By PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
The week got off to an unexpected morning of chuckles at the memorial service for my chum Bob Bickell. It was a shame he couldn’t be there to enjoy it. I know a lot of restaurateurs in our area will miss Bob’s easy charm. I went home and popped open a bottle of the gorgeous Martini Sparkling Rosé ($12.99) — aromatic, sweet and balanced with notes of citrus fruit, elder and peach. Made from Moscato Bianco, Brachetto and Malvasia grapes, it was an ideal way to toast a sparkling and rosy personality.
The next day it was the highlight of the week (sorry, Bob) as we were at opening night of “Phantom Of The Opera” at The Academy of Music. It’s the third time that we’ve seen “Phantom” and this brand new version is breathtaking. Julia Udine (Christine) is spellbinding as are her fellow cast members and the production is probably the best of any show I’ve ever seen. If you live in this area or live in an area where the US Tour is going to be performed: do not miss this! Check http://www.thephantomoftheopera.com/ustour/
The very next day I met Julia Udine and she is so absolutely beautiful and her personality is just as gorgeous. She was a recent guest on my show on TuneIn Radio. She is from Voorhees, N.J., and I know her family and friends were among the audience whooping and cheering when the actors took their bows. By the way, and this makes me livid. For all those rude, selfish, thoughtless, poorly mannered people who take the opportunity of a curtain call to leave the theatre. How rude. That is fine if you are attending a Sixers game but totally unacceptable when the actors are standing to receive their justly deserved applause.
Next day I was at Jet Wine Bar (1525 South St. in Philadelphia, (215) 735-1116 jetwinebar.com) to record my weekly wine feature with Jill Weber, Jet’s owner. They have just remodeled the lower level lounge and it is such an inviting and comfortable space that it now also serves as my Center City recording studio. As part of Philly Wine Week, Jill and I recorded and quaffed in front of a live audience. Jill poured from three giant magnum bottles and the wines were splendiferous:
Juve y Camps Reserva de la Familia Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava (Catalonia, Spain)
Les Vignobles Gueissard Cotes de Provence Cuvee Papilles Rouge (Provence, France)
Anima Negra An-2 Vi de la Terra (Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain)
On Saturday my wife and I had dinner at Carmel Café (372 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (484) 580-6725, carmelcafe.com). Let’s just say the experience was historic. The new spring menu will satisfy any diet and any appetite. The braised short ribs, creamy polenta, olive tapenade ($18) was the best I’ve ever eaten and the Mediterranean Sea Bass, tomato, olive, caper, herb oil angel hair, broccolini ($23) was probably the most delicious fish entrée of any plated in our area. Michael & David Phillips, Petite Petit Lodi CA, 2011 at $7 for a 3-ounce glass is perfect with the beef. Full of summer berries and silky smooth tannins. Carmel’s manager, Jim Kelly, has his act together when it comes to the wine storage. The glass of red came out with a hint of chill as the wines are binned at slightly less than 60 degrees. It doesn’t get any better than that. My recommended cocktail: Twisted Berry with Captain Morgan rum, triple sec, agave, wild berry tea, strawberries, splash of sprite ($8). And for a sensuous sweet, you must have the warm Chocolate Lava Cake: $6. The best $100 meal (with 2 glasses of wine and a cocktail each) for two on the Main Line without exception, and a superb wine list which even includes the often-neglected fine German selections. Bravo!
Finally, I must mention David Browne, who is, for me, a throwback to an age I miss. He is a banker with charm and wit and passion for his work that isn’t dictated by the clock. He spends time listening to his clients’ specific needs. I constantly w(h)ine about the loss of old-time personal services in our high-tech world. David Browne at Wells Fargo Bank in Chesterbrook/Wayne simply opened a checking account for me, but impressed me enough that I needed to tell you about it. And no, Wells Fargo doesn’t sponsor my show; they simply thank me for walking through their doors and depositing modest sums into my brand new checking account.
Bravo to everybody who made the a week one to remember, especially Bob Bickell. Cheers!
Phillip Silverstone is a regular columnist. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is heard worldwide anywhere and anytime on TuneIn Radio. On their app search: Phillip Silverstone or on the web at http://bit.ly/1kqcRmk. New podcasts are available every Saturday. For more information about Phillip: http://www.thesilverstonecollection.com