Weird Regional Foods
NYC-based agh-so-cute couple Frank and Meg spent a recent weekend in Philly doing the museums steps/Passyunk Avenue cheesesteak thing. (When a bunch of my family came up to visit on Black Friday, I took them to do the EXACT SAME THING, and you know what? We had a touristy blast!) I have to say that I'm impressed with these non-natives for understanding that, no matter what, the conceptual cheesesteak does not have to be that big of a deal. "The best Philly cheesesteak is the [place] with the shorter line," says Frank. On behalf of sane Philadelphia, THANK YOU! And come back soon!
|Pork Roll | Facebook|
On Tue., Dec. 16 at 1 p.m., Philadelphia Magazine will commemorate their 100th year misinforming suburbanites about what goes on in the big bad city with a colossal Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpet.
Tasty Baking Co. CEO Charles Pizzi will join Larry Platt and Herb and David Lipson of Philly Mag to cut the kake in the rotunda of the Liberty Place shops at 16th and Chestnut. The Krimpet will be 1,261 times larger than standard size, ensuring plenty of slices for those in attendance. Anyone who tries to get a piece off mascot Kirby the Krimpet does so at their own risk.
If you can't make it on Tuesday, the Internet abounds with Krimpet-copycat recipes, like this one from King Arthur flour. Paeans from far-flung Delaware Valleyites are in ample supply, as well, from professional journalists to a video installation artist who constructed her entire wedding cake out of of krimpets ordered by the case.
Transcendent local snack cake joins forces with dandy centurion publication ... I sense a bid for world dominance. Who knows what sort of secret labs and think-tanks will be brewing in Tasty Baking Co.'s planned Navy Yard facility? Not just greener and more efficient production of 4 million Tastykakes a day, certainly. That's got to be a smoke screen.
"There are no pretzels anywhere in the city!" a troubled Meal Ticket tipster who attempted to buy a Center City Pretzel Co. pretzel this morning told us. Terrifying news. So we gave a quick ring over to twisted dough HQ at 816 Washington Avenue to inquire. A staffer chalked today's pretzel scarcity up to an "oven problem," but says everything will be good to go by tomorrow.
This is God putting us in check.
|Unrelated but cool: Ming Tsai gets down with the grill at Geno's|
From 10 a.m. Thu., Dec. 4 through 10 a.m. Fri., Dec. 5, all proceeds from the sale of steaks, hoagies, fries and soft drinks at Geno's Steaks at Ninth and Passyunk in South Philly will go to the family of Sergeant Tim Simpson of the Philadelphia Police, who was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 17, 2008.
Sgt. Simpson, 46, was responding to a burglary call at 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 when his patrol car was struck by an intoxicated driver. He later died from his injuries at an area hospital Simpson served the Philadelphia police for 20 years and left behind a wife and three children.
Five of our Philadelphia police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year — two from car crashes, and three from gunfire. Geno's has held prior fund raisers for the survivors of fallen police officers, including Officer Isabel Nazario and Sgt. Patrick McDonald. Though a donation of funds will not ameliorate the grief of the Simpson family, the spirit of the holiday season benefits the giver as well as the recipient.
Direct donations to Simpson's survivor benefit fund can be made by contacting the Philadelphia Police Department at 215-686-1776.
It starts like this:
And, like all other Thanksgivings, ends like this:
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
|Raw duck and pork scrapple|
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
Got this interesting question from a Meal Ticket reader yesterday:
My friend has lived in Philly for 11 years, and has never eaten scrapple. She is getting ready to leave for China for a year, and a few friends are going to take her on a scrapple tour of Philly — so I am asking if you know of any fabu scrapple dishes in the city.
In all your food travels, have you run across any scrapple dishes out there that we can add to the tour?
The reader goes on to mention two spots on the list so far — Sabrina's for their house-made scrapple and Davio's for their scrapple risotto.
There is no shortage of good, plain ol' scrapple in this city. (For the uninitiated, it's traditionally pork "trimmings" — talkin 'bout ears, snouts, whatnot — ground up, seasoned, mixed with a cornmeal binder, and left to set overnight before being sliced into slabs and pan-fried.) I would say the South Philly greasy spoon Melrose/Penrose/Oregon trifecta is good for a classical scrapple experience.
A call over the Reading Terminal Market, organizers of the annual Scrapplefest (where RTM vendors whip up scrapple-based dishes for terrified onlookers), turned up just two vendors that serve it regularly — Down Home Diner, which tops Lancaster County slabs in poached eggs, and Dutch Eating Palace, where you can get it in an omelette and/or on the side.
The best version I've eaten was Rich Freedman's duck and pork scrapple. Freedman, former chef at the Sidecar at 22nd and Christian, walked me through the process of making the stuff for an article back in July, even sharing his top-secret recipe. (Freedman has since left the bar to take a gig at Harry the K's in CBP.) Sidecar co-owner Adam Ritter, however, tells us that they haven't offered any type of scrapple on their brunch menu in a bit.
Back in May, Mac & Cheese told us about Vrapple, or vegetarian scrapple. Freaks me out.
This is tough one!
So how about it, Meal Ticketers? Are there scrapple-based dishes — or uniquely prepared scrapples, at the very least — out there that our inquirer should check out? Let's hear it in the comments.
|Martha liked Geno's better than Pat's.|
Always has been, always will be. Don't let Martha Stewart throw you off your game.
You break my heart.
|Mealworm jun with crickets|
|Henry Hong | Baltimore City Paper|
Much as it pains us, we are not the only City Paper around. Baltimore is home to a doppelganger alt-weekly that, to our continued agony, scooped up the citypaper.com URL just seconds before we did. The second-class ".net" designation is a chip we will wear on our collective shoulder forever.
Moving on: Baltimore City Paper serves up some pretty tasty food features and has the lowdown on the hippest restaurants in that crab-tastic metropolis. In her Eat feature "Meal Cricket," Violet Glaze seeks to solve the world's protein crisis while assuaging her sort-of-vegan guilt by farming and cooking up insects.
When you examine the data, eating insects looks like the solution to all our food-supply ills. Insects are cheap, plentiful, nutritious (full of protein and trace minerals, with only a smidgen of unsaturated fat), and raising them is ecologically sound. It takes 100 pounds of feed to raise 45 pounds of cricket meat, as opposed to the incredibly wasteful ratio of 100 pounds of grain to every 10 pounds of beef. Also, raising insects doesn't require a landscape-bespoiling, water-guzzling, manure-caked feedlot — just an aquarium with a lid, plus food and water. Practically every culture and every nation in human history has eaten insects, either intentionally as main dishes or as stowaways in the grain supply.
The article leads the reader on a merry chase through Glaze's attempts at farming crickets (not so successful) and managing mealworms (slightly better results). She winds up in a friend's restaurant, where the insects are stir-fried in a wok and merged into a scallion pancake (jun). Initial taste-test results are encouraging:
A funny thing happens when you're about to eat an insect for the first time. Your hand involuntarily jerks back a few times on the way to the plate, as if your brain is saying, "Whoa, cowboy--you sure you want to eat that?" There's a pregnant moment when you're about to pop it in your mouth, a feeling that there's no turning back from this culinary rubicon. Then you leap into the abyss . . . and land in a big feather bed. Crickets taste good...They have that singed, crispy protein flavor that's essential to the bouquet of pork rinds, with a delicate, savory sweetness that's not unlike what we associate with shrimp, except without the salt water/iodine tang of seafood. Our faces registered with astonishment at how good they were as we popped another toasty, savory handful in our mouths.
Having consumed wok-fried crispy crickets and mealworms, Glaze begins to realize that perhaps insects alone won't save our stressed food chain.
Here's the hard truth about eating insects: Your limit is about a dozen. You can put them in casseroles, you can fry them up in pancakes, you can gussy them up like haute cuisine and serve them with shots of soju strong enough to anesthetize a horse, but at some point your brain intervenes and, without any overt retching or revulsion, you just decide you've had enough. Even the most unsqueamish carnivore, the kind of person who shlucks down raw oysters and happily chomps his way through liver and sweetbreads would hesitate at the heaping two cups of crickets you need to approximate the protein value of a skimpy hamburger patty.
Violet Glaze, we salute your brave foray into alternative proteins, even if they can't save the world. If crickets with chili oil and sea salt ever make the menu of our most progressive Philadelphia restaurants, we'll order up, close our eyes, and just think "pork rinds."
Oh, callow youth. A quartet of Temple University students have created a YouTube paean to Pat's King of Steaks for their Computer Information Science class. Watch them state their cheesesteak preferences — using the accepted Philly lingo of "a type of cheese and a preposition" — and even look charming manhandling one of Pat's ordinarily-grease-bomb sandwiches. Where's the drip?
Tori Ershler, Emily Hutz, Rachel Levin and Dina Maslennikova are adorably awkward in their three-minute video project and express appropriate disdain for the neon monstrosity that is Geno's. But I'll never concede that Pat's is anything but convenience grub acceptable only to inebriated Iggles fans and tourists. Girls, if you see this, I would like to take you to John's Roast Pork for a really transcendent cheesesteak experience. That said, well done! I never did anything half as interesting in my years at good ol' Temple. Nor did I take any Computer Science classes, come to think of it.
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