themselves. That’s the joy…….. Oscar Hammerstein once penned the classic, “A Few of my Favorite things”……….. Well mine are in part:
 ~ Hot Dogs in lamb casing
 ~ Ice cold Martini (gin, of course) along with a American club sandwich (the chicken must be poached) 
~ A huge bowl of Bearnaise sauce to dip crusty bread in while watching the movie 'Charade"
 ~ Hearing the most important 4 words in the world “Your table is Ready” 
 ~ Sole Meuniere at Le Dome in Paris 
 ~ Glass of crusted port and a Ramon Allones Lonsdale cigar 
 ~ A 6 button double-breasted Blazer and polka dot blue bow tie from Turnbull and Asher 
~ Dinner in a Pullman booth at Wiltons’ (London) during Grouse season 
~ Paris – anytime (except summer) 
~ The music of Tom Jobim and Frank Sinatra (together and apart)
~ Soft scrambled eggs with heavy cream and scallions ( lots and lots of scallions) 
~ smoked salmon and Gravlox and buckets of marinated, creamed and smoked herring
~ Kippers - drowning in butter
 ~ Lunch at the Thermes Marins Spa café L’Hirondelle in Monaco (ensconced in nothing but your robe) overlooking the Mediterranean while drinking a vintage Graves wine and feasting on curried pheasant. You have not lived until you have done this.
 ~…………..and so much more…………………..

My thought for the world has gone thoughts turn to pleasant things.

Happiness? A good cigar, a good meal, a good cigar and a good woman - or a bad woman; it depends on how much happiness you can handle.”

Gosh..........Grace Kelly..........Today's stars have nothing, are nothing compared to her....

Friday, September 12, 2014

A cup of Coffee and a cigarette enjoyed by two Martians - a return to TV Happy days in the 1960's

I was never, even to this day, a fan of science fiction in either TV, movies nor books, but on the 13th of January, 1964, My friend Frank, wanted to watch the science fiction TV program, the Outer Limits and so, I said yes and that night, I watch it and on that program, was a story ( the only comedy, I understand, in the entire series) called Controlled Experiment, starring the late Carroll O Conner and Barry Morse, it was about two Martians ( coming to earth), equipped with a device for controlling time, try to understand the human phenomena of murder. They choose a crime of passion in the lobby of a shabby hotel. But what seems like a simple assignment rapidly runs out of control.  Well I was captivated, I must say. 
My favorite scene takes place when O'Connor introduces Morse to the Earth habits of coffee and cigarettes. Morse's delighted response is like a small child sampling cake and ice cream for the first time. I still laugh about it to this day, some 50 years later. 

Closing narration( I love it!) “ Who knows? Perhaps the alteration of one small event may someday bring about the end of the world. But that someday is a long way off, and until then there is a good life to be lived in the here and now.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day." W. Somerset Maugham ..well that was true once upon a time, but

But, today, London enjoys a food renaissance and has some of the best restaurants in the world, these days.
But to my thinking, breakfast in England is still KING and will always be ( unless the health police and you know who you are!) muck it up. But util then, I will go on and on enjoying the Ten Deadly Sins" What is that you ask?
Why, its a breakfast consisting of Cumberland sausage, scrambled eggs, streaky and back bacon, black pudding, fried mushrooms, baked tomato, kidney, fried bread,and baked beans.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Underground secrets - London Silver Vaults

The London Silver Vaults opened as The Chancery Lane Safe Deposit in 1876. Originally renting out strong rooms to hold household, jewelry and documents, it transitioned to housing silver dealers in secure premises a few years later. It is located on Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS. Open to the public, its worth the price of admission as they use to say to see all the silver and by the way, for fans of Downton Abbey, they bought from here all the silver you see on the TV program on the dining room tables.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday - As Fats Waller so rightly said - "Fish is still my favorite fish" its Lobster tail with unctuous garlic mayonaise tonight

I have grown weary of young chefs rant for today...........

I grow weary of young chefs who lack the long-term commitment to their craft and expect the short road to success. This might be an unintended consequence of food television, hair mousse, tattoos and chemistry sets I suppose, not entirely sure. What I love most about what chefs do is the craftsmanship and the time they put into it. The magic of true cooking, all of it takes time and commitment to craftsmanship , overnight success ( are you listening young chefs?) is a 20-year journey. I also loath pretense, I have been around too long to suffer though it, to tolerate it and will run like a scalded dog to avoid it. True Chefs cook, they serve, they invite people into their lives to enjoy and experience their love of cooking and hospitality. Self-importance has no place in that.
                                                     (The late Keith Floyd)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A thought for this Tuesday, 02 September, 2014

"If I don't like the way the times are moving, I shall refuse to accompany them' 
                                     - H.E. Lewis

The Glorious Twelfth in England............and I ain't talking about Christmas.............

In just a few weeks, there is no other place on earth ( Sorry France, I love you but....) that I'd rather eat than in England, because?...Because its the start of the Grouse season. Roast grouse with braised  red cabbage and game chips, grouse pie, damson and cobut salad with Crozier Blue Cheese. 
Two of the best places ( where you'll always find me in the winter time is Rules or Corrigan's.

Dressing for Dinner – If you are easily insulted , please do not read any further.

The great dressing down of America has been going for the last few decades and I must say that men appear to be in the vanguard of this dress-to-regress army. I realize that as the 21st century progresses American and European society has become more causal. But that casual dress has become (especially in America) slovenly dress. Yes, you will point to Europe and say but they have skipped their ties and jackets, but ah! Still Europeans seem to be more acutely aware than most American’s that certain articles of clothing are simply not worn in certain places. In American, we have come to this, where men will not only wear a baseball cap to dinner, but wears it backwards.I find that American men ( and women) wish not to be adults but want to be children again and certainly act and dress like it..  Different times? Yes, Sartorial evolution? Try devolution. Dressing shabbily for any restaurants above the level of a fast food joint, is an affront not only to fellow dinners but to the owner. Unfortunately, many owners themselves have given up, adopting a style of dress that helps make ill-clad customers feel comfortable. Many owners pride themselves of faded jeans and open neck shirts and to me, it makes them look more like the fellow who delivers the vegetables than the man who pays for them. Of course American clients contend that their turtleneck sweater is cashmere or their golf jacket is Italian suede, but of course, they mistake good fabric for good manners. Dining out, to my mind after all, isn't just about the food, it’s also about such things as service and ambiance and that all taken together should create a pleasurable experience. That is why when I am asked, what restaurants in Los Angeles do you like, I can think of none, as most today have become playpens, not restaurants and none have created a pleasurable experience for me for a long long time. Men tell me, that donning a jacket and tie is a form of strangulation even thought they work in their white collar jobs without any apparent loss of breath. To them I say, buy a larger-size shirt and learn how to tie your tie. Ah! but especially in Southern California, those same men say they should be permitted to wear anything they please to a restaurant, maintaining that their money is as good as that of a person in a coat and a tie. Such logic suggests an arrogance about privilege that’s no more attractive today than it’s ever been. To me, dress that is appropriate the restaurant in question shows a person respects his hosts, guests and fellow dinners. It seems to me that American men ( and Women) wish to regress and become children again and not adults - it can be seen in their appearance and behavior -  And perhaps most important of all, they should serve as a model to their children – that than the other way around.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Death of the 'man hug' - its about time!!

It's time we washed our hands of the inappropriate and overly tactile man hug, says H.E. Lewis

America – The noisiest place that ever existed

Please, be quiet! I say this to myself all the time, for if I were to say it out loud, I would get looks that would kill or worst yet, the noise would continue louder and unabated. Noise can be defined as any sound you don’t want to hear and there is a plethora of that in the USA today. What the ‘heck’ is going on, I say to myself?  its my take only of course, that American’s dread silence and must fill that gap with the din of cellular phones, computer games, music so loud it shocks the body, whatever. It seems to me that the mind’s appetite for stimulation is like  the body’s need for food. Americans; their mind, their brains has gotten so used to audio stimulation, it craves noise – making it a substance that American’s abuse like other stimulates, such as coffee, sugar, alcohol and even rock n roll and hip hop ( the worse of all stimulants) 
 A French author once remarked that “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone. So I say to my fellow Americans, “Sit down and shut up!”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Give me the simple life" - well kind of when it comes to food................

In 1946, Harry Ruby and Rube Bloom wrote a lovely song entitled 'Give me the simple life" and last night that song filled my head after watching ( my wife watches it, I don't as a rule) another boorish, pompous cooking contest show  this one called 'Iron chef'
Whatever happened to straight forward, great tasting cuisine, devoid of scores of ingredients, platted towers of food, silly foams (foams should be left on the beach) and over all, just boorish cooking. 
I have been on a quest over the last several years, to find restaurants and chefs who have returned to the glory days of cooking, great 'heavy' sauces, simple country dishes, the comfort food of my youth ( and I am not talking about Mac and cheese here!, god forbid) I am talking about the great dishes of British and French cooking. One that I love and return to time and time again, especially in London, especially at Wiltons (in St James) is Sole meuniere. 
If you have never had that dish, prepared correctly, you have not eaten.
At Wiltons, they prepare the sole, so that its  been perfectly sauteed to a Platonic ideal of golden brown and the butter melted to the limpid yellow of young Sauternes.
So, when all the silliness of today's chefs is long gone, the Classic way of cooking will always remain ( I will admit - sometimes hard to find these days) and be found in spots in London and Paris and the French countryside.  
So when I sing out 'Give me the simple life" I mean such things as smoked salmon, Stilton Cheese, after dinner Savories, Sole Meuniere, rabbit with mustard, duck with olives ( an after dinner cigar) and so many other classics. Now that's eating and enjoying the simple life!

Monday, August 25, 2014

London - The only place to shop for men's clothing - then and today, it has not changed

Although Paris to me is the end-all, be-all, but when it comes to men’s clothes, its London and London only, ( St James to be exact) where I have shopped for more years than I care to remember, and there is no street in London where the ghosts of the 18th century crowd so thickly as St. James's Street. Adjacent Pall Mall may be described as the heart of clubland with its great places standing cheek by jowl, their marbled halls and vast rooms vying with one another in Victorian ostentation, but turn up St. James's Street toward Piccadilly and the elegance of Regency architecture at once asserts itself. The old coffee and chocolate houses once patronized by men of fashion, now clubs like Boodle's, Brooks's and White's, still present their stylish facades to passersby. It was at White's that Beau Brummel once remarked how he liked to sit in the window with his cronies ''watching the damned people getting wet outside.'' Today they are still the most exclusive of all London's clubs. It is not surprising that it is in St. James's Street that you will find businesses that have served the ''quality'' for 200 years and still quietly carry on their trade unchanged by time. Berry Brothers and Rudd at No. 3 is London's oldest wine merchant, and nearby stands John Lobb where, in the comfortable atmosphere of A good club, one can be fitted for the world’s finest footwear at around $500. 
And one of my favorites is Lock and Co. Older than either, at 6 St. James's Street, is Lock and Company, the hatters who trace their origins back to 1676. In an earlier age everyone wore a hat. To be seen outdoors - and on occasion indoors - without one was as unthinkable as taking a stroll along Piccadilly without trousers. By and large anyone who was anyone beat a path to the door of Mr. Lock. My favorite hat, a Trilby was bought here many years ago and to this day (I wear it only in London) is a great source of style and pride with me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cordings - A men's store in London saved by a Rock & Roll legend.................Eric Clapton

I have always, since I was very young and was able to begin to understand the difference between 'off the rack' and bespoke clothing and the quality of such, have been attracted to London clothing and tailoring. Still to this day, I buy most of my clothing from London haberdashers. One store that I love is Cordings in Piccadilly. 
Cordings (established in 1839) is a men and women's clothing shop specializing in posh English country items like tweed jackets and Tattersall shirts and shooting wear.
A few years ago, I was sadden to learn that this over 100 years in business store  might close due to financial problems and that the young people were not buying their clothes at these types of stores. But then, at the last moment, an Rock and Roll legend ( since I don't follow this kind of music) I was not familiar with the name, he decided to buy an interest in the store and has saved it. For that, I salute him!. The following is a video about his interest in my favorite men stores ( OK - one of them) in London.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cinnamon rolls with bacon - dear Mother of God - It can't get any better than this!

'Here's Adventure...Here's Romance".....Here's................. the Cisco Kid!

In the early days of television, there were many cowboy-30 minute shows...among them was Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rodgers, Gabby Hayes, the Long Ranger and many others, but what I patiently waited for, week after week, was the 'Cisco Kid'.  The show started with an exciting, romantic theme song and narration, then Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo appeared, made small talk, laughed and then rode off into the western landscape. 
The Cisco Kid and his English-mangling sidekick Pancho traveled the old west in the grand tradition of the Lone Ranger, righting wrongs and fighting injustice wherever they find it.
These two gentlemen had style that the others did not. I was a big fan from 1950 to 1956, when their series ended.
My biggest thrill, was when my grandfather took me to the local bank (where I had a savings account) to deposit my weekly allowance and there was Duncan Renaldo! I got a chance to introduce myself and talk to him for a bit and got his autograph.. It was a thrill I still cherish. 
How I miss that show and the both of them,................
All I can say is
"                         OH CISCO...OH... PANCHO"

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Invention of the ball is the greatest single disaster to befall man................

Americans,no, Europeans no, it seems man in general worldwide insists on playing games with small or large spheres and To me its a terrible waste of time and energy. The civilized nations of the world should not encourage it.  But alas, I am spreading the word to an uncaring world.
My having played ( or forced to play) baseball for many,many, many years, I can tell you, I never enjoyed on minute of it nor have I enjoyed watching sports of any kind. 
Sport as I have discovered, fosters international hostility and leads fans, no doubt from boredom, to assault and does grievous bodily harm while watching it. The fact that audiences at the Disney hall rarely break bottles over one another's heads, and that Opera fans  seldom knee one another in the groin during long intervals 
( especially at Richard Wagner Opera's) at the Dorothy Chandler convinces me that theatre is safer than sport.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

For He' is An Englishman" - One of the great TV dramas to come out of England and one of my all time favorites!!

An Englishman Abroad is a 1983 BBC television drama film, based on the true story of a chance meeting of an actress, Coral Browne, with Guy Burgess (Alan Bates), a member of the Cambridge spy ring who spied for the Soviet Union while an officer at MI6. The production was written by Alan Bennett and directed by John Schlesinger; Browne stars as herself.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jack Buchanan - An Englishman I adore............

Hollywood had Fred Astaire, and England had Jack Buchanan. They both made their name in the musical theatre of the 20s, and between them they cornered the market in the top-hat-and-tails style of film musical. Buchanan couldn't dance as well as Astaire (who could?) and his style was more brittle; but if his films are revived less often than those of Astaire, it's certainly not Buchanan's fault. 
I grew up listening on Sunday afternoons at my grandparents home to a number of his recordings, my favorite was and is always, Jerome Kerns ‘who”
As a teenager, I always wanted to be Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Herbert Marshall, Ronald Coleman , Clifton Webb and Jack Buchanan.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My “Cosmo” test, not how good you are in the bedroom, but how good you are in the dining room.

OK, maybe I have a bit harsh on today’s “Foodies”, so I have devised a test to really see if you are one or a fake. So...................................., 
1) Foam is best left on an ocean wave, not on my food – Yes or No 
2) If you have a well aged steak – how do you like it cooked? Medium rare, medium rare or medium rare? 
3) Given the choice between a piece of pork or piece of chicken, which would you choose? 
 4) If you order a Cobb or Chicken salad – how should the chicken be cooked?.. 
5) Do you agree with the following statements? 
6) To put it bluntly, Peanut butter is one of the greatest foods ever created, invented, devised or developed by man and one of America’s most important contributions to civilization. Yes or No. 
7) Canned tuna is one of the worlds great delicacies Yes or No 
8) The quintessential American dish – the one that combines old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity and a striking economy of means is the classic, handsome, delectable, nutritious, forever-comforting creation called the Club sandwich. Yes or No. Would you have an ice-cold martini along with the sandwich? Yes or no 
9) Today’s unruly chefs have been gradually transforming classic items like Caesar Salad and Salad Nicoise into one calamity after another. Bastardizing it, and making it contemporary, eminently healthy and utterly tasteless and absurd. 
10) When you dine (especially in Southern California restaurants) these days, do you feel like you have to have your dinner selections cleared with your HMO? Do you agree with chef Paul Bocuse, when he yelled at a dinner who asked why his cooking was not more healthy. The chef replied “I’m running a restaurant, not a hospital’. Yes or no. 
11) Finally and if you are a ‘said’ Foodie and can’t answer this question, you are not! What Scandinavian dish (I am giving you too much of a hint, I think) when preparing this dish, it should only be prepared’      'in silence, in coolness and in shadow”? 
                                       Check back for your answers……………..

Monday, July 28, 2014

Today’s Foodie – A Sheep in Sheep’s Clothing

 In my day, the term for someone who loved food, all types of food and took great pleasure in all food (Please remember that last few words – pleasure in all foods), maybe to excess was the term – Gourmand. Today, the term used the most is Foodie. One dictionary defines it as someone who enjoys and cares about food very much. Another defines it as someone having an avid interest in the latest food fads. Since I was a child ( some 70 years plus) I have always enjoyed food and dining and when I say food, I mean all types. Today’s ‘foodie’ it seems to me, has to have an asterisks, attached to that word, because they say “Yes’, I’m a foodie and love food, but I don’t like or can’t eat……”…………… This is NOT, let me say it again, this is not a ‘foodie’ or Gourmand. So don’t kid yourself……….it is not. I like the food critic and superb writer, James Villas and agree with him and he (although he may not know it) agrees with me, when he and I say I don’t get along with superficial foodies, who spend endless time talking about (and taking photos ..a big no no!) bogus gastronomic trends, offbeat ingredients, superstar restaurant chefs and diets rather than, like ourselves, simply eating and drinking with wanton abandon. To put it more bluntly, in the age of instant expert, there now seems to be a disproportionate number of people who fancy themselves authorities on food and restaurants and all we can say is pity the poor souls who have to sit next to one of them and/or see on line ( facebook, blogs etc) their running commentary is dishes eaten or on some new hot restaurant or a long discourse on wine ( the faults and merits), I say to them..’Just shut and eat!. .and don’t get me started on today’s restaurants which are playpens for adults……………..but that’s another story.. Check back in a bit for my ‘Cosmos’ test to see if you are a real foodie or fake………………

I say, based on this cartoon...Enough already!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Robert Morley was asked years ago, why he was so fat and he smiled and said, "My dear, because I eat well' - Bravo Mr. Morley

The appeal of a kinder, gentler, and slower pace of life from previous eras is timeless - especially my having the chance to be around my Edwardian grandparents for my formative years,( who until their deaths at the age of 90 plus) lived a measure life, a slow life and a life filled with the mores and ideas of the Edwardian age, it made a lasting impression on how I live - eat, drink and other vices. I say Vice, because by today's standards those things have become evils. 
And yet, look at the popularity of programs like  Downton Abbey?
 I believe on wearing good clothing, having impeccable manners, conversation laced with wit, food contrarianism, humor and the merits of not exercising.
This weekend I shall have scrambled eggs with mixed with heavy cream, homemade sausage ( pork of course) and buttered toast and English jam (the real stuff), then make for the week some gravlax ( so that I have at a moment notice) slices of cured salmon. and what else? let me think for a moment, but all done in a slower, more mannered pace. As it should be......................

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dreamin'...of Smoked Salmon in all its Various Glories...

Man has been smoking salmon since before the written record; but now that there is a written record, the variety of terms that are tossed out can be confusing to me. Folks from the Atlantic smoke Atlantic salmon and North Atlantic Salmon, but many of them confuse the issue by appending their nationalities to the salmon: Scottish, Nova Scotia, Irish, etc. What’s the difference? Folks from the Pacific get species-happy: they smoke Chinook Salmon, Coho Samon and King Salmon, with an occasional generic Pacific Salmon and some geographical offerings of Copper River (Alaska) Sockeye, Chilean Salmon and Wild Alaskan Salmon. And then there is of course… gravlax and we can’t forget LOX! But anyway you smoke it and serve it.., it is one of my favorite things to eat – whatever you call it . Not served on a bagel (although that is nice) but served on a plate (of fine bone China, of course, grandmother taught me well....) with some virgin olive oil, fresh cracked pepper, chopped egg and onion and capers. When abroad in Europe, when offered it, I always partake as my appetizer. If I had to name my favorite meal, this would always, be at the head of the list. ALWAYS………………

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Most stylish Western of the 1950’s and the Man who Influenced My love of Education (albeit non school education)

My favorite TV western ( and there was lots of them in the 1950's) had to be Richard Boone's 'Have Gun, Will Travel' and to be honest with you, I really watched it not for the gunfights and such, no, it was because of the man, the character who was everything I was not and wanted to be - he was Well-schooled and highly cultured, Paladin was a world traveler and polyglot, conversant, if not fluent, in any foreign tongue required by the plot, including Morse code. He had a thorough knowledge of ancient history and classical literature. 
Almost every episode had Paladin dropping a line from such diverse sources as Plato, Aristotle, Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, St Paul, Omar Kayyam, John Milton, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Miguel de Cervantes, and even Oscar Wilde, There are also several instances of Paladin recalling lengthy Shakespearean passages. Paladin was a recognized San Francisco wine authority and epicure—so much of both that he is called upon to judge wines in competition. 
He happily partook in and appreciated gourmet meals, often served in his rooms at the Carlton. He received a yearly crate of award-winning Riesling from the California winery of Renato Donatello,in return for the aid he gave Signore Donatello in a land dispute
He was always a gentleman,who even in a gun fight to the death, before dispatching the villain ,he would quote a line from Shakespeare or Milton and then shoot the brigand dead. What style, what finesse. This is who I wanted to be and so all my life I have endeavored to learn and study so many subjects and disciplines  and hoped to be like him and I can say; although I am still learning, I have, I think, become that gentleman. His style was, ..............Just before he shoots a gunman, he would say:
"The good die young, so they may not be corrupted and the wicked live on so they may have a chance to repent". I say, in modern TV or movies, where are the learned heroes of today?

Shoes That Never Go Out of Fashion

In the 1950s, it didn't matter if you were a bobby-soxer in a long skirt or Elvis Presley onstage in shiny black trousers—you owned a pair of saddle shoes. They were the footwear of choice for good girls and bad boys alike. I understand they are coming back in fashion theses days, but for hide-bound traditionalists like myself, they have never gone out of fashion and I have 4 pairs, I wear often. You see, classic styles never, ever go out of fashion.
PS: Cole-Hahn makes the best one around!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bossa Nova Saved My Life

As a teenager in the 1950’s (and to be honest today) I was always a bit out of step with my contemporaries and it was most noticeable in my choice of music. I never liked the music of my generation or succeeding ones, in fact. Rock and Roll, the English invasion of the 1960’s and the music beyond I have always found laughable, uninspired, coarse, boorish..shall I go on? . I listened, have always listened and shall listen to the music of the American songbook of the 1920’s to late 19450’s. The artistry of Sinatra, Mancini, Riddle, Nat ‘king’ Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Matt Monroe, Sue Raney and the list goes on and on. I love music, romantic music, of strings, and long melodic lines. Wit and complex lyrics – no dumbing down of the English language as is the norm today. The 1950’s pushed aside many of the great songwriters and artists of the early 20th century and towards the end of that decade, I found myself more than a bit depressed as the music being tossed out to me was awful; just awful – Rock and Roll, hard rock, soul music , folk music and such. One of my best friend's father was a concert pianist and one evening on his return for South America, he played some tapes he made of a new style of music coming from Brazil. It was called Bossa Nova and its leader was a young man named Antonio Carlos Jobim. I listened to those tapes and was taken away with the music. That night was one of the greatest in my life of musical tastes; It transformed my life and gave me hope that there was some great music out there still. Rock and Roll was music that gained popularity by being reductive and primal (as is the silly, boorish music today, the worse offender is of course -Hip hop!) by stripping out the complexity. Bossa Nova did the opposite. It took the samba (basic Brazilian beat) and it added harmonic (harmony, do you hear that today in music? harmony) sophistication – extended chords and so on and added to it a degree of lyrical complexity. Tom Jobim save my life, my musical life……..Although I miss the two artists below, I was lucky to be around when they were and to be able to hear their!!!. It is as fresh today as it was some 50 years ago.

James Garner - A Class Act and a Gentleman

In an era of craggy, sardonic, dangerous and downright scrawny movie stars and actors ( you know who you are and I won't name names, I'm, too much a gentleman )-actors that did not appeal to me ever! (even today) and then came along a natural, good looking, affable, charming actor, in fact to a youngster like myself, in the 1950's and into the early 1960's, he was, even by today's standards, a little out of fashion and yet someone I admired not only for his screen appeal, but as a person, he was a gift to me and many others - for he had a gentle gallantry. I had the chance to work with him on the MGM' movie epic 'Grand Prix' and even off the screen, he was always a gentleman to the max.
Thank you Mr. Gardner, for being there for me, if only being on the screen. 
and One, if not my favorite pictures and soundtrack was  (I think his favorite movie also)  was 'The Americanization of Emily".'

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why Do I Want To Eat Like An Edwardian?

To answer the question - perhaps it is a way in which to be an Anglophile/Francophile and of course I am an incurable nostalgist.
It is also likely a function of my contrarian nature, a wish to rebel against the terribly tiresome contemporary obsession and religion of health and wellness. A desire to be unashamed of good food, including cream, butter and 5-egg yolk custards. Perhaps I cannot countenance the idea of any more 'fusion cuisine' or restaurants with 'concept' that need condescending explanation by the waiters. 
My grandparents were Edwardian's and taught me how to enjoy food, real food ( and lots of it) white starched table cloths and proper dining with proper flatware and the joys of hours spending time with fine cigars/port/whiskey/music and a good book and the emance enjoyment of savories after a meal. Of the joys of dressing properly, of manners and etiquette - those things are long gone today, in my opinion.
Shopping for my clothes and spending glorious hours talking to haberdasher's about what one should wear and how.  Don't get me started, that world has gone, but in my own, I keep the flame going and always will.

In Praise of Steamer Trunks.......... Remembrance of Things Past...

My Edwardian grand parents traveled during the 1920's up to the early 1960's, via steamship ( Transatlantic steamer) between Boston and London and points east.
Before the supremacy of air travel ( which  today is a nothing more than  a cattle car - even first class)  and is no way the proper way to travel as in those early years.
My great-grandfather died ( in first class, of course ) on a Cunard Steamer in Havana Harbor in the early 1920's and his family passed on his Louis Vuitton steamer trunks to my grand parents and they used them up until their death in the 1960's. The pieces were not only beautiful, but so functional and so civilized. So many clever arrays of drawers and hooks to keep your clothing neat and pressed. Their trunks were timeless, sophisticated, that as a young boy, I was taken by their beauty. 

Hotels in Europe were geared for the large trunks, but of course today that is all gone.As is the joy of getting from one place to another.  
Travel isn't what it used to be, and that is sad. Of course today, there are only tourists, not travelers as there were in the 1920's and 30'. BUT Don't get me started.............

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coq Au Vin - One of the great dishes of France and I don't mean chicken here! Mom!...................

As a youngster, at least once a week at home we had Coq au Vin ( made with a stewing chicken) and although I learned to like it and look forward to it, it was not until I got to France many years later and had the real thing that I really fell in love with this classic dish, which one hardly sees on the menu anymore; except in far away  places in Burgundy, in small family run restaurants.

This old country dish from France, the word Coq is the French word for cock or rooster. In traditional stock farming, cocks which were good breeders were kept as long as they could fulfill their function, They would be several years old before they were killed and therefore needed long and slow braising in a casserole. Of course these days, chefs world wide use chickens, but it ain't the same.
The dish when it comes to your table must look almost red/black in color and have a pungent wine aroma and flavor. Use the best burgundy wine to make it...
Its a hearty dish and well worth trying to find.
I found such at a small restaurant that specializes in that type of preparation along one of the tiny off shoots of the Burgundy canals and go back to it year after year. It's an acquired taste, but oh! what a dish!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What Fools These Mortals ( aka the majority of American's) be...The Perfect Hot Dog

I saw a disturbing poll taken this month that asked average American which they would prefer - a Hamburger or Hot Dog or none...the poll revealed that 85 % preferred a Hamburger, 10% a Hot Dog and the rest had no opinion. 
Ms. Katherine Mayhew, a fine writer, a BBQ friend of long standing, and one of the best people you'll ever meet, recently talked about the perfect Hot Dog and it was as she read my mind.

For those 85% that don't prefer a Hot Dog, read no further, for you'll never know or begin to understand one of man's  greatest creations. 
Here is what Ms. Mayhew said and to me, its the gospel.
~ What makes a perfect hot dog? it involves these things and they are non-negotiable
*** Hot dogs with casings. There is no snap to a hot dog without casing and without a snap there is no point.

*** Chili out of a can. Yes! you heard me, Chili out of a can and please..NO BEANS!

*** Plain yellow mustard. No Dijon, No Deli mustard, No Honey Mustard, plain and yellow, just as providence directed us to use.

*** Diced yellow onions. Enough said!

*** A buttered bun. Yes, add butter top a hot dog and chili. Why not? You're not eating these every day, well, Ms. Mayhew, I have to admit, some of us are !

*** Grilling. No boiling of the hot dogs. Can't you hear them screaming?
H.E Lewis - my heart and stomach goes back to the 1959's and the Hot Dog Show in the San Fernando Valley - the Mutt, the dachshund, the beagle, the husky, the Boston Bull, The southern hound and so many more........some of the greatest hot dogs every served,.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Savouries - My Choice for something at the end of the meal rather than some whimsical, effeminate dessert

I am reminiscing this morning about food, what else? Maybe because I was watching for several hours on Sunday, BBC television and my mind went back to my good food times in the city of London.
Today, the so-called urban man eating bowl food and Asian fusion, given the choice ( real men that is) would prefer swapping those noodles for English savouries. Ah! after a meal of smoke salmon, game and beef dishes and a menu free vegetable zone what could be better than cheese and savouries.
Just to list them, brings back so many wonderful memories.
Welsh rabbit, buck rabbit ( with a poached egg on top), mushrooms on toast, Scotch woodcock ( scrambled eggs, anchovies and capers on toast), Angels on Horseback (oysters and prunes, respectively wrapped in thin slices of smokes bacon) and so many others. 

Maybe because I have never had a sweet tooth, the idea of ending a meal with savouries was always appealing to me, even today. One of the places that I can still enjoy that is Wilton's in London. 
Edwardian men ( I count myself one in spirit) love the combination of strength and sweetness in food, something that is sadly lacking today, I find. Where today are the
foods  which emphasize smoked, curried and robustly seasoned flavors? 
The English savory course ( and in America, of those who make it at home) may
feel at odds with modern cooking, but in the end, we men must stand up and be counted and bring back one of the great types of food of our youth.