Archive for the Uncategorized Category


Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 13, 2011 by ballymote

My reviews will continue as soon as I can get my computer up and running again. I have two very good restaurants to tell you about, Luke Palladino in Northfield, NJ and Manna on the Ventnor/Margate border.

Meanwhile, please enjoy the over 100 existing reviews of fine dining choices in the comprehensive list in the right hand column.

Hoping to be in touch with all of you soon.




Posted in Uncategorized on May 28, 2011 by ballymote


                                                SUNRISE OVER LABADEE, HAITI

                                         HAITIAN BOAT CHECKING US OUT

                          HOME TO 8,000 PEOPLE (6000 GUESTS) (2000 CREW)

                                IT’S THE COLORFUL KAYAKS (HONEST, I SWEAR)

                                                             HAITIAN COUPLE

                                                PEOPLE ARE TALL IN JAMAICA

                                       ELEVATOR ART ONBOARD THE ALLURE

                                    THE SILVER HOMBRE, COZUMEL, MEXICO

                                        THE BLUE CARIBBEAN FROM COZUMEL






Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2011 by ballymote

 Eight of us will be joining 6,000 of our closest friends on a week-long cruise to the Western Caribbean on the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. On my last cruise in 2005, I was able to smuggle 8 bottles of nice wine on board to enjoy with dinner each evening but, I won’t be attempting that on this trip. It appears the Royal Caribbean baggage checks are considerably more extensive and you could be denied boarding if discovered. That certainly does not mean a week without wine as the Allure has many specialty restaurants including Vintages, a wine and tapas spot. Just as with our California trip last year I will be reporting on the wine and food we enjoy during our week at sea.

Meanwhile, during the week we are away there are still lots of reasons to visit the blog. Primarily, over 100 restaurant reviews throughout South Jersey and Philadelphia. Remember too, you can click on “SUBSCRIBE” at the bottom of the right hand columns and be notified by e-mail each time there is a new posting. As always, your comments are encouraged and your visits are much appreciated.


Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Uncategorized, Wine Dinners with tags , , on February 2, 2011 by ballymote

 Matching wine with food isn’t always the mass confusion that many declare it to be. There are some combinations that almost everyone knows. For instance, a nice filet, T-Bone or sirloin steak certainly deserves a big California cabernet by its side for maximum enjoyment. All out of cab at the moment?  Not to worry, simply substitute a nice Malbec, a syrah or a hearty zinfandel and you have hardly lost a beat with your beefy meal. On the other hand, some foods do offer much more of a challenge in finding the right wine to highlight their flavors.

One such meal was our dinner on Sunday evening, Pork and Sauerkraut slow cooked overnight in a crock pot and accompanied by some buttery, fluffy mashed potatoes. Of course, it’s not really the pork or the potatoes that cry for something special, it’s clearly the acidic, tongue-curling flavors of the sauerkraut that cries out for something special. The wine we chose to match with this dish worked perfectly.

 The 2007 St. Urbans – Hof, Ockfener Bockstein, Riesling Spatlese proved to be an excellent match for this entree. Crisp and silky smooth with just the right minerality and soft hints of pear and melon, grapefruit and lemon oil. It was right on target in helping to negate the stringent flavors of the dish. In the German hierarchy, spatleses are just a bit sweeter that the kabinetts and you may personally find that the kabinetts provide an even better match with this type of food. It’s not surprising that this wine received a 92 from the Wine Advocate and a 91 from Wine Spectator and is available locally for about $25.00.  It’s the type of white wine that makes a red wine aficionado like myself admit that there is room for both in the world of vino.


Posted in Uncategorized, wine blogs with tags , on January 7, 2011 by ballymote

When I first started this blog I was determined it would not become like so many others where prolific posting would soon be replaced by sporadic efforts. For the first 18 months at South Jersey Wine and Dine I was able to consistently turn out  what I felt was a commendable effort and I was rewarded with the only currency that matters in the blog world, increased readership. The last two months I have slipped up with too much time between reviews and constantly falling behind in posting. If I were going to make excuses I would be blaming my computer and the multitude of “glitches” that have occurred in the last 60 days; primarily, my loss of Picasa  ( the Google photo storage app),where I stored thousands of my photos, and my inability to have it restored.

As we begin 2011 I resolve to overcome all of the day-to-day posting difficulties and get back to consistently offering new material. Thanks to all of you for hanging in there and continuing to visit. Have a Happy, Safe and Productive New Year!


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2011 by ballymote

 We must save visits to A la Maison in Ardmore for particularly cold evenings. Our last dinner there was in frigid weather and last Wednesday evening was almost as cold. Despite the chill outside it’s always warm inside this charming French bistro-styled dining spot on Lancaster Avenue. My friends Gerry B. and John G. and myself were in a good pre-Christmas mood and ready for a repeat of good food and wine.

We had a nice line-up of vino for the evening starting with my 2000 Whitehall Lane, Cabernet Sauvignon. This 10 yr old Napa cab had been resting comfortably in my rack for years and after a short time in the class it awoke and presented us with a bouquet of soft flavors. It may just have been surpassed though by John G’s delicious 2006 Conn Valley, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon which was outstanding and full of great floral smells and tons of the rich, dark berry fruit only found in the very best cabs. Gerry’s 2004 Oliviere, Chateauneuf du Pape could have been a star on most other nights but it’s muted flavors took a backstage to the two cabs. A 2004 Byron IO, Ryan Road, Syrah which was a recent Chairman’s Selection in the PA State Stores, delivered the smooth, peppery notes one would expect and proved an excellent value buy.

 As our competent and enthusiastic server, Minnie, would attest, the real star of A La Maison is the food. As she recited the specials and opened our wine she told us what her favorite menu choices were and having been there previously, we knew that it was hard to choose something that wouldn’t please.

We each started with an appetizer.

I had a bowl of the cheesy, gooey, oh so tasty, French Onion Soup. This one is really well made with lots of onion flavor and served at the perfect temperature. One could make an entire meal when this is paired with the house bread.

 Gerry was quite enamored with his starter of Garlic Clams, natural jus, olive oil and parsley. Three large portions which quickly disappeared amongst little gutteral noises indicating joy.

                                    John had little trouble selecting the Escargot, with garlic and parsley in a rich butter sauce. Six of the delicate snails were nicely presented and slowly devoured and we were ready for our main courses.

I might add that A La Maison is one of those BYOB’s that understands the importance of good stemware. They knowingly brought each of us separate glasses for each of our four wines. It may have made for a crowded tabletop but it means a lot to all of us who enjoy the difference that good wine can make with a meal.

 Gerry had the lamb. I almost said, Gerry had a little lamb but I forget how the rest of the song goes. Anyway, he thought it was fantastic and I sampled a portion and even though I’d probably never order lamb, this one was really tasty.

 Meanwhile, I was perfectly content with my Steak Frittes, NY Strip, Pommes Frittes and sauce maison. The steak was done just as I requested, the fries ok, although not exceptional, and overall a very good choice.

John ordered what I had the last time we were here, the Boeuf Bourguignone, short rib beef braised in Burgundy wine, pommes puree and vegetables. Just as on our previous visit the meat literally fell off the bone with plenty of flavor and he thought the potatoes were just perfect.

We had some nice conversation with a couple at another table who were very much involved in the Main Line art scene while we made quick work of our scrumptious desserts.

 Profiteroles for me; A Creme Brulee for John and an apple tart with vanilla ice cream for Gerry made for a good ending to a fine meal.

As MacArthur said in Manila Bay…..”I shall return.”


Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 5, 2010 by ballymote

During this past week, South Jersey Wine & Dine reached the 25,000 mark in visits. Thanks to all who have made that possible, even the one who left the following comment “A nice camera, does NOT a photographer make. This is what I have learned from your blog.” I didn’t reply because I wasn’t sure what would be appropriate. I might have mentioned that this was not a photography blog or that I wish I knew how he knew I had a nice camera, or perhaps, that I was simply glad he learned SOMETHING from my blog as that is encouraging. At any rate, I hope my poor photography and restaurant and wine reviews continue to draw another 25,000. Your visits have made it all worthwhile.

Thank you all.