This half of Team Meal Ticket is taking a little trip to Los Angeles starting this Wednesday. I pray that I do not run into either of these psychotic broads. Also, I'm hoping to eat and drink a lot of good things. If you've got a spot I should check out, leave it in the comments! I'll be sure to check back in next week with a full recap of the trip. That is, if I am not eaten by a demonic mud-caked homeless man who lives in a dumpster behind Winkies Diner.
|Become a novice Itame (sushi chef) at Otolith|
This Saturday, March 21, you can learn to make sushi at home with Otolith's Amanda Bossard, using only sustainably caught seafood.
Bossard's novice sushi-rolling winter session concluded on March 7, and she is progressing onto intermediate work.ï¿½ Classes are held on the first and third Saturday of every month. "I whipped up a program for people who are pure novices, or had maybe attended a class or rolled sushi at home," Bossard explained. "I'm hoping as the students progress, we can move on to crazy fun things." She pauses. "Provided I have the liability insurance to hand out that many sharp knives."
This week's class will focus on rolling maki with king salmon, king crab and sweet pink shrimp, all wild-caught from unthreatened fish populations.
Otolith's entire raison d'etre is to provide consumers with fish that is environmentally responsible. When asked about farmed fish, Bossard noted that wild-caught does not always equal sustainable. "We look at them both [wild-caught and farmed fish] as extremely challenging, requiring oversight and responsible managing."
"It's easier to characterize certain wild-caught fish as sustainable," she said,ï¿½ "But fifty percent of seafood consumed is farmed.ï¿½ It's not something that is going away, so we have to find ways to farm fish better.ï¿½ There can be no world without it."
Otolith sushi classes are held every first and third Saturday, 7-9 p.m., $25; 124 W. Girard Ave., 215-426-4266, otolithonline.com
|The upstairs lanes at Paul's Bar & Bowling, Paterson, NJ|
|All Photos l Michael Perscio|
Paterson, the third largest city in New Jersey, is the original melting pot. Irish, Germans, Dutch and Jews were the earliest immigrants to the region, followed by influxes of Italians and Eastern Europeans. Syrian and Lebanese populations arrived as early at 1890. Paterson is home to communities of Dominican, Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Columbian and Central American immigrants, many of whom are second- and third-generation Americans.
This collision of diverse cultures is in evidence at one of Paterson's oldest continuously operated public houses, Paul's Bar & Bowling. Current owner Paul Awramko's grandfather opened the business in 1929 as a bowling alley, while he simultaneously worked as a horse-and-wagon iceman. Success selling beer from his cooler inspired him to add a tavern to the alley at the end of Prohibition, in 1933.
P.A., as he is known, started running the family business at the age of 21. He and his brothers took over day-to-day operations when their father passed away in 1969, though he does earnestly say, "The bar belonged to Mom. She was the boss."
Like the plurality of cultures living in Paterson, Paul's Bar has a diversity of entertainments. Bowlers roll in the original bi-level lanes, complete with the automatic Brunswick Crown pinsetters installed in 1968. When bands play in the corner, bowling is free from 8 p.m. to midnight. The talented and the intoxicated take over the mic for karaoke to raucous cheers and applause. A New Jersey lottery machine squats next to a Jaegermeister dispenser, the pair offering either multi-million dollar chances or ice-cold shots of liquor as blackly green as the mildew in Satan's shower stall. For those seeking a sure thing, the food that emerges from the closet-sized kitchen is the biggest winner.
Pierogies stuffed with cheese and potato are seared and covered in sweet caramelized onions, accompanied by sour cream. Wings are deep-fried and served with sauce on the side — but the crisp, snapping exterior conceals bright white meat so flavorful it needs no dressing. Sliced spicy sausages and sautéed peppers recall dinner at an Italian grandmother's house. A plate of mozzarella and gravy-doused "Tina Fries" gives a dirty Jerz raspberry to lame disco fry imitators.
P.A. said he couldn't say where the seemingly random menu items originated. "Mom cooked, but we got the good pierogie connections from our Eastern European customers," he said. "We hired a couple of cute Polish girls to work, and they said, yeah, those are the right ones, put them on the menu!"
We never argue with cute Polish girls, and neither does P.A. From the superlative pub grub to the pencils and basic math skills required to score your bowling game by hand, Paul's Bar & Bowling is just like its 1968 pinsetter. In the words of P.A., it's "everything original — not retro."
Paul's Bar & Bowling, 377 Crooks Ave., Paterson, N.J.; 973-278-1982; Open daily, 11 a.m.-3 a.m
|Cheeses of Piemonte at Osteria|
Any serious home cook who has tasted the wild boar ragu with chestnut fettuccine at Vetri knows that the waves of happiness that run from the tongue to the brain are accompanied by a a lime-green passenger: envy. Though intellectually you know chef Marc Vetri spent years honing his craft, in Italy no less, slavishly rolling pasta until he could spin out perfect sheets, you jealously wonder why you never took the time to learn this transcendent practice.
Your chance to quit coveting and start rolling has arrived: The prep kitchen at Osteria has been converted into a culinary school, and lessons on pasta making, pizza making, wine tastings and cheese classes are set to start. In addition to learning from masters of Italian cuisine Vetri and Jeff Michaud, guest chefs and winemakers will be visiting to share their expertise. For those who can eat without envy, simply choose a theme and allow Vetri or Michaud to cook for your group, while you host and hold forth like a bon vivant.
Call or e-mail Osteria for more information: 215-763-0920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year, one of the most happening events of Philly Beer Week was Meet The Brewer. Bars all over the city hosted brewers from far and wide, and many of the brewmasters toted along new or rare beers for those to came out to hang with them. As often happens at these things, a few beers turned into many shots of tequila and some of us ended up staggering home as the sun came up over the Delaware.
Barring the potential for debauchery, the events are a prime opportunity to grill these guys (and a few ladies) on what goes in their beer. Wondering why Rob Tod chose to age his Allagash Curieux in Jim Beam barrels? Dying to know if there's a Belgian yeast in Larry Bell's Two-Hearted? This is your shot. You don't have to buy ticket to many of these things, either, which makes them suitable for a quick glass and chat, or hop your way across the grid sampling everyone's offerings. Shots of tequila at dawn are optional (but bloody likely).
A full day-by-day schedule is available at PhillyBeerWeek.org; there are already 176 events listed as of Jan. 28, with more on assuredly on the way. Full details for each listed event listed below are here.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Luncheon with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head at Teresa's Cafe & Next Door in Wayne, 12:30 p.m. Sam, the defining brewer rockstar, boasts more groupies than David Lee Roth ever did in his prime; watch them gasp and fawn over the man at this suburban beer destination.
Bill Covaleski of Victory Brewing will appear at The Four Seasons at 5 p.m., so if you crave swank surroundings with your award-winning Prima Pils or Old Horizontal, check him out here.
Young buck Casey Hughes of Flying Fish is at Johnny Brenda's all-draft haven at 5 p.m. Bet he'll take over their two beer engines with something unusual.
Southwark is better known for slow food and classic cocktails, but they maintain a bitchin' beer list, as well. Brian O'Reilly from Sly Fox Brewing will be appearing at the beautiful bar at 5 p.m.
The lovely, luminous Hildegard Van Ostaden is one of Europe's few prominent bruesters (female brewers). Her Urthel line of beers will thrill your tastebuds while Hildegard charms your socks off, at Monk's Café at 6 p.m.
Local boy Tom Kehoe of Yards Brewing gets really, really old school at the City Tavern, 6 p.m. Yards' line of beers based on historical recipes by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington should moisten your throat for some revolutionary-style debate.
Carol Stoudt, one of the originators of the craft beer movement in PA at Stoudt's Brewing, shares her stories of 20 years spent shoveling out the mash tun, at McGillin's Old Ale House, 6 p.m.
The big boys from Stone Brewing in Escondido, California are on hand for a dinner at Gullifty's on the Main Line, 7 p.m. Begin training with high IBU pale ales now if you expect to come out on the other end of this event without your tongue burned off from hops.
Adam Avery of Avery Brewing in Colorado ventures down P'unk Ave. to the P.O.P.E. at 9 p.m. He's another one that attracts hordes of female fans; no wonder he and Sam get on so well. Oh, and his beers are pretty good, too.
Rudi Ghequire of Rodenbach brews the number one oak-aged Flemish sour in the world, Rodenbach Grand Cru. He'll be on hand to talk about this refreshing heritage style at 11 p.m. at Monk's.
This is just one day of Meet The Brewer events. Click over to PhillyBeerWeek.org for sooo many more.
|All Photos l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
On the first day of the new year, Dianna Marder, food columnist for the Inquirer, featured a story on Collegeville resident Mike D. Marino's annual free, open-to-the-public game luncheon. On the menu? Local venison and fish, along with a few escapee sheep caught by the Evansville game warden. "Though some game meats [like venison] are higher in dietary cholesterol, the combination of more lean muscle tissue, less saturated fat, and a significantly higher percentage of cholesterol-reducing polyunsaturated fatty acids make game meats a heart-healthy choice," states the nutritional information page for the Web site Gunner's Den, a hunting gun reference site.
D'Angelo Bros. Meat Market on Ninth Street has been selling a variety of game and exotic meats for more than 70 years. In addition to boasting what they claim to be the largest selection of game meats in the country, the white-tiled shop also carries 40 types of sausage and eight varieties of paté. If Mike Marino's recipe for venison chili with lemon, beans and tomato sauce piques your fancy, stop by D'Angelo's for 2 pounds of ground Bambi and have at it.
D'Angelo Bros. Meat Market, 909 S. Ninth St., 215-923-5637, dangelobros.com
|Troegs brewery manager Ed Yashinsky bags in the brewery gift shop. A few remaining |
bottles of Mad Elf are still available here. "Buy it when you see it!" he advises
Mad Elf enthusiasts.
|Photo | James Saul|
As those New Year's hangovers finally subside, we regret to inform you that the Tröegs Mad Elf is gone for 2008. Yes, that ho-ho hobgoblin has completed his annual mission of merriment, retreating to his secret cave on the banks of the Susquehanna River until next year. "Whatever's out there is what's left," says Troegs co-owner Chris Trogner. "We brew a little bit more each year, but the batches are very limited."
Fortunately, Tröegs Nugget Nectar will be shipping in about two weeks, so at least we'll have that deeeelicious imperial amber ale to carry us through till spring. If you're ever in the Harrisburg area, a visit to the brewery promises samples, growlers (BYO or buy one there) and the potential of a free tour on Saturdays.
Tröegs Brewing Company Tasting Room open Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sat., noon-4 p.m.; brewery tours Saturdays at 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. 800 Paxton St., Harrisburg, 717-232-1297, troegs.com
|Jason Fitterer pours a sampler tray in the Troegs tasting room. Six bucks gets you six|
samples of the brewery's latest offerings.
|Photo | James Saul|
|All Photos l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
Every year on Christmas Eve, just before dawn has defrosted the cracked sidewalks of South Philly, a line gathers in the sugar-scented darkness outside Termini Bros. (1523 S. Eighth St., 215-334-1816, termini.com).
The seekers converge to wait patiently for their freshly made Christmas cassata cakes and ricotta cannoli, pignoli cookies and crunchy almond amaretti. The white-coated Termini staff, who wear the faintly expectant smiles of those surviving the annual storm that precedes bonus time and a day off, collect orders and tie stiff paperboard boxes with baker's string with unchoreographed grace and efficiency.
|Sfogliatelle (say it with me like we do in Souf Philly, schee-a-dell), a clamshell-shaped |
pastry filled with ricotta cream.
The Termini family has been crafting the most sought-after cannoli and other classic Italian pastry since 1928, when Giuseppe and Geatano Termini opened their original tiny store, now Mr. Joe's Café (1514 S. Eighth St., 215-334-1414). Vince Termini opened Mr. Joe's as a tribute to his father, and a way of honoring the physical place where his family began their journey in the United States. Just across the street from the neon-signed flagship Termini Bros., Mr. Joe's serves short intense espresso, homey gnocchi bolognese and pasta fagioli, as well as a few select Termini sweet treats.
On Christmas Eve, the long history of the Termini clan is served to the cheerfully waiting customers, along with a free cannoli and crisp amaretti pushed across the counter with old-world charm.
|The next generation, hard at work.|
Lots more drool-inducing photos after the jump.
Shiny, shiny fruit tarts.
|Felicia and mom Catherine, inexpertly constructing their Christmas Eve |
breakfast ... of cannoli.
|Or we'll cut off your thumbs, Christmas or no.|
|A neon beacon calls the faithful.|
|Workin' it on Christmas vacation.|
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a lollapalooza as "something outstanding of its kind." As far as Hanukkah events go, you can't get much more outstanding than Latkepalooza.
The spudly event is held every year at the Gershman Y on Broad Street, and celebrates Hanukkah by serving upwards of 3,000 potato pancakes (latkes) to more than 500 adults and children. Chefs from restaurants spanning the city join in the fun, preparing their own versions of the traditional holiday treat. This year, representatives from Zahav, Bar Ferdinand, Rae, Estia, Jones, Singapore Chinese Vegetarian, Sabrina's, Whole Foods, Cabot Cheese, Kildaire's, Las Bugambilias, Max & David's and more will be cooking.
In addition to a mountain of oil-fried pancakes, there will be entertainment by Neshirah, the Jewish Chorale of Greater Philadelphia, as well as face painting, arts and crafts, a clown and a magician.
Latkes and other foods fried in oil are the traditional foods of Hanukkah. They represent the small amount of consecrated olive oil that miraculously burned for eight days and nights while the Second Temple of Jerusalem was rededicated at the time of the Maccabean revolt in the second century BCE.
Latkepalooza, Sun., Dec. 14, 2-4 p.m., $10 for children 6-12 and $15 for adults, Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St., 215-446-3012, gershmanY.org
Procession of S. Domenico, 1913-1928
The story goes like this: In the little town of Cocullo, in the province of L'Aquila, Abruzzi, there dwell the serpari. These charmed descendants of Circe may handle the deadly biting vipers of Abruzzi with absolute impunity.
Catholic tradition is overlaid onto ancient pagan rites in the annual Procession of San Domenico in Cocullo, which simultaneously honors San Domenico and the powers of the serpari in a weird melding of magic and devotion.
The townspeople and serpari gather to drape the statue of San Domenico with live snakes, parading from the church down the main drag, imploring for protection from toothaches, snake bites and the bites of rabid dogs.
The first recorded procession in Cocullo took place in 1392, and has traditionally been accompanied by pizzelle, the crisp, wafer-like sugar cookie native to Abruzzi.
Though the procession of San Domenico takes place in the first week in May, Italian-Americans generally associate the cookies with Christmas and Easter.
Pizzelle are typically flavored with anise or fennel seeds, vanilla or citrus zest, and are baked in task-specific irons held over a stove top or newfangled electric models. The irons turn out two or three thin cookies at a time and require a fast hand and grandmother-like patience and timing.
For those without the iron or inclination to bake their own, quality pizzelle are turned out by a number of local bakeries. In descending order of notoriety:
Termini's Bakery (multiple locations, termini.com) sells stacks of 10 pizzelle for $8. Their classic version contains the tiny fennel seeds so delicious and irritating to those with closely-spaced teeth.
Follow your nose to Isgro Pastries (1009 Christian St., 215-923-3092, isgropastries.com) where stacks of anise flavored pizzelle are $6.50, as well as chocolate-drizzled individuals for 50 cents each.
BellaPizzelle (1-866-858-6384, bellapizzelle.com) of Morgantown is the only pizzelle maker who will ship their delicate sweet nationwide. A stack of 20 runs $24 and arrives packaged in a giftable, reusable gold round. The mother-and-daughter team also offers a wide array of flavors, including original anise, chocolate chip and ones spiked with Frangelico or whiskey.
Farther south and less famous, but just as desirable, are Cosmi's Pastries (1221 Oregon Ave., 215-218-2000) pizzelles. A stack of 26 wafers is just $5, your choice of classic anise or nouveau chocolate.
Snap your way through a few of these, and the idea of handling the vipers of Abruzzo seems a bit less scary. Grazie mille Abruzzese e serpari!
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