Archive: October, 2009
Blackfish's Chip Roman (119 Fayette St., Conshohocken) is launching a monthly guest chef series, where the chef'll bring in friends and colleagues to produce seven-course, $85-a-head tastings. Cooking the first dinner, scheduled for Monday, Nov. 2 ï¿½ Ideas in Food's Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa, the daring chef duo we featured in CP back in August. Check out their menu after the jump. On deck for December ï¿½ 10 Arts chef de cuisine and current Top Chef frontrunner Jennifer Carroll, who'll cook at Blackfish on December 7. Reservations (phone-only) can be made by calling the restaurant at 610-397-0888.
smoked pumpkin ice cream wild char roe, cranberry, brittle walnuts
potato chip soup black fish tempura, tartar sauce
bacon and bay scallop risotto gala apples, cheddar, jalapeno
grouper en brodo sausage and chestnut tortellini, buttermilk biscuit broth
veal cheek bourguignon onion soup mashed potatoes
powdered brie de meaux white chocolate sheets, bourbon cherries, pistachio gremolata
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
Here's a quick peek inside Sweetie's Pie Diner (1822 Spring Garden St.), which'll open to the public this coming Tuesday, Oct. 13. (Meal Ticket first told you about the project back in August.) Owner Stephanie Thaw, who built out the interior herself, is offering an all-vegetarian lineup of sweet and savory pies, primarily for lunch and dinner; breakfast (coffee, muffins, mini pies, etc.) will be grab-and-go style. Pies and salads will change daily. (Check out the opening menu after the jump.) One cool feature of the interior ï¿½ a auto-rotating cylindrical display case (second pic) Thaw calls "Doggy TV." A Brazilian friend of the baker told her that they're a staple of cafï¿½s in Rio de Janeiro; the spinning food tends to put street pooches in a salivating trance, hence the name.
Opening hours: Tue.-Thu., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri.-Sun., 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
|Click to enlarge|
The GPTMC is pushing hard on their "With Love" ad campaign with their latest offering -- an array of vivid photographic e-postcards you can send to all your out-of-town buddies, reminding them we have a world-class baseball team, a world-class art museum permanently linked to a braindead boxer and way cheaper rents than they do.
|Bad Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|Apologies for the horrible photo of the
amazing braised beef cheek.
Peter McAndrews, the young chef/owner of Modo Mio BYOB (161 W. Girard Ave.) always employs seasonal ingredients, changing his entire menu every four to six weeks.ï¿½ His latest iteration uses autumnal flavors like butternut squash, chestnut honey and candied olives to bring sparkle and a twist to classic Italian preparations.
Choose to order items a la carte, or as a four-course "menu turista", which takes the diner on a tour of McAndrew's culinary sensibility with an antipasto, pasta, secondo and dolce for a bargain $33.
Highlights of our dinner last night included the montecato antipasto, a lush blend of whipped salt cod and mashed potato topped with lemon cream and roasted fennel, and the guancia secondi (pictured), a super-tender braised beef cheek topped with a golden raisin gremolata and crispy polenta, sauced with delicate salsa passito (braising liquid and vegetables "passed" through a strainer).
After the jump, Modo Mio's seasonal menu, which is so new it's not even on their Web site yet. Hit up the ATM before you go; the teeny restaurant is cash-only.
Modo Mio's Autumn Menu
Antipasti, $8 each
montecato -- whipped salt cod and mashed potato with lemon cream, roasted fennel and bruschetta
cannellono -- crispy crab-stuffed prosciutto di Parma, asparagus & almonds
torta -- crispy potato pancake, balsamic grilled octopus, arugula pesto, oven-roasted tomato
zuppe -- Italian onion soup with bruschetta, aged provolone and snails
gnoccho -- crispy fried potato dumpling stuffed with foie gras and chicken liver, orange-fennel mostarda, shaved gorgonzola
barbabietola -- roasted beets, baby arugula, toasted almonds, marinated anchovy and truffle vinaigrette
panelle -- crispy chickpea crepe, rosemary grilled shrimp, sambuca cream
cotechino -- rich housemade sausage, fried cream, poached egg, red wine mustard
cozze -- mussels, your way, red or white, spicy or not
Pasta, $11 each
bucatini -- thick hollow spaghetti "Amatriciana style", pancetta, spicy plum tomato, pecorino
maccheroni -- fresh square spaghetti, spicy lamb ragu, candied olives
spaghetti -- rock shrimp, olive oil, garlic, breadcrumbs, ginger
lasagne bolognese -- fresh pasta sheets, classic meat sauce, besciamella
gnocchi -- potato gnocchi, porcini, gorgonzola cream
tortelloni -- butternut squash-stuffed large navels, sage butter, amaretti
(Gluten-free pasta is available as a substitute)
bistecca Siciliana, $18 -- breaded and grilled ribeye, aged provolone, fried egg, soppressata, anchovy caper butter
vitello, $17 -- veal scallopini, chicken liver crostini, apple fennel relish
animelle, $18 -- crispy veal sweetbreads with long hot pepper and sun-dried cherry agrodolce, prosciutto di Parma and balsamic maionese
anatra "all'apicio", $17 -- roasted duck leg, chestnut honey, spices, cunja
guancia, $17 -- braised beef cheek, salsa passito, crispy polenta, golden raisin gremolata
miale, $16 -- Milanese-style pork loin, peach mostarda, radicchio, almond and shaved grana
pesce, $MP -- whole fish, chef's choice
razze, $17 -- skate wing seared with apricot brown butter, almonds, capers and lemon
cernia, $17 -- red snapper fillet, black olive relish, salsa verde and roasted eggplant
pepperoni, $14 -- stuffed melrose pepper with polenta, saffron maionese and montasio cheese
Contorni, $5 each
goccia -- Italian spaetzle, fennel, Parmigiano
patate -- roasted potatoes, rosemary
broccoli -- bitter broccoli, pepperoncino, garlic, lemon
rucola -- arugula with raisins, pine nuts, pecorino and lemon
How diverse of you, Top Chef producers! A white dude, an Asian dude, a black dude, a woman and a dude who thinks this is OK!
Quickfire: Food Network's Tyler Florence shows up as a guest judge. "I recognized him right when I got there," says Kevin, demonstrating one of my favorite tactics of people whoï¿½ avoid overtly talking shit on someone by making benign observations ("I noticed that he had skin"). The remaining cheftestants are instructed to yank the crank of a culinary keyword-spitting slot machine (a predatory gambling manifestation of cookstr.com) and then build a dish based around the descriptors they're dealt.
At the top: Mike I, whose raw mushroom dish properly conveyed the words Stressed, Asian and Umami ("Umami. It's not salty, it's not sweet, it's not spicy, it's not sour. It's ... umami," explains the chef. Thx!); Kevin, whose Stressed/Hot 'n' Spicy/Asian Viet spring roll-inspired plate impressed; and Mike V, whose yuzu Greek yogurt and seaweed cracker combo was at once Adventurous, Tangy and Asian. (Notice how all the contenders drew Asian? Empirical evidence that we run this.)
At the bottom: Robin, who got ripped by the transcendently beautiful, now-preg Padma for acting like curry was Middle Eastern; Eli, whose umami was not ... umami enough for Ty Flo (look at that lady-ass coat he's wearing in that photo above); and our girl Jen C, because putting roe on top of a scallop did not meet Ty Flo's standards of Adventurous-ness. Kev wins and ends up choosing $15,000 over immunity. A solid decision, I think, because Kev knows he can cook. Other people on this show apparently don't think they can, but more on that in 5 seconds.
Elimination: As soon as I heard Padma be like "In these tough economic times ... " I had a feeling this would be the elimination equivalent of getting squirted in the eye with big wedge of lemon. I was right! In an apparent "celebration of the home chef," a cabal of celebrity toques provide teams of two cheftestants with grab bags full of stuff, and they're tasked with composing family-style dishes inside the Top Chef house using makeshift kitchen setups. There was also something about this being for the Macy's Culinary Council charity but I was too busy chuckling about how the world hates Ty Flo's Twitter account to take down the details.
Mike I gets paired with Robin, which causes him to start spitting out synonyms for "furious" to describe his mood ("I was livid! Angry! Upset!"). Then he calms down and they make seared tuna and scallops for Takashi Yagahashi. Ash and Mike V make egg yolk-filled ravioli and pancetta-wrapped halibut for Nancy Silverton. Kev and Jen C, who draw Seattle chef Tom Douglas' bag, do a Korean BBQ dish. Eli and Ashley grill spot prawns and chop up gnocchi for Govind Armstrong, who I think always wears white pants, and Bryan and Laurine roast fish for Ty-Ty.
The tasting/judging jumped off as expected, with high and low lights, but the one thing that really stuck out to me was Toby Young dropping a variation on the "full-on Monet" line from Clueless to describe one dish. Which made me start thinking like
At the top this time are Jen C and Kevin and Laurine and Bryan. Ty Flo ends up giving the W to the former group, with individual glory going to none other than Jen C for a well-executed tomato cardamom sauce. She's happy, especially since her confidence waned in the beginning due to her being miserably ill ï¿½ and also 'cause she cops a $10K Macy's giftcard for her trouble. There's a Macy's right by 10 Arts, too. Can you buy me some of those strap things that hold your dress socks up, Jen? That seems like something I would have to go to Macy's to buy.
At the bottom: Eli and Ashley, whose gnocchi was marred by saltiness; and Mike V and Ash, who served inconsistently cooked fish due to their electric plancha short-circuiting mid-sear. This is where Ash gets real weird with it, basically admitting to the judges that he thinks he's not as good of a chef as his workhorse partner ï¿½ helping him cook is like "washing paintbrushes for Picasso," he states ï¿½ while still arguing that he should remain in the running because he thinks he deserves it.
I think I kinda caught his strategy here ï¿½ he wanted to project all the blame for the ambitious but ultimately flawed dish on Mike, so he took the sycophantic route to blur the fact that he contributed very little to the finished product. It may be part gamesmanship and it may be part sincere admiration on Ash's part, but either way it came off creepy and counterproductive, and I think he should've been sent packing because it's clear that at least part of him thinks he isn't good enough to compete ï¿½ and that's the last thing you want to publicly announce on TC, no? But turns out Ashley's poorly executed pasta had her packing her knives instead. Dammit, she was my dark horse pick.
What'd you think of last night's elimination?
This week, Mï¿½mï¿½ (2201 Spruce St.) launched a new Monday-only deal ï¿½ $38 for a four-course prix-fixe. Chef/owner David Katz says that though there will be a few supplemental items available a la carte ï¿½ oysters by the piece, foie, roasted bone marrow ï¿½ he wants to keep dinner on Monday evenings tasting menu-exclusive. (There's a minimum of two choices per course.)
Dishes that might surface on Mondays include stuff off Mï¿½mï¿½'s new fall menu (so new it has yet to be published on the restaurant's Web site) ï¿½ the "Mï¿½mï¿½ steak," with roasted carrots and brown butter mashed potatoes; scallops with fennel/blood orange salad; grilled Belgian endive with Medjool dates, pancetta, duck confit and aged balsamic ï¿½ as well as off-menu treats like butternut squash risotto or grilled asparagus with prosciutto and poached egg. Oh, and to drink ï¿½ $5 glasses of wine (a white, a red and a rosï¿½) will be pouring all night.
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
Serendipitous timing last night at Zahav (237 St. James Place): We dropped in for a quick pre-movie bite at the bar, only to find out that chef Michael Solomonov has been rolling out a handful of new menu items for the fall. Here's one bad-ass plate we tried ï¿½ little duck confit-stuffed peppers topped with sliced grapes, served atop a broad stroke of almond-garlic purï¿½e. There was a tremendous sweet/salty interplay between meat and fruit here, with the earthy, savory purï¿½e tempering each forkful ever so gently.
Eat this immediately.
|Photo l Mark Stehle|
- David Snyder visits Sonata, chef Mark Tropea's new composition on the Liberties Walk, and indulges in a season's worth of musical analogies.ï¿½ Black cod wrapped in thin slices of russet potatoes and roasted (pictured above) is a high note, as well as sous/pastry chef Krystal Weaver's chocolate beignets filled with liquid chocolate ganache.
- Delivery does not become the pizza, paratha and kati rolls of Tiffin Etc., finds Trey Popp, who still finds things to chew on at the Girard Avenue pizzeria.
- Drew Lazor rides furiously all over town, snagging pictures of the latest restaurant openings for Feeding Frenzy. MidAtlantic and Koo Zee Doo are highlighted this week, with fish on the horizon as soon as the LCB sees fit.
- What's Cooking scribe Erin Szrankowski directs you to hot buns and cold beer at Chifa, a Shambles class on pairing local chocolate and cheese with wine, the outer-limit wonders of Philly Neighborhood Food Week, a drinkable lecture on whiskey at Hudson Beach Glass and caffeinated art at Chestnut Hill's Metropolitan Bakery.
Variously referred to as devil's dung, Hing, food of the gods, stinking gum or giant fennel, asafoetida is a pungent spice that smells earthy and rank when raw, but adds a round, garlic and leek flavor to cooked dishes.ï¿½ My gypsyish friend Kelly Anura brought the funky seasoning home after a trip to her husband's native India, and showed it to me while cooking dinner the other day. The jar had been wrapped once in Saran and again in a plastic bag to prevent the serious stench from taking over the entire pantry.
Though intense in aroma, asafoetida is prized for its ability to add a savory, umami quality to vegetarian cuisine.ï¿½ It is particularly prized by the Jains, who do not consume root vegetables, including garlic and onions.ï¿½ Asafoetida, which reduces the quantity of indigenous microflora living in the human gut,ï¿½ has also been used for centuries as a natural antiflatulent, and is often stirred into legume dishes or taken as a tea to that end.ï¿½ A more important, non-culinary use of the resin is being explored now -- Jim Dawson at LiveScience.com writes:
Scientists at the Kaohsiung Medial University in Taiwan have discovered that the roots of a plant used in 1918 to fight the Spanish influenza pandemic produces natural antiviral compounds that kill the swine flu virus, H1N1....In their tests of a group of chemical compounds contained in extracts from the plant, scientists Fang-Rong Chang and Yang-Chan Wu discovered that some of them where more potent in killing the H1N1 virus than a prescription antiviral drug.
The resiny gum of the Ferula assafoetida stem is the result of drying the plant's sap; the prepared spice is a sold as a compounded asifoetida powder, blended with rice flour and gum arabic.ï¿½ Sources abound on the Web for the compounded powder and liquid.
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