Posted April 30th, 2007 | Events, Food for the Soul

First, sorry for taking so long to blog! I’ve been kinda’ busy moving from here to there.

This past week I had the privilege to visit the Sophmore Class of Kennedy Catholic High School within the Diocese of Erie, PA. It’s my second visit to this fantastic High School. Our theme of the Retreat was keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. The 70 young people seemed to enjoy themselves and I sure had a great time with them! We prayed, had some sharing opportunities; I did two presentations, offered Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There were several priests who came to assist with confessions as well as faculty members to lead small groups. It was a great day!

While I was there, I had the opportunity to visit with Fr. Stephen Schreiber, the chaplain of the HS and classmate of mine from the North American College in Rome. Fr. Schreiber also treated me to a local restaurant for some great food! Here’s my review of the Springfield Grill Restaurant off of Perry Highway in Mercer, PA.

The Springfield Grill is owned and operated by the McKinley Family. They own several other restaurants in the area, each with a different venue. This particular restaurant had a well appointed and attractive dining room that had at least 20 tables of 4 seats. The cherry wood and red stained leather made you feel like you were having a meal in a classy English Hunter’s Lodge. Each wall showcased hunting and nature scenes. However, one wall in particular stood out from the rest! Fr. Schrieber and I couldn’t help notice the largest picture in the corner of the main dining room. It was of a woman who had her back to us, looking in the mirror, and laying down. Not so bad? She was also nude! So, visible to the viewer (patron) was her bare back side and the reflected image of her grimacing face in her hand held mirror. Boy, did we blush! We were told that corner table was the most popular in the house. Huh? I wondered if I would be able to stomach my food if I sat there.

But, being good priests, we focused on the more important things: FOOD! I sampled the House Speciality Appetizer, Turtle Soup. It was a thick and flavorful chili-type recipe which had (I was told) over 90 ingredients, including the meat of snapper turtle. Although I found it a bit too sweet, more than likely by the tomatoe puree or paste, I thought it had a nice flavor, and the combination of turtle meat and chicken gave the appropriate balance to take away the gamey flavors of this somewhat tough dark meat.

I also sampled this PA version of a Maryland specialty, Cream of Crab Soup. It was a much lighter broth than I was used to and I thought it could have used a little thickening agent, such as a roux or heavy cream. But the flavor was mild to showcase the backfin crab meat, which was well apportioned for a cup.

One of the main couse specials was a surf and turf – medallions of filet mignon and peeled shrimp topped with “blue fire” – a combination of blue cheese, cream and tobasco sauce. That added a nice kick to what could have been a “typical” surf and turf platter. By the end of the meal, I didn’t have much room for dessert, as travel always takes away some of my appetite. But, then again, it could have been that particular painting. At the end of the meal, our very polite waitress provided us with a very reasonable bill and the Hostess also gave us 2 certificates for a free appetizer or dessert, simply for my being a guest for the first time. I assure you, it was a fine restaurant and I hope not my last visit. Afterall, I have a certificate for a free menu item! But, now I also know where NOT to sit!

On the following Saturday, I made my way South to Arlington VA for a conference given to a group of Filipino American Catholics who are training to be lay ministers in their local parishes. It was hosted by the Arlington Diocese’s office of multicultural affairs. This group of dedicated Catholics came for a morning to get to know each other better, to learn more about the ways they can serve the church and, most importantly, to get to know Jesus Christ! Although I was a bit tired from my previous trip, and I really don’t like the congestion and traffic in that area (even on a Saturday morning), I was so pleased to see a group of people who want to serve the church! God Bless you all, and I’ll do my best to get the audio of my presentation on the website!


Fr. Leo

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