Archive: October, 2008
| Original Gangsta Pale Ale |
Rejoice, for the inaugural batch of Philadelphia Pale Ale, brewed in Yards Brewing's spankin'-new facility on Delaware Ave., has arrived on tap in pubs throughout the city. (Drew Lazor kinda-sorta-didn't help make it.)
This local potion has always been good, earning accolades from the New York Times as one of the nation's finest pale ales, as well as toasts from beer aficionados near and far. Crisp and hoppy, with a sessionable 4.6 percent ABV, Philly Pale has always been a reliably tasty intoxicant — and cheap in the bargain. The new incarnation retains the best qualities of its predecessor, and we daresay even improves upon it.
A dense white head crowns the pale amber liquid, and leaves a wisp of lace on the glass. A whiff of citrus-y hops introduces the hop-driven flavor profile on the tongue. Though the hop character is, as before, the dominant taste, this is a gentle and refreshing grapefruit breeze, not the abrasive I-need-to-shave-my-tongue wallop of bitterness typical in so many IPAs. Pilsner malts taste clean and provide body to the ale.
Now for the difference: This second-wave Philly Pale has a trick up its sleeve big brother would never have attempted. There's just a hint, and I mean like a whisper — a tickle — of sourness. Its no geueze or lambic by any stretch, but there is something there that makes your mouth water and your lips smile.
So well done, Men of Yards. It took you nigh on forever, but you're back and we're happy. Steve Mashington of Yards expects bottles to hit the Philadelphia-area distributors sometime next week -- keep your eyes peeled for "sexy new label and case" art.
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
Taco Riendo has heeded its (apparently party animal) customers' call to add weekend brunch — which they dub Cruda Weekends. "Cruda", they write on the Northern Liberties message board, "is the hangover that results from drinking lots of beer or alcohol while having a great time."
The Fifth Street taqueria sits just beyond Girard Avenue — the driving edge of Northern Liberties — and has made a name for itself serving exceptionally fresh salsa, enchiladas and any kind of taco you could wish for. The Cruda Weekend brunch menu introduces scrambled egg tacos with add-ins like chorizo, oaxaca cheese, jamon and nopales (prickly pear); chilate, a "super spicy chicken soup"; and a thick atole chocolate-based drink called champurrado, served hot.
Meanwhile, over on Liberties Walk, Hikari is adding traditional Korean items to its existing Japanese menu. The dol-sot bibimbap is an tempting medley of rice, egg, mushrooms and vegetables served in a flaming hot stone pot, the dol-sot. The dol-sot is lightly lubricated with sesame oil, and the rice in contact with the hot pot gets toasted and crispy. That crunchy layer of rice, called noo-roong-jee, can be mixed with water or hot barley tea and eaten as a soup to end your meal. Korean barbecued ribs and vegetarian jap-che noodles are also featured on the new menu.
We got Mexican for breakfast, we got Korean for lunch, and we don't need to go below Poplar to get it.
Taco Riendo, 1301 N. Fifth St., 215-235-2294
Hikari, 1040 N. American St., #701 on Liberties Walk, 215-923-2694
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
At the bar.
Studiokitchen's Shola Olunloyo responds to Meal Ticket's restaurant music rant (and we respond back)
The other day, I excerpted a write-up that Mémé chef/owner David Katz posted on his restaurant's MySpace blog. The subject at hand: patrons who have complained about the music he plays during service.
It amazes me how many people have an idea of what restaurant music should be. Like there is one kind of music played at one certain loudness for every restaurant in the United States! Haven’t these people been in any other style of restaurant? Maybe a gastro-pub, a bistro??? We are NOT a formal slow dining restaurant.
Using Katz's statement as a jump-off, I went on to throw in my own opinion — I think people who complain about this kind of stuff need to rejigger their priorities. Music selection? Volume? Let's concentrate on the food and drink we're paying good money to enjoy. That's my stance.
Earlier today, chef Shola Olunloyo, who runs the blog Studiokitchen (and knows Katz), offered up a retort — not to the music issue, but rather to what he perceived as self-serving pontification that tarnished his colleague's reputation. "I am very concerned that opportunistic journalism is becoming increasingly common in food writing," Olunloyo writes. "Too many writers today will easily sacrifice the subject for the story." An excerpt of his response:
I think this article does the chef a disservice because more than a philosophical discussion on restaurant music selection or volume, it paints an egomaniacal portrait of someone who probably is a much nicer person but just does not have the right filters regarding how he is quoted.
Furthermore the fact that while the City Paper seems to agree that restaurant patrons should have absolutely no say in the volume or selection of the music, the "category" of the posting is filed under "Ill Advised Ranting" thus acknowledging that it probably is a very bad idea to say things like this publicly.
That is what I find increasingly disappointing about food writing.
I do not think that my post portrays Katz in an "egomaniacal" light. If you check out our recent Q&A with him, it's pretty clear that he tends to speak his mind. And in an industry that's fiercely watchdogged by public relations pros, that's kinda refreshing. "Control your image. Do not say a word. Let your publicist speak for you," Olunloyo advises restaurant types at the end of his post. Though hospitality PR is a vital cog in the machine, that is straight-up terrifying to a food writer. If every chef, owner, etc. subscribed to such a credo, readers would be subjected to nothing but prefab quotes and meticulously regulated info. And that wouldn't be good for anyone, restaurants included.
As far as me making Katz appear "inhospitable" by quoting him: There was plenty of preemptive press on Mémé, and much of it touched on the chef's candid nature. Yet the place has been open for going on a month and it looks busy every night. Perhaps these people just dig the food and aren't even concerned with/aware of Katz's public image. (Maybe they like the music, too?)
One notable distinction that Olunloyo does not point out: Katz shared his thoughts in a very public forum. I did not badger him with loaded questions to acquire juicy quotes, then take them out of context to serve my own sadistic journo needs. "If I didn't feel that way or want anybody to know, I wouldn't have posted it on MySpace," the chef confirms via e-mail.
Lastly, the blog category "Ill-Advised Ranting" references ME, not Katz or whoever else may be cited in future rantage. I created it to distinguish thoughts/gripes straight from my craw from some of the more reporterly stuff you'll find here on Meal Ticket.
I have renamed the category "Drew Lazor's Ill-Advised Rant Factory" to prevent future confusion.
Bee Wilson, award-winning food columnist for London's Sunday Telegraph, will appear at the Rittenhouse Barnes and Noble (1805 Walnut St., 215-665-0716) at 7 p.m. this evening to sign copies of her new book Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud, from Poisoned Candy to Counterfeit Coffee (Princeton University Press). Official release date is tomorrow, Oct. 15.
We here at Meal Ticket were lucky enough to snag an advance of the book, which is full up with dense, amazingly researched chapters on things like the widespread adulteration of English tea, the insanely detailed practice of bottling counterfeit French wine, bastardized condiments and putrid Christmas geese pawned off as fresh fowl.
The book is quite relevant, too, considering all the consumer food scares of the past year. See Wilson's recent NYT op-ed on tainted baby formula in China. The same exact thing happened in New York more than a century ago.
It's a shocking and engrossing read. Definitely check it out.
|"I have hot kielbasa for you."|
NEW YORK (AP) — A Brooklyn butcher shop worker called his specialty "hot kielbasa" — for snorting, not eating. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the kielbasa was really cocaine — not the Polish sausage sold in a popular meat market.
According to a criminal complaint, the "hot kielbasa" was kept in the basement.
Twenty-six suspects are under arrest, including the butcher, after an FBI informant visited the shop in response to the message: "Come to the store, I have hot kielbasa for you."
Homoerotic implications aside, what kind of a fool prefers stepped-on coke from a butcher's basement to the pride of the Poles, kielbasy? The smoked delight is available in its finest form at the Northeast's own Czerw's Kielbasy (say it with me: Chev's kil-ba-sa) hidden away on Tilton Street.
|Not Czerw's, but you get the idea.|
The three brothers Czerw and their mother run the homemade Polish food business, which their grandfather founded 65 years ago. The Czerw's Web site proudly states that their kielbasy is made with tender pork butts and smoked in old-fashioned brick oven smokehouses using only seasoned, natural fruit woods. In addition to their mainstay sausages, Czerw's makes pierogies with stuffings both traditional (potato, cheese, sauerkraut, onions) and nouveau (Buffalo chicken, pepperoni and cheese, Philly cheesesteak).
Venture beyond pierogies: take home a package of Mom Czerw's Golabki (try saying ga-WUMP-ki), beef- and rice-stuffed cabbage in a thin and tangy tomato sauce; or the Polish Slim Jim, hot Kabanosa. Bring a bottle of water for that thing. The bounty of Mom Czerw and sons is only available for purchase Tuesday through Saturday; they open at 7 a.m. on Saturday and sell out fast. Don't lag in bed or you will go home disappointed.
While those fool butchers sit in jail wondering how it all went wrong, cruise up I-95 toward Czerw's for revelatory home cooking — a sweet, smoky reward for living life on the straight and narrow.
Czerw's Kielbasy, 3370 Tilton St., 215-423-1707, kielbasyboys.com
|Slide over here, my little lamb.|
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
I'm a whore for good buns, which I'll say now before some other smart-ass does. Here in Philly, where we will get in to fistfights over the best cheesesteak house, sandwich bread is Serious Business. Old school South Philly bakeries Sarcone's, Cacia's and Faragalli's turn out the choicest chewy torpedo-shaped rolls for hoagie and cheesesteak purposes, but the noble burger requires a gentler hand.
Wild Flour Bakery in the the Northeast bakes the eggy rolls that ensconce the city's best burgers: the Good Dog's stuffed patty oozing lavalike cheese, the oft-lauded Rouge Burger; none would be where they are without the delicate, smashable bun that blends so magically with medium-rare juices.
Though Wild Flour is primarily a wholesale bakery, they accomodate Philadelphians' insatiable need for bitchin' bread at their retail stand in the Headhouse Farmer's Market. Gruyere-proscuitto croissants, free-form loaves of rye with cracked caraway, and snowflake dinner rolls flirt, demanding that every hungry locavore stop and slaver.
As if this heap of carbs and happiness wasn't tempting enough, Wild Flour has added six-count bags of wee challah slider rolls, which are so off the cuteness charts they cannot be denied.
Inspired by two bags of the petite pains, I attacked the Sunday morning market on a mission to make a slider worthy of such a fine bun. Hillacres farm yielded up a package of lovely ground heritage lamb; Margerum's a crop of fresh mint, oregano and shallots. Thus armed, I dragged my cast iron skillet to dad's house and converted everyone into a lamb lover. Recipe for Carried Away by Cuteness Lamb Sliders after the jump.
|Wee little challah rolls: so shiny, so eggy.|
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
(serves 4-6 people as an appetizer or fat-kid snack)
12 Wild Flour challah slider rolls
1 lb. Hillacres Farm ground lamb
3 big sprigs mint, rinsed and dried
2 big sprigs oregano, rinsed and dried
2 not so big shallots
1 tablespoon of butter
salt, pepper, dash of cumin
THEN DO THIS:
1. Peel the shallots, dice small. They are already small so this shouldn't be hard.
2. Pick the herbs off their stems. Reserve one sprig each mint and oregano for topping the sliders.
3. Chiffonade the herbs, excepting the ones you reserved for topping. Chiffonade is just stacking the leaves together, rolling them up like a tiny cigar, and then slicing across thinly to create a pile of skinny strips. You can do it!
4. In a small saute pan over medium heat, melt a tablespoon of butter, and gently sweat half of your pile of shallots for about 2 minutes. Don't char the little things, just let them soften up.
5. In a bowl, combine the raw ground lamb, the sauteed shallots with their butter, the raw shallots, the chiffonade herbs and a dash o' salt, pepper, and cumin. Combine well until the various elements are homogenized.
6. Heat a pan-preferably a heavy cast iron skillet- over a medium flame. While the pan heats, shape the lamb mixture into 12 small balls. Press them down lightly to make a mini burger shape.
7. Cook the sliders 6 at a time in the hot pan. Once placed on the pan, don't move the burgers for the first three minutes of cooking, so they can sear and not stick to the pan. Do not squash them with your utensil. It mashes all of the tasty tasty juices out of the burger.
8. Flip after three minutes, and cook for just another minute on the second side. These are meant to be eaten mid-rare to medium, and they are small, so please, no well-done sadness.
9. Slice the wee little challah buns and insert your baby lamb sliders. Top with 2 whole mint leaves and 2 whole oregano leaves.
10. Eat. You're welcome.
|The indispensable and deadly cast-iron skillet.|
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
It's the start of something new at the South Philly Tap Room: New head chef Scott Schroeder, formerly of The Latest Dish, Deuce and Pontiac Grille, debuted his menu this past Friday.
After all the hullabaloo surrounding former chef Michael Zulli's gamier inclinations (Simbagate!), Schroeder's menu reads accessible without coming off overly simple. Wild boar tacos are a shoutout to the popular wild boar burrito they used to roll. And the burger — locally sourced grass-fed beef (Schroeder's friends at Southwark put him on to the meat source), smoked cheddar, shaved red onion, beer mustard, side of pickles. Don't need a million ingredients if the five you have are quality. "[SPTR] is a beer bar," Schroeder says. "To make food that reflects that was a huge part of the influence [for the menu]."
"I definitely wanted to reflect a definite, solid change. I had Mike Zulli's food and I thought it was good, but it was weird to a lot of people and seemed to alienate some," adds Schroeder of his predecessor, whom SPTR owner John Longacre believes has relocated to New York.
Schroeder plans on adding rotating specials to the menu in about three week's time — expect ceviches, homemade sausages and Mexican grub inspired by the Tap Room's espanol-speaking cocina staff. The lunch menu is currently the same as dinner, but Schroeder says they'll tweak it a bit. Also on the horizon: An overhaul of SPTR's brunch menu to include dishes like biscuits and gravy and Belgian waffles (they're on the hunt for a good iron and a great batter recipe).
Full menu after the jump.
Tomato lager soup 6
mini grilled cheese sandwiches (vegetarian)
Homemade herb flatbread 8
hummus, roasted peppers, cucumbers and olives (vegan)
Southern fried chicken wings 8
collard greens, tabasco and blue cheese dip
Wild boar tacos 9
Dry rubbed rib eye cheesesteak sliders (2) 10
Seafood spring rolls 12
shrimp, scallops and crab w/ plum sauce and spicy mustard
Grilled caesar 8
marinated tomatoes, olives and cucumbers w/ warm garlic bread
Roasted beets and watercress 8
lemon goat cheese ranch (vegetarian/can be vegan)
Baby spinach 8
candied walnuts, blue cheese and pomegranate vinaigrette (vegetarian/can be vegan)
Classic chopped salad 10
avocado, red onion, tomatoes, hard boiled egg and a choice of red wine vinaigrette
or buttermilk blue cheese (vegetarian/ can be vegan)
3 Cheese Grilled Cheese 9
cup of tomato lager soup (vegetarian)
Roasted Pork 9
provolone cheese, charred long hots and pork jus
Vegan Hoagie 10
grilled tempeh, marinated mushrooms and tofu mayo (vegan)
100% Local Grass-fed Beef Cheeseburger 10
smoked cheddar, shaved red onion, beer mustard and a side of pickles
Stout Braised Brisket 12
horseradish cheddar cheese on an onion roll
Smoked Mushroom and Black Bean Chili 12
oyster crackers and green onions (vegan)
My Mom’s Meatloaf 13
macaroni and cheese and homemade ketchup
Eggplant Parm 13
garlic spinach, fresh mozzarella and spicy tomato sauce (vegetarian)
Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast 16
buttered noodles and spinach
Fish and Chips 16
beer battered monkfish, fries, cole slaw and old bay tartar sauce
Steak and Fries 18
herb marinated hanger steak with homemade steak sauce
Mac and cheese
Italian pasta salad
Apple pie w/ vanilla ice cream
Pumpkin cheesecake w/ cranberry sauce
|Tex-Mex Mustache Bar|
The former Deuce space in Liberties Walk has sat, sadly empty and forlorn, since the bar-restaurant shuttered its operation in April. But these days, former Deuce sous chef Jen Zavala is back in her old kitchen as executive chef of restaurant designer/Bar Ferdinand owner Owen Kamihira's upcoming El Camino Real. With licensing acquired and changes to the space wrapping up, Zavala is on the search for some good cooks to staff her kitchen — killer knife skills absolutely required. Those hired for their fearless fingers will be breaking down some high-quality meats for the prep-intensive, protein-heavy menu.
The doubled-up menus of El Camino Real will represent both North Chihuahuan Mexican dishes and Texas smokehouse barbecue; the colossal list will boast 55 items, ranging from a domestically produced Wagyu beef brisket to a build-your-own-entrée option.
Zavala's food philosophy is simple. "I think about a snowstorm," she says. "No one wants to drive, so what is the kind of food you are going to put on your snowboots and hike for?"
With the big opening imminent, Kamihira and Zavala are betting their combined powers of style and (edible) substance will draw diners hungry for something different straight to this Tex-Mex border bar.
El Camino Real, opening soon at Liberties Walk, 1040 N. Second St.
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