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Posted in Restaurant Charcuterie (Healdsburg), Uncategorized, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , on October 23, 2010 by ballymote

 Our main reason for dining here on a Friday evening was that our first choice, The Dry Creek Kitchen, had no tables available until 10:00 P.M. Still, it looked like a good place and had lots of good reviews so once seated at our window table we looked forward to our last meal in wine country,

We had just completed a wonderful day which included a great tour of Bella Winery and Caves followed by a visit with our friend, Scott Lindstrom-Dake at his Thumbprint Cellars Tasting Room just across the street from Charcuterie .

We picked up a couple of bottles to have with our dinner as corkage here was a reasonable $15.00 per bottle. We had the 2007 Thumbprint Cellars “Threesome”. This erotically named wine contains equal parts of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cab franc. Our other bottle was the 2007 Thumbprint, Ramazotti Vineyard, Syrah. Both of these wines were very good although Thumbprint wines can quite often be found back East at lower prices that what they are sold for in Sonoma.

We began the meal with a couple of enticing appetizers. I have to confess that two weeks after the actual dinner I can’t recall exactly who ordered what but on the left is the Baked Nut-Crusted Brie with roasted garlic served with crostini. It wasn’t bad. On the right is “The Charcuterie Plate”, featuring Rosette de Lyon Salami, Duck Rillette, Pork Pepper Pate, Garlic Salami, olives and cornichons. I’m not a big “charcuterie” fan so I can’t tell you whether this was good or not. I did not hear raves from around the table.

Each of our dinners came with a choice of soup or salad. I believe the soup was another pumpkin squash which seems to be on most menus out here at this time of the year. Both the soup and salad were fine. As for entrees the six of us found three that drew our interest.

 A couple of folks chose the Chicken Strips Piccata over Rigatoni Pasta with white wine lemon, tomatoes and caper sauce. It looked good but no one seemed excited about it and I think there was an overall disappointment with this dish.

Whatever degree of disappointment was shared by the Chicken Strip Piccata people, it could not match the disappointment that my wife, Kathy felt toward her choice which was one of the “specials” on that evening. She had ordered the Roasted Double Cut Pork Chops, stuffed with sweet corn, roasted Bermuda onions, tomato and fresh herb and served with brussel sprouts and garlic mashed potatoes. She had to send the entire meal back as the pork chop was undercooked. She waited a lengthy time for its return and her only regret is that it DID return. She clearly remembers this dish as the worst of the entire trip.

 It would only be fitting that I join the others in bashing my entree but I’m afraid I can’t do that. I absolutely LOVED my choice of the Fusilli Pasta with Smoked Chicken, sun-dried tomatoes served in a basil creme sauce. It may just be one of the more memorable entrees of the entire trip. The sauce was perfect, the chicken tender and flavorful and the pasta cooked perfectly. I’m hungry all over again just writing about it.

So, you can see there were mixed opinions about Charcuterie.

We closed out the meal with a few yummy desserts, chocolate cake with mocha ice cream, some nice chocolate profiteroles and some mocha chip ice cream on its own.

Not the best meal of the trip for many but, I thought my entree was certainly a contender.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 1, 2010 by ballymote

By the time we return from Napa, California the Phils should have completed the three game sweep in the opening series of the National League Championship. The Eagles should have emerged victorious over their former quarterback, Donovan McNabb and his new team, the Washington Redskins and the Flyers should be demonstrating in the pre-season that they are ready for another run at the Stanley Cup.

Until then, read up on some of the many great restaurants in the Delaware Valley by clicking on the link to the review in the right hand column. Remember, you can subscribe to the blog and be notified by e-mail whenever there is a new post. Scroll down that right hand column, again.

 Be back on October 10th ! Slainte!!


Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2010 by ballymote


As those who know me would attest, it’s been more than a few years since this photo of my wife, Kathy, and myself was taken with the Twin Towers in the background. I’m sitting here sipping a glass of wine  on this eve of the 9th Anniversary reflecting once more on my thoughts of that unforgetable day.  We all remember what an absolutely beautiful late summer morning it was. Brilliant sunshine in a cloudless blue sky. I remember vividly driving on Route 422 toward King of Prussia, WIP Sports Radio talking about another Allen Iverson controversy with the Sixers, and me convinced I was going to be late for a very, very important teaching assignment. My exact thoughts were “What could be worse than my being late for this class I had prepped for religiously for the last three months?” Traffic finally cooperated and I made it without a minute to spare.  When the class ended shortly after 9:00 A.M. a group of us passing thru the lobby were informed by the receptionist that “it looks like a plane has hit the World Trade Center”. We gathered in front of her little TV and were shocked as we witnessed the second plane slash thru the other tower and realized at once that we were under attack. On the ride home, as the Pentagon was hit, the towers collapsed, and the radio reported on the events that would change all of us forever, I thought back on my question from two hours earlier, “what could be worse than being late for this meeting?” I had my answer and have never forgotten as a result to put things in their proper priority.

In the aftermath of the tragedy I have other memories. I vividly remember the mood of the country in the weeks following. Their was a tremendous sense of unity and committment to our country and to each other. We became a nation of kinder, gentler drivers. We let other cars in, we found new patience in traffic. We were brothers and sisters united against those who had committed this atrocity.

The following day, September 12, 2001, I read an article from the Miami Herald, one man’s emotions put into the words that spoke for each and every one of us. You may have read this piece by Leonard Pitts at the same time I did, but for those of you who never saw it, here it is. To me, nothing captured our feelings at that time as well as the words he found to express our outrage.


We’ll go forward from this moment


By Leonard Pitts September 12, 2001

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.


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.


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.

(c) 2001 The Miami Herald and wire service sources. Reprinted with permission.

Last year, in the first weeks of my blog, I took time on this day to write some words on the Windows on the World Restaurant which occupied the top floors of the North Tower. One hundred and sixty four people consisting of staff and guests perished in the conflagration. Nothing that I have written on food or wine, dining or drinking, has been read by more readers than that post from last year. I take that as a good sign. It means, I think, that we still care, we haven’t forgotten, and if we set aside time to reflect on what happened and what’s really important in our lives we will assure that we will never forget those who lost their lives nine years ago.


Posted in Uncategorized, Wine Dinners with tags , , on August 14, 2010 by ballymote

It’s that time of year again. Time for a little rest and relaxation at the Jersey Shore….no….not THAT Jersey Shore, there will be no “Snookie” type “Situations”. I’m talking about the REAL Jersey shore with sun and sand and GREAT restaurants to review on my blog upon my return. We have reservations at three great ones and some of our regular dining friends will be joining us. I’ll share all of the reports with you on my return.

As for the next week, there will be no new posts but you can catch up on a lot of the previous reviews, maybe sign up to subscribe to South Jersey Wine & Dine (you can do that at the bottom of the right hand column) or add your own comments on any of the articles posted.

Here’s hoping you all have a terrific week and I’ll be back with those reviews on what will, hopefully, be a week of good eats and great wines.

Be safe!


Posted in Uncategorized, wine blogs with tags , on July 4, 2010 by ballymote

The country is celebrating our 234th birthday and my blog is crawling quickly now as it celebrates it’s very first birthday. Hopefully, the country has several thousand more good years to look forward to while my blog learns to walk as it heads into its second year.

Tom mark this first year of blogdom I am going to list in the next few days, the Five Best Things I Have Eaten in the first year of dining reviews. The Five Best Restaurants and the Five Best Wines that I have enjoyed since last July will also be featured.

It’s been a great first year and I think all of you who brought the visitor total to 13,000. There are certainly more frequented blogs but I never imagined that 13,000 of you would be stopping by to read what I wrote. Remember that you can comment on any of my posts by clicking on the “Comments” section at the end of each post. You can also SUBSCRIBE to my blog by simply adding your e-mail address in the area provided in the column on the right hand side. You will then receive an e-mail whenever there is a new post.

Finally, remember that freedom isn’t free, and that hundreds of thousands of our citizens have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy all that we have today!


Posted in Uncategorized, wine blogs with tags on June 13, 2010 by ballymote

My few faithful readers may have noticed that I have not had a new post in two weeks. It seems a very potent virus had invaded my computer and would not allow me to even access my blog page. The good web doctors at my friend Jerry C.’s “hospital” worked for a week and were able to cure my machine. Tonight it was removed from “life support” and appears to be functioning well. I hope to catch up on some reviews and other notes in the next few days. Thanks for your patience. It’s nice to be back!!


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 11, 2010 by ballymote

On May 10th, perhaps while I slept, or toiled at the job, one of my 9,973 relatives, 23 friends or maybe even one of the four lost souls of the internet stopped by my blog and became my 10,000th visitor of this first year of SOUTH JERSEY WINE AND DINE. Whomever you were, I thank you. I thank you for reading and I thank you all for NOT posting a comment today because, as I wrote a few days ago, I was going to send a bottle of wine to anyone making a comment on the same day we reached 10,000.

Maybe had I offered the bill shown here I would have a better chance at seeing a comment or two, especially from people I know well. Anyway, it’s been fun and I thank you. Your support has made this fun and hopefully, we can double that total in the second year. I think I will have a glass of wine!


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 2, 2010 by ballymote

It’s not easy to predict ahead of time what I will be posting in the coming month as many restaurant visits happen with a certain spontaneity. This month though, there are a couple of things I do know for certain.

First, sometime during the month of May we will have our 10,000th visitor to the South Jersey Wine & Dine Blog. For that upcoming milestone I have all of you to thank. There is little point in writing if no one is reading, so I appreciate that you make the task worthwhile. I have mentioned on a few occasions that “comments” on articles posted are always welcome. In an effort to both encourage those comments and celebrate our 10,000th visitor, anyone who posts a comment on the day we actually hit 10,000 will be in a drawing for a bottle of wine. It might not be much of a drawing since we average less than one comment per day so your chances are pretty good. It also will not be a GREAT bottle of wine, so don’t get too excited. It will be something I would drink myself. Let me say that comments that fall into the “SPAM” category will NOT be counted. WordPress has thus far blocked 2,800 SPAM comments. They look something like this “Hey dude, great stuff here.” and they will be signed, in an effort to have folks click on their commercial site. Don’t click on that, it leads nowhere.

Also, during May I will post again on our upcoming trip to Napa/Sonoma in October. I will tell you what resources I use to prepare and how they can help you, not just with a Napa visit, but with virtually any vacation you might be planning.

May is a very busy month in our family so it’s difficult to say how many restaurants will be reviewed. I do know that we will be at Trattoria Milano (Gerry B.’s choice and located in God’s Country-Talford, PA) and a Northern Liberties spot that I am anxious to try called Sonata.

May brings great weather and it’s a wonderful time to experience the joys of wine at one of our many excellent BYOB’s, Don’t forget to stop here to read about many of them in making your choices. You can SUBSCRIBE to South Jersey Wine & Dine by simply scrolling down the right hand column to the area where it says “SUBSCRIBE”. You will then be notified by e-mail when new postings appear. Once again, I thank you for your support.


Posted in Food and Wine Lists, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 29, 2010 by ballymote

This will probably come as a tremendous shock to many of you but the S. Pellegrino List of the Top 100 Restaurants in the World for 2010 has just been released and there are none in the Philly/South Jersey area.  That’s a little embarrassing when you consider that there are THREE restaurants in Russia that made the list!

I have to confess I have never been to ANY of them. I guess my wallet keeps me firmly grounded in our local BYOB’s, and that’s ok with me, too. Here are a few little tidbits from the list. El Bulli, in Spain has held down the top spot for the past four years. It has now been knocked out of first place  by a restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark called NOMA which last year, finished third. Rene Redzepi is the Chef at Noma which means “Nordic food”. El Bulli is now second while The Fat Duck, in the town of Bray, outside London, holds third place.

The highest ranked American restaurant on the list is Alinea in Chicago.  The biggest climb by any restaurant on the list was made by Daniel, the New York eatery jumped from 41st  last year to 8th place in the latest rankings. The French Laundry, which many consider the USA’s top dining spot fell 20 places this year from 12th to 32nd.

It’s really hard to see how anyone could actually compile a list like this as it is all so subjective. Everyone loves a good list though, so enjoy this one for what it’s worth. Start phoning now and within the next decade you might be able to book a table at one of these culinary temples that can be found listed here.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 25, 2010 by ballymote


Earlier this year I posted from Restaurant and Institutions Magazine, a list of the top 100 restaurants in the USA by dollar volume for 2008. The new list for 2009 is now out and for the fourth year in a row, Tao Restaurant & Nightclub, Las Vegas heads the list.

Restaurant spending at the Top 100 declined 150 million dollars for 2009 as the economy kept many diners at home. The Philly/South Jersey area had five restaurants on the list headed by The Lobster House in Cape May, NJ at #29, Carmine’s in Atlantic City at #34. Parc #66, Buddakan #89 and the Continental #99 were the Philly contingent. Remember, this list does not reflect the best restaurants or the most popular, they are simply the dining spot where folks spent the most money in 2009.

I was going to simply tell you to click here and then double-click on the article to see the entire list but I just discovered you have to do that quickly. It seems the parent company of R & I Magazine has decided to stop publishing the magazine and their website is closing down on April 30th. It looks the times have claimed another victim.


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