Brussels sprouts have always gotten a bad wrap, and I do not know why. Yes, they are like little cabbages, but if prepared the right way, a world of flavor can be opened. The other night, I wanted to make them as a side dish, and tried experimenting. My mom has long made them using bacon bits and a balsamic vinegar glaze, which comes out heavenly. We got this idea from a restaurant we ate at a few times, Tre Amici in Long Branch, that used to saute the sprouts in butter and pancetta. I thought back to that, and since we had prosciutto in the house, I figured I would use that as the meaty addition. Forgive me because I am not a chef, so the following recipe or description isn’t really exact. Whenever I cook, I take the “a little bit of this, a little bit of that” approach until I find the flavor I am looking for. I ended up making a mistake while cooking this. How I corrected that mistake became one of the best cooking accidents that ever happened to me.
I watched the Zapruder film 30 times the other day. Not the entire 26-second clip in its entirety, just focusing on the parts where President John F. Kennedy was visibly hit by bullets. I thought maybe after all these years, I would finally see something I never noticed. I took out a notebook and began writing things down. Before long, I had moved on to several lesser-known but equally important home-movies which documented the assassination in Dealey Plaza, the ones filmed by Marie Muchmore and Orville Nix. These films were shot almost opposite of where Abraham Zapruder was standing, so it helps to paint a more complete picture of what went down that fateful November morning. As I started jotting notes, I started to think to myself, “Why? What am I doing?”, and stopped the research. The reason is that there are just too many books, articles, documentaries and other research projects looking into the conspiracy aspects of the JFK assassination. Could a writing project of mine, if completed, actually add something new to the case? The answer is probably not.
Restaurant: Crown Palace
Date: July 31, 2015
Location: 1285 State Route 35, Middletown, NJ
I have written about several restaurants on this blog which are stuck in time yet still hold on to their charm and enhance the dining experience. Crown Palace does not qualify as one of those places. It is not dirty, or even ugly, but you walk in the atmosphere just screams 1990’s, mainly because the last time I was there was when I was about seven or eight years old and it looks and smells exactly the same as it did back then. The reddish-pink light that runs the perimeter of the ceiling gives the restaurant a nice nightclub-like glow, but the decor and those God-awful and brutishly uncomfortable banquet chairs just leave you awestruck. This place needs a revamp. The food is just average Chinese food; not bad, but nothing standout either. The bar when you first walk in is beautiful, but alas, there is no one there to sit there and drink. The dining room, though enormous, was so empty on a Friday that you could shoot a cannon through there and not hit anyone.
No aliens, rednecks, rusty cars, Bigfoot, or swamp rats here. The Smithsonian Channel is giving us what the History Channel should be. It was a total joy when I finally started watching their programming last week, after hearing about how good it was for years. As I sat there, I thought to myself, “This is what the History Channel used to be like.” The types of shows ranged from World War II and early American history to more modern or current world historical events and even nature and science. After catching a two-hour special titled Hindenburg: The Untold Story, I was hooked. It was a dramatic recreation, combining newsreel and archive footage with reenactments and historian interviews. It was perfect—factual but entertaining, straightforward yet stylistic. The production values were extremely high and I began to wonder, “How hard can this be? Is it that difficult to churn out credible quality historical programming that people will find interesting?”
Since its initial release, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure has been mercilessly attacked for being the sequel to the 1972 classic disaster film that never should have been made. Reviewers in 1979 ripped it a new one, as have most viewers, generally, in the years to follow. But how bad is it? I had a chance to view the film on TCM the other day, and I have to admit, I actually enjoyed it and didn’t think it was horrible. When you consider all the atrocious sequels to be made after the initial classic was such a blockbuster, this is pretty good in comparison. Yes, the story requires one enormous suspension of disbelief after another, but if you put that aside, we have a decent and exciting adventure movie that has the same production values as the original. The finished product is not perfect, but it is far from the nightmare people have painted it out to be.
Restaurant: Phil-Am Colonia
Date: August 17, 2015
Location: 1246 New Jersey 27, Colonia, NJ
I have but one question following lunch yesterday at Phil-Am in Colonia: do Filipinos have high cholesterol? Its just a pondering, a thought that crept into my mind after yet another pork-heavy meal at an authentic Filipino restaurant, the first being Fiesta Grill in Jersey City. There were plenty of other entrees available at the counter, but for some reason, I ended up with three different kinds of pork, just like the last time. But, as I was told, this is what they eat “over there”, and me being a willing not-so-ignorant American visitor, I was game. Their diet, which includes a combination of pork belly which is high in fat, thick noodle and rice dishes, and sugary desserts and drinks that pack enough carbs to fuel a marathon run, somehow does not equate to obese patrons. Everyone in the place, from server to customer, was thin as a rail. Am I missing something? If I ate like that on a regular basis, I would balloon up like the Michelin Man.
In short, yes it is. This is the stuff that people are claiming there is a nationwide shortage of. My friend Brett and I went to at least five different liquor stores combined just trying to find a six pack, and our efforts were to no avail. All I keep hearing is how amazing Not Your Father’s Root Beer is, and if you find it and have the chance, you need to stock up on it. I wouldn’t go that far, but it was pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised to see Houlihan’s in Woodbridge had it in stock last week when I walked in and it was on the specials board. I knew right then and there I needed to order it. Upon my first sip, I did the double-take that nearly everyone says happens when you try it for the first time. Is this beer or is it root beer? With each of those initial sips I had to ask myself that question. There is absolutely no beer taste at all, it truly is root beer. The flavoring is very natural, and you can taste the spices coming together as you get a whiff of it before it hits your taste buds.