Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vic Sushi

We've been trying to get Vic Sushi for months. Seriously. We originally tried to go there the weekend before my birthday, but ended up going elsewhere after we waited 45 minutes and didn't get a table. We tried another time, but it was a Saturday afternoon, and they're only open for dinner. Then we tried another time but a similar problem happened with timing. We also planned to eat there once, but were too full from lunch, so that time didn't work out, either. But, this time we were set!

Our plan this time was to drive down, call for takeout, and pick it up. After we decided what we were going to get, we realized the address was different. Turns out that they're in Spring House now, not Philly. No biggie, it's just under a half-hour to drive there now, plus it probably seats 20 instead of 10.

We ordered the red dragon roll, the white dragon roll, and a Philadelphia roll. The dragons are eel, cucumber, and avocado. The red means topped with tuna; the white is topped with white tuna. A Philadelphia roll is salmon and cream cheese. We split everything, and thought they were delicious. The white tuna was especially fresh. Jonathan thought the Philly roll was very good... I thought it was average. The red dragon was a little more moist... not sure if it was avocado or if it had to do with the fact that our sushi sat in boxes for half an hour while we drove home, LoL. Regardless, very good sushi, reasonable prices, and a nice little place now (in a shopping center, so there's actually parking now, too).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Golden Eagle Diner

It was a Sunday night and we wanted to try something new. We drove down to Golden Eagle, a large diner about twenty minutes away, in Bristol. As diners go, this one is certainly very different. Yes, the menu was huge. Everything was a little greasy. There were jukebox-esque contraptions at every booth. They served at least six kinds of cake and six varieties of pie. BUT, they also had a VERY large liquor selection. In fact, Jonathan asked me if I was sure we were still in PA, since the liquor laws here are so strict!!

I knew I wanted a burger and fries, and it didn't take me long to pick the Canadian burger, which came with cheddar cheese and Canadian bacon. Turns out, that's not the most delicious combination ever. I'm also not positive that the cheese was cheddar, it tasted more like really melty American. The fries weren't as done as I would've liked them, but with ketchup they were fine. I opted out of the coleslaw, so I got an extra pickle. Nothing special there, just an ordinary dill spear. I will say, though, that tomato was the only other garnish provided for my burger, and I probably would have liked a few slices of onion or something.

But, let me back up. See, after I ordered my burger, Jonathan went with the lamb. That came with soup AND salad, AND two sides. So, before I even had a bite of burger, Jonathan had his minestrone soup (average, but he'd get it again over something like chicken noodle), his caesar salad (good but the dressing was heavy. and the serving bowl was super neat!), and rolls. I feasted upon half of the rolls pretty quickly. One was stuffed with cinnamon and butter, while the other was a sweet cheese of some sort (not sweet like cream cheese though, and neither of us have any leads as to what might have been on that bread).

The lamb itself was average, but was served with a lot of mint jelly on the side, some decent macaroni and cheese, and some vegetables that were cooked very well. While he did end up taking the leftover lamb home (they gave a lot!), he wouldn't really recommend it.

Oh, and on top of all those foods, we were also each given a small sliver of Italian Cream Cake, complimentary. It was a little dry, so I imagine that it had been sliced much, much earlier in the day and there were just plates of it sitting around to be given out. In retrospect, we probably shouldn't have had any, since it had probably sat out for several hours, but oh well.

Would we go back? Maybe. The rolls were good. The salad was good (and probably the best thing that either of us had... and for a diner to do salad the best, that's probably a bad sign). The prices were good. The concept of a diner doing cocktails intrigued us both. But, let's also remember, that a milkshake was $5.45, and extra thick was $6... I can't possibly imagine what they're putting in that milkshake to drive up the price so high!! My burger was only about $9!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Julio's Famous Pizzeria

We kinda felt like Italian food. The internet recommended Julio's Famous Pizzeria, so we drove on down there. It's only about fifteen minutes away, and it's incredibly economical.

Jonathan went with a calzone, with mushrooms, sausage, and pepperoni. He'd get it again, and thoroughly enjoyed each bite.

I chose the Taco Chicken Pouch... an interesting selection. Think of an oval-shaped bread bowl that's really moist and fresh, not hard like bread bowls tend to be. Now, stuff it to the max with chopped chicken mixed with salsa and a *tiny* bit of cheese. That's what it was. I wasn't impressed, but I blame myself. The bread, however, was AMAZING, even as a leftover.

We'll probably be back to Julio's, since it was a neat place inside, the menu was large, and they have something there called a ginacotti. Apparently it's a deep-fried calzone. Sounds different!

Friday, April 23, 2010

New Jersey Nets vs. Charlotte Bobcats

Okay, so this story really starts before Jonathan's parents even came to town. You see, I play two games regularly (both are from the same company - Alamofire). One is an internet game (PackRat), and the other is a geolocation (read: phone) game (Gowalla). Well, Gowalla is becoming pretty well-known these days (it's about a year old), and they have formed a bunch of partnerships with various organizations across the country (although they are a worldwide game). One of their partnerships was the New Jersey Nets basketball team.

Let me give a quick rundown on the game... basically, whenever you go someplace, you can open Gowalla on your phone (works on iphones, androids, palms, and anything that goes on the web), and "check-in" to the location where you are (restaurant, store, park, etc.). There are over 100 items that can be found and traded at various places, so you try and get all of those and vault them. You can also create spots, "found" spots by putting items at them, and work on creating and founding more spots to get more pins of achievement. You also get a stamp for every place you visit (you can go to a place multiple times but you only get one stamp per location), and there's a stamp for each state as well.

Now, back to the story... the Nets project allowed Gowalla to put out 250 "tickets" as items. Each of these items was redeemable for 2 tickets to the final home game for the Nets. Well, the Friday 10 days before the game, Gowalla put out the announcement that you could try your luck at finding tickets at various locations in NY and NJ, and it specifically indicated that they would most likely be found at sports-ish venues, whether that be a sports bar or a sporting goods store, etc. The day they announced this, we drove into Jersey for some errands, and I stopped at a Dick's and a Sports Authority to try. Nothing. And, since we had company coming the next day, I kinda gave up on the idea.

Fast Forward to the following Friday, when we took Jonathan's parents to New York City. We had just gotten off the train and were heading to our first destination when I checked into the Manhattan Center (we went to the Diggnation there a few months ago). My jaw dropped as I saw the little icon and message telling me that I found a pair of Nets tickets!! I immediately showed Jonathan (who is a casual Gowalla player... I'm quite avid), and he decided to check-in, too. He was lucky enough to snag another pair, so we had four tickets to use on Monday, April 12th.

We invited a couple people, but in the end it was just us and our friend, Rob. We drove up to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in NJ, and hit little traffic on the way there. However, the signs are not the best once you get off the highway, so we had to backtrack a little bit to actually get over to the IZOD Center. Parking wasn't bad, and we found the Gowalla table pretty easily. I was really excited about meeting one of the developers, since I've been a fan of Alamofire for over two years now.

The seats were pretty awesome. At first we couldn't find our section... turns out it was because we had FLOOR seats. Now, for someone who isn't that into basketball, this made me pretty excited. I was able to get a few good pictures of the game, but there weren't that many awesome shots/dunks/etc. to begin with. Also, I got a Gowalla shirt, which I was pretty much ecstatic about. I was really hoping that they'd have them there, and I hope it works as an advertisement when I wear it, since I've been trying to get more of my friends to play (what I think is) this awesome game. Anyway, the Nets lost, but they were close on and off. Here's some photos form our sweet seats...

I don't really understand why they had foxes (I think?) as the mascot for the Nets. anyone know?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

By George

We had a little more than an hour of free time on Saturday morning, so we stopped by the Reading Terminal Market on the way to the airport. First of all, I must say that it is much more impressive on a Saturday. Last time we were there, the Dutch vendors were not open, so we didn't quite get the full effect. It was such a bustling area of activity this time! We were able to explore more areas and saw a bunch of new things. Jonathan's parents rather enjoyed it, too.

On our way out, we had lunch at By George. I ordered a chicken parmigiana sandwich, while Jonathan and his parents went with cheesesteaks. Jonathan and I both decided that if we had seen all of the food displays of the place first, we probably would have ordered other items, since everything on display looked so delicious!

Regardless, the cheesesteaks were gigantic. Jonathan thought it could have been cheesier, but the problem was balanced with the fact that the sheer volume of meat was incredible. Jonathan also said he'd probably go for provolone next time (that's what his parents went with). The chicken parm was average, and didn't reheat well. I'd go for something else next time. We also had a small order of fries that the table shared. I didn't particularly care for them (they tasted undercooked to me), but the rest of the table thought that they were okay and very potato-y.

And, last but not least, we finally learned the validation process at the Reading Terminal Market, and it worked for us. We only paid $4 to park for up to two hours (and that's about all of the time we had, since we needed to be on our way to the airport after that!). Which is good... last time we missed out on this and paid big time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bettola

While we were in New York City this past time, we had an early dinner at an Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side. I chose Bettola based on a short walking distance from the American Museum of Natural History, an average-priced menu, an authentic background, and good online reviews.


We were the only diners in there for the majority of our meal. We had a table in the corner, next to a window, and received excellent service from the time we sat down until our bill was paid. Our water glasses were refilled promptly, suggestions were good, and questions were happily answered.


We all ordered different items and were all satisfied with our selections. I went with the gnocchi, which wasn't the best I had ever had, but was very filling and rather delicious with the fresh mozzarella that was on top. Jonathan went with the prosciutto pizza - thin crust, fresh ingredients, perfectly baked. His mother had a tomato basil soup with pesto and croutons... I only had a taste and I'd give it two thumbs up! She also went with a warm salad that contained cannelini beans. Not something I'd go for, but it was certainly different! Lastly, his dad went with the fettuccine. It was green noodles and was served with fresh peas. He enjoyed the peas, and that's coming from a man who normally doesn't eat peas (although I'm not quite sold, LoL).


I'd completely recommend the place to anyone. We probably won't be back (at least in the near future) just because we don't get to NYC often, and we're always trying different places. [Next time, I'm dying to try out a burger place near Ground Zero that we heard about forever ago!]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The American Museum of Natural History

On the last full day that his parents were in town, we took them into New York. We had a couple of different things in mind, but the general plan was to take the train in, then the subway to the American Museum of Natural History. After that, we were going to walk a bit of Central Park, get some Italian food, take the subway over to Times Square for a bit, then head back home. We ended up cutting out Central Park, but otherwise the plan worked pretty well.

I must start off by saying that I was rather disappointed in the American Museum of Natural History. Now, I just saw the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum last summer, but it was far superior.

We saw the vast majority of the museum, although I must admit that we skipped out on the Central and South American Peoples areas. We also accidentally snuck in and saw the Snake & Lizard exhibit - on the map it cuts from one area to another, and we entered the far end. Didn't have any idea you were supposed to pay to see it until we walked out the other end and there was a guy taking tickets! That's a real shame tho - probably the worst display of snakes and lizards I had ever seen, with the exception of a microscope-ish thing you could use to zoom in on two of the lizards... I saw incredible details of their cute tiny feet!

The dinosaur floor was one of the more interesting... we say an Amyda fossil, and I promptly declared that it was the "Amy Dinosaur" - which is cool because it's a turtle.

here's my skeleton
stuff to read about my dinosaurthis moose-looking guy is a Megaloceros
the famous T-Rex
We also saw this head from Easter Island. It was hard to get a good photograph because there was a long line of people waiting to have their picture taken with it. Also, there was surprisingly little information available... like if I didn't know what it was, I'm not sure that I would have known, ya know?

World's Largest Blue Star Sapphire, donated in 1901. Found in Sri Lanka.
I like this one because it is literally named, "Lazurite Chinese Junk"
Amethyst
this robot makes unique pieces of artwork every six hours or something. Kinda a neat idea. Not sure what usefulness it might have in the practical world, but neat nonetheless.
I took a lot of photographs of playthings and theatre artifacts from Asian nations. Here, we have Duckbill dolls from Samoyed, an area of northern Russia where we know little about the tribes in this tundra-taiga region.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saladworks

I was with Jonathan's parents up in Doylestown and we were looking for a place to have lunch. We stumbled upon Saladworks, and I was kinda glad. We often get coupons for them in the mail at home, and there's one in Langhorne and one in Newtown, but we had never made it over there. Now I had the chance to try them out.

I didn't go with the salad, since I was craving a sandwich. I was in luck! They had some good-sounding panini, and I love a good panini. After some silent debate, I went with Smoky T (or something similar, I can't remember and the menus on the website aren't loading for me right now). It was Turkey-Bacon-Cheddar with mustard. The turkey wasn't the freshest, and I wouldn't get it again. However, I would still go there, and I'm looking forward to it. At this late date, I also no longer remember what either of his parents had, although I remember his mom also ordered a panini. I guess that's even more reason to go back, hehe.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mercer Museum & Fonthill

Jonathan and I have a sort-of list of historic places in Bucks county that might be neat to visit. Mercer Museum was on this list, and I had it as a suggested place we go with his parents (that list never actually made it to them, but that's beside the point...) since there was supposed to be a large tool display, I thought his dad might like it. Well, I was right.

With over 10,000 tools and artifacts in the four-story museum, it was packed. Each room in the castle-like structure was dedicated to a type of exhibit - like sewing materials, cobbler materials, kitchen tools, etc. Larger items, like Conestoga wagons, stagecoaches, canoes, and giant bellows, hung from the ceiling or near the rails of the 2nd and 3rd floors. There weren't always great descriptions of what items were, but each was numbered and there were a set of corresponding books that were organized by number and gave information about what each was, how and when it was acquired, etc.

The poured concrete castle was built by Henry Mercer, eight or ten other guys, and a single horse. And Mercer collected the items because he saw new things coming out and thought it would be interesting for future generations to see objects that were written out of use.
these lanterns were neat for me since they reminded me of a craft that we did at a friend's birthday party in high school. We had tin cans that had been filled with water and frozen, and we took nails and a hammer and made designs. Then when the ice melted and we poured out the water, we put candles inside and had similar lanterns.
look at the fire engine
Jonathan's dad demonstrating the correct way to guide a rig
a vampire-killing kit
the exterior of Mercer Museum

After Mercer Museum, we went to see Henry Mercer's home at Fonthill. It's a 44-room castle, and you can tour about a third of it. The interesting things about the castle are the fact that he even built his bookshelves and things out of concrete, and also all of the tile work from around the world that he used to decorate. He also had other types of artifacts (like pottery) from other countries. The castle had some neat innovations, like a call system that connected the kitchen to several bedrooms, and multiple skylights which allowed for the place to have excellent light. Finally, because the entire thing was concrete, Henry Mercer started a bonfire on the top terrace when it was complete to show everyone that it was done and that it was fireproof.

We were not permitted to take photographs inside Fonthill (reasons were unclear, and it wasn't a hard-set rule, since they had an article up about how they allowed a high school photography class to take pictures), but I did get some nice shots of the exterior of the estate.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kildare's Irish Pub

Jonathan's parents and I headed up to Scranton to have lunch with some relatives of his mother. Our original plan was a steak and seafood restaurant, but it was closed when we arrived (dinner only it seemed), so we kinda drove in the general direction of the other stuff and found Kildare's. It was an authentic Irish pub that's a small chain (six locations: four PA, one DE, and one NC). The atmosphere was neat, the decor was cool, and it was a nice place to spend a few hours catching up and looking at photographs.

The menu looked pretty good, and they have some very good lunch specials. However, all five of us decided to go traditional and order boxtys. His mother and I went with the chicken (I got no mushrooms); everyone else went with the Philly cheesesteak variety. What's a boxty, you ask? Well, it was news to all of us as well. Apparently it's a popular dish in the Ireland countryside that's kinda like a burrito, only the outside it a thin potato pancake, not a tortilla. And not like a latke, either. It's like a pancake with some potato flavor... kinda like if potato bread was made into a pita, that's a good description. Anyway, the chicken type had grilled chicken, tomatoes, onions, and cheddar cheese inside, with plenty of sour cream on top. The Philly kind was roast beef with onions, peppers, and American cheese, with CheezWhiz on top. The portion was huge, and all of this was served with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables (mostly peas and corn).

I really enjoyed it, but I don't think I'd order it again. However, I can honestly say it's my favorite Irish dish so far (I have a history of disliking the Irish cuisine, LoL). It was an interesting combination of ingredients so it made for a very unique flavor. Everyone else at the table was also impressed with how different the meal was. I didn't eat many of the vegetables, but I can say that the mashed potatoes were only average - real with some skins. Anyway, if you're in Scranton, go ahead and check it out. I don't know of anything else in that area to recommend, LoL.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Longwood Gardens

One of the places that I visited with Jonathan's parents last week was Longwood Gardens. They're less than 90 minutes away, and a very interesting place. The story behind how they transferred from family to family, the upkeep, how they were turned into a public exhibit, and all kinds of things are so interesting there! There were three treehouses, a pipe organ with 10,0001 pipes, and a tower with giant bells. And that's not even considering the hundreds of thousands of flowers and topiaries at the place! We saw almost the entire thing, and it was really neat. I even tried my hand at photographing some flowers.
Floribunda Rose
Phalaenopsis
Oriental Hybrid Lily
part of one of the nine rooms of pipes
doggie topiary
topiary garden
a treehouse
the Italian Water Gardens don't turn on until the middle of April :(
another treehouse

Monday, April 12, 2010

Grounds for Sculpture

I apologize for the lack of posts recently. After we got back from Florida, I had a lot going on so I didn't get a chance to pre-write anything before we had company for a week. But, on the bright side, we did all kinds of neat things this past week, and there's probably two weeks' worth of posts to be written about the fun!!

Jonathan's parents came to visit for a week, and we were able to spend Easter with them. After Easter Dinner (our first one hosting, which was exciting. For posterity, we had hickory-smoked spiral ham with glaze, Amish potato salad, macaroni & cheese, zesty green beans in white wine, and red velvet cake for dessert), we went to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. It's barely outside of Trenton, and easy to find. It was probably about twenty minutes from our place, and it took us a little over two hours to walk through the entire thing.

The setup was a little strange, just in that it was kinda difficult to plan a path. I'm not even positive that we saw everything in the end, but we sure got a glimpse of most everything. Most the the exhibits are outside, but there are a few installations inside, and it was neat to see everything. We even came upon some pieces that were under construction. We all had our favorites, and overall it was a really neat place. Jonathan really enjoyed the Albert Paley pieces and the peacocks running around.

They had statues of people in various poses throughout the parkFan by Brower HatcherOctober Gathering, Joan DazingerI forgot what this one was, I think it was "Reflection" or somethingKing Lear by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. Ceremonial Archway, Albert Paleyone of the many peacocks running around
entranceway
I also forget what this one is called, but the placement is unique