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February 5, 2009

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‘Center city food at neighborhood prices’
Cafette: an embarrassment of riches for 16 sweet years

Lifelong Chestnut Hiller and Cafette owner Jan Wilson, a graduate of Jenks School and Girls’ High School (the Bicentennial class of 1976), was also president of the Jenks Home and School Association for two years in the late 1980s and was a CHCA board member. (Photo by Erin Vertreace)

Operating a successful neighborhood restaurant for 16 years is as difficult as finding a Japanese man named Biff, but Jan Wilson has been doing just that for 16 years at Cafette, 8136 Ardleigh St. And it’s the only Chestnut Hill restaurant not on a major road; in fact, it’s on a residential street that otherwise has only single-family homes.

“I believe we’ve lasted so long,” said Jan, 50, “because we have center city quality food at neighborhood prices, and we have always been BYOB, so people save lots of money by bringing their own wine. We make our own stocks, have layering of flavors and take no short cuts. I can truly say we do things the right way.

“With the economy the way it is now, everyone is looking to save money. On Sundays we offer a full three-course menu, including homemade desserts, for a total of just $16 per person. And every night of the week we have a special entree for $16 in honor of our sweet 16 years in business. Nowadays quite a few restaurants are offering three courses for $30 but definitely not for $16! Please tell me where else you can get this quality of food at those prices? And on school nights children eat for free!”

The executive chef at Cafette is lifelong Mt. Airy resident John McLaughlin, 33, formerly a chef at Goat Hollow in Mt. Airy for three years and Rembrandt’s in Fairmount. His cooking is as reliable as an expensive watch. “I am truly honored to put out the food that John and his team turn out,” said Jan, “which is creative homestyle cooking. I can remember seeing him around the neighborhood growing up (in Mt. Airy). He was very handsome and just a little older than my daughter. I love John as a chef and as a person. It’s nice to get the whole package. He could show off and do a lot more fancy food, but we want to keep the value that we’ve always had.”


Mt. Airyite: Should a pet dog meet your needs, or vice-versa?

If you were forced to experience life as an animal, would you choose to be a pampered pup?

While lazing on the beach, with only seagulls and sandpipers as company, I let my imagination play. If I could experience life in another form, which would I choose? The gull would definitely be one of my choices. Equally at home on land, sea or in the sky, this bird has a life span of 20 or more years, dines on fresh fish and spends each day soaring above the trees, floating on calm ocean currents and sunbathing on the beach. Not bad. 

Or maybe I’d like to experience life as a giant tortoise. Their ancient faces always appear to be smiling and possess a Buddha-like quality of inner-peace. They move through life with quietude, dignity, serenity and best of all, when the world is too much with them, they simply morph into a boulder and curl up inside to rest and think things over. 

I’ve always thought a kangaroo’s life must be fun, probably because jumping on pogo sticks and enjoying the tummy-tickle that comes along with this activity was one of my own favorite childhood pastimes. “Roos” are playful and seem to really enjoy physical contact and interaction. And, what a way to bring offspring into the world! When they are so tiny,  the new-born “joeys” somehow make their way to their mother’s pouch, where she then gets to observe their growth and watch over them for six months. And, wow, to experience life as a dolphin!  That would be truly awesome……. 

 

Little-known aspect of Black History
Ancestors way ahead of their time with herbal remedies

The writer’s late mother, Cleoria Rose Coleman Sparrow, was born on a farm in Virginia in 1910.

Fresh from a strong and profitable run of its Christmastime production of Balanchine’s choreography to Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in the Academy of Music, the Pennsylvania Ballet is set to interpret the spirit of another holiday. This time around it’s St. Valentine’s Day. The show is called “Love & Longing,” and it will be danced at the Merriam Theater of the University of the Arts Feb. 11-15, with matinee and evening performances.

“Love & Longing” is comprised of three pieces. It will open with Fearful Symmetries by Peter Martins, one of the greatest of all New York City Ballet dancers under the late George Balanchine and now the company’s artistic director. Symmetries will be followed by the world premiere of Requiem for a Rose by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Wrapping up this holiday bon-bon will be Twyla Tharp’s crossover modern dance/modern ballet favorite, Nine Sinatra Songs, which features a soundtrack of Frank Sinatra’s peerless interpretations of nine classic pop standards.

Speaking in his office at the Pennsylvania Ballet’s East Falls studios after having just led a company class, Erdenheim’s Roy Kaiser pronounced himself pleased with the troupe’s financial condition in spite of the overall economic dislocations. Although ticket sales and receipts were slightly below predictions for The Nutcracker, the company still drew an audience of tens of thousands.

 

‘Love & Longing’ by Pa. Ballet on Valentine’s Day

Fresh from a strong and profitable run of its Christmastime production of Balanchine’s choreography to Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in the Academy of Music, the Pennsylvania Ballet is set to interpret the spirit of another holiday. This time around it’s St. Valentine’s Day. The show is called “Love & Longing,” and it will be danced at the Merriam Theater of the University of the Arts Feb. 11-15, with matinee and evening performances.

 

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