Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The game of Bridge was derived from the game of Whist, supposedly first played in Russia. The English civil servants who were living in India began to play bridge as a way to pass time while in their "exile" from their mother country. The Italians got into the habit of playing cards as well and their playing cards were works of art. Lots of history lies in between, but modern Bridge was introduced to New York City around the 1890's. In 1925, Henry Vanderbilt was bored on a cruise ship and began to add wagers to bridge games. Many bridge clubs to this day play for money or for a prize at the end of the bridge "party."
Through the years bridge became a favorite way to enjoy friendship and fellowship with like-minded people. There have been parties with entire meals, ones where popcorn and dessert were served and even all day sessions where each brought a sandwich and the play was not interrupted for eating. There have been couples groups where husband and wife were partners for the evening and duplicate games with friends known since those grad school days.
Charles Goren, a champion bridge player, wrote a book of rules and most players follow those rules. The bidding involves communicating with a partner to reveal several things. The bidding art tells one's partner how many points are between the two, what suits are best, if there is a chance of taking "tricks" and how many can be taken. An error in bidding can be fatal to the play of the cards. I have played bridge for over 40 years and I still make those errors. Learning the intricacies of bidding is an ongoing process.
Playing bridge is like riding a bicycle. Once learned, it is not forgotten. People of all ages and backgrounds can sit down to bridge and use the universal language of bidding to play the game. It is a game of etiquette. One must remember to "thank his partner" when the "dummy" hand is laid down on the table, even if it is horrific! One must remain silent during the "play" so as not to interrupt concentration. "Talking across the table" is also a no-no! There is even a special way to place the shuffled deck on the table so as to keep up with the identity of the next dealer. However, one expert player told me once, that "one peek is worth two finesses" if someone is holding his/her hand in an indiscreet way. The biggest rule is: "A card laid is a card played." Once the card goes on the table, it cannot be removed. Serious bridge players want to win the quarters that have been wagered!
local supermarket. The menu included seafood quiche, summer fruit salad, tea biscuits, fig preserves (for the biscuits), peach tea and Lemon Ice Box pie. Coffee provided a lift during the bridge game that followed the meal. My Mom's fancy coffee cups made an appearance and the table was set with my "good stuff."
Bisquick recipe of many years ago. That recipe has become a "go to" for lunches served at my table as it can be assembled in part the night before and baked just before serving. It calls for shrimp, but the addition of crab meat is delicious. The fruit salad can be prepared early if the juice of a lemon is stirred into the bowl to prevent the fruit from turning brown. Dessert and coffee are served during the bridge playing, so it must be kept simple for the hostess. A no-bake pie was selected. Even though she can't remember giving me the recipe, I credit a former colleague and friend, Claudia Fowler, for the pie variation I created. Her original recipe was Key Lime, but I changed it to lemon.
Pam Pennington Firmin. Pam's jewelry making hobby produces designs are always a hit and the winner was delighted.
Menu items recipes are below. You don't have to have a Bridge Party to serve them, as all are crowd pleasers. Enjoy and if you don't know how to play bridge, you should learn. It's a great way to spend some quality time with friends, old and new.
Impossible Seafood Pie (my variations of the original)
8 oz. cooked shrimp (boiled in seasoning of choice)
4 oz. white crab meat
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (I used chopped fresh from our herb garden)
4 oz. shredded Swiss cheese (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup Bisquick baking mix
salt, white pepper to taste
-Heat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 10 inch pie plate with Pam nonstick coating
-Sprinkle seafood, onions, basil and cheese in plate (can be done the night before)
-Place milk, eggs, Bisquick and seasonings in blender and blend for 20 seconds.
-Immediately pour milk mixture into pie plate and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
-Cool for about 5 minutes before cutting into 6 servings.
*Two pies are needed if 8 people are in attendance
1 tub (or tube) Crystal Light Lemonade mix
2 packages (1 oz.size) fat-free, sugar free instant vanilla pudding mix
3 1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons fat free sour cream
Juice of a lemon
Zest of lemon
12 oz. reduced calorie whipped topping (thawed)
2 graham cracker crusts (I make my own and use Equal instead of sugar)
-In a large bowl, stir together the Crystal Light and the pudding
-Add milk and beat with wire whisk until smooth
-Stir in sour cream, lemon and zest of lemon
-Fold in the all but 1 cup of the whipped topping
-Pour into crusts and refrigerate until serving time
-Use reserved whipped topping and a slice of lemon for garnish
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Marriott Marquis we boarded the Q train on the Subway for Little Italy and China Town. We had to have some authentic Italian food and some were pining for some great "knockoff" merchandise we were sure to find. We decided to try Pepolino which was on the fringe of Little Italy. The Ravioli of the day and the paninis were divine as was the Prosecco we ordered to toast our trip! Our waiter spoke broken English mixed with some Italian words. He said he hadn't been in the states very long. We weren't sure if it was an act to add to the authenticity of the place or the real deal, but we loved it anyway. He was quite charming. Imagine his dismay at 10 women asking for separate checks!
Subway to be the easiest, least expensive and fastest way to get around. It's officially known as MTA and includes trains, buses and the underground system. The MTA website is very useful to tourists. There is even a "step by step" guide on how to ride the Subway! If you can navigate stairs, it is the way to go! The green "M" signs are everywhere. You can purchase single rides or a Metrocard with discounted fares that can be "reloaded." Swiping the card is easy and all you have to do is figure out if you are going Uptown or Downtown. One of the many kindnesses we received was Subway advice from a lady who saw all of us peering at a map! She saved the day. Once underground your sense of direction escapes you! I hope she knew how much we appreciated her telling us which train to board!
Stephanie J. Block's stellar performance of so many Cole Porter favorites. A highlight of this show is the 12 minute tap dance sequence to the theme song. We "tapped" our way back to Juniors in Schubert Alley for take out cheesecake.
Juniors is that of a chain restaurant, but it holds unique surprises. The cheesecake is famous the world over and it is said that if you ask for the best, you will be directed to Juniors. Since it was literally right by our hotel, we also feasted on the lavish breakfast they serve. I have discovered that you can mail order the cheesecakes, so am tempted to do so for some special occasion. It was that good. Sorry I didn't get a picture of the cheesecake before three of us ate our fill. This variety was Red Velvet and was superb!
American Ballet Theater at Lincoln Center. Based on advice from frequent theater goers, we chose Family Circle tickets. These tickets have to be the best kept secret in New York. They are balcony seats, but the acoustics and arrangement of the theater ensure a wonderful viewing and listening experience. The price was less than $35 per person. The experience of seeing a performance in the theater is a must for those who love music. Many years ago, my husband and I had attended a performance of Rigoletto there and are still talking about the evening we had there. A favorite memory was sipping champagne at intermission while standing next to the famous Chegall murals.
After saying goodbye to Greg, who had a bus to catch back to Boston, we rushed to the TKTS booth in Times Square (a 3 minute Subway ride from Columbus Circle). At 7:05 (less than one hour before show time) we were able to purchase half price tickets to "One Man Two Guvnors" starring James Corden who won the Tony for Best Actor this year! We had never laughed so much! The play was set in England during the 60's and the references to culture of that time were aplenty. The almost slapstick comedy interspersed with musical performances and audience participation made for a super show!
9/11 Memorial. Although the plaza was full of people there was a reverence for the site and the victims. The two reflecting pools are surrounded by marble engraved with names of victims of 9/11 and the 1993 attack on the Twin Towers. There is an electronic directory of the victims' names if someone wants to find the location of one of the names of the 3000 inscribed there. A museum on the plaza will open next year. Surrounding the site is the ongoing construction of the new World Trade Center. Security is tight. I felt as though I was in an airport. Admission to the site is free, but one must make a reservation and have photo identification to enter. I liked this picture because you can see the construction in the background.
Each of the two pools, South and North, is on the site of one of the Towers that fell that awful day. The 30 feet tall waterfalls were hard to capture of on camera. The enormity of each was overwhelming, but beautiful and meaningful. When complete the new tower will be the tallest building in the United States. The site is one of superlatives...largest tower to be constructed, largest waterfalls and most amazing reverence for the event that changed America forever.
Leaving the museum during rush hour became a challenge as the Subway was several blocks away. We hailed a cab...in fact we hailed three cabs who turned us down because they didn't want to get the in the Times Square rush hour traffic. A car service sedan finally stopped and was willing to take us to the TKTS booth for a reasonable fee. This was the first time in my traveling history that I was ever turned down by a cab driver for a ride in any city! Oh well....live, learn and adapt.
We wanted to end our Big Apple experience on a happy note, so we opted for tickets to "Jersey Boys."
Our seats were on the last row of the balcony, but we were there and they were half price! The amazing thing about the theaters in New York, is that every seat is a good one! It's all in attitude of the attendee. "Jersey Boys" chronicles the career of Franki Valley and the Four Seasons performing group.
I certainly hope my fellow theater goers were not annoyed by my toe tapping, seat dancing and singing that ensued! It seemed everyone immersed in the enjoyment of hits such as "Sherry Baby" and "Big Girls Don't Cry."
And "What a Night" it was. The thirty-something travelers selected our post theater dining spot. It was an Irish Pub. I can't recall the name of it, but it was on our walking way back to our hotel. We ate some great pub food and enjoyed some cool libations! A unique Big Apple experience.
What a time we had. We endeavored to do as much as we could with our time and experience some new things and we did, indeed. As the Four Seasons might say: "Oh What a Trip!" Next morning found us desperately trying to pack our carry-ons. I have never been able to figure out why it all fits when packing at home and why it seems to "explode" when trying to repack for a flight home!
Meanwhile back in Ztown, Olive was enjoying some quality time with her Daddy and her Paw Paw Allie. A favorite activity is feeding Paw Paw's birds. She is an expert as this is a daily activity. I hope to take Olive to the Big Apple someday. I hope she likes it as much as I do.