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The Quiet Demise of Family Dinner

December 15, 2017

Happy Chanukah! I tell you, this is the holiday that just keeps on giving. Tonight will be the fourth night, and then we’re halfway done. Just last night were my first bonafide latkes of the year. Fox made the batter, formed the patties, and dropped them in the oil. She trusted me to mind the potatoes in the pan while she set out the rest of the feast.

Last night Little Miss Fussy took her dinner in the treehouse with Little Miss Fox. My son just wolfed down a couple of latkes in between homework problems. And that left Mrs. Fussy and me to enjoy ourselves at the adults’ table with friends. It was a lovely night, to be sure.

But when we got home, Mrs. Fussy asked when would be the next time we would have a quiet evening at home with just our immediate family?

It appears like that won’t be until 2018.

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The Memory Of Old Spice

December 14, 2017

Those regular readers of the FLB may recognize the initials ADS. We’ve been friends since I was seven years old. We grew up together in Miami, he’s the reason I moved out to California, and we continue to be friends today.

Growing up, I was over at his house a lot. We would ride our bikes to school together. I would hang out with him when school was done. I was even there that day a stray dog followed him home. I couldn’t count the number of dinners I had at his family’s table, how many pool parties we had on his back patio, or how many nights I slept over in the kickass room his parents made out of their garage.

Yesterday, after suffering a massive stroke a few days before, his dad passed away. I always knew him as El, and in a community where most of my friends had families that went through divorces, El and Min were the rare exception.

Today is a sad day, and I don’t really have a food story to tell. But El always had a twinkle in his eye. He was quick with a smile, and was just a genuinely warm person who was able to put anyone at ease. He was also an Old Spice man. Scent memory is a powerful thing. And when I think of El, I can almost smell him.

Coincidentally, I do have an old story that I can share about El, Raf, and old spice.

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Right Sized Fries

December 13, 2017

Happy Chanukah! Last night at sunset it began, and I had grand plans of making latkes. I ran out to the store earlier in the day to pick up eggs, onions, potatoes, sour cream, applesauce, and most importantly… oil.

Never forget, all this fried goodness is really to commemorate the myth of the miracle of the oil. But to me it’s no myth. Oil is miraculous in and of itself.

Then, the spelling bee happened.

Somehow, my son is an amazing speller. He must get that from his mom. But in last year’s spelling bee, he drew some incredibly hard word in the third round and we were able to leave early. This year, he made it all the way into round ten. Over two hours later, it was ultimately “Gemmary” that prevented him from moving on to regionals.

The important part of that last paragraph was the two hours bit. Making latkes from scratch wasn’t going to happen. Heck, we wouldn’t even have time to heat the frozen emergency latkes I got as a backup plan.

So we had to find our fried foods elsewhere.

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On the First Night of Chanukah…

December 12, 2017

… my true love fled from me /
On a train bound for Washington D.C.

The Jewish holidays aren’t really known for their catchy tunes. Which is maybe why all the talented Jewish composers went on to write Christmas songs. It’s a much jazzier holiday.

But I’m serious about Mrs. Fussy. I just got back from the desert. I tagged in. She tagged out. Now it’s my turn to be alone with the kids for a few days. Except one of the big differences is that Chanukah starts tonight. Oy.

You know all that holiday shopping you haven’t done yet? Well I haven’t done any. Zero. Zilch. It might have been smart to pick up some trinkets in Arizona, but I was traveling light. No room for trinkets. Fortunately, there’s Ta-Da!, which has saved my butt more times than I care to admit. It’s a fun store filled with fanciful stuff for kids of all genders (and ages) and cool stuff for geeks of all stripes.

Speaking of holiday songs, though, there was one that I just happened to catch when I was with my cousin’s kids. I’m not sure if that makes them my second cousins, or my cousins once removed, or what. I’m terrible at that game. Anyhow, it was some kind of cartoon show on Netflix with a little bit by Ben Schwartz.

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A Case for White Pizza

December 11, 2017

Believe it or not, but my trip to Phoenix wasn’t all about the food. I forgot about fry bread. I skipped the Sonoran hot dog.

Sure, there was food. And in time, I’m sure I’ll write little Yelp reviews for all the paces I went to visit. Phoenix was surprisingly fun, in part because of my Yelp colleagues, but also because it’s a blast to explore a new part of the country. Especially when accompanied by someone who has recently made it their home.

I remember when my Cousin J. suggested we should eat at a pizza place. In Phoenix. Well, this New Yorker was highly suspicious. Until, that is, I started digging around a bit and came to realize that Pizzeria Bianco is one of the best pizza places in the country. It quickly shot up on the list of things I had to do before leaving.

The pizza menu was short, containing just three red pizzas and three white pizzas. Even so, I can only eat so much. So I felt fortunate to have my old friend LH and Cousin J along for the meal. Decisions are hard. In the end, we decided on two white pizzas, and one red.

It’s not surprising all the pizzas were delicious. And it’s probably not surprising that I walked away from that meal with a few key learnings. But the learnings themselves might be a bit surprising.

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Stupid Food Fights: Cold Beer

December 8, 2017

Once again, I’m calling beer food. Heck, it may be more like bread than most of the bread available in the supermarket. Don’t get me started on bread. Because today I’m going to get riled up on beer and beer temperature. Although my argument may not quite take the hard line stance one might expect.

In American culture there’s a strong underlying belief that beer should be cold. However, it goes beyond that. Not only should beer be cold. But the colder the better. One bar I would drive past in California advertised on a sign out front, “We have the coldest beer in town.”

The way I read that sign was a little different. It was like a giant neon message that read, “We have the worst beer in town.”

Why would someone take something of any quality and chill it down to a temperature where you cannot taste or smell all of the delightful flavors and aromas the brewers worked so hard to achieve? What sort of monster would do such a thing? I would ask myself these questions in vain, until I met one such monster at a local craft beer bar. She and her mother rode up on a motorcycle, and gave me an education I won’t soon forget.

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Once Upon A Veal Slider

December 7, 2017

Good morning from Phoenix! Technically, I think I’m in Scottsdale. I’m sure wherever I am has some kind of colorful nickname, like Valley of the Sun. But I’ve done precious little research about the area. All I know is that there is a thing called fry bread and another thing called Sonoran hot dogs, and I’d like to try both of those. Plus my fellow pizza judge and the biggest pizza geek I know, Jon in Albany, has a pizza place out here that’s on his bucket list. So I’ll have go there too.

Sometimes, the things that I do take me on the road.

As of yet, I have no blog worthy tales from the road. I grabbed a quick snack at the “farm to terminal” place in the Orlando airport and day drank my way across the country while reading a novel. I can tell you that Southwest stocks Fat Tire on its flights, which is cool. But they keep the beer so cold that I had to warm it up in my hands for a while before I could open the can. Hey, it’s a drink and an activity. But I kind of felt like a hipster beer jerk doing it.

It just so happens that I’ve been sitting on a tale from the road from an earlier adventure, and given that I’m traveling this week, now seems like a perfect time to share the story of the veal sliders.

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