The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

A Weekend in and around Philadelphia

We just had an almost perfect weekend in the Philadelphia area. The trigger was our friend Joel’s birthday party, which was indeed the best part of it.

On Friday, we drove from the Washington ‘burbs up to Haddonfield, NJ, just outside of Philadelphia. We stayed at the Haddonfield Inn, which is where we usually stay when visiting that area. And we keep going back because we love the place. Friday night, we had dinner at Kitchen 233, which was new to us. I had the Angry Shrimp Pasta, and I loved it so much that if we go back, I’m having it again. Dave had salmon of some sort, which he also enjoyed. For dessert, the chocolate souffle is worth the 11-minute wait.

Saturday, we headed to Camden, NJ, and the waterfront, in order to visit the New Jersey Aquarium, now known as Adventure Aquarium . (If I have the story right, the state of New Jersey established the aquarium, then privatized it.) We really liked it. My favorite exhibit was the hippo environment, which stood out for several reasons. First, finally someone is acknowledging that hippos are aquatic animals! Yes, they’re mammals. So are whales. Hippos spend an enormous amount of time in water, and the West African River exhibit features them as the centerpiece. The two young females are frisky and playful, and a joy to watch. We also liked the birds in that room, because they were building nests all over the place, often flying overhead with pieces of straw.

What I didn’t like were the people shoving strollers into crowds, especially the woman mindlessly shoving her enormous SUV of a stroller into the legs of a cluster of people who had nowhere to go. Ninety percent of the stroller-parents used their brains and maneuvered around sanely, allowing their kids to see the exhibits without being rude to everyone else. The other 10 percent of the stroller-parents shouldn’t have been allowed to breed.

Saturday night was the big event, Joel’s birthday party at Marra’s in South Philadelphia. Joel paid for the whole thing and stayed away from the banquet menu, instead providing antipasti, mussels, pizzas, chicken cacciatore, and birthday cake for all of us. The food was excellent, and the server kept her cool with our large table of about 22 or so (we weren’t that demanding, but it’s still a lot of people). The best part, though, was that guests came in from all over — Dallas, Boston, New York, the Washington DC area, and Jacksonville, FL. Joel himself is living in California now, but wanted to party with his East Coast friends. And I knew most of these people from a fantasy baseball league they’d been in with Dave in the 1980s and early 1990s. It’s a good bunch, it was great to see them again, and I miss them already.

We drove home on Sunday, stopping off in Swedesboro, NJ, to have a quick lunch with some of Dave’s relatives. This was also the virgin weekend drive for Dave’s new Prius, which is definitely worth the fuss. At the time he first added gas, the mileage came to 52.07/mph. Not bad. Not bad at all.

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September 14, 2009 - Posted by | birds, food, travel | , , , , , , , , ,

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