The Great Plotnik

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thirty and Onward

It's Britt's 30th birthday today. She and her Gang of Four are going to see a band at the Independent tonight. Of course this morning we warned her of the benefits of ear plugs. Of course she smiled indulgently. Used to be the warnings were for indecent behavior. Now, it's just tinnitus.

I can't remember turning 30. I really can't. Dan was one month old. We lived on the farm. I was probably making Super 8 movies of hanging diapers on the clothes line out behind the summer kitchen.

What I do remember is how beautiful those years were. Right about this time, in 1975, Mom and the Chief came out to the farm to see Baby Dan. I said to Harry, "Have you ever seen a more beautiful baby than Dan?" "No, Boychik, never," said the Chief. He always knew what to say and when to say it.

So I guess Mom and Chiefie were there for my thirtieth. So Thirty in Catawissa, forty in Echo Park, I guess, fifty and sixty up here. Seventy? Maybe we'll be picking olives in Calabria.

I remember two years ago, in Gangivecchio, Sicily. That was a memorable one, for sure.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Youngest One In The Picture

Thank you to Ms. Mushnik for taking these photos at Fuzzy Love's 65th birthday party at Sparker's house yesterday. Jackie Cole sang with Allen Spencer playing piano and the trampoline never stopped in the backyard. Bbq chicken, greens, cabbage, macaroni and cheese, potato salad and corn bread -- which is to say an entire plate filled with food that stops at the Bay Bridge.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Monday, June 22, 2015

Au Revoir Mes Amis

So long, Alexandra, Arthur, Thierry, Rafael and Amandine. We're going to miss you a lot. See you in Larchmont or Brussels.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Bells at Three in Griffith Park. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Iguodala and Lorenzo

Warriors Win!! And one homemade pizza per quarter!! This is how we do it out here, when Lorenzo and Lisa come to town, and we can eat while we watch Steph, Iggy and Klay bring home the championship.

Lorenzo is a trained pizzaiolo from Rome. We met him and his wife Lisa and little boy Gabrielle in Taormina, Sicily a year and a half ago. They are both violinists and live in Santa Fe during the Opera season there, so they decided to take a trip to the Bay.

The above pizza was the butternut squash, bacon and parsley, with smoked mozzarella cheese. When I tell you it's the best pizza I've ever eaten, even without tomato sauce or pepperoni, you can believe me, even though it was baked at home on my Lodge Pizza Pan. Below is the next best: caramelized onions, cooked with balsamic vinegar, then hunks of goat cheese, pieces of fresh rosemary and a few shakes of hot red pepper flakes.

By the time the last one was ready we could barely eat another bite -- mozzarella, arugula and sausage. Still, no tomato sauce on any of Lorenzo's pizzas.

Best of all, I now know how to do it. It takes several days but the difference in crust is night-and-day. Everything I was doing was wrong. Now the maestro has put me right.

I should have known better, but I was following directions from American and Italian cookbooks, written by chefs, not by pizza makers. You can't over-handle pizza dough, any more than you can when you're making biscuits or pie crust. Lorenzo uses EXTRA gluten, that's right, my dears, and never uses a rolling pin to flatten the dough -- he stretches it gently by hand, basically the same thing the Neapolitans do when they toss the dough in the air. My old pizza dough (never doing it that way again) came out flat and crunchy, my new pizza dough will be light and filled with texture, the way pizza ought to be. But you do need to prepare the dough a minimum of 48 hours in advance.

Too bad basketball season is over. What a joy it was to watch the Warriors this year.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Britt Made the Card

The party for Fátima was a rousing success. Britt designed and painted a huge card for her which everyone signed. It's always nice to have an artist in the house.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Gabrielle and Barb

Four is a great age. We met Gabrielle almost half his life ago in Sicily, and now his parents and he have arrived to spend a few days with us at World Headquarters. His dad, Lorenzo, is a licensed pizzaiolo and he gave me a serious lesson on Sunday. We'll taste the results tomorrow - you have to wait 48 hours, it has to do with the yeast being totally consumed by the time the pizza is baked, so it doesn't continue its life in your stomach, causing the all-too-familiar pizza burn.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Almost Summer

Tomorrow is the going-away party for Ducknik's teacher, with whom she has worked in the classroom for ten years. Fátima is retiring and going back to Mexico with her husband who is also retiring from teaching. We will have thirty or so people at World Headquarters and that means fifteen pounds of barbecued chicken wings, served with, among other things, a mess of New Noe Sauce, which includes lemon marmalade plus a whole lot of heat and brine. Britt was the taster; she's also making a card and probably bartending tomorrow.

Meanwhile, later today Lorenzo and Lisa and their bambino Gabrielle arrive for several days -- they are the children of friends of friends and that's just the way it is in summertime in Saint Plotniko.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Great Meal, Even Better Show

Driving down to Mountain View is such a treat. The Performing Arts Center is beautiful, parking is a snap and the town is chock full of fantastic restaurants, mostly Asian. Last night before the show we ate at one of our favorites, Ginseng, an inexpensive and delicious Korean place a few doors down from the Center. 

You're staring at short ribs on top of grilled onions, rice with tiny preserved plums, dumplings on top and the usual assortment of Korean appetizers. I get all the kim chee and trade some of my sweet potatoes for it.

The bonus was the play -- Noel Coward's "Fallen Angels," a show I'd never heard of which was superbly acted and very funny. I'm pretty ho-hum about most English aristocratic buffoonery, but this was exceptionally good. Several intermissions, though, so it was good to have plenty of ballast in the tummy to see us through.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Beautiful Photo of Britt and Barb

Neither Britt nor the Duck have approved the picture I took of them. So use your imagination.

Britt will be here into August so we've got time to show her the sights. Unfortunately, she's working, but we can get around that.

Awww. Don't you just love this photo? Aren't they beautiful?