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Friday, March 25, 2016

Beacon Bits -- Sweet Tweets

#alpssweetshop: Marzipan gone! Jellybeans galore. Milk and dark chocolate eggs, bunnies, lambs, chicks and truffles—who could ask for more?
#alpssweetshop: Easter sweets. Gifts for friends. Treats for children. Munchies for all. So many choices for one day alone. Happy to know it’s here year long.
#alpssweetshop: Hollow. Solid. Filled. With nuts or not. Bite size. Large size. Baskets, boxes, plastic sleeves, tissue paper. Waiting to unwrap one at a time. 

It was another busy morning for my annual pilgrimage to Alps Sweet Shop, a family-owned Beacon business since 1922. It's the closest thing to "Seebode's", a German chocolatier and ice cream parlor in Sunset Park Brooklyn that I remember from childhood. While photos are not allowed to be taken within the Alps' store (what a shame), the website captures all of the varieties of hand-made delights that are available seasonally and for other special occasions. It's certainly a case when a picture is worth a thousand words!
Food for thought: Old fashioned traditions emerge with the crocus and daffodils at this time of the year. Chocolates and eggs. An interesting balance of protein and carbs. But what would we do without the rituals and traditions that warm our heart, bring forth sweet memories, and allow us to indulge once again in the little treats that become associated with each passing season. It's a blessing to have the opportunities to explore new venues that evoke the places that only exist in our long-term memories. It's another chance to greet the community as they seek their own perfect treats to celebrate renewal and rebirth of spring.

Dyeing Easter Eggs with Natural Materials
Collect onion skins throughout the year. Place skins into a pot, nestle the white eggs amidst them and cover with water. Boil and allow to cool in the pot before removing. The longer they sit, the darker the color. Transformative.
Blessed Easter!



Sunday, March 20, 2016

Beacon Bits -- First Sign of Spring

Yes, it's the first day of spring. And yes, there is going to be throwback winter weather with heavy, wet snowflakes falling throughout the night, which will hopefully not interfere with the budding trees that may be vulnerable to frost since they are ahead of schedule due to the mild winter. Confusing. Not really, because there really is global warming with notable changes in weather patterns, melting glaciers and disappearing permafrost and krill. But I say, bring on the white stuff. No, not the snow, but the first soft ice cream that has been resurrected in time for the spring holidays. It's my first sign of spring! Not the impending opening day of baseball season, March Madness, or dash for the play-off teams for the Stanley Cup. It's always been the soft ice cream cone that appears before the heat of summer. And I can never resist its temptation.

Medium vanilla soft ice cream, $2.50
So Beacon is lucky to have its own family-run business, Ron's Ice Cream, on the corner of Route 52 (Fishkill Avenue) and Brayburn Avenue, conveniently located across from Memorial Park and children's playground and the dog park. Ron's is 'pre-Dia' and while it is a little ways off the beaten path, it has been in business since 2000. On the surface it appears, unassuming and plain. But it is classic Americana with a very basic offering; an offering that is always a crowd pleaser, capable of gathering families, and individuals from cross-cultural and multi-generational backgrounds to convene at the same place and same time. It's where the 99% and 1% can actually meet; an increasingly important event in our communities.

An early start means there is no waiting, no lines
Food for thought: In confusing times, it is always good to have something basic to return to for a touchstone. In this election year, we may want to meet and greet friends over ice cream to avoid some of the tense conversations about all things political. It may be a good alternative for cooling down the inevitable heated debates in the coming month with the New York primary on its way on April 19th. Choosing between cone and cup, soft or hand-packed, large or small, may be the perfect antidote to some of the choices that maybe be so difficult that some people may opt out. It's never good to opt out.....of ice cream and choice.

Another choice on the way --  Zora Dora opens the weekend of April 2nd-3rd!
There's something for everyone.