May 25, 2010

Decadent in San Francisco

The last time we were in San Francisco, we were disappointed to find the Washington Square Bar and Grill was closed, so we were glad to find this week that this historic newspaper hangout had reopened under new ownership.

Our cab driver -- from Armenia -- had never heard of the place, and when we said, "Just take us to Washington Square," he looked at us, shook his head and raised his eyebrows  "Washington Square? It's just a square," he said.

Ensconced at the bar, listening to a great piano player hitting the keys, it felt a bit like old home week. After a while, the young barmaid – a Maine native, with French Canadian blood coursing through her veins that made my Cajun husband think she was a long-lost relative – brought our neighbors at the bar a delectable dish.

"Potatoes fried in duck fat," she told us. They looked too good to pass up.

"Potatoes fried in duck fat?" my husband-the-heart-patient said, incredulous that I would order them. "Are you trying to kill me?"

"Oh, we'll balance them with a salad," I told him. And so we did.

The potatoes were as good as advertised. Really. So next time you're in the City by the Bay, find your way to Washington Square and try the fries. You'll not regret it.

May 19, 2010

Chickens, anyone?

At last month's Sustainability Expo the portable chicken coop had lots of lookers - but no takers. It seems Larchmont and Mamaroneck residents, with their small yards, aren't ready for eggs on demand.

That's apparently not the case in Half Moon Bay, where we went to ride bikes along the beach with our grandkids. And the hardware store on Main Street had one of the best signs we've seen in a while.

Half Moon Bay began as a rural agriculture area, and there's still a lot small farming in the area, particularly pumpkins, Christmas trees and vegetables. So it's more than likely many folks raise chickens, too. But then again, the hardware store is just across from the local saloon, so who know which kind of chicks can be picked up on Main Street.

May 10, 2010

Dandelion wine, anyone?

One quick look at my yard is all it takes to conclude that I am not a lawn fanatic. As long as it’s green I don’t really care if much of the color is provided by weeds. I’d rather spend my time on the flowers and vegetables than on cultivating a carpet of clover-free grass.

So you might wonder why I’ve spent time each morning and evening for the last week scanning my yard for the telltale seed heads of the dandelion, trying to catch them before they open into a full sphere when the individual seeds will catch the slightest breeze.

It began on a whim, when I recalled a scene many years ago of my elderly neighbor picking dandelions along the street across from her house. She told me that picking the seeds would stop them from flying across the street to her lawn.

May 4, 2010

Larchmont trees, old and new

Larchmont residents value their trees, as was evidenced by last week’s Arbor Day celebration and the announcement that Larchmont has been named a “Tree City USA for the 29th consecutive year. But while children were helping plant the first of three bald cypress trees in Constitution Park on April 30, across town in Vanderburgh (Turtle) Park, a crew from Evergreen Arborists was taking down one of the Village’s oldest trees that had succumbed to Dutch elm disease.

The large elm tree in Turtle Park was more than 100 years old.

As the park is just across the street, I’ve been able to watch from my front porch the accelerating loss of trees in the park. Five years ago in a letter to then-Mayor Ken Bialo I wrote:

May 2, 2010

Childhood innocence can still exist in Larchmont

A wonderful story in today's New York Times involving two Larchmont residents: Jason Bay, the new Mets fielder, and 11 year-old Gabriel Tugend, who lives near the Village's newest celebrity resident.

As his Mother wrote,
I found something sweetly old-fashioned about all this. Gabriel wrote the note without any parental interference. He and his friends could walk past the home of a player on their favorite team, and it wasn’t a fancy mansion behind security gates. With the various scandals and multimillion-dollar salaries that sour many people on professional sports, it was redeeming to see their enthusiasm and hopes.
The story gets even better - but I won't spoil it for you.

Read it and smile.

May 1, 2010

Starting from seed

Inspired by Monica Flaherty, whom I wrote about in the Larchmont Gazette, I decided to bite the bullet this year and get a head start on my garden by starting some plants from seed.

Scouting out the seeds available from Tony's Nursery, Stop and Shop and Home Depot, I picked up the usual suspects: lettuce, cucumbers and spinach. And then there was the basil seed, ready to be watered, in a small pot that I'd picked up at a Christmas Tree Shop several months ago.

While Monica doesn't believe in using peat pellets, preferring to start everything in larger cups, I had bought some pellets on sale at the end of the 2009 gardening season, so I decided to use them. Sure enough, within days, the seeds had sprouted, and I was hooked.

Soon the shelf in my office was overtaken by seedlings. Inspired by my success, I went back to Tony's and picked up zinnias and impatiens. I began imagining that I'd have enough plants from a single $1.69 packet of seeds for the entire garden.