Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wine Traveller's Club, September Review

Wine Travelers Club Review,  9-15-12
by Deb Arnett

Wonderful appetizers and food
 served with white wine
Autumn was in the air for the September wine tasting hosted by Virginia and Brad.  The wine travelers who had not been to their place before and those who had were treated to a fabulous evening.  The beautiful new patio renovation was the first thing that people noticed as they were amazed at the transformation of beautiful tile and furniture as well as the draperies and lighting that had been added to the area. Brad is quite the contractor and has really changed the whole look and feel of the patio with a lot of assistance from Virginia.  What a team they make.

To start off the evening the first white was served in the game room with Fruits, jams, Prosciutto, salami, mixed olives and cheeses with crackers,  2nd white was highlighted by a seafood pizza and a vegetable Pizza with Tomato's and herbs.

Moving on to the reds 1st red was served with an Italian meatball and Penne with red sauce.  2nd red with Grilled beef filet and green beans almondine.  The final red was the dessert course which was highlighted by an apple carmel cake, tiramisu and assorted italian cookies.  

A taste of Italy presented at
Wine Travellers this month.  Minus the
mountain, poetic license!
All wines served will appear on our linked in site as usual in the order of service. 

The evening was accented by the blazing fire in the lower courtyard where the members sat enjoying the wonderful firepit.  I even got down there after all the wines were served and managed to stay awake and relax (until 3 am) at which time we diehards finally called it a night.  My favorite time is the end of the night when I can sit and enjoy the hosts and reflect on the great evening that was had by all.  First time guest Joanne Quinn Smith ("the technogranny" on internet radio tells me she is joining our group along with her guest John Pournaras) 
She mentioned our group on PositivelyPittsburghLive on 9-17-12.

Red wine, the last and best
part of the evening.
It is archived so you can listen the part about the tasting it is 44 minutes into the broadcast but you can pull the program forward to 44 min and it will start at about 44 min and 15 sec into the broadcast.  There are a lot of good bits of info on whats going on in Pittsburgh on the show in addition to our tasting.  She mentioned both Who's Your Brother - the non profit that helps people in the Pittsburgh area ( and their new "members only" venture Singles with Focus ( that is launching this month on Sept 27th at Olive or Twist (singles meeting other singles to do good in the community).  So if you are single log on and become a member.  And single or married become a member of WYB and help your neighbors.  Thanks Joanne. 
Congrats to Virginia and Brad for another superb wine tasting.  Thank you for all you do as long time members and hosts of the Wine Travelers.  

Debi Arnett works with
Who's Your Brother
Vision of Who"s Your Brother:
To encourage people everywhere to build up their communities as they build up each other, sharing their talents and resources with one another to promote a peace and a brotherhood among our fellow neighbors that we have not yet known.
About WYB        Watch Founder's Video
Who's Your Brother offers you the opportunity to use your talent, your resources, and a small amount of your time to brighten someone else's day by meeting a need without the exchange of money.
From Who's Your Brother Website

Singles With Focus is LIVE--

NEW Socially Conscious Dating Founded by 

Who's Your Brother.

The new WYB sponsored site, Singles With Focus is live and running.

Rather than simply a matching site, Singles With Focus uses mixers and service projects to get people together. Once registered on the site, you can sign-up for the events and once you attend the events, other participant's profiles are un-locked for you to reach out to and connect with.

And the good news is, we all have something in common. The quality of people you stand to meet all have an interest in building community--like you.

Celebration of Appreciation: A World Gratitude Day Event

Celebration of Appreciation: A World Gratitude Day Event
Poet Christine Michaels

September 22, 2012

Review by Karen Litzinger
The meditative music by Life in Balance had everyone filled with gratitude that they came to the World Gratitude Day event this past Saturday at First Unitarian Church which was a fundraiser for the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.  Steve and Ami Scuilli (pronounce SHULEE) had the attendees mesmerized with the quartz crystal bowl vibrations and native flutes.  The heartfelt music accompanied readings, meditations and audience sharing about gratitude. 
Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council Table
Betty Duquesnoy shared a reading by researcher Robert Emmons that showed that the practice of keeping a gratitude journal increased happiness by 25%.  Singer Burton Roberts shared a moving rendition of What a Wonderful World made so popular by Louis Armstrong.  Then we were treated to selections of poetry that related to gratitude by poet, Christine Doriean Michaels which highlighted a moving poem by accomplished local poet, Joan Bauer. 
In addition to a unique mix of artistic offerings, the audience was engaged in the gratitude process through reflective writing exercises on “Gratitude in the Here and Now” and “Gratitude for People Who Impacted Us.”   One of the most moving parts of the event was when attendees shared their stories about individuals who affected their lives, especially a story about how homeless woman with a generous heart gave more to the giver than she received.
Ellen Marcus at Thank You
Note-A-Thon Table
Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council students, Helen Finch and Tishawn Dent, spoke from their hearts about how grateful they are to the Literacy Council which greatly impacted their lives.
Following the program, all enjoyed a bountiful reception, Thank-You-Note-A-Thon and a lively international music by Life in Balance.  One of the most popular activities was the “Make Your Own” thank you notes table with supplies generously donated by Stamp Fanci in the North Hills.  And everyone enjoyed the Smiley Cookies donated by Eat ‘n Park as they wrote notes that will surely bring smiles to the lucky recipients.
The event was hosted by Litzinger Career Consulting and sponsored by Journeys of Life and Postively Pittsburgh Live™.

Karen Litzinger is celebrating 10 years in business as owner of Litzinger Career Consulting in Regent Square.  She provides career counseling and job search coaching for people of all ages from high school students through retirees.  Companies hire her for outplacement services and business etiquette training.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ditka's Robinson--Man Size Portions, Everyone Sized Taste

 Ditka's Robinson--Man Size Portions

Everyone Sized Taste

by Gregg Mathis

My dining companion and I decided to give Mike Ditka's restaurant in Robinson  a try last Tuesday evening.  I arrived before my companion, at around 8p.m. and the restaurant was packed, a good sign. I had a chance to hang out in the bar, have a cocktail and enjoy the artistry of the “little black dress” as displayed by the bar waitresses, while waiting for her to arrive.

Upon her arrival, we were seated promptly as the dinner crowd had thinned. I had previously heard Mike talking about the restaurant say, that in his opinion, the signature dish was the pork chop. That struck me as a little odd, considering that Ditka's is a steakhouse. Our server was prompt, polite and attentive. He explained the menu specials for the evening and then the pondering began. The specials were tempting, but I decided to follow the coaches lead and ordered Da Chop, my companion opted for the Pan Seared Scallops.

Da Chop-Delicious!
The food was served promptly and beautifully. Da Chop was a thing of beauty, nearly three inches thick, double boned and actually looked a little intimidating. It was accompanied by mashed sweet potatoes (yams actually) and a Michigan cherry sauce. The scallops were served with mushroom risoto and asparagus. Da Chop was a hungry man's delight. It was prepared medium and was delicious. The cherry sauce highlighted the flavor and tenderness of the pork and the sweet potatoes were very complentary to the meal. There was very little fat, which I don't eat, but it was all wonderfully done delicious pork.

As is the custom, some plate sharing occurred. The scallops were perfectly prepared and very tasty. My companion agreed that Da Chop was an excellent dish.

The only small quibble I have is that the lights were a little too dim making it hard for older eyes to read the menu. Come on guys, either turn up the lights a little or spend a little on led lighted menus!

The meals were in the $35 range, but in my opinion, very much worth the price. It was an excellent dining experience. If you are looking for a little splurge in your dining out ventures, Ditka's should  certainly be high on your options list.

Gregg Mathis is a lifelong Pittsburgher, who enjoys a great meal and really good service. He is co-owner of Pro-Fry, Pittsburgh's Fryer Guys since 2006. Pro-Fry serves it's customers by reducing costs through micro oil filtration, reducing accidents by professionally changing oil and deep cleaning fryers, and by reducing waste headaches by immediately removing and recycling waste oil from customer locations.

Listen to Gregg as he hosts The Gourmet Eater on at:  Gourmet Eater Radio

Where he interviews local Pittsburgh Restauranteurs.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Oh What a Story! The Jersey Boys

A hard hitting emotionally charged musical chronicle.  That’s what I would call “Jersey Boys.”  As a product of the fifties and sixties as I sang along and bobbed my head to the Four Seasons I was not really aware of the torment that went with the talent of these four legends.  There is comedy and show stopping delivery of the music of your life and of your children’s and your children’s children judging from the age range of the audience.
Featured image from Trust Arts

And the cast is as convincing as the music, the harmony and the choreography.  Colby Foytik as Tommy DeVito the troubled teen who starts and tries to run the group captures the essence of the stylized Jersey persona.  Jason Kappus as Bob Gaudio could convince the pope that he is the na├»ve youngster who just happens to have a head for business   Brandon Andrus as Nick Massi, provides loads of comic relief with his gangly mannerisms as the loveable baritone whose pat line is:  “I think it’s time for me to start my own group.”   And of course, Brian Weinstock as Frankie Valli, talented, loyal to a fault, humble, emotionally conflicted—his falsetto, his mannerisms and his size even convince the audience that he is the real deal.

“Oh What a Night” should be retitled, “Oh What a Story!”   The Four Seasons ride from obscurity and confusion to stardom is the stuff the American dream is made of.  And you have got to love the local color in the accents and mannerisms of the Garden State’s musical exports, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  These guys became pop icons and legends before they were thirty with hit songs like ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, ‘Sheree’, ‘Working My Way Back to You’, ‘Rag Doll’, ‘Oh What a Night’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ and ‘Walk Like a Man’.  
And the length of the renditions just keeps you wanting more.  My date-- a fifties through seventies music aficionado knew the whole story behind every song and what the group was called at the time.  I knew the tunes.  I and the sold out house on September 7.

Even the scenery and special effects takes you on a timed trip through the Four Seasons adventure from the boys under the street lamp to Frankie Valli with his big band and horn section at the epitome of his career and talent with big lights and even bigger effects.
Whether this is your first time like me or if you are among the millions of return audience you will be amazed by the story, the legacy, the harmony and the high index of entertainment value of these “Jersey Boys.”

You can bob your head, tap your feet and sing along through September 23, 2012 at the Benedum Theatre and trust me the “Jersey Boys” is just as elegant and opulent as the theatre where it plays. I personally came away entertained but also spent knowing the torment and tribulation, the tears and triumph that went into the success of the Four Seasons on their way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

JERSEY BOYS is part of the PNC Broadway Across America – Pittsburgh series presented by The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Symphony and Broadway Across America.

Directed by two-time Tony®Award-winner Des McAnuff, JERSEY BOYS is written by Academy Award-winner Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo.
The 2006 Grammy Award® for Best Musical Show Album, the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical and the 2010 Helpmann Award for Best Musical (Australia).
JERSEY BOYS is the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi.  This is the story of how a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest, most played and listened to sensations of a generation and beyond. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide - before being inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

Radio Host and Serial Blogger, Joanne Quinn-Smith is the host of PositivelyPittsburghLive™ Internet Talkcast and TechnoGrannyShow™  On her shows, Joanne has interviewed over 1800 guests.  As an advocate for small Business, she was awarded the National Small Business Administration Journalist of the Year Award.  She is also the publisher of which is a 2010 National Stevie Award finalist for best Media Website or Blog. PPL Mag features the GOOD NEWS, about Pittsburgh  and is  Pittsburgh’s First internet radio and TV network. The Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, Joanne also teaches her online media platform building to small businesses in a client personalized, “Web2.0 Gorilla Branding Training™”.  Connect with Joanne at: