Today’s National Pizza Day!

Today’s National Pizza Day!

It is, indeed, thee day we celebrate this glorious food and I’m going to chow down on some monster chunk of pizza tonight or my name’s not Benjamin Basile!

I know you love pizza too. If you don’t, there’s just no hope for you.

Being Sicilian, I come by my love of pizza honestly. As you many know, pizza in any part of Italy is not at all like the pizza we’ve come to love here in the States.

Many would describe it as primitive. Overly simple. Lacking in character, deficient in taste….

What you’d most likely find in any restaurant serving pizza in “the old country” would be a simple but tasty dough, stretched out on a real wooden peel, topped with a modest amount of good, hearty tomato sauce… here’s the part that’s hard to swallow, so to speak: it may or may not be topped with cheese!

And if it is, a bit of fresh basil–fresh, meaning not chopped to pieces–may well be the only topping other than sauce and (maybe) cheese. An excellent quality cheese and basil, but you can see what I meant about authentic Italian pizza and American pizza being quite different.

Well, regardless of what your idea of what pizza should be like may be, I hope you get to observe National Pizza Day properly… That is, by getting some in yer belly!

 

 

Getting mighty hungry in O’do, I am,

Benjamin Basile

 

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Mr Basile is not the owner of this fine foto

From the vault for National Squirrel Appreciation Day

From the vault for National Squirrel Appreciation Day

I’m thinkin’ not too many folks know that today is “National Squirrel Appreciation Day!” Yes, that’s for real!

In honor of the occasion, here’s a piece I wrote quite a long time ago for my first (now dormant) blog site; I ran it here in May of 2016.

Enjoy The Squirrel and the Spiritual Experience!

I had just dropped off a fare in my taxi and i decided to stop in at
a fast food place in Altamonte Springs for a quick bite. If you do
know the territory, Backyard Burgers is a better-than average
burger drive-through in an Old Checkers location. It’s quite popular
with the locals.

It’s pretty popular with some furry critters up there too! I got
my “Black and Bleu” burger, an extremely yummy burger featuring
black angus beef and bleu cheese, and proceeded to make short work
of it. It truly was as good a burger as this dog had ever put into
his jaws!

Just as I was about to toss the last morsel down, this very tame
squirrel began to make her way over to the patio table where I was
enjoying this late lunch. (At Backyard Burgers, there is no indoor
seating.)

As she got a little closer, I became transfixed at the sight of her
approach and could not eat that last bit until I knew what she was
up to. In pretty short order she hopped right up on the bench next
to me and reared up on her hind legs. By now she was only about six
inches from me–from me and the last few crumbs of what had been the
best lunch I’d had in quite a while…

As I extended my hand in her direction, she actually put her little
claws right on my first finger and clasped my hand very gently
with a measured and seemingly purposeful pressure. I was quite
surprised to say the least. What I had expected her to do was to
reach for the bite o’ burger and scamper away like a bandit.

For a moment or two she just stayed there clasping my hand and
looking me right in the eye. Then, with consummate timing, she took
the morsel in her mouth and ate it in two or three bites all while
maintaining her eye contact with me, her very flabbergasted
benefactor.

Then she turned away, paused for just a moment and scampered
away towards a towering oak on the edge of the patio.

I suppose it’s a routine she’s quite comfortable with. I have not
been back to Backyard Burgers since but I’m thinking that she
probably has a regular stable of folks who share the last bite of
their lunches with her. I’ve even wanted to get back up there to see
if she’s still around, looking for humans who want to share their
grub with her, but I don’t get that far away from downtown
Orlando in my cab very often.

As I cruised back towards my preferred territory a little closer to
home, I could not get the image of her pausing with her paws on my
hand out of my mind… She seemed to be saying, “Thanks for sharing
your lunch with me! I hope you’ll come back and see me again” or
some such thing in her non-verbal squirrel language which humans may
be graced to understand just once in a while…

The memory of my shared lunch with my furry mistress comes back to
me often; especially when I’m passing any burger joint or when I see
squirrels scampering up and down our majestic oaks and through our
many parks. I would surely love to have a “Black and Bleu” burger
again. And you know I’d save the last bite for my new lunch
companion!

 

Bulldog Ben, respecting all of my

furry friends today just a bit more…

 

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Grits and Bacon Bits! A Marriage Made in Heaven!

Grits and Bacon Bits! A Marriage Made in Heaven!

Am I the only guy who throws some bacon bits into his grits just before plating ’em?

It’s a very cool trick I discovered while camping last winter and it works just as well in the kitchen, folks!

Of course, I don’t mean bacon bits take the place of the coarsely-ground pepper or the pound of butter you must thrown on there, too!

Speaking of camping: I’m hoping to get back to Trimble Park in Tangerine soon. We’ll see if I can make that work. Should be going back to a four day work week soon; that’ll help.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Bulldog Certainly Does Wish You a Most Happy New Year!

Bulldog Certainly Does Wish You a Most Happy New Year!

This is a quick blog posting to say that I do hope this brand-new year of 2018 has gotten off to a good start for you! You just might feel–as I do–that 2017 was so awful that this year has just GOT to be better! If so, I think we’re both right!

I did not say a word about the new year on Monday when it was new new, but I ushered it in with some perfectly-cooked black eyed peas with onion, garlic, ham and Bulldog’s special seasonings! And some scratch cornbread which also could not have been better!

And, no, I did not have any champagne, but some ice-cold Coors in those awesome retro-looking bottles worked just fine.

So far the new year’s going alright. The best thing I’ve done so far is today’s trip to our Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area. Had a fine time and got a few good pix; I’ll have a couple of them up here in a new post very soon.

Please accept my best wishes for a safe, fun and thoroughly-amazing 2018! And I hope you get to spend some of it doing some cool stuff outdoors!

My Heart Was Smacked Around Tonight by Joni and Jane!

Note from Ben: I haven’t had a lot to say about music here on da bulldog blog in my first two years, but being a musician and a big-time music lover, it’s a huge thing in my life. So I’m going to have more to say about it moving forward. It’s all about enjoying yourself on your passage through life. And music can be a big part of that!

 

I love to dash off a quick posting when a song I’ve loved for a while crawls through the speakers in my laptop and into my ear and really moves me.

It happened again tonight. It was a Joni Mitchell song; what can I say?

I’ve loved singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell since Court and Spark came out. Yeah, a long time.

To me the J.M. song that’s the most distinctive is “A Case of You”. If you’re not familiar with it, there’s no way to describe it, really.

Here’s the funny thing: even though I practically worship the ground upon which Joni walks, it’s the Jane Monheit cover of this amazing song that moves me the most.

Well, Joni and Jane tag-teamed me tonight; my heart and brain both feel as though they’ve gone a few rounds in the ring with these two hard-hitting queens of jazz.

Last call! If you want to hear a song that captures perfectly the insane passion in a woman’s love for a man, click on this.

 

Blusician “Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

PS: I hasten to add that, though it’s not absolutely necessary, appreciation for this cool tune can be heightened considerably if you’re a beer lover. All the more if said beer lover has had a brew or two by the time the first notes emerge from the speaker…

Warning! Pancake Post in Progress!

Warning! Pancake Post in Progress!

Bulldog must disclose that this posting contains explicit Carbohydrate References!

Folks, I’d never heard of the Aunt Maple’s brand before, but the deadly-good chocolate and banana stuff in this mix are NOT artificial!

I truly loved my breakfast this morning! Want you to know that I found my new fave brand of pancake mix at Aldi; pray there’s an Aldi location near you!

A Visit to the Hunters Creek Applebee’s

A Visit to the Hunters Creek Applebee’s

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar
13500 John Young Parkway
Orlando, Florida 32837

Call 407 206-5039

I’ve dined at the Applebee’s location in the Hunters Creek area of Orlando many times. If you’re from metro Orlando or visit much, you probably know that’s very close to the tourist area and only a mile from the Osceola county line. But this one is mostly patronized by locals, many of whom work in the tourism industry.

I’ve eaten at seven Applebee’s locations all total and this one is not very different from the others. I like the crew here, the bartenders especially and go there fairly often. I still have not tried the dining room, opting to sit at the bar. Sean and Ariana and a couple of other crew members have always taken good care of me. They have a decent beer selection and the “always happy hour” thing is awesome. That’s 2 for 1 ALL DAY, but on domestic drafts only. Beer lovers, you gotta love that!

There are seven or eight TV screens in the bar so there’s always something good on. This location has become my go-to spot for sports viewing, especially for games I can’t get at home. However, they don’t carry the pay-per-view events, such as UFC fights or those PPV championship boxing matches.

I like just about everything I’ve tried here and can recommend several appetizers. The Spinach and Artichoke Dip is always good, as are the Mozzarella Sticks; but my fave is the Sriracha Shrimp. Just the right amount of heat, you can’t beat this one!

I usually dine solo so I haven’t had a chance to go the “2 Entrees for $20” route, but it looks like a good value. What I had on my last visit was the Bourbon Street Steak and it was damn near perfect. And their garlic mashed potatoes are to die for!

The one draw back here is that their usual good service is not so good when the place fills up. I don’t like it, but it’s a common thing at chain restaurants. Management in chains are very, very focused on payroll costs and you can’t really staff for the hour and a half of each day when the place “blows up” as you’d have too many crew members for the other 80% of the shift. I get it, but I don’t like it. I hasten to add that it’s no worse here than most places I’ve visited.

This Applebee’s is quite family friendly. If fact, you’ll find many families with school-age kids seated in the bar area on just about every night. If you still have small ones in your posse, you can be seated wherever you like, bar included. (Not AT the bar, but in the bar area!)

Quick summary: moderate prices, great place to watch sports, good service, decent beer selection and very tasty menu offerings.

One more thing: there is a designated entrance to pick up take out orders on the north side of the building. Your order will be waiting in the bar area.

A little info to help you find it: this A-bee’s is an out building in a very large shopping complex and there’s lot of parking. It’s not all that easy to see from John Young, especially if you’re northbound. It’s across JYP from the Gator’s Dockside which is much easier to spot, so look on the west side of the road. The complex is just a wee bit south of where the 417 exit for John Young cuts through.

 

Bulldog thinks the menu is one of the best things about Applebee’s.  View it here:

 

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile