Monday, September 29, 2008

Food Innovator Paul Newman...

There is not much more to say about the well-lived life of Paul Newman. He was a great innovator with his charitable Newman's Own series of food and drink which has generated over 250 million in proceeds for charaties all around the world. Newman also co-owned the Dressing Room on the grounds of the Westport Playhouse in Westport, CT. Mark and Lynn have made it a holiday ritual to visit there around Lynn's birthday for great organic, local, Yankee style comfort food. Our only regret was that we didn't run into old blue eyes while sitting at the bar to give us the chance to buy him a drink...(or for him to buy us a drink)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mark and Lynn get primitive at Obryckis in Baltimore...

As the world gets more sophisticated and we have more culinary, wine and spirit choices it is easy to lose touch with the primal aspect of eating. Eating for sensual pleasure, eating for survival, even preparing food as a skill. Dining at Obrycki's in Baltimore helps bring this notion back to the present tense. Mark and Lynn have wanted to go to Obrycki's, the famous mecca of crab and seafood perfection located in Baltimore (recommended by our friends John and Carol Cheskay) for many years. Driving to Wilmington from Long Island is grueling and it is difficult to take a detour as it can easily turn a 12-13 hour trip into a 14-15 hour trip. Luckily, Mark and Lynn stretched a point as we hit the Baltimore area early in the afternoon and found ourselves at the legendary restaraunt.

Obrycki's is located in the historic Fells Point section of Baltimore in a building that is over 150 years old. The area of town the place seemed untouched by gentrification and felt authentically urban. We got the the place around 2 and we were the only patrons in the sizable restaraunt. We ordered the specialty of the house, a huge platter of steamed crabs with the restaraunts flavorful spice generously applied. Our waitress showed us how to prepare and eat the crabs with great deftness. Lynn and I looked at the huge, crimson plate of crabs and wondered how we could eat so much food. Forty-five minutes later we looked at each other and wondered how could we have eaten so much food. We both remarked that we couldn't help but think of the famous carnal eating scene in Tom Jones where Albert Finney and Susannah York physically anihilated a meal in much the same way that we had. (Although we still had several hours of driving ahead of us)....

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 38218
Baltimore, MD 21231-1817

Street Address:
1727 E. Pratt St.
Baltimore, MD 21231

Phone: 410-732-6399

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ruth and Chris' at the Wilmington Hilton comforts hardened New Yorkers Mark and Lynn who are frightened by downtown Wilmington North Carolina...

Ruth and Chris' in the Hilton in Wilmington North Carolina was a breath of fresh air in downtown Wilmington which seems to have fallen on hard times. A quick drive down Front Street after getting in from Long Island at 11 pm reminded me of some of my favorite films: Night of the Living Dead, Escape from New York, etc.

If I exaggerate it is not by much. Co-ed types staggered down the street, scuzzy looking dudes lurked about. The next day a quick jog around the same area saw a Downtown that seemed to have morphed from a place with some real promise into a place with bar after seedy bar, over-flowing trash bins for blocks and quite a few guys rumaging through the trash and stealing newspapers from businesses.

So much for that. For what it is worth, Ruth and Chris' in the Hilton was one of the few places in the Downtown with a serious upgrade since we left. The Hilton has been the only Hotel of consequence in the Downtown for many years and the Hotel's farily recent renovation has simply placed the bar even higher.

Our daughter works there during the night shift and we were amazed at how chic and sleek the place has become (it was a bit on the frumpy side when we left in 2000). Lynn and I had a drink in the bar. I had my favorite vodka martini with Campari ("I have never heard of that combination," the bartender said) which was really nicely made (with a frozen glass!).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Harris Teeter's great Location on Carolina Beach Road in Wilmington, North Carolina...

Despite considerable misgivings about my hometown there are some things that I enjoy about it and even miss on occasion: A short list is the Wilmington Boxing Center on 10th Street, the funky YMCA on Market and JRP. Add to this list the best grocery store I have ever experienced; the Harris Teeter at Beau Rivage Marketplace on Carolina Beach Rd. Long Island has one Fairway in Plainview and a Whole Foods near Oyster Bay and despite the great fare in these stores these high end grocery palaces are less convenient, not as clean and not as friendly as the Harris Teeter on Carolina Beach Rd.

Harris Teeter is a chain of grocery stores situated mostly over 8 states in the south operating 176 stores at present. This particular store in the middle of a long, somewhat barren stretch between Wilmington and Carolina Beach has one of the best, small selections of wine I have ever seen. The store even carries fine ports, sake and fortified wines as part of its heroic selection. Lynn and I bought a case of a fine under the radar California Chardonnay at less than 40.00. The food is equally good and well-priced (with an exceptionally good seafood mixture) with first-class selections of international food (especially Indian). The place does not have some of the exotica of a Fairway or Whole Foods (no aged meats for instance or offbeat “to go” selections like Broccoli Rabe). However, to find a market of real excellence in easy to please Wilmington is extremely unusual and a real comfort to Mark and Lynn when they are in the Port City.

Beau Rivage Marketplace - #96
5920 Carolina Beach Rd
Wilmington NC 28412

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pita Delite at Monkey Junction in Wilmington North Carolina...

Lynn and I had been out late to see our Daughter KRP at the Hilton. We were driving back toward Carolina Beach and were exhausted and tired. We ducked into the Shangri-La like Harris Teeter to get SOMETHING...In the distance (across the parking lot) we saw Pita De-Lite, an apparent Indian and Mediterranealn style fast food place. Mark and Lynn are always up for a new experience so we brushed of our fatigue and decided to check the place out. Lynn and I had a Crab Salad pita and a Greek Salad which were both fresh with high quality ingredients. A nice take out alternative on the way to Carolina or Kure Beach...

Pita Delite Monkey Junction
5916 Carolina Beach Rd.
Wilmington, NC 28412
Phone: (910) 799-6692
Fax: (910) 799-6693

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Market by the Bay is the first "Gastro-Pub" of its high end kind...(copyright Mark and Lynn are Famished 2008)

A nice little "gastro-deli" (copyright Mark and Lynn are Famished all rights reserved)
in stylishly under the radar East Moriches (Long Island), NY. Great picnic food like Chicken Cordon Bleu (stuffed with Proscutto ham) and Lox (sold by the beautiful pound) make this little, high end deli a destination breakfast or lunch place on Long Island.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Shanachie Pub in Ambler, Pennsylvania is yet another reason to love the Irish....

A lovely, authentically Irish pub in Ambler, The Shanachie was a treat during our weekend in Pennsylvania. We arrived there in appropriately dreary weather and were releaved to be in the welcoming and cozy environment (where the first fire of the season was going). The menu is more flavorful than some Irish pubs we have gone to, the Celtic Cheese board, for instance, is a nice UK version of a traditional french offering. The Shanachie salad was also a beauty and the Chicken Tullamore had a nice smoky flavor of Tullamore whiskey. The servers were also efficient and unflappable.

We missed the Irish band as we left before 9. Irish music is played several nights a week and the theatre is conveniently located across from the art house theatre in Ambler. The Shanachie is one of the few pubs we would go out of our way to visit again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chaddsford Winery and Brandywine Museum are Keystone State Treats...

(courtesy of Brandywine Museum)

Mark and Lynn have just visited Pennsylvania and were surprised by the quality of food and drink there. Nothing fancy for the most part, but really superb red state type comfort food and drink. One of the more refreshing "finds" was the Chadds Ford vineyard in Chadds Ford, PA (about 30 miles south of Philadelphia). We had heard about this vineyard from friends of ours who had visited there recently. The day we visited it was horrible weather and we were drenched and tired from a longish trip from Long Island. Visiting there was a nice antidote to the weather and our fatigue. The clerks were pleasant, knowledgeable and unpretentious.

We didn't stay long, but we managed to have a full tasting and were impressed by the Proprietor's Red and Pinot Noir (we bought six bottles of these two varietals). So far they have been a nice wine to re-introduce our pallets to red wine which we usually eschew in the summer. A nice trip to pair a vineyard visit would be a jaunt to the Wyeth rich Brandywine Museum just down the road. The day we went Andrew Wyeth's grandaughter gave a whirlwind tour explaining some of the significance of her grandfather's paintings to her on a personal level...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Expensive and unimaginative Food and Spirits at the US Open Tennis Tournament....

Having just visited the US Open in Queens I have to say though the event is a great one and the only sporting event in the US I would go way out of my way to see I have to admit a great deal of disappointment with the food and drink offerings at the historic tournament. Without dissecting every single aspect of it there are a couple of rules of thumb-1. Food is greatly overpriced (a lobster roll at the Fulton Fish Booth was almost 20.00), 2. Drinks are watered down, expensive and served for the most part in tacky plastic cups. There is little in the way of ambiance for dining at the tournament as well.

How to fix it?-A couple of fundamental suggestions...

1. Get cheaper and healthier offerings-There is a lot of fried food available. Make more interesting choices more available like Sushi (which is available), salads, and some more affordable vegetarian or ethnic dishes (like Indian food)

2. Democratize the spirits. Grey Goose was the only vodka visible at the tournament. Why not the new, New York centric LI Vodka? Why not the much-maligned, but utterly decent Georgi Vodka located in nearby Long Island (Syosset)? The US Open is a quintessentially NY event; let the spirits reflect this.

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I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...


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