The gift of giving - Talk about giving and gifting and re-gifting, it's what we do at this time of year. The best gift to welcome the new decade is Victor Rivera's Bronx Parent Housing Network's (BPHN) Soup Kitchen, which opened on New Year's Day on the Upper East Side on First Ave. between 85th and 86th Sts. and is funded by an anonymous donor. Deep cuts looming to federal food programs will inevitably mean more and more people will be going with less or no food. And as Rivera, BPHN's CEO, observed, "Wall Street may be breaking records, but there are hungry people in New York, and the situation is threatening to get worse." Rivera, who has personally experienced the misfortunes of being homeless and hungry, went back to school and earned a master's degree in public administration.
And it's not only the homeless who avail themselves of the soup kitchen. It's New Yorkers who have lost their jobs and have to contend with the high cost of living, and health and other expenses which may force them to choose between cutting down on eating or paying for other necessities. The food at the soup kitchen is prepared off premises, in accordance with prescribed dietary guidelines, by Havana Express, a restaurant in the Bronx. On hand at the New Year's Day opening, Council Member Ben Kallos joined Rivera and BPHN and, while thanking the anonymous donor, noted that "No community, including the Upper East Side, is immune to the sad reality of families facing hunger during the holiday season." And he cautioned that, "As a City, we must prepare for looming cuts to SNAP benefits and bolster outreach to the homeless whenever and wherever possible."
Puppy Un-love - Several alerts came through during December about small pet shops on the UES where shivering puppies were on display in the store windows. It's heart-rending enough to see the ASPCA's TV ads showing shivering pets standing out in the cold or in cages waiting for someone to take them indoors. But then to see them in our midst by proprietors who have a duty to protect pets in their care, OMG! I can't imagine the motivation of any pet shop owner, or staffer, who would stand by and allow that to happen. I've been told that reports of the abuse were made to the local police precinct, but shivering pups remain on display. There ought to be a law.
Movin' on up - East Side favorite, Sable's, where you go to get the best smoked fish, herring, caviar, sandwiches, homemade salads, rugelach and more, will be leaving its location on Second Ave and 78th St. this May and moving to Third Ave in the 70's. Not happy about empty storefront, but happy that Sable's is still in business and staying on the UES.
Bye bye Beygolu - One of my favorite go-to restaurants over the years has been Beygolu, an upscale Mediterranean spot on the corner of 81st St. and Third, even though they don't take reservations and won't seat you until all diners arrive. You complain at first, then get with the program - until you find out that they no longer have taramasalata (that briny meze made from salted and cured roe of carp, cod or mullet) on the menu, that there's no more seating downstairs and that you'll have to hike the steep stairs to the upper level, and that, after making the trek, they won't give you separate checks. End of an error. Guess I'll have to find a taverna with tarama on the menu, seating for the stair challenged, and a server who will give us separate checks. A tall order that goes great with Turkish wine or a Greek retsina. Anyway, Happy New Year (USA), Mutlu yillar ("Happy Years" in Turkey). And sayonora, Beygolu.