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|Image courtesy of XIX (Nineteen)|
|The view from the top: one of four balconies at XIX|
Every human ï¿½ and foodie ï¿½ is of woman born. Whether mom packed your lunchbox, or an aunt, grandmother or sister played the role, every one of us has a woman to thank on Mother's Day.
Show the lady you love her with a right proper dine out ï¿½ a classically lavish brunch or Sunday dinner sans dishes and football. Since no mama wants to think she raised a stingy bastard, May 10 means white tablecloths and crystal juice glasses at a pretty venue.
If you haven't made plans yet, scope our roundup of Mother's Day destinations for every maman, mï¿½mï¿½ and mom-mom; 'cause flowers wilt in a few weeks, but the memory of a great meal lasts a lifetime.
ï¿½lï¿½gance Finale: With or without Michelin stars, Le Bec-Fin is one of the most impressive restaurants in the city. Treat mom to Georges Perrier's three-course, $50 brunch, complete with patisserie chef Jesse Prawlucki's gateaux straight from the famous dessert cart.ï¿½ Mothers can relate to the Georges' iron will and legendary work ethic ï¿½ Philly's culinary patriarch is the first person to arrive at Le Bec in the morning, and still washes dishes at the end of the night. 1523 Walnut St., 215-567-1000, lebecfin.com
Beach Chic: Chip Roman's Blackfish Stone Harbor opens Saturday, May 9 in the former Henny's Cafï¿½ space on the waterfront. Mother's Day brunch runs $40 per adult and $20 per child under 10, with stationary hors d'oeuvres like watermelon lollipops with black sea salt and corn, crab and leek fondue. A omelette station will be featured on the main buffet, accompanying poached salmon with English cucumber, French toast gratin and poached shrimp, among other selections. We've said it before and we'll say it again ï¿½ this place is guaranteed MILF city! 9628 Third Ave., Stone Harbor, N.J., 08247; 609-967-9100, blackfishrestaurant.com/blackfish_stoneharbor.html
High Class: For the first time since the 1950s, all four of the balconies at XIX (Nineteen) are open for the highest dining in the city. Reserve pronto for the sweeping view and bountiful brunch ($65 for grownups, $32 for pipsqueaks). Look for crab with hearts of palm and lemon curry dressing, ricotta-filled crepes with raisins and granny smith apples and smoked prime rib with creamed spinach and mushroom sauce. If that's not rich enough, a dessert buffet loaded with blackberry panna cotta and strawberry shortcake parfaits should finish everyone off. Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue, Broad and Walnut Streets, 215-790-1919, nineteenrestaurant.com
Mellow Yellow: Go west, young person, to Marigold Kitchen and their unbelievable $30 three-course Sunday dinner. Choosing any app, entreï¿½ and dessert from the menu means mom can create a custom prix-fixe. Try chef Erin O'Shea's oh-so-delicate halibut with roasted fennel and tomato fumet, finished up with a dessert lemon trio marrying fluffy citrus custard with homemade lemon curd and strips of candied zest. Toting your own wine makes this one of the most spectacular culinary deals in the city. 501 S. 45th St., 215-222-3699, marigoldkitchenbyob.com
Reservation Vacation: Silly Peter Woolsey! Sunday is a great dining day, so why is your Bistrot La Minette closed on the brunchiest day of the week? Lucky for the Francophile his foie gras specials, salmon tartare with lentils de puy and heavenly sweets are good enough to juggle your Mother's Day schedule around. Escape Philly by booking seats on the shaded patio for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, or gather a group for a private French family dinner around the long table. 623 S. Sixth St., 215-925-8000, bistrotlaminette.com
|Ansill Food & Wine|
Spring fever must be going to David Ansill's head, because he is waiving corkage fees for dining room guests who bring their own bottles Tuesday through Friday nights.
Try a bright, lemony cremant d'Alsace (Champagne's less-spendy cousin) to accompany oysters on the half shell with mignonette, or Ansill's signature steak tartare with quail egg and purple mustard.
Pick up one of Ansill's Stimulus Plan Coupons while you're there to receive 50 percent off your second entrï¿½e the next time you dine.
Before our fleeting spring turns into summer sweat and chef comes to his senses.
Ansill Food & Wine, 627 S. Third St., 215-627-2485, ansillfoodandwine.com
You've probably prepared to make this call at some point: Setting your alarm clock for 6:40 a.m. so you can at least have caffeine fueling your fingers, programming 610-444-8255 into the speed dial, and then holding your breath and praying your call goes through one nanosecond after 7 a.m.
It's the farmhouse dinner reservation at Talula's Table ï¿½ the single nightly table for 8 to 12 guests is booked one year in advance by the caller with the most motivation. Aimee Olexy and Bryan Sikora, the original owners of now-closed boite Django, have been turning out the most-wanted tasting menu in three counties for more than two years at their Kennett Square gourmet food shop. Frustrated diners still living without Sikora's magical gougeres and legendary goat cheese gnocchi could get a fighting chance at the table if investors step up to fund the duo's next project.
Olexy says they have just signed a temporary lease on the corner property across the street from Talula's Table, with a month-long grace period to secure funding. "We believe our dream will happen," says Olexy. "Financially, it's a little bit of a pipe dream right now, but we are in love with the space and are ready to get going. We think we could turn it around pretty quick once we have the financing ï¿½ six months, even."
The as-yet unnamed project would continue "what we know well," says Olexy. They plan for the 40- to 50-seat bistro space to have a liquor license, "though it will be more like a wine bar, vineyard-y feel. Instead of facing a bartender with liquor displayed all over, we envision little islands where a single person could dine, more like the service at a table. We're all about the food."
So if what you are truly longing for is housemade charcuterie and ramps dug by your chef just this morning (sans a nerve-wracking year-long wait), take a drive to the country to put your money where you mouth wants to go.
Talula's Table, 102 West State St., Kennett Square, 610-444-8255, talulastable.com
|Chocolate-Carmel Matzoh Crunch|
A heathen baby like myself cannot, in good conscience, write anything worth reading about Passover foods. Not only are the kosher rules more stringent during Passover (which begins at sunset April 8 and ends at nightfall on April 15 this year) but certain foods are absolutely required. Instead of some Wiki-informed prattle, here is a loving roundup of links to writers who know what the hell they're talking about, and local events worth attending.
- The wonderful Zoe Bakes blog features three desserts for Passover, including Coconut Haystack Macaroons, Chocolate-Caramel Matzoh Crunch, and three different Fruit Jellies.
- Chabad.org provides this informative list and recipes for the traditional Passover foods, including explanations of the meanings and allusions inherent to the Seder meal.
- For the uninitiated, eHow provides a simple explanation of how to conduct a Seder on the first night of Passover, and suggests resources for more detailed directions.
- Serious Eats comes up with A Beginner's Guide to Passover Coke and suggests where to find sodas sweetened with sugar, since corn syrup is banned under the "no grains" stricture of the holiday.
- If your favorite thing to make is reservations, Foobooz rounds up five spots serving traditional and twisted takes on the Seder in Philadelphia.
- Last year, Dianna Marder wrote a great article in The Inquirer on the book Pesach For The Rest of Us: Making The Passover Seder Your Own by Marge Piercy, and interviewed several Philadelphia Jewish chefs and restaurateurs.ï¿½ Marder also includes recipes for Cinnamon Roasted Lamb, Mizrachi Charoset and Alison Barshak's recipe for Chocolate Matzoh.
- If you are disinclined to prepare your own Seder but can't afford the luxe restaurant versions,ï¿½ join the free, campus-wide Seder at Houston Hall at the University of Pennsylvania, 8 p.m. on Wed., April 8. Everyone is welcome to partake in matzah, wine, a full dinner and learn about the traditions of Pesach.
Most people order tap water in restaurants. There are a delicate few who can't stand the chlorine and knowledge of the trace pharmaceuticals present, but the majority sip their Schuylkill punch without complaint.
We are fortunate in the United States to have safe, clean drinking water for pennies a gallon from the tap. Other countries do not have this luxury.ï¿½ According to the World Health Organization,ï¿½ waterborne diseases kill 3.4 million people every year, making it the leading cause of death and disease around the world. The United Nations determined that 4,000 children die every day from drinking water contaminated with raw sewage.
David Droga, creative chairman at Droga5 ad agency in New York, launched The Tap Project in 2007, as a way to allow restaurant patrons to make a donation to UNICEF's efforts to provide clean water to people ï¿½ especially children ï¿½ in developing nations. This year, during the week of March 22-28, diners at participating restaurants can donate $1 or more for the tap water they normally enjoy for free.
Participation expands beyond the boundaries of restaurants;ï¿½ by texting the word "tap" or "agua" to UNICEF (864233), you can make a $5 donation with your mobile phone. Water always finds a way to go where it wants ï¿½ The Tap Project is asking for help getting it to flow where it will make a life-or-death difference.
Find out more or locate a participating restaurant near you at TheTapProject.org
|Pabbit loves bourbon.|
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
As the second cycle of Restaurant Week(s) revs up tonight, chef Jonathan McDonald of Pub & Kitchen wants to make sure cooks, servers, bartenders and managers have something to look forward to.
P&K's late-night happy hour should soothe the jangled nerves of those who have been serving hordes of bargain-hungry RW diners — think beer, bourbon and bivalves. From Sunday through Thursday, 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., restaurant staff can hit up P&K's bar for $4 bottles of Brooklyn lager and a shot of Bulleit bourbon (one vote for new Citywide Special!), $3 draft beers and oysters on the half shell for a buck each.
The 'tenders won't even play 20 questions with you before you've had your alcohol. "We don't want to grill people," says JMac. "We're trusting you — no pay stubs required." Maybe friends of servers and cooks should treat their hard-working comrades to a beer, and get in on the industry discount. The chef is even considering extending the late-night deal into the future. "We've had a great turnout, " he says. Meal Ticket has spotted staff from Rouge, Snackbar, Ten Stone and Amada chilling at the happening bar already. Could Pub & Kitchen become the new pre-Pen & Pencil?
Not Philly Fish & Co., but you get the idea.
Philadelphia Fish & Co. is the latest hero of our never-ending search for cheap edibles, bargain hangovers and free info-tainment. The Old City seafooderie is getting butts in the seats with this bar-only deal:
One pint PBR, half a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl o' tomato soup for $3.11.
So you're headed back to work or out on the town with a belly full of butter, white bread, and sweet sweet beer. PBR is sort of beer, right?
Big ups to City Paper assistant publisher Roxanne Cooper who turned Meal Ticket on to this, the finest cheapest meal in the greater Old City area.
Fair Warning: If you tip 60 cents on this lunch, which is technically 20 percent, you will be rocked by the most epic food poisoning/hideous breakup/ill-timed joke of your life. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but that bastardly tip karma always gets its man.
Philadelphia Fish & Co., 207 Chestnut St., 215-625-8605
Philadelphia's bakeries are an embarassment of riches: crisp-skinned torpedo rolls from Cacia's and Carangi; the sesame-seeded long loaves of Sarcone's; or the sourdough waft and springy crumb of Metropolitan and LeBus.
Fresh bread is such a treat, and the natural accompaniment to so many simple dinners. A bowl of rich tomato gravy and a brace of toasted italian bread is ultimate comfort food on a 22 degree day. Our local bread, devoid of preservatives and layers of packaging, is not long for this world, though. The loaf that snapped and sprung yesterday has reached weapon status by today, and who has the French lifestyle where one can pick up a new baguette every morning?
The solution lies in the icebox. Pick up a dozen fresh rolls and wrap each individually in plastic wrap, then deposit into a sealable freezer bag. The frozen rolls can be warmed individually for just twenty seconds in the microwave and returned to their original glory.
As friendly as the freezer is for storing bread, the fridge is bread's worst enemy. The de-humidified atmosphere of the refrigerator dries even well-wrapped bread out, making it tasteless and sticky on the tongue. Don't do it.
Geeks Who Give (GWG) is a recently organized, Twitter-communicating group of nerds who are building an open-source community of giving in Philadelphia. They are kicking off their food drive for PhilAbundance tomorrow night at National Mechanics with a party and what they are calling a "Tweetup." Cringe.
City Paper restaurant reviewer and GWG member David Snyder breaks down the event on his blog, PhilaFoodie:
For its inaugural event, GWG is hosting a Food Drive & Tweetup to benefit Philabundance. The event will take place at National Mechanics in Old City from 6pm to 9pm. Admission is a minimum of 5 non-perishable food items. The food items must be packaged in boxes, cans or plastic bottles, and should not have to be refrigerated. In addition to drink specials, guests will receive 1 raffle ticket for the first 5 food items, and more tickets for additional food items. The current list of raffle prizes includes:
• Dinner for Two at Fork in Philadelphia;
• A Gift Certificate and T-shirt from Tattooed Mom’s;
• Treats courtesy of Open Source Cupcakes;
• A $75 gift certificate to the Wine School of Philadelphia; and
• More prizes are being added every day.
The prize I’ve contributed is a seat at my table while I’m out on a restaurant review for City Paper. Of course, I’ll pick up the tab. We’ll have to keep a low profile, obviously (e.g., no Twittering the event). We don’t want the restaurant to know we’re on a review, for example, and we don’t want the world to know which restaurant will be the subject of an upcoming review in the City Paper. And, of course, it is important that you keep my identity secret. But you knew all of that; the whole cloak-and-dagger/behind-the-scenes experience, presumably, is part of the draw. That and a free meal, of course.
Be sure to show up at National Mechanics early. At 7pm, local food podcasters Fork You will be giving a cooking demo with non-perishable food items. Stick around afterwards for TechKaraoke at 9pm.
On Sunday, Dec. 7, Good Dog bar will celebrate its fifth year of being the realest bar with the best food in Center City. Owner Heather Gleason hipped us to what is going down for the big oh-five event.
Ten sixtels of local beer from Flying Fish, Sly Fox, Yards, Philadelphia Brewing Co., Southhampton and others will be simultaneously tapped, starting off a race to see which brewery's keg gets kicked first. Flying Fish has even brewed up a special anniversary beer, Good Fish, a double-hopped IPA, to commemorate the event. The winners of the annual Photo Contest will be announced, and those photogenic pets will grace the walls of the tavern for the upcoming year. Chef Jessica O'Donnell will be preparing passed hors d'oeuvres that will make the rounds all night. Be sure to grab politely from the trays; we're not the animals.
Five-dollar raffle tickets will be sold, and prizes ranging from bottles of booze and T-shirts to event tickets will be announced every hour. Last year there were more than 50 prizes, and Gleason has been receiving swag all week for this year's raffle. All proceeds from the raffle, which will be matched by Good Dog, as well as 10 percent of all drink revenues, will be donated to Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the Morris Animal Refuge, aiding them in their tireless work to save the lives of unwanted pets in our area.
Good Dog, 224 S. 15th St., 215-985-9600; Anniversary Party on Sun., Dec. 7, from 4 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover
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