Uzbek Kebab

binocular-bkgd1Tomorrow I return to cooking, so today we sought a new dining experience. We decided to check out a local Russian restaurant. This particular restaurant Arzu, got good reviews on the web and the online menu seemed like something we could even afford (assuming the prices were in American dollars).

Arzu is a small Kosher Russian restaurant in walking distance from our home. While waiting to be seated, an elderly woman (I think she was older than me, but then I think everyone over 40 is older than me) stopped before me and began speaking to me in Russian as she headed to the door to leave. She was smiling and so I smiled. That was about all I could do.

The restaurant was crowded. There was one long table with a large family enjoying the food and the company. They all spoke Russian. After a while it became clear to me that they all speak English outside the home and outside this restaurant. But here, at Arzu, they were all relaxed among friends and family and Russian was their comfort zone.

The menu was in Russian and English although we still did not know what we were getting. We figured, as I am sure my gentle readers would likewise figure, that a kebab that costs $4 is probably not a whole lot of food. Nevertheless I ordered a veal and liver kebab and Sir Braver ordered a chicken kebab. We also shared a meat pie. Later we ordered a lepeshka (homemade bread) – only half per the waitress’ recommendation.

The kebabs were very tasty. There were roughly six one-inch cubes of meat on a skewer. I loved the liver; the veal was pure fat. Sir Braver’s chicken was tasty, too. The meat pie was very flavorful and reminded me of a meat pie cooked by a Sephardic Jew in my distant past. The half bread was a semicircle of hard crust with fluffy inside. Very good, very different.

All in all, a very different experience for us. The patrons, however, all looked like family.

The Search Begins

binocular-bkgd1A co-op called out to us. “Come see me,” it said. Its listing agent had arranged an open house and we were there. It was our first look at a co-op. The next (and hopefully last) leg of this journey has officially begun.

This co-op is conveniently located by the Queens Center Mall. In fact, the mall is about one block away! Just a few more blocks is the Rego Park Mall. There are services,  shopping, transportation, and more all immediately available, almost anything imaginable within a block or so.

So what about the apartment itself? It’s a two-bedroom apartment with newly renovated kitchen and bath. The owners had just recently furnished when they learned they were moving, so all of the furniture is included. Frankly, it appeared to be an apartment that was “flipped” (purchased low, renovated, and turned around for reseale at a good profit).

The apartment is beautiful! It did not disappoint. Tastefully furnished, it is attractive and comfortable. The kitchen was  beautifully renovated with some elegant touches. The bathroom was perfect. All of the closets were customized with shelving and cubicles and such.

All in all it was a beautiful apartment, but not for us.

 

And why not?

The second bedroom was very small. Too small, in fact. That tiny room had bunk beds in it but there was not even room for a dresser or small table. We need a second bedroom as a combined computer/office space that would also be used as a guest room for children and grandchildren who live far away.

The view from all of the windows was of a rooftop. Although the apartment is only on the second floor, it apparently looked out over a parking garage, or something. It was a really sad view.

The lobby of the building is cold, sterile, and unfurnished. Although clean and well kept, its austerity was definitely a turn-off.

If location was everything, this place would be a winner. At this stage of the game however, location is very important, but the features of the apartment, the building, and the neighborhood still get factored in. I think we can do better.

The search continues.

And Ernie Peed on Me

binocular-bkgd1Today was moving day for cats. The cats knew it, and they were not happy. No explaining was going to soothe them.

When the hotel room was completely packed, it was time for the cats to be put into their carriers. Oh, they were not cooperative. Bert put up his usual struggle, but Ernie – he hunkered down, motionless, heavy, and as resistant as he could be, master of isometrics that he is. I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and with my other hand under his huge belly, I forced him out of hiding. As I lowered him into his carrier, I felt a warm wet stream flow down my arm. There was the proof of just how nervous he was. And there I was, without time to change my clothes or even react.

So here we are, all four of us, in box city. There are 49 boxes lining our living room walls. We have emptied only a very few, but one of the first was my computer. The heck with the rest!

Rush Hour

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6 A.M.

  • Rise and shine
  • Feed the cats
  • Get dressed
  • Breakfast
  • Rake litterbox
  • Rush hour commute

7:35 A.M.

  • Arrival at apartment
  • Movers are early and waiting!

Guilt

We are staying at a lovely extended-stay hotel in Long Island City. It is part of the Hilton chain. There are many amenities and hospitality is the name of the game.

Our hotel boasts a complimentary breakfast buffet with “400 combinations of breakfast foods” at their “inspire table.” There are prepackaged microwave meals, pastries, a waffle maker, yogurts, fresh fruits, and more.

The breakfast buffet is good theory, but in practice it has been progressively disappointing.

Without exception, the orange juice dispenser has been empty. Kitchen staff have come to know Sir Braver to the point that when they see him coming they greet him warmly and tell him that they will refill the OJ dispenser right away. Fresh fruit consists of a small basket of oranges and three times in the last 10 days a few bananas were offered. We were fortunate to snag a total of two bananas during our stay so far, and so we shared those.

Yesterday they were out of orange juice and so we got apologies.  They were also out of several of the yogurt and dry cereal accompaniments (raisins, mixed nuts, and a few others).

Today they were out of orange juice still, English muffins, microwaveable scrambled eggs and omelettes, pastries, bananas, clean bowls, serving trays, and more. It was time to register a complaint.

The desk clerk to whom I complained apologized and promptly handed me a small bottle of OJ from the cooler that contains products for sale. With that, I returned to the breakfast area and tried to find something to hold me until lunch. I picked up the last two hard boiled eggs and a kitchen worker came over and handed me an English muffin, with more apologies.

Soon we found ourselves in discussion with Rodney, the sales manager, who extended many more apologies and discounted our room rate $10 per day.

The head of housekeeping approached us to ask if there was anything housekeeping could do for us. When we returned to our room, we were presented with  an overabundance of new supplies – toiletries, paper goods, etc.

As we were heading out for lunch, the desk clerk called us over. Rodney had put together a gift bag for us with a handwritten note of more apologies and good wishes.

We are now afraid to leave our room. We are overcome with guilt! No more apologies, and no more gifts, please! (unless it is chocolate.)

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Carefree and Carfree

binocular-bkgd1A car can get you from place to place, and for that we are all grateful.  We take  the mobility for granted. Instead we lavish attention on its comfort, its style, its esthetics.

Car ownership requires frequent refueling, taking time from a busy day.  It requires routine maintenance – oil changes, tune-ups, cleanings inside and out. The battery needs to be replaced from time to time, usually without warning and almost always at a most inconvenient time and place. Then there are the major repairs requiring chunks of time in repair shops, and at major expense.

Cars get damaged just sitting still – dented and scratched in parking lots, and rear-ended by inattentive drivers while at stoplights. Rain causes rust, hail dings, ice causes skidding, loss of control, and sometimes damages too varied and potentially horrific to even contemplate. Traveling along gravel roads can cause gravel to be whipped into the air and then shatter a windshield. A flat tire can force a car off the road.

Cars are expensive to purchase, costly to maintain, and budget crushers to operate. They pollute the environment. Parking causes great stress if close parking is not available especially during inclement weather, or when no parking is available at all.

We do not own a car and have not for nearly 10 years.Public transportation takes us where we want to go. We like it like that!

Help Wanted

binocular-bkgd1Posted prominently on the inside wall near the entryway of a Chinese restaurant in Long Island City, and also posted prominently on the inside wall near the entryway of the T-Bone Diner in Forest Hills, and I suspect also posted prominently in most, if not all, eateries in New York City:

 

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Think about it, but don’t think too long!