Friday, July 31, 2009

View From the Deck

After 9 hours in traffic we're here! Sent from my BlackBerry Tour 9630IMG00078-20090731-2006.jpg


Lunch!

We are in Hartford and City Staem Brewery Cafe was pretty good last year, so here we are again! Sent from my BlackBerry Tour 9630IMG00076-20090731-1348.jpg


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Green Eggs and Ham

Emma can read another whole book! It's super cool to hear my little girl reading to us. Sent from my BlackBerry Tour 9630IMG00073-20090729-1958.jpg


Green Eggs and Ham

Emma can read another whole book! It's super cool to hear my little girl reading to us. Sent from my BlackBerry Tour 9630IMG00073-20090729-1958.jpg


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tragedy at CBP

A 22 year old man lost his life last night in an altercation outside Citizens Bank Park while the Phillies were defeating St. Louis.  The altercation allegedly started inside McFadden's at the Ballpark and moved down Pattison Avenue around the 7th inning. It's a terrible thing and one that does little but magnify Philadelphia's reputation as the rowdiest sports town in America. 

A while back I lamented that The Bank had basically become a 43,000 seat bar.  Security has certainly tightened since then, but it should be noted that this incident apparently started with a bachelor party at McFadden's.  I'm reasonably certain that a scan of St. Louis or Miami or Detroit or Dallas papers this morning will find at least one other death outside a bar.  However the talking heads will be all over our reputation as the worst fans in sports.

On a side note, it's shocking to me that you've literally got to search Philly.com for information on this terrible incident and what you get is this pathetic entry.  I can't believe this is the only content you have on the site about this horrible incident. I know this story happened in the evening, apparently after the Sunday paper deadline, but you're not a Sunday paper anymore gang. To not have a story up on the front page shows a shocking lack of focus on breaking news.

My thoughts got out to the young man who lost his life and to his family.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hearty Breakfast

Italian turkey sausage, egg and cheese on toast. MMMMM! Sent from my BlackBerry Tour 9630IMG00064-20090725-0934.jpg


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Iron Hill Maple Shade - First Impressions

I'm a 'beer guy.'  I like a good brew and I enjoy having beers that are made locally if at all possible.  I'm not saying I pound the beverages back - I prefer quality over quantity, and brewpubs are the best place to get a good variety of fresh beer.  I live in South Jersey now and one of the things this area has lacked is a brewpub.  Picture 051There's one in AC,and one in Princeton, but nothing in the meaty part of South Jersey. 

Thus, I've been looking forward to the opening of Iron Hill's new location on King's Highway in Maple Shade, not far from Another Delco Guy's HQ.  I've been watching the construction and was happy to read recently that the brewery end of things was already working.  Last night, we saw the 'Now Open' sign and stopped by for a tour and dinner with the family.


On first glance, it's pretty similar to the other Iron Hill spots, with the reddish wood dominating the palette, and wrought-iron accents and big, square windows throughout.  On closer inspection though, you see that the Iron Hill boys have spent some serious coin on this place.  The finishes are a cut above the Pennsylvania and Delaware locations.  Behind the bar, there is a growler-filling machine, flat screen TV and the mug club already had 20 members last night.  The bar's mahogany is beautifully done and the high ceilings are coffered and baffled, quieting the usual bar din.

The dining areas to the rear of the bar are divided into 3 separate spaces, two square areas that look into a semi-open kitchen and a row of booths that lead you back to the brewhouse and restrooms.  The tables are a bit close together, but that was with a full house and a very heavy staff presence.  When things are a bit  more normal, I think the rooms will feel spacious.

So we missed opening night and somehow Iron Hill must have lost my invitation  to the soft openings, but the second night would just have to do.  (On another note, my buddy Carlo and I once crashed a John Harvard's Brewpub soft opening, at their now-closed Wayne, PA location by just walking in off the street and acting like we belonged there.  One eagle-eyed waitress was a student of mine, but didn't blow the whistle.)

Anyway, back to the review ... I got a chance to sample the Black IPA and the Kellerbound, a nitro-push version of the Ironbound Ale.  Both were very well done, but the India Black Ale was a superstar.  It's an interesting twist on the traditional hoppy IPA, with a ton of dark malt of setting the bitterness.  It's worth the drive.  The Kellerbound is unfiltered, but the nitro push smooths out the edges and really adds a great deal to the Ironbound Ale flagship brew.  

Dinner was very good, though there were a few off-notes.  We started with pommes frites that were nicely crisp and soggy at the same time, sided with rosemary mayo that I though was a pretty darn good twist on the standard Belgian mayo.  I enjoyed my turkey burger with guacamole, though the ancho-honey mayo was mysteriously missing.  My better half took server Dana's recommendation on the portobello mushroom sandwich and enjoyed it, though her mayo was also missing.

The kid's menus at Iron Hill are well-thought out and generous.  For $6.50, the little ones get a choice of nine entrees or six sandwiches, one of nine sides AND ice cream for dessert.  This family friendly approach will have the 30 something beer guys dragging the wife and kids from as far away as Vineland saying, "Hey look at this kids' menu dear!"  I can hear the mini-van tires squealing already.  My son John plowed though the 12" pizza while his sister Emma had an excellent fish and chips mini-entree.

Our server was nice and very friendly, but struggled a bit with her table load and remembering things like ice water and the like.  It took a LONG time in between our appetizer and our entrees.  30 minutes is too long.  On the other hand, the folks at the bar really know their beer.  I overheard some very solid descriptions of the various styles and they asked the non-brewpub-savvy patrons good questions to help them choose the right brews.

Picture 057 The highlight of my evening was when brewer Chris LaPierre invited me into the tight, but well-done brewhouse when he saw me peering though the windows.  He gave me a full tour, including a walk though his cold box stuffed to the gills with tanks and kegs of the freshest beer in South Jersey.  The box is chilled to 44 degrees, ensuring that the beer gets to the table at exactly the right temperature. 

LaPierre knows his beer, having done five years as brewer at the chain's West Chester location.  He has also scouted the local competition.  He chatted knowledgeably about the beer and food offerings at PJ's and Pizzeria Uno, both within a stone's throw of his new spot and listened with interest when I mentioned a few other beer haunts nearby.

Picture 058All in all, the night was marked by the great kid's meals and the very good beer.  I hope the waitstaff and kitchen time issues are a function of this being only the second night open, but something tells me our server might not last long.  The bar staff though, were keepers and I think that's the reason most folks will stop by this week.  I'd recommend that you stop in and say hi to Chris in the brewhouse too.  He's a nice guy and clearly enjoys interacting with the customers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Iron Hill Open in Maple Shade

The new story in South Jersey beer is the opening of the latest outpost of the Iron Hill chain in Maple Shade. Another Delco Guy and fam are here for dinner on the second official night.


It looks and feels the same as the rest of the Iron Hill family with a big bar area serving 9 brews and a spacious quieter dining area. Sent from my BlackBerry Tour 9630IMG00052-20090721-1800.jpg


Monday, July 20, 2009

Back at Work on The Avenue of the Arts

It's my first day back in the office, so I needed to get out for a lunch time walk.
It's not as torrid as San Antonio, but there's a lot going on here in Philly today, from street performances to satellite news trucks to construction workers whistling at pretty women.
It's nice to be home! IMG00051-20090720-1209.jpg

Friday, July 17, 2009

Headed Home!

As you can see from the photo, we are onboard our aircraft and SWA flight 1863 is ready to take us from SAT to PHL.


We will see you around 11:30 EDT! Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerryIMG00030-20090717-2029.jpg


Last few Minutes At The Pool

We are headed to the airport in a few but right now we decided on one last dip in the Hotel Contessa's rooftop pool.


See ya in South Jersey! Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerryIMG00027-20090717-1240.jpg


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy but HOT Children

We are on our last night here in San Antonio and are enjoying the sights on the River Walk.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerryIMG00019-20090716-2137.jpg


Up On Top of It All In San Antonio

Here's the view to the west from the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio. A bit hazy, but still very cool. The refreshing breeze is nice too! Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerryIMG00018-20090716-1210.jpg


Sunup in San Antonio

Good morning everyone! Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerryIMG00014-20090716-0650.jpg


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rooftop Pool!

All the work is done and we are poolside on the roof of the Hotel Contessa. Not a bad way to end the day! Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerryIMG00008-20090715-1840.jpg


Breakfast With A Thousand Friends

The NASFAA annual conference is having our friends from the federal government over for breakfast here in San Antonio. The food was pretty average, but the conversation was great!


My gosh the world of higher education financing is changing super-fast with the new administration and the current economic situation. Hang on! This is gonna be fun!0715091025.jpg


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Sangria Alegre"

It's a bit hot out so we came into the lobby to cool off and sip our "Sangria Alegre" libations. We are at the Hotel Contessa, which is miles better than the Marriott Riverwalk that we checked out of in search of more appropriate accomodations for Another Delco Guy and family.0714091640a.jpg


Monday, July 13, 2009

View From SWA 370 - Seat 4A

Not much to see on this full flight from PHL to SAT. We're going to get away on time and should be in Texas in about 4 hours.


See ya later!0713091211.jpg


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Easing the Pain

John's district 8U baseball team dropped a tough one 5-3 to Southampton today to finish their season a bit earlier than we had hoped.


John has recovered a bit from his initial disappointment, aided by a Sonic Cranberry Limeade. The end of baseball frees us up for vacations and move preparations, but it would be better to still be playing ball!0711091629.jpg


Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Fantastic Four

I'd like to thank my work study student Isaac for his contribution to this week's Friday Fantastic Four.  His somewhat edited narrative follows.  It should be noted that Issac is not an English major, but rather does something related to clay.  Or paint.  Or something visual.

Dear friends ,

It has come to my attention that a certain someone has neglected to notice our need for humor, sincerity, and above all else, sarcasm.  I know we all used to look forward to our Friday Fantastic Four, but due to the intense volume of work, crazy people and the absence of Chris, we no longer have anything to look forward to on Fridays except own own intense urges to leave work early and do whatever it is we do when we're not there (which is probably still "look at funny pictures of cats" for most of us).

I have decided to take it upon myself to re-instate the necessary venting and intense blathering we all used to love so much on Fridays.  Please don't thank me too much.  I'm just a patriot.

Isaac

What are the top four things you do when you get home from work?

  1. Get a full run down on the kid's day at camp
  2. Ferry John to practice
  3. Eat a bigger dinner than I should and try to avoid looking at the Wii Fit
  4. Try to identify to which of my rude neighbors the new dog poop on the lawn belongs

Anyway - thanks to Issac for the jump start.  Y'all have a great weekend!


Monday, July 06, 2009

Hanging With T-Rex

We're on the last day of a four day weekend and are at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia checking out the dinosaurs and butterfies. Later we are headed for some cheesesteaks and to enjoy the great weather.


Hope you're not at work!0706091224.jpg


Friday, July 03, 2009

Live From Camden

We are in the second row behind the River Sharks dugout. We've seen a fire on the bridge, Junior Spivey gave John a ball and fireworks are on deck!0703091945.jpg


An All-American Weekend

We've spent much of the weekend readying to move.  More on that another time.  Packing and cleaning are never fun, but we've been keeping up our spirits for the most part.

Last nigHT Arlene and Chrisie dropped by for dinner.  Today I enjoyed sleeping in a bit before resuming the packing.  After I whooped John on the Wii, we made some hot dogs on the grill.  Now we're checking the weather and hoping the fireworks are not rained out at the Riversharks game tonight.

Tomorrow we're headed to one of John's teammates's for a high-rise view of the waterfront firework in Philly.

Everyone have a great and safe 4th of July holiday weekend!