Category Archives: Local Fun

Basso’s for Italian Food – Yes!

Pomegranite Martini

Pomegranite Martini

Lola Lauri

Missing the fine Italian food of his youth, as well as the culinary delights of our trip to Italy last year, my husband charged me with finding a great Italian restaurant here in the Poconos.  Although we have tried several places in the area, none fit the bill.  Until I found Basso. Since they enjoy fine dining as much as we do, we brought our friends, Buz and Kathy Whelan along.

Located on Rt. 191 in Cresco, Pa, Basso is a small, family-run establishment decorated with rich colors and cozy seating areas.  Stone archways separate the full bar from the various rooms for dining, which makes it feel like dining in an authentic Italian home.  The sounds of other diners drifted from around corners, but none were too close to interrupt our own conversation and comfort.  It was quiet without being desolate; friendly without being raucous.  The servers were skilled, attentive and knowledgeable. And, most importantly, the food was delicious.

I began the evening with the pomegranate martini drink special.  Not too sweet, and with a lemon wedge garnish, it was a beautiful and tasty way to begin the evening.  After tasting mine, Buz and Kathy decided to get their own to enjoy.  We nibbled on bread with EVOO for dipping.  (Don’t fill up on the bread, it wasn’t anything special.) For appetizers, we had another special; baked brie with a sweet honey almond sauce, and the Melanzan a La

Fresh Mozzarella

Fresh Mozzarella

Toscana, (batter-coated eggplant, sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella with a balsamic reduction).  Yum.  The brie was rich, with a flaky crust, the mozzarella creamy and the tomatoes were fresh and meaty.  For dinner, Buz and I each had the Frutti di Mare Portuguese, which was a delicious mixture of shellfish in a bouillabaisse sauce,

Yum!

Yum!

served over linguine.   Bob enjoyed the Bianco E Nero, a combination of Veal Marsala and a strip steak with cognac crème sauce.  Kathy had the strip steak, cooked perfectly and served on a sizzling platter with roasted potatoes. Everyone was delighted with their choices and we each shared a bit of the others.  (Now you see why we brought friends – more to taste!)

When it was time for coffee and dessert, we were all so full that no one had much room left.    The cheesecake and the red velvet cake were good, but not spectacular.  The

veal marsala AND steak with creme sauce.

veal marsala AND steak with creme sauce.

Limoncello was my favorite, light and refreshing.

Basso is the fine dining option from the Pipolo family.  Entrée prices range from $18 to $39.  They also operate the Pour House, in Mountainhome, which features a more family-friendly, casual atmosphere, and the recently added Pipolo’s Italian Eatery – a delicatessen and pastry shop in Stroudsburg.  If these are anything like Basso, the Poconos is indeed very lucky to have this family bringing their culinary skills to our area.

Advertisements

Woof-Stock 2013

Lola Lauri

Board Members Margaret Fitzgerald and June Solla, Former Board Member Robert Lauri, along with Spartacus and Shelby (Shelby was a little camera shy.)

Board Members Margaret Fitzgerald and June Solla, Former Board Member Robert Lauri, along with Spartacus and Shelby (Shelby was a little camera shy.)

On Saturday, September 8, Camp KCS on Long Pond Road hosted Woofstock to benefit the Monroe Animal League.  Neighbors from Emerald Lakes joined hundreds of others in a day-long celebration of our canine friends. Vendors offered dog treats, portraits, and even personality profiles for your pets.  PMRPD

Mark Mecca of Identity Crisis

Mark Mecca of Identity Crisis

had their K9 unit there, and the Jubilee restaurant and others provided food and drinks. Local bands provided music, including Identity Crisis (theidentitycrisisband.com), with singer and saxophonist Mark Mecca, who is an ELA resident.  And, of course, dogs.  Big dogs, little dogs, dogs of every size and color.  Blankets

Some of the friendly neighbors that enjoyed the event.

Some of the friendly neighbors that enjoyed the event.

and camp chairs were spread out on the lawn and neighbors and their puppies spent the afternoon socializing and learning more about the products and services available to dog owners in our community.  Please support the Monroe Animal League  and Camp KCS for their hard work in bringing us this delightful day, and for all their hard work in helping the animals we love.

 

 

Cabaret ’35 – The Best of Times is Now

Elizabeth Knecht

Elizabeth Knecht

By Lola Lauri

Cabaret ’35 began at 7 pm on August 10th at “Club Emerald” (formerly known as the Community Center). Its creators worked all day to create the illusion of a nightclub from the 1930’s, and their attention to detail showed.  Guests entered past the old time ticket booth, which was graced with a large sign declaring this performance “Sold Out”.  The dining room was elegant, with black tablecloths cabaret 2013 004topped with mirrors and lovely white candle lamps.  A glance out the window, showed a dark city skyline with a bright crescent moon above. A peek over the fireplace afforded a view of the “band”, in its art deco orchestra pit.  In front, to the left, a large lighted sign dotted with fireflies declared that this was Club Emerald in elegant script and, to the right, a dazzling

What pool?

What pool?

tinsel curtain covered the hallway exit.  In the center, an art deco patterned curtained served as a backdrop for the stage where the performance was soon to begin.

As the stylishly dressed guests filed in, greeting friends and neighbors, anticipation for the show began to build.  The staff hurried to seat and take orders from the more than 70

Hosts for the evening, Buz Whelan and Lola Lauri

Hosts for the evening, Buz Whelan and Lola Lauri

guests in attendance. Overwhelmed by the initial rush of patrons, they struggled to get drinks and food to everyone but, by 8:15, most were enjoying their drinks and settling in for the entertainment.

Chef Todd had a superb menu for this evening, with an assortment of small plates, designed for sharing.  Shrimp cocktail, a classic from the era, was a popular selection, along with the crab stuffed mushrooms and the potato

Photo op, anyone?

Photo op, anyone?

blintzes smothered in a caramelized onion crème. The London broil salad in balsamic vinaigrette and the fried calamari with marinara sauce for dipping were both tasty and delicious too.  There was also a special cocktail menu for those who wished to sample drinks that were typical fare in 1935. Peach Bellinis and Mint Juleps were refreshing choices for several guests.

Before the show, guests were directed to the giant crescent moon in the corner for a photo opportunity.  With

Our photographer for the evening, Robert Lauri, with Elizabeth

Our photographer for the evening, Robert Lauri, with Elizabeth

legs draped across the moon, guests cuddled and smiled for the camera, then left their contact information so they could have a digital keepsake of this fun event. Bob Lauri was our eager photographer, and he captured many memories of the evening, including the ones pictured here in this article. (Thanks, Honey!)

When it was time for the show to begin, Buz Whelan introduced the performer for the evening, Elizabeth Knecht.  Buz and I met Elizabeth last year when she performed at The Speakeasy Lounge (see here, for a review of that evening)

Mario and Melanie Balzano

Mario and Melanie Balzano

and we were both extremely excited to bring her to Emerald Lakes.  Elizabeth took to the stage with a black and gold sequined dress and a short black flapper hairdo.  She set the mood by singing “Cabaret” and then  launched into her rendition of “All That Jazz” while actively recruiting audience members to sing and dance along with her.  Resident Melanie Balzano took no time at all to decide that she was going to be in the act, as she enthusiastically leapt to the dance floor.  Elizabeth also brought along her young niece, Ashley, who lent her dancing skills to the festivities throughout the night. Soon enough, many of the other guests took turns dancing

Ashley, a rising star, and Elizabeth

Ashley, a rising star, and Elizabeth

and singing as well.  But it was Elizabeth that caught everyone’s heart with her powerful and heartbreaking version of “Memories”.  The standing ovation that followed showed just how much the audience was captured by her performance.

After a brief intermission Buz introduced “Liz K” – Elizabeth, but with a black lace dress and a blond curly hairdo.  She continued to wow the crowd with selections

Second set, quick costume change.

Second set, quick costume change.

that alternated from romantic to rousing, keeping toes tapping, hands clapping and the dance floor full.  All too soon, the last song was upon us and she closed the evening with “The Best of Times is Now” (from La Cage Aux Folles).

He looks happy.

He looks happy.

Everyone rose to their feet, clapping and singing along as Elizabeth took her leave from the stage.

The only piece of business left was for us to announce the winners of the

Him too.

Him too.

best dressed couple prizes.  We awarded Melanie Balzano second place because, even though her husband Mario did not dress in costume, Melanie had enough spirit and costume for two.  With gangster-style pinstripes and flapper

Alex and Gini Leslie - Best Dressed

Alex and Gini Leslie – Best Dressed

fun (and a boa that shed feathers in its wake!) first place

Second place for best dressed, Melanie Balzano, on stage with Elizabeth Knecht

Second place for best dressed, Melanie Balzano, on stage with Elizabeth Knecht

went to Emerald Lakes President Alex Leslie and his wife, Gini.

Finally, it takes a lot to bring a night like this together, and Buz and I are very thankful for all the folks who helped us.  The ELA staff was wonderful – especially Todd, Heather and Jackie; even our Public Safety officers helped out when the servers fell behind!  In fact, Heather and Jackie spent the  whole week leading up to the show working on ways to make this event special.  They designed costumes and makeup for the servers; they spent hours creating

On their feet for Elizabeth Knecht.

On their feet for Elizabeth Knecht.

and setting up the lovely table centerpieces and the old time ticket booth for the entrance to the Community Center; and they put their creative skills to work all day Saturday designing and painting the lighted “Club Emerald” sign for the stage area, all before helping the rest of us decorate and set up the room for the evening.  These two gave a very special effort for Cabaret ’35 and we could not have pulled the evening together nearly so well without their creativity and talent. We also want to thank Stefania, Darren, Kathy, Shari, and Meredith, who gave the afternoon to help with decorations and, of course, we can’t forget the Lovely Elizabeth Knecht.  In spite of the troubles, disagreements and difficulties of our community and of the present time, it is when we all come together to celebrate that we can remember that the Best of Times really is now. Buz and I truly enjoyed bringing this party to the community and hope you all will support us in the future.

Romance and Fine Dining at the Emerald Grill

Lola Lauri

I "heart" Creamy Tomato Basil Soup.

I “heart” Creamy Tomato Basil Soup.

If you haven’t been to the Emerald Grill recently, you will be amazed at all the positive changes that have transformed it from a dreary room with mediocre food to a brightly-decorated, clean eatery with food to rival many local restaurants at prices that cannot be beat.
Central to these changes is the addition of Chef Todd Wilczewski. Charming and passionate about cooking, Chef Todd speaks eagerly of his hopes for our restaurant. “Not only are we making changes to the menu to attract more members,” he told me, “but I want to be a resource for everyone in the community. I plan to work with the cooking club to offer workshops and ideas. I want to give everyone a chance to learn about good cooking.”
Originally from Pennsylvania, Todd comes to us after many years in Atlanta, Georgia, where he received his degree in Culinary Arts. His food is featured on the cover of the textbook On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals, and he worked as a chef in Atlanta before joining us here.
Having been the victim of several culinary disasters at the Emerald Grill in the past, we were reluctant to try another meal at the Community Center. Does anyone else remember the St. Patrick’s Day disaster with its shoe-leather corned beef and grainy, still-powdered instant mashed potatoes? Recollections of 25 minute waits for a simple drink, uninspired menus and unappealing buffets replete with overcooked vegetables and bland main dishes had driven us away. The dreary lighting, dark tablecloths, and overcrowded furniture, all placed to hide the disgusting, stained and ratty carpeting kept us from returning.
It was only the rave reviews on Facebook of patrons declaring their joy at the changes that convinced Bob and I to join the Whelans for a Valentine’s Day celebration at the Grill.
With low expectations and a determination to enjoy the company in spite of any possible problems, we arrived for the 6:15 seating. I looked around at the recently renovated and redecorated dining room. Brand new floors and lovely light-colored tablecloths brighten the room considerably. Curtains soften the view to the bar and the pool areas. Beautiful roses graced the tables and holiday decorations were placed on the walls. The lit fireplace lent its glow to the ambiance. Fewer tables meant that the room was comfortably full, but not crowded. Soft dinner music, provided by “Rob and Blue J”, added to the festive atmosphere. Already we could sense that this would be a large improvement on any of our prior experiences here.

New Emerald Grill Chef Todd Wilczewski.

New Emerald Grill Chef Todd Wilczewski.

Our waitress, the lovely Melissa, introduced herself and quickly delivered our drink orders. And then…the appetizers. Cajun crab cakes with a delicious sauce (What was that wonderful sauce, Chef Todd?) and a tomato basil crostini that was rich and tangy. It occurs to me how much details matter when we are dining out. The appetizers were delicious, but they were also plated so nicely that the experience was delightful even before the first bite. The red wine sauce on the beef was fragrant and rich, and the raspberry sauce on the cheesecake was, when combined with the white chocolate chips, a superb feast for both the eyes and the appetite. The strawberries on the chocolate mousse were fresh and juicy and sliced just to the stem, so they looked beautiful and provided a small slice for each bite of chocolate.
One thing the Emerald Grill offers that is simply not possible in a commercial restaurant is the sense of community. Throughout dinner, we visited and were visited by our neighbors, (though we did not see a single board member this evening!) and we chatted about the meal and the neighborhood. Manager Ryan Culverson and his staff kept everything running smoothly in the background as we enjoyed one another’s company. With all the pieces in place, the center really can function as the heart of ELA. At the end of the evening, Chef Todd stepped out of the kitchen to greet us all. He accepted compliments gracefully and chatted about his plans for improving the kitchen even more.
As we bundled up and headed out into the snow, I looked back at the room and smiled. The Emerald Grill is finally ready for business.

How to Find a Lost Pet

Lola Lauri

When your pet goes missing, it is important to move fast to increase the chances of having it returned to your family safely. Campa_lost_dog_standing_behind_a_box_wanting_to_be_found_royalty_free_080711-221551-579037[1] KCS, on Long Pond road, has a program they call “Rescue Rover” (click Here to learn more).  When you enroll your pet in this program, they keep records, notify local veterinarians and shelters, supply flyers, publicity and identification tags, to help in the search.  Facebook has helped reunite so many of our neighbors with their furry friends, but this program may be even more effective and organized then you are able to be in such a stressful situation.

Camp KCS also provides boarding and other services, and I have found them to be a wonderful resource for pet care.

For more information on finding your pet, click on the links below:

http://www.petfinder.com/dogs/lost-and-found-dogs/find-lost-dog/

http://www.missingpet.net/

 

Change at the Woodfield Manor

header[1]By Buz Whelan

SWIFTWATER, Pennsylvania (ELFP) This isn’t a review of the Woodfield Manor Chophouse so much as a report of an experience my wife and I had with a restaurant that has been a favorite of ours for the last five years or so. It was a little strange, a little different, but a lot of fun.

Kathy was on vacation this particular Friday, and we decided to go out for dinner. To break the tie we both felt between the Blakeslee Inn and the Woodfield Manor, I went online to look over their respective menus, both to refresh my memory on the standard menus and to see if there were any specials that would tip the balance. I was startled by the Manor’s menu. It was unfamiliar, lacking the usual exotic game dishes, but also lacking my favorite, the Duck L’Orange. There was also the appearance of the name Frogtown Inn and Six Acres, another fine restaurant, but what was it doing here? In an effort to clear this up I called the listed number.

A gentleman named Casey answered the phone, and in answer to my query explained that the Frogtown Inn and Six Acres had taken over the kitchen. The menu reflected the no-nonsense entries of a true chop house I was told, and the prices were a little more affordable. I told him I was more interested in fine dining than low prices, and by the way, where was my duck? He said the transition was new and they would be making adjustments. They would have game nights, and if I really wanted duck he would get me duck. But could he make it like the previous chef? He said he was the sous chef, that he had worked for years alongside the previous chef, and he was confident he could make me happy. “I can have your duck next weekend, if you like,” he promised. I checked with Kathy and made the reservation for the following Friday. And as the week wore on, I had some trepidation about whether or not I made the right decision.

On the next Friday I called at 3:30pm – the restaurant opens at 5 – and asked for Casey. I was told he wasn’t in yet, but was there something my respondent could do for me. I told him about the reservation and the duck and asked if he knew whether Casey had followed through. He answered, “He did the next best thing. He told me about it. My name is Lyman and I’m the chef. I have your duck. And Casey made a sauce of orange and hoisin. I think you’ll enjoy it very much.”

We arrive at the restaurant and identify ourselves to the hostess. It was like the whole restaurant had been waiting for us. The bartender heard our name and called out a big, welcome hello. Our server knew what our entrée would be. There was warm bread and dipping oil in seconds, and after salad and some extra dry Stoli martinis, straight up and ice cold, out came the duck, mine with wild rice and grilled asparagus, Kathy’s with roast garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. And everything was delicious. The generous half duckling was glazed with a fabulous sweet-tangy orange sauce, the skin crispy, the flesh moist and tender. My grilled asparagus was crunchy but tender, the wild rice seasoned perfectly. Kathy had a similar reaction to her meal.

At different times during the meal both Chef Lyman and Casey the sous chef, came to our table to inquire about our reaction to the meal and to thank us for making the suggestion. They told us that when ordering our duck they made it part of an order of two dozen, and that the half-ducklings were quite popular and selling well. They were considering making them a regular part of the menu.

I don’t expect that the Woodfield Manor or any restaurant can make special meals for us or anyone else every time we visit. But it was nice that they were so very responsive on this occasion, and it made us want to return. Who doesn’t like being treated so specially?

Holiday Decorating Contest – The Winners!

Santa visited ELA Today

ELA’s Got Talent – At The Speakeasy Lounge

Lola Lauri

A long day of Christmas shopping and a cold, gray and wet day had us craving some good music and a cozy place to relax

Long Time Comin' (and friends) performing at the Speakeasy Lounge

Long Time Comin’ (and friends) performing at the Speakeasy Lounge

with friends. We rolled into the Speakeasy only minutes after the featured band, Long Time Comin’, had begun their first set.  There was a nice crowd, and we joined Scott and Maria at the last available table by the bar as the band launched into “Mustang Sally”.

A mix of regulars and tourists filled the room, along with a number of ELA residents.  Our neighbor Ron was there, with some friends from New York, out for a weekend of hunting.  Mark and Meredith Mecca showed up, ready for some fun and, lucky for us, Mark brought along his saxophone. The Meccas are ELA members of over a decade.  Mark usually plays with the Cove Haven house band Something Else, but on this night, to everyone’s delight, Read the rest of this entry

Holiday Lights Contest – Update

T    We have announced a Holiday Lights contest and given you the rules, which are pretty much no rules except you have to enter. Obviously this was too much. So let’s try again.

We are having a Christmas/Holiday Lights contest with a real prize for the winner (who will be whoever Buz and I think has the coolest display.) If you do enter (and there is still time!) you can be sure we’ll include you in the judging. But, because of the underwhelming response (exactly no entries), we’re changing the one rule. (We can do that because this is our contest)  Here it is:

You don’t have to enter.

Now, isn’t that easy enough? So, by unpopular demand, no effort whatsoever on your part is necessary. One night close to 12/25 we’ll cruise around and pick out our idea of the best. If we miss your house, that’s on you. You could’ve entered.

     Lola Lauri, Editor, Emerald Lakes Free Press
Reform PA Charter Schools

A topnotch WordPress.com site

Granted, and...

thoughts on education by Grant Wiggins

With A Brooklyn Accent

"Because you CAN handle the truth."

Reclaim Reform

by Ken Previti

Americas Education Watch

A child is like a butterfly in the wind. Some can fly higher than others, but each one flies the best it can. Why compare one against the other? Each one is different. Each one is special. Each one is beautiful.

%d bloggers like this: