Friday, January 22, 2010


My friend and colleague Dallyn Pavey, the whirlwind behind Dish Public Relations, and one of the hardest working PR people I have ever met, has worked some of her magic to put together:

...$100 gift certificates on eBay. Proceeds to be donated to the Red Cross.

Several area restaurants have come together to raise money for "Restaurants for Haiti Earthquake Relief." Each of these restaurants (listed below) have donated a $100 gift certificate to be auctioned on Proceeds from the auctions will be donated to the Red Cross for Haiti Relief and Development.

The auction runs through Tuesday, January 26th at 4pm.

Auctions for each restaurant can be viewed here or go to and search for "Restaurants for Earthquake Relief." Bidding starts at $9.99.

Participating restaurants:

Restaurant Alba in Malvern

Bistro St Tropez in Center City

Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street

Dettera in Ambler

Fork in Old City

Friday Saturday Sunday just off Rittenhouse Square

Gypsy Saloon in West Conshohocken

Garces Restaurant Group (Amanda, Chifa, Distrito, Tinto, Village Whiskey) locations throughout the city

Ruth's Chris Steak House in Center City and King of Prussia

Savona in Gulph Mills

Stella Blu in West Conshohocken

Union Trust Steak House in Center City
Now that's a nice list, and among some of the finest restaurants in the Delaware Valley. Worth visiting Ebay, methinks, don't you?

Monday, January 18, 2010


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Finding My Pizza Rhythm

The Big Saturday Afternoon Sheet Pizza That Ate Lawrenceville
Up close and personal....

What do you do with leftover pizza dough? Well, you make MORE PIZZA, of course! But this isn't your standard, sheet pan/Brooklyn/Old Forge/Sicilian style pie. No sireee! This is the result of careful Saturday afternoon scavenging in the refrigerator.

The brief backstory: Had a bunch of folks over last Saturday evening for a homemade pizza party; dear friend John Hamada, the twins' Catholic godfather, and his 12 yr. old son Joseph (whom the kids positively idolize); and Scott & Nicole Hibberd, new parents of 3 mo. old daughter Paysen (whom I teasingly keep calling PayPal, Peyton, Pesach etc.)and almost 4 yr. old daughter Quinn (with whom the twins just LOVE to run around the house and scream!).

I made a HUGE batch of pizza dough in the big Cuisinart stand mixer, and the kids and I had fun punching it down throughout the afternoon as it rose in its gigantic bowl. Just before the two families arrived, I stretched out dough to make 4 small (9-in.) pies on two big sheet pans, and set up the kitchen table so the kids could design their own pizzas. Scott and John each brought various toppings and we got them all into small bowls and lined the kids up to make their own pizzas. It was great fun, and each small child was intensely creative in their own way, a terrific thing to watch. Their pies went into the oven, and we set to making as many large round pies as we could. In total, we made the 4 kids' pies, and 9 other big pies, including a gluten-free dough pie for you-know-who (more on her later...).

After it all shook down, there was lotsa leftover slices of pizza for taking home, and a small portion of dough left, which went into the fridge in an airtight container. Little bit of pepperoni left over, some mozz, and that was about it.

So today, I discovered the dough, took it out and let it come to room temperature, whereupon it begain to rise again, almost fresh as a daisy, with no sign or smell of fermentatiuon (sourdough pizza, anyone?). It looked a bit too large to stretch over one of my ancient charred pizza pans, so I took out one of the baking sheets, sprinkled some cornmeal around it, and began to stretch the dough with some additional extra virgin olive oil. It was exactly enough to make a full sheet size pie. Around here they would call this size a "Brooklyn" pie, which means a thin crust, rectangular pie made with fresh mozz and sauce and basil.

One problem: no red sauce. Anywhere. Not wanting to take the time to make even a small batch of sauce, I resorted to jar of salsa (Newman's Own, medium heat), pureed it a bit with the stick blender, and built the pizza with grated pecorino, salsa, some leftover sauteed peppers and onions (made for a weekday meal of Sicilian pork chops), mozz and thickly sliced pepperoni.

25 minutes later in a 450-degree oven, and we have the beauty pictured above.

I think I have my pizza rhythm back. I reall missed it. Ever forward!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I have refused to even broach the subjects of politics or religion on this blog (for obvious reasons), but I must make an exception in this case, killing both subject birds with one stone.

I don't think I've ever watched a more smug, self-righteous, self important, opportunistic bottomfeeder than when I viewed this video excerpted from the "CBN News Hour" last night.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Over My Shoulder, A Quick Look Back

First, right off the bat, HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2010 be a much, much better year for all of us!

Not that all of 2009 was bad; it just seemed like it for some of us. I went to a lot of funerals in 2009. Funerals for folks whose time, after endless infirmities, had come. Funerals for friends who died too young. Heartbreaking stuff no matter how you look at it.

I watched, and experienced personally, downturns in business that make you shake your head in numbing frustration. I've also watched several friends' businesses succeed nicely, and grow beautifully, which keeps me ever optimstic.

On the very cusp of this new year, beer writer-philosopher-friend Jack Curtin said it most suscinctly on his blog, Jack Curtin's Liquid Diet:

"Has there been a better year, in more than half a century, in which to dream dreams, revitalize hope and commit ourselves to a better tomorrow?"

I think you're right, Jack, so thanks.

So there have been some good things to look back on too. Not that many, but here are my 2009 highlights:

Ben and Sophie's Pre-School Adventure: I've never seen two kids more excited to go to school in my life. Though their enthusasm has waned a bit, especially when it's time to wake up in the morning, they're having more fun than I ever remember having in school. And their school and teacher are the perfect match for their endess curiosity and gifted intellect. And their teacher provided me with....

My Favorite Quote of the Year: "Your kids don't speak like any 4 year olds I've ever taught; they speak in complete sentences and they have an amazng vocabulary." Ms. Poli, Ben and Sophie's preschool teacher, parent-teacher conference, November

Pizza of the Year: It could have been the two pizzas I sampled at Steven Starr's new Pizzeria Stella, a classic Margherita and a prosciutto-topped number, and it surely could have been any of the half dozen pizzas we sampled this summer at One Guy Brewing in Berwick, PA. That is, until the twins and I decided one dreary Friday afternoon to make our own. They helped punch down the dough as it rose, and spread the sauce and grated cheeses, and were very precise about how they placed their pepperoni, and those 3 pies we made were 3 of the best pies I've had in a long time.

Beers of the Year: God, it was a good year for beer, and even though I haven't been out and about anywhere as much as I used to, I've managed to drink some really exceptional stuff. I really can't pick one, so I'm just going to let fly with an unranked six-pack or so: Guy Hagner's One Guy Brewing's Atomic Punk IPA, which blew me away at a Philly Beer Week dinner at the Grey Lodge; Triumph Old City's Pils Jay's Way, their tribute to Jay Mission, former head brewer at Triumph, who passed away months before the Philly Beer Week event that honored him with a night full of pilsners at their brewpub; Sierra Nevada Torpedo, their "Extra IPA," which plows a ton of hops into your mouth, all green and herby-spicy, and then slips over your tongue like mist through your fingers; Yards Brawler, roasty, malty silky, an amazing session beer, served up at the newly re-born Oyster House in Center City Philly, alongside the only-in-Philly lunch platter of fried oysters and chicken salad (best lunch I've had all year,too); Victory Yakima Twilight, served up at the third and most recent Friday the Firkinteenth at the Grey Lodge, teeth-chatteringly hoppy, with a nice tart finish; and Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA, a blend of DFH's 60 and 120 Minute IPAs, made especially for that same Friday the Firkinteenth, bursting with sweet-herby hops and ending with an unexpectedly sweet, soft finish; and McGillin's 1860 Anniversary Ale, made for McGillin's Olde Ale House, Philly's oldest continually operated tavern, by Stoudt's Brewing Co., on the occasion (2010!) of the tavern's 150th anniversary, it's another agressively hopped brew, but like DFH's 75 Min. IPA, its begins sweetly and then ends with its own unique twist: a, crisp, bright, snappy pilsner finish that makes this one of the most dangerously drinkable beers in the country.

Pub Visits of the Year: These have been few and far between for me this year, but there were a small handful of great visits: a quiet lunch on a rainy day at Memphis Taproom, the Port Richmond platter of pierogis, kielbasa, potato pancakes and sauerkraut (delicious, but a little too greasy maybe...), some fried pickles (sorry, but just too big and unappetizing to me) and some Edmund Fitzgerald Porter; a mini-Philly beer tour with friend Scott Hibberd and his visiting brother, Josh: 1860 Anniversary Ale and then nachos and pumpkin beers at McGillin's, with owner Chris Muillins' son, Chris (we made him a believer of that terrific beer-food pairing!), fresh hot pretzels and Oktoberfests at Brauhaus Schmitz, Yards ESA on handpump and some fried smelts at Standard Tap, and a bunch of beers, including Philadelphia Brewing's JOE, at the Grey Lodge.

And speaking of the Grey Lodge, that's where my other 4 memorable pub visits took place, at all three of the pub's Friday The Firkinteenths in 2009 (yes there were THREE!), and at the GL's hilarious 13th Anniversary celebration, which, of course was celebrated on the 15th, and featured 13 different "events" and beer menus for 13 straight hours. I caught 4 of those hours and they were wacky.

TV Moments of the Year: Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) singing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, wherein the show showed its chops, made its credibility and held anyone watching spellbound; and just a week ago, The Muppets and Fallon singing the 12 Days of Christmas, wherein Fozzy Bear stole ths show. The entire season of Rescue Me, on FX, as well as the season finale of Dexter, on Showtime, elevated TV beyond what it usually, and sadly, is.

So all in all, not a bad year. But here's to hoping for a MUCH better year in 2010!