As I’ve taken to including photos with most of my columns these days it will be quite apparent to those of you who have followed my antics these past 25 years, that you’ve also followed my ever increasing girth. I must confess that I tend to enjoy my starters and my pudding at dinner time, but never have much interest in the middle bit with all those wretched veggies that I can’t stand and meat that I am finding less tempting these days. So it will come as no surprise that I have befriended a gentleman whose family some 150 years ago launched their ice cream company in Philadelphia and all these years later it is considered the finest ice cream company in the land.
Michael Strange is the president of Bassetts Ice Cream and he is a Bassett through and through. However, the (expletive deleted) is trim and sprightly and not a sign of excess flesh is to be found anywhere around his trouser belt area. So, in fact, I truly hate him, but he is such a decent bloke that you have to like the chappie immensely. And I bet he has lots of best friends because the stuff he fills his cones with is scrumptious and delicious — I would say “scrumptioulicious.”
Oh, and by the way, Hershel’s puts the best corned beef on this planet between two slices of very fresh rye bread within sight of Bassetts’ location in Reading Terminal Market. Which brings me nicely to Reading Terminal Market’s upcoming event. On Saturday, July 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reading Terminal Market at 12th and Arch streets, will be hosting its annual Sidewalk Sizzle and Ice Cream Freeze event outside on Filbert Street with many of the market’s merchants grilling specialty items or offering frozen dessert treats. Bassetts Ice Cream will be offering both in the form of grilled fruit sundaes. I’m not sure whether Michael will be there, but if he is, do tell him I said very nice things about him and that I deserve at least 12 pints of his rum raisin next time I see him (just don’t tell my wife — I hide them in my private fridge). For more information, check www.readingterminalmarket.org
Over the past 10 years or so I have sent out specially designed Thank You cards to people who have allowed me into their homes to steal their cutlery and host wine tastings. They receive a handmade card with a wine bottle design with my handwritten (in fountain pen) thank you note. The cards come from Lydia Land, who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. Lydia’s Land Handmade Greeting Cards are the non-edible equivalent of my friend’s ice cream company.
Lydia’s distinctive handmade greeting cards for all occasions are characterized by warm, positive, uplifting quotations and sentiments. She decorates each card with her original artwork, using a wide variety of materials and textures. She really is quite brilliant. I recently had Lydia change my own design from a wine bottle to a microphone so I can impress all my radio guests. For more information, check http://lydiasland.com.
And now just enough space left for a word or two about some nifty wines I just enjoyed.
Bianchi Winery (www.bianchiwine.com) is located in Paso Robles, California. The Bianchi 2011 Pinot Noir (approximately $21.99) definitely has the red berry flavor I adore in a good Pinot and with a slight chill I would enjoy it with some meatier fishes like cod or simple fare such as burgers and barbecued chicken. It is velvet smooth with a yummy aftertaste.
The Bianchi 2011 Zinfandel (approximately $17.99) is blended with (25 percent) Primitivo grape. It is a rich, dark spicy wine which will satisfy all true Zin fans. The wine was aged for 19 months in new French and neutral oak barrels for the full spectrum of fruit forward flavor and mouth feel characteristics of the varietal.
The Bianchi 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99) is text book Cab with the scent of a cigar box, some chocolate notes and the deep, dark berries one expects from all good Cabs. There was plenty of times spent aging in French oak barrels to add complex layers of flavor and depth to this superb example of an amazingly affordable bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Cheers!
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining