Friday, May 06, 2011

A Nice Little Italian Restaurant

As I already mentioned, after seeing the Black Coffee Blues Band the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I headed to Frankie's 457 for a little nosh.

Frankies 457

As I said before, this is kind of a small place, very friendly, and with a homey feel to it. And I don't know why they don't have an apostrophe in their name. This place is at 457 Court Street kind of in my neighborhood and they have another one in Manhattan at 17 Clinton Street and I bet you can guess what that one is called.  Now pay attention, that is Clinton Street in Manhattan, not Clinton Street here in Brooklyn.

There was a short wait for a table inside and it was a bit too chilly for me to want to sit outside so I forced myself to have a beer at the bar.

Someone Has To Do It

The beer I had was an Edelstoff from the Augustiner Brewery in Munich, Germany. This brewery has a history that goes back to 1328 although, obviously, it has changed a bit since then. The Edelstoff is brewed for export only because, as you may know, the United States requires stuff to be added to beer that would violate the Bavarian "Reinheitsgebot" (Purity Law) of 1516. It always amazes me that European's manage to survive quite well drinking beers and eating foods that, by law, are not allowed in the United States. Ah, but all those preservatives and stuff have to be good for us, Right?

Anyway, the Edelstoff is a crisp and sparkly brew that is very refreshing. It is a decent 5.6% ABV and downing a six-pack of this on a hot summer day would be no problem at all. But it was a chilly spring day so I only had one.

More Of A Wine Day

I generally prefer a red wine but the Mysterious Chinese Woman likes the white. I bought a whole bottle of the red because I wanted a Chianti and, surprisingly, they didn't Chianti by the glass. They do let you take the unfinished bottle home with you, as almost every restaurant does.

We weren't overly hungry so we just ordered appetizers. An octopus salad for the Mysterious Chinese Woman and a cold cut sampler and cheese plate for me.

Just A Little Nosh

Although it was too chilly for me outside, there were some hardier souls eating out in the nice looking area.

They Were Probably Drinking Hard Stuff

They had a grill outside but I am not sure how often it gets used. I hasn't been used in awhile, that's for sure.

I Could Fix This Up

There is another indoor area that is separate from and larger than the main restaurant, but it wasn't being used today. Maybe it is for private parties or something.

Perhaps A Party Room

I did bring most of the wine home but it didn't make it through the evening. Hey, once it is open, you know it won't keep. I also took home some of the cold cuts and cheese with some bread and had that for a snack the next day.

I will have to head back to this place again in the not too distant future. There are so many good restaurants that are closer to where I live, Queen being one, that I tend to get lazy and don't wander too far. This one is worth the walk, though.

Frankies 457 Spuntino on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Court Street Street Fair

A bit on the slow side in terms of getting my posts posted.  Or maybe just a bit on the slow side.  And I figured I better get something up before I go out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a day honoring a relatively trivial victory by the Mexicans over the French in a war they eventually lost.  Interestingly, almost nobody in Mexico celebrates this except for the tourists.  But in the United States we use it as an excuse to slam down shots of tequila and drink Margaritas.'

Bar Man, being a bit perverse, will celebrate by going to Bar Tabac, a French bistro, and having mussels in a white wine sauce accomanied by a glass or two of a French vin blanc.  Then I will come home and make a couple of Margaritas and drink them while watching The Social Network that I just got from Netflix.

You probably didn't know that today is also the National Day of Prayer here in the United States. The law formalizing its annual observance was enacted by Congress in 1952 and it is observed on the first Thursday of May.  So, no, it wasn't established to compete with Cinco de Mayo, it just happens to fall on the same day this year.  Kind of like how the Minnesota Fishing Opener wasn't set to compete with Mother's day, it just seems that it usually falls on the same weekend.  Not this year though.

I bet more people bend their elbow today than bend their knee in prayer.

But I digress.  On to the fair.

It was a nice sunny day last Sunday so people were our enjoying the weather at a number of sidewalk cafes.  Well, more like sitting at tables on the sidewalk in front of bars and restaurants.

Enjoying The Sun After A Rainy Spring

Street fairs are always kind of fun even if they are a bit on the cheesy side with most of the vendors just making the rounds all spring and summer and not really having much to do with the actual fair itself. And this one was largely the same.

You Have Your Games Of Chance

Now maybe it is just me, but it sure looks like people are going out of their way to avoid these games. Especially the one featuring the plush stuffed banannas for prizes. Gosh, who wouldn't want one of those.

Some of the food vendors, though, did look like they were a step up from those trucks selling the generic Italian Sausages and stuff.

Sweets For The Sweet

And Sausages Too

I picked up a couple of spring rolls from this place that was set up in front of their little restaurant.

Spring Rolls In The Springtime

Unfortunately they weren't very good. I ate one and tossed the other.

But the day was saved when I got to:

P.J. Hanley's Tavern

This is a great place that has been around since 1874. A big outdoor eating area that, as you can see, was packed. Normally I would have popped in for a beer but it was way too crowded. Besides, I had just had one at Cody's American Bar and Grill and was sure I would have another when I got to where the Black Coffee Blues Band was playing.

Now these guys had some good grilling going on.

Pig In A Metal Blanket

Either A Lamb Or A Small Dog

Don't get excited, it was a lamb.

These Guys Had A Serious Smoker

And the stuff they were cooking was going as fast as they could get it on the table.

Slim Pickings

I had a little better luck with the sausages, there seemed to be plenty of those available.

Sizzling Good Sausages

I chatted with the guy frying up the sausages and told them they looked really good. He asked me if I wanted a taste and I said "Sure." Well, Who wouldn't?

My Taste

Now you have to admit, that was very generous of him. No need to buy one after that "taste."

Oh, and don't let me forget the thrill rides for the kiddies.

Nothing Like A Good Scream

From here I went to see the Black Coffee Blues Band, which you already know about. I will catch you up on Frankie's 457 next time. But now I am off to Bar Tabac.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Okay, I Give

After fooling around with my iPad for a few days I am growing somewhat fond of it.  Kind of like a new puppy who piddles on your carpet.  Once you get it paper trained you get over the initial aggravation and start to bond.

I downloaded a few free apps and got a stylus that eliminates the problems of my not-all-that-fat finger tips.  Figured out how to use Safari better, but still don't know why just clicking the Mail icon will only bring me to my Hotmail Inbox but not let me access, or even see, my other Hotmail folders.  Maybe I am missing something.

Still not happy about that whole having to set up an account with an Apple Store to use the iPad, but what can you do.  And that having to hook it up to my PC to get it to work was a bit of a pain as well.  I had to install iTunes as an administrator because some of the features needed to initialize my iPad were blocked by my firewall.  Not sure what that was all about.

I will be sure to let you know the first time I post a blog with photos from my iPad.  I should be getting my Camera Connection Kit today.  And, yes, I know, I could load photos from my PC to the iPad using iTunes, but that wouldn't make much sense.  As long as I am already on my PC I might as well just use it to post.

So I will play nice from now on and all of you Apple Heads can stop getting on my case for not thinking the iPad is the best thing since sliced bread.  I wonder what the best thing before sliced bread might have been.

I will post a bit about the Court Street Street Fair and Frankies 457 a bit later today.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Black Coffee Blues Band

Yesterday was the Court Street Street Fair.  A bit redundant sounding, but hey, I didn't come up with the name. I have a few pictures I took along the way as I headed the the far end of it (far end if you started where I did) to see my friend Dimitri and the group he plays with, the Black Coffee Blues Band.  Those pictures will have to wait for another post.

Dimitri has a performance place on Court Street where they host various events to promote local talent and this is where they were performing.

Worth Paying A Visit

I didn't even know about this place until I got an email from Dimitri inviting me to watch the band.  For those of you who follow my blog you know that they are a favorite of mine.  I have posted pictures of them in the past, usually at the Atlantic Antic, my favorite street fair. They also play at the Waterfront Ale House, but while they used to play here in Brooklyn they now play at the Manhattan location so I don't see them all that often. Anyway, I will try to keep apprised of future events and post about them so if any or you are interested and in the neighborhood you can attend them.

Me And Dimitri (Rhymes, Doesn't It)

The Mysterious Chinese Woman had gone to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden earlier with two of her sisters and a niece. She did manage to make it back in time to catch the performance, and a beer.

A Belle, Beer And Blues, A Winning Combination

The beer was not your run of the mill stuff, either.  It was Penn Kaiser Pilsner, brewed by the Pennsylvania Brewing Company.  A nice session beer (4% ABV), quite refreshing.   A nice malty aroma and a slight hoppy flavor with some sweeter malt to it as well.

A Good Beer Served Up By A Good Gail

Now Bar Man does like a good blues band, and these guys are really good.  Better than a lot of bands that I have heard in much pricier venues.  Well, this venue was actually free.  They are all talented and, except for the drummer, very good vocalists as well as gifted guitar players.  And for all I know the drummer can sing too.

The Black Coffee Blues Band

Popa Chubby, who usually fronts the group, wasn't there, but man, they rocked out anyway.  If you want to see a video of the group with Popa Chubby playing at the Atlantic Antic, click the link below (you will also see why Popa Chubby is called Popa Chubby and not Popa Skinny).

The somewhat diminutive bass player is Galea, Popa Chubby's wife. Popa Chubby and Galea also form the nucleus of The Horowitz Blues Band. Popa Chubby's real name is Ted Horowitz. What, you thought his parents named him Popa Chubby. And here is a bit of irony, Popa Chubby's father owned a candy store.

The guy on the left is Big Ed Sullivan and he can really wail on that guitar.

Big Ed Doing Some Guitar Tricks

Hiding His Hand

I told him he reminded me of Eddie Van Halen who used to play with his back to the audience because he was afraid people would film him and copy his fingering.  Of course Eddie is a mess, and if you don't believe me just read Sammy Hagar's autobiography Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock.

Now Dimitri you already know, he is on the far right in the group picture.  The guy next to Big Ed is Doc French who usually plays with the French Cookin' Band  The drummer is Don Castagno of the Debbie Davies Band.  I had Doc's and Don's names wrong on my original post but Dimitri sent me an email so I could correct them.  Sorry Doc and Don, I guess I just wasn't paying attention during the introductions.

The Black Coffee Blues Band does have at least one CD out and, if you search for it I think you can find at least one site where you can download it for free.  I would post the link but that would be like encouraging you to steal.

After watching them perform I had worked up a bit of an appetite so the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I went out for dinner.  I will post about that in a day or two but if you are in this neck of the woods you really should check out this place. It is an authentic old-time Italian restaurant with decent food and friendly service.

Frankie's 457

Not too surprising, it is at 457 Court Street.

Now I know that Fox News isn't the biggest Obama supporter, but do you think this banner that they ran was just a Freudian slip?

Makes You Kind Of Wonder

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Enough With The iPad

Okay, my final post on the subject of my iPad.

First, I have said many times that I am on a learning curve and some of the things I have encountered are less than intuitive, in my opinion.

Second, I don't see why I should have to load an Apple application onto my PC in order to get my iPad to work.

Third, I don't understand why I have to give out my credit card information to be able to use my iPad.

Fourth, no iPad ad that I have ever seen indicates the need to buy an additional iPad Camera Connection Kit to use any of the nifty photo apps they have and tout in their ads.

Fifth, nobody seems to contradict any of my factual comments about my experience with the iPad.  Instead they seem to suggest that I am "technically challenged."  I would suggest that my technical credentials are fairly impressive when it comes to mainframes and PCs, and, see my first point,  I am still learning about the iPad.  I am the first to admit that I have a lot to learn.

Sixth, I have said there are things about the iPad that I do like and, that as I learn more, I am liking it more.

Seventh, in my opinion Apple users, be it a Mac or an iPad or whatever, are a very defensive lot.  Why?  I don't know.  I should write a fiction piece about an upcoming war between, not Christians and Muslims, but between PC and Apple users.

Eighth, I am gong back to writing about bars and restaurants and life in general, things that I am less likely to be attacked about.

Ninth, I think Donald Trump is a fool.

Tenth, I hate the Yankees and the Knicks (I used to love the Knicks)  but I  love the Jets and the Twins.  I am totally indifferent about hockey but support the Chivas Mexican football (soccer to us) team.

Eleventh, I now live in Brooklyn but I grew up in Minneapolis so maybe you can understand this (except for the indifference to hockey, the love of the Jets and the support of a Mexican football team).

Twelfth, The iPad still sounds like it should be sold on a shelf next to either the Depends or the sanitary napkins.

Thirteenth, for whomever (Patrick)  said I was technologically challenged, set up your own blog, get your own web address, embed a picture that when you click on it takes you to another website (mine would be fine) and then re-link me to your website. I am sure you can, but I don't think a "technologically challenged" person can.  If you send me your link I will embed it in my blog.

Fourteenth, Can you buy unsanitary napkins?

Fifteenth, How long before Trump demands to see Osama's death certificate?

And that is it.

Or, maybe, not.

More iPad Woes

Okay, after paying my $9.99 a month over and above the $71 a year I already pay for Rhapsody I got it working on my iPad. I can't say that it is as feature rich as the version for the PC, but given the longer battery life on the iPad and the fact that you can download music for your queue to be played later I can see where this will be useful, especially for on a plane and where there is no internet connectivity.

I bought a plastic shield to protect the iPad's screen but after reading the installation instructions I returned it. When I got to the point about leaving the iPad off for 12 to 24 hours and removing the battery I kind of gave up.

Next, I had to order a stylus. I do not have particularly large fingers but I found it almost impossible to highlight words in order to cut and paste. Invariably I ended up highlighting whole blocks of text and then when I tried to use the little dots to resize the highlighted area the whole area usually just disappeared and I had to start over again.

Got my Hotmail working, although not by using the mail icon on the iPad. When I use that it only shows me my primary inbox but there doesn't seem to be any way to access my auxiliary folders. I use Safari to access and then get to Hotmail that way.

I am getting used to Safari now, I find it works kind of like Chrome in terms of being able to access previously opened sites. There was a little icon up at the top of the screen that you touch.  Took me awhile to figure that out.  Chrome has tabs for your open sites but Safari doesn't seem to have that same feature.  Or perhaps I just haven't discovered it yet.

Another slight problem I am having, the touch screen is somewhat heat sensitive. That is why you need a special stylus and can't just use a pen or something. Often when I am trying to touch a letter or a number on the upper part of the keyboard that fat part of my hand, right below the thumb (the one you can use for a guide as to how well-done your steaks are) brushes the lower portion of the keyboard where you switch from alpha to numeric. This usually means deleting the character that I inadvertently entered and then switching back to either alpha or numeric. I suppose I will have to use my stylus for typing now and that will slow me down a bit because I am a fairly fast touch typist.

On the other hand, with its orange cover it really does look cool. I like the map feature and that GPS thing is pretty neat as well.

I am warming up to it. I do like the long battery life and the 3G connectivity. If Adobe Photoshop and Quicken come out with applications for the iPad I could probably use it exclusively for prolonged trips. Not so much now, it is more of an auxiliary device at this point, but good for a long-weekend getaway.

Not going to hold my breath for Adobe working nicely with Apple though. Click on the picture below to check out a link to one take on why Apple doesn't support Adobe Flash:

1000 Bars New York restaurants

Can't we all just get along?

Now, to Apple's credit, I find their customer service people to be very helpful and extremely polite.

And, based upon the number and content of comments I get on my posts about the iPad, I will have to say that Apple users are much more passionate than PC users.  I certainly hope that e-Harmony and those other match-making services have at least one question that asks whether you are a PC or an Apple user.