As most of those who read my blog already know, I’ve just returned form a week-long jaunt to my hometown of Burlington, NJ and surrounding areas. In honor of this trip, I OF COURSE will be delaying my originally intended post for a discussion of my food/dining experiences back on the east coast.
The first location of honorable mention is The Memphis Taproom. This awesome spot is located in the Port Fishington district of Philly at the corner of Memphis and Cumberland. My cousins took me there for lunch and a beer after an afternoon of trekking thru the Philly Zoo. Unpretentious and almost dive-ish, this bar/grill offers multiple drafts and 40 (give-or-take) bottle beers – all diverse in flavor and style. Naturally, I was impressed because they were not the commmon drafts I’m used to seeing around Modesto – New Belgium, Widmer, Sam Adams, et al. They did offer a Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, which was a nice change to see vs. the overrated Pale Ale. Our taproom hostess, Jessica, was well-inked AND a wealth of knowledge concerning the beers. She knew her stuff and offered some great details to help me pick the perfect beer. After tasting around, I decided on Green Flash Hop Head Red Ale. Well rounded and full of hoppy goodness – just the way I like it! And then there’s the food. Cousin Kyrlyn got the zucchini and basil soup; off-creamy in a zucchini way and full of fresh basil flavor. I got the Hefe Hummus platter, complete with pita chips, cherry tomatoes, smoked kalamata olives and tzaziki dip. The dish was most-“evilly” garnished with breaded deep-fried garbanzo beans! The prices were very reasonable, the service was professional, and my dining partners most enjoyable! Thanks to Kyrlyn and Alyssa for sharing one of your favorite spots with me. –www.memphistaproom.com
The second spot I want to mention is also in Philly. At the corner of 10th and Catharine Streets is Dante and Luigi’s, site of the Halloween 1989 shooting of the infamous Nicky Scarfo, Jr. When we were there, it was pretty quiet and no gangsters were about…to my knowledge… We started the meal with a Heineken and VO toast to my friend’s dad, whom we lost back in April of 1991. Salute, Mr. Bisceglie. My first course was a Ceasar salad accompanied by the richest loaf of bread I’ve ever tasted. It was orgasmic and I can honestly say I’ve never said that about something as mundane as bread before. It did not need butter, or the oil and balsamic dip AT ALL. Oh, and the croutons for the salad were equally decadent. My main course was a crabmeat stuffed Portobello mushroom- man, oh man! A good 3&1/2 to 4 inches in diameter, this porto was piled high with a combination of crabmeat, ?panko? (I think), savory and/or thyme, mild onion, and EVOO (as far as I could pick out flavor-wise. I was not given the actual ingredients.) It was, in my opinion, humongous and thoroughly delicious. The meatiness of the mushroom was a perfect combo with the seafood-style topper. –www.danteandluigis.com
My third mention is credited to The Ocean Drive in Sea Isle City. Home of $1 drafts and 50-cent wings for happy hour. Those who know me know that buffalo wings are not in my diet – never, no-how, no-way. Until this trip. I was living it up and decided to balance the Bud Lights with some flavor; not to mention that the basket of wings was sitting right in front of me! Normally, wings are either too vinegar-spicy or too greasy but these were perfect! They were not too spicy (and I’m not afraid of heat!), not too greasy, just right. I was really impressed. The bar’s ambiance was typical; we were there before things really got busy thereby enabling us to chat it up with the bartender and other barflies hanging about. And after the fact, I learned that I apparently became known as the chick from California who served Scott Peterson! Thanks, Mike! ;P
Sunday was the day of my stomach’s greatest pleasure as I enjoyed a delicious BBQ meal with my family courtesy of my Uncle Jim and Aunt Becky. I had little-to-no appetite all week, but all that changed at Jim and Becky’s. I stuffed myself with a veggie burger, macaroni salad and teriaki chicken skewers. Comfort food to the 10th power. Sometimes it’s truly the simplest pleasures that are the most satisfying.
And my final “dining” spot was actually a dessert-for-brunch day. Three new friends joined me at Ummm’s Ice Cream Parlor (High and Union Streets in Burlington), the ultimate treat of my youth. I had my all-time favorite; chocolate ice cream with crushed cherries. I always used to get it with the wet walnuts, too. For the life of me, I don’t know why I didn’t splurge and go for it (shhh, yes I do) since I have yet to find wet walnuts in any ice cream shop in California! No matter, tho. Ice cream is always good, no matter how you dish it up. Thanks to Tom, Cass, and Geoff for the company.