19 December 2010

Tequila Sun Rice & Chipotle Ketchup

As always, the What is dedicated to presenting you with colorful ideas for everyday life. Many of our ideas are food-related, because we love food. Learning how to cook for yourself now that you no longer have your mom or your meal plan to provide your meals can seem like a daunting task. We at the What are here to show you that cooking can be fun, easy, and rewarding by offering up recipes like this from our personal cookbooks. As is the case with most of our recipe-based ideas, this one is simple and delicious, just like us.

Tequila Sun Rice & Chipotle Ketchup

Like most great accomplishments in science and history, good meals come from happy accidents. Such is the case with Tequila Sun Rice. I found myself with pork chops and nothing to accompany them, so I took a cup of Jasmine rice and jazzed it up into the best rice I've ever had. Unfortunately, I did not write anything down, so I'll be recreating this recipe by memory. I'm also going to be presenting it in two parts, the rice itself and the Chipotle Ketchup I whipped up to go along with it.

17 December 2010

Weekly Top Five - 17.Dec.10

In  High Fidelity, the characters compare their top fives in a variety of categories. Being big fans of both the film and novel, we here at the What bring you our Weekly Top Five, a feature focused on five fantastic things that you should become familiar with.

Staff Holiday Party Don'ts
With the holiday season in full-swing, it's about the time during which companies host their annual holiday parties. Often one will here tales of some outrageous behavior from these parties and my be inclined to participate in said behavior. What you need to remember is that while you may not be working, you will be surrounded by coworkers, supervisors, and executives and your behavior should be appropriate for this crowd. With that in mind, here are five things to avoid at your holiday party.

5. Talk the taboos: Shop, Sex, Politics, Religion - This rule can be limiting, but it has to be done. The office party is no place to discuss your views on sex, politics, or religion. Furthermore, avoid "talking shop" at all costs. Yes, you are with coworkers. But this is not work. You are all there to have a good time, not to talk about what you do at work all day. Everyone already knows what you do, find something that is interesting without being controversial to chat about and you will be set.

4. Stick to one group - Although this is somewhat contrary to the above rule, this is still an office function that can lead to some great networking opportunities. Don't limit yourself to your work friends, you'll talk to them Monday morning. Mingle! Socialize! Introduce yourself to people, strike up conversation. I'm not saying you should go up to the boss and casually slip in mention of a promotion, but a little chat could go a long way. Keep the conversation polite, intelligent, and light, and most importantly, be the one to initiate it and end it. It will look good on your part that the people you work with and for see you as someone who can interact with everyone in the organization.

3. Dress like a fool - "Dress festive." Two very simple words that are often misinterpreted. Imagine this: It's March and your up for your promotion. Do you want your boss to remember you as the guy from the holiday party with the musical tie or the girl with the reindeer antlers or as the young professional who was dressed to the nines? Gents, keep it simple with a shirt and tie, perhaps even a vest to spruce things up a bit. Ladies, a nice cocktail dress (err on the conservative side for this event) will do just fine. Red is a good color for anyone to wear to a holiday party. Oh, and no sweaters.

2. Hook up - Holiday parties can be full of temptations. Avoid them. I don't care how hot any of your coworkers are, now is not the time or the place to set such escapades in motion. If someone attractive catches your eye during the office shindig, leave it at a nice compliment about how they look that evening (keep it PG) and maybe save the rest for a few weeks into the new year when you ask if they'd like to get a drink after work some time.

1. Get drunk - I get it, open bars are tempting. You've been spending all of your hard-earned money on gifts for friends and family and, quite frankly, you deserve free booze! As much as it pains me to say it, it's best to avoid the bar at your party. Maybe have a drink or two to serve as a sort of "pre-game" for an after party at a local bar, a neutral territory where you can let loose a bit more.

A staff holiday party can be a lot of fun. It gives you the chance to show off a side that may not be well known to your coworkers. It also provides an opportunity to subtly impress the decision-makers where you work. Just remember to keep it simple and respectable, and you should be alright. Have fun!

10 December 2010

PRIMER - 2010 Gift Guides

This week Primer Magazine published its annual gift guides, one for the ladies and one for the gents. As usual, the guys and gals at Primer are right on the money with the best possible gifts for the college grads on your list. Swing over to Primer's website to check them out!

For the Ladies:

For the Gents:

09 December 2010

Weekly Top Five - 9.Dec.10

In  High Fidelity, the characters compare their top fives in a variety of categories. Being big fans of both the film and novel, we here at the What bring you our Weekly Top Five, a feature focused on five fantastic things that you should become familiar with.

John Lennon Songs
Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the night John Lennon was taken from this world, far sooner than he should have been. Several media outlets acknowledged this sad anniversary with tributes and commemorations, perhaps done best by Pierre Robert at WMMR. With Lennon's catalog far too diverse and impressive to narrow down to a top five list, today we present the top five John Lennon songs we heard yesterday.

5. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - This Beatles track from Rubber Soul was written mostly by John about having an affair. Norwegian Wood refers to the cheap style of pine used in many English flats at the time, which he would've seen plenty of when going home with any number of girls. George Harrison elected to play the sitar for this song, giving it its distinct sound.

4. Watching the Wheels - In the 1970's Lennon was often criticized for not doing anything. People felt he was crazy (or just lazy) for not continuing to capitalize on his success and fame by recording and touring more frequently. His response was to pen this song about how content he was spending time at home being a family man.

3. Instant Karma! - This song was written and recorded on the same day and released just ten days later, a rare speed in the record industry. Though it was released by the Plastic Ono Band, it was prior to the break up of the Beatles and George Harrison actually played electric guitar on the track.

2. A Day in the Life - Considered by many to be the greatest Beatles song ever composed, "A Day in the Life" is the perfect example of the Lennon/McCartney partnership. The haunting delivery of the story of a man who committed suicide by Lennon and the chipper presentation of a man getting ready for work blend together much like Lennon and McCartney did themselves, only to crescendo into a chaotic musical explosion at the end.

1. Imagine - At different times Lennon referred to this as the best thing he ever wrote or just another song. Regardless, its influence is undeniable. It actually projects a v ery strong message, but as Lennon remarked, Imagine is "anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic, but because it's sugar-coated, it's accepted."

03 December 2010

Weekly Top Five - 2.Dec.10

In  High Fidelity, the characters compare their top fives in a variety of categories. Being big fans of both the film and novel, we here at the What bring you our Weekly Top Five, a feature focused on five fantastic things that you should become familiar with.

Christmas Movies & Specials
Last week we skipped the Weekly Top Five in order to enjoy some turkey. This week we're back with a special bonus edition top ten list to make up for it! Being that it is now December, here are the What's top ten Christmas movies.

10. The Santa Clause (1994) - This movie surprised me, and I did not really discover it until about ten years after it was released. I am, however, glad that I did finally watch it as it's a great Christmas movie, and Tim Allen is actually a fantastic Santa. The sequel is good too, but I can't vouch for the third film in the series.

9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) - To pretty much everyone born after this was made, Burl Ives is known only in his snowman form. Ives is a wonderful narrator, taking you through the familiar story of Rudolph, with a few welcome variations from the song (misfit toys, Yukon Cornelius, etc).

8. A Garfield Christmas (1987) - I'm sure people will be taken aback that this special makes the list while It's A Wonderful Life and White Christmas do not. Well, this is my list. Make your own list. But do be sure to watch this when you get the chance. Garfield shows his softer side bonding with Jon's Grandma. If nothing else, watch it to see how wacky Jon's family is.

7. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1970) - It just would not be Christmas without a full helping of the Rankin/Bass specials. Fred Astaire narrates this telling of Santa's origins, complete with some groovy seventies music.

6. Year Without A Santa Claus (1974) - Sometimes the sequel outdoes the original. Such is the case here, as this Rankin/Bass production outshines the previous one, thanks largely in part to the Heatmeiser and Snowmeiser singing their own praises.

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) - While the 2000 version of this film was very good, it still isn't quite at the level of the original animated special. Boris Karloff takes a break from being creepy to narrate this Dr. Seuss tale that features one of the funniest theme songs ever.

4. Elf (2003) - The more of these lists I do, the more I realize 2003 was a fantastic year for films. Elf is one of very few recent attempts at a new Christmas tale that worked. This movie is hysterical, and if smiling is your favorite, you're sure to love this film.

3. Love Actually (2003) - This British ensemble romantic comedy doesn't necessarily define itself as a Christmas movie, but it takes place over the holiday and has a fair amount of holiday tunes on the soundtrack. No matter who I am with, this film is always a crowd-pleaser, so give it a shot this holiday season.

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) - This is an absolute classic. Somehow this special manages to touch on a number of serious subjects surrounding Christmas while remaining cute, warm, and light-hearted (as every holiday movie should). It truly wouldn't be Christmas without this popping up on your television.

1. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) - Say what you will, but I have a degree in film and I say, without question, that this is the greatest film ever made. The Jim Henson Company, in an early partnership with Disney, take a classic and make it their own in this wonderful retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I highly recommend enjoying this in a room lit by Christmas lights and filled with the aroma of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, you will not regret it!

Clearly, many Christmas movies and specials did not make the list. It was difficult for me to narrow it to ten, and to disinclude movies like A Muppet Family Christmas and specials like Frosty the Snowman. Feel free to include your own top five or top ten lists in the comment section below, I'd love to see your favorites!

29 November 2010

American Chop Suey

As always, the What is dedicated to presenting you with colorful ideas for everyday life. Many of our ideas are food-related, because we love food. Learning how to cook for yourself now that you no longer have your mom or your meal plan to provide your meals can seem like a daunting task. We at the What are here to show you that cooking can be fun, easy, and rewarding by offering up recipes like this from our personal cookbooks. As is the case with most of our recipe-based ideas, this one is simple and delicious, just like us.

American Chop Suey

Recently I found myself lamenting that my cooking skills were limited to summertime meals and I began looking for different recipes to try out to expand my culinary horizons. Then I had American Chop Suey. This delectable dish, popular in the Northeastern section of the country, has always been a favorite of mine, yet for some reason, I had forgotten about it. The meal is incredibly simple to put together, and you likely already have everything you need to make it.

22 November 2010

PRIMER - A Different Kind of Date Night

Click on the image above to see Patrick's latest article with Primer Magazine! For the Philadelphians, here are a few links to accompany the article:

Franklin Square - Great for mini-golf or just walking around
North Bowl - Lounge and lanes for a fun evening in NoLibs
Philadelphia Weekly - A handy guide to local events
Koresh Dance Company - Professional dance lessons
Brokeass Gourmet - Delicious recipes
The What's Recipes - Recipes from the What

20 November 2010

Kicking Off December, Philly Style

With Thanksgiving looming just around the corner, many are excited about their plans for the weekend. Whether it be partying on Wednesday night, pigging out on Thursday, or shopping on Friday, everyone seems to be abuzz over the long weekend's events. However, in Philadelphia, there is much more to be excited about for the following weekend.

To begin with, there's Wednesday. Aside from kicking off the month of December, Wednesday also provides the opportunity to visit the Please Touch Museum on the cheap. Please Touch offers its First Wednesday deal of lowering the admission price for visitors over the age of one to just $2 between five and seven at night. It's fun for the family and easy on the wallet, a good way to start December.

The following evening may not be a family event, but is very fun and well worth the trip to South Street. On the first Thursday of every month one can catch Bobby Zankel and the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound at the Tritone at 15th and South. You will be blown away by the amount of people at the bar, and even more blown away when you realize half of them are in the band. Swing by the Tritone on first Thursdays to enjoy fried pickles and the South Philly Special (Pa can of PBR and a shot of whiskey for three bucks) while enjoying the swinging jazz grooves of Zankel and his warriors.

If you are not familiar with what comes next, shame on you! On the first Friday of each month, several art galleries in Old City open their doors between 5 and 9PM for free. You can peruse the galleries, purchase original art, and mingle with an eclectic crowd. There are dozens of galleries to choose from, with most of them falling between Vine and Market Streets to the North and South and Front and Third Streets to the East and West. Plus, you will be right around the corner from fantastic restaurants like Positano Coast, the Race Street Cafe, and Q BBQ and Tequila.

The grand finale of this fun-filled extended weekend happens to be the unofficial kick off of the holiday season in Philadelphia. Elfreth's Alley presents its annual Deck the Alley celebration. In addition to the carolers and tours of many of the Alley's historic homes, this year the pot has been sweetened. Edward A. Mauger, author of Philadelphia Then and Now will be on hand signing copies of his book. Furthermore, a special deluxe package is being offered. For $135, you will get your ticket to Deck the Alley, a carriage ride through Old City and Society Hill to the Physick House, where refreshments will be served. From there, you will enjoy a meal at the legendary City Tavern. Remember, this is one of only two times this year that the residents of Elfreth's Alley will open their private, historic homes to the public, and tickets have been selling fast!

As we at the What have mentioned before, it is hard to rival the Philadelphia holiday season. The weekend following Thanksgiving is just the tip of the iceberg, as the City of Brotherly Love will be sure to keep you busy and full of holiday cheer for several weeks to come.

For more information:
First Wednesday at the Please Touch Museum
Tritone Events Schedule
First Friday
Deck the Alley

18 November 2010

Weekly Top Five - 18.Nov.10

In  High Fidelity, the characters compare their top fives in a variety of categories. Being big fans of both the film and novel, we here at the What bring you our Weekly Top Five, a feature focused on five fantastic things that you should become familiar with.

Harry Potter Random Facts
 In honor of the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows being released at midnight, The What decided to dig deep and pull up some interesting things that you may not have known about the Boy Who Lived and his story. J.K. Rowling's series is one of the most detailed, well-written and intricate stories ever told, and these are just a few of the reasons why.

5. Harry Potter is 30 - That's right, the Boy Who Lived is now a man. Harry's date of birth is 31.Jul.1980, meaning he just celebrated his thirtieth birthday earlier this summer. That means that the happenings of the epilogue to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will not happen for another six years. Also, this puts the events of the Deathly Hallows in the 1996-97 school year.

4. There's science behind the magic - Many Harry Potter readers wish that the magical world they read about was real, when in many ways it is. A good portion of the book's lore has its roots in science. For instance, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded over a thousand years ago. Each founder not only had an animal to represent them, but an element as well. Gryffindor (lion/fire), Slytherin (serpent/water), Hufflepuff (badger/earth), and Ravenclaw (raven/air). Furthermore, the Philosopher's Stone refers to alchemy. Alchemy is the ancient study of the transformation of metals, and shares a root word with chemistry and algebra.

3. Birthdays and holidays hold much importance - As for birthdays, Harry, Ron, and Hermione each have a wand that refers to when they were born. Their wand cores almost serve as gemstones, but using the Celtic Tree Calendar instead. As for holidays, Christmas played a major part in each novel, save the last, and other holidays held significance as well. Fred and George Weasley were appropriately born on April Fool's Day and on a sadder note, Voldemort murdered James and Lily Potter on Halloween. And about that fateful Halloween night, the Potters were not in their thirties, as shown in the first film, they were both only 21 when they were killed.

2. Family and relationships are key - Throughout this epic tale, family has always been of the utmost importance. Voldemort became what he was based on his lack of a family and later orphaned Harry, creating his nemesis. It was clearly stressed throughout all seven books that it was his mother's love that gave Harry the protection against Voldemort. Even once the books were finished, Rowling kept going, mapping out the relationships of the surviving characters, which can be seen here.

1. The entire arc has been planned from day one - While there certainly are minor aspects of later novels that may not have been planned from the get go, the major plot line of the Harry Potter story was set in stone from the first book. One good example of this is Nearly Headless Nick's offhand mention of the Gray Lady being Ravenclaw's ghost in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. She would not be mentioned again until page 613 of the Deathly Hallows. Another key moment in book one has Harry thinking to himself that he couldn't help but think that somehow Professor Snape could read minds, which, in a way, is true as Snape is a master of Legilimency and Occlumency.

15 November 2010

The Lazy Journalism of Attacking Philadelphia Fans

Only in the world of sports journalism can one constantly rehash a tired issue mired with more opinion than fact, more hyperbole than actual reporting, and still remain employed. Such is the case with the constant lambasting of Philadelphia sports fans. Ladies and gentlemen of the sports media, enough is enough. It is time to move on and start using your time and your employer's money to actually cover the contests you are paid to cover, not reeditorialize a dead issue. And here are a few reasons why.

Philadelphia is not your scapegoat
Rooting for the Birds at the Linc.
Incidents involving unruly spectators at sporting events are not limited to one place, nor are they prevalent in one place more than others. New York, Chicago, and Detroit all have just as many, if not more, incidents as Philadelphia. In fact, throughout the baseball, hockey, and football seasons commentators ignore any negative behavior on the part of every other city's fans, from vulgar chants to items being thrown to the field, but their camera operators are quick to seek out Philly fans looking angry so the commentators can make an offhand remark about how terrible they are.

Your immaturity is (or should be) tarnishing your reputation
I, a Philadelphian and a die-hard sports fan, love Washington DC. It's a beautiful city with a fantastic Metro. I subscribed to the Post through email and am a rabid supporter of their MLS team, DC United. However, my Post subscription was quickly canceled once Mike Wise likened the women and children attending Flyers' games to security at a Megadeth concert. Wise, who was suspended earlier this year for a fake tweet about Ben Roethlisberger, received no such punishment for blatantly insulting women and children who did nothing but go to a hockey game to root for their team. Wise is certainly not the only so-called journalist guilty of such actions, as just as recently as last week Eagles fans were labeled as idiots on Yahoo Sports. There is no place for name-calling in journalism, it's unnecessary and embarrassing.

What really happened?
Celebrating the 2008 World Series win.
More often than not, what is reported is far from what actually happened. When Michael Irvin took a big hit and went down, yes, people cheered. However, once those of us in the stands realized he was hurt, we quieted down. In fact, in the section right above the hit (where I was sitting), we were gathered around a radio trying to hear from the announcers if he was going to be alright and clapped as he was taken from the field. A similar situation happened just last week at the game against the Colts. Wide receiver Austin Collie was hit and moments later, a flag hit the ground. In every single stadium in this country I have ever been to, the moment a penalty is called everyone's attention turns immediately to the big screen for a replay. On that day, the replay showed that the hit was legal, thus drawing boos from the crowd, who had yet to notice Collie was still ground. Once their attention returned to the field, they quieted down and clapped respectfully as Collie was taken from the field.

Philadelphians are not the problem
Take a look back over incidents that happened at Philadelphia sporting events over the past several years. From fools running onto the field to fights to drunken buffoons inducing vomiting, these people all have two things in common. One, they are an embarrassment to our fans, teams, and city. Two, they're not from Philadelphia. I know this is nitpicking, but as someone from Philadelphia who has also lived in the suburbs, I can tell you there are differences between the fans. The true Philadelphians are the fans who, if they can afford it, go to a game and stay to the bitter end, even when losing 42-0 in the snow on Monday Night Football. They're the fans who are among the most passionate and knowledgeable followers of any sport organizations. The people who cause the majority of the problems and bring embarrassment and shame are more often than not the people who buy season tickets because they can, go to games to party and not to root for the team, and either leave or cause trouble when things are not going their way.

I hope that journalists and commentators begin to cover Philadelphia sports more objectively. I've been to Philly sporting events supporting the home team as well as vehemently rooting against Philly in certain sports while decked out in the other teams' colors. In either circumstance, I have never had an issue with any other fan, and more often than not, I see fans from out of town chatting amiably with the Philadelphia fans sitting by them, discussing everything from sports, sightseeing in the city, and how wonderful cheesesteaks can be.

So yes, Philadelphia fans are passionate. And yes, we will cheer our athletes when they win for us and boo them when they lose, but we'll also be the first to defend them from outside attacks. Philadelphia is a beautiful city with a wonderfully diverse and incredibly welcoming population, and it deserves much better than what it has received from the biased world of sports journalism.

11 November 2010

Weekly Top Five - 11.Nov.10

In  High Fidelity, the characters compare their top fives in a variety of categories. Being big fans of both the film and novel, we here at the What bring you our Weekly Top Five, a feature focused on five fantastic things that you should become familiar with.

Good Reads
 I often find myself searching for a decent book to read, whether it be for a lazy Sunday or something to hold my interest on the train ride into work. Over the past year, I came across these five books and really enjoyed them. Each features a main character who, at least at some point, is in the demographic we aim to cater to here at the What. So whether it is running away and joining the circus during the Great Depression or dropping out of college to immerse yourself in the early 1980's punk scene, each of these books touch on familiar situations in fantastic settings.

5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - Reading this novel is an interesting experience. It chronicles the breakdown of a young woman working in New York City in a manner that is, in a way, disturbing. The progression of her breakdown is so seamless that it almost feels natural. Having survived the stresses college can bring, you should find some familiarity with the protagonists thoughts, eerie though that may be.

4. Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen - Of the five books on this list, this is the only one I do not personally own. I fully intend to purchase it, although I have already read it, because the story is that good. Gruen's tale of an elderly man reminiscing about running away and joining the circus as a youth draws you in and wraps you in the somewhat bizarre world of circus life. I had trouble putting this book down, and can not wait to read it again.

3. Pretty Little Dirty by Amanda Boyden - This is one of the most aptly-named novels I have ever read. Boyden interweaves scenes from punk concerts in with a narrative about two best friends. The girls first meet as suburban twelve-year-olds and go on to experience more in ten years than most will in a lifetime. For those of us who have lived a little and taken risks in life, this book at times is a happy trip down memory lane yet also a harrowing reminder of what could have been. The story is beautifully told, and the author truly makes the reader feel as though they are experiencing the story as opposed to just observing.

2. Rules of Attraction by Brett Easton Ellis - This novel takes place in the late eighties at a New England Liberal Arts school and its protagonist is the younger brother of the titular character in American Psycho. If that doesn't sell you on this book alone, perhaps you should skip this one. If it sounds like your cup of tea, prepare for yourself for a raucous tale of sex, drugs, and rock and roll that brings debauchery to a new level. If you saw the film version, while good, it's only the tip of the iceberg with this story. An unnamed source once said about this book, "This book is so dirty it makes me want to snort some coke and then go punch a hooker." You will understand exactly what they meant once you read it.

1. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - Rarely do I come across a Hornby novel that I do not love. Yet, out of all of his works, this is by far my favorite. High Fidelity is the quintessential break-up story as the main character examines his most recent romantic failure by looking up ex-girlfriends and asking "Where did it all go wrong?" Much like Pretty Little Dirty, you feel less like an observer and more like your friend is telling you this tale over a few pints. Also, aside from the romance aspect of the story, you have to admire the characters' passion for music as told through their many top five lists.

09 November 2010

Christmastime in the City

Whether you like it or not, it's that time of year. The time of year when the stores bring out a dazzling array of red and green stuff and your mailbox fills with a heaping load of catalogs. While most of us are still coming down from a Halloween high or looking forward to a delicious turkey dinner in two weeks, the commercial world is busy telling us all that it's Christmastime. For city-dwellers, this is especially exciting. Most major cities have fantastic holiday traditions, and Philadelphia is no exception. Following are the top yuletide stops for you to make in Philly this holiday season.

Macy's Christmas Light Show
Since 1956, the light show has been presented in the main gallery of the Wanamaker building. This breathtaking display was narrated by John Facenda, the voice of NFL Films, for many years before a new narration was recorded by Julie Andrews in 2006. Andrews' narration is paired with the beautiful blinking lights telling classic holiday tales such as the Nutcracker and Frosty the Snowman featuring musical accompaniment from a live organist playing the massive organ. This show will air every hour between 10AM and 8PM daily from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve. Get there early for a good seat! 

The Dickens Village at Macy's
When Strawbridge's shut its doors several years ago, many (including myself) feared that it marked the end for the Dickens Village. Luckily, Macy's wasted no time in moving the village across the street to the Wanamaker building, placing it in the same building as the Light Show for everyone's Christmas convenience. The village tells the story of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol with 26 different scenes from the famous novel. Over 100 animatronic characters bring the tale to life as you read actual text from the novel on sign posts set throughout the miniature version of 1840's London. A new feature added by Macy's comes at the end of the exhibit, at which point you are escorted into a room to have a quick chat and a photo with Father Christmas himself!

Deck the Alley
When visiting the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the United States, many people wish they could see the inside of the historic Elfreth's Alley houses. Well, on December 4th, you will finally get your chance! As many as 14 of the residents living on the alley will graciously open their homes for touring. Outside, expect to see carolers in period garb and classic Christmas decor. Inside, you will find refreshments (often provided by the fantastic Race Street Cafe) and a book signing with David Papp, author of the children's book The Scarlet Stockings Spy. Tickets are selling fast, so do not hesitate to pick yours up!

Light Displays
The Philadelphia region is home to a variety of impressive holiday decoration displays. Several blocks throughout the city, especially in Southwark and Manayunk, will work together to decorate, while other houses go all out on their own. One such house is located at Fairfax Road and Huey Avenue in Drexel Hill. This house puts on a display that would shame the Griswolds. From lights, to animatronics, to a life-size Santa in his sleigh complete with all of his reindeer, this place has it all. It's easily accessible from the Drexel Park stop on either the 101 or 102 trolleys from 69th Street, and well worth the trip into Delco.

Holiday Train Sets
Nothing says Christmas like a decent holiday model train setup, and there are several to check out in Philly. The Franklin Institute and Septa Museum will often present modest sets in their respective museum spaces. The best set in the city, however, can be found in the old Reading Railroad building. Enter the door next to Dunkin Donuts and you'll be greeted with the expansive set. With sections representing cities, suburbs, and rural areas, this set has it all. Also, kids (and adults) will get a kick out of being able to operate select parts of the display.

Links & Last Words
This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to celebrating the holidays in the City of Brotherly Love. We welcome your comments to address any of your favorite traditions we may have left out. Check out the links below for more information, and have a happy holiday season!

04 November 2010

Weekly Top Five - 4.Nov.10

In  High Fidelity, the characters compare their top fives in a variety of categories. Being big fans of both the film and novel, we here at the What bring you our Weekly Top Five, a feature focused on five fantastic things that you should become familiar with.

Movies To Add To Your Collection

In an effort to broaden your cinematic horizons, here are our picks for five movies you should have in your collection. Each film brings something different to the table, and will add a bit of variety in with your Apatow and Ocean's flicks, not that there's anything wrong with those.

5. The Wackness (2008) - This film is the story of an eighteen-year-old drug dealer trying to be cool and score with a hot girl he graduated with, set in 1994 Manhattan. Aside from the interesting characters and odd relationships they forge, pick this one up for the fantastic early 1990's hip-hop soundtrack. It stars Joshua Peck, Olivia Thirlby, and Ben Kingsley with cameos from Mark-Kate Olsen and Method Man. For the ladies: Charming, quirky love story. For the lads: Weed and old school hip-hop.

4. Love Actually (2003) - Tired of the same old romantic comedies and chick flicks? Well, this one is the ultimate romcom, the chickiest of the flicks. But it works. However, amidst all of the relationship drama, there is plenty of comedy. Good comedy. Plus, the film stars about half of the most famous British people you could think of. For the ladies: Romcom at its best. For the lads: Hilarity from Bill Nighy and frequent nudity.

3. Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003) - This Robert Rodriguez flick is the ultimate homage to Spaghetti Westerns. The action sequences are so good that they make Enrique Iglesias look badass as a guitar-wielding pistolero. The true stars of this movie are Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp; Banderas for his strong, silent portrayal of El Mariachi, and Depp for his spot-on performance as a rogue CIA agent. One of the best action movies out there. For the ladies: Johnny Depp. Oh, and Antonio Banderas. Did I mention Enrique? For the lads: Guitars, explosions, and Eva Mendes.

2. Casablanca (1943) - So you want a film standard to class up your library? Avoid Citizen Kane like the plague and pick up a copy of Casablanca. This incredible film features Ingrid Bergman opposite an at-his-best Humphrey Bogart. Unlike many classics, this film remains as popular and as watchable as it was when it was released nearly seventy years ago. For the ladies: The quintessential love story. For the lads: Rick - the ultimate badass.

1. 28 Days Later (2003) - Clearly 2003 was a good year for movies. It feels odd adding this to the list, but I've encountered a surprising number of people who do not own the movie. If you don't, you should. It is arguably the best horror movie to come out in the past ten years, and few films can reach the level of suspense that this flick from Danny Boyle does. For the ladies: Cillian Murphy's penis. For the lads: Zombiesque infected people. Really fast ones.

Pickelodeon: Elfreth's Alley

Welcome to Pickelodeon, a little feature where we review all that is reviewable in the world. Pickelodeon is your one stop shop for the inside scoop on the best restaurants, bars, movies, music, events, and anything else you want to hear someone else's opinion on before you try it. Drop us a line in the comment box for any suggestions on what we should review next!

Elfreth's Alley

Philadelphia is a city rich with American history. Not only is it the birthplace of the United States of America, but it also served as the nation's first capital. The city is home to a number of fantastic historical sites such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Powell House, and many more. However, many tourists (and locals) too often overlook one of the most fascinating historical sites in the city, Elfreth's Alley.

Elfreth's Alley was originally formed in 1702 as a path to connect the hustle and bustle of industrial 2nd Street to the Delaware River. In 1712 people began to build houses along the alley. Today, the oldest house still standing was constructed in the mid 1720's, making Elfreth's Alley the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the whole of the US.

When visiting historical sites, one typically hears of the famous, wealthy and/or important people who once lived or worked there. At Elfreth's Alley, you instead learn of everyday American life. The residents of the alley were known as the "Lower Sort," or working poor. The people who lived and worked on this street were the average, everyday Americans of their respective times.

Elfreth's Alley was considered a slum from the time people first lived there all the way through the middle of the twentieth century, when several of the houses were condemned. Luckily, the fledgling Elfreth's Alley Association (EAA) was able to rescue and restore many of the houses. Today, 29 of the 32 buildings on the alley are currently lived in and therefore are off-limits to the public.

Still, Elfreth's Alley is well worth the visit. The EAA owns buildings 124 and 126, through which they operate a gift shop and museum house. Tours of the museum house are only $5, making it one of the most affordable tours you'll find. Furthermore, the EAA holds special events annually in conjunction with the residents of the alley in which some residents graciously open their houses to visitors for special tours. One of these events is their Fete Day, which occurs each year in June. The other is the Deck the Alley celebration, typically held on the first Saturday of December.

Next time you find yourself wandering Old City looking for something to do, swing by Elfreth's Alley. They are open from 10-5 Tuesday through Saturday, and 12-5 of Sundays. For more information, visit their website at www.elfrethsalley.org.

27 October 2010

Five Internet Time Killers

We’ve all been there – sitting at the computer, twiddling our thumbs, looking for something to entertain us. More often than not, boredom will lead us to Youtube or Facebook. However, if you’re the kind of person who would like something a little more fun to occupy some internet free time, check out some of these sites.

Hone your (fake) billiard skills by shooting on this virtual table. I’ve seen a few different versions of this online, and this has the best graphics of the lot. Playing 9-Ball will also familiarize you with a billiard game that not enough people know how to play.

The 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches
Recently Saturday Night Live has seen a resurgence of sorts thanks to viral media, especially with its Digital Shorts. This list compiles fifty of the funniest sketches not just from SNL, but from a variety of sketch comedy shows ranging from The Chappelle Show to Upright Citizens Brigade. The best part of this list is that they include a video of each sketch, providing you with a hefty amount of hilarity.

Fifa Soccer
If you don’t like foosball there is something seriously wrong you and you should seek psychiatric assistance immediately. For those of us who love foosball and don’t live in a frat house or bar, this site provides a way for us to get our fix. The game is simple, requiring you only to use the up and down arrows on your keyboard. There are three levels of difficulty and a two-player option to spice things up a bit as well.

Samuel L. Jackson Soundboard
I feel that I should mention just how easily entertained I am. I’m very easily entertained. There, mentioned. That being said, I have literally spent the better part of an hour with this soundboard, using it for conversations with friends or just marveling at how Jackson owns the word motherfucker. Give this site a try, you’ll be surprised at how much fun it is.

25 Great Calvin & Hobbes Strips
If you don’t already have an appreciation for Calvin & Hobbes, you will after checking out this list. While the panels selected for this are all pretty amazing, there are so many more that could be considered among the best. Bill Waterson was truly the master of his craft, and reading Calvin & Hobbes always brightens my day.

20 October 2010

French Bread Margherita Pizza

As always, the What is dedicated to presenting you with colorful ideas for everyday life. Many of our ideas are food-related, because we love food. Learning how to cook for yourself now that you no longer have your mom or your meal plan to provide your meals can seem like a daunting task. We at the What are here to show you that cooking can be fun, easy, and rewarding by offering up recipes like this from our personal cookbooks. As is the case with most of our recipe-based ideas, this one is simple and delicious, just like us.

French Bread Margherita Pizza
There are few things I enjoy more in life than getting together some fresh ingredients and spending a lot of time in the kitchen whipping them up into something delicious. But sometimes I just want to eat. Luckily, I was able to combine all of these things into a simple, quick, and tasty meal. You'll be amazed at how easy and yummy it is! So, in honor of National Pizza Month, here is the recipe for French Bread Margherita Pizza.

1 loaf of crusty french bread
1 tomato for slicing
Garlic power
Mozzarella Cheese (Part Skim)
TODAY'S SECRET INGREDIENT IS: 3 leaves fresh basil


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. NOTE: I have also used the broiler, just keep an eye on the pizza so you don't burn it.
2. Cut the bread into four slices.
3. Thinly slice the tomato.
4. Drizzle the bread with the EVOO (Use 1 tbsp for accurate calorie count).
5. Place tomato slices on the bread.
6. Season with Oregano and Garlic Powder.
7. Sprinkle mozz on top of everything (1/4 cup for accurate calorie count).
8. Tear the basil leaves and toss a few onto each slice of bread.
9. Pop into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Calories: 630 per slice (This could vary depending on your bread. 1/4 of the loaf I use is 300 calories.)

Pizza in the City of Brotherly Love

“Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good.” Whomever it was that said this was on the right track. Yet even though bad pizza can still be pretty good, it is still helpful to know where to go for the best pizza. Being that October is National Pizza Month, I felt that now would be a good time to highlight some of my favorite pizza joints in (and around) Philadelphia.
With that in mind, allow me to qualify what I am considering good pizza. To me, a decent pizza has a thin, somewhat crispy brown crust, a sweet sauce, and the perfect portion of mozzarella cheese. There are, of course, variations to this designation as pizza is quite the versatile food and can be served in a variety of ways. I will do my best to cover as much as possible, and I certainly welcome feedback as to which establishments you believe serve up the best pies.
Simply The Best Pizza
When asked what is my favorite pizza joint in Philly, I always immediately respond with Germantown Pizza, located where Germantown Ave. crosses 4th and Jefferson streets in Old Kensington. Their crust meets the Goldilocks standard: just right. It’s crispy throughout with a nice, doughy edge. The guys at Germantown have found the perfect balance between mozzarella and their tasty sauce. It’s quite delicious. I’ve known several New Yorkers who, while usually snubbing Philly pizza, find the pies at Germantown to be just the way they like it. Aside from fantastic pizza, the staff is super nice and can boast a menu that has never let me down whether I’m ordering pizza, steaks, or anything else. Consider yourself lucky if you live in Germantown’s delivery radius, which stretches to Fishtown, NoLibs, and several other surrounding neighborhoods. If you’re not nearby, make the trip like I did when I lived in South Philly, it’ll be worth it.
Alternative Pizza
Family gatherings are always pleasant for many reasons, but one of the main reasons I look forward to having a bunch of relatives over is due to Marchiano’s Bakery. Marchiano’s is located at 4653 Umbria St. in Manayunk, which just so happens to be around the corner from my grandparents’ house. Nine times out of ten, when they come by, they’re bringing a tomato pie and some specialty breads. There’s just something about the sauce at Marchiano’s that makes it widely regarded as the best in Philly at preparing tomato pie. Furthermore, the talented bakers at Marchiano’s make some amazing breads stuffed with a variety of delicious things like pepperoni, cheese, cheesesteak, and so much more. There are few things more satisfying then scraping up the leftover sauce from your tomato pie with one of these breads. Be sure to swing by Marchiano’s before your next party, your guests will instantly fall in love with the amazing food you provided for them!
Me and Pizza Down by the Schoolyard
Enjoying Eddie's Pizza
When you combine a deep love for pizza with a fair amount of time spent on college campuses, you end up becoming something of an expert on which school has the best pizza. Call me biased, but no other school can lay claim to Eddie’s Pizza, found on the campus of my alma mater, Temple University. Situated in the outdoor food court next to the Tech Center, Eddie’s is the equivalent of heaven on earth for college students. Five bucks and five minutes gets you two slices and a drink for a quick bite between classes. Furthermore, the selection of pies rivals most larger pizza places in the city. I recommend a slice each of their chicken parm and BBQ chicken. In fact, Eddie’s is one of the few places that does chicken parm pizza the right way, with breaded chicken. While Temple may have a ton of potential places to stop for a bite, look no further than Eddie’s.
So Far Away – Pizza on the Edge of Town
With the holiday season fast approaching (don’t act like you haven’t seen the Christmas cards in Target), you may find yourself craving a slice far from Philadelphia and its fantastic pizza scene. Fear not, dear readers, for I have got you covered! For those of you who will make the trip to the Cherry Hill Mall, you’re only minutes from a pizza experience you’ve probably heard about on television but never experienced yourself. At 818 Haddonfield Rd, just around the corner from the mall, is Cici’s Pizza Buffet. For about seven bucks you have yourself unlimited pizza, pasta, breadsticks, salad, desert, and drinks. I first discovered Cici’s while living in Orlando and was beyond thrilled when one finally opened up in the Philly region. Should you decide to do some outlet shopping out in Lancaster county, you’re in luck. Not only are you near another Cici’s (2405 Covered Bridge Dr.), but also not too far from one of the best pizza places I’ve ever been to. In the world. Riviera Pizza is right off of exit 286 of the PA Turnpike on PA Route 272. Everything I said about Germantown Pizza is also true here, but Riv’s has the added bonus of seating. Speaking of added bonuses, if you do stop by and eat in the restaurant, you’ll get complimentary garlic knots with your pizza. To give you an idea of how much I like this pizza, I have ordered pies to go from Riv’s and driven them back to my apartment. In South Carolina. Now that’s some good pizza!
The Wind Cries Pizza
So, yes, bad pizza can still be pretty good, but no one should settle for anything less than the best. Certainly there are many more quality pizza establishments in the Philadelphia area, and you now have my opinion on where to find the best. I welcome any pizza joints you suggest so that I might try them out myself. Even if I didn’t mention your favorite place, give one of these pizza parlors a shot and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Take Me To The Pizza
Germantown Pizza – 215.232.0100 – 1517 N. 4th St. Phila, PA 19122
Marchiano’s Bakery – 215.483.8585 – 4653 Umbira St. Phila, PA 19127
Eddie’s Pizza – 215.763.8028 – 1835 N. 12th St. Phila, PA 19122 
Cici’s Pizza – 856.910.2424 – 818 Haddonfield Rd. Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
Cici’s Pizza – 717.392.2740 – 2405 Covered Bridge Dr. Lancaster, PA 17602
Riviera Pizza & Restaurant – 717.336.3879 – 1405 N. Reading Rd. Reamstown, PA 17567

18 October 2010

PRIMER - Fall Beer Review

Click the image above to be taken to the full article on Primer Magazine's website. Read on for a few notes and quotes that I cut from the final article.

Magic Hat Hex
  • "What is fall about this?" Ashley
  • "The burp tastes better." Adam
  • "Tastes like water." Buddy
  • "Bland, unremarkable." Candy
Magic Hat Oktoberfest
  • "Tastes better when held in mouth longer." Mary
  • Ashley and Patrick noted a fruity, apple aroma.
Abita Pecan Harvest
  • "Tastes like disgusting." Debra
  • "Not good." Buddy
  • "Smells like poop. Pecan taste is failure. Tastes like dirty nuts." Mary
Flying Dog Dogtoberfest Marzen

  • "Spunky beer but with a solid taste." Debra
PBC Joe Coffee Porter
  • "Smells like Juan Valdez's dirty diaper. Tastes like bad coffee." Debra
  • "DON'T LIKE IT!" Charlie
Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale
  • "Smells like hop and barley sex." Patrick
  • "Smells terrific when first opened, taste reveals over-spicing." Debra
  • "Smells great, doesn't follow through on taste - needs more spice." Mary
  • "Great smell, good pumpkin flavor and after taste. One of the few beers to use pumpkin well." Charlie
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
  • Alyssa noted hints of cinnamon while Debra and Charlie noted that it goes down nice and smooth.
  • "This smells happy." Patrick
  • Mary suggests that this beer is better when left to warm up a bit.
Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen
  • "(It tastes) like someone butt-raped a hop." Andy
  • "If you are a hipster vampire, you will love this taste of iron blood beer." Alyssa
  • "I'd rather drink my own blood." Alyssa
  • "Disgusting after taste." Charlie
  • "Tastes like blood. I feel a growing aversion to garlic." Debra
  • "Tastes like a blood-flavored corn tortilla." Ashley
Blue Moon Harvest Moon
  • "I wish this beer was a snack so I could eat it." Patrick
  • "Good, but not fall enough." Adam
  • "It goes down easy and smooth but lacks motivation to continue with another bottle." Debra
  • "Rich and hearty with a full-bodied taste." Charlie
  • "(I) prefer Blue Moon, Harvest Moon is a fail." Alyssa
Magic Hat Odd Notion Fall 2010
  • "Great bouquet, watered-down flavor." Charlie
  • "Smells fruity but tastes watered-down. The smell is better than the taste." Patrick
  • "Apple jolly rancher smell, apple jolly rancher and plastic taste." Adam

05 October 2010

Mixtape Madness #2: The Dinner Party Mix

According to the novel High Fidelity the making of a good mix tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. Furthermore, a good mix is never finished. You never know when you will come across a song that changes the dynamic of the mix you just completed. There is a litany of intricacies to crafting the ideal mix no matter what the mix’s intended purpose should be. This feature is merely a guide on the cosmic highway of mix making, and while experienced, the writer does not claim to be an expert.

The Dinner Party Mix
There are few things more enjoyable in life than good company, a delicious meal, and the right selection of music to accompany it. While almost any Steely Dan album or the soundtrack from An Education usually fit the bill just fine, sometimes it's nice to liven things up with a little variety. In this particular mix, we try to mix together some of the classics with a few more modern tunes to deliver a classy and eclectic mix to accompany your dinner party.
1- “Scenic World" by Beirut
"Scenic World" opens with such a deep, rich sound it immediately strikes the listener as unique while still conveying a certain feeling of comfort and relaxation. This is one of the more modern songs on the mix, but it still manages to hold its own with some of the standards we'll hear later on.
2- “Red Rabbits" by the Shins
After the Shins exploded with the release of the Garden State soundtrack, I really enjoyed listening to them. For whatever reason, I did not come across this song until a couple of years later. The depth and vibrancy of "Red Rabbits" picks up right where "Scenic World" left off, and should fit in well as you and your guests finish off your appetizers.
3- “Sweet Nothins" by Brenda Lee
Just as your clearing the appetizers and making way for the main course, this fun little song pops up. I rediscovered this song after seeing An Education, and it fits well with the rest of the mix. It's a bit more upbeat than the first two songs, and it will certainly lighten the mood and pep  up the conversation at the dinner table.
4- “The Only Living Boy In New York" by Simon & Garfunkel
Although we just brought the tempo up on the last song, we tone it back down a notch with this mellow tune from Simon & Garfunkel. This will help lower the noise level as you serve the main course while providing a little background music as you and your guests put the conversation on hold to sample the meal.
5- “Coming Home" by Mel Tormé
Listen to this song and try and tell me there is a hipper, more swinging tune than this one. This song brings the tempo up without really raising the volume, and will most likely be a hit amongst your friends who are jumping into the 1960's craze caused by Mad Men.
6- “Volare" by Dean Martin
It would not be a dinner party without Dean Martin, and this is Dean Martin at his best. Your guests will be tapping their toes to this crooner's smooth melodies as they chomp down on the meal you prepared. This is especially good if you cooked an Italian meal.
7- “Backyard" by Guster
After a couple of classics, we're going to bring it back to a more modern feel with this song from Guster. Again, we bring the tempo up a bit, this time with a slight increase in volume. This song will flow nicely with the progression of the meal, the conversation, and the party as a whole.
8- “For Once In My Life" by Harry Connick, Jr.
"For Once In My Life" is such a happy, fun, and lovely little tune. It has that classic big band and crooner sound, yet is still technically modern as it was released in 2004. Fun Fact: Harry is halfway to his EGOT with three Grammy awards and one Emmy.
9- “I've Got You Under My Skin" by Frank Sinatra & Bono
Here's another song that bridges the gap between today's music and the classics. Bono's voice compliments the Chairman's surprisingly well, and this song is probably one of the best from Sinatra's many duets.
10- “Fall To Pieces" by Patsy Cline
Out of everything on this mix, this is one of maybe two songs that doesn't quite fit with the rest. I felt the need to include it because Patsy Cline has a fantastic voice, and this particular song provides a good example. It's also closer to a ballad, having a little less twang than a lot of her other songs, making it a good fit for your dinner party and adding to the eclectic nature of your music selection.
11- “Both Hands" by Ani DiFranco
This mix truly has a little bit of everything on it. "Both Hands" is a simple, yet amazingly beautiful, song that should come up right as dinner is ending. As you retire to the living room or bring out dessert, your guests will be sure to ask you about this acoustic performance so they can download it as soon as they get home.
12- “Everlong" by the Foo Fighters (Skin & Bones acoustic version)
"Everlong" is one of the greatest songs ever written. If you don't agree, it doesn't matter. Bob Dylan does. Dylan asked Dave Grohl to show him how to play "Everlong" so that Dylan could play it on tour. All of that aside, it truly is a beautiful song, and this acoustic version will fit right in with the rest of the tunes on your Dinner Party mix.
13- “C'est Si Bon" by Eartha Kitt
What better to accompany dessert than the sultry purr of Eartha Kitt (in French no less)? Well, I couldn't think of anything either, and hence this fun little classic makes its way onto the mix. Fun Fact: Eartha Kitt provided the voice for the villain Yzma in one of the best Disney movies, The Emperor's New Groove.
14- “Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin
Whether they know it or not, everyone loves this song. It serves as the perfect bridge between the last and next songs, creating the ideal atmosphere for coffee and conversation after dinner.
15- “The Bare Necessities" by Harry Connick, Jr.
Many of the Disney movies of the 1960's and 70's had a jazzy feel to them and were crying out for a big band cover. Leave it to Mr. Connick to give us just that. This is how "The Bare Necessities" was meant to be performed.
16- “Feeling Good" by Nina Simone
How will your guests feel after a marvelous meal and delicious dessert? They'll be feeling good. So when Nina Simone belts out these awesome lyrics, you're guests will know exactly how she feels.
17- “Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys
Like "Fall To Pieces," this doesn't exactly sound like the rest of the music on this mix, but like "Beyond the Sea," everyone likes this song whether they realize it or not. Everyone can empathize with this song on some level, and it's sure to leave smiles on your guests' faces.
18- “Sunday Kind of Love" by Etta James
With so many amazing singers represented, it would be remiss to forget Etta James. As much as I love "At Last," I feel like "Sunday Kind Of Love" fits the bill much better here while still displaying Etta's impressive pipes.
19- “Volare" by Ximena Sariñana
This song is optional, but let me explain while I include it. First of all, "Volare" is a fantastic song when sung well, as it is here. Secondly, almost everyone who has listened to it with me instantly imitates Ximena's voice, leading to a comedic note to end the mix on.
Once this mix ends, if the party continues, pop in some Benny Goodman or Glen Miller. You could also opt for one of the albums mentioned at the beginning of the article. Either way, enjoy your meal and enjoy the Dinner Party mix!

Check out our other Mixtape Madness mixes here!

17 September 2010

Day Tripper: Times Square

One of the many perks of living in Philadelphia is its proximity to so many snazzy places. Philadelphians are within a two or three hour drive of the mountains, the ocean, and some of the coolest and most important cities in the world. With that in mind, the What is proud to present Day Tripper, our guide to the numerous fun trips you can take in and around the Philadelphia region.

The Destination
New York City is massive and it would be foolish for us to try and cram it all into one day trip. For that reason, in this edition of Day Tripper we will focus on the world's most famous intersection, Times Square. When people hear the phrase "bright lights, big city" Times Square is what they picture. So many of NYC's most famous attractions are just steps away from where the ball drops every New Year's Eve.

The Ride
Traveling from Philadelphia, one has several options for getting to New York. Bus companies like Bolt and Megabus will take you from 30th Street Station to Penn Station in Manhattan for a low price (and wi-fi!). Another option is to hop on Septa's Trenton Line that will allow you to transfer to a New Jersey Transit train up to Penn Station. If you're feeling a little adventurous, there is the always-exciting option of taking the Chinatown bus, followed by a short ride on the MTA's N line up to Times Square. If you take this option, be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get home, or you could end up fighting for a seat on the last bus back.

The Grub
Chances are that you'll arrive in the city right around lunch time. Luckily for you, there's a fantastic little pizza place right around the corner. John's Pizzeria is at 260 W 44th St, between 7th and 8th Avenues. They don't do slices, but you can split a delicious pie with whomever you're traveling with and you'll be good to go. When you need a little snack to munch on while wandering through Central Park, stop by M&M World at 48th and Broadway and pick up a bag of the candy in your favorite color. If you're in the mood for a beer, swing by BXL Belgian Cafe at 43rd and 6th for a tasty beverage. After you've seen the sights in and around Times Square, be sure to head over to Ellen's Stardust Diner at 51st and Broadway. There you'll find your typical diner fare at a higher price than you're used to paying, but it is more than worth it. During your meal you'll be entertained by Ellen's famous singing wait staff, whose song catalog covers a range from Sinatra to Fergie to Wicked to the Beatles, and everything in between.

The Sights
Like the rest of NYC, there are a ton of places to check out during your visit to the Crossroads of the World. For fans of the shows 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live, at the heart of Times Square you're just a handful of blocks away from 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where both shows are taped. If you're there at the right time, you may be able to score some last-minute tickets to be a part of the audience for SNL or Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. A few blocks north from there you will find Central Park, which could be a day trip on its own. There is always plenty to see and do there, and you can check out their calendar ahead of time to see what's happening while you're in town. Finally, with Times Square being the center of the Theater District, you can try and rush (score last-minute tickets to) a Broadway show at any one of the many theaters nearby.

The Wrap-Up
A visit to New York City is always fun. There are many more things to do in Times Square than were listed here, and that's just one small part of one of the five boroughs. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of your proximity to NYC and visit as often as you can.

11 September 2010

Tomato Tossed Pasta

As always, the What is dedicated to presenting you with colorful ideas for everyday life. Many of our ideas are food-related, because we love food. Learning how to cook for yourself now that you no longer have your mom or your meal plan to provide your meals can seem like a daunting task. We at the What are here to show you that cooking can be fun, easy, and rewarding by offering up recipes like this from our personal cookbooks. As is the case with most of our recipe-based ideas, this one is simple and delicious, just like us.

Tomato Tossed Pasta
Recently I have been rediscovering the joy in life that is having a Whole Foods nearby. Many a day on my lunch break, I'll pick up a bunch of fresh ingredients and toss together something delicious (like French Bread Margherita Pizza). I must say, it's nice to finally be the guy in the office whose lunch makes everyone else jealous. To make a long story short, my coworker Patti was impressed by my kitchen improvisation skills and gave me a gift: two orange tomatoes and a suggestion. The suggestion was to marinate the tomatoes in olive oil and put it on spaghetti. The following is how I interpreted that suggestion tonight (with irresistibly tasty results).

13 July 2010

Chicken Fajita Burritos

This surefire crowd-pleaser was conceived after a visit to Chipotle Mexican Grill. Whoever the genius was that sat down and said "Hmm, what's better than burritos and fajitas? Oh yeah, fajita burritos!" is A-OK in my book. For the record, you should probably wash this down with something that has tequila in it. Tequila is probably the only thing that could make this masterpiece any better, but then again tequila makes everything better. Enough about tequila, on to the cooking!

Chicken Breast Cutlets
Mesquite Seasoning
Garlic Powder
Lemon Pepper
Red Bell Pepper
Taco Sauce
1 Can of Corn
1 Cup of Rice
Mexican Blend Cheese


1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Stir in the rice. Squeeze in the juice of one lime and sprinkle in some cilantro, paprika and Mesquite seasoning. Stir, cover, reduce heat and let that simmer.
2. Slice the onion and pepper and dice the tomato.
3. Sautee the chicken in the EVOO. Liberally season the chicken with the Mesquite Seasoning, paprika and cilantro. Toss a bit of garlic powder and lemon pepper on there as well. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the chicken while satueeing.
4. Once the chicken is done, set it aside and sautee the onion and pepper in the same pan. Add some more lime juice, seasoning, and cilantro. See the pattern?
5. Somewhere around here you should heat up the corn.
6. Once all of that is done, set the table with tortillas and the food you've prepared.
7. Pile it on a tortilla with taco sauce, lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes, and you're good to go!

05 June 2010

Pickelodeon: Positano Coast

Welcome to Pickelodeon, a little feature where we review all that is reviewable in the world. Pickelodeon is your one stop shop for the inside scoop on the best restaurants, bars, movies, music, events, and anything else you want to hear someone else's opinion on before you try it. Drop us a line in the comment box for any suggestions on what we should review next!

Positano Coast
Positano Coast, located on the second floor of 212 Walnut Street in Old City, is the best restaurant in the city. A lofty statement, yes, but true nonetheless. As a part of Aldo Lamberti's family of restaurants, this restaurant and wine bar has been providing primo Italian cuisine to the area for years.

I first discovered this gem about eight years ago when it was simply known as Lamberti's. At the time I was a poor college freshman stunned by my ability to set foot in such a classy establishment after years of dining at Ruby Tuesday's. Since then, the restaurant somehow managed to notch the class up a bit more and improve on the food that I found flawless. To this day each time I visit this establishment I am impressed by the relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere, exquisite menu selections, and impeccable service.

The atmosphere of Positano Coast is aided by the fact it sits on the second floor. Upon entering the restaurant you are instantly on another level, rising above the sights and sounds of being on the street. Everywhere you look in the dining room you see blue, whether it be giant photographs of the actual Positano coast in Italy or the rich, blue colors of the floors and accent walls. The overall tone presented in the room has a relaxing effect and prepares you for your culinary experience before you even take your seat.

Once you are seated, you are presented with a clean, easy to read menu with a tremendous variety of plates to choose from. Before too long, your server arrives with a friendly greeting and the customary "Have you dined with us before?" Though many establishments insist on their staff asking that, it is actually relevant inquiry in this place. Positano's menu was created in "the tradition of the Amalfi coast," which is to say they serve smaller portions and encourage sharing. Feel free to chat with your server about this, and anything else for that matter. The staff at Positano Coast is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to recommending a meal based on your taste or suggesting the proper wine to accompany your dinner.

Alimento e Vino
Your server will leave you with some water and a fresh, fantastic crusty bread complete with dipping oil to dabble in as you choose your plates. Each time I go to Positano Coast, I tend to order a selection from the Let's Go On portion of the menu complimented with something from the On The Side section. Again, feel free to ask your server what side would best compliment your meal. My favorite is the Scottish Salmon Limoncello with the Capellini and Clams, both of which when paired with a white wine will send your taste buds into a frenzy of delight.

On the subject of wine, be prepared to have a bit more than the typical glass. The majority of the wines selected personally by general manager Marianna Coppola are served in a quartino. A quartino is a carafe of sorts, and at nine ounces translates to roughly one and a half glasses of wine. This, like the smaller portions of food, is to encourage sharing and tasting with your table mates.

Once your meal is in full swing, a dining experience unlike any other is to follow. Whether with a group or on a date, the conversation will flow freely as you sample different plates and glasses. Your fellow diners will be impressed by your selection and very pleased with their meals. This is the ideal restaurant for a serious date, especially with the Ritz theater situated directly across cobblestoned Dock Street. It also would serve well for a business dinner or just a nice way to cap off a day in the city. In the warm weather, Positano Coast has the benefit of outdoor dining without the worry of cars parallel parking next to your table.

On a typical dinner date for two, the bill usually comes to about $130 including dinner, drinks, an appetizer, and a generous tip. I assure you that every penny is worth it, Positano Coast does not disappoint. And don't be afraid to try something new. Even foods I haven't liked elsewhere are delicious when prepared by the phenomenal chefs at Positano Coast.

For more information, you can call Positano Coast at 215-238-0499 or visit their website. Do yourself a favor and swing by for a meal this summer, you can thank me later.

  • Scottish Salmon Limoncello, Capellini and Clams, and a white wine recommended by your server
  • Eggplant Napoleon, Homemade Gnocchi Gorgonzola, and a red wine recommended by your server