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All posts for the month April, 2016

Rest in Peace, Derick “Mommy’s Little Heart” 6-24-96 to 4-29-16

Published April 30, 2016 by Maryanne

DerickBeautiful Derick

Last night my husband and I had to make that awful decision of putting down my 19-year-old cat, Derick. He had kidney failure and it was the humane thing to do, as he stopped eating over a week ago and was losing weight rapidly. Worst of all, he was lethargic … spacing out. And he had his last epileptic spell yesterday. We did everything we could, even left him at the vets a few nights hoping he’d have an amazing comeback. But that didn’t happen. The vet suggested taking him home to live out his life comfortably. Yet, he was anything but comfortable, and just hanging on — as the survivor. The last straw was that he could no longer stand to drink his weather — or walk. May he rest in peace, my beautiful little boy, Mommy’s little heart.

This cat gave me so much joy for 19-years. Back in the 1990s my friend Janet had a beautiful gray cat. When I learned this cat was pregnant, I just had to have one of the kittens. One was a beautiful orange and white cat. I choose that one, but Janet said, “That one is for my niece. She’ll kill me if I give her away.”

So Derick was my second choice. Janet said, “That’s a great choice. He does funny things.”

And for 19 years he continued to do funny things. Derick was my heart and soul. From the time he was a kitten, he slept with me every night, putting his paw around my arm, as if to say, “This is my chick!”

Derick was much more than a cat. He was very smart, as if a little person was inside him. And he played my husband like a steel guitar. Derick truly knew how to “work the cute.”

There were many legendary moments, but these are my top three favorite.

#1. There’s a movie about The Turtles called “My Breakfast with Jimi.” Derick really seemed to take to the Turtles music and the first time we watched the movie, he watched it with us — from the opening song, to the ending credits. He’d sit with us and watch the entire movie. We watched it again, and he did the same thing. Even a third and fourth time. He just loved that movie. If we couldn’t find Derick in the house, all we had to do was put on “My Breakfast with Jimi” and he’d come running into the room.

#2. Derick always picked on my other cat Billy. Derick was extremely jealous of Billy and would get into these terrible fights with him and we’d have to separate them. One time I caught him in the act — about to take a swat at Billy with his paw. Really loud, I scolded, “No, no, no!” Derick just froze, paw in mid-air, then in very slow motion brought his paw down and walked away, slowly, with his head down.

#3. The time my father-in-law was over watching baseball and Derick tried to hit the ball on the television with his paw.

#4. Derick adored my husband. The week before Derick passed, my husband came home a little later than usual. Derick heard the door and sprang off the couch and ran to him. Both of my cats did that. When my husband came home, they’d run to the door like dogs. And when I went out, my husband said, Derick would stand by the door and cry for me.

How could anyone not love the unconditional love of a pet?! Some say dogs are more lovable, but not in this house. If you provide a cat with a lot of love, he/she will give it back tenfold. They may seem aloof, but they are not really. Cats are just as mushy as dogs, if you let them be.

It’s said that dogs can make about 30 different sounds and cats can make 100. Well, Derick must have discovered all 100 sounds because his vocals were legendary — so much so that my husband and I would randomly pick a sound and mimic him just for a laugh. My favorites were “Mur-ROW” and “Et-OW!”

One night my husband and I were the in the audience of a cable show where his band was going to perform the following week. During the dead silence in between acts, my husband let out an “Et-OW!” in honor of Derick. It was funny to us, of course, but no one else knew what it was about. Our little cat secret.

We have so much love and respect for anyone who treats cats like family. I think both of my cats lived to the age of 19 because that’s exactly how I treated them. They were just there, as part of my life no matter what was going on. In 19 years, the cats were with me in three different homes — my first apartment that I sublet from my grandmother; my second apartment; and finally living in a house with my husband, a house both cats embraced and eventually took over. Our cats home, and we just live here. That’s exactly how it was and every pet owner understands it.

And then they steal our hearts … with the unconditional love, their funny ways, the late night snuggling … as they go from kittenhood, to kitten/cat, to cat, and then old cat. They grow with us and change as the years go on. There’s always something to learn from a cat. While my oldest Billy Cat taught me to slow down and embrace life; Derick taught me to be strong. Derick was always the survivor, the true meaning of a cat having nine lives. While Billy was never sick until his old age, Derick was always in and out of vet’s offices. I still can’t believe he made it to 19. But as one vet said, “Feisty and stubborn.” That was our Derick, and that’s what we love about him.

My God! I will miss that little critter terribly.

Last night a big chunk of our hearts — ripped out and tossed to the curb.

But he is no longer suffering … waiting for us, in greener pastures, out of his suffering and kitten-like again.

Derick, you will always be Mommy’s little heart, and our little kitten in heaven. ❤

MareDerickIn my old apartment in Montclair

SexyeyesDerickShowing off and looking pretty!

Derick hugging DennisHugging my husband — Derick loved his Daddy! ❤

SAM_9982Last photo of us together at animal hospital

Being Strong for My Cat

Published April 27, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9982With my kitty Derick, age 19

Visiting time with Derick at the vet. On the outside, being strong for my baby, on the inside heart is breaking.

SAM_9985

It’s his kidneys and he’ll be staying at the vet for the second night tonight. Doesn’t look too good; but I always believe in miracles and he’s in very good hands.

Coming home to a house without a pet is the saddest thing. My other cat, Billy, lived to 19 too and died in 2013.  After tonight Derick will be spending one more night at the vet. If there is no improvement, we’ll be taking him home to live out his final days. He’s not in pain, the vet says, his body is just weakening with age.

We just want him to be as comfortable as possible during his last days, like we did with Billy. With the guidance of the vet we are making the best decisions.

Dreaming Big with Drew Nieporent

Published April 21, 2016 by Maryanne

DrewHighRes-1Photo courtesy of Drew Nieporent

This article originally appeared in the spring edition of DiningOut (Bergen/Hudson County, New Jersey edition).

Dreaming Big with Drew Nieporent

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

“You have to dream large if you’re gonna win.”

That is sound advice from America’s legendary restaurateur, Drew Nieporent, founder of the Myriad Restaurant Group, which operates: Tribecca Grill, Nobu New York City, Nobu Fifty Seven, Nobu London, Nobu Next Door, Bâtard, and Crush Wine & Spirits.

In addition to opening and operating over 35 restaurants worldwide, Myriad most recently helped open The Daily Burger at Madison Square Garden.

Born and raised in New York City, Nieporent had fond memories of his Jewish grandmother’s “amazing matzo ball soup,” though his actress mom, who entertained often, liked making frozen food. “…typical sixties mother,” he said.

Growing up in the 1960s, Nieporent was inspired by the confidence of Muhammad Ali, known for his quote, “I am the greatest.” And it was Joe Namath making it into the Super Bowl in 1969 that got Nieporent’s wheels turning that he, too, wanted to be a success.

Nieporent’s father worked for NY State Liquor Authority in the 1960s and exposed his son to diverse restaurants. “Chinese, French, Italian … I took to it right away,” said Nieporent. “I always knew I wanted to open more than one restaurant.”

Early on Nieporent said he was fortunate to work on cruise ships and began his management career at New York City’s Maxwell’s Plum and Tavern on the Green. He went on to work at French restaurants Le Périgold, La Grenouille and Plaza Athenee’s Le Regence.

The Montrachet was Nieporent’s first restaurant, which opened in 1985 and earned three stars from The New York Times. Robert De Niro came to Montrachet as a guest and asked Nieporent if he wanted to do another restaurant in Tribecca.

Jokingly, Nieporent said, “You talking to me?” referring to De Niro’s famous movie quote from “Taxi Driver.”

Together Nieporent and De Niro opened up Tribecca Grill in April, 1990. Investors included Bill Murray, Sean Penn, and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Four years later, off the success of Tribecca Grill, they opened Nobu New York City, with Japanese celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa as chef and owner. Matsuhisa is known for his fusion cuisine, blending traditional Japanese dishes with South American ingredients. Black cod in miso is Matsuhisa’s signature dish.

Today there are 32 Nobu restaurants around the world. “The flavors are amazing,” said Nieporent. “Nobody really puts out the food in the unique fashion that Nobu does.” Nobu menu favorites include: yellowtail with jalapeno; and tiradito made with special citrus.

In 1994, in collaboration with De Niro, Robin Williams, and Francis Ford Coppola, Nieporent opened Rubicon in San Francisco.

Now, so many years later, Bâtard won best new restaurant in May, 2015.

Of all Nieporent’s restaurants, he is quick to say he doesn’t have a favorite. “I always say I relate to my restaurants like I relate to my children,” Nieporent said. “I don’t play favorites.”

When asked if he has plans for opening a new restaurant Nieporent said he didn’t. “I take them as it comes,” he said. “The reality is I’m content with what we have. In the restaurant business, you have to keep an eye on what you have. The most important thing is that we stood the test of time. I think what’s really important is looking over our shoulder and keeping the restaurants strong and vibrant.”

When asked what advice he’d give to someone who was considering going into the restaurant business, Nieporent said to “Think long and hard about doing it. Today the odds are stocked against you. Costs are up … food costs … payroll … You have to dot ever ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ … you have to be accurate of your bookkeeping when it comes to your staff and payroll.”

On his down time, Nieporent loves to cook at home, typically for the holidays, adding, “I love barbecuing pork chops on the grill.”

During the winter months, like most others, Nieporent enjoys warm, cozy meals. He said, “Nothing’s more delicious than a good stew or a good chili … a beef stew with a good cut of meat and lots of chilies. My wife makes a delicious Texas style chili that I love. We do an onion soup with a melted cheese at Tribecca Grill that’s very comforting.”

When dining out in Piermont, New York, where he lives now, still close to Bergen County, just over the border in Rockland County New York, Nieporent favors the Italian restaurant, Confetti. He also enjoys Peter X. Kelly’s restaurant in Yonkers, Xaviars X2O. “It’s really a special place,” he said of the exquisite glass framed French/Italian/Spanish influenced dining salon with a 25 foot vaulted ceiling and three walls of glass frame offering views of the George Washington and Tappen Zee bridges.

And when dining out in New Jersey, Nieporent loves Arturo’s in Midland Park; Brasserie Brandman in Park Ridge; and Dim Sum Dynasty and Latour in Ridgewood, where he was a longtime resident until he recently moved back to New York with his wife so they’d be closer to her parents.

Nevertheless, Nieporent has fond memories of life in Bergen County. “It was the perfect situation,” he said. “My kids had great schools … We had a beautiful yard … It was easy to get around.”

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is an award-winning journalist and public speaker. She is available to speak at libraries on healthy dining out. She can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

 

“Healthy Pasta Alternatives” Another Successful Presentation!

Published April 17, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9882Cold Sesame Noodles made with Dreamfields Pasta

Once again I had another “Healthy Pasta Alternatives” presentation. This time it was held at Fairfield Library, Fairfield, New Jersey. Thanks so much to John Arthur for having me! The class is limited to 20 so I could give each person individual attention and answer all questions.

I’m not a nutritionist, but I’ve interviewed many health celebrities for articles during my career as a journalist. These include: David Wolfe, Carol Alt, Oleda Baker, and Patricia Bragg.

The dishes I make for these presentations are used with all natural, organic, clean ingredients. There are samples for everyone.

Thanks so much to singer/pianist/friend Barbara Hassenfeld (http://www.barbaraevanshassenfeld.com/) for coming!

SAM_9922Maryanne (left) with singer/pianist Barbara Hassenfeld

To have this presentation at your library, rotary club, JCC, senior club or private party, contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta for availability and pricing at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

“The Life and Music of John Lennon” at Roseville Manor, Newark

Published April 13, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9920Maryanne Mistretta and musician Keith Beck with Roseville Manor resident

Tuesday, April 12, 2016, Pear Tree Enterprises (https://peartreeenterprises.wordpress.com/) presented “The Life and Music of John Lennon” which featured Keith Beck (http://www.zigmanbird.com/).

The presentation was fantastic as Keith rocked the house with John Lennon favorites including, “Oh Yoko,” “Norwegian Wood,” “Stand By Me,” and “Imagine.”

Now, perfect example of how healing music is — a room full of people, many with dementia, yet Keith hit the stage and they were singing along. At the end they were all screaming, “Come back every week!” It was absolutely precious. Great audience and a totally rewarding experience!! Keith is an awesome musician, gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes!

One resident was a huge Beatles fan and said she saw them back in the day! Lucky her!

Thanks so much to activities director, Amanda, for having us!

SAM_9921Maryanne with Amanda, Roseville Manor activities director

“The Life and Music of John Lennon” presentation is a half hour biography on John Lennon, followed by live music.

To book this presentation at your library, senior center, assisted living facility, rotary club, Jewish Community Center, etc. contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta for pricing and availability at maryannechristiano@gmail.com

The Life and Music of Ella Fitzgerald at Florham Park Library, Florham Park, NJ

Published April 10, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9909Maryanne Mistretta with singer Carol Erickson

Thanks so much to the Florham Park Library for hosting my company Pear Tree’s (https://peartreeenterprises.wordpress.com/) presentation: “The Life and Music of Ella Fitzgerald” which is part of our Learn & Listen series.

This program is available to libraries, senior centers, assisted living facilities, rotary clubs, Jewish Community Centers, etc.

“Learn and Listen: Ella Fitzgerald” is a one-hour presentation, with Maryanne sharing the biography of the First Lady of Song, followed by a half hour of song by the dynamic Carol Erickson! (https://carolericksonvocals.wordpress.com/).

Known as the First Lady of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald had both a blessed and tragic life. In this interactive presentation, learn about Ella’s life, loves, and music — as well as her unfortunate health struggles.

Following the biography, Carol Erickson wows the audience with her interpretation of Ella hits including, “Night and Day,” “Blue Skies,” “A Tisket A Tasket,” and so much more!

For rates and availability, please contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at: 908-276-1514 during business hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email: maryannechristiano@gmail.com