Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hooray Beer!

Today I toured Harrisburg’s hometown brewery, Appalachian Brewing Company, with my family in tow. The ABC is housed in an impressive three story brick and timber building that was originally a printing company in the 1920's. Over the years it was reincarnated into several things, including a warehouse for aircraft parts during World War 2, and eventually left derelict after a massive fire. In the mid 1990's it was sold for a dollar to visionaries who conceived that it could be a brewery. We saw the techniques of making beer, from the beginning stages as just hops and barley, thru all the processes it undergoes, including mashing, filtering and fermenting, and then finally bottling and packaging. The tour was very informative and it was amazing to think how much thought and time goes into making my new found favorite nectar. For instance, a lager must ferment for 5 weeks in cold temperatures. Five weeks is a long time, but well worth the wait! After the tour was a round of questions and answers in which our guide explained my mother’s childhood gag reflex when in close proximity to the Yingling brewery, as well as why volcanic rock makes a better filter for beer than a typically used form of condensed Earth. After our questions were answered we were asked if we would like to sample some beers, and an over-emphatic "Yes!" sprung from my mouth. We sat at the bar and drank dozens of samples. Among the highlights were the Hinterland Hefe Weizen, a light beer with hints of banana and cloves making it fruity yet spicy, and Kiponafest, a darker beer with a coffee taste and gentle caramel notes. After learning more about the process of making beer, as well as the many different types produced, I am convinced that beer is the new wine.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dreams deferred no longer

This week has been unofficially dubbed "The week of hockey and dreams fulfilled". Both Laura and I won tickets to see two different Philadelphia Flyers games due to some strange vortex in the cosmos. On Monday Laura, Christian and I went to see the Flyers vs. the Devils, and sadly the Flyers lost miserably. Not to worry, we had tickets to Wednesday's game vs. the Capitols. Both Laura and I took half days off of work to go down to Philly early and see the King Tut exhibit at the Franklin Institute. We wandered around looking at ancient shiny pretty things, and were nonplussed to find that the mummified remains of the boy king were not on the premises. Instead we oohed and ahhed at the tiny sarcophagi lined with inscriptions of the book of the dead that at one time held his liver, and the doll sized chair that served as his throne when he ruled at the tender age of 9. I have always been fascinated by ancient Egypt and have wanted to see this collection for as long as I can remember. I even went to Chicago, in part to see the collection, only to find out that days earlier the exhibit had moved to Philadelphia. After seeing Tut in his last week before being moved to London, I felt I had crossed off a major "To Do" on my list. Sweet satisfaction. After visiting ancient Egypt, we toured the giant heart, and then left the museum to walk thru Rittenhouse Square and then down to Chinatown for Laura's initiation at Vietnam. We indulged in crispy spring rolls and chicken vermicelli buns, and then made our way to the Wachovia Center for the Flyers game with Steve and Alex. We arrived a little late, having missed the first period, but were still in plenty of time to make memories. Another of my life long dreams was to be on the Jumbo-tron at some sort of event. What can I say? I reach for the stars. Luckily for me, a camera man was standing by and made my dream a reality for the low price of one kiss with a gay man. Steve was a trooper, and acted the part by putting his arm around my shoulders and planted an ever so manly (aka horrible) kiss on my mouth. I laughed so long and hard, I thought I would cry. Two dreams fulfilled in one day. How did I get so lucky?

Monday, September 17, 2007

I heart New York

Saturday was spent in New York City. We arrived at 10 am and trekked it to H & H Bagels. I had the most incredible everything bagel with chive cream cheese. There was nowhere to sit down and eat inside, so we took our breakfast riverside and sat in the rain enjoying the warm, crunchy yet chewey, deliciousness, and learned firsthand that they truly are "Like no other bagel in the world". After our breakfast the rain subsided and the skies opened up and made it the most beautiful day ever. We hopped a cab to 5th Avenue and poshed around in Dior. I tried on the most gorgeous $650 limited edition shades, and even got some pictures before the saleslady clickety clacked her way over to tell us that pictures were strictly forbidden! We apologized profusely and then ran out of the store giggling. After taking in the wonders on 5th Avenue, we went to the Paley Center for Media. It's basically an archive of television and radio programs since the beginning of each medium that you can access and enjoy. First you buy your ticket, then you go to a selection room filled with computers and check their database for something you want to watch. You select your programs and then go to watch them in a viewing room. I watched "Jim Henson's Storyteller's : The Soldier and Death" and an episode of "In Living Color", while Steve enjoyed the painful hilariousness of "Tales from the Crypt" and "Bossom Buddies". Classic. After our hour of rejuvenating television watching, we made our way over to 6th Avenue and wandered around a street fair, ate a crepe, bought some awesome metal art and discount "cashmere" scarves. Next we subwayed it down to SOHO. We got lost on our way to the Puma store and stumbled into many treasures. The first was an Armani underwear model that Steve fondled after conning him into posing for a picture. Next was a street vendor selling what I thought were knock off but turned out to be authentic Puma bags. I bought one for 20 dollars and then hid it in one of Steve's bags so as not to be ashamed of my ghettoness when I arrived at the real Puma store. We found the Puma store, and I got these beautiful shoes! The next few hours were spent strolling around SOHO being snobby and unhelpful to other people. Oh, New York, you feel like home! After SOHO we took a cab ride to Chocolate Moderne, a "high end" chocolate shop. Well...we arrived at the address, and found it to be a nondescript apartment building. We cautiously took the elevator to the 9th floor and found a hallway filled with apartments and a note on the door that said "Chocolate Moderne. If no answer here, please knock on door 905". I tried the door and it was locked. I looked at Steve, and we both came to the consensus of "Hell to the no!" and we bolted. There's no way I'm sneaking around Manhattan for hidden "chocolate" inside the belly of this building with walls so thick that no one could hear me scream. I was unsure if a Wonka-like wonderland lay just beyond the door, or if it was more like some guy selling old Easter candy that he kept in his bathtub. I guess I'll never know. We were starting to get hungry, so we made our way over to Cafeteria and indulged in some good old fashioned comfort food. Steve got their famed mac and cheese, and I got an early taste of Thanksgiving with a turkey, mashed sweet potato, garlic green bean and walnut cranberry sauce plate. Amazing. After dinner we visited a Korean grocery store where I found an economy sized bottle of Sapporo, my favorite Japanese beer, and then stopped quickly at a boulangerie run by authentic Parisians, and drooled over amply stuffed cream puffs and flakier than Jessica Simpson croissants. We cabbed it back to 50th and Broadway, snapped a few shots of Times Square at night and boarded the bus back to the Burg. It really was an incredible day. It felt like we did everything and nothing all at once.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Paris, Je t'aime

Last Friday Steve and I ventured to Palmyra to see the opening night of "Paris, Je t'aime". We were the only ones in the theater...surprise surprise. It was a good thing though, because it allowed me to laugh and sob uncontrollably without regret. The movie is comprised of 18 different love stories all filmed in different arrondisements of Paris. It showcased all different types of love and different types of people, including love between a mother and a son, young love, old love, cross cultural and cross religion love, gay love, straight love, and love between a woman and a city. My favorites included the hysterical Tour Eiffel segment that focused on two mimes, and the heart wrenching Fauberg Saint Dennis clip about a young actress that breaks up with her blind boyfriend over the phone and his fast forwarded account of their love. The movie has been released for several months, but it only just now made it to the wonder that is Central PA. The DVD is coming out soon, and I intend on buying it and watching it repeatedly in anticipation of my upcoming trip to Europe.