Archive: January, 2010
The signs are going up today and tomorrow at Marty Grims' latest Du Jour location, currently soft-open at Commerce Square (2001 Market St., 215-735-8010). Right now they're doing sit-down lunches only from 11 a.m. on; this coming Monday, Jan. 11, they'll begin serving breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Chef/partner Michael McGovern is handling the kitchen, and Anthony Bonnett, formerly exec chef of the Oceanaire and Alison at Blue Bell, is running the front of the house.
Check out the breakfast and lunch menus after the jump.
|Click to enlarge|
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
Earlier this week CP food critic David Snyder put us on to something odd going on at Sakana Sushi Cafï¿½ (1526 Sansom St.), which opened in July '09. When he tried to pop by for dinner early this week, they were closed during their usual business hours ï¿½ a sign on the door promised that they'd be reopening within a week's time, but subsequent drop-bys have found it in an identical state. We've been calling all day and the line rings and rings. No official insight into what's going on there just yet, though there are some as-yet-unsubstantiated rumors floating about.
UPDATE: According to The Insider, Sakana's building was temporarily shut down by L&I for several violations.
|Courtesy of Green Rock Tavern|
|Photo | Drew Lazor
You know that paranoid food-nerd friend you have who complains that ethnic restaurants tamper with his food based solely on the fact that he's American? Well, grating as he may be, he's right, at least according to Han Chiang ï¿½ Chinese-run places regularly profile (for lack of a better term) customers and water down preparations thusly. But the restaurateur, who recently opened his third Han Dynasty location in Old City (108 Chestnut St., 215-922-1888), stresses that'll never, ever happen at one of his Sichuan eateries. Though there's an Americanized menu available at Chiang's suburban locations, there's nothing of the sort offered here in Philly. Why? "I have problems selling things I hate," says Chiang matter-of-factly. "My customers, when they come in ï¿½ they want the real stuff."
Yes, the guy is dead-serious about authenticity, but don't mistaken that for rigidity. On the contrary, Chiang likes to quiz his diners when they sit down to determine what they'll like best. He says he's able to turn plenty of dishes vegetarian, too. As far as increasing or tempering the heat of dishes off his Sichuan menu, though ï¿½ "I can do that, but I don't want to." In Chiang's eyes, stuff is spicy or not spicy for a reason, and should be served the right way.
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
Sichuan cuisine's broken down into two major disciplines ï¿½ Chengdu style (appetizers/small plates) and Chonqing style (mostly entrï¿½e-size stuff that brings the serious heat). Han Dynasty's menu, delineated by cooking style, touches on a bit of it all ï¿½ dry pots featuring your choice of meat or seafood; cumin-crusted meats; fish/meat stir-fried with pickled chili sauce; Kung Pao-style dishes that play with sweet, sour and spicy by bringing together peanuts, celery and hot peppers. There's also a number of street-food-style dishes from Chiang's native Taiwan on the menu. Heat level's conveyed on a 10-point scale.
For right now, Han Dynasty's open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.-ish. Chiang will have a liquor license come March or April.
|Photo | Neal Santos|
- David Snyder visits Daniel Stern's new taproom MidAtlantic, which specializes in comfort grub from the immediate region. While he uncovers some absolute winners (look at those housemade hot dogs, foreal!), he finds the much of the menu cumbersome.
- What are we gonna eat in 2010? Meal Ticket guress Felicia D'Ambrosio addresses that very question, rattling off a roundup of food trends she thinks (and/or wants) to come to the fore in the new year. Fried chicken, gojuchang paste, ramen ... and Italian?
-In What's Cooking, we've got info on the last firkins of Yards' Old Bartholomew barleywine, scientific beer discussions, a decadent wine pairing dinner and more.
- Feeding Frenzy has note of several forthcoming projects this week, including Center City's MilkBoy location, Maru Global Takoyaki and Falafel Factory.
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
Snagged a pint of chef Georges Perrier's signature sorbet, sold under the name Pure Gourmet, at Whole Foods over the weekend. (Look at GP muggin' on the back!) The Le Bec-Fin kingpin's dessert line features flavors like mojito, chocolate caramel and the mysteriously dubbed "tropical," but we opted for pear-ginger. How's it taste? Like cold pears and gingers. Maybe a little French? A container of the stuff costs $6.29.
Photo | Drew Lazor
SNACK TIME: You are excluded from chicken cutlet night, nightclub for sale with trappings of Hindu Kush mountains, cheese matchmaking, a guide to the gluten-free grocery, below the radar but off the charts
|Vinny and The Situation see about dinner|
Every Wednesday, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
ï¿½ Food & Wine documents The (cooking) Situation on MTV's Jersey Shore, where castmates turn out their best quotes yet. First vet-tech Snooki claims she can't eat lobsters, "cause they're alive when you kill them," then The Situation issues an ultimatum to those who don't care to wash dishes: "From now on you are excluded from dinner then. You are excluded from surf and turf night. You are excluded from ravioli night. You are excluded from chicken cutlet night." (Via Grub Street Philly)
ï¿½ One multi-level Old City nightclub for sale. Historic locale, gravity-flush toilets, original artwork, early '90s grime, limited liquor license included. Can't guess? Just ask KleInsider. He knows all.
ï¿½ Awareness of celiac disease and interest in gluten-free cooking is at the groundswell state; we predict this year will be gluten-free's coming-out party. Michael Savett at Gluten-Free Philly has a copy of Triumph's Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide to give away to one commenter.
ï¿½ Corporate concierge Ken Alan shares his Little Black Book of below-the-radar restaurants worth a visit on The Restaurant Club.
|Dr. Schuyler, lover of both
beer and rollerblading
Back in May '09, we first touted Science On Tap, a joint venture of scientific discussions held every second Monday of the month at National Mechanics (22 S. Third St.) by the Academy of Natural Sciences, the American Philosophical Society Museum, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Mï¿½tter Museum and the Wagner Free Institute of Science.
Now this consortium is venturing into our territory with a Jan. 11 talk by Dr. Ernie Schuyler, Curator Emeritus of Botany at The Academy of Natural Sciences. His topic? The Origin and Evolution of Beer.
Schuyler's talk, which is free and begins at 6 p.m., will examine the possibility that the first humans who cultivated barley did so with the intention of making beer, rather than simply eating grain-based foods. We got in touch with the fine doctor to find out more.
Meal Ticket: How do you know that humans cultivated grains primarily for the production of beer, rather than for food?
Dr. Ernie Schuyler: The driving force for cultivating grains could have been beer. We do not know for sure. I think human consumption of beer preceded the cultivation of grains. I will present two hypotheses: (1) the wet grain hypothesis and (2) the gruel-bread hypothesis.
In the first scenario, a hunter-gatherer went to a wet storage bin and tasted ï¿½a fermented beer porridge. A similar thing happened in the early 1980s in northwestern Montana when there was a grain spill on the Burlington Northern Railroad at the southwest edge of Glacier Park. The grain eventually fermented into a beer porridge and grizzly bears got intoxicated on it. They kept coming back for more, which made for many delays on trains running between Chicago and Seattle.
The second scenario involves soup (gruel) thickened by heating barley. One day somebody came back from the grain bin with barley that had germinated (malt) and discovered that the gruel was sweeter. From that day on malt was used ï¿½for gruel instead of grain. Somebody (Mel Brooks?) may have left the soup sit for awhile and wild yeast went to work. Wild yeast could have been on fruit added to the gruel, possibly figs. Wild yeast may also have been present on the ceiling of the structures that housed hunter-gatherers. Gruel may have been baked into bread that could be stored and eventually mixed with water and fermented. It is possible that we made bread to brew beer, not to eat. Bread beer is still made today in some places.
MT: Since beer was brewed long before humans understood the effects of a microorganism such as yeast, how were the first beers fermented? Was fermentation viewed as a sort of "magical" transformation?
ES: Your query about yeast is interesting because as recently as 1837 some reputable scientists thought fermentation was a chemical reaction that had nothing to do with yeast despite evidence to the contrary. Louis Pasteur eventually proved them wrong.
MT: Approximately what year were the first beers brewed?
ES: We know that beer was being brewed in the Fertile Crescent over 5,000 years ago based on chemical analysis of pottery vessels. ï¿½There also is a 6,000-year-old seal from northwest of Nineveh showing people drinking something, presumably beer, through straws out of a large pot. On 3,800-year-old Sumerian tablets we have the "Hymn to Ninkasi," that describes making beer.
MT: What is your favorite beer?
ES: I have about 20 or so favorite beers. The search for the perfect beer is endless, but I keep trying.
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
About a month back, we dropped word that Brinn Sinnott (Lacroix, Supper, Amada) would be taking over the kitchen at Noble (2025 Sansom St.), replacing Steven Cameron, who left in October. Well, Sinnott started this week, but the menu won't be revamped right away ï¿½ he'll be offering potential new menu items as specials in the days leading up to Restaurant Week (Jan. 17-22 and 24-29), with plans to launch anew after the prix-fixe maelstrom's wrapped up.
|Courtesy of Honest Tom's
"Honest" Tom McCusker just dropped us these pics of his food truck's ridiculously amazing new paint job, executed by muralist Shira Walinsky and the Mural Arts Program. McCusker, who slangs great tacos at 33rd and Arch, says that several other local trucks, including Koja Korean on 38th and the peanut dude at 15th and Spring Garden, have received makeovers, as well. We haven't spotted any new work yet, but if you do, snap a pic and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post it here.
All that retina-burning psychedelica is a far cry from Tom's much more modest original look, no? Three more shots after the jump.
|Courtesy of Honest Tom's|
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