Tag Archive: food


It is not every day that a man survives to become sixty years old in these days and times. Ok, maybe it is “everyday”, but not for me. It is once in a lifetime and I never thought I’d be this age! lol
In-fact, one could argue that it is increasingly rare for we, the single Baby Boomers to do so. So, as part of my “big six-oh” [60] birthday “me time” hideaway, I wanted to do something significant since my fiancée`, Inna and I are still financially separated by the Atlantic ocean and part of this mission was to distract myself from that briefly and satisfy a “pasta attack” (craving/yearning) that I’d endured for a couple of months.
I went online and searched the neighborhood where my “secret” weekend room was located and I found Saggio Restaurant, 829 W 181st Street, New York, NY 10033 (212) 795-3080. From the “Google maps” analysis, it looked to be an about five to seven block walk away and so I decided to find it the next day, a Sunday, January 20th. Isn’t the internet “wonderful” for making us even lazier about finding places?! In this case, it was a laptop convenience!

It was a sunny and blustery day as I struck out on foot with Saggio in my sights. I walked north on St. Nicholas Avenue until 181st Street, where I turned left to walk west, up growing hills. New York City is amazing because of how the complexion of the neighborhoods can change almost block-by-block. I walked from a mostly Dominican hood into a new Russian and then Italian area by the time I found Saggio and heard all of the languages along the way (which is my “deal” these days – linguistics).
The adventure was in the discovery in an area that I’d never hunted in by foot before! When I finally found the numerical address of Saggio, I was pleasantly satisfied that I found a place that not “everybody” would know about; truly in-keeping with my sixtieth “hideaway” theme.
Saggio has an outer door shield against the cold this season. I can only imagine that they probably have outdoor “café” tables with umbrellas during the warmer months. Once inside, the bar is on the right as I was greeted by the seating femme maitre d’. I declined her choice of table, preferring the “window seat” near the 181st Street entrance I had walked to and from which I could see the majestic Manhattan stanchion of the George Washington bridge that I saw from the street.
It was only moments until I was greeted by “Emily” my smiling and attentive authentic Italian waitress, who even brought me the lunch specials on the big black chalkboard as well as the regular table menu for dinner! She really fit the mold for this setting and in-fact she suggested that I do this review when I mentioned my past experience as a food critic!
I was torn between the steamed Mussels and a Pasta dish called “Rigatoni grandma’s recipe of slow cooked ragu with meatballs and Italian sausage”. I chose the latter with a side of sautéed spinach (“yum in garlic, olive oil and butter!) and a glass of their house red vino, but let Emily know that when we return, she’ll already know I am having the Mussels next time! The sauce was not as “Marinara” as I would make, but authentic; the meatballs and sausage just what I craved that early afternoon and I savored every bit amongst private thoughts and plans I have for the rest of my days and to incorporate my lady who has awaited [my] kiss for longer than many would overseas I think. “Yes, we will dine here…” I thought with confidence.
No overpowering music, just enough din and friendly patrons and service made my Saggio choice an excellent one that will make this anniversary all the more memorable.

upon leaving, a second look back and thoughts of you

upon leaving, a second look back and thoughts of you

I used to review restaurants and produce them in audio as part of my chores manning the “Awl Nyte Flyte” radio show on WFTQ AM, Worcester, MA thirty years ago. If I were still in that capacity, I would give Saggio four out of five stars only because I had to ask for bread to mop-up the great pasta sauce left after all the pasta, sausage and meatballs were gone.
Check out Saggio Italian restaurant, between Lafayette and Cabrini Boulevard. Please note that they have an extra-tasty and unique brunch menu! I made a mental note to definitely return here – it is that intimate…and special a place.

HostessTwinkiesWebPROMO 280
I went to a Seven-11 this morning and since it is Saturday, I really should not have been awake this early, but because of my current and temporary living situation, I HAD to get up and TCB. So on my way to collect my mail, I craved a couple Hostess Twinkies. Me and Twinkies go back to grade school. Even though I am technically allergic to chocolate, even “Devil Dogs” I could swallow without hospitalization or a visit to the doctor as long as I chomped them in moderation. Moderation is a cornerstone of my existence.

That day, I walked the aisles of the 7-Eleven several times, thinking that because it is an early Saturday morning, I must be just “not seeing” or overlooking my favorite treat of yester-year that I allow myself to indulge in periodically for the “sugar rush”, I guess, lol.

Finally, I gave up and went to the cashier to pay for my Ocean Spray “Sparkling” cranberry drink (a new 2013 beverage fetish of mine which has replace BEER for all intents and purposes, lol). I asked him where are the Twinkies? I was then informed by this east Indian clerk (who probably never grew-up with Twinkies like I did) in broken English that “There are Twinkies no-more. Bankrupt. “Bought by a Mexican company and maybe they be back soon…” he replied. Wait a minute, life without Hostess Twinkies, Donna Summer and my Nina over in Ukraine is a life not worth living! I now always endure to change negative circumstances. Twinkies are a part of my comeuppance! They helped us wait for the school bus in the 1960s!
Something has got to change here, Ladies and Gentlemen! Bring back my Twinkies!

ONE of the great things about my girlfriend, Inna, over in Kiev, is that we talk about everything on Skype , in snail-mail letters, the telephone and e-mails.  I really “can’t wait” to be in the same physical space with her again!  These topics include perceived stereotypes, from “all Russians drink vodka and eat rabbit, to all Black Americans eat fried chicken“. lol   (Actually, I’d never heard the one about Russians and Rabbit eating) We both appreciate fine cuisine and that food-sharing overcomes borders and boundaries.

Recently on NPR’s “Jazz Profiles”, Nancy Wilson told of the Jazz great, Count Basie, and how, because of racial segregation in the “united” States, back in the middle of the twentieth century, the band was often broke and hungry. On one such occasion, they made their way without getting paid for a gig from Philadelphia over the river east into Camden, New Jersey where, at a pool hall, an owner dropped some rabbit into a big bin and created a stew to feed the band.  I related this story to Inna on our Fourth of July Skype date, and she has responded with her second guest cooking post for this blog! What a girl!  (I also like that she contributes to and not detract from the discourse.  What a motivating factor!) So,  “Oh boye”…I’ve heard about this, but never tasted it, “Rabbit”!  I wonder if my sensitive digestive system would be allergic to….Rabbit….I guess we will find-out soon enough when I go over to visit her.  It must have given her the idea to share this specialty, so she sent this recipe for us to ponder, savor and try:

Have YOU ever eaten Rabbit? If so, please describe it.  If not, would you try it?

“Ummmmmm”, looks great!  Thanks/Спасибо!, Honey!

“Bon Appetite!”

Inna waves, “Enjoy the rabbit!”

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