Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wing Night at Christkindlmarkt

Some guys have a regular night for poker, or darts night, or get together at a sports bar for wing night.

Alyssa and I thought that sounded pretty good. An excuse to get together no greater than the bar's appetizer special. We wanted a "wing night," too. Now it's become an ongoing joke: anytime things get crazy, one of us will ask - time for Wing Night?

We organized a wing night - actually a wing "day" - Sunday on the South Side of Bethlehem, that had nothing to do with wings. We'd planned to go to lunch at Blue Sky Cafe, but the tables were full of Lehigh students and parents, and the line was out the door. The food at Blue Sky is fantastic, but the kitchen is only sobig. So we walked up the street to see if Horns was open. Nope. Back up 4th Street, we passed by La Lupita, Subway, Alexandra's Bistro, Nawab and General Zapata's (all open). We decided to visit Nawab since the $9.95 buffet was open and we were both hungry for something a little different. Eating at their daily lunch buffet is a great way to try out a variety of Indian dishes without commiting to one, and you can "order with your eyes" instead of off the menu, where you might not recognize the names of dishes. There were vegetarian and chicken dishes, and lots of colorful options, including a bright-red chicken tikka masala and a green saag paneer (but no wings).

After making a quick detour back home to let FH into the house - he'd locked himself out - we rolled over to SteelStacks to check out Christkindlmarkt. I have two ways to get in free: I volunteered at the event this year, so I can go anytime, and we are ArtsQuest members. She had a free pass from work.

When we arrived, we saw the admissions line snaked out the door, and heard Christmas music playing. We walked right in, and were drawn in to the booths with handmade crafts, ornaments, and silly kids' hats. In the center area, an artist wielding a chainsaw was carving a dog out of ice, and the glass artists from Banana Factory were making glass candy canes. In the second tent, a brass band was performing Christmas standards while the shoppers perused more gifts. Alyssa picked up something for someone which shall remain secret in case that someone reads this blog.

It was a great wing day, and a good example of how to "make a day" on the South Side.


The history: Christkindlmarkt used to be on the north side of Bethlehem, where Volksplatz is during Musikfest. But its new south side location includes plenty of free parking, access to the ArtsQuest Center with real bathrooms (vs. outdoor port-o-johns at Christkindlmarkt), great food, films and performances, and now - the blast furnace light show!

Cost: $8, but anyone can get a $1 off coupon from the ArtsQuest web site. Military servicemen and veterans also get a discount. Seniors and students get a $1 discount which cannot be combined with the coupon.

Parking: Free, across the street from the tents in a gravel lot.

If you want to volunteer, there are still shifts available. I enjoy helping out at the front of the house, at the information desk or the admissions area, welcoming everyone to Bethlehem and answering questions. Top 2 questions: Where do we go for lunch/dinner after this and where is Santa?

For more information on CK and other Bethlehem holiday happenings: Visit the ArtsQuest web site.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hookah Lounge

Hookah is kind of like smoking a bong, but with tobacco instead of pot (or in some cases, just tobacco-free, flavored herbs). You can get a little buzzed smoking it, but don't worry, Mom, it's not illegal. The hookah itself is usually glass with multiple flexible stems (everyone gets their own - and it comes with a disposable mouth cover for hygiene purposes). Often smoking is the centerpiece of activity at a lounge/nightclub that attracts a lot of young people of Middle-Eastern decent and/or hipsters. There's usually contemporary and Middle Eastern music, think lounge-y, more than clubb-y. And somehow backgammon usually follows. Needless to say, this is not MOST Lehigh Valleyans idea of a fun time (yet). But for those people who:

a) don't feel like wilin' out to Livin' on a Prayer for the 900th time at MacGrady's
b) can picture you and your friends hanging out on pillows, talking without screaming over music or the blaring distracting of the Phillies game
c) can get a sitter - (this is not a family activity)
and d) are down with a little variety in your cultural diet and don't mind the smell of fruit-flavored smoke

... this is for you.
The ones I went to in DC (Chi-Cha Lounge and... shoot, I can't remember the name of the other one, I am sure it's closed now, but it was in the Foggy Bottom area... pretty far west on K Street I think, somewhere in the 30's) served yummy, authentic food, tea and coffee, and it was cozy and low-key. I say: Gentlemen, bravo. You have the pleasure of educating the area locals on hookah and have committed to running businesses in urban neighborhoods, and I wish you the best of luck!
Get your Hookah fix here:
  • Gardenia Hookah (760 Hanover Avenue, Allentown) - go to Dragon Palace on Airport Road before for a bite to eat.
  • Bliss Hookah (209 Union St, Allentown) - go to Aci Halal (34 N 2nd Street, Allentown) for dinner before - trust me. Tasty Turkish food!
  • Sultana Hookah Lounge (3 E 3rd Street, Bethlehem) - on the corner of New Street and 3rd Street, where the Fahy Bridge meets 3rd, across from Tallarico's Chocolates and Glen Anthony Designs. Dinner at 23 East Asian Bistro, or General Zapata's, or the trendy new Horns!
  • Hookah Turka (44 W.Broad St., Bethlehem) - where the candy store was, on the same block as the (closed) Boyd movie theater. Dinner anywhere on Main Street. Have you been to the new Italian place, Molto Pazzo, at 553 Main Street?

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Great Allentown Comic Con in Lehigh Valley

November 19 and 20, you are cordially invited to "Get UR Geek On" at The Great Allentown Comic Con.

The Lehigh Valley's largest comic & pop culture convention attracts artists, celebrity guests, dealers, and comic book geeks of all ages. Smurfs, Disney, Star Wars, zombies, Star Trek... this show has something for every comic lover.

At: Merchants Square Mall, 1901 S. 12th Street, Allentown, PA 18103 (just off Lehigh Street, behind the Toyota dealership) Hours: Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm

Admission Cost: One-Day Pass $8 per adult, Two Day Pass $10 per adult
- free for children 12 years-old and under accompanied with an adult
- $1 per pass will be donated to epilepsy awareness
Don't want to pay? The GACC is looking for volunteers. You'll eat free and meet guests and dealers. Email for info.

And while I appreciate the show's effort to promote local attractions (Crayola Factory, Lehigh Valley Mall, Historic Bethlehem, Sands), there are a few places that are even closer to Comic Con that are worth checking out, too.

All of these recommendations are within a 3.5-mile radius of Comic Con:

Go to The Brass Rail for cheesesteaks (3015 Lehigh Street), Louie's Restaurant for Italian (2071 31st Street SW), or Amigo Mio Cafe for Mexican (545 Cleveland Street).

Drop in at Drop Me a Line Costume Shop (1050 Lehigh Street) and Double Decker Records (808 Saint John Street) - two unique indie stores. Catch a screening of "The Skin I Live In" starring Antonio Banderas at The Civic Theatre (19th Street) on Sunday at 1:30. It's a 2-hour film in Spanish with English subtitles. Then visit my friend Steph at Step in 4 Mor (1823 W Allen St) and try on some fabulous shoes.

Comic Con is also close to the South Mall, (3300 Lehigh St) which has the only Stein Mart in the Lehigh Valley. You'll also find a drive-through Starbucks in the parking lot and Gypsy Rose antiques mall inside.

May the force be with you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Indian cultural celebration in Allentown

Allentown Symphony Hall (23 N. 6th St. Allentown) is celebrating Indian Culture this weekend with two colorful and exciting events. If you have ever traveled to India, love opera or classical Indian dance, or just want to be transported to another land for a few hours, you may want to attend these events. Not to mention, for those of you who think the Lehigh Valley is not culturally diverse, I suspect this program's audience will be a good mix.

The Metropolitan Opera’s Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series "The Met: Live in HD" features 11 live transmissions, including one at our very own Allentown Symphony Hall. Since the live shows are simulcast, you can enjoy The Met's Opera series without driving to Manhattan and paying high ticket prices.

This weekend, Richard Croft is Gandhi in Philip Glass’s unforgettable opera, Satyagraha, which the Washington Post calls “a profound and beautiful work of theater.” November 19, 2011 at 1pm - Tickets $20-22/$15 Students (Encore: December 21, 2011 at 6:30pm)

On Sunday, November 20, Ragamala Dance will present Sacred Earth at 8 p.m. Tickets: $25-50/$10 Students
Ragamala Dance, called “rapturous and profound” by The New York Times, blends ancient Indian visual art traditions with classical Indian dance in Sacred Earth. Performed against large-scale painted panels by master folk artist Anil Chaitya Vangad, Sacred Earth invokes a deep connection to the earth and illustrates the ever-renewing cycle of life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lehigh-Lafayette Football Weekend 2011

The beer distributors are all out of PBR. The Easton and Bethlehem police are preparing for the crowds. And the rumble of Mercedes and Lexus SUVs from New Jersey, Connecticut and New York is unmistakable. It must be Lehigh-Laf weekend.

For those of you who did not attend one of these schools, are not from the Lehigh Valley, or don't care at all about football, you'd still be wise to pay attention. This Saturday, November 19, the roads, neighborhoods and institutions around Easton and Bethlehem will be full of alumni and students gearing up for the 147th meeting of their two football teams.

Quick wiki lesson: Lehigh University and Lafayette College are located 17 miles apart in eastern Pennsylvania, and are both members of the Patriot League. Their football rivalry has been played 146 times since 1884, making it the most-played football rivalry in the nation. It is also the longest uninterrupted rivalry, since the teams have met every year since 1897.

The game is hosted at the stadiums on Lehigh's and Lafayette's campuses in alternate years. This year, Lehigh "welcomes" Lafayette to their home in Bethlehem/Saucon Valley. If you don't already have tickets, you could watch a live broadcast online, or at bars including Starter's Riverport, Bethlehem Brew Works, and JP Macgrady's in Bethlehem.

Friday night is always a big night to party on and off campus, since young alumni come back to town a little early to start pre-gaming. On Saturday morning, alumni meet up at their old fraternity house for a ceremonial beer or 10, and after the game is over, most will be swerving their way home from Goodman Campus. Many will stay the night in the region's hotels and enjoy a meal at one of their old favorite restaurants (beware, if you were planning to get breakfast at Billy's Diner or a burger at College Hill Tavern this weekend!).

The rivalry is so serious you can taste it in the tailgate beer. (Lehigh's bookstore sells a T-shirt that has "Lafayette" on the front, and "Because not everyone can get into Lehigh" on the back.) So figure out who you're for, and stay away from the people on the other side (and the drunk drivers!).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lehigh Valley Chorus of Sweet Adelines: The Sing-Off, Lehigh Valley-style

I met Michele because she had the good sense to join Junior League. She also happens to be a member of the same amazing collegiate sorority as I am - from Texas State, no less - and is a very talented singer (which I am not). I am in awe of musicians like her and my other friend Courtney, who are a capella goddesses, and of course the kids on The Sing-Off.
The Lehigh Valley Chorus of Sweet Adelines International will present its annual show, A Cappella A la Carte, at 7:30 PM on Saturday, November 12, at the Allentown Jewish Community Center’s Kline Auditorium, 702 North 22nd Street in Allentown, PA. Doors open at 7 PM.
We’ll be featuring music that spans every generation, including pop, swing, show tunes and ballads – all in a cabaret setting with refreshments and cash bar for wine and soft drinks. The Lehigh Valley Gay Men’s Chorus and the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts Women’s Choir will join us as guest performers.
Show tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door, and $12 for children 12 and under. For more information, directions to the venue or to purchase advance tickets online, visit LVC’s website. You may also call 908-859-5796 or send an email.
Michele joined The Lehigh Valley Chorus when she moved to the area, and she let me know that the group has its yearly show this weekend, and it promises to be a great evening. She adds:
Also, for anyone interested in joining the chorus, I can attest that the ladies of the group are some of the sweetest and most supportive people I've ever met. Makes it easy for new members to fit right in. I'm still considered a guest singer but hope to audition formally very soon. I'll be performing in one song at the show.
Autographs are $5. Break a leg!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Westgate Mall Indoor Outdoor Farmer's Market in Bethlehem

The Westgate Mall (2285 Schoenersville Rd. Bethlehem) is probably best known for the time presidential candidate John McCain visited a few years ago, pushing a shopping cart through Weis Market with the common folk.

Westgate is not as glamorous as the Promenade Shops is - no Starbucks or fountains here - but the Bon-Ton department store is just fine, and Westgate Pizza is one of our favorites. It also has a store that repairs vacuum cleaners and sewing machines, and a drive through coffee trailer in the parking lot(Mocha Mike's - beloved by soccer and baseball moms taking their kids to the Bethlehem Municipal fields for games as well as commuters).

Now it's the first Lehigh Valley mall to open a year-round farmers' market! Westgate Mall Indoor Outdoor Farmer's Market opened today with much fanfare - including a visit from US Congressman Charlie Dent. It will be open every Wednesday from noon until 7 p.m.

Here's a partial list of vendors:
  • Valley View Farms products
  • Hereford Country Store - Gourmet Quiches, Veggie Tarts and Old Fashion Baked Goods
  • The Popcorn Pit - freshly made Gourmet Popcorn
  • Jett Produce -  year-long chemical free greens, holiday wreaths, fresh grain fed turkeys
  • Y Knot Alpacas  Alpaca gloves, socks and soaps
  • Verba Farms - Fruit baskets, eggs, produce
  • The Phillips Company - specialty and holiday flags
  • Hair Accessories plus Uniques -  Uniques hair clips and accessories
  • Apple Ridge Farms - Featuring Brick Oven Bread & Produce
  • Easton Salsa Company - Salski/Salsa
  • Christine's Secret Garden - fine teas and tea pots
  • Blondies  - designer cupcakes, haluski, tomatoe mac & cheese and pierogie casserole
  • Hum-Dinger Alpacas - yes, more alpacas! - alpaca fiber products, both handspun/handknit, and commercially processed
For more information, "like" the Westgate Mall on Facebook.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Roundup


I love using Google Reader to compile all the web sites, blogs and writers I follow. If there's a post I want to see, it waits patiently in my inbox until I get around to it. If you don't already have a Google account, you can get one for free. Then set up your Reader by adding sites like Lehigh Valley Transplant. :) Then, when you can't remember where you read something, you can search on a keyword in Google Reader to figure it out. (Usually when I can't remember, it's one of the little gems Kelly Huth unearths.)

Speaking of Kelly: read her Restaurant Profile of General Zapata : "Head to General Zapata -- a reincarnation of Zapata's -- for a deep-fried taco"

Then visit Jaime K's piece on co-ops, and envision one in Bethlehem.

Swoon over Abby Leigh's ode to Wawa.

E-visit Bolete Restaurant with Wine-Know.

And tonight, meet up with Twitter users at Starfish Brasserie in Bethlehem (7 p.m.). If you go, you'll meet a friendly bunch of media mavens. Even if you aren't hip to Twitter yet, they'll inspire you to be. #tweetup

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to vote on Tuesday!

Update: Sorry to have to remove the links on this post: One of them was linked to malware! :(

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Snowtober in Lehigh Valley for transplants

On Friday night, we gave away candy to 400 trick or treaters, including one cute little chicken and his parents, Paul and Katie. When we ran out of candy at 7:15 p.m., we turned off the front porch light and took Stella for a stroll to visit our friends Tyler and Jenna (who had 800+ kids in 2 hours- check out their video!) and our friends who recently moved to the neighborhood, Molly and Ryan.

The next day, in the midst of a storm, Lehigh Valley residents lost power as the heavy snow accumulated on the leaves and branches snapped under the weight, bringing down power lines and making a huge mess.

Most people lost power for a few hours. Many faced no power or heat for a few days. Some still don't have power.

Who do you turn to when you need help? A lot of locals stayed with family or close friends. Many seniors were able to tap into a network of social services. But transplants, many of you in apartments or rental houses, or living in new developments where you don't know your neighbors well, were left in the cold. As it is, it's hard to imagine asking a neighbor you barely see or know to house you and your pets, children and freezer contents. It's even harder when that neighbor is staying with family or friends elsewhere.

Now that most of you have power back, how would you do things differently? Would you buy a generator, a backup sump pump and/or a chain saw? Get a wood stove and a gas-powered range? Would you stay in a hotel? Would you get to know your neighbors better? Are you developing an emergency plan in case this happens again someday?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Young Lawyers in the Lehigh Valley

A bunch of young lawyers walk into a bar...

There's no punchline. It's really happening.

Check out a happy hour fundraiser for the Northampton County Young Lawyers Division tonight.

Mach’s Gute, 713 Linden Street, Bethlehem
Wednesday November 2, 2011, 5:30-7:30 pm
$20 donation pre-registered, or $25 at the door.
Paying guests receive a free drink ticket and free appetizers. Benefits: the Northampton County YLD Holiday Hope Chest Project, which provides Christmas gifts to underprivileged and needy children throughout the Lehigh Valley. 

At the event, you might win a raffle or door prize, and are pretty much guaranteed to meet well-dressed, community-minded, smart young professionals who live in the Lehigh Valley.