Friday, December 30, 2011
It was hectic week and weekend leading up to Christmas. A positively enormous Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner at the home of our friends, the Attanasis in Cranford, NJ (more on that soon, with pictures!), the last-minute rush to wrap presents, the annual Xmas Beer Mix get-together at the Grey Lodge (more on that also with pics) and new physical therapy for my leg and knee woes thrown in for good measure.
Ben and Sophie came down with godawful, stay-in-bed kinds of colds on Christmas day, so it was a quieter-than-usual morning opening presents, having breakfast and trying top keep spirits light. It made for a slow moving, lazy day kind of Christmas. Dinner was a simple affair, a beautiful eye round roast, some mashed potatoes and some fresh string beans. But the reason for my post is to tell you about the new way I found to roast the eye round.
Normally, I rub the eye round with a mixture of sea salt, ground pepper and dried herbs and roast the beef at a high temperature, 425 degrees for 20 min. a pound. It has always produced a dark crust and pink interior, depending on the diameter of the roast.
On Christmas Day, as the kids napped, I surfed the web and Googled "eye round roast recipes" just to find variations on my method. The top result recipe was "High Temperature Eye-of_Round Roast" and came with a sub-paragraph that boldly proclaimed it to be "the easiest roast you'll ever cook!" OK, they had me.
Pretty simple stuff, really. This is the recipe, from allrecipes.com:
1 (3 pound) beef eye of round roast
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Season the roast with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan or baking dish. Do not cover or add water.
Place the roast in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Roast for 21 minutes (seven minutes per pound) then turn off the oven and let the roast sit in the hot oven for 2 1/2 hours. Do not open the door at all during this time!
Remove the roast from the oven, the internal temperature should have reached at least 145 degrees F (65 degrees C). Carve into thin slices to serve.
With all due respect to allrecipes.com and Lyn B., who posted the actual recipe, I remember Mary Jelinek, who for years hosted a food talk show with her husband Frank over the Philadelphia airwaves (WWDB,WCAU and WPEN), frequently suggesting this type of high temperature roasting for beef to callers of the show, with a stern warning: "Do NOT open that oven door for any reason until the timer goes off!" It was a popular recipe on the show over the years, and the Jelineks regularly received calls about how perfect a recipe it was. I add myself to the chorus of praise.
It sliced beautifully into gorgeous, rosy slices, just a bit pinker than the photo above. Made a simple red wine reduction sauce from the drippings, but the meat was so juicy and flavorful, it didn't need it. Force of habit with the gravy thing, I think.
This would make an elegant presentation at a dinner party, arrayed on a platter on a buffet, or peeking out of a baguette or kaiser roll with some mustard and horseradish.
Now I have a recipe to remind me of Frank and Mary Jelinek, whom I got to know well in the late 80s and early 90s, first through the popularity of my original Dangerous Dining Club (they attended a couple of the dinners and always promoted the club every month when they received their invites to the next dinner), and later when I was doing the PR for the Adam's Mark Hotel and later The Bellevue. Such sweet and gracious people. I miss them dearly.
But now I have a way to remember them.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Oh my, it's that time again already. This year has passed so quickly, and it's just a few days to Christmas. And that also means a Christmas Eve Feast of The Seven Fishes. I'm noticing more restaurants than ever creating Seven Fishes menus for the days preceding Christmas. A few have already begun serving that special menu, and many begin tomorrow night. If you haven't made Christmas Eve plans, and want to experience a special holiday culinary tradition, here are a few places to visit:
Avalon, West Chester, PA:
AntiPasti (Served family style)
Fried Smelts, White Anchovies, Preserved Tuna and Fried Calamari
Black Linguini with Shrimp, Mussels and Crab in San Marzano Red Sauce
Secondi (choice of)
Skate Wing with Brown Butter Sauce and Crab Apple Mostarda
White Fish Picatta with Capers, Lemon and White Wine
*both served with Risotto Style Toasted Orzo
Organic Mixed Greens with Honey Broken Balsamic Vinaigrette
Dolce (Served family style)
Fresh Fruit and Cheese
(or sweet dessert from regular dessert menu may be substituted).
This feast, which is designed to be ordered by the entire party, is $45 per person; $15 for children under 12. Child-friendly options will be available. Available on Thursday, December 22; Friday, December 23and Saturday, December 24. Reservations necessary at 610/436-4100. For those who prefer, a limited a la carte menu will be available on Thursday, December 22 and Friday, December 23. On December 24, they'ere serving 7 Fishes menu exclusively.
Trax Cafe, Ambler, PA
House Smoked Salmon Mousse Topped with Caviar or Butternut Squash Shrimp Bisque
Caesar Salad with White Anchovy
Bouillabaisse with Cod, Mussels, Calamari & Shrimp
Chocolate Mousse with Cognac or
Poached Pear with Candied Wine Sauce
The dinner is $45 per person, plus tax and gratuity. The restaurant will also serve its regular a la carte menu from December 20 - 24. The menu may change slightly due to availability of fresh seafood. Reservations are necessary at 215/591-9777 or on Open Table. The restaurant will be closed on December 25.
The website uwishunu.com has an amazing roundup of Philly spots doing the Feast:
• Route 6: 600 N. Broad Street. On Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, $50 will get you a delicious meal from Chef Anthony DiRienzo, including Cape Codder Oyster with cranberry granite, Smoked Bluefish Dip with horseradish crème fraiche and bagel chips, Lobster Boudain with watercress salad and spicy chili aioli, Wood Oven Roasted Atlantic Salmon with honey crisp apple relish and more. Call (215)391-4600 to reserve your spot.
• Amis: 412 S. 13th Street. The Vetri Family welcomes you to share in this festive Italian-American celebration on December 23 from 5-11 p.m. On this evening a four-course meal featuring the seven fishes will be served family style. It is $65 per person and does not include tax, gratuity, or alcohol. For reservations call (215) 732-2647.
• Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse: 111 S. 17th Street. Davio’s will offer the Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner as a prix-fixe menu of uniquely selected seafood by Executive Chef David Boyle. The menu is $75 per person and features items such as grilled branzino with crab risotto and spinach and citrus nage. It will be available on Saturday, December 24 from 5-11 p.m. Reservations are recommended; call (215) 563-4810.
• Ristorante Panorama: 14 N. Front Street. Ristorante Panorama will be serving the Festa dei Sette Pesci now through Thursday, December 30th. For $45 enjoy a four-course menu featuring sea scallops, smelts, calamari, lobster ravioli, branzino and more. A 3-oz. taste of the Sommelier’s Mediterranean wine pairings will be available with each course for an additional $25. For more information call (215) 922-7800.
• Chiarella’s: 11th & Tasker Streets. Hard to believe, but this is the first time Chiarella’s is hosting a seven fishes dinner. It takes place on December 24. The four courses will include New England clam chowder, clams casino, mussels, pasta and sauteed Branzino and creamy polenta. It is $50 per person and BYOB; call (215) 334-6404 for reservations.
• Da Vinci Ristorante: 1533 S. 11th Street. On December 24, Da Vinci’s will serve a set menu in three course. There will be seven traditional items like fried smelts, stuffed calamari, linguine with mussels, cod with olives, capers and tomatoes and rock fish with mushrooms in a lemon white wine sauce. It’s $50 per person and BYOB; call (215) 336-3636 for reservations.
• Le Virtu: 1927 E. Passyunk Avenue. Le Virtù will offer a four-course pre-fixe menu for $65 per person.Items include: Fritto Misto di Pesce, assorted fried calamari, fish and shrimp; Timballo, layered crepes with pork sausage ragu; Agnello al Forno, roasted leg of lamb with rosemary potatoes; and Torcinelli, fried anise-and-raisin dough tossed in sugar with eggnog sauce. Call (215) 271-5626 for reservations.
• Mamma Maria Ristorante: 1637 E. Passyunk Avenue. Various seatings at 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on December 24 will include antipasto of fish and seafood, chestnut soup, seven fishes (including baccala, shrimp, stuffed squid and smelts), dessert, espresso or cappuccino, and complimentary wine and after-dinner cordials. This meal is $70 per person. Call (215) 463-6884 for reservations.
• Paradiso: 1627 E. Passyunk Avenue. This four-course dinner served December 24 will include fritto misto with smelts, calamari, cod cakes and oysters, seafood risotto, spaghetti with white anchovies, golden raisins, garlic and tomatoes, baccala with onions, olives and fresh tomato, tilapia with jumbo lump crab meat and lobster cream, broccoli rabe, and a variety of Italian cookies for dessert. It’s $65 per person with a full bar. Call (215) 271-2066 for reservations.
• Monsu: 901 Christian Street. Executive Chef and Owner Peter McAndrews will be hosting the Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner on Saturday, December 24. Expect a special five course dinner from 4-8 p.m., $50 per person. Diners will have the first course served for the entire table and then will choose from a selection of Antipasti, Pasta, Secondi and Dolci. And don’t forget a couple bottles of your favorite vino; the restaurant is BYOB. Make your reservations today by calling (215) 440-0495.
• Gemelli: 4161 Main Street: Celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes every night from Thursday, December 20 through Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24. Items include arancini, smoked salmon, fried calamari, linguini and clams, scallops, shrimp and lobster cannelloni and more. This meal is $45 per person. An a la carte menu will also be available. Call (215) 487-1230 for more info.
• Pepperoncini: Conshohocken (72 Poplar Street) and Phoenixville (184 Bridge Street). This feast will be offered as take-out only on Christmas Eve. Pick up items like baccala, fried smelts, lobster ravioli or crab cakes starting at 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. Call ahead to place your order in Phoenixville at (484) 924-8429 or Conshohocken at (610) 941-7783.
Eat it up, folks. It's a great tradition to savor with friends and family.
And if I don't see you before Sunday: MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Monday, December 12, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday, September 3, 2011
I remember listening to Howard Eskin in 1983 on talk radio station WWDB-FM in Philadelphia when he did a ground-breaking (for Philly) sports talk show in the early evening. It was riveting radio. Eskin was opinionated, passionate and argumentative. He interviewed sports guests with a combination of child-like awe and reporter zeal.
I also remember when he moved his show to the multi-faceted Philly radio icon WIP-AM in 1986 which had been veering to an all-talk format back then, launching what would eventually become one of the country's first sports talk radio stations.
He did his style of brash, in-your-face, sports talk for 25 years at WIP, dominating the afternoon drive time ratings for most of that time. He was also famously paired with a rogues gallery of partners in an attempt to perhaps soften his sarcasm or lessen his polarizing personality, but all of those attempts (including an embarassing morning drive stint with Morning Zoo-famous John DeBella at sister station WMMR-FM) fell flat, even his most recent pairing with ex-Eagle linebacker Ike Reese.
In the end, the best Eskin is the solo, unfiltered, full-strength Eskin, and maybe that was part of the motivation for his emotional announcement a few weeks back that he would give up his regular time slot in favor of other opportunities. He remains at WIP for several spot roles, and seems to be leaning toward some kind of national show, either on satellite or terrestrial radio.
Yesterday Eskin did his last regularly scheduled show in his time slot, as WIP-AM moved to simulcast itself on the frequency held for decades by hard rock WYSP-FM. The show was filled with celebrity phone calls, well-wishing callers, and Charles Barkley in studio along with Eskin's son, Brett, who ironically lost his job at WYSP in the foremat/simulcast change. It was, of course compelling radio, full of emotion, laughs, inside jokes and forced reflection.
It is still amazing and very impressive that Howard Eskin lasted (survived?) for 25 years at one radio station, in virtually the same time slot, a concept virtually unheard of in the current climate of homogeneous radio, right-wing talkmongers and dumbed down sports talk, corporate rock radio and scattershot pop programming.
Part investigative reporter, part oddsmakers, part insider, part true sports fan, there is not, nor never was, anyone like Howard Eskin. He made the mold, broke the mold and re-invented the mold.
Forever The King.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
"Patience is an attribute you all exercise every day. Patience is responding to the woes of bills due and still smiling at the job interview. Patience is replacing unemployment depression with acts of volunteer kindness. We had a member who recently landed who defined patience as “the positive energy required daily during a 17 month transition period.” Patience is doing for others as a PSG Committee member despite you yourself needing to find a job yesterday."
"Planning your time should include active networking. Persistent and effective networking is important because you never know who the person you are networking with knows. It is like an adult game of whisper-down-the-lane. PSG has experienced a growing history of happy coincidences where spontaneous networking conversations developed a contact that led to an interview that culminated in a hire. The Karma part is the ebb and flow of relationships evolved from networking. PSG members are constantly surprised by who steps up to help them land at the bleakest moment."
"Another concept surfacing in the market is 'relationship recruiting.' Sounds like a cousin to networking, but let me explain. Say you interview with an employer but it does not work. There is no fit, you are not a match for their corporate culture or otherwise it is not going to happen with that company. To keep the corporate contact, you of course thank the company for spending time to meet you and that you greatly enjoyed learning about them. The extra step is connecting them with a candidate from your networking pool. The employer might appreciate the gesture. Perhaps they might be inclined to return the favor by connecting you with others in the same professional network. The maximum response would be if they referred you to other hiring managers as future unadvertised positions open up."
"Whether you call it Karma or making your own good luck, positive things will happen when you get out of the house, get active and help somebody every once in awhile. If you do it now, do it more.
If you do not do it, get out and try it."
Good stuff, universal appeal, endless uses in anyone's daily life, employed or unemployed. I've seen it work in my life and it's hard to deny the power of karma. But Carig Jez said it better. He always does.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I delight in the art my children create. I can't explain it, but it fascinates me.
After collecting their artwork from the last two years of their schooling, I am continually amazed at their creative energy, and at the skill of their teachers to inspire them. Their preschool art teacher, Mr. Colavita, walked me into their school last spring for the student art show and showed me their self-portraits, which he mounted on a kiosk at the school's entrance, and pointing to their art, said, "Watch those two, they have something, they really do."
And ever since I have paid particular attention to the artwork they bring home from school. This year, their kindergarten year, under the guidance of their art teacher, Mrs. Skorupa, it seems like both Ben and Sophie have exploded with artistic energy, creativity and awareness. Their kindergarten self-portraits (above and below) are whimsically revealing, from Sophie's eyelashes and big smile to Ben's persuasive smirk. That will probably be my last attempt at any kind of critique of their work. The rest of this post will just be a display of their best stuff. I think you'll agree that their creative energy and verve are fun to experience.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
I'm not the superstitious type. That's why I love when Friday the 13th rolls around every year, even when it occurs as much as three times in one year. But this year, it rolls in only once, and it rolls this week. That makes for an extra special FRIDAY THE FIRKINTEENTH at the Grey Lodge Pub in Northeast Philly.
The only beer festival dictated by the calendar, FTF is, to my mind, the greatest of all American beer festivals for the sheer simple democracy of it: arrive, wade through the amazingly friendly mob of cask ale lovers, order a beer from one of the seven or so firkins atop the bar, and savor some pure heaven in a glass. Beer as it was meant to be, fresh from a small keg, poured by gravity as its propellant, amid the cameraderie of old and new-found friends. And beer folk are the best new-found friends in the world.
There will be about 30 firkins of fresh, cask ale served throughout the day at the Grey Lodge, beginning at noon on the 13th. They will be served 7 at a time, and the sheer variety of them all is impressive. Here is the most up-to-date list of offerings, from the Grey Lodge's own website:
Cigar City Humidor IPA
Cricket Hill Reserve Series Brown
Dock Street TBA
Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA
Flying Fish Farmhouse
Fullers London Pride
Lancaster Milk Stout
Manayunk Brewerytown Brown Ale
Manayunk Hop Phanatic
Nodding Head Marauder
Philadelphia Brewing Fleur de Lehigh
Prism Bitto Honey
Sixpoint Modern Rye
Sly Fox 113 IPA
Sly Fox Chester County Bitter
Stoudts Special Bourbon Barrel Aged Scarlet Lady ESB
Troegs Hopback Amber
Troegs Javahead Stout
Victory Headwaters Pale Ale
Wells Banana Bread
Weyerbacher Verboten with Camomille Tea
Feeling lucky? I'll see you there. Bring an umbrella. Or a ladder. Or a mirror. Oh, never mind.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
My brackets are in ruins. All 9 of them. The Big East collapsed, claiming St. John's, Villanova, Notre Dame, Louisville, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Penn State, even Syracuse. The underdogs were not dogged enough. Temple showed spunk but just ran out of luck. Two of my Final Four selections are gone. Only Duke and BYU remain and may still not disappoint me.
And I was doing so well, too. After Saturday, I was in the 92nd percentile of the ESPN.com Bracket Challenge, by far the most populated bracket game, with well over 5 million participants. As of last night I am in the middle of the 47th percentile, some 3.019 million back in the pack. According to ESPN last night, no participant has a perfect score after 3 rounds, so at least all of this year's players have tasted some defeat.
Yeah, a saving grace. That's what I'm telling myself. But when you're this far back in the pack, the view stays the same. Yech.
Monday, March 14, 2011
And the prizes are bigger than ever, from smartphones to iPads and other tablets to 55" Samsung HDTVs to a cool million of those American dollars . Here's where you, too, can test your skill at bracketology:
The Sporting News
Slack's Hoagie Shack
P.C. Richard & Sons
This year, as you may have by now heard, it's 68 teams in the mix, and play begins tomorrow night (Tuesday), so get your picks in, pigeons!
I love this time of year.
How do you think you'll do?
Post your brackets, if you dare.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Uploaded by Six Stair on March 10, 2009
© All rights reserved
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
With apologies to Lew Bryson, who selects a favorite beer from each of the breweries and brewpubs he visits for his beer travel books, Pennsylvania Breweries (now in its 4th edition!), New York Breweries, etc. , here is my take for this year's Bowl of Supe.
I like the swagger of the Green Bay Packers, who played all of their playoff games on the road, and did a convincing job in each one of them, even beating the Eagles. A Birds fan could take some comfort in the fact that they were shoved out of the playoffs by the eventual SB XLV champion.
And yet the Pittsburgh Steelers have the confident cool that perennial champions have. And they are just plain flat out tough, starting with the quarterback of questionable morals, right down to the Head & Shoulders Defensive Player of the Year.
But I think it's the Pack's year.
Cheeseheads by 6. Have a brat on me.