Archive for November, 2007

My brain is pulsating from a hangover. I’ve consumed 96,000 calories since Thursay and am sweating gravy. And in seven or so hours, I get to watch Bill Belichick strangle kittens and tell children that the Easter Bunny isn’t real.


Read Full Post »

I have been busier than a beaver’s beaver the last few weeks at work, so I haven’t been updating this shitheap of a blog. My day job is writing, and when things get batshit crazy at work (as they have recently), I don’t quite have the time and energy to write here. Anyway, I will return soon and let you know my thoughts about things like how the Flyers’ Mike Richards could currently fingersaw any woman within 1/2 mile of Bustleton Ave, why it’s time for Joe to go at PSU, how the Phillies win in spite of themselves, and other subjects that will feature poorly thought-out analysis and low-grade swearing. Till then.

Read Full Post »

My wife is expanding nightly with a child somewhere in her stomach, and I, as a good father-to-be, am supposed to pork up as well. This is what hefty fathers tell me, at least. Heretofore in my life, I had admirably met the challenge of gaining girth during the one time it was presented to me. In other words, I returned from college fat and bloated from cans of beer. However, for whatever reason, I was not meeting the obligation of gaining weight with my pregnant wife.

Apparently, I just didn’t have enough house guests.

The middle of October in 2007 was filled with out-of-town visitors from California, London, Massachusetts and even Havertown. As the majority of these visitors had some degree of Irish heritage, that meant drinking. And eating. And talking about drinking and eating.

And I will now share the highlights of the venues in which we ate and drank, and leave out details like drunken uncles playing Nintendo Wii in my living room in between shots of Jameson at 1 AM. Har har.

Because we had a wide range of guests, we mostly took them to our tried-and-true haunts. These are the places where a good meal is nearly guaranteed, the price is right, and good times will be had by all. But to mix things up, we also had a night at a white-hot, crowded newish restaurant (Tinto) and one massive splurge (Barclay Prime) because it was a group that rarely sees one another and wanted to blow it out for a night. Without further ado, here are the impressions that I waddled away with:

meat, stick, shot glass, sauce, bliss.

Tinto: Everyone in the world loves this place, and I now know why. Small plates are like the skinny jeans of the restaurant world, but I think this cooking trend works far more successfully than that damned fashion one. For one, you get to sample a lot more of the chef’s cooking. In the other, you’re exposed to some second-rate hipster’s chicken legs and/or ballsac. But I digress. Tinto’s Basque menu is loaded with tons of temptations (around 50 small plates), and nearly everything we had was stellar. Among the standouts was a Clam Rice dish with shaved artichoke, a great cheese plate and an obscenely decadent dish of Kobe beef and truffle poached egg. The only thing I regretted was that we didn’t order enough of their skewers, which are perched in shot glasses filled with sauce. Take that in for a moment. It’s three great things (meat on a stick, shot glasses, sauce) all on one plate. Service was great, and they have a totally interesting menu design. As someone in the advertising/design industry, I tip my hat to their menu designer. Good show, Mac Monkey!

Barclay Prime: Everything here is big. The steaks, the wine, the sides, the bill. Especially the bill. Not much needs to be said about this popular place, but I ate probably the best steak of my life (a dry-aged porterhouse) and downed a lot of great wine. The standout side dish was the Lyonnaisse potatoes and the Kobe slider appetizers were a crowd favorite. Our server was friendly and attentive, but her penchant for up-selling grew a bit old. This place is pretty amazing and I had a blast with my rollicking Irish family here. The neighboring table’s opinion may differ.

La Viola: After a night at a place as big, over-the-top and expensive as Barclay, we took my Dad and stepmother to a place that was as conversely small, intimate and cheap: La Viola. This walk-in closet-sized Italian restaurant is a favorite of my wife and I, and we wanted to show our California guests what a Philly Italian BYOB is all about: good food, cramped quarters, low prices and unintelligible Italian waiters. We had it all at La Viola. I tend to experiment on entrées there, but I always find myself ordering their grilled calamari as an app. It’s laced with lemon and capers and is super tender, but has a great grilled flavor. Apropos of nothing, I ended up getting accidentally rocked off my ass at this dinner. Thanks for bringing the boss bottles of wine, Dad!

North Third: We’re into group two of house guests: my mom and sister-in-law, who was visiting from across the pond, which is how irritating people refer to London. Anyway, the first night she arrived, it was a torrential downpour, and my wife and I think of N. 3rd as our rainy day restaurant. This gastro-pub is built for damp weather–it’s dark, homey and the food is hearty and awesome. The soups here are top-notch, but big enough to be a meal by themselves. So I opted to simply order a special I had loved there one time before : an Asian-spiced tuna burger. To be honest, this sounds like something that I would hate: fish masquerading as a burger. However, it has tons of flavor, as wasabi and cilantro brighten the sandwich, which feels like you’re devouring a gigantic spicy tuna roll. This is a good thing, I reckon. My sister-in-law ordered the wings, which I think are among the best in town. If you’ve never been to this place, well, you’re probably a dork. And if some idiot with a blog is calling you a dork, that makes you like a dork of the highest order. Let’s move on.

Lolita: This is a great place to take out-of-towners. The food’s flavorful and exciting, the bring-your-own-tequila gimmick is unique, and the vibe is pretty raucous for a BYOB (mostly because everyone is ripped to the nipples on margaritas). I love the food here. It’s got all the flavor and spice of Mexican food, but with refined cooking techniques and fresh ingredients that steer the dishes clear of the heavy, leaden, rice-filled dishes of too many Mexican eateries. I had an entrée of veal cheeks with shaved Brussels sprouts that was the most memorable dish of my entire 9 day binge. The meat melted in my mouth, and the flavors were spot on. Just a great dish. And a fitting end to a wonderful 9 days of food, drink and family, where I was thankfully able to spend time with great people from all over the world, who could see my beautiful wife and the child that is amazingly growing inside of her every day, and share in this miraculous time of our lives. It all makes me say to myself:

Savor it while you can, fat boy.

Read Full Post »