Meatball Mayhem & Madness Challenge/Feast of San Gennaro – IACHH

Hi folks. I’m Sam, the Beach Beagle on Hilton Head, pinch-hitting again for Blog Angel because – as Johnny D says – she has too much going on, and gets her head stuck someplace up her keister – a place I can’t reach because I’m short-legged.  My job is to bring things into focus around here, and get the word out about the only important thing in the world I can think of, right?

A 1,500 LB MEATBALL.

Beagle thinking about meatball

Just saying this, makes me.. me very,… wait… I gotta go outside a minute,… and collect myself….

Okay, let me begin again.  Because these two knuckleheads, Mom and Johnny D, are so strung out, with all their shi-shi events, I knew this blog was going to wind up in my food dish.  See, Mom gets side-tracked with all kinds of dumb PR stuff, forgetting about important things like the Loggerhead Turtle necklaces she sells at the * Italian Club Events,* to help save the little turtle hatchling nests on the beaches at the Coastal Discovery Museum, because a couple weeks ago, she had to dress up like Marilyn Monroe, like last year, to surprise Johnny D, who’s president of the IACHH (that stands for the the Italian.-American. Club. Of. Hilton. Head. for those of you, Unawares), on his birthday for the annual Omni ZinFest, in October.

Except, that little bright bulb idea fritzed-out pretty quick this year for a couple reasons, so she’s running around like a nut, telling everyone that they suck; meanwhile Johnny D, has to be in the dark about it, because he’s supposed to be organizing the annual ZinFest at the Omni Hotel – ON HIS BIRTHDAY, like the JFK bash a bunch of years ago –  because she’s got to surprise him again, and it works; but by the end of the night, I don’t think we could take anymore Marilyn surprises as you can see.

Sammy and Johnny D sleep on the sofas

Johnny D & I crapped out after the 2nd Annual Marilyn Monroe Birthday surprise.

[You know, last year, Marilyn sang after a guy named Matthew stormed through here, now that I think about it. Maybe Marilyn needs strong winds to ride around on her broomstick.]

Awright, just like BlogAngel, I digressed a momento, here…  where was I…

So, Irma comes up from Florida, whirling around, totally ruining the whole Eating Feast, the Hilton Head, Italian-American Club (IACHH) hosts every year for St. Januarius, (which is SAN GENNARO, to you discerning Italian-Americans out there), while SOMEONE IS SUPPOSED TO MAINTAIN CLARITY ON THE GIANT, DRIPPING, 1,500 LB MEATBALL.

Sammy Close up

I lost again… my train… of thoug.. clarity about the…thhe meatburblschmiemiener…

So, the seed for this world meatball record thing got started like, kinda’ like a small snow ball rolling down a hill in Meshanticut Valley Parkway, which is where we used to live in Cranston, Rhode Island, eight years ago like, in this picture,  when Johnny D and I were still getting to know each other.

Johnny D and Sammy the Beagle

Johnny D and Sam make meatballs in Cranston, Rhode Island, (circa 2009)

I was trying to mind my manners, but back then, when I was fresh out of “college” (that’s what the boys on the Hill said, when one of their buddies went someplace for a while), if a guy was cooking ground beef, Johnny D always says, FUGGETABOUTIT! There was no way, I was going to sit on my duff with the moonie milk chocolate eyes my Mom likes, with a little paw at the ready…

No way, when Johnny starts rolling a meatball, and then says, “I’ll make one as big as your head, Sam!” Well. I can’t even think straight, now.

Sam the Beagle in his first city shelter

This was the size of my head, when Mom found me in the Providence City ” college”. She said it was a heart-shaped, mushroom cap for kissing.

A meatball as big as my head? How big is my head?  Mom’s always smooching it, so it can’t be that big, but then I’ve got a lot of thoughts in my head, and she also likes my velvet lop-ears, so, it must be pretty big to handle all that, right? Smooches, thoughts, and velvet lops?  How big a meatball is Johnny D talking about?

Well, I’m telling you now, 1,500 lbs of meatball is more than my beagle brain can handle every couple minutes without getting vertigo, maybe drooling, and my back knees buckling; I am aged 70 -ish dog years, which may be the average Hilton Head Island resident demographic, but it doesn’t mean I’m like Snoopy the Red Baron, flying around at night on top of his doghouse.  I’m just Sam the Beach Beagle, trying to hold it all together down here on Governors Road sucking it up occasionally, for BlogAngel.

IACHH Meatball Festivall 2017, Shelter Cove Park

Starting at 8 am for the 5K Run, and going all day including a Silent Auction, food vendors, craft booths, a kid’s zone, live entertainment. Don’t Fuggetaboutit!

So now, Johnny D’s at the Veteran’s Day Memorial event which is very important, and we’re out of ink cartridges and paper, and they got a rule around here that whoever uses it last has to restock the printer, so I better run to Staples before Blog Angel wakes from her nap – she likes her naps – in the mornings, because she works late night with Rachel Maddow and Seth Myers (yeah, really yukking it up with those two, with pencils sticking out of her pony tail and Johnny D, snoring away on the sofa).

oven wrapThe current world record for the largest meatball stands at 1,100 lbs, which is pretty big, when you think about it.  So our own genius engineer, Joe Carpinteri, who designed the oven (with a little input from another member, a retired NASA guy) to conduct heat with like, big stainless steel prongs to go inside the meatball, and then there’s this whole POD- RIGHT-  THEY HAD TO MAKE A POD – to hold the meat in like a form, so it wouldn’t all fall apart while it was cooking, which, I told them I could spread my body around it and hold the thing with my four paws, but Johnny D thought maybe, I was getting carried away.  I could see he was getting that look on his face he gets, when it’s time for me to walk outside and shake it off… you know…

Sam the Beagle yells out the window

Next Saturday, the 18th! A 1,500 lb meatball! Don’t FUGGETABOUTIT!

All right you guys, darn, I don’t have time to tell you anything else, except be there next weekend sharp  in the morning, because of the 5k race, and limited parking, and tv cameras and the Guinness Book of World Record people….

What: Meatball Madness Guinness World Record Challenge – 8t Annual Hilton Head Italian Heritage Festival

When: November 18th, 2017, 8am – 4 pm

Where: Shelter Cove Park, Hilton Head, SC

Cost: $6/Adults, Children under 10/free

Proceeds to Benefit Local Charities with a focus on hunger awareness and organizations that provide our neighbors with the comfort, and nourishment they may be lacking .

Festival Info: Paul Caimano, Festival Chairman (412) 897-1148, paccomkt@aol.com

IACHH President, Johnny DeCecco, (401) 524-1416, jdc3@hargray.com

Meatball Challenge Marketing & PR: Triad Design, Rob Lembo & Christina Belen (843) 706-3320

*IACHH is a 501 (3)(c) non-profit organization. Proceeds from events benefit local charitable organizations and scholarship funds. Proceeds from the Meatball Madness Festival Guinness World Record Day Challenge will go towards hunger awareness specific organizations and charities that directly service the underserved in our community. More information can be found on our website here.  http://iachh.org/about-us.html

 

 

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A ‘Spectre’ of Light After the Dark

Only on Hilton Head

Unedited version submitted for the Island Packet, Sunday, October 30, 2016

After three weeks of hurricane disaster news and heroic recovery efforts, it’s good to know that anticipated, community-oriented events are still being planned and executed by business leaders who themselves are also recovering from Matthew’s devastation.

Mann's in Cinema Foyer

Larry and Lucie Mann enjoy intermission with wine and popcorn at their movie theater in Park Plaza, Hilton Head, SC.

Lucie and Larry Mann, owners/operators of Mann’s Park Plaza Cinema are hosting the Concours d’Elegance kick-off event Thursday, November 3, 2016, in a grand, silver screen party in the courtyard of their business located at 33 Office Park Rd, Ste 201, in Park Plaza just outside the main Sea Pines gate, next to Harris Teeter.

“We’ve been clearing debris from around our business and house, but as they say, the show must go on,” said Lucie on Sunday while she and her husband worked selling movie tickets, bartending, and conducting a Q&A via Skype with the filmmakers of an independent documentary about eating a plant-based diet called, “Eating Your Heart Out.”

It was like watching those motorized housekeepers on that old cartoon, The Jetsons, zipping around on motorized wheels, sweeping, while taking corners, smiling, talking, fielding questions about completely unrelated topics, films, and causes, heads swiveling to take in the whole business while staying focused on the conversation at hand.  I thought to myself, “I want what she’s having,” like the woman in that Rob Reiner movie.

Understand, this kind of multi-tasking is awesome to me.  I had just left my car parked in front of the box office and completely forgot about it for like, fifteen minutes because I had to remember both, buying popcorn, AND getting my mother seated AT THE SAME TIME.  Lucie carefully, kindly, and discreetly, tiptoed down the aisle and leaned over to me in the dark, saying, “Carmen, can you please move your car, so others can drop off their guests in front of the theater?”

Delicately implied at the end of that question, of course, was the word “numbnuts?”.

Hand-made earrings by Lucie Mann

Lucie Mann’s original, hand-crafted earrings, “No Two Are Alike”, are sold in the movie theater for $15 – $30/pair.

Lucie and Larry both bring an array of skills and talents to their partnership, which always culminates in amazing productions at their business.  Lucie is an architect by trade.  She also crafts her own earrings, and participates in local events that promote healthy, organic cooking and eating.  Larry’s background in contracting dovetails perfectly with their shared passion for neighborhood and community events, and of course all of these interests logically pointed them to buying a movie theater, right?

So, thanks to their shared passions, on November 3, 2016 at 5:30 pm, islanders will get a glimpse of Hollywood glamour, in the shape of one of the ten Aston Martin DB10’s made specifically for Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond movie, Spectre, (which will get it’s premiere Hilton Head screening also at Mann’s Nov. 3rd event).  This custom made car – estimated worth $3 million – is the only one currently being displayed in the United States as EON Productions rolls out its latest Bond movie, which also marks a fifty-year partnership between Astin Martin and EON, the company behind the 007 franchise.

Ilya Kagan, regional manager for Aston Martin, explained the precision and detail that went into the creation of the DB10, as well as the difference between “hero” cars, and “stunt” cars, when it comes to custom designing a car for a film.

James Bond and Astin Martin

Daniel Craig as James Bond, Agent 007, poses with one of 10 Aston Martin DB10’s made for the movie, Spectre, premiering on Hilton Head November 3, 2016 at Park Plaza Cinemas.

For the movie, Spectre, ten Aston Martin DB10’s were made.  Some were stunt cars, driven by the stunt doubles for the movie’s action sequences, and others, termed hero cars, are piloted by Daniel Craig as James Bond.  Unfortunately we, drooling cinematic plebeians, don’t get to know which of these cars will be on site at the Park Plaza Cinema courtyard on November 3, 2016.  But hey, who cares, right?  A three million dollar car is a three million dollar car, no matter whose derriere graced the driver’s seat, in my book.

“We at Aston Martin The Americas are excited to be able to bring this piece of cinematic history to a local movie showing at Hilton Head, SC. This is a very extraordinary vehicle, with only ten of them made, and with one of the examples of this car being sold On 19 February 2016, at a special auction at Christie’s in London for £2,424,500, or about $3.5 million, it makes for a very rare opportunity to see something like this in person,” said Kagan.

Attendees will get photo-ops with the DB10, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and a screening of

Rows of red chairs in theater

Spectre attendees will enjoy the screening in Park Plaza Cinema’s new luxury reclining red theater chairs.

Spectre on Park Plaza Cinema’s BRAND NEW, RED, LUXURY, RECLINING, MOVIE CHAIRS!

Sounds like Vincent Chase’s sneak preview party in the movie Entourage, right?  Only, we’ll all keep our clothes on during the party, ‘kay?

Proceeds from Thursday’s event will go towards the Concours D’Elegance, and to the non-profit, Driving Young America (DYA), A Hilton Head Island High School program that supports students interested in pursuing a career in the automotive industry. Local vendors participating include, Ruby Lee’s, It’s Greek to Me, Delishee Yo, Whole Foods, Java Burrito, Signe’s Bakery & Café, Butch Hirsch Productions, TR Media World, and Crush Entertainment, Hugo’s Seafood & Steakhouse, 843 The Restaurant,

 Tickets Are Going Fast, So Buy Now

Spectre Event Specifics:

What –  Spectre Screening; Concourse D’Elegance Kick-Off Event
Food, wine, photo-op with Aston Martin from film
When – 5:30 pm, Thursday, November 3, 2016,
Where – Mann’s Park Plaza Cinemas, 33 Office Park Rd, Hilton Head
Tickets – $25.00 online here, Spectre Event Tickets or visit              www.mannsparkplazacinemas.com for more info.
Contact – 843-785-5001

Ciao, Hilton Head!

George Paletta & John DeCecco

‘The George’ Paletta, Vice President, with the ‘Legendary Johnny D’, President, of the Italian-American Club of   Hilton Head at 2012 Italian Heritage Festival, Drown the Clown dunk tank.

Okay.  You knew there was no way I could let Hilton Head’s 2013 Italian Heritage Festival get by without posting a blog about it.  Last year, I had to bite down on my nails to keep from commenting on, and displaying the proud images I now depict.  No, last year, I had to limit myself to sending these visual gems in covert emails with restrained captions, to close friends and associates near and further north, because it might smack indecorous, given that the two gentlemen portrayed thusly, en masquerade, are also Board Dignitaries of the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head (IACHH).

Please note, I have exercised enormous restraint in recent print media descriptions over which I had some control, by not taking advantage of all the literary parallels, puns, metaphors, and ironies implicit in two Italian-American men being dunked at the Drown the Clown booth – one’s face covered by an Obama mask, the other, behind Italian flag sunglasses – during an election year in America… and BOTH wearing fuggetaboutit! t-shirts.  The only inappropriate, tactless item that seems to be missing is a bottle of non-FDA approved jug of homemade grappa from Cousin Luigi’s backyard cantina (thankfully, that was hidden somewhere during this auspicious photo-op… along with Cousin Luigi).

Yes, I held off the laughs, in deference to my husband’s sincere commitment to the IACHH, a wonderfully philanthropic community organization that donates proceeds from the annual Italian Heritage Festival  (along with that of four other yearly events) to local island non-profits, and high-school graduate scholarships.

So now I bask in some relief, knowing that I have finally shared one of the funniest pictures ever taken, with all my friends and patient readers.  And it brings me to question why, for the life me, they, didn’t publish it alongside the article in September’s issue of Hilton Head Monthly – that classy, sophisticated publication, with accompanying cerebral content – that sits on the coffee tables of our most stylish vacation beach homes, residences, and gets mailed to subscribers all over the world.  Why on earth would they choose images of lovely children and cultural activities, and not the above delicate portrait of two pillars of the Hilton Head community?  One can only guess at the wisdom of such censorship.

Which brings me to my plea.  If you thought you might, y’know, lay low, this weekend because you just need to rest, or you can’t get a babysitter, and you can’t get too excited about anything after weathering the most humid, wet, summer-from-hell in the lowcountry, please reconsider, amicos.  First of all, this is a family-friendly event, and children under 10 enter free.  Secondly, this Saturday at Shelter Cove Park, from 11 am – 4 pm, the 4th Annual Festival being held in honor of the Feast of St. Gennaro, will be bigger and better than ever.  And, as in the past, the Island Recreation Center partners with the IACHH, and the proceeds go to local non-profits and scholarship funds.  And if you need more encouragement, see the video below for Flash Mob activity at the 2012 Italian Heritage Festival.

There will be food prep demonstrations, grape-stomping, stickball, bocce ball, live music, and the incomparable cuisine prepared by the best Italian restaurants south of the Mason-Dixon.  And that’s saying something.  See below for further details, or IHFestivalProgram2013.  Or, if you prefer a more high-brow article and pictures with details, you can click here, or here.  Otherwise, always check with HiltonHeadBlogAngel for the fraternity-level take on anything.

What: The 4th Annual Italian Heritage Festival in Honor of the Feast of St. Gennaro

sign

Italian Heritage Directional Signpost

Where: Shelter Cove Park, 39 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head, SC  29928

When: Saturday, September 21, 2013

What Time: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Cost: $6.00 at the gate, children 10 & under, free

Contact: 843-682-4625

Why: fuggetaboutit!

Dine at Flora’s Italian Cafe and Treat our Troops!

Hilton Head map.

Hilton Head map.

As many of you may have noticed, Hilton Head Island has evolved into the Little Italy of the southeast coast, when it comes to fine Roman fare.  And this actually makes some sense, geographically speaking; you see Italy, as we all know, is the shape of a Gucci boot, and Hilton Head Island is the shape of a beat-up Nike Air Max sneaker.  And, Italians are known for wearing snazzy boots, just like Hilton Head Islanders are often seen running and playing around in

Snazzy Islander Sneakerwear

Snazzy Islander Sneakerwear

Nike sneakers.  Both of these descriptive devices happen to be clothes for feet.  Obviously, Italians and Islanders place a premium on how we dress and protect our respective tootsies.

Snazzy, Italian boot- I mean, Map of Italy.

Snazzy, Italian, Map of Italy.

 

 

 

The literary parallels and metaphors are endless.

Many of my Vacation Company blogs about restaurants are raving reviews about dining establishments specializing in Italy’s exquisite recipes accentuated by the freshest ingredients and locally grown vegetables and herbs.  Flora’s Italian Cafe at South Island Plaza is no exception, and has easily become one of our most favorite restaurants on the island. Staffed with courteous (and very patient) servers, bartenders, and chefs, Flora’s is managed and run by the family. And The Family consists of Flora, her husband Branco, and son Branco, Jr.

When we eat there, I usually order the same thing (which is stupid I know, because everything on the menu is truly mouthwatering delicious), but the Capellini Dora is a dish I crave so much at times, I just can’t get my brain to be rational about choosing some other savory menu item. The ingredients of Capellini Dora are simple – crabmeat, shrimp, diced tomatoes, garlic, white wine, olive oil – but how they are prepared and tossed and arranged on a dish for me to plunge my head into, is truly cerebral. Every mouthful pops with flavor and the freshness is palpable; ie, you know the tomatoes were fat on the vine, sun-bathing that very morning.  Fortunately, my husband tries other dishes, such as Grouper Meuniere, Gamberi di Casa, and Fettini di Vitello Saltimbocca, and we share appetizers like Melanzane Rolantine (eggplant rolled with cheese baked in tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella) so I know that every creation is as tantalizing as my Pasta Dora.

Vino at Flora's!

Vino at Flora’s!

As some of you may know, my partner, Johnny D., is also Italian and he is lucky enough to eat at Flora’s every Thursday for lunch because Flora and Branco host the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head’s (IACHH) weekly lunch meeting.  You know things have got to be good at this place if a whole club of over a hundred tansplanted, professional Italians will go there week after week, crowding out Flora’s Cafe, while solving major international conflicts between Italy and Hilton Head like, should people be allowed to drink a little wine on the beach? Which as everyone knows is good for your health, but on American soil, can sometimes be confused with glugging down any kind of fermented vegetation that started in a blender and is best consumed through a straw.  You see how easy it would be to confuse the two thirst-quenching methods, right?  However, the Italian-American Club is also a major contributor to local charities, scholarships, and non-profit organizations, donating lots of money and good will towards the community, through fundraisers like the Annual Italian Heritage Festival held every September. Which brings me to my next tangent…

Jeannette Cram l-r on Martha Stewart's Show.

Jeannette Cram l-r on Martha Stewart’s Show.

Next Tuesday, June 26, 2012, Flora’s is donating $5/plate towards Treat the Troops, a local organization gone national, founded by Jeannette Cram in 1990 during the Gulf War.  Jeannette and volunteers, known as Crumbs (get it? Crumbs, like cookie crumbs), bake homemade cookies and ship them to our young heroes overseas who are protecting our right to drink wine on the beach, among other rights and freedoms over which we are very protective, and sometimes take for granted. This organization needs money for shipping costs and baking ingredients, and is greatly appreciated by our soldiers who probably miss Mom’s cookies, while breathing in mouthfuls of desert sand on our behalf. Jeannette is grateful to Flora’s Italian Cafe, she said when I called to ask her about the cookie organization, because “people forget that our troops miss the flavors from home.”  This is an excellent opportunity to both a.) try out Flora’s Italian Cafe, and 2.) demonstrate your patriotism by contributing to a wonderfully inspired, local non-profit organization. AND…. another cool thing (they just keep coming don’tCookies &Crumbs they?  I’m almost out of breath here…), at 6:30 pm, there will be a book-signing event by Jeannette who also wrote, Soldiers, Cookies, & the Crumbs. 

Chefs, Branco and Flora Raiac

Chefs, Branco and Flora Raiac

Okay, so back to Flora’s who, by the way, greets you in person and seats you with a genuine smile, while her son, Branco Jr. works the tables along with several other excellent wait staff. The kitchen is run by Branco the First, and each dish is his and Flora’s chefdoeuvre, hand-prepared to order, with herbs and vegetables grown fresh in their own garden. Flora herself makes all the desserts from scratch, and has been featured in the local press for award-winning pastry  and each one is more delectable than the last. I can’t say enough about this marvelous bistro when it comes to the authentic quality of the food.

Originally from Romania, Branco Raiac studied Italian cuisine at the Culinary Institute of Romania before moving to New Jersey with his family. In New Jersey, they owned and operated a popular restaurant called, Villa Romagna for ten more years and then they migrated south to Hilton Head, like the rest of us Yanks tired of long winters and screeching traffic.  And if all of the above doesn’t sell you on dinner at Flora’s, how about being voted Winner of the 2012 Island Packet Reader’s Choice Award for Best International Restaurant?  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Tell her Carmen and Johnny D sent you, and maybe she’ll laugh really hard and say, “Who?”

Flora’s Italian Cafe located at South Island Plaza, 841 William Hilton Parkway, Hilton Head Island, SC  29928, is open Monday through Saturday 5 – 10 pm

Call: 843-842-8200 for reservations