#20 – You know what Ben Franklin said…

…”Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”  Amen.  I like beer, especially craft brews and drinking the local beers of wherever I happen to be.  Alaska has some good ones! But, lucky for me, I don’t have to travel that far to get some tasty brew.  I can even ride my bike to two of my faves!

Biking on the towpath to Lambertville, NJ and the River Horse Brewing Complany.

This pretty path leads to fun towns with good restaurants and BEER!  We call it the “tow path.”

River Horse Brewing Company is in Lambertville, NJ, right on the bank of the Delaware River,  just a short distance from this biking trail.  I went with a few friends back in the fall when they had just released their “Hipp-o-Lantern” Pumpkin Ale. They’re into the hippos there.  River Horse = hippo.  At the brewery they usually have 3 or 4 beers on tap, one or two seasonal beers and then some of their standards, like maybe the “Hop-A-Lot-Amus” Double IPA.   For a buck or two you get 4 tastings.  I’ve been here twice and both times I was wishing that I could order a whole pint or bottle but they only do the samples.  It’s probably better that way because some of these brews are pretty potent.  They also give tours of the brewery but I’ve never done that.

We liked the Pumpkin Ale!

We like pumpkin ale!

If you did want a whole glass of beer, which we did, you could walk back out to town and across the bridge that spans the Delaware River and connects New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Just up the hill on the PA side you’ll find Triumph Brewing Company.  Triumph has locations here in New Hope and also in Princeton and Philly.  My standard here is their Honey Blonde which is pretty light and easy to drink. Jenna, up there, goes for the Amber Ale. I like to try their seasonals too.  My fave seasonal is their Raspberry Wheat.  Can’t wait for summer time to pick up a growler of that!  Triumph is a brewery and also a restaurant with some pretty good food.  So when my girls and I went for some brew we filled our tummies too.  And look what happened…

See that yellow tomato?

See that yellow tomato?

I ate it!

I ate it!

I was not into it.  I was more concerned with the setting sun, because next thing we knew the bike trail looked like this and the ride home was a lil dicey…

Where's my head lamp when I need it???

Where’s my head lamp when I need it???

A few weeks later we went to The Vault.  It’s a new brewery in Yardley, PA.  These guys renovated an old bank and turned it into a fun brew pub. It looks pretty cool inside and definitely feels like an old, fancy bank with tiled floors and bars and, well, vaults.  They serve pizza and tapas and play jazz music.  Sometimes they have live performances.  I’m not super into jazz music but I really liked the beer! We got the flights so we could try out a few…

That one on the left is sweet potato ale!  I was a little skeptical but it was good!

That one on the left is sweet potato ale! I was a little skeptical but it was good like cinnamon and nutmeg and fall! Yum!

Which beer next?

#15 – The Early Bird…

…doesn’t have to sit at the community table.  But should she?

About a week ago, I was awakened at 7:51am, by the sound of a text message from my friend Kellie:  “Hey!  Are u up?”  (I am now.) “Craving french toast.  Want breakfast? Wear sweats.”  Now, I like me a lil bit of extra sleep on the weekends, so I was very tempted to roll over and ignore the invite.  But, even though Kellie and I work at the same place every day, our schedules only cross paths for about an hour a week, during which time we’re on cafeteria duty with about 80 kids while they, and we, eat lunch.  There’s milk to be opened, chicken to be cut, spills to be cleaned, milk to be opened. There’s not much time for chit chat.  So, I was tired, but I wanted to catch up with my friend.  Plus, we’re wearing sweats. Easy, comfy.  Plus, bacon.  Ok, I’ll go.

30 minutes later we’re almost on our way to a local diner, when I think about my list.  Let’s go somewhere new! Well, new to me.  And then we’re heading to PJ’s Pancake House.  Which is not new at all.  Apparently they’ve been around since 1962.  It’s probably ridiculous that I’ve been living not far from Princeton for years and haven’t ever eaten here, but I haven’t.  There is almost always a line of people stretching down the sidewalk waiting to get into this place.  In fact, that’s how I describe the restaurant to Kellie, “You know that pancake place in Princeton that always has a line?”  So we are happily shocked when we pull up and don’t see a line. Then we’re a little bummed when the host tells us that they’re full and we will be the first people to start the line.  They don’t let anyone wait inside and they don’t take your name.  You just have to wait in line, single file, on the sidewalk. They’ll come get you when there’s space.  OK.  That’s fine.  We’re in the middle of a story anyway.  It’s sunny.  We start the line.  We continue the story.  We don’t have to wait long until there’s space for us…at the “community table”…

PJ's Pancake House154 Nassau Street  Princeton, NJ

PJ’s Pancake House
154 Nassau Street Princeton, NJ

Sooo, the community table is a big, giant, probably seats about 20 people table in the middle of the restaurant and you just sit with whomever else happens to be sitting there in the community. And it was crowded this day. Would you like that?  We kinda just wanted uninterrupted, not have to be polite to our neighbors or sensor our talk chat time We weren’t sure the community was going to want to hear our chatter but we were kinda going with it since we were hungry.  And then a sweet, sweet server must have seen the uncertainty on our faces and said, “How many ladies? Two?  Take this booth!”  And then we told him we loved him and I had pecan pancakes and bacon and Kellie got her french toast and we looked at pictures and we talked and told stories and laughed and laughed and not one child asked us to open their milk container.  It was nice.  Thanks for waking me up, Kell!

But then I got to thinking…maybe I should go back some time, wait, I’ll definitely be going back.  There are so many pancake choices, that it was hard for me to order. I want to try their crepes. But maybe next time I’ll  join the community table… connect with the neighbors, meet some new friends, maybe share my bacon.  They give A LOT of bacon at this joint!

#29 – Love Apples and the Big Apple

I have a “love-apple” on my Christmas tree this year!  Do you know what a “love-apple” is?  Neither did I.  But one day, in mid-December, I came home from work and found a little package waiting on the porch for me.  A fun surprise!  Here’s what was inside…

It's a love apple!

It’s a tomato!  Also known as a “love apple.”  The tag says so.

Well, I love the ornament and my friend for sending it to me, but the cute nickname does not help me love tomatoes any more.  I’m still trying them and I still think they’re mostly gross.  Especially the raw ones.  Here’s how I felt about a plate of bruschetta at a work party …

Not feelin’ it.

You know what does help, though?  Vodka.  See here…

Smiling! Sometimes vodka helps.

That was the first time I drank a whole bloody mary.  I’ve had a few sips of other people’s before but I usually stopped there and said, “I don’t like tomatoes!” This time, though, I powered through a few gulps and then (maybe the booze kicked in) but I liked it! I really liked it!  And it definitely was the bar-goers’ drink of choice at this brunchtime.  I think I want to make my own some day.

You know what else I want to do?  (This is the “Big Apple” part.)  I want to visit the Statue of Liberty.  I’ve seen it from afar but I’ve never gotten up close and personal with the lady.  I really want to get all up in her head.  Sad thing though.  Liberty Island, where the lady lives, was badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy and is closed for now. The National Park people say that they will work to repair and re-open the site as soon as possible but they haven’t promised or even hinted at a date when that might happen.  I had been thinking about adding this to my list before the storm even hit because they had just re-opened the crown this fall. I’m not sure if this one can actually happen, but I think I’ll add it to the list anyway, in a positive thinking kind of way, and if it’s not open in time for the b-day, then I’ll do something else New York-ish or patriotic.  So, #29 is Visit the Statue of Liberty…

PS – She’s on my tree too!