Wednesday, January 30, 2008

rush hour on the schuylkill

Philadelphia has many problems: High murder rate, trash, crime, traffic (but honestly...what major city doesn't?), poor public transportation, corruption. Sometimes it is very difficult to embrace the city when these blights are always headlining the news.

But Philadelphia does have check marks in its positives column. Culture and arts are actually well represented here. The local music scene is nationally renowned. There is a new mayor who seems genuinely interested in turning this city around - genuinely being the key word and probably why he was elected in the first place. The new police chief has released his plan to lower the city's crime rate. The city is home to one of the largest urban green spaces in the country.

The Philadelphia skyline is striking from nearly any location in which it can be viewed. Somewhat small, but well represented, it is beautiful from the Art Museum stairs, John's Roast Pork in South Philly, the Regional Rail. Depending on where you are on it, just about the only advantage to sitting in traffic on the Schuylkill is the view. If you can't see the skyline, then really you're just wasting your time in traffic. But if you can see it, it's something to behold. For a while now, I have been waiting to be stuck* in traffic so I can take a photo of it. Tonight, just before South Street heading westbound, I finally had my opportunity. The photos didn't turn out all that great...a night shot would be better. Here they are; now you can pretend you were sitting in traffic with me.

*By "stuck," I mean literally not going anywhere. Traffic on the Schuylkill is notoriously bad, but often you're still moving just enough that a photo will be blurry in all but the brightest conditions. Just the other night, the lighting was perfect, but the stupid cars in front of me wouldn't stop long enough for me to snap a long exposure. many times have you heard of someone complaining that traffic wasn't bad enough?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

city hall 4 shame

So, as if to prove how good the wine was Sunday night, here are the four shamefull shots I took of City Hall from Broad Street. Notice in the first one, I forgot to turn the flash off. The other three just prove I couldn't hold still long enough for a decent shot. And they're a little crooked, probably because I was leaning unintentionally.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Restaurant Week - Branzino's

We went to Branzino's for Restaurant Week. Outstanding from start to finish and the plan is to return, but not on a Tuesday or Wednesday because our waiter is off those days.

This is a tiny split level Italian restaurant that really packs the tables in, though that might have been for Restaurant Week. They called the day before to confirm the reservation and to kindly let us know that during this extremely busy week, diners are allotted 1 1/2 hours for dinner. The hostess was quick to point out that during normal times, patrons are given how ever long they like.

It turns out that the time provided was perfect for two people, though there was little break between courses. We brought along a bottle of Lucas & Lewellen 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. It paired perfectly with the meal, at least to our untrained palettes. The wine was smooth, fruity...with hints of cherry? Blackberry? Imaginaberry? First course was grilled squid and beef carpaccio. The squid was smoky and lemony and the carpaccio was...well...raw. Delicious and peppery.

After a quick brush with the crumb blade, and a passing comment from the waiter that we left no crumbs - it was too good to leave even a single crumb behind, the main entrees were brought out. Salmon Dijon, of which I had a small taste (no small feat mind you...) was actually quite tasty. The Veal del Martini was sweet and smoky and the crust almost reminded me of maple syrup.

Dessert was the same for both of us, the custard, served at room temperature with blueberries and strawberries. This was so smooth and not overly rich. You didn't want the bowl to end.

On the way back to the car, we decided to venture into Naked Chocolate. After passing it three times on the street, we finally made it in to the cafe. There we enjoyed a classic drinking chocolate and peanut butter nudo, as stuffed as we already were. We shared a table with two other very nice people, who were kind enough to not be completely turned off by our somewhat inebriated attempts at coherent conversation.

The walk back to the car led us past a view of City Hall (from Walnut) that had to photographed, of course. I'll post it as soon as I download it off the camera...provided that it is a shot worth posting. I was having a tough time holding still for a longish exposure. Damn delicious wine.

The night wound down with some TV and more good conversation and The Jack playing with wire.

It was late, well past my bedtime, and I headed home, in perhaps the best mood I have been in for a long, long time. Thanks for great night.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

busy day

The living room is just about finished, as evidenced by this photo.

I still need to add the finishing touches, like curtains and lamps and pictures, but it's basically finished. And besides, there are more important things to do now, as evidenced by this photo.

That's Theo. And he is one bear of cat. He's the softest ever and he's got huge eyes and paws. He hasn't meowed once since coming home, but he's been purring. His nails needs to get clipped first thing tomorrow because they are ridiculously long. Once he's hooked onto something, he can't let go of it without some assistance. I'll be making a run to PetSmart twice tomorrow. Once for supplies and once for his nails.

He's from the Montgomery County SPCA. I'm going to go play with him now!

Friday, January 25, 2008

the living room

It's not done yet.