Monday, March 1, 2010


If you are reading this on Facebook, slideshows and videos are often attached. Click on this live link to my blog: if you would like to get the full experience.
If you are reading this at already, just ignore.

We spent the weekend before this past one in Baltimore/DC wondering if the large buckets we left under our dripping dining room ceiling had overflowed onto the hardwood floor. When we arrived home late Sunday night, we were relieved to find that, thanks to the efforts of Isaac’s workmen, the ceiling had apparently stopped dripping within a few hours of the time we left on Thursday. Beth had been away, Adele and Ken both had plans, and there was no one to check in for us. We had a great time, despite our nagging worry. Ari was able to leave work at a reasonable hour on Friday and so we were able to drive together to Jess and Alex’s for Shabbat dinner. We were supposed to pick up sushi on our way there because their water had been shut down all day because of a water main break on their corner, but in the last two hours before dinner, the main was repaired, the water went back on, and Alex decided to cook dinner. We were the only three guests for dinner and everything, including Alex, was very relaxed. We had a spicy curried soup with Alex’s homemade sausage, a dip made with veggie chorizo, roasted orange-glazed chicken, rice, and Brussels sprouts.

On Saturday morning, Sami did a beautiful, melodic chanting of her part of Yitro, our reason for spending yet another weekend in Baltimore. I don’t know what I will do at her bat mitzvah, as even watching and listening for a few short minutes brought tears of happiness to my eyes. We caught parts of both Sami’s service and Alex’s Tot Shabbat. I had time to bond with Yona a bit more, and we had lunch at the synagogue.

On Saturday evening, we had dinner with Ari at B. Smith in magnificent Union Station in DC. On the way there, Ari saw lights on in a house that was being renovated and stopped in, met the owner, and was able to tour the almost-completed premises before it went on the market. He really liked what he saw and wound up making an offer for it on Sunday. Many years ago, while Ari was at George Washington University, we had wonderful dinners at B. Smith several times. For Mom’s 75th birthday, we booked a private room there, the whole family came down to DC, and we had a memorable meal amidst the opulence of two-story, arched and elegantly-draped windows, gilded crown moldings, Beaux-Arts chandeliers, and a long, lavishly-appointed banquette table. At that time, we felt that we had gotten a tremendous bargain on the deal. This time, I had purchased a $25 certificate from for $2.00. The setting was every bit as elegant as we remembered. The food was good, but not exceptional. The service was very slow, not because of the waiter, who was quite attentive, but because of a slow kitchen. The prices, however, were exceptionally high. Even with the certificate, we spent $150 for dinner. Ari had a $40 prix fixe three-course dinner. We shared Ari’s salad and an appetizer of three fried green tomato slices. We each had a Stella Artois with our entreés, and we shared Ari’s coconut cake for dessert with coffee. At the front of the room was a three-piece live jazz combo, which was a nice touch. Ari pointed out at the end of the meal that there were no external signs at the train station advertising the restaurant. You either knew it was there, or you spotted it while using the station. I think perhaps the restaurant has an arrangement with nearby hotels to send tourists there, which is probably how we discovered it the first time. Considering the long waiting times and crowded rooms on Saturday nights at other popular restaurants in DC, it probably was a pleasant, if expensive, last-minute way to spend the evening.

On Sunday, perhaps to atone for our extravagance, we had breakfast for $1.99 at IKEA in College Park, MD, and wandered around there for a while looking at decorating ideas. Then we left and prepared Ari’s condo for another open house from two to four. While his condo was being shown, we traveled around DC to view various other open houses, culminating with his realtor meeting us at the home Ari had seen the previous evening. We all loved it, but the owner was unhappy with Ari’s contingency on the sale of his condo and decided to put it on the market without making any agreement. Since it was dinner-time by the time we finished, Ari followed us to Bombay Restaurant, where we had dinner together before setting out for home. It was a satisfying weekend on many levels, with the anticipation of good times to come—a better house; more time together as a family; Sami eventually preparing for a bat mitzvah, Yona learning to crawl, getting her first tooth, waving bye-bye, and learning to play peek-a-boo; and, soon to come, a 10-day vacation in Hawaii.

Early this past week, Saul and I had a great deal of work, he with mid-terms and meetings in preparation for his department chairman’s sabbatical, and me with preparation of publications. I also found time to prepare additional hamantashen (some with yeast dough) in anticipation of Purim. Last month, we had scheduled a special pre-Purim Shabbat dinner on Friday with Jamie and Andy, Ken and Randy, and Efrat and Isaac and their kids. Another onslaught of snow began to threaten our plans, but we soldiered on, running out in the middle of yet another blizzard on Thursday, to purchase supplies for a Persian Shabbat. Six years ago, at her request, I made a big 30th birthday party for Jessica. Everyone came in costume and had to perform a skit. Since her birthday fell on Purim that year, I decided that our décor and party food should have a Persian theme. I thought it included some of the best dishes I had ever made, particularly the fish, but the recipes had been long-buried in a folder in the bottom of a kitchen drawer. I resurrected some of the recipes, and the fish was just as delicious as I remembered. Perhaps this time, once I put it up on my recipe blog, it will become part of my regular repertoire. For dinner we had homemade challah, baba ganoush, Comté and membrillo, ashe reshte (white bean and noodle soup), saluna (sweet and sour cod fish), kitchree (rice with lentils), salata sabzi (minted salad), and a wilted spinach salad with warm dressing, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, mushrooms, cucumbers, and tomatoes in case we had unadventurous eaters. For dessert, we had hamantashen, ice-cream and coffee. We had an absolutely brilliant time on Friday. Beth and Larry joined us, and the two little girls, Tal and Eden, had a blast playing with all the toys in the girls’ bedroom. Presley was her usual little angel self and her grandparents were absolutely delighted to see her.

On Saturday morning, we went back to Temple Sinai in Dresher for the first time in a few years for the Shabbat service at which our friends, Terry and Gene, were being honored by their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren for celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. I only hope that we may be as blessed as this attractive, caring, and accomplished couple, who are so appreciative of all the joy in their life. This has been a very bad year for their family, as Gene’s sister and brother-in-law, with whom they are very close, lost two sons and their grandson in a freak collision between their small plane and a helicopter over the Hudson River. At the luncheon, Saul and I were approached by some of the children for whom we ran the junior congregation on Saturday there for many years. One of the girls became so emotional about seeing us that she began to cry, which set off such tears for me that I had to leave the room to compose myself. Saul was touched and amazed at the reaction of his students, always surprised that his teaching has such an effect on so many.

Saturday evening, after a brief nap, we attended the Megillah-reading, and an adorable Purim shpiel and party at MBI-EE, dressed in our funny hats. Rabbi Addison was dressed as a rapper, all in black with a brimmed hat, looking very much like Dan Ackroyd in The Blues Brothers. At intervals during the reading there were pauses for a hilarious and clever rap about Purim that was performed by Rabbi; the synagogue president, Ariana; Cantor, and the ba’al korei, David, with accompaniment by the congregation, which chanted a chorus. The children really got into their roles, rapping a funny, rhymed presentation of the Queen Esther story. Afterward, while cake and ice-cream were served, Alie Addison MC’ed a dance party for us as a representative of Rak-Dan. He is an incredible dancer, regaling us with back flips, splits, moon walks, and other athletic feats along with his obvious talent for all the other dance moves as well. Some of the teens in our congregation are almost as talented and athletic. We participated in a variety of dances, from the usual Israeli circle dances, to Cotton-Eyed Joe. It was a warm and high-energy evening.

On Sunday, we were back to the grindstone, but found time in the evening to join my cousin, Anne, and her mother, Aunt Ruth, at Max and David’s, an exceptional kosher restaurant in Elkins Park, for a notably delectable dinner. Max and David’s has the most delicious burger on the planet—thick and juicy, cooked to order, topped with crispy pastrami and carmelized onions, on an incredibly tasty bun, served alongside a pile of crispy, mixed, white and sweet potato fries. I thoroughly enjoyed my carnivorous repast. Even better, they treated us to dinner for my upcoming birthday and we topped it off with a slice of chocolate-iced, marble layer cake with a birthday candle. We shared the cake and they, mercifully, sang “Happy Birthday” in a whisper.

There are just a few days to get through, now, until we leave for a 10-day vacation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. There was an 8.8 magnitude, record-breaking earthquake in Chile a few days ago which caused a widespread evacuation to higher ground in the Hawaiian Islands for fear of resulting tsunamis. Although the waves, luckily, were not high enough to cause any damage, I would not have appreciated the inconvenience, and I am really glad we are all going this week instead. Ken and Randy will be there for a month, and we are joining them in the large house they rented, along with Ari, and our friend, Larry. On Thursday afternoon, when spring break begins for Saul, we will be driving down to Baltimore to have a birthday dinner with our children and grandchildren, and then Saul, Ari, and I will be leaving from Dulles Airport early Friday morning. After all the snow and bad weather this winter, I can’t believe I soon will be walking on warm beaches and snorkeling among the tropical fish at Poipu.

No comments: