2010. Wow, Already!

New Year’s Hangovers. We worked hard for it, too, and it was worth it. Surprisingly, the weather forecast I showed you at the end of last week had changed in a much appreciated favorable way, all except for Thursday, the day we arrived in Philadelphia. It was chilly and rainy, but you know how we’ve come to be troopers and just deal with that situation. After we checked into our hotel, our first stop was The Irish Pub. It was us at one pedestal table, one young kid at the bar talking way too loud on his cell phone and the mailman chatting up the waitress and bartender. We decided on a light nosh because we had dinner reservations for 8 o’clock at Alma de Cuba. Then it was off to one of our old haunts, The Bike Stop for a few more beers and discussing with the bartender whether the weather would abate so the Mummers could march the next day. After that, it was time for a stop at Woody’s and then back to get ready for dinner.

Ariel had the lechon asado, or roast pork, for those of us who don’t speak Spanish, and I had lamb. His was tender and juicy on the inside and crispy crunchy (think cracklins) on the outside. Mine were two little medalions of lamb and a side of greens – cripsy green beans, mediumly cripsy peas and lima beans in a little bit of cilantro sauce. For dessert, we had a…I forget what it was called… but it was a chocolate ganache covered, orange flavored, marshmallowy/puddingy textured ball and a hazelnut flavored chocolate cigar (the size and shape of an actual Cuban cigar) dusted with powdered chocolate. Both desserts came with a lit sparkler and a burning matchbook. Nothing says yummy for your tummy more than the smell of ignited sulphur and burning cardboard.

We made it back to Woody’s with an hour to go before midnight and just before the turn of the new year, our bartender friend, David, disappeared with his finger in his mouth and we found out the next night he had sliced it on a broken vodka bottle.

Needless to say, after all the partying we did the night before, it took us a while to get ourselves up and running, but we made our way finally to Broad street (one block from the hotel) to see some of the parade. It’s a long parade with lots of waiting for each group or brigade to pass, because after marching up Broad street, each group performs before judges in front of city hall. We went back to The Irish Pub for lunch with a guy we ran into the night before who we know from going camping. We actually convinced him to stay in our room because it was a night of heavy partying for him as well and he had intended to drive back home. The Irish Pub was bursting at the seams on New Year’s Day with a lot of Mummers who had already marched and regular patrons. Then we took in some more of the parade for a little until it was time to make our way to the Convention Center where the Fancy Brigades were performing and being judged. They used to march in the actual parade, but because their “sets” and routines are so complex, they’ve been performing indoors for a number of years. And it’s a rain or shine event, so even if the parade had a rain date, we still would have seen the show.

This was a spectacular show and the three hours passed quickly. I was torn between 2 of the 10 brigades that performed and one of my favorites ended up winning. I took pictures and video clips, but only the first minute or so of each routine. I was afraid of running of battery in my camera, but luckily, the local Philadelphia station, posted the entire video on YouTube. And tomorrow, I should have my pictures of the parade ready to post.

 

Dinner at Maggiano’s (yes, there’s one in Philly, also) followed and was a welcomed stop on our way back because by then the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped. Lucky for the Broad Street Mummers the wind had come later in the night because gusts that high would also have been reason to cancel the parade because of their heavy feathery costumes and the scenery they cart up the parade route. We stopped in Woody’s where we toasted the new year with David the bandaged up bartender. But that night was short-lived; the night before caught up with us and so after about 2 hours we trudged our way back to the Holiday Inn, eager to call it a night.

Asbury Park was our next port of call for Saturday night. Dinner was at Stella Marina on the boardwalk where Criterion Chocolates once stood back in Asbury’s heyday. Then it was off to the club across the street, but because it was still early, we sat in the front bar and then got free passes for the dance floor and as the night wore on, more and more people we know were showing up and we made our own little party.

We could hear the wind howling in the corridor of the Hotel Berkeley and the window in our room had a serious draft. I don’t know if that alone was enough or maybe there was another draft somewhere in hallway that worked in tandem, but periodically through the night, the door to our room would rattle. I even slightly wrenched my back trying to keep the door of the truck from slamming into the car parked next to us when the wind caught it.

And then it was Sunday and we got home and collapsed in our red chairs in front of the TV. Life is good.

To celebrate the new year, I also changed the look of my website home page slightly, so you might want to take a look at that. Click here.

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