Archive: November, 2012
Thanksgiving Eve releases for special brews are kind of a newish tradition for Victory, and 2012 brings a new one: They've dubbed Wednesday, Nov. 21 "Red Wednesday" in honor of their new Red Thunder.
The guest of honor at the Red Wednesday festivities is Victory's debut wine barrel-aged offering—their Baltic Thunder porter, aged for three months in red wine barrels. The brewers at Victory describe the result as a "rich, fruity final product," which is pretty intriguing compared to our taste recall of the original beer, which is rich and chocolatey.
While the beer will be distributed (in large format bottles) more widely moving forward, Red Wednesday brings with it some perks beyond the mere appeal of being there for opening day. At their Downingtown brewery (420 Acorn Ln.) you'll be able to sample Red Thunder before you buy, buy growler fills of it or any other Victory beer you've got your eye on for Thanksgiving, and buy the new release by the bottle or case ($8 for a 750ml bottle, $84 for a case of 12).
And to entice early risers, they're even opening at the crack of 8 a.m. and rolling out breakfast service. They suggest reservations if you do plan on bringing a group for breakfast (call 610-873-0881). Here's what you can choose from to pair with your first beer(s) of the day:
Spinach, Mushroom and Feta Quiche
Scrambled Eggs with Bacon or Sausage and Home Fries
Stuffed Cornflake French Toast with Blackberry Compote, Butter and Maple Syrup
English Muffin Sticky Buns
David Ralic, whose Ralic's on South seafood concept/sports bar we've been following since May, has landed not only a chef in John Anninos but also a fisherman. Anninos worked on a commercial fishing boat in '08 and '09, hooking specimens up and down the coasts of North and South America after running the Morning Catch in Aubudon, NJ for five years. (Closer to home, he's also cooked at Striped Bass and Le Bec under Bibou's Pierre Calmels.) That fresh-out-of-the-water mentality will inform the "shore-style" menu at Ralic's. Think oyster shooters, butter-poached lobster Capreses, house-made crab ravioli and more. No exact opening date has been set, but word is early December.
Around our Thanksgiving table, innovation tends to be met with a lot of resistance. There will be no chili-lime-rubbed turkeys or truffled mashed potatoes where we're sitting on the 22nd. But maybe your family is more diverse and less close-minded, maybe you're cooking for the first time and open to setting your own traditions, or maybe you're just looking for something new to sneak onto the table alongside all the standards.
If so, sides and desserts are where your scheming gaze is likely to fall. And The Sides Project, a new ebook from Tony Aizzi (of WorkShop Kitchen, a Philly-based consulting and publishing company), could definitely help. The book tackles sides and desserts (plus cocktails!), broken down by regions of the U.S.—so you can host an all Southwestern feast, or pull one dish from each locale for a pan-American theme.
Recipes range from buttermilk smashed yukon golds to a dressing of tortillas, hatch chilis, and chorizo, so it's unlikely you won't find something useful within. At the very least, you should be able to sneak a pan of Holy Trinity Cornbread laced with tasso onto the table next to the obligatory green bean casserole.
The ebook, which is $3.99, can be purchased here; you can also check out some sample pages before you buy. See the full recipe listing here, and Esquire has a Brussels sprouts recipe from the book here.
Fans of chicken joint Rotisseur (102 S. 21st St.)—and we count ourselves among them, drooling pitifully over their near-daily bread pudding snapshots on Twitter—might question the need for a makeover, but don't fret: the news is more about awesome new additions than a head-to-toe overhaul.
First things first: your favorite bánh mì or quarter dark combo need no longer be just a weekday treat, as they've added Saturday hours. Now, the shop is open from noon to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. And you'll probably note the new logo and interior design off the bat—but there are changes coming to the back of the house, too.
Owner Aaron Matzkin's installed a new fixture in his open kitchen: chef John Kasenchak, Philly native and former Sous at Tinto and Village Whiskey (he's also worked for Chris Scarduzio, and did a stint in San Diego). For now, you can admire his influence on their new fall sides and desserts, like Brussels sprouts larded with Benton's hickory-smoked bacon, glazed carrots with ginger, warm farro salad with currants, and an apple crumble.
Sounds like some more changes are in the works, too—for one, meals are becoming more customizable, as you can now decide if you want one, two, or three sides with your chicken. And keep an eye out for some new additions coming up in short order: notably, the addition of green salads and a couple of new bánh mì options.
A cookbook release party, an all-encompassing tasting at Matyson, a new take on "healthful" sodas, and sage advice from Pépin for your Turkey Day bird: all on today's Afternoon Snacks!
In Philly, Allagash Brewing is well-known and well-loved, so it’s not crazy that they’d choose our city to host the first release party for their new cookbook. Allagash: The Cookbook (Blue Tree) features about 50 recipes designed to pair with their beers; only a few recipes actually call for you to cook with the beer. Chef Jonny Mac and his crew will prepare a pair of dishes from the cookbook (smoked pork loin for one, fried oysters for another) for the party, and there will be four Allagash offerings on tap to go with: White, Smoke and Beards, Hugh Malone, and peppery Fluxus ’12. And, of course, you can buy the book there if you’re so moved—you can even have it signed by the Allagash VIPs that will be on hand (founder/brewer Rob Tod, rep Suzy Woods, cookbook author James Simpkins, and photographer Brian Smestad). The party starts at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Nov. 13, at Pub and Kitchen (1946 Lombard St.).
There's one surefire way to make a gastronome happy: don't ask them to choose. X and Y? Yes, please and thank you! So yeah, the notion of five courses, plus passed hor d'oeuvres, plus beer and wine pairings at Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South St.) might've made our eyes light up just a bit.
The dinner in question is next Tuesday, Nov. 20, and it reflects a joint effort between the Brauhaus team, Mike Solomonov, and sommelier Marnie Old, author of He Said Beer, She Said Wine. It's $75 per person (you can reserve at CityEats, but don't have to pay in advance) inclusive of pairings. We're excited to see chestnut-stuffed maultaschen on the menu, but the chicken liver schnitzel "BLT" style and a malted pot de crème definitely sweeten the pot.
Kensington and South Philly both have food co-ops in the works from groups aiming to expand food options and availability in their neighborhoods. Of course, member-supported and -run groceries need more than just retail space: they need members! A couple of upcoming events—both dangling the promise of free pizza, like a dorm RA trying to get freshmen to show up to a floor meeting—aim to teach you more and sign you up.
First up, Pizza Brain and Little Baby's (2311-2313 Frankford Ave.) are joining up with Kensington Food Co-op tomorrow, Nov. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. Narragansett will be pouring beer, you can score a slice and a scoop for just $5, and of course you'll learn everything you could possibly want to know about the planned co-op. Anyone who signs up on the spot will get a free pizza from Pizza Brain. (You can RSVP for the event on Facebook or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Next, Nomad Pizza (611 S. 7th St.) is hosting South Philly Food Co-op this Wednesday, Nov. 14, for pizza and a movie. Starting at 7 p.m., the night features a free screening of the anti-fracking doc Dear Governer Cuomo. The Co-op folks will be on hand to answer all of your questions, and Nomad is offering a free margherita pizza to anyone who signs up that evening.
Georges Perrier may have given up his Le Bec Fin dynasty, but he hasn’t lost his taste for cooking or his passion for whisking. Ask his old pal Al Paris (above, left), Perrier’s one-time neighbor (Walnut Street’s towering Circa) and the current owner/chef of Chestnut Hill’s Heirloom, with whom the French master will pair for a collaborative dinner—the first of a series that will feature chefs who have played significant roles in Philadelphia's recent culinary history—this Wednesday.
After owning and roaming through the kitchens of Oberon (French), Mantra (Asian), Bombino’s (Italian) and Zanzibar Blue (Southern), Paris is in his element at Heirloom, what with its proximity to area farms and noted foragers and his head “in just that perfect place” for uniquely dynamic takes on duck confit, venison and crab cakes. “The synergy is amazing here,” says Paris.
Perfect and amazing enough to start welcoming guest chefs such as Perrier, a chef that Paris was introduced to through an association with old-guard French master René Verdon at Le Trianon in San Francisco. “I used to cook in his kitchen and he’d tell me stories about working for JFK. I trusted him. So when I told him that I wanted to get back to my home in Philadelphia, Rene told me to look up the 'little French man.'" Paris got a formal introduction to Perrier through Verdon, and the two became fast friends. When Perrier wrote the Le Bec cookbook in 1997, he launched it at one of Paris’ spots, Rococo. “He’s royalty,” says Paris.
It’s not just about their friendship at this dinner at Heirloom. Instead, Paris says it is about the lineage of the cuisine, the heritage. “He’s the real deal, a master of the gastronomy. I respect him and what he wanted to do.” Some of the items on the menu are in Perrier’s 1997 book, some old favorites from his repertoire. Paris’ contributions are accents to the French chef’s items—a Sea Urchin Cream to Perrier’s Scallop and Shrimp Mousse, for example. “He had input on my venison with that cranberry compote. It was easy.” (Talking about the menu, Paris is most attracted to the squab dish, “so simple and so complex at the same time, so Perrier”).
The $125 six-course feast is scheduled for Wednesday, November 14th at Heirloom (8705 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill). The dinner is sold out, save for two seats at the 9:00 p.m. seating, which are being auctioned off to benefit The Food Trust. If you'd like to place a bid, you can do so here.
All-you-can-eat dinners for a great cause, a preview of the newest Bourdain-Chang project, and a look at food styling on the set of Top Chef, all on today's Afternoon Snacks!
Next week will see a pair of charitable meals hosted by the Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network: it’s their 14th Annual Empty Bowl Dinner, and you’ve got two chances to join in. The first meal is on Mon., Nov. 12 at Arcadia University, and the next on Wed., Nov. 14 at Chestnut Hill College. You get to select your own unique bowl (crafted by local artists) and fill it from an AYCE buffet of soups, plus lots of breads and desserts—at the end of the night, you take the bowl home with you as a reminder of the 1,000 Philadelphia families who often go without, and who your donation will serve to help. All of the food comes courtesy of local restaurants and bakeries, including Ants Pants Café, Sang Kee, and Chestnut Hill Bredenbeck’s, amongst many others. Tickets are $20 ($8 for students and kids) and can be purchased here.
Next Saturday, Nov. 17th, West Philly-based Urban Tree Connection/Neighborhood Foods is hosting a three-course dinner at Rembrandt's (23rd & Aspen) to celebrate their end-of-season harvest and raise funds for 2013. The program specializes in low-income community outreach and revitalization through urban agriculture, turning vacant lots in West Philly into lush edible gardens. The Rembrandt's dinner will feature produce from Urban Tree's main site; no menu set yet, but there will choices for each course. Contact Dylan Baird for tickets at 240-350-3067.
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