[Celebration of World Space Week to zoom into October ]

[Food at church-turned-restaurant is otherworldly]

[‘Art of the City’ on display in City Hall]


Celebration of World Space Week to zoom into October

by Ruth R. Russell

When did the Space Age begin? According to the Franklin Institute, it started 50 years ago, and in 1999 the UN General Assembly officially designated World Space Week. Where is the best place to celebrate the 50th anniversary and the week itself? At the Institute, of course! Varied activities and events are planned at 20th Street and the Parkway over a seven-day period for all ages, starting on Thursday October 4, at 7 p.m. At that time a panel featuring three Franklin Medalists will discuss ‘Conquering Space in the Millennium;” admission is charged. On Friday, October 5, at 7 p.m., a former NASA astronaut will talk about his experiences inside a space shuttle and sign copies of his book, Reflections from Earth Orbit. (Reservations are needed for both of these. Call 215-448-1254.) Derrick Pitts, the Institute’s chief astronomer, will give two 40-minute public lectures in the Joel N. Bloom Observatory on Monday, October 8, at 12:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m., free after museum admission. Also scheduled are a film in Tuttleman IMAX Theatre, featuring American and Russian astronauts on their way to the International Space Station, and Cosmic Collisions, in the Fels Planetarium, a look at how ancient meteoric crashes affected Earth. In addition, the Planetarium will present Bioworlds: Life Beyond Earth and Heart of the Sun and during the week there will be demonstrations of life as an astronaut plus activities such as astronomy trivia and scavenger hunts. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, October 4-10. To learn more, visit www.fi.edu or www.spaceweek.org.

Walking outdoors

If the kind of space you most enjoy is on the ground, consider the Fall Walks in the Wissahickon planned by the Wildlife Committee of the Friends of the Wissahickon. The first, on Saturday, September 29, from 4 to 6 p.m., is billed as an ‘Old-Fashioned Nature Walk’ and an opportunity to view woods inhabitants such as nighthawks, chimney swifts, cottontails and woodchucks, as well as see improvements made to the Roxborough natural area. The second is on Sunday, October 14, from 9 to 11 a.m., and is a ‘Bird Walk,’ featuring our feathered friends who can be seen in mid-October. The walks are free but registration is required. To sign up or get more information, call Stephen Lawrence at 215-233-4447.

A magic pot

Please Touch Museum, at 210 N. 21st St., is starting its fall season with Gram Adele, presented by the Please Touch Playhouse from October 1 through 8. Kids will learn about Gram’s magic pot that “bubbles and boils” and how it can be stopped, at performances on weekdays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and the weekend at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and admission is charged. To learn more about this and other upcoming events, call 215-963-0667 or visit www.pleasetouchmuseum.org.

Jazz at Kimmel

Musicians who will perform in the Mellon Jazz Concert in Verizon Hall on Friday evening, September 28, will join Mervon Mehta, vice president of programming and education at Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, for an Artist Chat at 6 p.m., in the Rendell Room. Then, at 6:30 p.m., the Lars Halle Jazz Orchestra will swing onstage in the Commonwealth Plaza. The Kimmel is at Broad and Spruce Streets, and these programs are free. For more information, visit www.kimmelcenter.org/events/plaza.php.

Celebrate Japan

Japanese traditions will be the focus of ‘Celebrate Japan’ on Saturday, September 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, at 3260 South St. Sponsored by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden (Shofuso), this is a family event featuring activities such as Taiko drumming, an Aikido demonstration, a Japanese tea ceremony, sushi preparation, calligraphy, kimono dressing and Japanese games. ‘Celebrate Japan’ is free with museum admission donation. For more information, call 215-898-4000 or visit www.museum.upenn.edu.

Day for college kids

College Day on the Parkway is set for Saturday, September 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The program will provide free admission to more than 2,500 national and international students (with valid ID) to exhibits, programs and tours at cultural centers such as the Academy of Natural Sciences, Free Library of Philadelphia National Constitution Center and Philadelphia Museum of Art. To learn more, visit www.philamuseum.org. Email news for CitiLife to ruth@phillyrecord.com


Food at church-turned-restaurant is otherworldly

by Len Lear

Most area residents who travel to New Hope, a tourist Mecca in central Bucks County, about a 30-minute drive up I-95 from Center City, probably stay overnight in one of the many charming B & B’s in or near the historic village that is still largely untouched by fast-food outlets and national chain stores.

But Marsha Brown, a posh four-year-old restaurant at 15 S. Main St. in New Hope, is well worth a visit, even if you have to drive back home afterwards without staying at a B & B. That’s because it serves simply the best Creole food we have had outside of New Orleans, and the setting is spectacular. (Marsha Brown is also the owner of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at 260 S. Broad St. — at Spruce — which she opened 21 years ago.)

Marsha Brown is situated in a building that is approximately 165 years old and was previously occupied by the Methodist Church of New Hope. There is seating on two floors and a balcony that is used for private parties. (We sat in the spot where the altar had been; there is jazz on Friday nights in the choir loft, and the hostess greets you where the pulpit stood.)

But you don’t have to pray in order to get otherworldly food, and even though you will no longer get a church service, you will get some of the best restaurant service north of Le Bec Fin (at least if Jack Shire is your server).

Dinner starts with a long, thin loaf of fresh bread served in a bag and accompanied by a soulful red bean dip. From a great but pricey cocktail list came a dynamite “Bellini-tini,” a sprightly combination of raspberry vodka, peach schnapps and champagne ($10), and a glass of Stag’s Leap Chardonnay that was fruity and “oaky” with a long finish ($11).

Lobster and shrimp bisque with cayenne pepper and sherry; and gumbo with chicken, andouille sausage, rice and Cajun spices were both great starters at $5 a cup each. A crawfish spring roll was rather bland, but it was accompanied by a wonderful crawfish dressing, Mardi Gras slaw and excellent remoulade sauce ($8). Crawfish risotto was a revelation ($8), and a crabcake appetizer with herbs and a mustard remoulade had little or no filler but was overpriced at $18.

An entree of “Bourbon Street” sautéed catfish, lightly spiced and draped with a subtle seafood dressing ($24); and jambalaya, the New Orleans classic melange of crabmeat, shrimp, duck and andouille sausage, simmered for hours in a dark roux with peppers, onions and rice ($26), were both way too much for us to finish, very tasty and fairly priced.

Desserts — chocolate pecan pie with a custard-like filling, vanilla ice cream and pecan brittle ($7), and milk chocolate on crumbly pecan cookies with vanilla ice cream and pecan brittle ($6) — were both sinful enough to make one confess one’s culinary extravagances.

For directions, reservations or more information about Marsha Brown, call 215-862-7044 or visit www.marshabrownrestaurant.com.

Scholarship fundraiser

John Mannino, co-owner (with Patti Klein) of The Restaurant Collection, a local public relations firm that represents many area restaurants, was one of the nicest people I’ve known in this region’s restaurant industry. He had a heart of gold and a distinctive, infectious laugh that I used to tell him could shake the walls and floors of a building.

John died of brain cancer in 2004, much too soon; he was 51. A scholarship fund has been established in John’s name by his loved ones at the Temple University School of Tourism & Hospitality that will help young people pursue an education in the hospitality industry.

There will be a luncheon, golf outing and dinner to raise money for the fund next Monday, October 1. The luncheon will start at noon at the Pine Hill Golf Club in Pine Hill, New Jersey, followed by a day of golf and then a dinner and live auction at Prime Rib, 1701 Locust St. For details about how to participate, call 215-772-1701 or visit www.therestaurantcollection.com/Events.html.


‘Art of the City’ on display in City Hall

Art in City Hall is celebrating its 52nd exhibition for local artists since the program began in 1984. ‘Art of the City’ features the work of 39 Philadelphia area artists working in a variety of mediums. The theme of the exhibit, which runs to October 5, is artwork inspired by life in the city. Look for the display on the second and fourth floors of City Hall, northeast corner.

The 39 participating artists are: Marilyn Ashbrook (19147), Elfie Harris (19144), Richard Metz (19038), Justin Audet (19145), Kay Healy (19146), Anne Minich (19130), Karen Brown (19123), John Hollis (19144), Keiko Miyamori (19130), Laura Beamesderfer (19146), Leandre Jackson (19143), Sean O’Rourke (19130), Leroy Johnson, Adam Shuman (19119), Lois Allen (19406), Charles Ashley King (19027), Miriam Singer (19107), Morris Klein (19107), Holly E. Smith (19146), Chelsea Combs, Andrea Krupp (19125), Deborah Imler and Allen Jared Dobrosky, Elaine Moynihan (19010), Lisle Spencer (19106), Walter Edmonds (19143), Jim Ulrich (19040), April Faye (19103), David Lukens (19462), Mary Williamson (19103), Suzanne Francis (19104), Jerome Lukowicz (19106), Laura Jean Zito (19131), Marie Garafano (19083), Mike Mergen, Deborah Gross-Zuchman (19143), Mike Geno (19125), Kim Martin (19147), Louis Gribaudo (19147) and Sarah Steinwachs (19130).

For more information visit www.artincityhall.org