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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Department of Dockers

Several years ago I wrote off Dockers.  The pants, regardless of the fit - classic, relaxed, straight - were extremely dumpy.  Even the straight fit provided way too much loose fabric in the lower leg quadrant.  The classic fit?  I could practically fit my whole body in just one of the legs!  The classic fit is more like a sleeping bag than a pair of pants! Then Dockers began experimenting with a slim fit, but this fit was way too slim.  What about a pant for a healthy American man, tall and robust, trim, but not concentration camp skinny?  One cold November day at Macy's years ago, I conceded defeat. "I'll never find a nice Dockers trouser that works for me!"

Never let anyone tell you a mass market trouser company cannot change.  Within the past year or so, Dockers has reinvented itself, becoming, in this pant writer's opinion, the premiere middle brow, business casual, American public university-educated, men's pant supplier. If you work in middle management, at a less than elite company, in education or the non-profit world, or simply want to look like you're a well dressed Kohl's shopper who wears reasonably decent clothing but doesn't make too, too much money or at least doesn't care about wearing very expensive clothes, Dockers is for you.

I personally look pretty good with the Slim Tapered fit, although the Athletic Tapered fit is also nice.  The Athletic Tapered fit provides a little extra room in the crotchal and buttockal regions, while maintaining a pretty nice silhouette and allowing for a nice break at the bottom of the trouser.

My current main issue is length for the Dockers pants.  The 32 inseam can be a slight bit too short, but the 34 inseam, the next highest size, is too long.  I recently purchased a pair of Dockers Slim Tapered pants with the 34 inseam, and had them tailored, asking for a simple 1 inch reduction.  When I tried on my pants after the tailoring, the pants are still too long!  It seems like taking another inch would bring them down to 32, making them that slightly too short length.  Should I get another half inch taken off?  Please help!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Chronicles of Creams

Hello, dear reader.  I write to you from my prison cell, where I await execution in the morning.  My crime? Eating too much cream!  The state has wanted me dead for years, for it is dangerous to stir the passions of the masses as I have, recounting my adventures in cream.  Jeff Sessions has personally seen to it that I am terminated.  I like to think that I have shared the way and the truth and the light for all to see, and my death will not end the love of cream that all good men hold in their flabby bosoms.  By the time you read this I will be gone.  Please enjoy some final notes on recent creams I've consumed, and always remember me and my creams.

Morgenstern's Ice Cream, Lower East Side
It had been two years since I partook in Morgenstern's creams, and they are indeed excellent creams.  I had a madagascar vanilla ice cream with pickled pineapple and candied pecans.  The slight sweetness and crunch of the pecans and the sour pineapple played beautifully off the subtle, cold cream.

Soft Swerve, Lower East Side
The Asian-inspired soft serve here is fantastic.  The taro soft serve was velvety and complex.

Lilia, Williamsburg
The soft serve gelato was disappointing.  Not much flavor and not very good texture.  However, an olive oil cake with fresh whipped cream was excellent.  The fresh cream was flavorful and dense yet airy.

Taiyaki NYC, Chinatown
The soft serve here is excellent, as are the mix-ins.  The cream comes in a cone shaped like a fish, the cone tasting more like a nice soft cake than a boring cone.

Mah ze Dahr, West Village
Some of the finest, most rich and flavorful soft serve I've ever tasted.  The cone was absolutely incredible, tasting like a Dutch stroopwafel.  I had my swirl soft serve topped with caramel drizzle, crushed almonds and brownies.  Exquisite.

Taboon, Hell's Kitchen
A cute and comfortable Middle Eastern bistro in Hell's Kitchen.  The food is very good, and as I dipped housemade focaccia bread in dips with my tender, I had no idea an incredible cream dessert awaited me. They call is "silan," and it was a very fine vanilla ice cream with crunchy puffed rice, date honey, pistachios and shredded halva.  This was a cream dessert of Middle Eastern mystery and intoxication.  "What a cream!" I shouted in surprise and pleasure.  This turned out to be my final cream.

And now I go to face my maker.  Thank you for your loyal readership over the years.


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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Oceans of Lobster Rolls

Billions of years ago the oceans formed, the mighty seas.  In what is now Maine in the United States, the waters crashed against the shoreline, and over huge expanses of time, tremendous rocky surfaces formed.  In the warmer months, the water brought in beautiful sea breezes which swept past the rocks and onto the grassy hills, and the colorful flowers looked up to the blue sky and smiled.  In the colder months, the water was dark and the sky was gray, and the rocky coast was gray and harsh yet serene.  Little creatures, crustaceans and seagulls and fluffy squirrels went about their business, eating and playing and being friends with the world, and meanwhile the waters crashed against the rocks.

Then, millions of years later, one day a family of humans went to Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.  There was a mom and dad and a daughter and a son.  They wore expensive pastel clothing.  It was a beautiful sunny summer day, warm but not hot, and there was a beautiful breeze.  They sit at a picnic table eating lobster rolls and fries and cole slaw.  "Crap!" the father says.  He's upset because he's checking his e-mail and the hedge fund he manages lost money, and instead of earning a 10 million bonus he may only get 8 million.  The mother is glaring at her daughter, disappointed that her little girl doesn't look up to her more.  "Like, oh my god, look at that girl over there, her dress is so stupid," says the daughter.  The son eats his fries not thinking of much at all, and meanwhile the waters crash against the rocks and the creatures, the birds and the squirrels and the crustaceans, go about their business.

Millions of years later the family and the creatures are gone but the waters still crash against the rocks.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Schlagberg

They called it the ship of creams, and it was. The Norwegian Breakaway was a massive, 17-story colossus, a seafaring buffet, a nautical pleasure contraption.  Most of the ship was bright white, save the cool blue that adorned the bow, and the colorful animations of New York iconic symbols such as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty sprinkled along the hull, signifying that the mighty vessel embarks from and returns to New York.

I found myself across the pier from the mighty ship on the west side of Manhattan in a smoke-filled cafe with my friend Fabrizio.  The game: poker.  The odds: never tell me the odds!  Fabrizio and I staked everything we owned for two tickets on the Breakaway.  Fabrizio drew a poor hand and had no choice but to fold.  All that stood in the way of a trip on the Norwegian Breakaway was a smelly, obese grocery baron named Otto von Trap.  Von Trap showed his cards: a royal flush.  It was my turn.  "Oh Fabrizio, I'm so sorry, but tell your mom you won't be home for dinner tonight, 'cause we're going on the Breakaway!"  I placed my 5 of a kind on the table.   It was a thrilling moment.  Von Trap bellowed and screeched, but he was beaten.  We quickly grabbed our knapsacks and ran to the pier to catch the ship.  "All aboard!!!" the petty officer screamed.  We rushed onto the boat just in time.

The Breakaway pulled away from the pier and out of New York harbor and set east into the mighty Atlantic.

The ship was filled with bars, mediocre restaurants, a horrific buffet with people fighting over the last slice of cake or the last pizza slice (before more food is quickly brought), a crowded pool with people burning in the sun and drinking and dancing while loud club music thumps, water slides, a casino, event spaces for shows and activities, people lying out in the sun exposing their bodies which haven't experienced a moment of exercise in years, people ordering more drinks because why not and people taking more and more food even though they'll waste half of it but then return in thirty minutes to eat more, etc.

Later that evening, two first mates stood watch.  The short one, Malloy, noticed something, but he couldn't quite make it out.  It seemed to be very puffy, yet sturdy and dense.  And white.  Wait, could it be?  Dear god, it was a giant mound of fresh cream!  Also known as schlag.  Malloy pressed the emergency button.  "Schlagberg right ahead!"  The captain ordered the engine room to shift the rotaries, and the ship slowly started to veer southward, but it was too late, and the ship's port-side rammed into the giant mound of schlag.  The boat violently shook but quickly returned to a smooth course.

On the main desk, Fabrizio and I saw it all happen.  Some of the schlag from the schlagberg fell onto the deck, and I bent down and generously scooped up some of the fresh cream and took a taste.  "Now that's a fine schlag," I said.

Just then, we saw the captain and some of the first officers rush by.  Fabrizio and I followed them and took position behind a door to listen in on a meeting.

"Sir, not one, but two compartments in the ship have been filled with cream!" an engineer said.

The captain seemed to understand but remained silent.

The engineer continued, saying what everyone knew: "the ship was built to sustain one compartmental creaming, but not two!  The ship will sink - it's a mathematical certainty!"

"Mama mia!" Fabrizio let out.  The officers looked over and saw us.

"Captain!" I said.  "I know how to save the passengers."

"You have my attention," said the captain.

"I sampled some of the cream on the deck.  It is a fine, dense cream.  The cream is dense enough that we can fashion enough safety boats using the cream as the material for the boats.  We'll need every crew member, but I know how to use the creme to make the boats."

The engineer started, "that's a brilliant idea, but it will take a man with incredible cream experience."

A crew member interjected, pointing at me: "that one's not up for it!"

It was my turn: "I've been all around this world and have stopped into many a cafe and bakery to sample the many fresh creams of the world.  I've had the buns of Hong Kong and the tarts of Portugal.  I've had the crema of Mexico and the schlag of Vienna.  I can build the boats!"

The captain looked at me.  "I know a good cream man when I see one.  Our lives are in your creams."

I quickly laid out the plan for how to quickly assemble the safety cream boats, and the crew began work.  The Breakaway was slowly starting to sink.  Terrified passengers began screaming and running around the ship in terror and desperation.  Good old Malloy, the same mate who spotted the Schlagberg, restored order and the passengers began lining up to enter the cream safety boats as we lowered them into the frigid ocean.

All souls on the ship safely boarded one of the many safety cream boats we assembled before the great Norwegian Breakaway completely sank into the dark waters.  The annoyingly loud club music, the stupid murmurings of the idiotic and fat passengers, the noises from all the games and shows and dances, were all gone as we drifted in stunned silence.

Thousands of people sat and awaited rescue.  The crew member who doubted I had the skill to assemble safety cream boats looked at me and nodded, showing his thankfulness for what I helped accomplish.  But I knew our safety was precarious.  The cream boats were sturdy and true and would stay afloat for as long as it took for a rescue ship to reach us.  The engineering of the boats was not the problem.  The problem....

And then I heard the shouting and knew it was happening.  In one of the nearby boats, you could see it happening.  Some of the passengers were so taken with the schlag that they began eating their own safety boats!  "Stop!  You're eating our safety boat!  We'll sink!" a man screamed.  Then you heard the same admonishment coming from other boats.  Some passengers jumped off their safety cream boats and climbed onto other boats, only to find that the same thing was happening!

Fighting broke out on all the safety cream boats.  Soon, there was utter mayhem, a cacophony of screams and creams.  Safety cream boats started sinking as too much of their structures were consumed by greedy people.  My own safety boat started going down.  Fabrizio and I were able to remove part of the cream structure and held onto it as a floating device.  We paddled away from the chaos as people ate creams and drowned.

Soon, we were far enough away to avoid immediate destruction, but the water was freezing cold and we couldn't last very long.  I started to become very tired and felt peaceful.  I looked over and Fabrizio was already gone, passing to wherever it is we go when our physical bodies cease to function.  I detached his arms from the creme floating structure and he dipped peacefully down into the waters.  "I"ll never let go!" I say as poor Fabrizio sinks into the deep.

But not long after I too leave this world, although when the rescue teams find my body a few hours later my arms are still firmly latched onto the schlag.

"That was a man who loved creams," they all say.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Brief History of Creme: Portugal

Welcome to a "Brief History of Creme."  In this series, we explore the great creme traditions of the world.  Today's exploration will take us to the shores of Portugal, off the coast of...Portugal.  Sit back, relax and enjoy A Brief History of Creme: Portugal.

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A stunning April day in Lisbon.  The sky is vivid, crisp blue.  There is a lovely breeze.  It is going to be a comfortably warm day, and the morning freshness is invigorating!  There is a tiny district called Belem, west of Lisbon's city center, known for its pastry houses.  Lisbon is a city of incredible pastries, and the Pasteis de Nada is the city's great creation, an egg tart of tender crust and creamy, fluffy egg custard.  Pasteis de Belem is known for its Pasteis de Nada's and all other manner of pastries.  It's a quaint, lovely pastry shoppe and cafe.  We order some excellent coffee with milk and tell the waiter to bring us an onslaught of various treats. "Sir, I want to be frontal assaulted by creams!" I scream. The egg tarts are incredible, so delicate and flavorful!  This custard is so heavenly, it tastes as if it had been slowly beaten and whipped for years.  It is slightly sweet but not too sweet.  There is another pastry filled with a creme paste - yes, it has the consistency of a thick paste, with a nutty, excellent flavor.  It is basically the best creme donut you've ever had.

Next stop, the lovely town of Porto.  Now, I must say, Porto does not have as many bakeries and pastry shoppes as Lisbon, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a delicious creme there.  One day I was strolling along the coast, a few miles from the town, and it was a misty day.  As I stroll amidst the mists, I notice an incredible smell.  "Wait, there must be some delicious cremes nearby!" I cry out.  I follow the pleasant odors until I reach a cute little bakery specializing in French eclairs! Yes, Leitaria da Quita do Paco is literally a cremeria which makes eclairs in the finest French tradition. I order a classic and a hazelnut eclair, the latter, which the shopkeeper rightly points out, is much like a Ferrero Rocher come to life in eclair form.  The cremes are exquisite.  I sit outside in the mist and eat my cremes.

Finally, another noteworthy creme is also of the hazelnut variety.  My companion and I dine at the trendy Cantinho do Avillez in downtown Porto.  It is a great meal, and for dessert we order the "Halzenut³" - that's right, it's cubed. What arrives is the one of the finest cremes I've ever tasted.  There are three hazelnut cremes of various consistencies layered in a glass, and each creme interacts and builds off the other, creating a cacophony of cremes! "This is an incredible creamy crescendo!" I blurt out, unable to contain myself.  Many of the patrons in the bistro drop their forks and stare, but the professional server staff seem accustomed to such creamy outbursts.  This Hazelnut cubed dessert is an amazing finale for a trip filled with wonderful cremes.

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We hope you've enjoyed the continuing saga of cremes.  Join us again!

Pasteis de Belem
Lisbon, Portugal

Leitaria da Quita do Paco
Porto, Portgual

Cantinho do Avillez
Porto, Portugal




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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cream Explosion Forever

What do you do when you've discovered the best choux?  You take a bite, and the pastry is light, tender and so flavorful, and the vanilla creme inside is perfect.  You bite into the ball of pleasure and creme squirts everywhere.  "Oh, excuse me sir, I didn't mean to squirt you with my creme!" Normally when this happens people are upset, but the creme from this choux is so amazing that the victim just smiles and licks the creme off his face.

I repeat my opening question: what do you do when you've discovered the best choux?  The fact is, I don't know why this world is here - generations have come and gone, and generations will come and go, and for what?  But after discovering the perfect choux, I realize I finally know my purpose.  I order 8,000 choux to go and return to the creme cave - this will be my final charge.  I clean up and put on my finest Wrangler denim and a crisp Target Merona casual shirt.  I look in the mirror.  This is it - don't get scared now.  I take a seat on my La-Z-Boy chair.  I open up one of my many boxes of choux and eat one whole.  "It begins," I say, and I continue eating choux, inhaling them sometimes two or three or four at a time.  I feel the creme filling me, expanding my organs, coursing through my veins, oh god my spleen!!  How many choux have I eaten?  Two thousand?  I keep chouxing.  My whole body is expanding -  I keep growing - creming - until I don't look much different than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.

By now there is no way to know how many choux I have consumed.  I know there is no way to eat another choux without bursting.  I pick up a choux and look at it.  "Thank you for being such a tasty, wonderful, creme-filled friend."  I smile serenely and take a deep breath.  It's time.  I place the choux in my mouth and chew and swallow.  For a moment, as my creme self explodes, bursting out into the universe as a big creme bang, travelling faster than the speed of creme, I understand everything.

Mah ze Dahr Bakery
West Village

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tender

I'm a man who enjoys a fine tender.

When I was a boy growing up in the hills of Pittsburgh, one of the things I loved most was going to TGIF Friday's for food and fun.  What did I get?  I got the chicken tenders.  But as a young boy, the establishment wanted to serve me the children's menu tenders, even though I was a generously proportioned young man.  Tenders from the children's menu was not acceptable, so I insisted on the tenders from the adult menu - more tenders, more fries, more pleasure.

The tenders at Friday's were really quite sublime.  The meat was juicy and plump and bursting with flavor.  If you took a fork and pressed it ever so gently against the tender, there would be an explosion of juice because those tenders were so tender!  Once, I applied a gentle amount of pressure to a tender and the resulting burst of juice hit someone at another table right in the eye!  "Oh jesus my eye!" the victim screamed, falling to the ground writhing in agony.  Unfortunately that poor person lost sight in the affected eye and sued.  Ever since, Friday's has had to serve the tender with a sign that says "Caution: tenders may shoot juice missiles."

Anyway, back to the tenders.  Yes, they are juicy and flavorful.  The batter is also wonderful!  A crispy and light batter.  The tenders have all the flavor and pleasure you could want, but if that weren't enough, the honey mustard is incredible!  We've all had our share of mediocre honey mustard dipping sauces, so how refreshing that Friday's serves a top-notch, flavorful, well-balanced honey mustard!

The fries are excellent and perfect for soaking up any of that remaining honey mustard.

Another nice thing about the adult tender meal is that it was served with a wonderful garlic breadstick.  Think an Olive Garden-style breadstick, buttery and warm, and actually pretty tender in-and-of-itself.  Double tender.

Hi.

TGIF Friday's
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