Tuesday, March 30, 2010


One of my friends just wished me a Happy Easter/Passover, aka E-Pass. Isn’t that a great term? As a former practicing non-Jew married to a never-practicing Jew, I do appreciate the acceptance of our modern age. Tonight I am hoping to make a very basic Passover meal, complete with (vegetarian) matzo ball soup and a side of charoset. While there aren’t too many Jews in Iowa City, I did notice a single folding table at our local HyVee, displaying a few boxes of matzo, a couple packages of egg noodles, and some jars of (rather unappetizing) matzo ball soup. I could not find matzo meal or even that boxed matzo ball mix anywhere in the store (not even in the “International” aisle.) Ah well. Supposedly one can make homemade matzo meal simply by crushing up some matzo crackers. We’ll see how this goes…

Happy E-Pass everyone!!!


p.s. Speaking of the Jewish tradition, if you haven't already seen A Serious Man, I highly recommend it!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Patty's Day

If, like most of America, you went out for a pint (or two) with friends to celebrate St. Patty's Day, I hope you found a bar that serves some decent pub fare in addition to a properly poured Guinness. Some will argue that a good beer is a meal in a glass, but Guinness has fewer calories and alcohol than most domestic beers. So corned beef and cabbage might be just the thing to pair with your drink. Or in my case, a well-crafted Reuben.

As usual, we ended up at Donnelly's Irish Pub. I never quite understood the draw - Donnelly's is a classic Irish pub - they serve freshly popped popcorn and have a pretty traditional menu. Then I tried the Reuben. Oh. Dear. God. Donnelly's makes its own slow-cooked corn beef brisket, which is sliced to order. The sandwich is served with swiss cheese and kraut on freshly toasted rye bread. They give you a small container of 1000 Island dressing for dipping or spreading. The whole shebang is served with fries and a crisp pickle.

I often think that the sign of a good sandwich is that the pickle is nice, cool and crisp. True to this benchmark, the Donnelly's Reuben is truly amazing. I pretty much inhaled the whole thing before getting halfway through my Guinness. The meat was flavorful and juicy, the kraut and swiss went perfectly with the slightly salty meat, and the rye gave it just the right amount of crunch.

There are other tempting items on the menu. The fish & chips are quite good, as are the chicken strips. The beef stew served over mashed potatoes looks heavenly. Of course, every time I go there I will have a hard time not ordering the best Reuben I have ever had. With a good beer to wash it all down, how can you go wrong?

Happy St. Patty's Day!


p.s. Donnelly's also has a fairly extensive whiskey menu, from a cheap Jameson to a 30 yr Glenfiddich.

Donnelly's Pub
110 College Street
Iowa City, IA 52240
(319) 338-7355

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Java House

On my first ever trip to Iowa City one of the first orders of business was to check out the local coffee shops. Java House was recommended by nearly everyone I talked to - and no wonder - there are more than half a dozen of these spots all over the town and University. While some have complained of the time lag on the individual drip coffee - I am a HUGE fan. If one is not in a hurry (and why would you be in a hurry in Iowa?) freshly brewed, good coffee is a serious benefit of living in a small college town.

The atmosphere at the downtown Java House is nice - cozy despite the enormous space. It seems like a good place to do some work (free WiFi) although it is a bit dark for my taste. The Java House at the Hospital is more of a take-out type of coffee spot. I tried the "iced chai" which was more of a rich flavored iced cream than anything else. The Mate Latte was likewise overly sugar and creamed. Ah well, you can't have it all.

I have been to Java Houses too many times to count. The coffee and tea selection is excellent and it's a fantastic place to sit and read.

FYI: For those of you who are local, tomorrow, Wednesday March 10, the Java House downtown is serving $1 brewed coffees, caffe lattes and hot teas ALL DAY LONG.


Java House
211 E. Washington Street
Iowa City, IA 52240
(319) 341-0012