Today it actually feels like a spring day--it's about time! Our flowers outside of The National Hotel don't know whether to come up or not, because the temperatures dipped so low recently. The low temperatures, the horrible news from Japan on March 11th, and the aftermath of the tsunami, compounded our own local situation, where neighbors suffered damages to their properties after the Delaware River rose and flooded homes, closed river roads, and left many wondering, "Why?" The local churches and non-profit groups have been busy collecting food items and donations to help those in need, and outside of our area, the international community has been rallying to provide aid to Japan, help with the rescue effort, and support them through the work of many international organizations. I found a very good summation of the different organizations who are on the ground helping today, and bringing the necessary aid that Japan will need for a very, very long time: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/21/how-to-help-japan-earthquake-relief_n_834484.html. It lists organizations that cross all lines, religious, humanitarian, health & human services, etc.
Even in the midst of all the news that surround us every minute of the day, from Japan's situation to the Middle East and elsewhere, our patrons really help us to "live in the moment," to live in the present. We are grateful for what the community has helped us build and create with The National Hotel, a beautiful and historic building that is truly a part of our family now, and that envelops us in all the tales we've heard, the milestones that many families have shared once inside its doors.
It's this spirit and enthusiasm that draws such talent to The National Hotel. We see this every single week, when our Restaurant & Bar patrons let us know how much they love the musicians or the dish or drink they had. The comfortable ambiance is something we strive to create, while still providing excellent and attentive service. We heard such wonderful feedback these last few days, that even though the temperature was cold outside, it heated up inside The National Hotel's Restaurant this past weekend. We had our second installment of "Indian Nights," where our dining guests were treated to an All-Indian Additions to the Menu. And our executive chef, Lisa Frederick, did not disappoint. Pete was very pleased that he was able to bring these authentic Indian dishes of his childhood as well as well-known Indian traditional dishes from around the Indian sub-continent, to Frenchtown.
From Chicken Biryani (classic north Indian royalty rice dish with chicken, saffron, and turmeric), to Kashmiri Lamb (traditional sweet and spicy lamb with yogurt curry, over basmati rice, garnished with fresh cilantro and almonds), to Vada (ground lentil patties, Indian spices, served with cilantro chutney), the kitchen was kept on its toes, bustling with activity...and we LOVE THAT! And, when you topped that off with one of Kasey Goyette's Additions to the Menu specialty drinks, Mango Indian Cocktail (Rum, Triple Sec, Mango Pulp, Sour mix and Rose's Lime) or one of her distinct wine or beer choices to complement the dish ordered, you just couldn't find a better way to make all the stress and worries of our daily lives just float away this weekend.
And speaking about drinks and libations, they all require the establishment to possess a liquor license. Well, just imagine how thrilled I was when Pete brought home the original liquor license--almost crumbling at the touch! It's a liquor license from August 1, 1892, owned by William Apgar, one of the original families to own The National Hotel. Can you believe the license cost $25 back then...a pretty penny for sure even in 1892. I just couldn't wait to share!
And he also surprised me with this other wonderful historic photos of Frenchtown, which I promptly framed and took back to The National Hotel:
Even with the temperatures dipping into the 20s, they did rise enough for us to be able highlight Clan Suibhne, an authentic Irish trio, as they performed on our porch on Saturday, March 19th, helping us extend the St. Patrick's Day celebration well into the weekend. They were a huge hit, with their extraordinary personalities, their musical talent, and ability to reach deep into their family vault of music, "pulling out" just what our patrons wanted to hear--and all with an explanation of the instruments, their history, and how certain songs came to be. I'm uploading some of what I recorded onto our youtube channel and should have everything done by the end of the week. They were really extraordinary, connecting even with passersby on the sidewalk, often stopping them in their tracks as they played and encouraged them (many with children in tow) to sway to music that touched all of us.
Lucky for us that although the temperatures started to drop as they started to put their instruments away, the day was warm enough for everyone to enjoy some St. Patty's Day fun all weekend long. And the fun continued inside, because we had more music downstairs in the Rat, where Christy Jefferson entertained our Rathskeller Pub & Lounge patrons until 11 p.m., part of our Live Saturday Night Music series.
And not to be outdone, our local poets filled our Rathskeller Pub & Lounge space in our cellar, to the point where we had to add chairs to accommodate everyone. It was a wonderful People's Poetry (our poetry open mic, third Sunday of every month) session that easily filled the two hours dedicated to poetry. Some of the webclips are just about finished and will be posted on our youtube channel soon, but you can find many of these same poets' prior reading already live on our channel.
Looking forward into what's left of March and further into April, we have a lot in store, including our Vietnamese Additions to the Menu weekend. Check our facebook page and become our "friend" so you can stay abreast of all the different programs we'll be featuring, the musicians who'll entertain you, or just simple news about what we're doing on any particular day, or if you use twitter, follow our tweets. And if you'd like to receive news, special discounts or information about upcoming events, sign up to receive our e-news and we'll add you to our distribution list.
We hope to see you soon at The National Hotel, and continue to thank you, thank you, thank you, for your support and patronage. Because of you, winter is just a distant memory. Here's to spring!...oh wait, I just heard an announcement on the news that it might snow soon...really?!!! No matter, we'll be nice and warm inside, and Kasey, Donna, Tobi and the rest of The National Hotel staff will be on hand to bring you a memorable drink of your liking to help you unwind while you wait for your favorite dish from our menu. See you soon!