Searching for the Meaning of Life

Searching for the Meaning of Life

This brief blog entry simply cannot be appreciated or understood unless you’ve cast your eyes over the accompanying photo. And, yes, I took the pic myself. No issues about ownership, copyrights or any such thing. And, if you must know, this humble sign adorns the north wall of the bar in my fave barbecue joint. In my fave beach town.

Having gotten the preliminary stuff out of the way, let me state for the record that I do not believe that the true meaning of life can be found in this lighthearted aphorism; it’s merely there to keep the wall from looking bare and, perhaps, to amuse the drunks who spend way too much time and money reading silly plaques tacked to the walls of our many infamous watering holes here in the Sunshine State.

The message of that damned sign does not seem to grow more profound with each lager lifted to my lips. I’ve never shared this barroom bromide with friends, nor incorporated it into an update on Facebook. (No need going to my Facebook page to verify that statement!)

Let’s be real. Life’s true meaning cannot be divined by reading this sign no matter how much beer you’ve quaffed.  I just like it because, as I stand right on the threshold of qualifying for social security, I think it just might be true! Not sure my doctor would vouch for that, but, it could be!

Now I think I’ll ponder that message one more time as I order one more beer…  Ashley!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

This gem is coming back around because today’s National Beer Lover’s Day. It debuted back in July of 2016. It’s NBLD and it’s a Friday. No better day to enjoy a cold beer!

© 2016 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

Jimmy Hula’s. Fish Tacos. Beer. Good Crew.

Jimmy Hula’s. Fish Tacos. Beer. Good Crew.

I visited the Jimmy Hulu’s on Aloma Ave in Winter Park this week. Bottom line: I liked it. In a review a month or so ago of a different Winter Park eatery, I told the world that the fish tacos in that well-known and very popular spot were awful. I’m stickin’ to that.

But at Jimmy Hula’s, that fish dish I so ardently crave was good. Very good.

The recipe at JH’s is more conventional. Love the blackened fish, the cabbage and their version of Pico de Gallo. And the “special sauce”. Loved it all.

My draft Corona Light was cold and refreshing. The service was prompt and friendly.

The main point of this succinct review is that Jimmy Hula’s is a good spot for casual dining, especially if — like me — you’re into seafood, beer and eateries with a beach theme. I could almost hear the waves crashing onto the shore and smell the sea…

By the way, I did not opt for the patio area, but I loved the design and the way it’s carried off at Jimmy’s and will probably go that direction the next time I visit.

One closing note: this popular joint is also well-known for its burgers; I simply haven’t had a chance to sample one. But a return trip is definitely near the top of my fun list.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Jimmy Hula’s ~ 2522 Aloma Ave, Winter Park, Florida 32792 ~ Call 407 790-7838

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

It’s September 1st and I’m Thinking About…

It’s September 1st and I’m Thinking About…

It’s the first of September and I have some pleasant thoughts associated with this particular milestone in our annual journey. It means college football is about to start. That’s a marvelous thing. I look forward to it each year.

It means that Labor Day and cooler temps are right around the corner. Love both of those things, bring it on!

But it’s also true that when I see the first of September roll around, I think of Hitler invading Poland. Yeah, I do that. That reveals two very significant things about me: the first, that I’m a boomer and so many of us had Dads who served in WW II. So that whole “Nazis streaming over the border” thing isn’t as bizarre as it may seem.

Well, that and the fact that I minored in history and have studied that conflict and our Civil War in a serious way; those things factor in, too.

So the second thing that pervasive thought reveals about me is that I do worry about stuff more than most folks and more than I should, truth be told. Not in the sense that I think we’re about to be invaded, but just that I often see the darker side of things in general; I’m more inclined to see the potential for trouble, drama and disappointment rather than the “good stuff” which may happen as I navigate some new juncture on life’s path.

It would have been much better for me if Hitler had chosen the 2nd of September to send his Panzer divisions and Storm Troopers across the Polish frontier; that date would not have bored its way so deeply into my grey matter!

Two things I’m going to do today to get past this less-than-rosy recollection: get focused back on the arrival of those crisp Autumn days, and reach for a beer! That’ll work!

 

The last bulwark against the Nazi Apocalypse, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Orlando Brewing is a Hidden Gem in Orlando’s Sodo District

To this beer lover, Orlando Brewing is a truly unique establishment. Central Florida has its share of microbreweries, but none plowing the same ground, so to speak. You’ll find this low-key establishment in the southwestern corner of the downtown area, just west of ORMC and the other major hospitals. I love the intimate and somewhat-vintage feel of the place; nothing fancy here, just a smallish, local brewery with good craft brews and good staff. It is a real, working brewery, of course. I think of O.B. as a mid-sized, local brewery with a simple but cool pub built on the front end. It’s no surprise that you find it in a thoroughly industrial area. But that only adds to its charm.

Unlike some microbreweries, they don’t sell anything they don’t brew right there. If your tastes are fixed mostly on your typical American lagers and not so much on heartier beers, you may not be too enthusiastic about the place. But that’s what craft beers are all about. Orlando Brewing is like any other local, small-batch brewery. They’re all about making and marketing unique, hearty brands with lots of flavor and a big kick.

The place has a loyal following. I like how there’s always enough patronage to make it seem alive, but not so many folks that it’s impossible to find a seat and you end up shouting your order at the bartender.

They’ve thought up some amazing brand names for their products. Pompous Ass is, without a doubt, my favorite! If you can’t decide, the sampler is not a bad option; they set up four of their brands for you in sample-sized mugs at a decent price.

The fare in any microbrewery comes with a slightly higher price tag than the lagers a lot of us drink most of the time. But you’re paying for a hand-crafted brew, made right there in your neighborhood. That’s worth something. Which reminds me, be sure and ask for the brewery tour. Done it twice, loved it! I don’t think there’s a regular schedule for that, but they always seem very accommodating at Orlando Brewing.

There is outdoor seating. Bring your taste buds, your friends, and some cash. Don’t bring the kids. And you better use your GPS, it is a bit off the beaten path, literally and figuratively.

The Home Page for Orlando Brewing is as well-crafted as one of their beers. If you’d like to have a look at it, click on this.

Great and Authentic Florida Eatery on the Banks of the St. Johns

Great and Authentic Florida Eatery on the Banks of the St. Johns

My companion and I enjoyed lunch recently at the Swamp House Grill in DeBary; it has become a fave spot for me in east Central Florida. The food is fabulous and the service is consistently good.

I had my usual: the blackened seafood trio. I enjoy that one so much, I rarely order anything else.

This gem is just a bit off the beaten path but very well worth it. There are eco boat tours leaving from the dock right behind the restaurant several times a day and they usually feature live acoustic music on the weekends. They do have a full bar and a good beer selection. That’s a “must have” for me and just one more reason why I like this place.

The Swamp House Grill is family friendly, their authentic Florida fare is moderately priced and the setting is idyllic. I’ve got to say that it’s become my favorite eatery in all of Volusia County. I recommend it highly.

Searching for the Meaning of Life

Slo-n-Low-beer-sign-North-wall-980b2This brief blog entry simply cannot be appreciated or understood unless you’ve cast your eyes over the accompanying photo. And, yes, I took the pic myself. No issues about ownership, copyrights or any such thing. And, if you must know, this humble sign adorns the north wall of the bar in my fave barbecue joint. In my fave beach town.

Having gotten the preliminary stuff out of the way, let me state for the record that I do not believe that the true meaning of life can be found in this lighthearted aphorism; it’s merely there to keep the wall from looking bare and, perhaps, to amuse the drunks who spend way too much time and money reading silly plaques tacked to the walls of our many infamous watering holes here in the Sunshine State.

The message of that damned sign does not seem to grow more profound with each lager lifted to my lips. I’ve never shared this barroom bromide with friends, nor incorporated it into an update on Facebook. (No need going to my Facebook page to verify that statement!)

Let’s be real. Life’s true meaning cannot be divined by reading this sign no matter how much beer you’ve quaffed.  I just like it because, as I stand right on the threshold of qualifying for social security, I think it just might be true! Not sure my doctor would vouch for that, but, it could be!

Now I think I’ll ponder that message one more time as I order one more beer…  Ashley!

 

 

No gator tail but great ‘cue at Adam’s Rib

No gator tail but great ‘cue at Adam’s Rib

I was in Gainesville for a sporting event last weekend and noticed Adam’s Rib right around dinner time. I liked the totally-indie look of the place; I eat at chain restaurants as much as anyone but always enjoy those “small joints” that feature great food and a unique vibe. Adam’s Rib is just such a place.

It’s somewhat small-ish but features fine barbecue with big taste. I went for a combo plate that was one of the specials that night and was very impressed with their chow. Get a load of this: a pulled pork sandwich and half a rack of ribs with one side for $12.95. And there was nothing low-end about this entree.

I opted for the collard greens with those two main selections and found them to be very tasty and not bitter at all. No need to douse that dish with pepper sauce to off-set a bitter taste. Collard greens with generous ham chunks are a staple at many places with good victuals and theirs did not disappoint. The ribs were as good as any I’ve had; I’ve been to more barbecue joints than I could ever count and was very impressed with this one.

This may seem like a little thing, but I really appreciated the roll of paper towels on my table. Even though this is not unusual for an eatery of this type, it’s always a good thing to see I won’t have to beg for more than one napkin. And the service was very good even though I was there at prime-time. The joint was jammin’ and the staff had no problem keeping up.

They feature a decent beer selection here. This was a surprise to me as the place is so small that I don’t think they’d be able to get a beer and wine license in many towns. Where I come from, the square footage and parking requirements would leave a place of their size without a beer tap. Because G’ville is the home of the University of Florida, it’s likely that the city is not looking for ways to block the brew; a good thing in my book. A lot of the patrons at A.R. that night were of college age. No surprise there. And most of the staff were as well, no doubt many were Gators by day and servers by night.

As I wrap up, let me say that the “no gator tail” phrase in my intro was an attempt at humor; with Adam’s Rib right in the middle of campus, that’s the last thing you’d find on the menu! The colorful and unique decor is “totally gator” and it adds to the charm of the place. By the way, I am NOT an alumnus of that esteemed institution and in fact had come from an event where “my team” was thoroughly licked by the home team. And when I stopped in for dinner at this popular spot, my taste buds were totally conquered as well. Losing never tasted so good!