Archive | February, 2012

Neckbones’ Fried Chicken Diary: Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken edition

27 Feb

February 14, 2012, approximately 5:30pm. 2841 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, near 151st St.

Seven-year old son and I enter the cozy confines of Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken. A woman is eating said chicken at one of the few tables in the otherwise deserted restaurant.

“Be right with you, baby,”she says to me.

“Take your time,” I say, as my eyes gaze glassily over the pieces of fried chicken in the warming tray behind the counter. And then I wander to other visible offerings; the short ribs, baked barbecue chicken, oxtails, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, corn bread, turkey wings, pork chops, and pig feet.

While I tell myself to control the watering that is beginning in my mouth, my son has his eyes riveted on the television that is playing a 1990’s “Law & Order” rerun.

The woman is now behind the counter. “Buffet or dinner?” she asks.

“Um dinner,” I respond and then immediately realize my mistake.

“To go or to stay?” She quickly inquires as she holds a styrofoam take out container ready.

“No, I just need 12 pieces of chicken to go.”

“You need 12 pieces?” Her expression suddenly changes; the stress on it evident. “Did you call?”

“No…” I stammer, realizing now that there might be a problem. “I…is Charles here?”

“Charles? No, Charles went to the bank,” she replies brusquely.

“You need to call in advance if you want 12 pieces,” she says, now glaring at me.

“I’ve never called before. Charles has always had the chicken for me,” I respond lamely.

I don’t see any rule there about having to order 12 pieces of chicken in advance.

I hear her huff. “Hey, Joe Buck,*” she calls to someone behind her. “Joe Buck!” she calls again when she doesn’t get a response.

“Can’t expect to get 12 pieces unless you call,” she scoffs and then calls the man’s name once more.

“I’m in the bathroom,” comes the muffled reply.

“Get on out here,” she hollers. “We need chicken.”

Finally a tall man in a white apron appears from the back. “Man wants 12 pieces,” she says to him. “I tell him he got to call in advance.”

Joe Buck looks at me disinterestedly. “Okay, I guess I’m about to make some chicken,” he says calmly.

I look at the pieces that are in the warming tray. Clearly, there are more than 12. Will she not sell them to me because they have been sitting for a long time and the quality is below their standards? Or is there another reason? I keep silent, not wanting to risk a permanent ban from Charles very fine establishment.

“It’s gonna take 25 minutes,” the woman barks to me.

Again I look at the pieces of cooked chicken. And then turn to my son.

“You want to wait?” I ask him.

His face darkens. I know the look. Tears will come next.

“Let me see what I can do,” I hear her say. I turn to the counter. She is playing with the cooked chicken with a pair of tongs. “What pieces you like?” She asks.

“Doesn’t matter. But an assortment would be nice,” I add, hoping I haven’t pushed it.

She then begins to take pieces out and assemble them in separate Styrofoam containers. When she has put together four sets of three pieces there are just a couple of pieces left in the tray, but Joe Buck has more cooking in the big pan.

Recognize this?

“I hope nobody comes in wanting fried chicken,” she says to herself.

I order sides of collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and corn bread.

She totals up what I owe, piece by piece.  From what I can tell as she rapidly adds up the pieces on the old fashioned cash register, a breast cost more than a leg, and a thigh is cheaper than a wing, but she worked too fast for me to figure any of it out.

I pay her and thank her for her help. She takes my money. “Thank you, baby,” she says with the same smile she had when I walked in.

And then my son and I leave with our family’s Valentine Day’s dinner.

*I did not want to use the cook’s real name in fear of impinging on his privacy, thus here I called him Joe Buck.

Name That Place

24 Feb

This picture says it all. In fact, without what you see in the picture, the name of the place would be different. And now I think I’ve given it away.

Good luck and as usual, leave your answers in the comments section. The answer will be revealed on Monday along with a story about my most recent visit there.

The Bistro That Serves Fufu and Four Fingers

22 Feb

Maima’s Liberian Bistro & Bar
106-47 Guy R. Brewer Blvd,
Jamaica, Queens

After learning that we would be traveling to Jamaica, Queens for our next eating adventure, Zio commented that it was our group’s first outing to that section of Queens. He was excited about it, but he had no idea at the time that before our dinner was over, he would, quite literally, be smothered in affection by the ample and genial, to the extreme, hostess/waitress of Maima’s Liberian Bistro & Bar.

I’m not sure why Zio was looking forward so much to visiting Jamaica. From my initial perspective cruising down Liberty Avenue, there wasn’t much more to it than countless auto glass repair service centers.

And then after passing the York College campus and turning onto Guy R. Brewer Blvd, things got even dicier. The streets had a dangerous aura to them. It wasn’t dark yet, but the area reminded me somewhat of the burnt out street of Baltimore depicted in the television series “The Wire.” The only bright spot on the street was my destination: Maima’s.

Omar coming…for some fufu.

Later, Zio confessed to “late night drives” through the neighborhood; his artistic eye appreciative of the dank, post-apocalyptic look of the place. Of course Zio, observed the neighborhood from the safe confines of his used BMW and, wisely, never got out of the car during those nocturnal excursions.

I was the first to arrive and the first to meet, Janis, the aforementioned hostess. Stevie Wonder was playing on the stereo. There was a small wood paneled bar and African-themed paintings on the wall. We’ve been to many other African restaurants over the years, but this was our first taste of Liberian food. And compared to the other African restaurants, (the late Treichville, Salimata, B&B’s African American Restaurant, and African American Maraway) Maima’s was by far the most “elegant,” thus the inclusion of the word “bistro” in its official name.

The Bistro menu of the day

With the help of one of the few African patrons in the small restaurant, Janis put together three of the tables to make room for our group of six. As soon as I sat down at the extended table, a cold Corona in front of me, Eugene, Mike from Yonkers, and Zio arrived.

After Eugene and Mike from Yonkers also ordered Corona’s, Zio  in as deep and manly a voice as he could muster, said to Janis, “And I’ll take a man-sized Coke.”

His deviation from what the rest of us were ordering and the authoritative way he said it must have stirred something deep inside Janis’s generous soul. Almost instantly there was “chemistry” between the two.

After maneuvering through traffic on the Belt Parkway, Gerry entered followed soon after by Rick. The menus were of the take out variety, but as take out menus go, Maima’s was colorful and printed on thick, glossy paper. Each day there were daily dishes offered. We were there on a Tuesday and had the option of either Spinach or Palm Butter, but by the time we were ready to order, Palm Butter had been erased from the chalkboard.

Besides the daily offerings, fufu & soup was available along with fresh fish, “fried, toasted, or steamed.” In fact, fufu, the ball of doughy, beaten (literally) down version of cassava, was available with everything, as we soon found out. The soup was pepper soup, that, according to Janis, was a mélange of meats; chicken and beef, and seafood along with a big pale ball of fufu.

We started with appetizers of roast meat and chicken on skewers, and pepper shrimp. The shrimp was smothered in a thick, burnt red paste. “Be careful,“ Janis warned, “the shrimp is spicy.”

Pepper shrimp

Gluttons for heat, we scoffed at her warnings and dug in. I tried peeling the shrimp but gave up, eating the thing whole. Before I got more than two bites in, however, I was overcome by an uncontrollable attack of the hiccups; a sign that I’ve surpassed my body’s spice index. Sucking down ice water, the hiccups subsided and maybe that I’d already numbed my lips and the lining of my throat; I was able to continue to eat the fiery shrimp.

Janis brought Gerry and Rick their “spinach” entrees. The spinach was served chopped in a bowl with bits of meats and seafood throughout. From what I sampled, those bits were more tiny pieces of meat attached to small bones. The spinach also came, of course, with a ball of fufu as did the pepper soup that Eugene and I were having.

Maima’s spinach

I was about to try the fufu when Janis rushed to my side and added a dollop of the same peppery paste that was on the shrimp to the otherwise bland fufu. I used my hand to break apart the dense ball of fufu and added a small amount of the pepper sauce for flavor.

Fufu with a dollop of pepper sauce.

And then I turned my attention to the soup where a four-fingered hand or foot, I couldn’t tell, was jutting from. So life-like was this appendage that if I dared look closer I might have spotted fingernails or maybe knuckle hair. But for that reason, I kept my distance from it.

The broth was indeed peppery, but mild compared to the hiccup-inducing shrimp. Inside the broth, along with the appendage, were pieces of tripe, gelatinous beef tendon, small pieces of chicken on the bone and even smaller blue crab bits.

Waiter, there’s a hand in my soup.

With fork and knife, Mike from Yonkers delicately began the dissection of his “toasted” fish which, translated, meant that it was grilled while Zio’s approach to his fried fish was more primitive; pulling apart flesh from bone with his palm oil stained fingers. “What kind of fish is it?” I asked him.

“The fresh kind,” he muttered without looking up, his mouth partially stuffed with food.

Fish and fufu

It was about then when Zio noticed Janis bringing a bagged order to a customer waiting outside. Along with presenting him with his order, she gave the customer an overly friendly hug. When she returned, Zio, wiped the grease from his lips.  “I’m a little jealous now,” he said to her.

With that, she grinned, went behind him, wrapped her defensive lineman-like arms around him and began to smother him with affection. Thankfully, Zio had completely drunk the man-sized Coke to keep his now overworked heart stimulated otherwise we might have had to rush him to nearby Jamaica Hospital.

Rick was moaning as well, but not because of an outpouring of affection. The fufu had done him in. “I think it might be expanding in my stomach,” he said of the half ball of fufu he had already ingested.

Still we had to try the rice bread; a sweetened piece of cake that tasted like banana bread and was made, I presume from rice flour and bananas.

Rice bread

Our experience at Maima’s was certainly memorable even if the food did not quite make it to the top of our self-monitored charts. My only regret was that we never got to try the palm butter special.

“Next time you come, you can call ahead and they’ll hold it for you,” Janis said.

“Who do I call?”

“Just call Mama,” was her glowing response.

The Happiest of all Hours: Subway Inn Edition

17 Feb

Now, interspersed within the Adventures of Chow City chronicles and other nonsensical restaurant paeans and food-related ravings that make up Fried Neck Bones…and Some Home Fries, comes the debut of a new semi-regular installment called The Happiest of all Hours.   Focusing on the saloon equivalent of Neckbones-like eating establisments, The Happiest of all Hours will attempt to capture what it is that makes that hour (or hours) so very happy.

To lead off the series comes the Subway Inn Edition.

No stranger to the Subway Inn, it seems whenever I go, it’s the happiest of all hours. But it had been a long time between visits. Upon entering, however, not much had changed with the exception of an abundance of flat panel, high definition televisions scattered throughout. And the presence of Modelo Especial in bottles.

“Bartender, a delicious Modelo Especial, por favor.”

Averting my eyes from one of the many aforementioned high definition television screens, I glanced upon the mantle above the bar.

Ah, yes, Godzilla wearing a tie. But I just can’t find the right words to describe the mate next to him. Could it be a signal that the happiest of all hours should come to a close?

Before leaving the Subway Inn to travel on the subway home, a visit to the facilities is almost always necessary.

I have a very painful memory about a happy hour past at Subway Inn when nature urgently called and the facilities were off limits;  blocked by a posse of plain-clothes detectives as they used said facilities to conduct a drug shakedown of some of the bar’s more devoted patrons.

I swear, the seat was already up.

On this happiest of hours, I am happy to report, there was no such dilemma.

I don’t get around as much as I used to, so if any of you have suggestions or recommendations of establishments that might make good additions to The Happiest of all Hours, please don’t hesitate to contact me at friedneckbones_andsomehomefries@yahoo.com.

The Neckbones’ Valentine’s Card

14 Feb

While Hallmark, FTD, Kay Jewelers,  and others try to sell you on Valentine’s Day. When restaurants push overpriced and mediocre prix fixe Valentine’s dinners on you, I am reminded of the simple yet profound words of blues great, and alto saxophonist, Eddie “Clean Head” Vinson.

That there’s no need for caviar.

When “old  kidney stew is fine. ”

“You can save your money, and keep your peace of mind.”

But the man himself can tell it much better than I.

01 – Kidney Stew Blues

Today’s Special: Bronx Catch of the Day

10 Feb

 

And the catch of the day, straight from the waters of a Bronx fish tank is:

Is it inhumane to make a fish endure the equivalent of the number 6 train during rush hour?

Anyone seen Nemo?

I looked for the wild tilapia section, I swear I did.

Dinner

So it wasn’t wild, it tasted pretty good. I just wonder what they feed them.  Scratch that. I don’t want to know.

The Marathon to Malecon.

8 Feb

Malecon Restaurant
4141 Broadway
Washington Heights

It took three attempts for our group to get to Rick’s pick,  Malecon in Washington Heights. The journey to the busy corner of 175th Street and Broadway where Malecon is located had its winding trails and steep inclines, but in the end was worth the effort.

Malecon was touted by Ubie, Rick’s hairdresser/stylist/barber, as the best place for “Dominican” food in New York. And though we don’t know anything about Ubie’s food savvy, Rick’s hair is definitely impressive, so we just had to go on that.

The first detour on our trip to Malecon occurred a couple of months earlier when on the date we were to gather, Rick informed us that there was an event at the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg featuring the barbecue of Myron Mixon.

The Brooklyn Brewery: The first leg of our journey.

Though I’ve been through a few barbecue wars myself, I don’t follow them on television. Apparently Myron Mixon is a barbecue celebrity and had just written a book on his expertise. This event was in celebration of that publication and included barbecue prepared by Mixon himself. Rick’s influence got our group invites to the event and he presented us with the option of the “Dominican place” or free barbecue and beer. Our decision was unanimous. We would postpone Rick’s pick to experience the Brooklyn Brewery and Mixon’s renowned barbecue.

After arriving promptly at the Brooklyn Brewery on an empty stomach and quickly downing two very cold and very delicious beers, while waiting (and waiting) for Mixon to lay out his food, I desperately reached for the pickles—the  only thing to eat—in hopes of not passing out in a mound of barbecue. Finally the ribs and brisket were assembled on the steam tables and our group, showing the skill and confidence accumulated by years of experience, positioned ourselves at  the front of the buffet line.

Our plates piled high, we began to dig in. The ribs were worthy of Mixon’s reputation; seasoned perfectly, smoked to moist tenderness topped with a subtle glaze of semi-sweet sauce. The brisket, however, even sliced thin, was like eating shoe leather. How could a barbecue master allow such a debacle? Shouldn’t pride itself prevent one from tarnishing one’s revered status? In other words, if I were Mixon, I would have dumped all the inedible brisket rather than foisting it upon the scavengers lining up for the buffet. But that’s just me.

Myron Mixon displaying his gnawing ability.

A few weeks later, channel surfing, I noticed Mixon’s silver-bearded visage on television. He was on a barbecue competition called “BBQ Pitmasters” on TLC (The Learning Channel). I watched as he competed in the “ribs” category and came in third behind a man named Tuffy Stone and the winning team called “Slap Yo Daddy,” comprised of Asian-Americans from California. When the results were announced, Mixon had the same look on his face that I did when sampling his brisket.

A month later, we tried again to visit the “Dominican place” recommended by Ubie. Late on the afternoon of our scheduled gathering, Rick emailed to say a work crisis had come up and he would have to cancel. I was on my way to a Little League tournament game with my son in the Inwood section of Northern Manhattan. I thought I might be able to get to the dinner in nearby Washington Heights, son in tow, if his game ended promptly. But Eugene was cranky and wanted to meet sooner than later; bitter that when most of the world was sleeping, he would be camped out on the RFK Bridge overseeing construction there. Since this was Rick’s choice, it didn’t make sense to assemble without him, but I was away from my email and deferred the executive decision whether to cancel or not up to Gerry. He, wisely choose to cancel.

Malecon’s cafe con leche receptacle.

We quickly rescheduled and this time there were no cancellations. I admit to not being a stranger to the food of Malecon. Though the Malecon I was familiar with was on the upper west side and known, to me, as “El Malecon.” A visit to Malecon’s website revealed that they were related.

The Malecon in Washington Heights was most definitely the big brother of the two. Not only was it located in the heart of New York’s biggest Dominican community, it was larger than “El Malecon” and its menu was much more extensive.

My experience with El Malecon centered around the monstrous roast chicken dinners they featured that included rice and beans or other starches like yuca, tostones or maduros. That and the restaurant’s addictive café con leche that went perfectly with its “desayuno,” the hearty Dominican breakfast comprised of longaniza (sausage), eggs, mangu (mashed green plantains) and guineo (boiled green bananas).

The self-proclaimed King of Roast Chicken.

The Malecon in Washington Heights had everything El Malecon had on the Upper West Side and much more including a large selection of mofongos, parrilladas (grill combinations) and something called picaderas.

Gerry ordered a pequena (small) picadera plate that was big enough for at least half of our rotund group and included a combination of fried meats; sausage, beef, pork, and chicken along with fried plantains.

Picaderas: the “pequena” plate.

Big brother Malecon, unlike El Malecon, was much more festive with tropical murals, meringue blasting and offering ice buckets of Presidente beer which, without hesitation, we crowded our table with.

There were side dishes and a few appetizers that looked tempting and Rick considered a few. I shook my head. “It will be too much,” I said, recalling my previous El Malecon experiences. And I didn’t get an argument from anyone.

A Presidente to accompany the King of roast chicken.

The vast menu made choosing difficult but I narrowed my choice down to one of that day’s specials—Malecon has a number for each day of the week—thinking I might get the roast pork or the bbq beef ribs. I went with the latter along with gandules (pigeon peas) and rice. Mike from Yonkers was considering a mofongo, but realized he didn’t get rice and beans with it…as if he needed more starch. Instead, he chose the codfish stew.

Bacalao guisado

Along with touting the restaurant, Ubie recommended Malecon’s legendary chicken and Rick ordered a “whole” as opposed to a half, which would have been more than enough. Both Eugene and Zio had the “fish of the day,” which was something fried and filleted and even smothered in an unknown sauce was, according to Zio, “still crispy.”

As I expected, the platters were large, the food densely delicious, though the ribs a tad on the sweet side, and the Presidente the perfect accompaniment. It was no reflection on Malecon’s quality, however, that everyone, excluding Eugene and myself, had leftovers; a first for our group.

Despite being overstuffed, I couldn’t resist sampling the coconut flan while Rick and Mike from Yonkers were easily convinced by our waitress to try the tres leches (three milk) cake. The flan I had was as dense as the rice and gandules, but the tres leches was moist, dripping with sweet milk and so good that it alone would make another journey,  detours and all,  to Washington Heights a high priority.

Tres leches cake.

The View From the 26th Floor

3 Feb

It’s Friday and on Sunday the Super Bowl will be played. I could work up a Super Bowl menu for the big game, but why would mine be any more interesting than the half a million others that have been blogged over the last two weeks? I could quip on a history of Super Bowl eats I’ve experienced over the many Roman numeraled years the game has been played, but that would only make me look very old; and do you really care?

  So today I will digress a bit from things food—mostly. Instead I’m sharing something a bit different, at least from a Fried Neck Bones perspective.

Since the Giants and the Patriots clinched their conference titles two weeks ago, the blather has been incessant regarding how this is a “rematch” of the memorable Super Bowl the two teams played four years ago. And, in particular, how the current Giants stretch run practically mirrored what occurred in 2007/08. There have been numerous reminisces of that dramatic game replayed by sports’ writers, fans, and former players.

   Not long after the 2008 Super Bowl, I scribbled an account of my experience watching that game and how, in some ways, it reminded me, on a much different scale, of what occurred when I witnessed a big game thirty years earlier. So here, on Fried Neck Bones…and Some Home Fries, is my Giants/Patriots Super Bowl story. You see, there really is no escape from it.

On the first Monday of October, 1978, I was in a rickety motel in New Hampshire on a mountain climbing/hiking trip with a friend. Looking back, I still wonder why I would agree to such an endeavor. The trip, however, coincided with the end of the baseball season that year; one that had seen the New York Yankees, my team, come from a 14 and a half point deficit to leap over the rival Boston Red Sox into first place. But on the last day of the season, while I was attempting to enjoy a hiking trip, the Yankees lost and the Red Sox won putting them in a virtual tie. There was to be a one-game playoff at Fenway Park the following afternoon to determine who would win the American League East.

My friend, also a Yankee fan, though a much more avid climber of mountains than I was in a quandary—or maybe he wasn’t. He knew what I was thinking.

“We came here to go climbing,” he said. We were close to the Mount Washington range in New Hampshire where we planned to hike. It was a sunny, crisp day; the foliage in the mountains was glorious. It was the last day of our trip. He looked at me knowing I would be unmoved.

Idyllic Mt. Washington in early October; a perfect day to stay inside and watch baseball.

“Well, I’m not staying in a motel room watching TV on a day like this,” he huffed as he grabbed his gear and headed out.

The television in the motel room was an old color set with rabbit ears. The game was broadcast on local network television and with proper manipulation of the rabbit ears, I was able to pull it in with only minor interference. In the small room I kept the shades drawn; the glare of the sun made it even more difficult to see the screen. I paced and cursed loudly throughout the game. When the Red Sox took the early lead, I was thinking maybe I should have gone mountain climbing sparing myself potential agony. And watching with only my own voice as my companion was torturous.

But in the seventh inning came Bucky Dent’s legendary home run. I let out a thunderous roar. I thought I was alone in the motel—who else would actually be in this fairy tale-themed, Snow White or Rip Van Winkle, I don’t remember which, motel on the first Monday in October? But there was someone here and he (or she) was most likely a Red Sox fan and banging angrily at the walls either, telling me to keep it down or in disgust at what had just unfolded on the field.

Deep to left…Yastrzemski…will not get it…

As the game progressed, I continued to pace the small room, moving from the bathroom and back out again in between pitches. I was talking to myself, occasionally yelling at the blurry screen and when Graig Nettles caught the final out, I hollered. This time there was no banging in return.

Almost thirty years later, on the first Sunday in February of 2008, I was in a luxurious two-bedroom suite on the 26th floor of a sleek Midtown Manhattan hi-rise hotel. There were high definition flat screen televisions in each of the bedrooms and a huge, 40 plus inch screen in the living room area. In little over an hour after I checked  into the hotel, a New York team was scheduled to play a team from New England; the underdog Giants going against the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.

I was at the hotel on assignment for a guide book I write on New York City. Usually I visit the hotels I review alone, but on this occasion I was with my seven-year-old son, L. The previous year, L wept when the Philadelphia Eagles eliminated the Giants in a wild card playoff game on a last second field goal. As I tried to console him, I told him he had officially been initiated into Giant fandom—that as a Giant fan, losses like the one he just experienced become part of your lifeblood. That didn’t make him feel any better.

Two weeks before the Super Bowl, as the Giants and Green Bay played into overtime in the NFC Championship game, I worried that L, watching well past his bedtime, would suffer through a similar result and wondered what kind of toll that might take on his young psyche. But, thankfully, Lawrence Tynes’ field goal eliminated that concern and sent the Giants to the Super Bowl.

Gourmet Super Bowl fare.

I had already scheduled my visit to the hotel well before I had any inclination the Giants would be a participant in the big game. My usual Super Bowl tradition is to gather with a few buddies at a friend’s studio apartment downtown, watch on a 15-inch television, boil hot dogs, drink beer, and consume absurd amounts of Crunch & Munch. But on this year, I wanted something a little different.

I gave L the option of watching the game with his friends at a neighbor’s apartment or coming with me to the hotel. “I want to go with you,” he said.  So we packed L’s clothes and homework for school the next day and checked into the hotel; L layered in a Giants’ #27 “Jacobs” jersey, a “NY” blue and red sweatshirt, and a blue Giants’ winter coat.

We ate pastrami sandwiches and hot dogs from the nearby Carnegie Deli while the seemingly endless pregame show droned on. Finally, after the introductions were made, the National Anthem sung, the game began.

Super Bowl take out.

L watched squirming from my lap to the floor to a chair, incessantly talking—his way of releasing nervous tension. At halftime with the Patriots leading 7-3, he showered and got in his pajamas. His squirming slowed in the third quarter and then he got very angry and teary after the Patriots won a challenge and he used the familiar 7-year-old lament, “that’s not fair.”  I could tell he was getting tired.

He revived a bit early in the fourth quarter, when the Giants scored and took the lead 10-7. But as soon the Patriots got the ball back he began rubbing his eyes and I asked him if he wanted to watch in bed. He nodded, got under the covers and I turned on the television in his bedroom. The Patriots, as I had no doubt they would, immediately moved the ball down the field. I looked in on L; he was turned away from the game. I asked if he wanted me to turn it off so he could sleep. He nodded. I wanted to make sure and asked again. He nodded again.

As I returned to the living room, I wondered if L just wanted to spare himself the heartbreak of a Giant loss or if he really was exhausted. He had gotten up very early that morning, excited about the day, and spent a good portion of it ice skating in Central Park. Looking in on him a few minutes later, he was sleeping soundly.

I retreated back to the big screen, lowering the volume and watching the Patriots score to take the lead 14-10 with two and a half minutes left. I grumbled quietly. Though my son was asleep close by, I was watching one of the biggest games of my life in a hotel room by myself as I did thirty years earlier.

And a scream was  stifled.

When Eli Manning impossibly escaped a sack heaving the ball to David Tyree who caught it off his helmet while falling backwards, I jumped out of my chair, but I caught myself from yelling. Over the past few years, I had learned not to holler loudly at the television with my children around. The few times I have, I either frightened one of them into tears or had them look at me as if I were a lunatic. But on this night, though it wasn’t easy, I was able to restrain myself. I jumped up again and let out a yell I immediately stifled when Manning hit Plaxico Burress for the winning touchdown for the Giants and then glanced into the bedroom. L had not stirred.

A few moments later Tom Brady let go with a final fruitless heave.  The Giants were Super Bowl Champions.  And my son missed it.

The next morning L wandered into my room and woke me up.

“Who won?” he asked with a hopeful, yet wary look on his face.

It was my pleasure to tell him.

The seven-year old is now 11 and has a younger brother who is the same age he was when he watched Super Bowl XLII.  Like the older brother did before him, the younger brother will now squirm and talk incessantly throughout the game. If a call goes against the Giants, he will say “it’s not fair.” And he might cry if the Giants lose. He will be watching with a big group of friends and family, including his father who won’t have to converse with the walls for this big game. The view for Super Bowl XLVI, however, will not be from the 26th floor. But there will be a view.

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