BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BLOG: Thanks LV!

Infinite Thank You’s to everyone who helped make HEART OF STEELcity the Best Neighborhood Blog as per the local Best of Blogs contest. (My other blog, Save the Kales! won Best Food Blog. Cheers!)

With so many inspiring people and projects popping up all over, I can hardly keep up and was recently discussing inviting some guest bloggers to help us all know about this ever-growing bounty of Awesome.

For example:

  • The new SteelStacks building is going to be home for really amazing local entertainment, music and non-music like independent film, comedy and wacky collaborations. (Horror film geeks, you are going to be pleased.)
  • A new video web series  that documents people and indie business all over town!
  • Art Battles (stay tuned)
  • Local people getting national television shows – these people are local, still live here, and the shows are being taped here (there at least TWO that I know of right now!)
  • DIY ethics and organizing are creating new forces to be reckoned with

SO, SO MUCH.

If you’d like to be a contributing writer, or just want to send some info my way, do it early and often! Coming soon, I’ll post a link to all the blogs that won the BEST OF BLOGS contest. We’re all so excited, and we love you too.


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Filed under Allentown, EVENT, Lehigh Valley everywhere, North Bethlehem, South Side Bethlehem, Website, Writer

COFFEE GOT CUTE

Folgers Coffee was taking submissions for a contest to choose their new jingle, and some LV folks made this AMAZING submission (even they don’t live here full-time). Carly Commando of Slingshot Dakota and Ryan O’Donnell who currently works in organizing political campaigns made this video that is sure to warm your heart and make you call your best friend.

I want to start a company that needs a commercial so I can hire them to write and produce it, since people would weep with joy and love upon seeing it. Stuff this wonderful has the ability to turn storm clouds into cotton candy and make New Jersey smell like fresh laundry. A huge round of applause to Carly and Ryan.

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Filed under Coffee Shop, Film, Lehigh Valley everywhere, Music, Out of Town, Performance

I CAN’T PRONOUNCE IT, BUT I’LL EAT IT: Dinner at Aci Halal Turkish Restaurant, Allentown

One of my favorite things about the Valley is that you can live here for nearly 10 years (like me), and still uncover new treasures all the time in the way of shops, architecture, pleasant main streets, and restaurants. Today I’m talking about the latter.

When a friend asked if we wanted to double-date at a place in downtown Allentown, and described it as “the part of Allentown you would never go to on purpose”, I was intrigued.  The only other information I got about this place: it’s in an old converted car repair garage (I love adaptive reuse buildings!), but most importantly, the food was reallllllyyyyy ggggooooooodddd.

In the car on the way there, I was discussing that I’m surprised I never ate here before, and seasoned eater Jon said “Well, it does say MEAT on the side of the building in huge letters”. Quite true. Vegetarians and vegans may see a place like this and keep driving – but inside is a wonderful world of Turkish foods, and despite what the exterior of the building proclaims, half of it happens to be vegetarian and vegan.

Inside is a small market, four aisles of packaged desserts, pantry staples, beverages and frozen foods. Behind a wall, there is a large dining room full of families and groups of friends enjoying food that smells so good you can’t help but salivate.

I immediately notice that everyone seems to be engaged, sharing, laughing, telling stories, smiling. This is a place happy people go to eat.

Four of us shared two orders of falafel and two appetizer samplers – don’t think TGIFriday’y.  Think piles of hummus, baba ghanoush, THE BEST stuffed grape leaves I’ve ever had, and about seven more delicious things I don’t know the names of. Doesn’t matter.  Your focus here should be on the fact that everything is made in house, fresh, impeccably flavored - even old standbys like hummus have new flair. You know everything is made with love and care.

What I love about a place like this is while other restaurants feature these foods on the appetizer-only menu, Aci Halal knows them to be meals.

Everything we ordered included 12 (TWELVE) different foods, 10 of which were vegan, the other two contained yogurt (I think?). So veg*ns, rejoice! This may very well become your new favorite place. Please invite me when you make dinner plans.

As much as you may want to shovel everything down your gullet, they provide you with the  softest, cripy-on-the-outside, cloud-like-in-the-middle bread to pull  apart and use in place of forks. Pass the bread, dig in, put your hands full of food to your mouth. Share.

No wonder everyone is so happy.

INFORMATION:

  • Aci Halal Turkish Restaurant
  • 34 N. Second Street, Allentown PA
  • HOURS
    Tues – Thurs: 10:00 am – 6:30 pm 11:00 am – 9:00 pm Fri – Sat: 10:00 am – 6:30 pm 11:00 am – 9:30 pm Sun: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Turkish Market, Deli and Restaurant. Stay and eat or take some home!
  • Weeknight seating shouldn’t be a problem, Make reservations on weekends to be safe
  • B.Y.O.B! (No corking fee!)
  • Very friendly staff, Happy to help you pronounce the menu items
  • Dishes vary in price, from $5 to $20  (Four of us ate for a little over $40)

Go here to see their FACEBOOK page! And I wasn’t kidding about inviting me for dinner.

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Filed under Allentown, Food, Restaurant

ALL TOGETHER NOW: “In Unison” Art Show at Touchstone Theatre

“[With this show] we can speak as an artist community through a shared voice, visually through our art.” Loly Reynolds, Director of Community Artists of Bethlehem

We’re getting to the time of year when Bethlehem’s First Fridays are really good. Nice weather means more people, and First Fridays are definitely a “the more the merrier” monthly event.

Kicking off March and what we can all hope is the start of more consistent sunshine is a great show put together by the Community Artists of Bethlehem (CAB). In Unison came to fruition when the folks of CAB and Touchstone Theatre realized their creative brains and resources should merge together. When CAB put out a call to interested artists, the response was large enough that the show now boasts more than three times as many artists as were initially considered.

Loly Reynolds, CAB Director, found inspiration in the pages of a book – the Red Tent by Anita Diamant:

“They sang the words in unison, yet somehow created a web of sounds with their voices. It was like hearing a piece of fabric woven with all the colors of a rainbow. I did not know that such beauty could be formed by the human mouth. I had never heard harmony before.”

Mixed media by Jessica Hoffman

Art will run the gamut from paintings and photography to mixed media and wire sculpture. “You can expect to see pieces that range from extremely disciplined to those that are a bit fringier”, Loly says.

CAB is a grassroots organization that you’ve likely seen at almost all of Bethlehem’s festivals. Loly explains, “The purpose of CAB is to encourage communication between area artists and widen their network to promote exposure to their work and create a positive cultural impact on our wonderful city. Many of these artists are active in the arts community through Blogs, Drink and Draw’s at The Brew Works, local businesses, as well as Lehigh and Moravian graduates”.

This is a FREE event – come enjoy art, friends, food and drink and live music from Jim Thorpe bluegrass band Free Range Folk. (This is exactly the kind of music I’ve really been into in the past year – check them out HERE. They have a song about blueberries! YES!)

INFORMATION:

  • Friday, March 4 2011
  • In Unison is at Touchstone Theatre, 321 E. 4th Street Bethlehem (Southside)
  • !!! FREE ADMISSION!!!
  • They will serve light refreshments (including wine!)
  • Art can be purchased at this event
  • 6pm-10pm
  • Live music performed by Free Range Folk (bluegrass)
  • CAB’S Facebook Page

*GAS EXPLOSION DONATIONS ACCEPTED! “We are accepting donations to deliver to The Red Cross for relief for the 13th street Gas Explosion victims. Also, we will be collecting, dry goods, clothing, and gift cards for their relief. Please be so kind as to help us in this effort!”

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Filed under Art, Artist, EVENT, Photography, Sculpture, South Side Bethlehem, Visual Art

TEAM DEREK

Last week I was going from a meeting at the Comfort Suites to do some work at Deja Brew and was passing through the parking lot when I spied this very crafty note attached to this very illegally parked car.

What a nice guy.

I appreciate Derek’s foresight, the care and concern it took to scrawl this note and, more importantly, the fact that the Bethlehem Parking Authority did not (yet) give him a ticket. I think I speak for all of us when I say, we hope you and your car made it safely to a spot within that junkyard among the rubble and debris of cars before you, Derek. Godspeed.

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Filed under Coffee Shop, South Side Bethlehem

ALL THE SINGLE (FUNNY) LADIES: “I Like Someone With A Sense of Humor”

When an event’s online description boasts “Sexy And/Or Funny Ladies That Might Be Single And Willing”, you know it’s going to be good.

Last year, the Valley’s improv troupe The Associated Mess kicked off a new angle of comedy by incorporating sketches into their all improv shows. That sold-out event has paved the way for round two, happening this Sunday night.

The All the Single Ladies show will feature an all-female cast, full of improv comedy goodness the AssMess does best along with interjecting sketches including a visit from America’s most loved/hated Alaskan VP candidate and  enacting actual worst date stories submitted ahead of time by audience members.

If you need a Valentine’s Date idea and don’t feel like feigning romance over a white tablelcoth, grab your date (or some friends, or heck, get there early and try to pick up a date!) and check this out.

INFORMATION:

  • Sunday, February 13th
  • Show Starts at 8:00pm  (Doors at 7:30)
  • Tickets $8, or $5 with student ID
  • Civic’s Theatre 514
  • (Across the street from Civic Theatre of Allentown/main theater)
  • 514 N. 19th Street Allentown

Visit TheAssociatedMess.com for more information and future shows!

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Filed under Allentown, Civic Theatre, Comedy, EVENT, Performance, SHOW

LOOKS TASTY: “Good Taste” is a Freshly Prepared Culinary Resource

If pizza and chinese takeout aren’t doing it for you, hope is not lost. The Valley boasts hundreds of unique and delicious eating establishments. “Hmmm:”, you think to yourself, “If only there a was beautiful, user-friendly website full of local restaurant information and maybe a few recipes I can make if it’s raining ice and sludge from the sky (again)…”

Welcome: Good Taste.

Good Taste is a BRAND NEW website features 25 eateries with full descriptions of ambience, signature dishes, a few of the chef’s favorite recipes and contact information.

Did you ever hear about the Spinnersville Hotel Restaurant? (Did you ever hear of Spinnersville?) If you like a good selection of craft brews – say, well over 300 of them – you will be thrilled to know about this place. Interested in farm-to-table fare with an indian spiced bloody mary? YES. With as much enthusiasm as I can muster, YES. You can get both at the Farmhouse in Emmaus.

Take a few minutes to read about the places and people who love them with this welcome new addition to local online reference. If it involves food, I’m pretty sure we’re all board.

Go HERE to learn more about this new site and it’s featured restaurants. And when you’re done, want to grab lunch?

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Filed under Bar, Food, Lehigh Valley everywhere, Website