Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Booze ... in 50 Words or Less: ABSOLUT MANGO

I'm definitely a vodka kind-of-gal, but not sure this is the vodka for me. Tried it with a variety of accompaniments: lime seltzer, Crystal Light lemonade, grapefruit juice (definitely the best of the three). Perhaps it was a bit too tart, which doesn't really say mango to me.

Better Late Than Never Reviews: Tomboy - Panda Bear

Timing is everything.

Such is the lesson learned upon listening to Tomboy, the fourth studio album by Noah Lennox, one-third of the indie pop group Animal Collective. Four years ago, Lennox created Person Pitch, a collection of borderline chants that melded Brian Wilson-era sonics and vocals with looped instrumentation and samples, turning Pitchfork on its ear and pretty much creating its own (much aped) musical genre. Then, in 2009, he went back into the studio with Animal Collective. When the band emerged, it had the unquestioned album of the year and perhaps one of the best of the first decade of the 21st Century, a piece of work called Merriweather Post Pavillion. Listen to songs like "My Girls," "Also Frightened," and "Brother Sport," and you will hear sounds that seem utterly foreign yet strangely familiar. In other words, the group combined their singular sonic perspective with elements of pop and songcraft to create something utterly phenomenal.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Better Late Than Never Reviews: Hot Sauce Committee Part Two - Beastie Boys

Hot Sauce Committee Part Two - Beastie Boys

Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, the new album by Brooklyn's finest rap trio, Beasties Boys was supposed to be released in 2010, but was delayed due to a medical leave by the group's Adam Yauch (aka, MCA). However, Yauch overcame his struggles with throat cancer, and returned with cohorts Michael Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) and a sound that merges the strongest aspects of hip-hop, punk, reggae, and any other genre that can sound spectacular when done right. Highlights abound on this album (it is a truly complete listen and one of the best of the year; plus, skits are kept to a minimum), but standouts include the serious throwback "Nonstop Disco Powerpack," "Say It," which starts off with something resembling a distorted buzzsaw and only gets more brutal from there including a speaker-blowing beat and massive chorus, and "Long Burn the Fire." The latter, which after many listens has been designated the album's instant classic, starts with dueling guitar/keys, only to evolve into a chorus that takes an old-school 70s sample and renders it unrecognizable and funky via particularly deft DJ work. Yauch starts the song proclaiming it to be "some nasty sh!t," and he is not spouting empty rhetoric. If you are not a fan of original, exhiliratingly executed hip-hop music, move directly to "Lee Majors Come Again" for energetic, surging punk, or see "Funky Donkey" for a bassline that is pretty much the epitome of...well, funk (the steel drum is quite awesome as well). When it comes to experimenting with musical genres, Hot Sauce Committee Part II has something for everyone. And it is all tasty as hell. Thank God for MCA's doctors.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A New Piece: Paradise Pizza Whole Wheat Crust

Every time Memorial Day weekend rolls around, I find myself dreaming of suntans, sand, and of course, a slice from Mack & Manco's. But this holiday weekend is one we're spending at home sweet home and I must say that we are doing a pretty good job of making it a holiday. Late night Scrabble on the deck (which we made into a mini-oasis complete with cafe lights) and mango vodka cocktails certainly help.

We're still on the diet good foot, but at bit lax because it is a holiday weekend. So we decided to pick up a pie from Paradise Pizza, a spot we reviewed back in February and have since visited a few times. And I couldn't help but notice a small handwritten sign on the counter about the availability of whole wheat crust. If I had suggested we try it a few months ago, the hubby would have laughed me out of the pizza shop, but he's pretty committed to the whole diet thing and agreed to test it out.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Very Civilized Night at Chap's Taproom

Chap's Taproom is definitely the best bar in the Norristown area. They have a very diverse, rotating selection of beverages. They have the requisite large televisions for viewing of the local sports teams. They have a very friendly, accomodating bar staff. They have a very good menu, with the Works roast beef and the wings serving as the unquestioned highlights. Hell, they even have a set of attractive twins working as servers!!! (I don't know...it's just cool to think about when bombed.)

But the really awesome thing about Chap's is that they are always looking for that next thing. They don't remain static. Sometimes their ideas are misses (from what I heard, their first venture into Comedy Night was an unmitigated disaster), but sometimes they really hit the right notes. And with a little work, the event we went to the other night could really be a hit. It was a beer dinner, and in this post I will give you the play-by-play of this inaugural event.

Course 1
When myself and the wife first rolled in (we were meeting our friends V and D - names omitted to protect our anonymity), we were greeted by our pal, a bartender named Mark, with a Samuel Adams Boston Lager. At first, we were really worried that the beers we would be served would be thimble-sized to preserve the aura of true fanciness. Instead, we were each poured a full 16-ounce glass. The food course that this beer accompanied was a cheese plate, along with grapes. Personally, I am not a big cheese person. But I ate it. It was fine. And the grapes were...grapes. I've yet to meet a person who could f*ck up grapes. So no complaints...other than the fact that I don't consider Sam Adams to be a very good beer. It is really just a step above the Miller Lites and the Bud Lights and the Yuenglings of the world. I would have liked a little more at a beer dinner.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tale of the Pie: Victory Brewing Company

What a day it was on Sunday!

Me and the missus, along with a number of our closest friends and the Little Man in jogging stroller, competed in Victory Brewing Company's Run for Ryan. I think this was some sort of charity, although I have no idea who Ryan is nor what his particular ailment is. All I knew is I was out there to run 3.2 miles, and when the race was finished I would be allowed to drink beer and eat barbecue. Yes, the lady allowed me to break away from my diet for this affair!

So with the lady relegated to the jogging stroller, I busted out of the blocks with Beastie Boys' Hot Sauce Committee Part II blaring! Thanks to my time-honored technique of pretending that masked revolutionaries had kidnapped my dog and threatened to kill him if I began to walk (it got me through the Broad St.), I ran the entire time through wobbly legs and rickety breathing apparatus. In fact, I sprinted the last quarter-mile like a man who would be handed a beer at the end of his toils...since I was. I finished the race in 23:59, pretty much a 7 and a 1/2 minute mile average on the button and good for 115th out of approximately 500 runners. Not bad.

Overall, a Very Good Thyme!

The other morning, we decided to go out for breakfast, and as our destination we chose a place near us called The Thyme Cafe. It is a nice, small spot (maybe eight tables) in Norristown that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (it is a BYOB). We are, of course, on a health kick, and since they have some healthy options on their menu, it seemed like this was the place for us.

I ordered the Breakfast Burrito, a very tasty selection with egg, black beans, and steak, while the lady had Huevos Rancheros, which came adorned with chorizo...and some other stuff (I have to work on my foodie retention skills, and, unfortunately, I don't believe they have a website to access a menu). For the little guy, we ordered the blueberry pancakes. The breakfast burrito was very good (I have actually had it several times and it is a quick go-to), and wifey reported that the Huevos Rancheros was also quite satisfactory (although probably not a good choice directly before a 5K race). I did steal a bite of Lil' Man's pancakes as well. Although these delights are probably persona non grata during my pursuit of the body of Adonis/less obese hemoglobin, I can say that the chomp I had was pleasing indeed. So basically, The Thyme Cafe has the food bit down. The owner, a guy named Andrew, has spent several years in the restaurant business and it seems like he puts a great deal of care into every meal that is released from the kitchen.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Booze ... in 50 Words or Less: Victory's Whirlwind Witbier

27:27 at the Victory Run for Ryan yesterday. Not bad for a 5K while pushing our 29-pound nibble in the jogging stroller. Even better? Rehydrating with a Whirlwind at the finish. Light, crisp Belgian-style, summery, refreshing.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tale of the Pie: Via Veneto Pizza

So Saucy's been doing great with the diet, and only a moderate amount of complaining (believe it or not). But we decided to take Friday night off to have a family outing and a few slices.

Our destination? Via Veneto's. Just a bit of background for you: the "disappointing pie" we refer to in our very first post, Getting to the Crust of the Matter, was actually from Via Veneto's. But the shop is about 15-20 minutes from our house on a good day and Saucy picked it up on a snowy February evening. And after the 30 minute or longer ride home, it really wasn't that hot. I mean temperature-wise and taste-wise.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Better Late Than Never Reviews: Nine Types of Light - TV on the Radio

Upon first listen, it was clear to me that Nine Types of Light, the fourth studio album by Brooklyn quintet TV on the Radio (although that number was unfortunately subtracted by one when bassist Gerald Smith died of cancer in April of this year) was inferior to at least its two immediate predecessors, 2006's Return to Cookie Mountain and 2008's Dear Science. It fell a little too much on the mellow side, and it lacked something with the brute force and raw power of Return's "Playhouses" or the infectious hummability of Science's "Golden Age." And anyway, it is no shame to fall short of those albums. Both ranked among the best of their year and decade. However, since I still spend money on music - sometimes I feel like I am the only one - I decided I would give it more than one listen. I'm glad I did.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tale of the Pie: Pizza Stop

Just had a a pizza party with the family for my mom's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! This side of the pizza project doesn't know anything or care to know anything about the south beach diet. We ordered pizza from a placed called Pizza Stop. It's a little shop in a strip mall, very unassuming on the outside and in. However, the pizza was fantastic.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How much would you spend to save a pet?

At a BBQ the other day, my uncle posed a tough question to all the pet owners present:
How much would you spend on surgery or other measures to save your dog?
Uh yikes. As much as we could afford to spend? Or probably beyond what we could afford? I just don't know how to answer that question.
There's no online calculator to figure that out, no two-months' salary estimate. There are certainly a lot of factors to consider, particularly the dog's age and quality of life. But equally important? The impact your pet has on your quality of life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thank You, Taj Gibson!!!

I don't like the Miami Heat. LeBron James is, of course, a self-aggrandizing whiner who had no chance to win a title on his own so he went out and rigged the league. Dwyane Wade is an arrogant, self-entitled fiend whose only title was handed to him by the league. He showed how truly classless he was by dunking in the last seconds of the Heat's first-round victory over Philadelphia after the Sixers had conceded. As for Chris Bosh, well, he is simply a glorified caddy. He couldn't lead his Toronto Raptor team anywhere near a playoff victory, so he moved to South Beach to shoot wide-open 15-footers and most likely do LeBron's whites whenever "The King" is feeling a bit lazy! These clowns actually had the temerity to cry and celebrate on the court after a playoff victory over the Boston Celtics IN THE CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS!!! So now the Heat are playing the Chicago Bulls in the conference finals and...it looks like the road just got a little tougher!

A Slightly Aimless Rant about...Kids in Church

Look, man, I'm no incredible holy roller really. I don't really believe an intense religious belief is NECESSARY for one to be considered a moral human being. I don't memorize all of the little sayings that everyone recites togtether. I don't have any sort of intuitive understanding of what all the rituals mean (what's the head/lips/heart deal?), and I don't find it necessary to perform them. And many (all?) of my personal beliefs don't really line up with what is outlined by the Catholic Church figureheads. But I do go to church every Sunday. The wife wants to bring our little guy up in the Catholic tradition and generally just likes to go, and I certainly want to support her.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

From pizza to pistachios: Our pie hiatus

So you may have noticed that there haven't been a ton of pizza reviews lately. Fear not, friends. They will be back soon enough.

Just on a brief break from pizza while we're working on lowering Saucy's triglycerides. After doing some research, South Beach seemed like the healthiest and easiest (not that any diet is easy, of course) way to do it. And I know from experience that it works - I lost about 25 pounds in the year before our wedding on South Beach.

Booze...in 50 Words or Less: Appalachian Brewing Company Hoppy Trails IPA

Appalachian Brewing Company Hoppy Trails IPA
Just went out for a run while pushing a 30-pound kid in a jogging stroller. Then, I did a weights workout. Why? So I wouldn't feel bad drinking this delicious, generously hopped beer from the Harrisburg-based brewery. This is the last beer in my fridge. I'm savoring the flavors.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nightmare at Chili's: Two-hour dinner with a toddler in tow

In the nearly 17 months that we've been accompanied by a third person (a very tiny person) when going out to eat, we've found it amazing how quickly you can actually get in and out of a restaurant. Hosts are anxious to get you seated so your child isn't wreaking havoc in their lobby. Servers cannot wait to get your order in, delivered and cleared to minimize the mess that is quickly accumulating under the high chair.

Unfortunately, that was not the case tonight. After a bit of shopping at the King of Prussia mall, we decided to head over to Chili's for dinner. We should have known it was not going to be smooth sailing as soon as the waitress took 15 minutes to bring us our drinks and take our order. But having been in the biz myself during my college years, I always like to give servers the benefit of the doubt. Even when we have to repeat our order three times: Fried mozzarella, cup of chili, chicken fajitas, margarita chicken. Mmmhmmm. Not exactly that complicated.

Ten Quick Thoughts on...Black Swan

1) Like most people, I have never really been a fan of Natalie Portman's acting. She tends to end up being either annoyingly cutesy or distractingly wooden in just about everything she's been in. Even something like Garden State, where her performance was somewhat memorable seems to suffer in hindsight (to be honest, I thought both she and the movie were kind of overrated at the time that I first saw it). I would say the only performance of hers that I have enjoyed thus far in her career was the stripper she played in Mike Nichols' Closer. That is, until I saw this movie. Portman is actually a revelation in Black Swan. I bought every paranoid, high-strung moment that her character, fragile ballerina Nina Sayers, spent on the screen (and no I don't care how much of her dancing she did). She totally deserved the Oscar she received for the role. Her incredible performance in fact was enough to forgive her for co-starring in an Ashton Kutcher film as her follow-up. Come to think of it, that Your Highness slop she just put out didn't look like such great shakes either. But look, man, she could use a break after that heavy lifting! Let's just hope she doesn't pull a Nicolas Cage after Leaving Las Vegas and never make another decent film.

Booze...in 50 Words or Less: River Horse Summer Blonde

River Horse Summer Blonde
Did I mention that wifey put me on the South Beach diet after a recent doctor's visit? Evidently, the plasma was looking a tad fatty. Now I get one beer per week. Not one sixer! ONE BEER! I had this one. Not good. Tasteless and bland. A wasted opportunity!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Booze...in 50 Words or Less: Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy

Been on a seasonal kick lately. I had passed on this one about a week ago but decided to try it on a recommendation by a friend who usually drinks Coors Light. Overall it was a little sweet and the smell reminded me of a cheap lemon scented cleaning product.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ten Quick Thoughts on...127 Hours

1) Danny Boyle is a very talented director. If he never makes another great film he has earned that distinction for Trainspotting alone. However, sometimes he can get in his own way as well. I'm talking about stuff like the opening split screens and the countless shots of the water being drained away or the mechanisms inside the camera slowly moving when Aron Ralston pushes record. It's all very cool and gets critics to write adjectives like "kinetic" or "inventive" in their reviews, but as far as serving the story, it can often be just plain distracting.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Booze...in 50 Words or Less: Magic Hat Vinyl (Spring Seasonal)

Magic Hat Vinyl
Never really been a fan of Magic Hat. I'm not fond of their signature #9. Just don't want apricots coming anywhere near my beer. So this spring seasonal was a pleasant surprise. Had a slight bitterness that I wasn't expecting in a light selection.

Booze...in 50 Words or Less: Yards Saison

Yards Saison
Went to Maple Shade Pizzeria Uno. Ordered a Yards Saison. They gave me the wrong beer. It was a little more Belgian-influenced, but terrific so I drank it without complaint. Copped a sixer of the real thing. Turned out they gave me the right beer. Sorry I doubted you, Uno.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Booze...in 50 Words or Less: Anchor Summer Beer

Anchor Summer Beer
This beer, from the San Francisco brewery that brought you Anchor Steam, tastes like Anchor Steam. That's not a horrible thing. I like Anchor Steam. But when I bought it, I wanted a refreshing summer beer, as was advertised. If I wanted Anchor Steam, I would have bought Anchor Steam.

Booze...in 50 Words or Less: Brooklyn Brewery Local 1

Brooklyn Brewery Local 1
Tough to write 50 words here. My lady drank almost the entire 25.4 ounce bottle. That's fair! I bought it for her. I did get a couple nice sips. It's a surprisingly easy-to-drink Belgian style ale. Get to Williamsburg, Brooklyn and try one. Or visit the Audubon Ale House!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Five Quick Thoughts on...the Death of Osama bin Laden

1) Yes, I know this is technically a site devoted to discovering the best pizza in the Norristown area. From time to time, we speak of other mild diversions, such as films, beer, CDs, or our dog's unfortunate eye boogies. But we made a pledge to stay away from the really serious matters. But I'm sorry: Osama bin Laden is dead, and I, Saucy McGillicuddy (do I have my own name spelled correctly?), need to talk about it! This will go down as one of the few "I remember where I was when that happened" moments in my life. In that pantheon, it joins the Challenger explosion (home for lunch from grade school), the O.J. Simpson verdict (my home in Cinnaminson, N.J., yelling at the TV for a reason I no longer remember or care about), the 2008 Phillies Game 5 World Series clincing victory (Elephant & Castle in Philly for rainy Part 1; Chap's Taproom in Norristown for frigid Part 2), Yao Ming's first playoff victory (The Whitpain Tavern in Blue Bell), the first time an injury ended Yao Ming's season (in front of my TV eating nachos and drinking fine suds), the next 15 times an injury ended Yao Ming's season (still in front of my TV eating nachos and drinking fine suds), the attacks of September 11, 2001 (working at Rosenbluth International in Philly; I still remember turning down attractive ladies asking for rides out of the city because I thought they might be terrorists in disguise), Hurricane Katrina (on my honeymoon in Hawaii), the inauguration of President Barack Obama (I was so happy to see George Bush sent into retirement that I spilled soy sauce on a co-worker's leg at an informal lunch gathering in our Boardroom), and now finally the death of Osama bin Laden (watching a Phillies game where our anemic offense somehow managed to blow the game despite a one-run outing by Cliff Lee). This is serious stuff!