Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Oceanaire Seafood Room

Another Delco Guy uses Center City Restaurant Week to visit places that are generally a bit pricey for him, or occasionally to go out on a culinary limb for a night.

The Philly outpost of The Oceanaire Seafood Room chain is in the first category.  First off, its a BIG room.  The main dining area is 75 feet by 40 feet, with 30 foot ceilings.  It's generally unimpressive, lots of ceiling tile and rounded-edged, bland faux-deco design elements.  There's a sweeping staircase up to private dining areas above.  The staircase sets off the main room for the bar and lounge area and the raw bar.  There was a bit of a stale, fishy odor as you walked out of the reception area into the dining room that made me worry for a moment that the place wasn't as high end as the menu indicated.

The bar was a cool spot to get in from the biting cold and learn a bit about the place.  Michael was behind the bar with two other friendly barmaids.  He made a darn good rye Old Fashioned and we enjoyed his discussion of various places he recommended in the City in addition to his home turf.  The ri 1 whiskey was new at the bar and I got a nice pour on the rocks at the bar for $7, but the price for the Old-Fashioned at the table was a steep $14.  Michael reports that they have a fair share of Washington Square regulars for Happy Hour and he's always looking for new folks to talk to.

Before we get to the dinner description, let me put in a few words about the service.  Restaurant Week service is generally nothing special and can often be downright terrible.  We sat down at 6, a bit early, and the great service we got from the host and at the bar carried over to the dining room.  Darius was affable and knowledgeable as he worked our table.  He's one of the best waiters we've had in some time.  He was assisted by John who did a great job keeping us stocked up with bread, pickled herring and water.

The $35, three course menu was a bit light, offering choices of Caesar salad, New England Clam Chowder, and spicy fried calamari to start, followed by crab cakes, planked salmon or Barnegat Bay scallops.  Desserts were Key Lime Pie, banana bread pudding and the ubiquitous chocolate mousse.  Searching for a bit of oomph, I added 6 oysters to my Caesar salad and my dear (girl) friend had both the chowder and the calamari to open up.

The calamari were crisply fried and covered with a pair of sauces, one creamy and the other scorching hot.  The hot one was too much for me and I retreated to my Old Salts and Blue Points, each one a perfectly fresh reminder that I stand at the top of the food chain.  The salad was not nearly as good as the one I had a few weeks back at Kitchen 233.  It lacked any zest and was only a fair approximation of a true Caesar dressing.

My crab cake was sold well by Darius, who proclaimed it '90%' Maryland crab meat with just a bit of bread to hold it together.  While his math was a bit off, it was one of the best crab cakes I've had outside the Chesapeake, with clean crab flavor blended well with spices and a bit of pepper.  The scallops were served over a ragout of kitchen-cured bacon, which tasted very similar to sweet pulled pork.  Both were very good on their own, but the strong flavors clashed and the dish was ultimately not a satisfying combination.

The room had filled up a bit by the time dessert arrived, but Darius and John still had plenty of time to chat.  Darius gave us a card and seemed to genuinely mean it when he said that he had enjoyed talking to us though the night.  My chocolate mousse was the normal piped dollop of whipped chocolaty sweetness, neither interesting or particularly well-presented.  My compatriot's bread pudding was far better and had a caramel sauce that I would have loved to have been on the mousse plate.

Ultimately the night ended up a success in large part because of The Oceanaire staff.  On a night where we were just another of 200 or more guests they would see, Michael, Daruis, John and everyone else made sure we felt special.  While the service was great, on a normally-priced night, I might have left unhappy given the food was just a bit better than average.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Now That's A Halftime Show!

Ever wonder if those illusionists who try to escape from underwater ever screw it up?  This video answers THAT question!

Somehow I think the Thunder will re-think their halftime shows after this.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

33 and Rain In Moorestown

A bit slushy but not bad here on the South Jersey roads.

A tip for the drivedrs out there. If I canstand in the rain and clear the snow off my car, so can you! There is absolutely no reason to be endangering me by driving around with a frigging porthole on your windshield.33 and Rain In Moorestown


Winter Mess

It's 28 degrees with freezing rain in Moorestown this morning.  The inch and a half of snow we have has an ice crust over it.  The kids, both mine and most of those across the region are off from school.

I'm getting ready for work. 

Why can't it ever just snow here?  It's always got to be a 'wintry mix.'  Storms start as snow, wander through sleet into freezing rain and end as rain.  A giant mess to be sure, but nothing to look at and never a day off for normal working folks.

I want an all out snow storm, complete with hot cocoa, snowmen, snowball fights, grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Remember them?  It's been about 7 years if you're from Philly.

Instead we get jackknifed tractor trailers on Vine Street, reporters who look like drowned rats, 25 mph speed limits on the bridges and co-workers complaining about having to be at work.

Oh well.  Time to head in!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Best Meal In a While


Man Dinner
Originally uploaded by Cavalier92

A nice big rib eye, a bottle of Bonarda, some broccoli rabe, some sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

Not a bad night. I wasn't even hungry for breakfast in the morning.  The steak made excellent fajitas the next evening as well.

I've even managed to clean up the Christmas lights you can see in the background.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Fantastic Four

All the Facebookers out there know there is a 25 Things fad flying around right now.  Basically you tell the world 25 random things about yourself and tag 25 friends to do the same thing.

Problem is my attention span is way shorter than 25 items.

So I'm putting the 25 Things About Me on a bit of a diet and making it into a Fantastic Four.

What Are Four Things That Most People Don't Know About You?

  1. I hate Christmas ending. My lights are still up outside.
  2. I had to take Spanish three times in college before I passed it.
  3. I sometimes wish I had gone into a profession where I could get rich.
  4. I go weeks at a time without getting a good night's sleep.

All right folks - let it all out!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Arizona Cardinals Fans Are Morons

Apparently the Arizona Cardinal fanbase isn't quite as smart as the Cards' offensive coordinator.  On Sunday the redbirds were able to figure out the Eagles blitzes en route to a 32-25 win.  It was really a masterful job by the Cardinal coaching staff, making the Philly Birds look like a high school team in the first half.

The fans though leave a bit to be desired.  You may have seen the item last week that Donovan McNabb's Phoenix-area home was vandalized by guys who thought it would be fun to decorate the yard with Pro-Cardinals signs and dump diesel on #5's lawn and burn it.  Brilliant right?  Well it gets better. 

On Monday Chandler, AZ police arrested two dickheads men after the police investigators found one of the rocket scientists perpetrators had actually left an address label on a piece of cardboard he used to make a sign for McNabb's lawn.  Criminal masterminds, these guys are not.  Their story is that they did it as a fun prank.  Yeah setting fire to a guy's lawn in a desert community is really fun stuff.

I can't wait to watch the Steelers smash these guys.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Checklist

Washer fixed - check
Train put away - check
Tree down - 50%
Continue petty jealousy of brother who is in FL - ongoing
Birthday party - next up
Eagles - on deck

Victory celebration - tonight

GO BIRDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Fun

I'm staying out of the 15 degree temps here this afternoon and trying to stay warm through fuming jealousy that my brother is down in Florida, looking out at the Atlantic Ocean from his 30th floor room.  Here in Moorestown, it's so frigging cold that the water in my washer froze over night.

So while I am letting that thaw out, I've been perusing the internet.  Now some of you may know of my fascination with both celebrity and real estate.  Probably because I have neither.  Somehow this afternoon I found the perfect blog that combines BOTH celebrities and real estate.  For instance if you wanted to know that NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler (getting married today)has his 7000 sq. ft. place at 108 Conway Court in Mooresville, NC up for a cool 4.5, the Real Estalker has that for you.  Looking for a fixer-upper?  She'll put you onto that resurgent former tiny pissed off guy from NYPD Blue, Nick Turturro, who has his 5 BR in Tarzana up for $1.25 mil.  Could be his recent separation from Lissa Espinosa or the red leather furniture holding the price down.

It's pretty LA-centric, but they also have some stuff from Florida and NYC celebs with places on the market.  The author's (she calls herself 'mama') reviews of each place remind me of well every real estate agent I ever met and the commenters (she calls them 'children') are vicious.

Try to stay warm.  Unless you're my brother, who should try not to fall off the hotel into the ocean.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Andrew Wyeth Died Today

Andrew Wyeth Snow Hill Limited Ed There are very few artists whose work touches me deeply.  For some reason the grays and browns and greens of Andrew Wyeth's work has always reached me and indeed calmed me.  His quiet scenes of rural American life struck a chord in me that I am unable to explain.

Wyeth died today at 91 at home in Chadds Ford, PA.  The image I have posted is his work "Snow Hill," which his daughter today called his 'death scene.'

I've visited the Maine field where he painted his iconic image "Christina's World."  Some very fond memories of my childhood are at the Brandywine River Museum, which holds much of his public work and that of his father and son and the adherents of their styles.  The places are oddly sacred to me and I struggle to reconcile how such austere work makes such a deep impression.

Today, like on so many other days when I have considered how his work makes me feel, I am at a loss.  I'm so happy to have his work to remember him by and so sad that he is no longer here.

Rest well, Dr. Syn.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Science Thursday

Here's an educational video for you.  Ever wonder what ant colonies look like underground?  Well this video show what happens if you fill a giant ant colony with a thin concrete mixture, let the concrete dry and then dig it all up.


When I was in college,  I played a game called SimAnt for a few days.  Not nearly as cool as this though.  I'm guessing my backyard ants do pretty much the same thing on a smaller scale.  Pretty amazing if you ask me!  How they get air that deep I can't figure out.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Check Out My Jag!


My New Ride
Originally uploaded by Cavalier92

Sadly it's only mine for a day. My CR-V is back at the Burns Honda Body Shop to correct a rattle in the suspension. Since it's insurance work related to my November accident, I get a rental car for the day.

Enterprise was stripped bare after the woman ahead of me got their last Dodge Caliber. They offered a full-sized Dodge Ram pickup, but I noted the impossibility of parking it in the city. The manager then suggested I might like to drive a Jaguar for a day. I said, "Yes, I think I would!"

It's a few years old and smells like cigar smoke, but it's a lot smoother and quieter at speed than my CR-V with similar miles on each.

Plus it's a Jag!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama Closing In On Key Administration Appointment


Labradoodle Molly
Originally uploaded by Missus L

After a process that I think bodes poorly for the incoming Obama Administation, the Prez says he is narrowing his choices for First Dog. It's taken over two months, bu the Obama family has the choices down to a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water dog.

Now they're going to look at shelters. Yeah I'll bet tons of DC shelters have pure-bred dogs ready for the White House.

What I can't figure out is what is taking so long. These were the two breeds that dog experts recommended back in November due to Obama family allergy issues. They're just getting around to this now?

I mean it's not like there is important stuff to do like choose a Commerce Secretary or get a stimulus package together.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Night in Westmont - Kitchen 233

I've just come in after digging out from the huge amount of snow dumped overnight here in South Jersey by that massive storm that paralyzed the region yesterday and last night.  Well.  Not really.  I'm really nibbling on chocolate chip cookies and thinking about what a great dinner we had last night.

We spent last night at Kitchen 233 on Haddon Avenue in Westmont.  We went there a few months ago for drinks before heading out to another Westmont spot.  As I left, I vowed to come back soon, having enjoyed a well-made absinthe cocktail and after looking longingly at the full page of entrees.

It's a stylish spot featuring top end seafood and steaks in a busy but surprisingly quiet dining room.  I started with a very smooth California Zin that wasn't too much for the perfectly prepared Caesar salad.  The dressing was the perfect blend of tangy and savory and the greens were crisp and freshly cut. 

A large serving of medium-rare Maine scallops were advertised as 'day boat' and 'porcini dusted.'  I'll assume the day boat part was true, but the dusting must have been microscopic, because I didn't see any.  The flavor though was perfect and the texture was firm but not rubbery, and had a nice buttery braising on the outside.  I generally eat everything put in front of me at a restaurant, especially one charging these prices, but the serving was large enough that I was full before the last scallop.

My companion raved about the seafood fra diavlo (too spicy for my palate) and our friends noted the excellent wild mushroom soup and the perfectly prepared signature salmon dish.

The table shared a huge trio of sorbets for dessert that had a bold mango, astringent lemon and sweet raspberry.  I had held onto a bit of my zin to see how it did with the desserts and it held up very well, pairing surprisingly well with the mango and raspberry.  Espressos all around prepared us for the ride home.

We lingered over dessert and chatted with our friends and were not bothered to move on.  The staff was unobtrusive in setting up the room for the next day.  The final bill with drinks and a 25% tip came to $205.  That's a special dinner night for sure, but not a bad number for four people who felt well-served and happy with the evening.

We were among the last out at 9:45 but the warm bar area was still busy with folks drinking martinis and wine.  The crowd was well-dressed, but had a local feel to it.  I think it's a destination bar, not a place people come to on a regular basis, but I could be wrong.

This is a very good place for a special dinner.  At the top end of the PJ Whelihan's empire, the folks running this place have worked out the kinks that Craig LaBan found in 2007.  The Yelp reviews are all over the place, but when you weed out the odd experiences, the basic theme of pricey but excellent food shines through.

My final comment is that it was a night that was about being with friends and we all had a great time.  The food and drinks paired well with the conversation and we headed out into a cold. wet night filled with warmth.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday Fantastic Four

It's the new year and we've had a few days to break our new year's resolutions, so I thought I would do a Fan 4 based on the hopes we all have:

What four things are you most hoping for in 2009?

  1. Another parade on Broad Street
  2. Spending more time with the kids
  3. Getting better at taking photos of people
  4. The end of the economic mess

How about you?  What are you hoping for? 

Have a great weekend!!!


Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Best Blog Post Ever

Every time a Philly sports team makes the playoffs the sports fans of this town are forced to endure a national cliche fest that paints us all as grade school dropouts who threw snowballs at Santa, booed Jesus in the manger, wear white sheets and pointed hats to games and hate anyone not named Rocky Balboa.

This week's drive by assassination of Philadelphia sports fans comes to us courtesy of Fox Sports' Ian O'Connor.  This pretentious ass gets his though from an anonymous blogger named Gimpy von Hogaknocker who takes apart O'Connor's overwritten bag of BS on a line-by-line basis.

It's not just the best Philly sports blog post every (sorry E and Matt), it's not just the best sports blog post ever.  It's the best fucking blog post ever.  Period.

Nice work Gimpy!


Some People Have No Shame

Now I guess that it goes without saying that people who pay other folks take their clothes off and umm uhh entertain have little shame, but this one takes the cake for me.

Hustler Magazine king and first amendment crusader Larry Flynt and the Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis want Congress to, in Flynt's words, "rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America."  I was unaware that the current bout of economic misery had affected sexual appetites.  Flynt seems to think it has and he has his hat in his hand in DC, asking for $5 billion in federal aid. 

I'm not sure it's any sillier than just writing a giant blank check for Wall Street moguls who then party it up at the St. Regis with our tax dollars. 


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

JC Romero Gets Screwed

Freejc As you may have heard by now, Phillies reliever JC Romero has been suspended  for the first 50 games of the 2009 season for testing positive for a banned substance.  That sounds bad, but he seems to have done everything possible to make sure that he was doing the right thing here.

Major League Baseball on the other hand seems to be hell-bent on blindly applying the substance abuse policy, regardless of how stupid they look in doing so.  Bottom like here is that Romero bought an over-the-counter supplement at my local GNC, ran it past the Phillies trainer and his nutritionist, where he got approvals.

Subsequently, he tested positive and MLB banned the product.  He immediately stopped taking it.

That wasn't good enough for MLB.  They told Romero last fall that he could admit guilt and serve an immediate 25 game suspension or he could serve a 50 gamer in '09.  Romero, who rightly maintains he is innocent in this mess won't plead guilty.  Thus he's out $1.25 million and 50 games.  Mets fans are celebrating.  They need something to celebrate since their team fucking chokes every year.

My friends (and relatives) over at the700level.com have got a Free JC shirt available for purchase.  I recommend that we all have one on for Opening Night at the Bank.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Well This Will Wake Things Up

I don't know about you, but I tend to think of topless joints as a later in the day kind of thing.

Donald Crabtree, however thinks differently.  He's proposed a topless coffee shop for sleepy little Vassalboro, Maine.

I've been there.  The town needs something.  I'm just not sure it's a topless coffee shop.  Don't get me wrong.  I am not anti-nudity.  God no.  And I am not anti-coffee shop.  But I am not sure the two mix well.  Especially not in rural Maine.

But it might keep things warm in the winter!


Sunday, January 04, 2009

First Scandal Hits Obama White House

NBC News and others are reporting that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has notified Barack Obama that he is withdrawing as Secretary-designate of the Commerce Department.  The move comes as Richardson's administration is investigated for allegedly trading state contracts for campaign contributions.

Richardson's camp denies any impropriety, but says he has to back out because his name won't be cleared in time for him to face Senate confirmation hearings.  It's also important to note that the Obama folks are probably really interested in distancing themselves from any kind of activity that looks remotely like a Blagojovich problem.

I was an early supporter of Richardson for president last year.  Me and about 13 other voters.  Now it looks like his political career will end in disgrace.  It's a sad statement about a guy who has accomplished so much.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Joe Biden's Cuff Links Found in Collingdale!

This story is absolutely hilarious!

John Pickens goes to a thrift store in Delco, buys a couple of shirts for a buck apiece.  He knows he's getting a deal because he sees they are Brooks Brothers shirts. John gets them home and is examining one when he sees cuff links on one that say Senator Joseph H. Biden, Jr.

At first John isn't sure they are the deal deal, so he goes to a jeweler who says that they're solid gold.  So John does what any other guy from Collingdale would do.  He calls Action News!

Action News comes out to the house and does a spot and tries to get in touch with Biden.  no luck.

Apparently he's getting rid of all the old senator cuff links and getting snazzy new veep cuff links!

Video is here.

Hat tip to Billy Githens.  I'm headed over to the thrift store here in Moorestown.  They gotta have some Obama stuff there!