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GLASSBORO VINTAGE SOUTH JERSEY WINE FESTIVAL

Posted in Glassboro Vintage South Jersey Wine Festival, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 24, 2012 by ballymote

   As I may have mentioned a time or two in the past, I am not a huge fan of New Jersey wines. They can protest all they want that the soil and climate in our area is “Bordeaux like” but, I’m not buying it. So many of the local wines contain blueberries and peaches and strawberries and the ones that don’t probablywould be enhanced by adding some. Certainly, there are exceptions to this generalization (A Sharrott Winery Cab Franc comes to mind), but not many. Still, there are many who do enjoy sampling the local wines and for those I would suggest next month’s GLASSBORO VINTAGE SOUTH JERSEY WINE FESTIVAL which takes place from Noon till 5:00 PM on both Saturday and Sunday May 19th and 20th.

 The festival will be held on Rowan Boulevard (Main Street between US RT 322 and High Street next to the Barnes & Noble). Tickets are $19.00 inadvance at www.glassboromarketplace.com or $25.00 at the gate. Your admission includes wine samples from 13 local wineries, all members of the Garden State Wine Growers Association, a souvenir glass, gourmet food, live music and the opportunity to purchase wines from all of the participating vintners.

 Yes, I am thinking about attending because you should always keep an open mind and one never knows when something could happen to totally change long-held perceptions.

MY WINE BOTTLES LOVE THEIR NEW HOME !!

Posted in My Wine Rack, Uncategorized with tags , , on April 6, 2012 by ballymote

 

 I don’t have a huge wine collection. For the past many years what I did have rested comfortably on a variety of store-bought racks holding 18, 24 or 36 bottles plus a wine  refrigerator that held another 32 bottles. Many of the bottles would stay in their original cases which often prompted my wife to threaten to throw them out if I didn’t get them out of their boxes. The problem has now been solved with the recent addition of hand crafted wine racks made by the fine folks at Arch General Contractors. We were having some renovations done to our Rec Room, mainly, the removal of a large pillar that served as a supporting column for the house. We replaced it with an overhead beam which opened the room and gave greater depth. It seemed like the perfect occasion to add some racks and get all of those bottles a proper home.

 I am delighted at the way the finished racks look and the bottles have told me they love their new home. My new problem is that I have some empty slots which need to be filled with vino and that can only mean additional purchases. As you can gather from all this, wine collecting is a dirty job but someone has to do it.

BELLA SERA (BYOB)

Posted in Bella Sera, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by ballymote

 Bella Sera in Williamstown was formerly Cafe Capri. It shares its name with a brand of low price wines so I was interested to see if the food there was a cut above the Bella Sera wines. Six of us converged on this almost local eatery last Friday evening. The place looks nice with an almost elegant decor and the menus matching the signage. I thought that was a nice touch. We had a round table which is always better for conversing and making everyone feel like we are dining together.

 My wine for the evening was the 2007 Fabre Montmayou, Patagonia, Barrel Select, Malbec. I’ve had this one a few times and it’s a very nice wine from the lowest region of Argentina. Priced at $16 it’s an excellent food wine with rich cherry flavors and hints of pepper and spice.

 Our waitress had a strong Spanish accent which made it difficult to fully understand everything she was saying when it came to announcing the specials for the evening. I was able to make out that they had a Gorgonzola Salad with a balsamic dressing and I ended up choosing that. It was pretty good but I was surprised to see that it was $13.00 which seemed way out of line for where we were dining. We all have to take the blame for the items we chose because each time we would inquire of our server as to the price of one of the “specials” she answered with “I don’t know”. It would seem to me since she had all of the specials listed in great detail on her pad which she read from, they could have added the price in case she was asked. Again, none of us forced the issue so we share the blame.

 For my entree selection I went with the Cappellini Garda, cappalleni pasta served with jumbo lump crab meat, fresh diced tomatoes and arugula in a garlic white wine sauce. The dish was first-class with lots of crab meat swimming in a tangy cause. The portion was large enough that I ate plenty and took the remainder home for another dinner.

 Three in our party of six all chose the Fettucine with Shrimp and Scallops in a Pesto sauce. Lots of rave reviews on this one with my wife insinuating the next night while enjoying what she brought home, that it may have been one of her best meals ever. No faint praise there.

 Sue had the Salmon topped with salsa served with green beans and carrots and a side of garlic mashed potatoes. She liked her fish but her potatoes were not hot at all. She sent them back and moments later received a new order of potatoes no warmer than what she had sent back, although the new dish was quite hot; leading her to say ” a hot plate does not a hot potato make”.  It is just for these brilliant philosophical little gems that we bring her with us. :)

                                                                                                                               I had a little room left for dessert and went with a simple peach sherbet served in, naturally, a peach. It was simply peachy. Bella Sera had some hits and a few misses  ( a tad pricey at $100 per couple with tax and tip, and Sue’s potatoes) but it’s a nice place that certainly warrants another visit.

FINAL WORD ON FLORIDA TRIP

Posted in Florida Trip Photos, Uncategorized with tags on March 6, 2012 by ballymote

THEY MAY NOT DRIVE VERY WELL IN FLORIDA BUT THEY HAVE A TENDENCY TO TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT MANY THINGS.

THIS WAS EVIDENT AT A FLEA MARKET WE VISITED ON SUNDAY. UNLIKE THE MANY FLEA MARKETS WE SEE UP NORTH WHERE TOTALLY FAKE IMPOSTER JEWELRY IS PAWNED OFF ON SHOPPERS THEY HAVE SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT IN SUNNY SOUTH FLORIDA. PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO SEE AND APPRECIATE THE TOTAL INTEGRITY OF THIS JEWELRY VENDOR.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JAXSON’S ICE CREAM PARLOR AND RESTAURANT (DANIA BEACH, FLORIDA)

Posted in Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 5, 2012 by ballymote

 After stuffing our tummies with the cheeseburgers at Le Tub, none of us were particularly ready for a big dinner. We did know, however, that we could NOT leave Florida without a visit to Morris Udell’s famous Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor. We arrived to find a line of about 30 folks waiting outside to be seated. We took our place in the queue and had no complaints as we considered which of the tempting ice cream creations we would devour once inside. Jaxson’s has been a South Florida landmark for over 50 years and has been featured on the Food Network and Good Morning America.

 The eclectic decor inside features license plates from all over the country, many sent from customers to help Morris Udell build his collection. As you can imagine, Jaxson’s is a noisy place with kids clamoring for their favorites but that’s part of the fun. It doesn’t appear that much has changed about the place since it first opened. Servers in the red and white uniforms are outgoing and ready to please. The only real problem with the place is deciding which of many ice cream favorites to choose.

 After some serious deliberation I went with the Half and Half. This yummy concoction consisted of two humongous scoops of any of their 30 some flavors (boring me chose vanilla for BOTH. The ice cream is then topped on one half with hot fudge and on the other half with creamy butterscotch, thus the Half & Half. Added to this were some toasted almonds, mountains of fresh whipped cream, some jimmies and a cherry. I am proud to say that unlike several in our group of ice cream lovers, I finished the entire thing. Here are some pictures of what some of our friends enjoyed.

 

 

  a simple Root Beer Float as only Jaxson’s can make it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Joe B’s Hot Fudge Banana Split. Topped with all kinds of good stuff and packing extra helpings of gooey hot fudge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   I have to stop with the ice cream pictures cause I am just torturing myself. I want one of each NOW! Suffice to say if you ever find yourself within 50 miles of Jaxson’s you have got to save some after dinner stomach room and make it a point to try one of the many sinfully delicious creations being served each evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This guy was waiting outside of Jaxson’s to say “goodbye” to us. He actually stole a dollar out of my hand and quickly stuck it in his pocket. If he does that 10 times he will have enough for a Jaxson’s Hot Fudge Sundae!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAMA MIA’S ITALIAN RISTORANTE (HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA)

Posted in Mama Mia's, Mama Mia's (Florida), Uncategorized with tags , , on March 1, 2012 by ballymote

 Located at 1818 S. Young Circle in the heart of “downtown” Hollywood, Mama Mia’s was the site of our first Florida dinner last Thursday evening. We took advantage of their valet parking and our party of eight were quickly seated in what could only be described as a typical Mediterranean bistro.

 We looked over the menu while enjoying the warm garlic rolls which Joe B. found “irresistible”. Fool that I am, I was searching in vain for the butter when Joe assured me that adding anything to this bread would be a crime. He was right, they were perfect just as they were.

 Our server for the evening, Victoria,  filled our water glasses, brought us our beverage orders and described the specials for the evening. We took some time thinking about our choices as we continued to enjoy the tempting garlic rolls.

  Try as I might, I found no way to avoid ordering the Jumbo Meatball as an appetizer. It came with a tasty marinara sauce and a dollop of ricotta cheese. As the only non-Italian couple in the group, I felt honored that many at the table thought the meatball was delicious. Since their mothers and grandmothers cooked meatballs that few could hope to duplicate, our friends are always apprehensive about ordering meatballs in a restaurant. This one was massive enough to serve as a small meal and had tons of rich, meaty flavor.

 For my entree I went with the not very adventurous, Chicken Parmigiano served with a nice dish of cappelini. The food was fine, nothing exceptional and because there was no place or time to take some home for later I finished what was a healthy  sized portion.

 Others at our table opted for one of Mama Mia’s specials of the evening. This was the Seafood Louisiana consisting of jumbo lump crab and shrimp sauteed in a creamy lobster sauce and served over fettucine. I heard no complaints from those who dived into this tasty seafood treat.

  

 The entree that we had heard about in advance and had garnered a certain notoriety was the Veal Parmigiano. We were warned that the portion was massive. This didn’t stop Joe S. who ordered it and we found it a bit surprising that it was served with the bone in. Few of us had ever experienced veal parm served in this manner. Try as he might, Joe was unable to finish the gargantuan offering and actually did take a sizeable portion back to his condo. Unfortunately, I don’t think he ever found the time to finish it and it was probably destined to end up in the garbage.

 Victoria offered to take a photo of our group and we were dumb enough to oblige. I’m the good-looking guy in the picture.

 Mama Mia was a good place to begin the first of four nice dinners.

FOUR DAYS IN HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA

Posted in Florida, Florida Trip Photos, Hollywood with tags , , on February 28, 2012 by ballymote

 Four days on the 15th floor of a Hollywood, Florida beach condo in late February is a nice way to break up the grey days of winter. Being there with friends makes the scene even better. The weather was excellent, lots of bright sunshine and warm breezes and there was so much to do that we actually had to get home to get some rest. No one is complaining.

 We had some great meals each day and in the days to come I shall do the write-ups on five of our dining spots. There wasn’t much wine involved in the dinners, a glass here and there, a bottle of Ravenswood Zin for the condo, but we still had plenty to eat and drink and, once again, no one is complaining.

 My wife, Kathy, and I, along with our friends Joe and Carol left for Florida on Spirit Airlines out of Atlantic City. We met some other friends down there, Ray and Mary Ann and Joe and Mary Ann. Ray and his wife are very familiar with the area and Mary Ann played the role of Travel Planner and it was she who kept us on the go each day. She did a terrific job and was an integral part of why we had such a great time.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the trip. There will, of course, be more when I do the restaurant reviews.

    VIEW FROM OUR CONDO BALCONY

  HOMES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS

  BAYSIDE PIER IN MIAMI

  I LOVE COLORS AND PATTERNS LIKE THIS PASTEL HIGH-RISE

 UMMM, UUHHH, OUR TOUR BOAT WENT PAST THIS OTHER BOAT AND THEY WERE HAVING MORE FUN THAN WE WERE..IT WOULD SEEM.

  ON THE INTER-COASTAL WATERWAY IN HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA

 GULFSTREAM PARK…………I HAD THE TRIFECTA EXCEPT I FORGOT TO BET IT!!

 ON A TABLE AT A FLEA MARKET AT THE MARDI GRAS CASINO IN HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA

 ACCORDING TO OPRAH AND GQ MAGAZINE…..THE BEST BURGER IN AMERICA…MORE ON THIS LATER.

  NO TRIP TO THIS AREA WOULD BE COMPLETE WITHOUT AN ICE CREAM SUNDAE AT JAXSONS IN DANIA BEACH…..MORE ON THIS LATER.

 THIS LITTLE GUY STOLE A DOLLAR OUT OF MY HAND…..HE MADE A MONKEY OUT OF ME!!

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