Tag Archives: food

Raising Funds Once Again: for a good cause of course

We got our tickets second hand, but when those hands are clean and the food is good, who cares how you get the tickets?overview

My employer supports good causes, including employing ne’er-do-wells such as myself, but in this case said support entailed attending a charity auction. I’m beginning to like these types of events. I say beginning not because I’m learning or adjusting, but rather because I’ve finally begun being invited.IMG_1363-XL

They called the event “Chocolate Fantasy”. I called it “Black Tie and Bacon”. My name was better. Not only was my title alliterative but it had bacon. Everything, including the chocolate, is better with bacon.how funny

I know, I know… I’m hilarious.

Despite my irreverence, my tongue in cheekiness, my tendency to joke before I appreciate, this event did deserve actual appreciation. All proceeds went to give scholarships to young people at the Boys & Girls Club. The local sampling of desserts and appetizers was top notch, and the band, the band was good.trumpet

She made me dance. She did not have to make me eat. And I did eat.cakes

Chocolate covered bacon, raspberry truffles, fondue, and free champagne. I of course do not drink champagne, but there at the bar, at this adults only event, were bottles and bottles of Martinelli’s. Those bottles were like a carbonated token that I was indeed welcome here.glasses

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Little Plates, Guy Smiley, and Marching Dimes

“What do you mean its a dinner but you don’t sit down till dessert? So what you really mean is its hoursdevors and then cake. Maybe we should eat before we go.”

These words before the event proved what my wife always thought, that I have no idea what I’m talking about. This has never stopped me from talking, and once we arrived at the event, no one stopped us from eating. We ate a lot.lottaplates

We were the guests of Miss Amanda who was the guest of the March of Dimes. They invited her because she is kind of a big deal. Her husband is a big deal in his own right, but since he is off on an aircraft carrier saving lives he was appropriately ignored. Why she is a big deal is a story for another time but for this story we will stick with the event itself.
I have decided I like swanky events held in museums.eatingmeat

Why?
Perhaps it is the architecture, maybe the implied importance, but probably I just find it amusing to be in the presence of amazing things with a bunch of people who are completely ignoring those amazing things. That night the giant flying shark was trumped by Root beer glazed ribs. Root beer glazed ribs trumps most things.rootbeermeat

There was also macaroni and cheese with chunks of crab, lox on sesame seed macaroons, and pork cheeks in some sort of magic sauce. Positioned between displays of rocks and taxidermy stood chefs and bartenders giving out samples of what they do best. Eating is what I do best so I was well placed.us

This was a charity auction, not just a dinner, so after we all swanked and ate, we were shown to our tables. What happened after we sat down was unlike anything I had ever seen before and something I would have never considered till sitting there that night.

The auctioneer had henchmen.

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It makes perfect sense having seen it, but while seeing it, it was all I could watch. Henchmen might be the wrong word, assistants, hype men, support staff, whatever they were called was drowned out by what they do, which then drowned out the cause for which they were raising funds. Fascinating.

The man up front was the human version of Sesame Street’s Guy Smiley. His jaw was chiseled, his part was lasered, and his voice projected pure cheese through peroxide teeth. As he stood at the podium talking fast and canning jokes, two more of him appeared standing among the tables. The man up front spoke, and spoke quickly, while the other two were silent. Silent but not sedentary.pastry

As numbered paddles raised to signal bids these two young men ran around pumping fists in air, clapping, pointing, and above all else, smiling. They wore fitted black suits with white shirts, the cuffs of which showed just a little too much below the coat sleeve, making them all the more visible as they pumped in the air, swung around to point toward a bid, or waived in the air causing the crowd to cheer. Which we did.plating

Occasionally the cuffs would disappear as the voice up front would slow, quiet just a little, and talk of premature birth, childhood disease, and the tragedy of death come early. The voice sounded as if it were masking tears. So sincere. So important. Till a paddle moved the bid for a vacation package up to $7,000 and the voice exploded with energy, rapid fire numbers, and calls for applause.guitars

Amazing. It would be more amazing if the people in this man’s life ever took him completely seriously. He may be sincere, I’m sure he can be, and no matter how much I could ever doubt him, there is no arguing he was a professional. He was the ringmaster of this circus and he had two dancing bears sporting perfect hair. Well, perfect hair if perfect hair is defined by being completely fixed and immobile without being the least bit shiny. I found that the most amazing part of the whole night.

Did you catch the pun?

Waiting for the valet to bring the car around I realized I had eaten far too much. Over to my left was henchman number two with the well sculpted facial hair. There was nothing like a smile on his face or flashing cuff while he checked his watch impatiently.

Amazing.

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Moshulu: once sailed the ocean blue

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There was a time when this great ship, with soaring masts and sails, braved raging seas and circled the world.
Today it sits anchored, moored, tethered, docked, in Philadelphia.
There are tides where it floats but the ship is stagnant.
I know how it feels. It serves as a lesson.

Its example while on its face tragic and stifled, is not all that bad.
There are perks to actually reaching a destination.

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A life of adventure offers scenery and change, but usually the accomodations are quite sparse. Spartan even.
It is not till a traveler arrives that abundance can be enjoyed. I mean, why go anywhere if you don’t want to be where you end up?
The Moshulu once capsized off the coast of Norway. I think it is doing much better today.

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If you are going to sit still you should do it in a nice place.
The Moshulu has agreat view of the Ben Franklin bridge and the city lights that reflect in the water after sunset. Not too shabby.
I’ve eaten there. The dessert is worth whatever they charge-
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but the price of dinner far outpaces the food.
Sometimes I wonder if the ship ever wishes for the days when Eric Newby was a young deck hand, or are white table cloths better?

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How to Start a Fight Online: In-N-Out

When in Rome dine as the Romans.

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A foundational part of growing up in Utah is listening to newly arrived Californian’s complain about the lack of In-N-Out Burgers. It was exhibit #1 that Utah was a backwater and anyone moving there from the glamorous land of Fresno, or maybe San Bernardino, was indeed suffering some sort of cruel banishment.
I have till recently remained above the fray. Intentionally ignorant.
Like I said, till recently.

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The menu looked simple enough. I assumed this was the sort of place that only did a few things but did them very well. Free market specialization at its finest. Double double, fries, and chocolate shake for me, burgers for the kids. Done. Easy.

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Shortly after we ate, I posted the above picture on Facebook along with the question,” If this wasn’t my favorite thing in the world do they kick me out of California?”

And then the Archduke Ferdinand dropped dead.

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The Maginot line was crossed, France fell, and trenches were dug on both sides.
This online dustup was a digital version of some shirtless kid slapping a “Locals Only” sticker on my windshield ala 1987. It was much like my first weeks in Philly when my wife and I strolled into this pizza place, Tacinelli’s, that everyone said was the best. No one told us you have to call and order a day in advance and as a result we were treated poorly and given a burnt pie.
We never gave it a second try.

I’m a team player who learns from mistakes. I’m not one to place crippling sanctions on a defeated Germany giving rise to a moustached maniac. So in that spirit I pass along the unwritten rules, the insiders only, the key to the cool club; its called “animal style”.

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I have still yet to publish an actual opinion. But definitive statements have never been needed in online wars.

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California

My mind has been taught to associate palm trees with vacation.

Every morning I wake, look out the window and there they are. I go to work and look out my windows, huge windows, and there they are again.vintagetraffic

Every now and then, but not too often, I wake up to cloudy skies… but then a few hours later the sun burns these “clouds” away and the sky is blue. Completely blue. Not a cloud.

It has been three weeks since I have seen a panhandler.

It has been about that long since I have even seen a piece of trash on the ground.

Out here, even the dirt is kept clean.
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The kids have started school but the pool is still open. The pool is going to stay open.
It doesn’t close.
Ever.
I no longer toy with airports and rental cars. I traded those in for an office with my name on the door.

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There was a moment,
I’ll admit more than one,
as I was driving past the Cheescake factory, then the Olive Garden, and then Chili’s, when I began to regret my decision. I missed the Hinge Cafe’ and the rat meat cheese steak under the L…
And then I ate a burrito.

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Regret all gone.
I may never eat another cheese steak.
Viva la burrito.

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Tommy DiNic’s: winner of the nation’s best sandwich

I don’t know the metric used by the travel channel to decide what is the United State’s best sandwich, but I do know I’m in love with the one that won.best sandwich

Now the best place to get a Philly cheese steak is in Philly, but the best sandwich in Philly is a sliced pork.  There are a couple places to find a good one, but the one that won the big prize is in the Reading Terminal Market.DiNics counter

The place is called Dinic’s and you order the sliced pork with broccoli-rabe. Yes, broccoli. With provolone. Don’t hate, just order it.makin sandwich

Once the sandwich is ordered, and assuming you aren’t already seated at the counter, turn around an order a birch beer from the stall across the isle. If you haven’t ever had a birch beer, repent.birch beer

 

If birch beer isn’t your thing, go one more store over to Herschel’s and order a celery soda. They call it a “cel-ray” soda, but its the same thing. clean and sharp… goes good with broccoli.

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Tis’ the Season

Working for an academic institution means keeping an academic calendar. I’m not sure how exactly my calendar is academic but I do know I get a nice long Holiday.

So what shall I do with this time? Be useful?

Of course not.feet upWith my time I have had fine dinner conversation with an Argentinian student who got in a very public argument with his homeland’s president, then another someone who is in part responsible for bringing us such fine products as the Pillow-pet and Stompies, then yet another conversation with a different Argentinian who thinks it likely that those who argue with the president are avoiding taxes… oooh juicy!

Yet amid this life of excitement and intrigue, I mostly run errands.1 pound meat

It is called “Red-ing” terminal despite it being spelled Reading. I am giving this language lesson to you despite my being on academic holiday. What a workaholic I am.market sign

The sociologist Elijah Anderson considers this place one of the “Cosmopolitan Canopies” or places where all demographics intermingle peacefully. He has obviously never been here at lunch time during the flower show and I am guessing he has no explanation for this:onions

Yes friends, those are chocolate dipped onions. It is the Vegas of foods, sugary coating on something innately smelly. I should not judge; I have never tried one. But I have been to Vegas so it is the onions who get a pass on this one.

In the heart of the market is a place worth paying for parking. DiNic’s.DiNics counterPull up a stool next to these guys or get it to go, but order the roast pork with broccoli rabe. Don’t go treating broccoli on a sandwich like a chocolate covered onion, give it a try. The travel channel did and then named it the best sandwich in America.best sandwich

I’m not sure the Travel Channel got it completely right, but it is surely top ten.

In the event you find yourself in the area and want to buy me something, a natural desire, here is what I want:balsamicI will wait with anticipation for your gift. Don’t worry, I’m patient.

My days are not all errands. I’m painting again. More to come on that shortly.

O yes, and Mr. Yankee-Whiskey-Papa… well done sir. Well done.

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Around Town, Bobby’s Burger Palace

I refused to watch Mr. Flay’s new reality show, but I cannot refuse his food.  I would normally say the last thing America needs is another chain burger joint, yet I have been converted.

In n’ Out, Checkers, Crown Burger… naw, I still like Crown Burger, will not only be forever relegated to the backseat in my book, but they are no longer even on my map.

Chopped sirloin, arugula, and goat cheese equal bliss.  Add to it a side of sweet potato fries, a dark chocolate shake, and I am falling off my stool in a happy stupor.  Mock my burger for trying to be too froo-froo or shee-shee, or pinkies out, say anything you want, just make sure to take small enough bites to leave room for some crow and your foot.

Surprisingly affordable, very convenient, and worth having to buy larger pants.

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Fine dining in Da Burgh’

Philly has it’s Cheessteak, Baltimore the crabcake, Maine the lobster, and Pittsburgh… the Pimanti Bros.

You have the choice between steak or Pastrami, and when it comes to sandwiches, the answer should always be pastrami.  Along with your finely processed meat, the bread is piled high with french fries, tomato, and cold slaw.  A Pittsburgh orginal!

hot meat and cold slaw were like David Duke and Farrakhan

Sadly this culinary masterpiece will not inspire a return trip.

As I walked dissapointedly back to the van I passed a pastry shop with a line coming out the door.  “Dozen” is small, friendly, and specializes in cupcakes.  Cupcakes are fine but how could I resist a cookie jar with the label “double chocolate bacon”?  Top that off with a cooler of craft brewed sodas and I’m sold.

Boyland's birch beer is always a winner but the double chocolate bacon cookie only gets and 'A' in concept.

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