alt.friday.nights

Back in the day, Friday nights were always a howl. Now, not so much. Could be an age thing.

But we still want/need to click off the work week somehow, and have taken up quieter enjoyments.

Usually I begin Friday evening with the philosophy seminar at RAE’s cigar shop on Third Street, hosted by Joan & Al Baker.

Then I head back to the paper and pick up my wife for dinner, which for the past few years has meant the often excellent cheeseburger at the G-Man on Market Street, with side salad, fries and two Yeungling Porters.

There’s not all that much business at the G-Man, especially away from the bar side. It’s two blocks from the Second Street scene, and it’s quiet, except when legislative aides get snowed in and create long, noisy, drunken discussions at the bar. Or when they pipe in audio of the Penn basketball game on XPN. (Penn? Go figure.)

All in all, though, enjoyable. The only real issue at the G-Man is service.

Since it’s not a busy ka-ching kinda place, waitstaff tend not to make a career of it. So every couple months we have to break in a new waitron. When we have to deal with a real lunkhead — as we did last fall — we go in search of alternate adventures.

One night when we were headed to El Rodeo in Lemoyne (a good BYOB conveniently near the best wine store within 50 miles), we drove up and saw … a line. Yeah, people lined up waiting to sit down. No thanks. I might stand in line for Bricco or Mangia Qui, but not for a comfort meal on a Friday night.

So we started for home and bang, practically next door, Neato Burrito.

People have been telling me about this place for years, but I’d never tried it. Now I have. It is … well, I’d never call take-out great, but it is beyond good.

The tortilla list: flour, jalapeno cheese, spinach, herb garlic, tomato basil, chipotle chili, honey wheat.

The rice list: Spanish, BBQ and brown rice.

The beans: Black beans, vegetarian refried or hummus.

The meat: Chicken, Cajun chucken of bufffalo roast.

The salsa: Pico de gallo, salsa verde or salsa du jour.

My choice: chipotle tortilla, Spanish rice, refried beans and pico de gallo on buffalo.

And it’s big enough to share with a friend.

Food fight!

New York restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow — best known off-island for Rocco’s, the restaurant that tanked on reality television — has spent about $40,000 to take out an ad in the Times criticizing restaurant critic Frank Bruni.

Chodorow’s complaint was Bruni’s no-star review of his new restaurant, Kobe Club.

“Although Kobe Club does right by the fabled flesh for which it’s named, it presents too many insipid or insulting dishes at prices that draw blood from anyone without a trust fund or an expense account,” Bruni wrote. Chodorow not only attacked the review, he also attacked the reviewer and claimed the piece was “a personal attack.”

This week’s Talk of the Town spins off the food fight for a quick review of reviews, and former NYT food critic Mimi Sheraton critiques it here.

(You might have to register for the the Times link, but it’s worth it.)

((The restaurant critic at The Patriot-News doesn’t do the numbers anymore … just the review.))

A peanut butter clue

Ever notice how TV shows get cancelled as soon as you start to like them?

Apparently it works that way with food, too.

Food scientists are scratching their collective head over the very strange occurrence of contamination in Peter Pan Peanut Butter … but the answer is right here in River City. The whole thing was apparently started by blogger and P-N columnist Sara Bozich, whose Drinking With Out With Sara runs in the GO! section on Thursdays.

Here’s how she described the origin of the peanut butter crisis back on Feb. 12, as a recall of a favorite childhood delight:

“Since my dad mentioned it, I ran out and bought the crackers and a new jar of peanut butter and have re-infused my diet with this semi-healthy treat.”

Yeah, she bought Peter Pan. Hmmm …

Feb. 12? Isn’t that when the whole peanut butter issue came up? Coincidence?

Sara, listen — don’t blog about mac and cheese, okay?

Nonna’s

Posted in the PennLive Food & Drink Forum:

“Grace and I are happy to announce the purchase of the property at 263 Reily St. Our quest to refurbish the first floor of the property and to transform it into the New Nonna’s DeliSioso is in the planning stages.

“For those that are not familiar with Nonna’s Delisioso, we are presently located at the Broad Street Market. During our stay at the Market we have endeavored to provide quality Italian specialities, sandwiches, and breakfast at fair prices with a North Jersey Italian Deli theme.We have had incredible support from the midtown community. It is largely because of this support that we looked for a site to both live and work in Midtown Harrisburg.

“The property on Reily Street is an outstanding find for us. We cannot be more excited that we will be moving both our home AND business to Midtown. We will keep you posted as we progress.AND DON’T FORGET TO VISIT US AT THE MARKET! Any questions—please ask! regards, and thank you.”

— Grace and Ray Diaz

Nonna’s

Posted in the PennLive Food & Drink Forum:

“Grace and I are happy to announce the purchase of the property at 263 Reily St. Our quest to refurbish the first floor of the property and to transform it into the New Nonna’s DeliSioso is in the planning stages.

“For those that are not familiar with Nonna’s Delisioso, we are presently located at the Broad Street Market. During our stay at the Market we have endeavored to provide quality Italian specialities, sandwiches, and breakfast at fair prices with a North Jersey Italian Deli theme.We have had incredible support from the midtown community. It is largely because of this support that we looked for a site to both live and work in Midtown Harrisburg.

“The property on Reily Street is an outstanding find for us. We cannot be more excited that we will be moving both our home AND business to Midtown. We will keep you posted as we progress.AND DON’T FORGET TO VISIT US AT THE MARKET! Any questions—please ask! regards, and thank you.”

— Grace and Ray Diaz

Fess Parker Wine Dinner

Fess Parker’s portrayal of Davy Crockett on 1950’s TV caused an international sensation, and changed his life. Parker bought 714 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley. Fess and his son, Eli, originally set out to plant a small vineyard and sell fruit to local producers.

As Parker’s daughter, Ashley, said: “Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small.”

The Fess parker Winery and Vineyard now consists of four vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County.

The best of Fess Parker’s wines and stories of adventure will be offered Feb. 23 at the Hilton in the second wine dinner of the season.

Details here.