Archive for the Uncategorized Category

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!!

NEW BYOB WILL SOON ARRIVE IN SWEDESBORO, WOOLWICH TWP.

Posted in New Restaurant Coming to Swedesboro, NJ, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 29, 2012 by ballymote

 

The man standing in front of his brick oven at Toscana in Mullica Hill, NJ is Chef Mimmo. Four of us had a wonderful dinner there on Friday evening and learned, among other things, that Chef Mimmo is planning on opening a new restaurant on the site recently vacated by Barone’s Tuscan Grill in Swedesboro, Woolwich Township.

As I have mentioned many times on this blog, Barone’s Tuscan Grill has been, and continues to be, the most read article on this blog. After two years I still have no idea why so many people flock to that article. It was a restaurant serving mediocre food with a history of service complaints by both customers and employees. Those may have been reasons for its recent demise but they still don’t explain the interest by my readers.

I am not certain when the new restaurant will be open, I am guessing it should be a fixture there by this summer. The name looks like it will be “a Pizze” and it will be a BYOB with some special features that we won’t mention at the moment but, suffice to say, there will be many nice things about this eatery that will focus on excellent customer service

This is certainly an area of constant growth even now that will grow more as we come out of the housing crisis. It is apparent that the residents are starved (no pun intended) for good places to eat and I am betting that Chef Mimmo’s restaurant will quickly become a” foodies” favorite.

WINE SHIPPING UPDATE

Posted in Info on Wine, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 10, 2012 by ballymote

 Yesterday, the New Jersey Assembly passed by a vote of 58 – 19 a bill allowing wine shipments into and out of New Jersey. The bill now sits on Governor Christie’s desk awaiting his signature. I will keep you informed.

BIG DAY TOMORROW (MONDAY 1/9/12) FOR WINE LOVERS IN NEW JERSEY

Posted in Uncategorized on January 8, 2012 by ballymote

 

  With a little bit of luck New Jersey will change colors on the this map tomorrow. The “gold” color that indicates wine shipments into and out of the Garden State are prohibited by law may change to the “grape” color reflecting approval on direct shipments of wine. The NJ State Assembly is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the bill sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Gloucester County Democrat.

 While most of you will feel little or no impact by passage of this legislation, there are two groups that are keeping both fingers and toes crossed in hopes of approval. The first are the local NJ wineries. Passage of the bill will allow them to ship cases of their wines to customers throughout the country. The other group is folks like me who love wine, seek out wine stores that carry unique wines and have long decried the fact that we were unable to buy some of California’s small production wines that because of the small number of cases made,  never make it to the stores on the East Coast. As an example, if you were in San Francisco on vacation and made a side trip to the Napa Valley to visit and taste at some wineries, you are currently unable to have wines that you may have enjoyed shipped back yo your residence in NJ.

 Opponents of the legislation claim passage will hurt local wine stores. Their argument lacks strength as the states that already allow direct wine shipments have experienced no decrease in wine sales. In reality, it’s the wine distributors (the middlemen) who want their cut of all wines sold. The bill makes sense, will create jobs and will give local New jersey wineries a better shot at competing with the big boys. Come on, Senators, pass this bill!

 

MANNA RESTAURANT – MARGATE, NJ – mini review

Posted in Manna Restaurant, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 12, 2011 by ballymote

 Several of us had been wanting to get back to Manna for some time after being there for a wine tasting a couple of year’s ago.

The food is excellent and it was a fun time for ten of us. The menu is eclectic with small plates (tapas) and large plates (think entrees). All of us found so many dishes we thought sounded great that it was difficult to limit our choices.

We had a nice selection of wines including a 2009 Cakebread, Sauvignon Blanc and a 2007 Ridge, Zinfandel.

 

 

 Once again, because of the time-lapse, I’m not certain what everyone had to eat. I do know that a few in our party enjoyed the Our Paella with jumbo shrimp, lump crab, clams, rice, chicken, chorizo, saffron and tomato. It looked delicious.

 

 I do recall that I had the Vanilla-Maple Laquered Chicken breast and it was excellent with house made truffled fries.

  The eight ounce filet in a port wine reduction was another favorite as was the

                                                                                                      Lamb Chop with a Caribbean Salsa .

Manna is definitely a restaurant that deserves more than one visit and hopefully, we will be back there soon. Do yourself a favor and click on the link to check out their awesome menu.

HOW DO YOU SPELL RESTAURANT INCOMPETENCE?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 15, 2011 by ballymote

Last night, it was spelled  A R U G U L A on Egg Harbor Rd. in Washington Township, NJ. Four of us arrived at 7:55 P.M. for our 8:00 P.M. reservation and were told that our table was being cleaned. From our vantage point in the lobby we could see an empty table of four ready for seating with no activity around it. We didn’t mind the first ten minutes of the wait, the second ten minutes was only mildly disturbing but, at the 30 minute mark, when we observed a party of two decide to take their business elsewhere, we knew we should be doing the same. As they headed for the door they were informed their table was ready, as we headed for the door we were told our table was ready. Too little, too late. During the entire 30 minute wait no one approached us to apologize for the delay. We have eaten there before and, quite frankly, the place just isn’t good enough to display such arrogance.

We drove down the road and had a nice dinner at Pasta Pomadoro and probably saved $80.00 per couple.

I am not saying you shouldn’t dine at ARUGULA, I’m simply saying you should have a big meal prior to arriving. It will make the wait much more comfortable.

ANOTHER 9/11 TRIBUTE REMEMBRANCE

Posted in Uncategorized on September 10, 2011 by ballymote

 AS WE PAUSE TO REMEMBER THE TRAGIC EVENTS OF TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, I CAN’T HELP BUT RECALL THE EMOTIONAL TURMOIL OF THAT DAY AND THOSE THAT FOLLOWED.

ONE OF MY MOST VIVID MEMORIES OF THAT TIME WAS AN EDITORIAL THE NEXT DAY IN THE MIAMI HERALD BY A WRITER NAMED LEONARD PITTS. THE POWER AND STRENGTH OF HIS WORDS MOVED ME THEN AND REMAIN WITH ME NOW ON THIS 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THAT INFAMOUS ATTACK.

MANY OF YOU HAVE PROBABLY ALREADY READ THIS ARTICLE AT SOME POINT BUT FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NOT, OR FOR THOSE WHO HAVE AND WOULD LIKE TO REMEMBER IT, I OFFER IT HERE AS MY TRIBUTE TO THOSE WHO PERISHED AND TO THE FAMILIES WHO HAVE STRUGGLED TO SURVIVE THEIR LOSS.

GOD BLESS AMERICA.

 

 

 

Sept. 12, 2001: We’ll go forward from this moment

XMUltra
 
 
 

By LEONARD PITTS JR.

It’s my job to have something to say.

They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.

You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.

What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward’s attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.

Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.

Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.

Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.

Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We’re frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae – a singer’s revealing dress, a ball team’s misfortune, a cartoon mouse. We’re wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though – peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Some people – you, perhaps – think that any or all of this makes us weak. You’re mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.

IN PAIN

Yes, we’re in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. We’re still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn’t a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn’t the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel. Both in terms of the awful scope of their ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and, probably, the history of the world. You’ve bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

But there’s a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.

I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

In the days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We’ll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.

THE STEEL IN US

You see, the steel in us is not always readily apparent. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don’t know us well. On this day, the family’s bickering is put on hold.

As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that’s the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don’t know my people. You don’t know what we’re capable of. You don’t know what you just started.

But you’re about to learn.

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