Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Rest of the Trip

New Years Resolution: Be more timely with my posting. OK, so much for that.

Continuing the Great Xmas Escapade

Christmas eve morning we drove from Brooklyn to Plains, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Wilkes-Barre, and the home of Jennifer's grandparents. For the Big Italian Family Christmas Eve Dinner, we made our second semi-annual trip to Betelli's Villa, in Wilkes-Barre. They offer a scaled down menu on Christmas Eve, but the Veal Saltimbocca was excellent, and Tristan couldn't resist the pasta again, of course.

(Have you ever seen the picture of that guy on The Smoking Gun who keeps getting arrested for huffing gold paint? Tristan could be a marinara sauce huffer.)

That night, Jonas, John, and Jordan gave up the opportunity to sleep in actual bed's at cousin Tahnee's house in order to be at Nona's when Tristan and Zoe woke up.

Christmas morning it was evident that Santa had gotten the memo about the kids' location, and he had delivered their prizes to the right place. We hung out and ate, and after lunch, Joe, Pam, Jared, and Julia arrived from their hotel.

That night it was off to Cousin Shannon's house for another family tradition. More food, games, and funny made-up stories about "postive attributes" of Democrats. We got to meet Briellia, Shannon and Brian's almost 2-year-old daughter, and see Brian's two-part homemade horror series "The House With Many Dolls."
We did get a decent photo of the immediate family though

My Big Fat Italian Christmas
My Big Fat Italian Christmas Hosted on Zooomr

The next day we headed back to Harmonyville, to slow down and relax. . . a little. Great Mom came over to start making tomato sauce for pasta. It's a two-day affair. That night we visited with Uncle Dave and Aunt Phyllis.
Chinese DressChinese Dress Hosted on Zooomr

We even got to see a cool video of Aunt Phyllis's eye surgery. I wish I had a video of my eye surgery.

Wednesday, Great Mom came over for day two of the pasta sauce, and we enjoyed it on some spaghetti and some of Nona's famous homemade ravioli. Great Mom was very eager to try some of that.

Thursday we met up with the Lamberts (Matt, Anne, and Peter)and the Flickingers (Dan, Jean, Emma, and Grace) at Saint Peters Village. Of course we were there to play on the rocks, and of course, somebody ended up going swimming, and this time it was Zoe. The kids love the rocks, and Dan, Matt, and I do to, having spent many hours on them ourselves as kids. I think Jennifer and Jean (Dawn was back at the house with the two youngest Lamberts) may tend to be more cautious. No matter. Despite Zoe falling in, we got a few good pictures.
1 Lambert 2 Flickingers1 Lambert 2 Flickingers Hosted on Zooomr

4 Flickingers4 Flickingers Hosted on Zooomr

When it got dark, we all went to the Lamberts' for what's becoming a tradition: meatball sandwiches and exhaustive playtime. Dawn, Jane, and Laura were already there. We had a great time, and the kids slept like rocks that night.

Friday, December 29th. Happy Birthday to me! It was pretty low key. We drove into Pottstown, and ended up having lunch at The Very Best Wiener Shop (their claim, not mine.) The restaurant is kind of a landmark in town, and has quite a history with the Roth family. My grandparents were regulars here for probably 60 or more years, and a picture of Grandad even hangs on the wall. Andy and I used to play for the restaurant's sponsored Little League baseball team in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The food pretty much sucks though, but it's cheap.

For dinner we went to Buick (Matt) and Christine Kozsuch's house in Eagleville. This is the first I'd seen them since their wedding in June, and the first time JR and the kids got to meet Christine. They have a great place and dinner was excellent. They're expecting their first child in July, and fortunately, Tristan and Zoe were well enough behaved to (hopefully) not make Buick and Christine resent their decision to become parents.

On Saturday, Jennifer went to see her friend Tricia from PSU. The kids and I went to Ambler to see Uncle Roger, Aunt Linda, and cousins Laura and Julia. We had giant hamburgers and a whole lot of fun.
4 Roth Cousins4 Roth Cousins Hosted on Zooomr

We had to hurry back to Harmonyville because Jennifer and I had reservations at "The Inn at Saint Peters Village". As a little aside, Saint Peters Village was a granite and iron ore mining town from the Victorian era in the late 1880's. There are still many original period buildings, but the village has not really been able to make a commercial go of it since at least the late 1970s. I can't count how many businesses have come and gone from the two dozen or so buildings. The village is currently undergoing a major renovation that I would guess would give it its best shot at economic vitality. The showpiece of this is the Inn. The restaurant has been getting very serious reviews in Philadelphia magazines, and is starting to get the attention of the foodies (and the culinarily ignorant that just like spending a lot of money on meals) who don't mind the drive from the city and 'burbs out to our neck of the boonies.

Some have said that their dining experience at the Inn was the best meal they've ever had in their life. I would not be one of them. It would place strongly in my Top Ten though. Despite the admonitions of the sommelier, who said my photos would be "washed out," I took pictures of my food anyway. And maybe the snooty "I always have my Mercedes serviced at the dealer" table behind us were looking at us funny, but at least I knew what a pomegranate was.

I won't make this a food review, but let the pictures, which were not washed out, but the way (so there!) speak for themselves.

Amuse Bouche (Happy Mouth /my translation)
Amuse BoucheAmuse Bouche Hosted on Zooomr

Jennifer's Appetizer
Appetizer: Rillets of DuckAppetizer: Rillets of Duck Hosted on Zooomr

My appetizer
Appetizer: Serrano HamAppetizer: Serrano Ham Hosted on Zooomr

Jennifer's Entree
Venison ChopVenison Chop Hosted on Zooomr

My Entree
Scallop and ShrimpScallop and Shrimp Hosted on Zooomr
(okay, that one's a little washed out)

Jennifer's Dessert
Dessert: Bread PuddingDessert: Bread Pudding Hosted on Zooomr

My Dessert
Dessert: Warm Bosc PearsDessert: Warm Bosc Pears Hosted on Zooomr
That pear-shaped pear sorbet was amazing! The pattissier could make a mint if he could package that and pimp it out next to the Ben & Jerry's.

Sunday we loaded up and drove home, making the trip in an incredible sub 8-hour time. The trip was nicely busy (in my opinion) and over-scheduled (in Jennifer's opinion). We're now on the every-other-year PA/NY Christmas trip, so we'll be back to do it again in 2008. Next year: a whole lot of sitting around home.


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