Monday, July 30, 2012


Pea Pod is a delivery service company connected with the grocery chain known as Stop & Shop.  When there is a load of food to buy it might be easier to get it delivered as they will even come into your home and place the bags on your kitchen floor.  The service is just a bit higher than if I took public transportation but lower than a one way trip by car service.  You have to depend on receiving what you don't see, other than what is online.  There is, however, a guarantee and if you are not happy with the product they will deduct the amount from your bill.

Stop & Shop has a double your money back guarantee and you pretty much do get to see what you buy.  Produce can be a bit of a problem in both cases as there is no opportunity to taste the product as there may be if you went to Fairway Markets.  Tasting produce also poses a situation of that it is not washed.

I placed an order with Pea Pod and was not satisfied with some products and also found that not all products sold at Stop & Shop are available on Pea Pod.  I called customer service and got someone who thinks he knows it all but doesn't, if you know what I mean.

Cherries.  At this time of year, I expect them to be sweet.  They tasted tart.  He first argues with me that the ad does not specify that they are sweet or may not be fully ripe.  Give me a break!!!  They did not look as if they needed to ripen and why send them to me if they weren't!!!

Next was a head of romaine lettuce which was obvious that no leaves were removed.  You know what I mean by that.  I'm pulling off a bunch of leaves and there is brown ruined whatever near the stem.  Add to this that it is bitter!!!  If I wanted bitter I'd buy escarole!

I bought two packages of Center cut loin pork chops bone-in.   One package is perfect.  The other has chops with lots of fat and looks more like "seconds".  Give me what I order and don't try to slip something in that is not as good!

The last one took over 10 minutes of arguing.   I wanted Ice Cream.  I looked at all of the brands offered and just about all of them were listed....except...GRAETER'S!!!!!   I thought I'd try a different brand than my usual and decided on Breyers Ice Cream and chose a plain chocolate which appeared to have sugar and not corn syrup.  Oh yeah...did I tell you that they are allowed to substitute?

Here was this 1.5 quart which read Frozen Dairy Dessert.  What the hell does that mean?   I called Graeter's to speak with Bob Greater.  He informed me that in order for a product to be labeled as "ice cream" it had to meet the minimum standards of having at least 18% butterfat.  Not only is this product lacking in mouth consistency but allowed to have 50 percent of air pumped into it.   Now I understood why the weight of what was supposed to be 48 ounces felt like less than 2 pounds.

So, I'm trying to explain this to the know-it-all.  "It sounds like ice cream, to me" was his answer each time I gave him the data.  When I look at it now, on Pea Pod's website, I don't think that I ordered the one that reads Breyers Ice Cream Extra Creamy Chocolate as that one lists it as having corn syrup. 

It took a whole bunch of talking to get my refunds which he construed as being a "courtesy".  Good grief!  With economizing it is important to get what you pay for....and please don't post as a 100 percent satisfaction if you're not going to take care of it.   Cherries should be sweet unless listed as "tart",  romaine lettuce should not be bitter,  Ice Cream should be Ice Cream and not Frozen Dairy Dessert and if you are not going to view the meat make sure that what you package is consistent!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


With so many museums it seems that Philadelphia has added two more in the last few years; the Barnes Foundation and the National Museum of American Jewish History.  Both located in the area known as Center City, I ventured out to experience them.

Let me begin by saying that I took Amtrak from Penn Station. If you travel at off hours you can wind up paying about the price of a bus ride.  Amtrak is so much less than traveling by air and without the long lines for both check in and security.  I noticed people with lots of baggage as well as Red Cap service.  Business class will up the price of about $15 and consider that it is a lot cheaper than the difference between coach and first class on an airline.  The trip itself will take longer than going by air but take into account the time you have to be at the airport before your plane leaves as well as the weather and how close you can arrive at your destination, which may be closer than the airport.

When I arrived at the 30th Street Station there were options to getting to my hotel.  Although I made my way with just a backpack...I'll tell you how to do it...I would have opted for a taxi.  There are several ways to get around Philly, one of which is the off and on Trolly Works that is part tour which costs $27 for adults an operating from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weekends until 6 p.m.).  

Phlash, another trolley, picks up every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and not on all weekends.  With 19 stops, it will cost you $2 per person per ride.  An individual all-day PhlashPass is just $10, and an all-day family Phlash pass (two adults and two children ages 6-17) is just $15. Children under 5 and seniors are always free.  Forgot to tell the driver how old I was. 

Then there is the SEPTA, their subway system, which will take you further than Center City, the downtown area. 

The Barnes Foundation, which recently opened, is located at 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, just near the Rodin Museum.  I'm going to describe my experience of it and all about art.  It's like Albert C. Barnes and Laura L. Barnes had a huge art collection and needed a building to put them in.   Then they asked some friends if they wanted to house their art collection as well.   I didn't ask for a docent to take me around nor did I rent an audio tour.  For me,  not a lover of the fine arts, it was inundating.   I felt as if I needed a GPS to get around and wasn't sure as to whether I was in that same room again.   I didn't notice that there are numbers on each of the entrances.  

Diversification is the key to the art (some of which is sculpture as well) which reflects a broad range of periods and culture.  A docent one-hour tour costs $40;  an audio rental is $5.   Each of the rooms has a "book" that will tell you about each of the paintings.    General admission is $18 for adults.   I know that there is horticulture involved with the museum but time did not permit me to explore.  

The National Museum of American Jewish History, a Smithsonian affiliate, tells the story of American Jews who have arrived to North America from 1654 to the present.  Exhibiting and interpreting the American Jewish experience this five story building located on Independence Mall is the only museum in the nation dedicated solely to telling the story of Jews in America.  They moved from a smaller building near the same area.

With 25,000 square feet of gallery space on almost four floors, the core exhibition explores the challenges that Jews faced, celebrating their experiences in every part of American life as well as every phase of this country's history.  

Featured are more than1,200 artifacts, original films and 13 state-of-the-art interactive displays including "Only in America" Gallery/Hall of Fame of Jewish Americans with remarkable achievements.  Among the first 18 honorees are Louis Brandeis, Albert Einstein, Estee Lauder, Jonas Salk, Steven Spielberg and Barbara Streisand. 

Currently, and until Sept. 30, 2012,  the main exhibit is called "To Bigotry No Sanction", an historic correspondence between George Washington and the Jewish community of Newport. Washington's iconic address to "the children of the stock of Abraham" placed an emphasis on the confirmation of his commitment to a government that "gives to bigotry no sanction".  

On display is an array of documents, publications and portraits from both American and American Jewish History that include: a public printing of the letter from George Washington to the Jews of Savannah; First public printing of the US Constitution; and the original correspondence between Washington and the Hebrew Congregation of Newport.  

George Washington's letter to Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode IslandI found this museum to be overwhelming as there is so much to see.  Looking back I would have a full breakfast and get there at 10 a.m.  Break for something to drink at their cafe after two hours, and continue for another two hours.  No photos, so you may want to take notes.  They close at 5 p.m.  Basic cost is $12 for adults.  Check it out on  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


With all of the Italian restaurant in Philly, I chose one called Le Virtu, located at 1927 East Passyunk Avenue. Their website read, "The inspiration for Le Virtu (The Virtues) comes from our experience at the tables of family, friends and farm restaurants all over Abruzzo. Every dish we prepare is rooted in or inspired by Abruzzese culinary tradition, ingredients or philosophy. We serve the cuisine of the shepherds, farmers and fishermen of Italy's wildest and most unspoiled region."  I knew I wouldn't be getting a plate of lasagne or meat balls and spaghetti.

Le Virtu's owners are Francis Cratil Cretarola and Catherine Lee (who gave me a list and description of the appetizer platter).  Executive Chef Joe Cicala worked on a menu tasting beginning with the Affettati Misri, selection of house-cured salumi and assorted antipasti.  It consisted of : capicolla, pancetta (pork belly), guanciole (pork cheek), loriza (pork loin), prosciutto d'anatia (duck prosciutto); ricotta allo zafferano (saffron-infused sheep milk ricotta); eggplant oreganata (mrinated eggplant), peperoni anostiti (roasted peppers); and cipolle e carote agrodolce (pickled red onion and carrots).  I'm so happy that I was able to try burrata, fresh mozzarella stuffed with what appears to be a combination of ricotta and cream.

I was most interested in having rabbit this evening since I saw it being prepared at D'Angelo's.  In fact, that is where Joe gets his rabbit.  I first tried it in an appetizer portion of fresh ribbon pasta in a rabbit ragu.  That was followed by rabbit "porchetta" style served with lemon potatoes. 

One specialty of Joe is a thick single strand of pasta that he created from simply flour and water.  

Desserts are the responsibility of Angela RAnalli.  I had the Napolione al Cioccolato e cocco...a flourless chocolate cake with coconut pastry cream along with cherry panna cotta made with amarena cherries.

I also took a few photos of the garden with its fabulous mural and herb wall.   

Monday, July 16, 2012


I went to Philadelphia and believe it or not I did not have a pretzel or Philly Cheese Steak.  After a comfortable Amtrak trip, that seemed shorter than expected, I was escorted to an area known as the Italian Market.  During certain hours, the wares are presented as you pass down the streets, the location of which is mostly South 9th Street.  In fact if you go to the website of you'll get the inside scoop.

While planning my trip I spoke with a member of the American-Italy Society after viewing this information on their website. "It was 1956 when a violinist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the new Italian consul general discovered a mutual love of 18th century Italian chamber music, and from their impulse to share Italian music and culture, the America-Italy Society was born.
"Today, the Society, located at 1420 Walnut Street in Center City, has 750 members and a broad range of activities. Still at its core is the free concert series of the Amerita Chamber Players, all of whom are members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and an extensive Italian language program.
"In a little more than fifty years, the America-Italy Society of Philadelphia has established itself as a center for all who thrive on the beauty of the Italian language and derive inspiration from Italian arts and culture."
Food time!  My first tasting was at DAnglelo Brothers where they specialize in game meats all of which are farm raises and hormone free.  Sonny DAngelo invited me for a tasting of a variety of prosciutos and salamis made with ingredients such as boar, duck, and venison. 

On to cheeses. There were two places and totally different. Unfortunately I only had time for one and not the one I have a photo of the outside of...Di Bruno Bros.  It was Claudio's King of Cheese where I did a tasting of many imported Italian cheeses.  With lots imported groceries as well, I passed on them so as not to load me down for my return ride to NYC.  Not only did I sample fresh mozzarella but one that was made with black truffles.

It's dessert time so I'm off to Isgro Pastries, located off of 9th on Christian Street.  They have been in business since 1904.   Sfogliatella was my first pick. I love the combination of crunchiness and cheese.  One of my "tests" in a cannoli.  This one was different as it has mascarpone  and ricotta cheese instead of just ricotta cheese.  I'm told it is what they use for their tiramisu.  Quite creamy and a great idea.  Noshed a few almond cookies as well.

Lastly was my indulgence in gelato as Capogiro at 119 South 13th Street near my hotel.  I really did a tasting there.  The best combination for me was a dark chocolate sorbet paired with a hazelnut gelato.  Wow, was that awesome.  It turned out that another customer loved the same combo.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


How could I turn down going to Fairway Market with a sale on lobster at $6.99 per lb!  We're not talking ones that are a "pound and a quarter".  Two pounders...three.   The thing is, Fairway doesn't change the price with size.  You know what I'm talking about.   I got one female that was about two pounds and a male that was over 3 and half.

I had them take the life out of the female for me as I wanted to broil that one and I'm not really sure what I need to cut into.   There was lots of roe.  After broiling in my NuWave oven, I ate the tail and cracked the  claws.  I saved the knuckles, roe and claw meat for a near future lobster bisque or stew.  As for the body, I tore it apart and got every bit of meat.

The best way that I found to cook up a live one is to steam it in beer.   Maybe it gets drunk along the way....who knows.  All I know is that it gives a slightly sweeter flavor and a little less fishy....I do this for shrimp as well.  Being that it was a rather large size, cracking the claws involved my using a hammer!!  I would not recommend that large of a lobster if you are on the weak size.  Needless to say, the tail was huge!

Ate the body and the claws...after all the work!...I froze the lobster tail in its shell along with the knuckles for a future meal.  The advantage of having such a large lobster, not only is the size of the tail but the amount of meat that you can get from the body.   A smoked lobster corn chowder is planned.

I then explored the produce section where Fairway is buying local goods...local meaning the tri-state area.   Pickup up a Boston lettuce and red leaf lettuce.  Bargain was the watermelon at 29 cents a sweet and refreshing, especially with this awful heat.

It was lobster and a salad for dinner.  I'm working on a dessert using chocolate pudding...still too hot to potchka.  I will not prepare instant pudding!  I usually make it from scratch using cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract, milk and corn starch to thicken.   I bought My-T-Fine pudding that you cook!   That's what I grew up on.  Will let you know how it turns out.

I had a blueberry pie, instead.   Well, not exactly a blueberry pie.   It was Graeter's "Elena's Blueberry Pie".
I'm not a blueberry pie person.  This was awesome.  No blueberry bits...the real thing.   It both had the consistency and taste of eating a small amount of blueberry pie and a large scoop of vanilla ice cream!

I had also commented on Graeter's  sorbets being a bit too sweet for me.  Found a fabulous use other than making a smoothie.  A placed a scoop of sorbet in a small plastic bottle with water, shook and put it in the frig.  Like having lemon, strawberry or raspberry "ade".  Quite refreshing and keeps me hydrated.

Oh yeah....I bought loose rooibos tea at Fairway.  Combine the tea (which is really fine on its own and without sugar) with a small scoop of sorbet for extra flavor and sweetness.  Makes for a most delicious iced tea.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Recognized worldwide for her witty satire, brilliant impressions and powerful singing style,
America's premier woman of 1,000 faces and voices, Marilyn Michaels will appear on the
Dix Hills Performing Arts Center stage in A Funny Girl Revisited.

Winner of an Outer Critic Circle Award and a Drama League Award for her debut in
Catskills On Broadway, Marilyn Michaels is known to audiences everywhere as a gifted
impressionist, actress and songstress. Marilyn's first notable performance was in the starring
role of Fannie Brice in the national company of Funny Girl, where she garnered rave reviews
for her singing ability, comedic timing and uncanny likeness to Barbara Streisand. Marilyn
made her television debut on the Emmy winning, classic television series, The Kopykats.
She is well-known to audiences through her countless appearances on such television shows
as The Tonight Show, LIVE! With Regis and Kathie Lee, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with
Robin Leach, The Today Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, Sullivan on Broadway, The Dean Martin
Show, Dean Martin Roasts, Name of the Game with Sammy Davis, and many more.
Marilyn has brought her gift for satire and her powerful singing style to such diverse venues
as Las Vegas and Atlantic City, starring at Harrahs Hotel in the dazzling revue, Broadway
Ballyhoo. Known as a "triple threat performer" she is one of the few performers in show
business who can be seen both hosting a standup show such as Girls Night Out for Lifetime
and dealing with topical and pertinent social issues as host of CNBC'S Talk Live.
But it is singing that brings Marilyn her greatest pleasure and where she feels she has the
most ability. She has appeared in concert at Town Hall and the Sylvia and Danny Kaye
Playhouse as well as with the Philadelphia and Long Island Symphonies.
In fact, she can sing in five different languages, and frequently performed with her mother
cantoress Fraydele Oysher. She was also a guest on the PBS special Another Mitzvah,
along with Alan King and Erica Jong, and hosted WLIW television's Awards in Excellence
Gala. Marilyn began her career singing with her mother at age seven. By 15 she was soloist
in the choir led by her father, the late Metropolitan Opera basso Harold Sternberg. The cantor
was her uncle, the legendary Moishe Oysher.
It was through this musical heritage that Marilyn honed her ear for sounds, dialects and
languages. Her character portrayals have been seen on such classic shows as The Love Boat,
and on the soap opera One Life to Live. Her rendition of Donna Summer and Barbara Streisand
singing via split screen on an NBC Award show has become a cult favorite.
A many-facetted woman, Marilyn is an accomplished painter whose landscape paintings and
celebrity artworks have been shown in New York and Palm Beach's finest galleries. Marilyn's
CD's include, "Voices" (30 characters and voices), "An Oysher Heritage" (timeless Yiddish and
Hebrew duets with her great Uncle, Cantor Moishe Oysher and Mother Fraydele Oysher),
"A Mother's Voice" (title song by Marvin Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman) singing
with her son Mark Wilk, and her most recent CD, "Marilyn Michaels... Wonderful At Last."
This current CD contains original songs written by Marilyn for the musical, "Alyss," based on Alice through the Looking Glass, as well as the Great American Songbook. A quote on the
inner liner notes from legendary Broadway composer of Funny Girl and Gypsy, Jule Styne,
state "Marilyn, you're a thrilling talent."  The Dix Hills audience is sure to agree.

Dix Hills Performing Arts Center at Five Towns College 
305 North Service Road
Dix Hills, NY 11746
631-656-2148 ~ 

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I trying to sample each of Greater's Ice Cream flavors as all are not in my local supermarket.  This time it was Peanut Butter Chip, Coconut Chip and three sorbets: raspberry, strawberry and lemon.  The Peanut Butter Chip is wonderful and even better if you sandwich it in between a Fairytale Brownies Chocolate Chip brownie.  Much better than a Reese's Peanut Butter cup as you're indulging not only in the brownie but dark chocolate instead of the cheap milk chocolate that they use.

I do not like coconut.  I couldn't believe my reaction to the Coconut Chip!  It's not that "palm oil" taste that I get from the chips used in other ice creams but shredded coconut.  This is by far better than a Mounds as it doesn't have that oily taste that I get from a Mounds bar.

Now to the sorbets.  They tasted true to the flavor.  However....I just found them much too sweet for my palate.  I'm going to try making a smoothie using milk to help calm it down.  Or perhaps mix with vanilla ice cream for a sherbert....nah...still too sweet.  Doesn't work with a brownie.  Perhaps a scoop in my cold cereal as a fruit substitute.  I'll figure it out.

Hey, I just saw Rich Graeter on The View as part of ice cream month.  His ice cream was featured first!  


I saw "Gilbert & Sullivan In Briefs" at Queens Theatre (In the Park) in Flushing Meadow-Corona Park.  The show which had been running since June 21st, is going off to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  For me the show was just another disappointment in the "Best Season Ever" that Queens Theatre has been marketing.

This show was an attempt to (I think) sing about 4 minutes of each of Gilbert & Sullivan's operettas.  The beginning of the show wasted time with the pianist attempting a joke by measuring the distance between the piano and his seat.  There was much too much insignificant dialogue in between many of the group of songs and except for H.M.S Pinafore, The Mikado, and Pirates of Penzance, you had to be an historic admirer of the composers.

Oh, ran 75 minutes with no intermission and when they joked about an intermission I think the audience was disappointed in not being able to have the chance to exit. 

The acting was okay.  Singing was fair.  What this is all about is the new Executive Director Ray Cullom, who has been using the theatre to hopefully further his career in writing and directing.  He thinks he's great.  Perhaps the audience, composed of mostly seniors, may have enjoyed the season as a day or evening out.  You can get an advanced 4 shows for $100 if you choose.  That's one way to get the people.

What about marketing?  How is it that the house wasn't full for performers like Melissa Manchester and Paula Poundstone?

I'm getting emails asking me to review the shows and unless I give it a rave review, it doesn't go on their website.  I keep noticing that there are no reviews on the website.

There are at least a half dozen local newspapers in Queens...I write for one of them.  Here's an interesting tidbit.  One newspaper, the Queens Courier, has voted them the best Theatre in Queens.  I'll bet.  Guess which newspaper gets the ads for their program.


“Experience tells you what to do - Confidence allows you to do it - But real strength is being knocked down and having the determination to get back up and keep on going -NEVER GIVE UP! Play Strong - Hit'em hard - GOOD LUCK  - GO SHARKS!! I believe in you! Love you lots – Mom”

New York Sharks linebacker Amy Deal (#59) received the above from her mother, Julia, known as “Indiana Mom”. It was placed in her shoe and carried around during the playoff game against the Boston Militia.  I don’t think that she’s the only team player wearing it as they are copied and given to her teammates. Some whose parents were a distance away; some whose parents were no longer living and an inspiration for all. 

“I started doing this when Amy first started in competitive sports in school in the 6th grade”, said Julia. “ I was a single Mom at that time and I would send she & her little sis off to school in the morning and leave work & race to what ever event she was in, but wouldn't get to actually talk to her until it was over most times.  I just wanted to let her know that I loved her and wished her good luck & if she tried her best that was all that anyone could ask of her, so I would write a little note and while she was getting ready for school, I would tuck it inside her shoe in her duffle so that when she was getting dressed for her event, that she would find it. Amy liked them so I did the same for her sister when she started competing.  

“Sometimes the notes were nothing more than - Run hard... run fast..I know you can do this!  Or winning is 99% mental.  Anything I could think of, or other times I would search through inspirational quotes and adapt them to fit the situation.  Mostly I just wanted them to feel loved and supported.

“It wasn't until several years later that I found out that Amy & her sis would read the note & put it back in their shoe for good luck, so the note was with them while they ran, played basketball, soccer or what ever.  Then when she graduated high school I found out that she had saved them all in a shoe box.  Lots of them then went into a scrapbook she made.

“ I think I can count on one hand the times that I missed an event she was in during high school, and that was usually only because her sister was in  an event at the same time, so my hubby and I would split up and one of us would go to Amy's event and the other to her sister Erin's.  So when she started playing football in LA for the Amazons, I couldn't stand that I wasn't going to be there to see all of her games.  So the good luck shoe notes were back.  Then after a game or two, she said... you know mom Christina or Gina or Chandra or whomever doesn't have anyone to support them, do you think you could send notes for them too?  And so began the multiple shoe notes for her team mates for the Amazons and then the San Diego Surge and now for the Shark's.  

“I've had the privilege of meeting lots of her football team mates over the years and I can say that they are all an amazing group of women.  The dedication and love for the game that they all show is truly inspiring.  They all work, or go to school or take care of their families and then give up valuable time and sacrifice their bodies to attend multiple practices and meetings each week and show up and give 110% out on that field.  I won't even mention the monetary sacrifices they each make to play and travel with the teams.  I just wish some sponsors and the sports world would take notice and give these ladies the attention they deserve.  

“I always told my girls - get involved in something...I don't care what it is, sports, music, theater, art - just get involved in something you love. My girls chose sports and I couldn't think of anything better.  It taught them sportsmanship, leadership, organizational skills and helped to turn them into the wonderful young women they are today.  And really, what else could a parent ask for.... I knew where they were, who they were with, they were being supervised by some wonderful dedicated coaches and they got to meet some people from all walks of life through the years and travel and make some wonderful memories.

“I am so proud of Amy and all of the women of the Sharks and all of the other teams around the league for the strength they show and the leadership they provide to the next generation of young ladies coming up.”  

This was Amy’s first season as a “Sharkie”, also having been a teammate on Team USA in the first International Women’s Tackle Football Tournament and bringing home the gold.  Notes were brought to the venue in Sweden. 

Here is a sampling of notes given to Amy: “Don't just wait for the moment, bring the moment to you. Excellence is not an act, but a habit. Show em what you've got! Play hard. Good luck go sharks Love you lots, Mom”.  “Champions keep playing until they get it right. Do your best, don't give up, take one play at a time and move on. Good lil, go sharks. Love you lots, Mom ps I'm so proud of you.” “Victory isn't defined by wins or losses. It is defined by effort. Give it your all, play with heart. I am so proud of you. Good luck, go sharks. Love you lots, Mom”

And her personal FAVORITE: “Somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back... Play for Her. Good luck, go sharks. Love you lots, Mom”

Julia Rubinstein is an inspiration to all of us women!