Archive: January, 2009
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
One night, when Israeli wunderkind Michael Solomonov ran the show at Marigold Kitchen, he turned his kitchen and staff over to fellow chef Ana Sortun for a dinner celebrating her new cookbook, Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean. The meal started with a variety of mezze (small bites) that Sortun serves at her Boston restaurant, Oleana. Crisply layered spinach falafel with pickled ramps brought more yummy noises than was appropriate out of an adult dining table, and Turkish-style steak tartare lured with aromatic teases of spice. The most-coveted mezze, however, was a warm ball of butter-stuffed hummus wrapped in basturma, a dry-cured, thin-sliced beef.
Nearly two years later, Solomonov is chef and owner of one of 2008's most-lauded restaurants, Zahav. A variety of hummus is served with laffa, a unparelled bread fired to order in the brick taboon oven, as a palate-warming first course. Like the country cousin of Sortun's cosmopolitan basturma-wrapped balls, Turkish buttered hummus makes an appearance as a hot dip, glistening with pale yellow pools of everyone's favorite fat. Though I wouldn't even attempt laffa — without a 750-degree brick oven and a training course in Israel, why even bother? — the Turkish hummus is just too good not to try at home.
This recipe was inspired by my trip to Cappadocia, in the center of Turkey... In Cappadocia, they make hummus without tahini, and they use butter instead of olive oil because of its quality and availability.
Ana's recipe uses dried and soaked chickpeas, which you cook and then pulse in the food processor while still hot. Since I am fundamentally lazy and wanted to get to the "hot buttered" part as quickly as possible, I used canned chickpeas (which were one dollar a can at the Acme, natch).
After the jump, check out my interpretation of Zahav's, and Ana Sortun's, Turkish Buttered Hummus. You're on your own for laffa-imitation.
Turkish Buttered Hummus
(adapted from Ana Sortun, p. 200 in SPICE, and Mike Solo's version at Zahav)
Go Get This:
Two 16-ounce cans chickpeas (also called garbanzos), drained and liquid reserved
Two cloves garlic, diced small or mushed through a garlic press
7 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
Several glugs extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Two teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Now Do This:
In a very small sauté pan, melt a tablespoon of the butter. When it foams, add the diced garlic and gently cook until soft. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, six tablespoons of the cut butter, the juice of one lemon and cumin. Add the olive oil a glug at a time as you begin to process the mixture. If more liquid is needed for through blending, use some of the water the chickpeas were packed in. Blend some more. Blend the hell out of it until smooth and creamy. You could leave the food processor on max and go take a shower and the hummus would be better for it.
Turn the machine off and taste the hummus. Add salt and pepper to taste, or more olive oil if it needs it. Blend!
Use a rubber spatula to pour the hummus into a small ovenproof casserole dish. Smooth into an even layer. Dot the top of the hummus with the reserved pieces of butter. Sprinkle with a bit more cumin.
Bake in the 350 degree oven until butter is melted and hummus is hot all the way through.
Serve hot with pita, raw vegetables, laffa and olives. Pretend you're at Zahav, or on a pastoral dairy farm in Cappadocia.
|Photo | Michael T. Regan|
We were bugging Marty Grims and Judy Wicks prior to Christmas about this, but there was nothing set in stone to report at that time. Now it's official: Grims, who owns and operates Moshulu and Du Jour along with many other ventures, has become the new operating partner for Wicks' White Dog Café.
Grims, wisely, will maintain the local and sustainable credo of the 26-year-old West Philly institution, allowing Wicks more time to focus on her volunteer and charitable ventures, namely the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and White Dog Community Enterprises. (Ralph Fernandez, Grims' corporate executive chef, will be collaborating with the existing White Dog staff to spearhead menu matters.) He'll also open a second location of White Dog, in Wayne, in "late spring."
Grims is a busy guy within city limits — we recently wrote about his plans at Commerce Square.
Korea always has the best everything.
|Jewish Rye in a glass|
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
Though it has been used for hundreds of years in alcoholic beverages both brewed and distilled, lately, rye is making a comeback.
Philadelphia Distilling Company, producers of Bluecoat Gin, have recently introduced Penn 1681 Rye Vodka (fourth blurb down). The spirit is a tribute to one of Pennsylvania's top crops of the colonial era, rye. Whiskeys crafted from rye are integral to classic drinks like the Sazerac, one of the oldest-known cocktails in America.
Rye beers are cropping up, as well. One tasty local offering is Triumph Brewing Co.'s Jewish Rye ale. Patrick Jones, the brewer for Triumph's Philly location, credits the years-old recipe to Princeton Triumph brewer Tom Stevenson. Since the beer isn't the product of focus-group marketing, where does rye come in?
"The rye grain itself has a distinct and unique flavor," Jones says, "and the spirit of craft beer is to always push the flavor envelope. Rye is just another weapon in our arsenal." The beer is, obviously, modeled after traditional Jewish marble rye bread.
"Rye bread has three major flavor characteristics," says Jones. "The rye grain itself, a slight or intense sourness, depending on the producer, and caraway."
True to form, the top note of the ale is caraway, followed by a cleansing tartness, with the grain underneath lending the beer structure. "People think they're tasting rye, but really, it's caraway," Jones added.
The 5 percent ABV ale is a tawny copper color, and appears hazy and unfiltered. A moderate, bright white head leaves some lacing on the glass. Just as Jones promised, the gentle caraway flavor gives way to a flush of sourness and finishes off-dry. Though not on the brewpub's menu, this refreshing beer would be the perfect foil for a buttery, grilled reuben sandwich. On rye, of course.
Jewish Rye Ale is $5 per pint, available for a limited time at Triumph Brewing Company, 117 Chestnut St., 215-625-0855, triumphbrewing.com
|Photo | Michael T. Regan|
Today, PETA posted a list of the eight "most outstanding" vegetarian restaurants in in America. We're very proud that Philly's own Horizons, owned by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby (pictured), made the cut:
Horizons, Philadelphia: Horizons specializes in "new vegan cuisine." What does that mean? Well, the current menu features delicious dishes such as saffron cauliflower soup and Pacific Rim grilled tofu. If that's new vegan cuisine, count me in!
Bravo! Y'all deserve it.
Just because, here's a funny anecdote Landau recently shared with me. I interviewed him for a Meal Ticket piece on how long-distance travel, particularly via air, is difficult for vegans due to the lack of edible options. Here, he's talking about searching for "hippie crunchy outpost" health food stores as a last resort when you find yourself in unfamiliar dining territory:
"These places have been a thorn in the side of my career since I have been in business. They give vegetarian food a bad name. But when you have eaten your fill of junk and can't take the garbage anymore, find the health food stores and get some healthy, crunchy sprouted nut bean-head blandness. It will clean you out and balance the guilt. My favorite story — a health food store in Michigan that gave me a steamed carrot in a bun when I ordered their 'veggie dog.' 100 percent true — and I ate every crumb of it."
We're so glad you guys try harder than that.
RELATED: Ashlea Halpern's 2006 story about Horizons' move to Center City.
h/t: Wendy Rosenfield
Back in Nov. '07, I wrote about a Craigslist post that purportedly sought local participants for chef Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.
A similar ad, with the same contact address, surfaced in Craig's "TV/Video/Radio Jobs" section a bit before Christmas.
I realize this sounds selfish, but will some Philly restaurateur out there please swallow his or her pride and agree to get publicly reamed out in the name of my own personal amusement? I watch this show on Hulu all day every day.
Full text of the posting after the jump.
UPDATE: Foobooz has a similar listing up, just with different contact information.
CASTING IMMEDIATELY!!! FOX TV'S Hit Show " KITCHEN NIGHTMARES" Starring GORDON RAMSAY is back!
Are you Looking to Resuscitate your Restaurant?
Is the economy affecting your restaurant?
FOX'S hit show "KITCHEN NIGHTMARES" wants to hear from you!
Does your restaurant need HELP? Are you trying to make some green, but still running red? Do you and your chef have different ideas about the menu? Or maybe you have a great location, but it doesn't seem to entice many customers?
If you want to apply to have Chef Gordon Ramsay come into your establishment for one week to troubleshoot your problems and try to get you back on the road to success. Contact us NOW!
If interested in having Gordon Ramsay help you, PLEASE CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY: EMAIL: Twinsworld1@aol.com
**NOTE** Make sure to include: Your name, contact info (including a phone number), name of your restaurant, where you are located (city/state), type of cuisine you serve, your specialty, how many seats you have, how long you have been open, photos or website if available, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY , why you need our help. The MORE INFO THE BETTER. ( The dynamics of the people that work there, if there is history behind restaurant, if you are new to the restaurant business, type of issues you encounter, etc)
*Restaurants must be open at least 1 year and have at least 35 seats
SNACK TIME: Classy eats and Chocolate Thunder at Tied House, Mr. Erace takes on Bangkok street grub, Phoodie says don't let the door hit you in the butt to Brasserie, resolution-blasting cheesy bread at Buca, and fermenting foods at home
|Fairmount gastropub Tied House, on UWISHUNU|
Every Wednesday, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
- Alex Irwin of UWISHUNU checks out new-ish Fairmount gastropub Tied House, which is the only place in Philly to sip the General Lafayette Inn and Brewery's signature microbrews. Irwin gives the thumbs up to his chicken sandwich with a "classy tapenade" and raves about the tempting Chocolate Thunder Porter.
- Adam Erace of Blogalicious has packed his bags and his Tums for a 10-day trip to Thailand. Elephant trekking to hidden waterfalls and fireball Bangkok street food should give Adam plenty of material for upcoming posts, given he survives the phrik khil nuu, or tiny, totally nuclear "mouse dropping chilies."
-Phoodie.info eulogizes Brasserie Perrier by branding owner Georges Perrier a "Philebrity and hardcore assface" and predicting the imminent demise of Perrier's Wayne restaurant, Georges'. Can't comment on those assertions, but giving the staff a little notice that the restaurant was closing would have been considerate. Adieu, Brasserie.
-Helen Rosner of the MenuPages blog reports that Italian red sauce chain Buca di Beppo has been purchased by the group behind Planet Hollywood. Fearing for her beloved, cheese-covered Buca garlic bread, she got in touch with the head honchos, who not only assured her that the cheesy basket wouldn't change, but sent her the top-secret recipe.
-Scott and Marisa of Fork You! take viewers on a whirlwind introduction to fermenting foods at home with Scott of Zukay Live Foods. Zukay teaches us why we should mash the snot out of our daikon for the best bacterial penetration, how to prepare for the serious stink of fermentation and why live foods are better for both taste and health.
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
Who says all college students eat is Easy Mac?
Waiting in line yesterday behind a gang of bluff college dudes at Cannuli Bros. Quality Meats & Poultry (née Cannuli's House of Pork), I was amused to hear a sole girl squealing with delighted disgust over all of the animal parts that were so exotic to her.
"Ewwww, smoked turkey butts! That's so grooooossss," she exclaimed. Then, to the closest male, "Do you want to eat some beeeef kidneys?" all followed by rapid-fire giggling. It was then that a white-coated butcher came out of the big walk-in with a plastic-shrouded pig carcass and hung it from the rear legs on a hook in front of them.
"Here you go, " he said to the alpha boy. "You want it wrapped in paper or keep it in the plastic?"
"Ummmm, paper," he decided. As the boys handed two debit cards to the butcher for the $125, 60-pound pig, Miss Giggles turned up her nervous rat-tat laughter, staring in wonder and horror at her dead, dressed future dinner.
I could no longer stay out of this scene. "What are you going to do with that?" I inquired of the Alpha Boy. "How are you going to cook it?"
"Well, we built this cinder-block barbecue thing ... " he offered, smiling with anticipation of he and his bros manfully charring this freaking gigantic piece of meat over an even-more-manly fire.
"Nice. Have fun," I responded. "You should eat the cheeks."
"Eat the the what?"
"The cheeks," I repeated. "It' the best part." He nodded warily.
The butcher, returned with double credit-card slips, gestures to the pig, now wrapped and taped in brown paper. "Who's going to carry this?" Alpha boy heads over to the hook and allows the butcher to lay the papered pig over his shoulder, and they troop out, bearing the pig to the car like a victorious hunting party. There will be meat tonight, helpless villagers!
Cannuli Bros. is famous for selling fully roasted, ready-to-eat pigs. For those who prefer a cooking challenge, they have thoughtfully provided instructions and methods for roasting a whole hog on their Web site. I've got my fingers crossed for the college dudes. I hope they bought a meat thermometer.
Cannuli Bros. Quality Meats & Poultry, 937 S. Ninth St., 215-922-2988, cannulismeats.com
Was chatting with R. Evan Turney, executive chef of Valanni and Mercato, a bit earlier this evening about he and restaurateur George Anni's plan to convert Azul Cantina at 10th and Spruce into something along gastropubby lines. (It was first mentioned by the kids over at Phoodie.) Without giving away too much, Turney said that they would be moving away from the Mexican cantina concept, but not completely: Though it'll be more neighborhood bar than reposado-stocked cantina, they're thinking that the tequila list and margaritas will stay on. He didn't have much more to share other than that the month of February will feature the lion's share of reconceptualization, with a target month of March set for an opening. "You gotta give us more than that, Turney!" they said. I know, I know. Not yet, but soon.
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