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A hospital visitor has a miraculous recovery

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Random notes, food finds and a joke.

DOT.GIF One night recently, when Jim Hanst was recovering at UPMC St. Margaret, I sat with his wife, my friend Nancy, in his room filled with gifts from friends who wished him well. Nancy talked about some of the most useful gifts brought by visitors.

What follows is the short list:

1. Distilled water in a portable, plastic tank with a spigot, 2 1/2-gallon size.

2. Shakers of salt (lite if preferred) and cracked black pepper.

3. For someone having difficulty swallowing pills, naturally thick juices such as apricot nectar, pineapple, V-8, etc.-- ideally in six-packs of individual servings.

4. Breakfast, a meal where hospitals fail. Think of whole blueberry sour cream coffee cake to share with nurses and visitors, or granola or a fresh Danish.

5. Supper to share, from a place the patient knows or would like.

6. Sweatpants, shirts and socks for someone in therapy or someone just wanting relief from the air conditioning.

7. Magazines to match a patient's interests.

8. Cookies: a few of the best.

9. Rich body lotion, which, if they see it, nurses will use for a rub-down.

Another night, just before Jim left the hospital for home, my friend Gene and I went to visit him. He was sitting in his chair, his feet up on the hospital bed. Gene took the visitor's chair, and I sat in the unused wheelchair near the door. We were deep in conversation when Jim's friend Ike arrived. Jim introduced us, and we went on talking for another half-hour. When it was time to leave, I got up and walked over to give Jim a kiss.

"Isn't it a miracle?" Ike said.

I turned to see what he meant. It was me. Because I had been sitting in the wheelchair, he had thought I was an invalid and that the wheelchair was mine. When I jumped up to leave, I had, in his eyes, made a remarkable recovery.

DOT.GIF 15> Bagel joke: A man opens an outdoor stall to sell bagels and puts up a sign, "50 cents each." A jogger runs past and puts 50 cents into the bucket but doesn't take a bagel. The next day, he does the same thing. For weeks and then months, this goes on.

One day, as he's jogging past, the owner joins step with him. The jogger laughs and says, "I know why you're here. You want to know why I always put money in the bucket and never take a bagel."

"No," says the owner, "not that. I just want to tell you that the bagels have gone up to 60 cents."

Traditionally, visitors to Paris who wanted information about restaurants depended on the Guide Michelin for help. A friend returning from her most recent trip to Paris tells us she now prefers the Zagat guide, which is slimmer, easier to use, provides a more complete description and gives an indication of price.

DOT.GIF Soy Vay is the amusing name of the company, and its product is Veri Veri Teriyaki, a marinade and sauce for beef, chicken, fish, stir-fry and vegetables. From the label, we learn that the business got started "when a Jewish boy and a Chinese girl began talking about a common interest in cooking." The sauce, available in a 21-ounce bottle at $5.95, is a runaway best seller. Benkovitz Seafood in the Strip District sells five cases a week.

The restaurant Buon Giorno has opened a kiosk at Lazarus, Downtown. Surprised to see the name, I asked the woman at the counter if it was related to the Buon Giorno at 6 Smithfield St., Downtown.

"It's the same," she said.

"I like that place," I told her.

"Everybody likes it," she said.

The kiosk sells sandwiches, soft drinks, and an assortment of breakfast pastries. It will remain in its present place until the new year, when a decision will be made about its becoming a permanent site.

DOT.GIF If the French Laundry in Napa Valley, Calif., a restaurant that many people consider among the best in the world, says iceberg lettuce is haute cuisine, then that's official.

Iceberg Lettuce with Blue Cheese Dressing

1 head crisp iceberg lettuce, cored

    Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For dressing: In a small bowl stir to combine all ingredients except pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Makes about 3/4 cup.

To serve: Cut lettuce into wedges, spoon dressing over, and season generously with pepper.

Fishmonger Henry Dewey, at Benkovitz during the week, chooses his fish carefully. He cuts fish, he sells fish, he knows fish. Then, on Fridays from 6 p.m. to midnight and Saturdays from about 8 p.m. until midnight, he prepares a complete sushi menu at DejAVu Lounge, 2106 Penn Ave., Strip District. His sushi rolls vary in price from $6 to $9. Nigiri and Sashimi are also available. DejAVu (412-434-1144) is open from 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Henry is there only on Fridays and Saturdays.

I had one of the best meals I've ever eaten at New York's St. Regis Hotel restaurant Lespinasse when Gray Kunz was executive chef. The New York Times recently announced that next fall, Kunz, author of "The Elements of Taste," will open his own restaurant at AOL Time-Warner Center, Columbus Circle, New York City. The 150-seat restaurant will be located on the third floor. Good news.


Marilyn McDevitt Rubin can be reached at mrubin@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1749.

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