Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's going on in the Lehigh Valley?

If you're still not sure how to find out what events are coming up, or want to get more involved in the activities in our cities, you can sign up to receive each city's "official" email. They will arrive in your email inbox with a list of events, announcements and special offers in each of the Lehigh Valley's cities. Subscribe to "It's Happening in Allentown" by clicking on this link, follow @AllentownEvents on Twitter, or become a Facebook fan: Subscribe to the "What's Going on in Bethlehem" e-Newsletter by visiting the Downtown Bethlehem Association web site, follow @DwnTwnBethlehem on Twitter, or become a fan on Facebook. Sign up for Easton's bi-monthly community email on this web page, follow @EastonMainSt on Twitter, or become a fan on Facebook.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Versant Jewelry & Accessories for a last-minute V-Day gift

On my way home from a meeting, I pulled into Versant Jewelry & Accessories (3452 Easton Ave. Bethlehem). I'd seen an ad for the store in Lehigh Valley Marketplace a while back and was intrigued by their tagline ("Lunch with Ted or Indulge at Versant? Sorry Ted."). It would be a great place to pick up a last-minute Valentine's gift. You're welcome.
The store features brand-name and locally-made jewelry and accessories, some fine, some just fun, plus gifts and serious handbags. It's not hard to find, but it's a little off the standard shopping path - Versant is located inside a restored 18th-century farmhouse with a big parking lot on Easton Avenue.
The most well-known product line Versant carries is Pandora, the inexplicably popular Danish charm bracelets and jewelry. The store carries a wide selection of bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings and hundreds of charms. Only three other Valley stores carry the line. If your S.O. already has a Pandora bracelet, you're in like Flynn.

Bags, scarves, and other jewelry lines line the walls of three rooms in the 18th century farmhouse that Versant calls home. Featured designers include Slane & Slane, Elle, and Amy & Owen. Spartina 449's bags in linen and leather are a great alternative to Vera Bradley (a little more sturdy, too). I loved the Amy & Owen stuff (above). Versant also carries some items made by talented local artists.

Spartina 449 display
Kate was a gracious hostess, showing me all the product lines and explaining why she's selected them for Versant. If you're looking for a gift, happen to be in the neighborhood, or want to see some new and exciting styles, Versant's a great place to spend a few minutes (and/or bucks).

P.S. I do love a store with a dog.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Restaurant Name: Miguel's aka Cafe del Mar aka Stefano's

I've mentioned before that the Lehigh Valley is made up of places that used to be other places. That's what happens when people live in an area for a long time, and landmarks become more important than street names. (Especially when street names are confusing for newcomers - is it Route 191 or Linden Street or Nazareth Pike?)

I read on that a restaurant in Belfast changing its name. That's on Sullivan Trail in Plainfield Township (barely) off the Belfast Road exit of Route 33, between Nazareth and Wind Gap, near Jacobsburg State Park. Natives, is that a fair description?

The restaurant in question was called Stefano's, then when the current owner took over entirely, he called it Cafe del Mar (which means Restaurant of the Sea, which is funny, since there's no water to be seen anywhere near the place), and now he's decided to call in Miguel's.

Whatever the owners decide to call it, it will be known forever as the place that used to be Stefano's and Cafe del Mar. It's just the way we talk here in the LV.

Incidentally, the reader and staffer comments at the end of the story reveal a townie secret... that the Andretti family (of Formula One and IndyCar racing fame) is often spotted eating there. Two readers mentioned seeing Mario, and the last time my mom, our friend Moe, and my BF ate there, we saw Mario's grandson Marco.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

West End weeknight dinner spots

My friend Eileen admits to being a bit geographically challenged when it comes to Allentown. I say we are even, since I am more than a bit geographically-challenged when it comes to the town where she lives, Phillipsburg, NJ. She emailed me because she's headed to a Muhlenberg basketball game soon and wanted to make a night of it - meet up with her fellow fans to do dinner beforehand near campus. She asks: "How far is Cosmopolitan or Sangria from there? Suggestions of somewhere to eat before? Grille 3501? Let me know your two cents." I pointed out that Cosmo and Sangria are less than 20 blocks away from campus, and Grille 3501 or Pistachio's might be closer geographically to school but are even more westerly (read: further from Pburg). All are good eats, though. My friend and former work-neighbor Jill and her pals are big fans of Liberty Street Tavern on Wednesday nights for pizza (but it sounded from Eileen's email that she was looking for more fine dining this time). I still need to get over there some Wednesday. West End readers, please weigh in!