Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winston's West Indian & American Restaurant

This week I felt a flashback to the days when J and I would hit up the Indian buffet at 11th and K Streets, NW, for lunch. Mayur Kabab House was tucked inside an old Tudor-style building on the edge of the business district, and served up a handful of authentic South Indian dishes every day for $5.95, including naan (the price has gone up since then). It was also the only DC restaurant I knew of that served A-Treat beverages.

Nancy, Jenny and I ventured out in the 16 degree weather on Friday to try out a place called Winston's (619 N. Seventh Street, Allentown) on Mike's recommendation. (Nancy is always down for lunch.) All we knew was that the restaurant was on 7th Street between Tilghman and Allen and that served Caribbean food.

Winston himself was presiding over the counter, and couldn't have been more welcoming or more friendly. What a smile. After he showed us what each of the lunch specials looked like (chicken -in jerk, curry or brown sauce, about a half a pound of rice and beans, fried plantains and mixed sauteed veggies for $5.95 - felt vaguely familiar!), we each selected a different dish and settled in at our table with drinks. I chose a Ginger Beer I'd never tried before, but I had to give props to Jenny for the A-Treat cola. In addition to my yummy curry chicken-on-the-bone (see above), Winston gave me a taste of his special curried goat. I really enjoyed both, and I'd compare the goat to lamb (which Winston patiently reminded me was also in the mutton family - silly me). I might even get the curried goat as a main dish next time I go, and I'll definitely pick up a huge piece of Francilia's coconut-pineapple cake, too!
After our visit, I did some internet research. Seems like there are some other Winston's fans out there:
Now I've got to get over to Jah' S Five Star Jamaican Restaurant (506 Northampton Street, Easton) to compare. Who's with me?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Real World: Lehigh Valley

I'm living vicariously through this season's cast of The Real World. The MTV reality show kids are as promiscuous and scandalous as ever. Except this time... they're in DC. :)

I had to do my homework to pull out this statistic: it's the 23rd taping of the 8-strangers-picked-to-live-in-a-house documentary. This is the first time the show has ever been filmed in a city where I lived. I am enjoying seeing a city I know well on my TV. Between drama-filled rants and seemingly endless banter about who's not doing their share of the housework, the editors throw in beautiful clips of DC in summer: the fountain in Dupont Circle, flowers at the Capitol building, the arch in "Chinatown," and lots of bars and restaurants I loved at one time. They've visited Rhino Bar in Georgetown, Lauriol Plaza (with ridiculously long waits and tasty margs), Big Hunt, Tom Tom (where a group of our friends once threw a hilarious Lonely Hearts Club dinner on Valentine's Day), and tonight... Russia House (in a gorgeous row home with velvet drapes and yummy infused vodka martinis). One of the roommates looks into an internship at the Human Rights Campaign. In next week's episode, it appears that one of them performs at the 9:30 Club.
I wondered, if the Real World were to come to the Lehigh Valley, where would those crazy kids live? Downtown Bethlehem, or Easton? The penthouse of a loft on Hamilton Street in Allentown? What would their "job" be? Intern for the Lehigh Valley passenger rail project? Wrestling refs? Teachers at a new charter school? Did the Real World ever visit a city where you lived?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dreaming about spring

I can't help but dream about springtime when the temperature reaches over 50 degrees twice in one January week. As I ran through the streets of Bethlehem, I let myself forget the winter for an hour and fantasize about days of consistent warm weather.

That's why I love reading Marie's Gardening Blog, with pictures of green things growing out of the ground. Last week, she wrote about a series of seminars on Spring Gardening being offered in Nazareth and Allentown by Penn State.

Our backyard garden is indirectly protected from bunnies by our neighbors' indoor/outdoor cats, some of whom are efficient little hunters. But we still get bugs, and I probably don't fertilize like I should. I have a lot to learn. I inherited my tendency for a green-ish thumb from my parents, whose garden space easily exceeds our property size and come summer, is full of flowers, herbs, and veggies galore. I have been pretty successful at growing herbs, moderately successful at growing vegetables, and am always looking for tips. A growing pile of seed catalogs is tempting me.

Is anyone else planning their garden or thinking about spring?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reading and Reigelsville = Lehigh Valley, PA?

I'm continually amused by organizations or publications that claim that "The Greater Lehigh Valley" includes the Pocono Mountains, Bucks or Berks County, when it's convenient, or good news.

One example was this past week's media excitement over "locals" featured on national reality TV shows Project Runway and American Idol. That Norberto Guerrero of Reading got nixed by the AI judges isn't local news; it's national pop culture babble. Just because we may have "heard of" Reading or shopped its outlets does not make the plight of its residents of local interest to people in the Lehigh Valley. That Pamela Ptak of Reigelsville didn't get aufweidersehened by Heidi Klum on PR is is good news for her and her family, but again, not local news. Marla Duran actually has a studio in the Lehigh Valley (109 E. Third St., Bethlehem) if you want to meet a local Project Runway alum.

I was going to cite Lehigh Valley Magazine as one publication that stretches the borders a bit, but its web site is having some technical difficulties, and features no editorial content from 2009.

Now I'm going to contradict myself by saying that I've seen one Reading businesswoman's work on the web for the past few years and might make an exception to extend the LV boundaries for her. I just spotted her goods at Comfort & Joy (105 E. Third St., Bethlehem - yes, two doors down from Marla Duran's studio): Bento Box Gifts by Mimi Kolb.

A perfect baby shower gift for any expecting mom or proud new parents. This Baby Bento Box Gift is full of sweet things for baby: a one-of-a-kind onesie, MomSpit (the best cleanser ever), soft sushi roll washcloths and more. Shower the new mom with what she wants; we’ll deliver it to her door or yours. Let someone else bring the diaper genie to the next baby shower; gifts from Bento Box Gifts are far more fun.
Box size: 8.25 x 8.25 x 3” $65.00 (pictured above)
I love the originality and compact design of the boxes. Another bento box I liked was "with a cherry on top," a $16.95 box with birthday candles, a towel "cake," chocolate covered pretzels, and more - a suitable birthday gift for someone at the office or a friend with a fun sensibility. You can check out a variety of box options at Comfort & Joy or online at Bento Box Gifts, and decide for yourself whether you want Reading to be included in "the Greater" Lehigh Valley.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January "First" Friday

Way to go, 2010. You messed up First Friday by making January 1 a Friday, then making January 8, First Friday (Observed), one of the coldest nights in recent memory. Brr!

But you couldn't freeze out a laid-back, lovely evening with friends. Despite a few friends cancelling at the last minute, Jen and I visited a few artists over at The Banana Factory (25 W. Third St., Bethlehem), checked out the glass-blowing show and listened to a Renaissance-inspired quartet in period costume. Can't believe I didn't take a photo. You're going to have to take my word for it.

Then the two of us met up with Mark at The Bookstore (336 Adams St., South Bethlehem) for a cocktail. I learned what makes a Manhattan "quite possibly the greatest classic cocktail ever created, and still unimproved upon in over 100 years." Rocking chairs and mismatched vintage sofas in the "living room" were our only seating options, since all the tables were reserved and every seat at the bar was taken. The cozy space was filled with locals and visitors alike - evidenced by the bar full of people settled in for the night and one gentleman paradoxically wearing an Eagles jacket and a cowboy hat.

On a tip from the owner of my new favorite bakery, Gail, from Back Door Bakeshop (1422 Center St., Bethlehem), we headed over to the North Side of Bethlehem to catch Dina Hall and The Backbeat playing at Starfish Brasserie (51 W Broad St. Bethlehem). That's where the photo above was taken. You can catch Dina in a couple of weeks at Godfrey Daniels (7 East 4th Street, South Side Bethlehem) and on First Friday in March at Tallarico's Chocolates (17 E. Third St., South Side Bethlehem).

We ate some tasty fishies from Starfish's half-portion menu while watching patrons line up in front of 40 Below Nightclub and Lounge (40 W. Broad St., Bethlehem) outside. Despite the wind chill actually dipping close to 40 Below, and the line to enter the club snaking down the block, many of these thrifty young folks must have decided to leave their coats in the car rather than checking them inside the club. (Incidentally, I just looked up the web site to link it for you, and discovered there is a rule, stated in two places on the site, that outlaws "Hoddies." I wondered whether coats are also not permitted.) Am I showing my age? On our way out, we remembered that the municipal lot isn't staffed after 11, so our parking for the night was free!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Bethlehem Skate Park

This week, I had the unfortunate experience of a blog post disappearing (?!). Hmm...

Regardless, my original post was about the Bethlehem Skate Plaza and its ground breaking ceremony, scheduled to take place tomorrow at 3:30 at 1325 Steel Ave. (across the street from the Sands Casino on the Bethlehem Greenway).

A reception will follow at the Forte Building (1337 E. 5th St - where CACLV's office is located) at 4 p.m. The guys from Homebase 610, (14 W. Fourth St. Bethlehem), and Source Bike Shop (54 E. Broad St. Bethlehem) are giving away commemorative T-shirts and will definitely be out there in force to show support for the project, which was close to losing its funding recently. It's going to be cold, for sure, but for people who skate or ride and the people who love them (and - sorry to say - property owners who feel like they are constantly chasing kids off of their property), it's pretty cool. Don't miss it.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Bethlehem Skate Park Groundbreaking

If you don't live in Bethlehem, or you do not have a skater in your life, you might have missed this headline. Bethlehem is getting a skate park of its very own, and it didn't come easy.

The ceremonial groundbreaking will be on Wednesday January 6th at 3:30 p.m., at the future location of the skateplaza: 1325 Steel Ave. Bethlehem, PA 18015, across from the Sands Casino. The crew from local skate and BMX shop Homebase 610 (14 W. Fourth St., Bethlehem, PA) is sure to be there; they can be credited for raising funds, raising awareness, and rallying support for the project that help keep it from getting axed earlier this month.

Here's an excerpt from the press release issued by the Office of Parks and Public Property for the City of Bethlehem:

Bethlehem, Pa.─ ... Local residents as well as the press are invited to attend and join Mayor John Callahan for the groundbreaking ceremony.

Immediately following the on-site groundbreaking we will proceed to the Forte Building (1337 East 5th Street- where CACLV's offices are located) for hot drinks and light refreshments.

The Skateplaza is anticipated to be a world-class venue, unrivaled in its progressive design and immense size. The plan addresses the needs of the community and the desires of action sports’ enthusiasts to exercise in a safe, secure environment. Benefits include strengthening community partnerships, providing positive youth development and contributing to the health and physical wellbeing of residents in a multi-use, park like setting.