Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NYC's "Real " Little Italy

If you read many of my posts it seems that I am always running out of the city and into "greener pastures",  so to speak.  Usually in a more southerly direction, but every once in a while I explore little treasures in my own backyard.  Or another borough.  For someone born and raised here, it took me a lifetime to finally take a trip up to the Bronx, New York neighborhood of Arthur Avenue.  

This mural greeted me as I parked my car in a municipal lot, so I knew I was going to have a great day
It was so much more than just an hour's car ride for me, I traveled into my childhood with so many memories of food, relatives, a church, and oh, did I mention food?  

Arthur Avenue may not be many blocks long, but each of the few blocks that comprise it are packed with restaurants, bakeries, specialty stores, a beautiful church, and smiling people just walking around and taking it all in.  We just took it slow and started on one side of the street, but then we zig zagged our way up and down.

This green market was a treasure trove of fresh produce, deli meats, butcher shops, spices and sweets imported from Italy, even hand rolled Cuban cigars!

A baker's dream, freshly ground spices, all sorts of dried fruits, nuts, flavorings

nougat, or torrone in Italian, sweet and full of nuts
I bought some vanilla nougat from Italy, which was always in the house for Christmas and Easter holidays

The produce was beautiful and the prices were not bad
This gentleman doesn't stop rolling those cigars!

closed for vacation  :(

I probably did the most damage here, in Madonia's Bakery.  Pastries, biscotti, bread of all shapes and sizes, bread sticks, taralle, (like a bread stick but shaped in an oval flavored with fennel seed and coarse black pepper), freselle (peppery hard biscuits that my mother would serve with spicy tomato sauce and mussels and clams) and jumbo freselle which I like topped with tomato bruschetta.  This cracker needs a little soak first under running cool water, then drizzle with good olive oil, some balsamic, seasonings like oregano, s&p, eat as is or with bruschetta--yum).

Jumbo freselle waiting to be dressed!
A colorful hand painted piano in the green market, a young shopper sat down to play

Talk about a ham sandwich, it doesn't get any better than prosciutto di Parma!  $5.49/ lb tells me this one is domestic.  Taken in Vincent's Meat Market.

There were seed packets for San Marzano tomatoes

Holy cannoli, this place, Egidio's,  had the best looking stuff

The showcases were fogging up, probably from the hot humid air outside and a/c inside, or it could have been from my panting!  :)

A visit to a very beautiful church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  I said prayers and lit a candle for my mom, Carmela.  Many, many years ago when my mother was a young girl, she would travel with her family to attend a special Mass for people suffering with any afflictions.  Her young cousin Angelo had polio, and they would bring him to get a special Blessing.   Limbs made of wax would be placed on the altar.  I don't know where you could purchase it,  I just have the memory of my mother telling me the story.

Then it was lunch time!  We ate in Emilia's, where there was a great lunch special for $11.95.  Bruschetta and delicious Arthur Avenue bread.  

My friend Kathy had osso buco over saffron risotto.  Kathy's long-time friend Gloria, who lives ten minutes away and acted as "tour guide", and I both ordered chicken Daniela, a chicken breast sauteed with red peppers, mushrooms, mozzarella, topped with a light marinara sauce, served with either veggies (my choice) or pasta (Gloria's choice)

Chicken Daniela
Afterwards, we stopped next door to the parking lot at Morrone's Pasticceria for cappuccino and a mini sfogliatella (clam shaped very flaky crust with a ricotta filling and orange flavoringand biscotti.  The perfect ending to a perfect day.

But it didn't end quite yet.  We drove Gloria home, and we stopped at her parish, St. Lucy's, which has a beautiful grotto called Lourdes New York.  It was a special haven for people to sit and pray after the events of 9/11.  

Kathy and Gloria got me a bottle of water to take home, thanks girls!

When we were heading back to my car, I looked down and saw this little beauty....I had said a prayer for a special intention of mine, and I just felt that out in the Universe, that little prayer was duly noted.

Joining La at A Musing Potpourri for her End of Summer Celebration Party, as this was just about my favorite day this summer, as well as Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper, Stone Gable for On the Menu Monday, Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday


Special Notes:  

I have included two links to one of my favorite blogs and bloggers, Mille Fiori Favoriti, Patricia, who did fantastic posts in the past about Arthur Avenue.  It was her post about Arthur Avenue that pulled me into her blog, and all Blogland, hook line and sinker.  So with Pat's blessing,  here are her links:



Here are links for more general info if you ever want to visit:


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Me, Myself, & Irene

My thoughts are with those families who lost a loved one from Irene's wrath, or sustained property damage, and dealing with flood waters.  Still praying for all affected.  

Remember this movie a few years' back?  It popped into my head around 1:00 AM this morning, as I looked  peeked  out my living room window.  I would say for Staten Island, where I live closer to Jersey than the city, it was the worst time.  Rain pounding down, winds howling, yet I didn't see any tree limbs down.  

Start of a long night, about 7:15 PM Sat.,  8/27/11, looking out my front door

The "city that never sleeps" -- well, they just pulled the plug on us completely.  Never in all my 57 years did I remember precautions like this.  Mandatory evacuations of entire neighborhoods in flood-prone areas, hospitals and nursing homes evacuated.  Metropolitan Transit Authority powered down the entire subway system.  All buses stopped running.  All three airports shut down.  Turnpikes in Jersey closing, not allowing southbound travel.  The lights on Broadway were off!   The show must go on?  Not with Hurricane Irene in town.  Iconic NYC department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's had their storefronts boarded up and were closed, the malls, closed!  What?  No hurricane sales??  Atlantic City shut casinos, that never happens.  Supermarket shelves bare, and "D" batteries, they were a hot commodity.

I am so thankful, because  the stuff the news media was reporting (which I learned you have to take some of it with a grain of salt sometimes) didn't happen in my development.  I am so thankful for not losing power or cable.  No signs of flooding.  Not much of a clean-up around here.  

View from my door at 7:15 AM Sunday 8/28/11

My fig tree took a whooping, but she is now standing almost straight again.  

small price to pay for which I am thankful
I  like to think it was all my praying non-stop for three days as well prayers from friends and fellow bloggers, I have been lighting candles for three days and a sprinkling here and there (everywhere in my home) of water from the Lourdes America shrine. 

This photo was emailed by my friend T., who lives in Raritan, New Jersey, taken from the balcony of her apartment complex.  You can barely see the sign post for the complex peeking out of the flood!  And she had her power and cable, thankfully!

Look closely at middle tree to see sign post
Blessings to all,


Friday, August 26, 2011

The Talking Teacup

Bracing for Irene, as prepared as I can be, wishing all my extended family, friends and fellow bloggers on the East Coast good luck in riding this hurricane out - hang tight!  

Out of all the wonderful little spots I have found driving around Bucks County, The Talking Teacup in Chalfont, Pennsylvania has to be my all-time favorite.

This property was one of the "Great Lots" of Andrew Hamilton.   In 1745, it was passed on to Simon Butler.  Butler divided the property and sold off 67 acres.  In 1752, 50 acres was purchased by William James.  Although exact construction dates aren't known, the current owners believe that James built the original structure which is the tea room's kitchen and office.  The building has had two major additions and what was once a barbershop in 1970 is now their gift shop.  The porch was renovated using wood rescued from a barn on the property.

A little bit of whimsy greets guests
Owner Kathy Heck works hard to raise money for breast cancer awareness
A sampling of some pretty tea items for sale

Various tea and other items in pink for breast cancer awareness
Kathy and her staff have held various fundraisers the last several years.  Kathy's mother succumbed to the disease , and since that time, Kathy and her charming tea room and gift shoppe have raised over $80,000 for this worthy cause.

As soon as you walk into the gift shop, it smells so delicious, like chocolate chip cookies.  In fact it was a chocolate chip pound cake which was part of our tea.  

All the tea that is served is available for purchase.  

My friend Kathy and my iced tea
It was so warm and humid that day that I decided to go with iced roobius orange tea, which was delicious and refreshing.  

Assorted sandwiches included roasted chicken salad with garden salsa, egg salad, cucumber dill, ham with apricot honey mustard, roasted red pepper spread, and cranberry cream cheese.  

The scones were orange and cinnamon, served with Devon shire cream and jam. 

Desserts included a yellow cake filled with orange marmalade and a delicious butter cream, a sugar cookie in the shape of a tea pot and the chocolate chip pound cake.  Kathy had hot vanilla tea and said it was delicious.

Upstairs there is a dress-up room for a little girls' tea party.

I had to take a photo of this oldie but goodie - it still works!!!

A very sweet way to end a charming day.    Thanks to Kathy Heck once again for accommodating us as the place was packed and I forgot to make a reservation.  

I will be joining the following linky parties.  (Praying that we don't lose power and cable!!).  Please stop by and say "hi".

How Sweet the Sound for Pink Saturday
Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper
On The Menu Monday at Stone Gable
Blue Monday at Smiling Sally
Tea Party Tuesday at Sweetology 101
Tea Cup Tuesday at Artful Affirmations
Jenny Matlock for Alphabe-Thursday for the Letter "T"
Foodie Fridays at Designs by Gollum


No compensation received, completely unsolicited review

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Peace Valley Lavender Farm

My thoughts are with the people in Virginia who were close to the 5.9 earthquake on Tuesday, 8/23. Two hundred miles away, my little townhouse shook, windows rattling, my china cabinet shaking, phone service knocked out temporarily,  and my poor birds fell off their perches.  I am thankful it was not worse.  As a native New Yorker, my 1st thought was that it was an act of terrorism;  earthquake was my 2nd one.   Scary stuff.  And Hurricane Irene is on her way..........

Most of my followers probably already know how much I enjoy visiting Pennsylvania.  My dream is to live there one day, although I hear it is almost as expensive as living in New York!  Don't burst my bubble, please!

In about an hour's time, I can be in beautiful Buck's County, PA.  I have found some of the nicest places just by accident, driving down pretty country roads, taking a chance that I wouldn't be lost for too long or run out of gas.  

One of my absolute favorite places is Peace Valley Lavender Farm in Doylestown, PA.  Although the fields were pretty much harvested, this lovely little hidden gem is a secret I don't mind sharing with you, my blogging friends.  They have an online store and ship anywhere in the U.S.  

It is a family-owned, small hands-on operation.  The smell, of course, is just heavenly, and if you linger a little bit too long you may need a nap.  Their products range from shower gels to salt scrubs, lip balm, body lotion, sachets, dried lavender wands, culinary blends, honey, chocolate bars, men's shaving products, all made right there on the farm.  

plants for sale
Old Maytag washer shows off a gift basket of laundry products

I was ready to ride down the hill and find a shady spot to while away the afternoon

The farm is across the road from Lake Galena, where folks were enjoying canoes and kayaks, and beautiful walking trails.

ducks?   decoys??  

Of course, the resident chickens cross this road all the time

You can barely see this black butterfly
We definitely left our stress behind when we said good-bye to the nice owners.

I am joining the following linky parties.  Please stop by and enjoy the great posts.  Thanks to all the hostesses.

Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper
Blue Monday at Smiling Sally
Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer


No compensation received, completely unsolicited review
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