Interests

Now, you don’t really think I would use this very public forum to tell you everything there is to know about me or my family, do you? But within the constraints of personal privacy and consistent with community standards of good taste, here are some things I find interesting that you might want to explore further:

Travel

April in Paris  … an e-mail journal for Adrienne

Day 1, 4/21/06. We have arrived! Nice room overlooking the Eiffel Tower and the Arc from the 23rd floor! It’s especially dramatic at night when the tower is awash in lights and the beacon cuts the hazy sky. Mom had no sleep on the plane and I might have caught an hour, so by the time we checked into our room in late afternoon we were zonked!

 We hooked up with the rest of the group almost immediately (say, 10:00 AM), and Will McDonald, who helps direct our international programs volunteered to orient  us to the city. He showed us how to use the Metro and took us first to the Il de la Cite as our jumping off point. We walked along the Seine to Notre Dame Cathedral.  We explored it for maybe 25 minutes then walked to the Latin Quarter where we had lunch at an outdoor cafe (whose name eludes me but I have it captured in a  photo). Absolutely the worst service I have ever experienced. It pretty much reinforced the stereotype of French disdain for Americans. Despite that, we had a lovely  time sitting on the street in the Quarter …for over 2 hours.

We then walked the rest of the Quarter parallel to the Seine toward the Louvre, accessed by the Bridge of Arts. I had no idea it was so HUGE. We walked into the Court Yard to see the IM Pei-designed Pyramid then to the Metro station on the other side. That was all the energy we had without sleep. That’s when we returned to our room and CRASHED until Saturday morning. Mom says the swarms of people are unbearable and rude. We learned that schools are off the whole week and the city is inundated by large groups of school-age kids. I must admit, not having been in Europe for over 30 years, I was unprepared for the gangs of tourists, many of them from Germany.  So far we have only lost Mom once 🙂

Today we hope to make it to the Orsay Museum for lunch by ourselves. Saw some mighty fine pastry shops and even sampled a canelle, which I liked very much. Mom thinks the ones she makes are better. Now we are getting ready to grab a cafe creme with croissant.  I’ll  send a few photos next time.  Au revoir, Dad.

Day 2, 4/22/06.

Well, things got a little better today. After a marathon sleep and visit to the fitness center, we were off to the Mussee d’Orsay. We waited in line for 40 minutes on a beautiful Parisian Saturday. We skipped the Cezanne-Pissaro exhibit, both because we had seen Cezanne in Philadelphia, and because I had to be back by 4:00 PM. The Orsay is doubly stunning as a restored train station and as a museum with some of the finest impressionist paintings in the world (and that includes impressive collections in Philadelphia). We took your suggestion and had lunch at the 2nd floor Eliance restaurant. Truly a beautiful space. As you said, the food was less impressive than the room … but we enjoyed it nevertheless. After lunch we hit all the impressionist galleries. I couldn’t get over the fact that I was standing only inches from an unprotected Van Gogh self portrait!

Did you see the large half-model of the Paris Opera while you were there? I am told the water running beneath the Opera House was the inspiration for Phantom of the Opera. We stayed later than we should have, and we missed a Metro connection which put me behind schedule for my required visit to our Paris partner, EMPC. I was forced to take a taxi to return to area we had just left, and instead of saving time, it took me nearly 50 minutes to get there because we got caught behind a trash truck on the last leg of the journey.  I arrived just as the Dean was introducing me to current MBA students and alumni.

Mom stayed behind to shop, so I came back to get her around 8:30. We decided to visit the Eiffel Tower by Metro, but the ticket window was closed, and I couldn’t get the ticket machine to work with my debit card, so we walked back to the hotel to get a taxi. The Tower is stunning. When the “bubble lights” went on just as we arrived, a big cheer went up from the crowd below. Apparently the lines are much shorter at night, so after waiting no more than 20 minutes, we clamed in the gondola to the second level, walked around, visited the souvenir shops and descended after half an hour. Now we can say we climbed the Tower!
Our evening ended at a little cafe not far from the hotel. It had the feel of Paris Verite, from the fumare French speaking locals to the red checkered table cloths and scarf wrapped male patrons. We had only country pork pate and a fromage plate. We also had a lovely house wine, Cote de Rhone Compteur Rouge, and another marvelous cafe crème (I haven’t had a bad cup since I arrived).  They had very authentic French dishes like pig’s knuckles and cassoulet (sp?). Now it is 1:30 AM and I am still writing. I have attached the first of the shots I’ve captured so far. More tomorrow.”
Love, Dad and Mom

Day 3, 4/23/06

Today is for Temple.Boat on the Seine  I attended an Affinity Group called TBS (Technology Business Schools)and learned they will have a meeting in Madison, Wisconsin in May that I need to attend.  In the meantime, Mom went on a prearranged tour of Paris with Rachel.  Sounds as though I missed something special.  The day began with a escorted tour of the Louvre, that included the requisite Winged Victory and Mona Lisa sitings. Then for lunch they boarded a boat that cruised the Seine and passed Notre Dame Cathedral (among other notable sites).  Mom said the lunch was fantastic and the service exquisite.  In the afternoon the group took a bus tour of Paris that included the Moulin  Rouge, Les Invalides, the Pantheon, and a few other don’t miss destinations.  When she returned, she was both excited and exhausted.  I went to the opening night AACSB social, and Mom stayed at the hotel, admiring the Tower.   Bonsoir, Dad

Day 4, 4/24/06

Another Temple Day at the AACSB International Conference.  When we got up early enough, the hotel in cooperation with AACSB provide breakfast.  More often than not, Judy and I strolled to the area below the conference center to have cafe creme and pastries at Paul, a patisserie found at multiple locations throughout Paris.  This became our ritual until we departed Paris, each timeFrench-style entertainement  it cost 10€.

Monday evening was reserved for the Fox School sponsored social with entertainment.  But before we could enjoy the food, drink and “entertainment,” the entire staff who attended the conference, including the Dean, were put to work stuffing bags for the guests … 1300 to be exact.  By 4:30 we were done and ready to receive the throngs of attendees. Lots-o-food for all and a wandering troupe of period-costumed, roving hors d’oeuvres tables (see pic at right to understand what I mean).  Good night, Dad.

Day 5, 4/25/06

After leaving the AACSB plenary session, and with little else to hold my interest on the last day of the business convention, I returned to the Hotel Concorde La Faytette to get Judy for our morning coffee and pastry at Paul. We had two trip options that day; 1) join Rachel on her tour of Versailles, or 2) visit Sacre- Coeur on our own. We chose the latter. Now that we were Masters of the Metro, venturing further afield no longer fazed us.  We simply boarded the #1 train to Charles de Gaulle Etoiole, then switched to the #2 line to Anvers Station. From there it was a short walk toward the church to catch the Funiculaire de Montmarte to reach Sacre-Coeur.

Unlike most ecclesiastical monuments in France, this beautiful basilica is a little over a hundred years old. It commands the city from its white perch high above Montmarte. When we entered we were shushed by an attendant safeguarding the sanctity of a mass in progress.  Judy was so taken with the delicate tones of the nun leading the singing, she paused to reflect and pray.  The clip below captures a little of the moment.

 After leaving the basilica, we did a lot of street walking in search of bohemian Montmarte.  We somehow missed the Place du Tertre but we did get a feel for the restaurants, clothing shops and charcuteries of Montmarte.  We ate lunch at a little creperie that serve galetes … a distinction best explained by the French.  But my ratatouille galette and a liter of wine felt good.

We returned to our hotel for a brief rest and to reconoiter for dinner.  Since we had enough Metro travel for one day, we decided to eat close to home.  We had already hit Le Petit Sal twice and thought they deserved a break from the constantly questioning anglo pair. So we set out on our restarant quest,passing several street-side cafes between our hotel and the Champs-Elysees. They all looked pretty good (except for the ones right on the Champs) but we circled back to a corner cafe with a line and decided to join it.

At first it was hard to tell what they served.  The hand written menu was in French and difficult to interpret. Since everyone in line spoke French, we wondered if we were we about to join a local crowd that might resent these American intruders. But the cafe looked warm and inviting, and through the front window I caught a glimpse of the beef and/or lamb being sliced and served. I thought this might be an excellent adventure! We weren’t disappointed.  After being escorted to a second floor room for non-smokers (hence the relatively short wait in the land of fumeur), we were seated between a open, shuttered window and a serving table.  While that might normally be an annoyance, given our outlander status it was actually blessing because our server spoke English and spent much of her time at the serving table talking us.

As it happened, we stumbled on Le Relais de Venis, “Son Entrecote,” meaning they specialize in beef only … sirloin specifically.  I had never heard of the place, but it turns out hey have restaurants in Paris, Barcelona, and London, all with the same theme: one entree and beaucoup frites! Now you know who the world’s greatest frites-lover is, don’t you? Right … Mom. The formula they use consists of an excellent salad, a tender sliced sirloin in a “secret” bordelaise sauce, and side of pommes. When your plate is nearly empty, they bring the remainder of the steak and more frites! We had a bottle and a half of a lovely Coteaux du Tarn, their house wine (14 and 750), followed with a cappuccino and two desserts, a Citron tartellete, and a tulip melba, both made in-house.  The steak, sauce, and frites were tre magnifique, and the desserts yummy.  Total bill? 8250. Bon Appetite, Bun

OCTOBER AT THE EASTERN SHORE
Where to Stay
What better way to spend a few fall days than to visit the Eastern Shore of Maryland? Visit quaint St. Michael’s and Oxford, eat hard shells, watch watermen drag for crabs, and listen to the Chesapeake gently lapping the rocky shore.  Michener got it right!    The Wades Point Inn http://www.wadespoint.com, home of a 19th century ship builder and currently a “natural” farm / bed and breakfast (410-745-2500).  If you want peace and tranquility, this is the place for you.  No television, radio, or phone in rooms, and a night time silence that is deafening. Breathtaking sunsets over the Chesapeake.  We stayed in the Mildred T. Kemp House, built in the last few years.  It had a balcony overlooking the water, queen size beds, private bath, and air conditioning. A modified continental breakfast is served from 8 – 9:30 am on the Main House sun porch (c. 1819).  The mornings we stayed, Betsy, the owner, served fresh baked muffins and scrambled eggs from her own free range chickens. We were told she is planning to make her own goat cheese soon. Because we visited on Monday/Tuesday, the rate was $199 per night rather than $220+ on weekends.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay, although it would have been better if we could have left the doors open to enjoy the Bay breezes without admitting a flood of farm flies.  Screen doors would have solved the problem.  A 10% senior citizen discount (60+) is available, Sun-Th.

Food Picks
If you stay at Wades Point, take advantage of the bay-front yard with picnic tables and a hammocks under towering elm trees.  Pack your own picnic or buy one to go from Neal’s Deli or Big Al’s in St. Michaels.  For dinner, the Town Dock on St Michaels Harbor came highly recommended, but we found it mediocre at best.  The white crab stew, however, was outstanding.  We did much better on our search for hard shells.  We skipped the popular, predictable, and somewhat expensive Crab Claw in St Michaels, and went to Chesapeake Landing on the advice of a local clerk.  Unfortunately, their  broiler was broken, so we had to settle for a crab cake special.  Again, I rated it mediocre, although it was chock full of back fin crab meat. The next day our hard shell search took us to Oxford, where a ferryman recommended the Pier Street Restaurant and Marina (410-226-5171).  This is true bay-side dining.  Wooden benches covered with brown paper under Cinzano umbrellas.  We watched as their waterman trolled for crabs, motored to the Pier Restaurant dock, and minutes later we had a steaming dozen of Maryland blue claws on our table ($24 medium/large dozen).  They were soooo good we took another dozen home.

Philadelphia/South Jersey Food and Wine.

  
I, like my wife Judy and daughter Adrienne, are what you might call “foodies,” that is, we like to eat well and drink better. As a matter of fact, that phrase is stolen directly from the web site of John McNulty, an adjunct faculty member in Temple’s School of Hospitality and Tourism, and editor of  Corkscrewed, a local wine newsletter.  I have listed some of our favorite restaurants below.

TORTILLA PRESS is a  new BYOB located at 703 Haddon Avenue in Collingswood, NJ. Tortilla is a creation of the former owner of the Sensational Cook of Westmont.  That little building around the corner from Cook’s Liquors on Haddon Avenue has graduated some great successes, including Severino’s and the current Patissere d’ Manille.  Tortilla is a fusion of Mexican and American styles of cooking (their tag line is Mexican influenced American cuisine).  The Sunday afternoon Judy and I ate there, grilled pork chops topped with a peach chutney was one of their specials.  Judy had a lovely chicken wrap with sides of salad (great lemon sage dressing) and sweet potato fries.  The Guacamole is made fresh every day.  The chef is still playing with seasoning, afraid that his customers might shy away from salty and hot, but he promises to spice up the condiments in the days ahead.  Desserts are from Classic Cake, but Tortilla is searching for something special.  I suggested the Virtuous Woman, but he may make his own desserts in the end.  The bill for two came to $24.95 because we arrived before the 4:00 PM luncheon cut off.  My $8.95 pork chop special became a $13 dinner platter when the clock struck 4:00 PM … still a bargain.  Our server graciously offered the dish to me at the luncheon price since we arrived 5 minutes before the cut off.   The decor shows no evidence of the breakfast restaurant that used to occupy this spot.  An interesting copper-clad counter and orange walls with white table cloths help give the room a South of the border air without sinking into Tex-Mex predictability.  rev. 8/19/02

A LITTLE CAFE, 856-784-3344,  Maryann Cuneo Powell’s little Voorhees restaurant on White Horse Road.  When last we visited this spot about three years ago, we unqualifiedly recommended it as a wonderful value.  Now I am a little more hesitant to emphasize the “value” proposition with entrees in the $25 – $30 range, and appetizers at $12!  The food is still excellent, but I am questioning whether it is $35 per person excellent.  Lunch is a better value. 9/25/02

NOTE – RAMONA’S IS OUT OF BUSINESS AND WAS ORIGINALLY REPLACED BY LITTLE TUNA AND MOST RECENTLY TRE FAMIGLIA. Occupying a spot formerly inhabited by Marcos and Food for Thought, this tiny restaurant on Haddon Avenue in Haddonfield offers Latin-inspired cuisine from Luis Laura, A Dominican Republic native. Together with his wife, Ramona, a public school librarian, the duo provide an warm, personal, and authentic food experience. When it first opened about a year and a half ago, Luis featured Tapas-style dining.  On our most recent of three visits to the restaurant, the Tapas theme had been dropped in favor of poquenos and grande dishes, which seems to suit local diners better. Luis makes a point of talking to the patrons to determine their satisfaction and to look for recommendations on new dishes or seasonings.  On a Tuesday at 5:30 visit recently, there were so few diners we were able to spend a considerable amount of time talking to Luis.  We learned, for example, that he loves writing poetry … which he credits for linking him to Ramona. We also learned that a classical guitarist performs on Saturday evenings. This particular night we ordered the pork loin with mashed potatoes and eggplant, beef and broccoli, a fried cheese salad, and a wonderful, wonderful shrimp and corn chowder.  Luis also sent a plate of maduros to our table, compliments of the house.  The servings are plentiful and accompanied by home made fruit muffins with guava butter.  Come hungry!  9/25/02

RED LANTERN.  Northern Chinese cuisine is relatively new to South Jersey and based on the number of persons in the restaurant on a recent  Thursday (10/25/01) this restaurant is very likely to succeed.  The first thing you will notice is the Chinese red and pumpkin painted walls. Serve is friendly and food is unbelievably cheap … especially fro lunch.  BYOB, 480 East Evesham Road in Cherry Hill near Olive and next to Starbucks.

CALYPSO CAFE. Waterfront dining in South Jersey?  Yes … and good views and good food to boot.  Tucked away on a side street in Riverside, right off Moorestown/Bridgeboro Road, you will find this riverside dining café hard on the banks of the Rancocas Creek.  This remote and quiet, restaurant is pretty un-outstanding inside, so don’t go if you unless you plan to eat on the awning-covered patio.  The only traffic is on the river. Small craft even douse their engines as they pass.  Arrive around 6:30 PM so you can enjoy the fading light and watch as the sun sets behind the trees.  On a recent October visit we had the added enjoyment of watching the rising harvest moon reflected on the water in all its orange glory.  

As you might guess from the name, the restaurant attempts to carry out an island theme, with Jimmy Buffet music in the background (not far enough in the background for me) and tikki torches on the perimeter of the patio. Seafood is the reason to come here.  The best bargain is the deep fried shrimp platter (about 7-8 fantails) for $10.50, which includes a salad of fresh greens topped with pears, gorgonzola cheese and a balsamic dressing.  Don’t … that is, DO NOT miss the two seafood soups: a Creole gumbo, and a fish stew. Each is $3.75.  The gumbo is served in a small ramekin appropriate for a first course, but the fish chowder is served in a large bowl, more appropriate for an entrée. Both are outstanding, chock full of fresh fish, crawfish, shrimp and other water delights.  

As you might guess from the name, the restaurant attempts to carry out an island theme, with Jimmy Buffet music in the background (not far enough in the background for me) and tikki torches on the perimeter of the patio. Seafood is the reason to come here.  The best bargain is the deep fried shrimp platter (about 7-8 fantails) for $10.50, which includes a salad of fresh greens topped with pears, gorgonzola cheese and a balsamic dressing.  Don’t … that is, DO NOT miss the two seafood soups: a Creole gumbo, and a fish stew. Each is $3.75.  The gumbo is served in a small ramekin appropriate for a first course, but the fish chowder is served in a large bowl, more appropriate for an entrée. Both are outstanding, chock full of fresh fish, crawfish, shrimp and other water delights.  

BIRCHRUNVILLE COUNTRY STORE, Birchrunville, Pennsylvania. What a happy discovery in rural Chester County.    Located in what was once a General Store and Post Office (the 1898 era P.O. is still active), this eatery run by French-born Francis Treciak will please the fussiest of palates .  Even Craig LeBan of the Inquirergave it three stars. According to LeBan, Treciak’s restaurant lineage includes Monte Carlo Living Room, Tacquet and most recently, Provence in Haverford. The menu changes daily.  The Saturday we visited I had hoped to order the pheasant served over polenta, but alas, it was unavailable that night. So I and two friends opted for the Chilean Sea bass wrapped in pan-fried potatoes, the presentation of which suggested large, artful fish scales. It was served piping hot in a burgundy reduction sauce and it was delicious.  Judy opted for the half duck  with French lentils and sausage as an accompaniment.  She loved it.  The salads that preceded dinner were creative and flavorful, and my divers scallop soufflé was small but outstanding.  One of the group ordered the lobster bisque and declared it superb.  Because  Cheese Cake Factory truffles awaited our return to our friends’ home, we passed on the desserts, although the hot butterscotch cake, crème brule, and tiramisu were tempting.  Excellent coffee, by the way.  The wait staff was young, attractive, and friendly.  Appetizer/salad prices were in the $7.00-$8.50 range, and dinners were $20-$24.  Birchrunville is cash only, BYOB, and closed for lunch. Call 610-827-9002 for reservations. 

PASION! NOW CLOSED! This is Guillermo Pernot’s Nuevo Latino restaurant in Center City next to Bookbinders and around the corner from the Academy (211 S. 15th Street).  I took a group of faculty from Temple here to entertain a guest from Arizona State University.  The restaurant and the food made quite an impression.  The place is warm and romantic and the service casual and friendly.  For an “in” upscale Center City restaurant, it is surprisingly relaxed and unstuffy.  If you come with a group, the maitre ‘d will encourage you to order the chef’s pre-entree specials.  Don’t pass up this opportunity, though you should be prepared to spend nearly $90 for the table. The sampler includes delicate cerviche, smoked sea bass, exotic scallops, and empanadas. The Chilean sea bass ($29) firm and flavorful, resting on a bed of earthy mashed potatoes and swimming in a deep, rich wine reduction sauce.  I topped the meal with Bunuelos de Chocolate, beignet-like pastries filled with melted chocolate and rum (I think).  Wonderful.  A meal for 5 cost $355, including a pitcher of Sangria ($28) and a wonderful bottle of Argentine Melbac.  A fair tab for a wonderful eating experience.  215.875.9895.

VILLA BARONE in Collingswood, NJ. A BYOB in the burb that aspires to be “The Friendliest Town in South Jersey”.  It’s  a hot little Italian BYOB that’s been in business about two years.  We went there on the recommendation of  friend Flossy, a fellow sensory panelist who worked at Campbell’s soup with Judy … and you know those “super tasters” know their food, don’t you?  Great hearth-baked rolls, Russian salad dressing, and pillow-light gnocchi with Bolognese sauce.  753 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, NJ 08108, 856-858-2999.

TRATORIA BARONE. NOW CLOSED! in the Barclay Shopping Center, Rt. 70, Cherry Hill. While this new restaurant (3 weeks-old at the time we visited) is not a true “favorite,”  I include it here because it is owned and operated by Vincenzo Barone, the same person who runs Villa Barone in Collingswood.  We visited the Trattoria on a recent Friday night. Since we had called ahead for reservations, we were seated right away.  The ambience at the new Barone restaurant is more upscale than the one in Collingswood, and the prices are slightly higher. We noted that a few items were missing from the menu, like the Tre Formaggio Misto we enjoy at the Collingswood Barone.  Nor could we order Judy’s favorite Russian dressing.  Italian only is the order of the day at the Trattoria. However, we did convince our waiter, Alex, to ask Vincenzo to make the Misto salad, which he did gladly for his faithful Collingswood customers.  Judy and I decided to stay with our favorite dishes: Chicken Parmiagana for her, Gnocci Bolognese for.  The good news is that both dishes were as good as they are at Villa Barone.  The bad news is we waited nearly an hour for them to arrive.  Another distraction was the appearance of Toby, a sort-of hostess/greeter who wanders from table to table asking if everything is okay and explaining her association with Vincenzo.  Judy and I found her presence a bit intrusive.  My suggestion?  Stick to Collingswood’s Villa Barone. 

ATRIO at 515 Bridge Street in Stockton, NJ (609-397-0042) is a restaurant that doesn’t want us for lunch.  On four or five separate occasions over more than two years, Judy and I have called to make reservations, but each time we were given a different story, from nothing vailable to closing in 15 minutes to we don’t serve lunch.  That complaint aside, it’s worth the trip for dinner. Try the non-traditional crab cake appetizer and any of their soups.  The reason to come here is the lamb chop.  When we first started coming to Atrio it was a menu staple, but lately it fell victim to a menu change.  We were told chef Ricardo Franco might make it available if you call a day or two in advance.  Try it.  It’s worth the trip. BYOB.  Note: Just a few feet  away from the exceptional Phillips Fine Wines.

VEGGIANOS in Conshohocken is one of our current favorites. Veggianos serves Italian food in a casually elegant setting. Like most of our favorites, its a BYOB, but if you forget to bring wine, Sandcastle Winery, a less than spectacular Bucks County winery, has an outlet at the front of the restaurant.  

In South Jersey, you can’t beat NONNA’S or lunch.  Located on Brace Road in Cherry Hill, across from Winner Ford, Vivian and Jean Fiorentino are the former owners of La Patissere Francais in Haddonfield and La Campagna in Cherry Hill. Try their pork sandwich, Italian wedding soup, crab cakes, or osso bucco.  And don’t miss their desserts. Also a BYOB.

And let’s not forget GRAZIELLA’S (NOW CLOSED AND REPLACED BY CORK! ) on Haddon Avenue in Westmont.  Graziella  Iacovino taught me how to make great Italian red sauce (we used to say gravy),  Mare e Monte, Roast Pork, and Tiramisu as good as her own. Our daughter, Adrienne, wrote Graziella’s cookbook,La Cucina Semplice. While she serves a la carte dinners, we prefer lunch … unless you go for one of their opera dinners.  Lunch entrees run $5.95 for a wonderful pork sandwich to $14.95 for crabs and home made spaghetti. 

TRE SCALINI ( 1533 S. 11th Street) and MR.. MARTINO’S TRATTORIA (1646 Passyunk Avenue) in South Philadelphia are two favorite BYOBs, whileROSELENA’S COFFEE BAR also on (1623 Passyunk Avenue) serves a refined Sunday Brunch.

RATS, Grounds for Sculpture, 16 Fairgrounds Rd, Hamiliton (609-584-7800).

 Northern California Food and Wine.  
8/13/01.  We recently visited Northern California, primarily the East Bay and Sonoma areas. During our visit we had an opportunity to eat at some lovely restaurants and to visit a few of our favorite wineries.

DRY CREEK KITCHEN, This is Charlie Palmer’s foray into California cuisine.  The Kitchen is located in the newly completed Hotel Healdsburg in Sonoma County. Palmer also owns top-rated Aureole in NYC. The bright, windowed dining room overlooks Healdsburg square.  The wine list is outstanding, with many very affordable California wines available.  Each table can bring two bottles of Sonoma wine for free. After that, a $15 corkage fee of is charged for each .75 milliliter bottle.  Judy and I split the Seared Sonoma Foie Gras resting in a peach soup base ($19).  Though I seldom order chicken when dining out, I had a feeling about the caramelized organic chicken breast with basil, ricotta gnocchi, and spinach ($20), and I was not disappointed.  The spinach was flavorful and moist, and the gnocchi were delicious, though the chef could have been more generous in the gnocchi serving size … only 6 tiny morsels were present. Other entrees ordered by our group of diners included pan roasted duck, king salmon, lamb, and halibut.  I wanted to try their desserts ( especially the cast iron griddled brioche with berry compote and pink peppercorn ice cream), but the group wanted to retire to the nearby home of my brother-in-law, so we will need to return another day for dessert.  I question why it is necessary to have the whole table order the tasting menu when only one or two persons might be interested.  At $60 per person, the tasting menu would have cost our party of ten $600! For reservations call 1-800-889-7188. 8/19/02

BISTRO DON GIOVANNI, 4110 St. Helena Hwy, Napa, CA 94558, 707-224-3300. What better way to start or end a tour of wineries in the Napa/Carneros area than to spend a warm, breezy afternoon at Bistro Don Giovanni.  This is a fairly noisy, tastefully appointed, and largely al fresco experience … very much “California style” dining.  The hot items are pasta, pizza, and the frito misto.  Oh, and don’t  forget the pommes frittes, served ever so trendily in a white butcher paper cone inside a wine glass.  Their pasta sauces are unusual, tending more toward lamb Bolognese than beef.  Prompt, attentive and friendly service.  A bit on the pricey side for lunch, better for dinner because they have the same menu all day long.

RMS BRANDY DISTILLERY(OUT OF BUSINESS) 1250 Cuttings Wharf Road  Napa California 94559 (707)253-9055.  This is one of our favorite places in wine country.  True, it is a spirit, not a wine, but what do you use to make brandy?  Grapes, of course. RMS has been making alambic distilled brandy on this site since 1982. What makes this going here special is a visit to the building where the barrels are stored for aging. Three percent of the brandy … referred to as the “angel’s share” … evaporates annually.  When you enter the building at the second floor level, you senses are overwhelmed by the aroma of this spiritual escape while Gregorian chant plays gently as background.  If you come during the week you may be alone in this environment and find it difficult to leave.  Be sure to pick  up a box of their famous duet (usually on sale) of 7 year old brandy and Pear de Pear Liquor.  Together they make a bracing but refreshing post-dinner drink.

DOMAINE CARNEROS, Highway 12/121 at Duhig Road between Napa and Sonoma.  This is a Tattinger company, and as you might expect, champagne, or more properly, sparkling wine, is their business. This is a romantic spot featuring a lovely French-style chateau high on a hill.  To get maximum benefit from this vist, arrive late morning, go immediately to the store, proceed to the balcony overlooking the Carneros valley and vineyards, and order a bottle of brut accompanied by their sampling of local cheeses (Laura Chenel goat, Sonoma Jack, etc), then sit back, relax and enjoy the view … and the wine and cheese.  The cheese plate and wine can accomodate 4 persons and it will only set you back about $40.

Normally we would have had more time to visit some other  Carneros favorites like Viansa Winery & Italian Marketplace, Cline CellarsAcacia, or Buena Vista, but time prevented us from stopping at some of these old haunts.  They are well worth visiting, however.

LIVERMORE VALLEY.  This is a wine producing area east of Silicon Valley and South of Napa and Sonoma that few outside the area know.  It’s surprising how many wineries you find traveling Livermore Road off Rt. 580.  There’s Wente, Concannon, Stony Ridge, and Elliston, for example.  But we discovered a little “boutique” winery, very small production, called Retzlaff Vineyards1356 S. Livermore Avenue, Livermore, CA 94550, (510) 447-8941. All wines are estate produced. We sampled and bought wonderful a 1998 reserve wine, 80% Cabernet and 20% petite syrah ($32). They also produce a lovely white wine, Trousseau Gris, for under $10.

SONOMA SALUTE TO THE ARTS FESTIVAL.      Here are a couple wine recommendations resulting from an afternoon of tasting. We had an excellent Zinfandel from Deer Park Ranch (1998?), which I had never had before, and two very good Pinot Noirs from Iron Horse and Le Crema.

Entertaining
Judy and I love entertaining.  There is a history here.  Way back in 1973, the Camden Courier Post featured our Easter dinner tradition in their newspaper.  Pictured below left is the Bunny Bed made by Adrienne’s grandfather William Kazmar.  At right, Adrienne, Judy, and I prepare the  Easter buffet.

Educational Technology.
Technology is not only my work but my passion.  Ever since I began using 8mm movie making as a supplement to teaching English atGloucester Catholic High School, I have been enamored of the potential to enrich and enlarge teaching and learning through technology.  A good starting point for exploration is the BizTech technology site.
For one person’s view on the state of Business Information Technology, take a look at a PowerPoint(less) presentation I made to the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce-sponsored MBA IN A DAY.

Bicycling.
Not the motorized type.  I love riding my hybrid racing/mountain bike through the streets of South Jersey early in the morning. I have been riding for the past four years … usually to destinations like the River Park in Gloucester or the amusement park in Clementon, or, on occasion, Society Hill in Philadelphia. If you are a bike enthusiast, check out Bicycling.com.

Travel.
Lately, our travels have been limited to Northern California, where a significant portion of our family is located, and Hawaii, where Judy’s sister Karen and her husband Chuck maintain a lovely condominium on the Big Island. We celebrated the false Millenium at their island home … and it was an unforgettable experience.  Some photos from that trip will be posted on MyPhotos page soon.  Next on the agenda?  ITALY.

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