Fish Story and Minetta Tavern Zabaglione

It was a whale of a tale on last night’s Mad Men episode (“At the Cod Fish Ball”). It began with Megan’s Dover Sole and ended with poor Sally facing two very unpleasant

 Fish Story and Minetta Tavern Zabaglione

Shirley Temple with a Shirley Temple

sights, one of which was a whole cooked fish and the other…well, let’s just say Roger is up to his old tricks. “At the Cod Fish Ball” was a song made famous by Shirley Temple, so we weren’t surprised to see Sally served a cocktail by that name with her dinner.

Megan didn’t scrimp on dinner for her visiting parents and Don. Dover Sole, imported from Europe, “is considered by many food lovers to be the best-tasting fish in the world,” according to an article in the November 1964 issue of Life Magazine. “If you by chance have a fish market elegant enough to carry it, filets may cost $3 or $4 a pound.” Julia Child called Dover Sole “a dream fish” with a “texture firm enough to hold yet delicate to the tooth.”

Given Megan’s French heritage and Julia Child’s overwhelming popularity in the mid-1960s, Sole meunière would have been a natural choice. To make this French classic the sole, whole or fillet, is dredged in flour, pan fried in butter and served with the resulting

juliachild Fish Story and Minetta Tavern Zabaglione

Julia and a friend

brown butter. Simple and elegant it was one of Julia’s personal favorites. As she wrote in her Memoir, My Life in France, her first meal in Rouen was Sole meunière: it was “perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley… I closed my eyes and inhaled the rising perfume. Then I lifted a forkful of fish to my mouth… The flesh of the sole was delicate, with a light but distinct taste of the ocean that blended marvelously with the browned butter… It was a morsel of perfection… It was the most exciting meal of my life.”

 Fish Story and Minetta Tavern Zabaglione

The Hemisphere Club by day; The Tower Suite by night.

Two New York restaurants got shout-outs last night, too. When Don and Megan save the Heinz account, they’re at the Tower Suite, the evening incarnation of the Hemisphere Club, a private luncheon dining room for Time/Life executives on the 48th Floor of the Time and Life Building on Sixth Avenue. “Although New York viewed from a great height is one of the visually exciting places on earth, there are astonishingly few restaurants that take advantage of the fact,” wrote New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne shortly after the Tower Suite opened in late 1960. The Hemisphere Club was one of a series of private clubs for businessmen that opened in New York City in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Pinnacle Club and The Harbor View Club were two others. “One thing all of these clubs have in common, of course” said The New York Times on August 25, 1960, “is their altitude, a factor that seems to fulfill some inner need of the executive ego.”

The sky-high cakes (one appeared to be German Chocolate) we see on the table were part of the Tower Suite’s six-course meals served over two to three hours. The club was a creation of Restaurant Associates, the outfit behind the over-the-top Forum of the Twelve Caesars featured in Mad Men Season 4, Episode 7 (“The Suitcase”).

Further south, the cozy Minetta Tavern where Peggy expects a marriage proposal from4801251 Minetta Tavern Greenwich Village New York City Fish Story and Minetta Tavern Zabaglione Abe but gets only a consolation prize – an invitation to “live in sin,” as her mother puts it – is still going strong on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. (It was bought and revamped in 2009 by Keith McNally.) “A neat and frequently crowded restaurant…[i]t has a loyal, genteel clientele and the quality of the food, which is Italian, ranges from the ordinary to the excellent,” said The New York Times on March 20, 1964. The steak, which Abe says is supposed to be excellent, cost $4.25 back then; it’s $26.00 today with Pommes Frites.

Baked Alaska, that classic dessert that enjoyed immense popularity in the 1960s finally makes an appearance in Mad Men at the smoke-filled fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Baked Alaska is a dessert made by placing ice cream in a pie dish lined with slices of sponge cake or Christmas pudding and topped with meringue and placed in an extremely hot oven for just long enough to firm the meringue. The meringue insulates the ice cream during the short cooking time. The name ‘Baked Alaska,’ also known as a Norwegian omelette, dates to 1876 when Delmonico’s Restaurant named it such to honor the new American territory of Alaska. It didn’t look like Sally was enjoying that either but maybe Roger ruined her appetite.

Minetta Tavern Cold Zabaglione (Foamy Wine Custard)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Zabaglione Fish Story and Minetta Tavern Zabaglione

This recipe for Minetta Tavern Zabaglione comes from the Greenwich Village Cookbook (Fairchild, 1969) In Mad Men, Season 5, Episode 7 (“At the Cod Fish Ball”), when Peggy and her beau, Abe, have a date at the cozy Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village, Peggy expects a marriage proposal, but gets only a consolation prize – an invitation to “live in sin,” as her mother, Katherine, puts it. Minetta Tavern is still going strong on MacDougal Street: it was bought and revamped in 2009 by Keith McNally.

Back in 1966 when Peggy and Abe ate there, Minetta Tavern was an Italian restaurant and The perfect dessert for the couple would have been the house specialty, Zabaglione, a custard made with wine that can be served warm or cold.

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup sweet or almond cream Marsala wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Maraschino cherries

Instructions

  1. Beat egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar gradually, beating continually Continue to beat egg-yolk sugar mixture while adding wine. Put the mixture in the top of a double boiler, and cook over boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened, about 3 or 4 minutes. Do not allow custard to boil or it will curdle. Cool completely.
  2. Whip heavy cream until stuff and fold into cool custard. Spoon into sherbet glasses and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. Serve chilled and decorate with maraschino cherries.
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Under the Orange Roof

Acid trips, road trips…it seems everyone was going somewhere in last night’s episode of Mad Men (“Far Away Places”). It swept us away, too, back to the days of Choward’s Violet candies (Don’s father’s favorites; you may recall him rhapsodizing about them in Season 2, violets Under the Orange RoofEpisode 4, “Three Sundays”).

Today we’re craving a Howard Johnson’s fried clam roll, French fries and some orange sherbet. Talk about flashbacks of the non-acid variety! It was the on-the-money re-creation of Howard Johnson’s that stole the show from a culinary point of view, unless you see LSD-laced sugar cubes as a food item. Anyone who grew up in the Mad Men era can identify with Don’s simple sentiment: “I love Howard Johnson’s.”

Howard Johnson’s in Plattsburgh, New Yorkplattsburgh11 Under the Orange Roof

For us, well one of us, The Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge and Restaurant on Route 17 in Paramus, NJ was unforgettable. They really did have sherbet in Technicolor orange (it matched the color of HoJo’s distinctive orange roof) and the fried clams, mentioned twice last night, were about the only way a ten year-old kid would even touch a clam. Even better if ordered as a clam roll. In fact, they never deep-fried the whole clam; it was more like clam strips and the batter disguised what was left of the taste of the clam. But we loved them! And don’t get me started in the ice cream sundaes and the milk shakes. My Dad often drove us in his Ford Fairlane, and later his Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, to HoJo’s just for dessert. Poor Megan: she wants pie for dessert but Don sets off a firestorm by overriding her order and insisting she have the sherbet.

One of the nation’s first restaurant chains, with some stores company owned and the Under the Orange Roof others franchises, there were more than  600 Howard Johnson’s across the country in the early 1960s. Over the years, and through many changes in ownership, HoJo’s restaurants (but not the motels) went the way of the record album and the black and white TV. Only three remain, in Lake George, NY, Lake Placid, NY (not far from Plattsburgh where Don and Megan have their disastrous HoJo’s date) and Bangor, ME.

And what’s become of the Howard Johnson’s on Route 17 in Paramus? This is it today and we’d say it’s not an improvement. Fifty years from now we doubt this place will make anyone nostalgic.

3ffb29503191069eff932273c1fd4f66 300x225 Under the Orange Roof

Big and Brown

At last, some food we could really sink our teeth into on Mad Men! In last Sunday’s Big and Brown episode, “Signal 30,” we had lobster, Irish pub food and a spectacular Beef Wellington prepared by Cos Cob, Connecticut’s own Trudy Campbell. Anyone who can pull off Beef Wellington while tending to a very young baby really has her act together because this dish is no easy feat.

“Big and brown” may have been the most memorable phrase of the evening when the Cosgroves and the Drapers (Don reluctantly) make the trek to Cos Cob for Trudy’s dinner party. There’s been some speculation in the blogosphere about what this means; we’re of the opinion it’s Don’s way of asking for a large serving of his favorite whisky, Canadian Club.

But it’s the Draper’s gift of William Greenberg brownies in the red tin that made a splash at the Campbell’s, giving Pete and Trudy a pang of homesickness for the city they left behind for life in the suburbs. “Look what they brought,” Pete says to Trudy. “Doesn’t it make you homesick?” There are no bakeries and no Greenberg’s in Cos Cob Trudy informs her guests. Pete wants to try them “my way,” frozen, but apparently he’s alone in that. But we don’t think he’s talking just about the brownies.

brownies Big and Brown

Greenberg Brownies

William J. Greenberg’s bakery had a location at 1181 Madison Avenue in the 1960s (today the Madison Avenue location is at 1100). A specialist in “hostess gifts,” according to an article in The New York Times on May 17, 1960 titled, appropriately enough, “Gifts Rich in Calories to Please New Mothers,” Greenberg gifts became the food gift to give to young moms. “The reasoning behind this development,” said the Times, “seems to be that after months of careful diet control, every girl is entitled to a good cooky binge or at least the chance at one.” Greenberg’s brownies and other baked delicacies, such as his Schnecken, a type of cinnamon roll, were rich and Big and Brown expensive. A tin of four dozen brownies cost $5.85 in 1960 (today it’s $36 a dozen!). But they were worth it. In 1980, New York Magazin called them an “old money brownie — well bred and adventurous with a refined dazzle.”

Speaking of rich and expensive, that certainly describes the advertising prey of the evening, Jaguar Motor Cars, a potential account lost to that most humble of comestibles, if one can call it that, a simple piece of chewing gum. We hope we don’t have to explain.

 

Where Y@?

 Where Y@?Last night was a banner night for food and dining on Mad Men but those of you who made sense of the headline may have gotten the hint that your faithful correspondents are in New Orleans at the moment and in no condition to write our usually insightful and clever blog. We’re going to have to digest last night’s episode of Mad Men for a little while (along with the begnets, gumbo and po’boys) and get back to you later. So, consider this our way of saying, excuse us for being late, which is the usual state of affairs in New Orleans described by some as not the worst organized city in the United States but the best organized city in the Caribbean.

How to Make a Killing (and Tuna Fish Sandwich)

Last night’s episode of Mad Men, “Mystery Date,” was almost an appetite killer given its exploration of men behaving badly. Very badly. The 1966 murder of eight Chicago nurses by Richard Speck was the historical backdrop for an episode in which Greg Miller, the most unlikable TV doctor since forever, returns home briefly to Joan and his infant son only to trot back to Viet Nam where he’s really needed. And Don, in a feverish delirium, dreams of knocking off an old paramour. So, let’s have a drink. Or three.

 How to Make a Killing (and Tuna Fish Sandwich)

Gin Fizz

Mad Men has been filled with Old Fashioneds, Martinis and Manhattans over the first four seasons, so it was refreshing to hear Joan order a gin fizz at the Italian restaurant where she and Greg and their parents retire to celebrate his homecoming, a dinner ruined by Greg’s ham-sized ego and Joan’s discovery that his return to Viet Nam is voluntary.

The family of drinks known as fizz was a creation of New Orleans in the late 19th century and was especially popular in the first half of the 20th century. There are many variations: the basic gin fizz is made with gin, of course, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water (hence the fizz) over rocks. Fizz variations include the use of lime juice, simple syrup, cream, eggs (either the whole egg, just the yolk or just the white), and even crème de menthe. A Sloe Gin Fizz is made with a blackthorn-based spirit (a prune variant).

By the way, when we were her age we would have agreed with Sally’s complaint about the tuna sandwich (see recipe) Henry’s warm and cuddly mother, Pauline Francis, makes for her: “it has relish.”  But, according to the authors of Clean Plates: Cooking for Young Children (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1964), “with sandwiches, it is pleasant to serve some special condiment such as watermelon pickles, sweet pickles or spiced crabapples. If a child is tired, such an inducement will often start him eating and, once having begun, he will finish the meal with relish.” Oh, really?

Of course today we think relish makes the tuna fish sandwich shine. Tastes change as we mature. Just ask Peggy, flush with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey as she shakes down Roger over the Mohawk Airlines ad campaign.

Tuna Fish Sandwich

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 sandwiches

 How to Make a Killing (and Tuna Fish Sandwich)

Relish makes this tuna fish salad recipe from the Mad Men era shine. Adapted from Clean Plates: Cooking for Young Children, Charles Scribners Sons, 1964)

Ingredients

  • 1 7 ounce can tuna fish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Chopped sweet pickles or relish, to taste
  • Bread slices, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, flake tuna fish. Add mayonnaise and lemon juice.
  2. Mix in chopped sweet pickles or relish to taste and serve on slices of bread.
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Mad About Calories: Ice Cream Sundae Topping

 Mad About Calories: Ice Cream Sundae ToppingIt was a high calorie episode of Mad Men last night. There was Harry putting away twenty burgers after his failed attempt to meet with The Rolling Stones on behalf of Heinz (who, we learned, once did a jingle in the U.K. for Rice Krispies), the heaping plate of sausages in Betty’s death fantasy and the rye bread and farmer’s cheese Sterling Cooper’s new Jewish copywriter brings home to his father. And we saw Betty munching her way to fighting weight with Bugles corn chips. Bugles was one of a trio of new snack foods introduced in 1966 by General Mills, along with Whistles and Daisys.

The show ended, fittingly enough, with Betty downing her own ice cream sundae and finishing off Sally’s for good measure. (We took note of the pink stove in the Francis kitchen where Betty and Sally indulge.) About the only time Betty showed some dietary restraint was after her biopsy when she sipped tea (the episode was called “Tea Leaves” after all) and left some appealing looking scones untouched on her plate.

If Betty and Sally’s sundaes appeal to your sweet tooth, we offer this sundae topping recipe from a cookbook published the same year Bugles made their debut: America’s Favorite Recipes from Better Homes and Gardens (Bantam, 1966).

Marshmallow Fudge Topping

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

il 570xN.2334800431 Mad About Calories: Ice Cream Sundae Topping

Enjoy a taste of the Mad Men with era with this retro sundae recipe designed to appeal to sweet toothes of all ages -- marshmallow and fudge combine to make a sensational ice cream topping.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered cocoa
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Instructions

  1. Mix brown sugar and cocoa in a 1 quart saucepan. Stir in milk, and cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture comes to a boil. Cook rapidly 5 minutes longer.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Cool 5 minutes and fold in marshmallows. Serve warm over vanilla ice cream.
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