Unfortunately, we couldn't hook up with Rebecca Wright before our Fringe issue came out, but we were so intrigued by Inside Julia Child that we couldn't resist a chat with the director, who also has a show called It's Hard Times at the Camera Blanca ' about circus performers during an economic recession ' going up at this year's Fringe.
City Paper: What's the thrust of this show?
Rebecca Wright: It's actually of a re-enactment of The French Chef, which was Julia Child's cooking show. It's the tart tatin, an apple tart, episode. He [John Jarboe] re-enacts the episode but it gets interrupted at three distinct moments from inner monologue, which is composed of Julia Child's writing. We did all this research so it's from Julia's writings. The monologues get more extended and intense and between all of them Julia goes back to to doing the TV show and making the tart.
CP: Why choose a man to play Julia Child?
RW: The actor John Jarboe ' the project came from conversations we were having. We generated it from scratch and he was always a part of it. There's something about her amazing attitude, especially when it comes to challenges and mistakes and failures. She also overcame so many obstacles and so many stereotypes. We wanted to make a show about Julia Child and failure, or imperfection is a better way of saying it. And that's a universal thing ' something experienced by men and women. So it's partly to universalize it and partly to make some disjoint in the show.
CP: Is her attitude what attracted you to Julia Child in the first place?
RW: That attitude, that working can-do attitude. Have you ever seen her old TV shows? She's an amazing performer. She seems really awkward and she makes mistakes all the time but she makes jokes about it. The first time I sat down to watch it, I thought, this is the worst performer ever ' she mumbles and stutters. But she's so great and so compelling because she loves what she's doing. She's understands it deeply and wants to communicate it.
CP: And what about the tart?
RW: Look, you can say a lot of things about this but it's half an hour long, it's $5 and you can get to eat at the end.
Inside Julia Child, Sat., Sept 5, Mon., Sept. 7, 9 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 6, 10 p.m.; $5, Philly Kitchen Share, 1514 South St.
I have a habit of buying produce I don’t recognize. Sometimes it works out, and my Buddha hand lemon is both a pretty garnish and centerpiece. Sometimes my Monstera deliciosa takes over the kitchen and scares me out of eating it. I’m declaring pluots, my latest fruit find, a success.
A cross between a plum and an apricot, the pluot is a patented hybrid created by biologist Floyd Zaiger. Although it’s not particularly attractive (I think it looks like a dinosaur egg; nectarine reviewer Pat Rapa says skeeball) the plout is at least as tasty as its parent fruits. It’s much larger than a plum (think a big peach, but not a giant peach) and sweeter, with an unusually firm texture. As arts editor and fellow pluot taste tester Carolyn Huckabay noticed, the unexpectedly bright red flesh looks like a beating heart. For best results, take a big, creepy bite and hold up your wounded pluot triumphantly.
I found my pluots at the Beechwood Orchards stand at Headhouse Farmers Market, but I've also seen them at Whole Foods and Trader Joes.
|snapped by monica|
|Photo | Tami Fertig|
|Not the same.|
Eating a new fruit.
I always kinda knew that figs were not just Fig Newtons, but if you asked me, what's a fig? I might still point to a Newton and explain that it's a crumbly cookie envelope containing a moist, sticky jam. Then I saw a little box of real figs — fresh figs — at the Fitler Square farmers market (every Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.), and they didn't look or taste anything like the kind from the box.
Imagine, instead, a sleek, pink-ish, yellow-ish blob (or just look to your right). The folks at Wilmington, Del.'s Highland Orchards sell four or five of them for $5 and recommend just washing them and popping them in your mouth (provided they are soft and ripe, which they were). I followed these instructions and experienced a variety of textures: the gooier-than-Newton insides; the crunchy seeds; the thin, silky skin. Tasted a bit like a peach or a plum, only much sweeter.
Though figs were one of the first fruits recognized as yummy to humans (remnants have been found in sites dating back to at least 5,000 B.C.), fresh ones are not sold so frequently anymore. Part of the reason is they're extremely perishable (eat them within one or two days of buying them, or else!). Of course, you can always preserve them — get helpful tips here — or bake a batch of newtons yourself.
Too many heath benefits to list here, but it's worth mentioning that figs have a whole freaking lot of fiber, which could be very good or very inconvenient, depending on the rest of your diet. Anyhoo. People also say they've got aphrodisiac qualities because of the way their insides look. And how do they look, you ask? You'll have to eat one to find out.
|Photo: Matthew Brady|
Picked up this green garlic ($2) at the Sunday Headhouse farmers' market a few weeks back. The ridiculously nice folks at Queens Farm — Ed and Xiuqin Yin — sell it in too-much-for-one-person bunches, along with beautifully arranged shiitake and oyster mushrooms, edamame and Chinese dill.
Green garlic, which is basically just garlic harvested early, tastes much milder than its grown-up counterpart. It looks like a scallion, only with a cute little pink bulb (and equally adorable tufts of straw) at the bottom. Ed suggests eating the whole thing, stem and all, in a stir-fry. Just to warn you, the stem gets a little limp and brown-ish after a couple days in the fridge, so have a garlic party! This New York Times article from May offers all sorts of recipes like linguine with green garlic clam sauce and artichokes with green garlic dip, none of which I tried. Instead, I added a few babies to a recipe (miso stew packed with sea veggies) that calls for regular old garlic. Amazingly, the stuff did not leave its trademark room-clearing scent on my fingers or knife, and the meal was quite yummy, if a little sweet.
A vegetable to remember
Two weeks ago, we showed you some weird veggies.
Now that farmers markets are popping up all over the place (read more about 'em here), we figured it'd be a good time to introduce y'all to more not-so-identifiable stuff. Check back here every Monday for reports on whatever we ate over the weekend. (Yeah, yeah, today's Wednesday. Forgive and forget.)
So, anyway, that's Tokyo Bekana up above. Picked up a bunch from Weavers Way Farm at Sunday's Headhouse farmers market (10 a.m.-2 p.m., Second and Lombard streets) for under two bucks. It's basically the Japanese version of baby bok choy (aka Chinese cabbage), a bitter-ish leafy green that benefits from a little garlic and soy sauce. Farmer Dave Zelov suggests sauteing it. You can also stick it in soups and salads raw, just make sure to wash this baby really well. It had chunks of dirt and those little helicopter seeds that twirl down from trees stuck between its stems. Cooked, it retains its satisfying crunchiness and vibrant green color. According to some Web sites, you can store it in a plastic bag in the fridge for a week, but I dunno, I'd use it right away.
The verdict? Purdy tasty, and nutritious, too. (It's a good source of calcium and vitamins C and A.)
Recipe after the jump!
Asian-Style Greens with Sesame, Ginger and Soy Sauce
4 tablespoons light sesame oil or olive oil
2 tablespoons white hulled sesame seeds
4 teaspoons peeled, minced gingerroot
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds tender Asian greens
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1. In a wide heavy saute pan or wok over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the sesame seeds and stir until they pop and become fragrant. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
2. Add the greens and 1 tablespoon soy sauce, raise the heat and cook, covered, for 1 minute. Uncover and saute for 1 or 2 minutes more, until the greens are tender but still bright green.
3. Stir in more soy sauce and vinegar to taste, and serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings
Recipe courtesy Peter Berley's The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.
It's a testament, I suppose, to how good an idea The Brewer's Plate is that the organizers can't seem to find a space to do it justice. Teaming 21 local eateries with 21 locally brewed beers in a food-and-suds-pairing extravaganza sounds a little bit like heaven — until you try to do it (and, I'd imagine, until you try to pull it off). Held in the long corridor that is the first floor of the Independence Visitors Center, the event drew a fantastic number of sampling-glass-toting attendees. Lines were long, some restaurants had begun running out of food (oh, London Grill duck wings, I never knew ye) just 45 minutes into the non-VIP portion of the evening, and it was nearly impossible to stand in one spot for even 20 seconds to sip a beer then awkwardly balance your plate to sneak a bite before someone was on your heels, trying to get to right. where. you. were. I'm told last year's, held at the Reading Terminal Market, was similarly logistically challenging.
That said, the stuff I was able to sample (before succumbing to a mild case of mob-induced claustrophobia) was delish. The Abbaye's traditional Belgian stew, all meaty and potatofied, went nicely, if not ethnically, with Sly Fox's O'Reilly's Stout. Bar Ferdinand's Nodding Head-braised pork belly with heirloom apples was a little bit divine — the pork belly was tender the the point of melting. Nodding Head's All Night Ale was the perfect complement. RX's blood orange-infused cheddar polenta with rice and plantain chips was a heady combo with Dock Street's St. Alban's ale. And Sidecar's Cajun boudin with red beans and rice was a nice finisher, as Cricket Hill's APA proved yeoman. I'd have loved to have tried more — the line for the Rose Tattoo's oysters and Weyerbacher's Climax Extra Special Bitter extended nearly the length of the venue — but logistics dictated otherwise.
As the scene dwindled, I grabbed from the Franklin Fountain booth a root beer float made with, get this, beer-flavored ice cream, and bolted for the exit, hoping to enjoy my sudsy dessert en route home. However, since the ice cream contained actual beer, and was thus technically an alcoholic beverage, was not allowed to leave the premises with it. A quick sip — tasty but a little weird — and I was out the door and able to breathe again.
I'm no event planner, but given the event's turnout (as it really is a magnificent showcase of Philly's burgeoning restaurant and brewing scenes), may I suggest that next year's be held in a room that's just a little bit more square, and with a few more high-top tables. It's nice to be able to stand and enjoy beer and a bite, if only for a minute.
More photos after the jump:
|Photo | Brian Howard
|The Abbaye's Belgian stew (top) and Bar Ferdinand's Nodding Head-braised pork belly with heirloom apples.|
I know this was event was over a week ago, but I just got the pictures and they tell the story better than my words do - so excuse my tardiness... I love food. I love men. I love community involvement. So, it all made sense that I'd be really happy at the 16th Annual Philly's Men Are Cookin' event, which has over 100 men dishing up and serving their favorite creations, family secret goodies, or classic foods with a little personal spin. Sweet, eh? It gets even sweeter when you factor in the reason for the celebration, which is to raise funds for a scholarship program for local youth through the Ivy Legacy Foundation, an organization created by members of the Rho Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. We strolled into the National Constitution Center with expandable clothes that hid our empty bellies that were aching to be full. We got our little plates and started downstairs. My first few dishes consisted of Cuban chicken and rice (my favorite) crispy whiting fish (my second favorite), jerk chicken wings, seafood salad, and lots of Thanksgiving inspired dishes including something called turkey crack (like tuna salad, but turkey), fried turkey, sweet baked turkey, about 3 different version of macaroni and cheese, corn stuffing, pineapple stuffing (yum) and collard greens. Upstairs was more of the same, but that is where I chose to explore the deserts including whiskey balls (strong and deadly), cookies, fresh baked muffins, crepes, peach cobbler, pies, chocolate cake, brownies, bread pudding and more. Upstairs is also where we found some chefs making drinks including rum punch, apple martinis, and a kiwi/strawberry/lemonade drink from cooks that wouldn't reveal what the hell we were actually drinking (see picture of men with ? shirts on). The room was full of beautiful and caring people including notables like honorary co-chairs Patty Jackson (WDAS) and Dr. Keith Leaphert, Chef Colby Colb (100.3 The Beat), who had some mean marmalade wings and Chef Senator Anthony Williams, who I THINK had some type of spaghetti. I was full by the time I saw his station. A nice element came through the youth volunteers that were buzzing around. Seeing that kind of brought the event full circle. It is also worth mentioning there was a live band there to provide a little intimate soundtrack to the evening. When we left some stations still had quite a bit of food, which I hope found a good home. If you missed it, here are some pictures to make you feel like you were there...well...kind of! With the city's murder rate still climbing, it was nice to not only see positive males volunteering their time and chef skills, but also an organization that is doing what they can to curb the violence. And of course, it is not too late to donate.
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