Archive: October, 2012
Congratulations are in order for Kevin Sbraga whose Broad Street restaurant (440 South Broad St.) made John Mariani's list of best new restaurants for Esquire magazine. Sbraga's $49 tasting menu won Mariani's heart with its creativity, quality and price point.
The key to Sbraga's four-course low overhead tasting menu has to do with setting the price first and working within those parameters. The season seven Top Chef champ lines up the menu with a high-low selection of choices including Foie Gras Soup with Rose Petal Relish, Bluefish with Bok Choy, Kimchi and Apples and country Fried Lobster. And since the tasting menu is such a bargain, the well-selected $35 wine pairing is pretty much a must.
On today's Afternoon Snacks, learn to make bagels, celebrate even more pumpkin ales, and enjoy dinner and a concert under the stars in Ambler.
To their detractors, bagels are often derided as being “just round bread”—and too often, when you try to make your own at home, that’s actually a pretty apt description of the result. Fortunately, Spread Bagelry (262 S. 20th St.) has proven their mettle in bagel arts, and now they’re willing to pass along their secrets to you, the aspiring home bagel-baker. Register for their class on Tuesday, Oct. 30th at 7 p.m. and you’ll get a hands-on lesson in crafting the Montreal-style bagels that have made a name for Spread. The $24 course—which you can register for right here—is part of the “What is Your Food Worth?” series presented by a coalition of historical and cultural organizations that examines its eponymous query from “cultural, historical, financial, environmental, and religious” angles.
Has Midtown Village really been "Midtown Village" for seven years now? Time sure flies in a hood where the edible distractions include Barbuzzo, Zavino, Capogiro and reviewed-this-week Time. This Sat., the 13th Street district hosts its seventh annual Midtown Village Fall Festival from noon till 7 p.m. with food from the above mentioned, craft beer, a firefighters-sponsored kids' zone and Obama/Romney dunk tanks. May we suggest hurling a Massachusetts-made Harpoon bottle at the latter.
The corner of Fifth and Chestnut Street’s one-time Lafayette Building is quiet no more. While its gilded new inhabitant, Hotel Monaco, preps for a champagne bottle-smashing toast next Thursday morning, this weekend found its restaurants and lounges ready to serve. Under the command of Executive Chef Guillermo Tellez, the reclaimed industrialism of the Red Owl Tavern and its sorta-skylit cousin eleven floors above, Stratus, promise regionally sourced American fare from a man who knows his hotel food. He’s the chef at Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar’s hot spot, Square 1682.
Tellez likes the feel of hotels and hotel dining. With two hotels under his belt is looking to challenge the preconceived notion of what restaurants in such a setting can be. “Hotel restaurants always get a bad rap. Lousy food, lousy service. Not this place. We run the restaurants independently. We don’t have a chain in front of us or anyone to answer to. These places are my challenge and Kimpton allows us to shine in that regard.”
Most shining is Red Owl Tavern’s opening menu – a sophisticated comfort food one filled with casseroles, pot pies, a variety of clean cut steak and pork filets and soft pretzel appetizers albeit with raclette cheese. “That’s a nice way of putting it,” says Tellez. “Red Owl is a modern American tavern and I wanted to showcase the purity of American flavors.” Tellez is keeping things “minimalist” and locally sourced. “I like meat on the bone – lamb shanks on the bone, beef short rib on the rib. We’re not playing with things too much.” The comfort food aspect – what could be nicer than to travel far from home and get a chicken pot pie – an early crowd pleaser - like your mom used to make. “They’re whole fresh Lancaster chickens brined for several days, slow roasted and just a few simple herbs. It’s pure. We let that shine.”
Planning on dining with friends this weekend? Chef Michael Santoro of The Mildred (824 South 8th St.) is rolling out two new dishes crafted for family-style enjoyment. First up is a tradtional French bouillabaisse, a steaming pot of fennel-tomato broth with monkfish, prawns, scallops, cockles and potatoes served with rouille (garlic-saffron mayo) topped croutons.
And then there's the Four Story Hill Farms pheasant. Roasted upright on Staub cast-iron, the bird is brined and served with potatoes cooked in duck fat with cool weather accompaniments like brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
Loyal readers of our print publication will know that tonight is the unveiling of local illustrator Hawk Krall's epic pizza-lebrity mural at Pizza Brain (2313 Frankford Ave.) Aside from seeing Krall's renditions of Frank Rizzo and Freeway tonight's First Friday celebrations include the grand opening of the Little Baby's Ice Cream parklet, a lovely haven for ice cream enjoyment that feels like a little piece of Southern California on Frankford Ave. And speaking about ice cream, tonight Little Baby's is premiering their Goldenberg's Peanut Chew Ice Cream and the GPC Volkswagen van will be on hand doling out free chews.
Fans of local politics can look forward to photo ops with local politicians like Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler, Councilman Mark Squilla and Streets Department Commissioner Clarena Tolson.
Promises of pizza-inspired ice cream and ice cream-inspired pizza as well as the opportunity to meet Pizza Brain's first ever artist in residence, Rob Corradetti aka killer acid are pretty much securing Fishtown as the place to be this First Friday night.
We were already aware that noted Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts grad and creep-tacular film director David Lynch was into the coffee game but today it has come to our attention that he's now teaming up with legendary Champagne house Dom Pérignon.
Lynch has designed the labels for several vintages of Dom as "a testament to the beauty that can result from hardship: Grapes touched by both frost and a scorching summer resulted in a simply extraordinary Champagne."
Wait, what? Well, it turns out that 2003, one of the vintages that carries Lynch's label was the hottest in 53 years of Champagne grape growing history. The grapes that survived the summer made for a truly spectacular vintage, made even more spectacular by Lynch's custom label. Check out the '03 over at Gilt Taste.
Pumpkin beers, it probably goes without saying, are firmly in the love ‘em or hate ‘em camp. Pie eating contests, on the other hand, are indisputably one of the greatest things humans have ever dreamt up. So regardless of your feelings on pumpkin beer, this weekend’s Pumpkin Smash at City Tap House (3925 Walnut St.) sounds like a worthwhile way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Grab a pumpkin fanatic friend—you know you’ve got at least one—and each of you, respectively, can grumble or lovingly sigh your way through a list of more than 25 pumpkin brews from 1 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 7th. They’ll also have live music, Elysian’s head brewer Dick Cantwell on hand (he’s bringing a wide variety of Elysian’s excellent beers with him, but this could also be useful info if Dick Cantwell owes you money), and one more all-important part of the season: “pumpkin-themed activities.” (Such as shoving pumpkin pie in your face! Hopefully, the most pumpkin pie!)
At the risk of causing trouble, we’d also like to make you aware of another event competing for your attention on Sunday afternoon: the American Swedish Historical Museum’s Third Annual Meatball Match-up! That sudden sense of roiling internal conflict you may be feeling right now is understandable, since meatballs are stiff competition for pie eating contests in the race for “best human invention.” If meatballs win out for you, check in at the American Swedish (1900 Pattison Ave.) this Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. They’ll be judging a slew of entries and crowning someone king of meatballs in each of two fields: amateur and pro. The pros include Villa di Roma, Brauhaus Schmitz, Plenty, IKEA (duh), and many more. $8-an-adult-head gets you in to sample all the pro entries; if you want to be considered for amateur meatball royalty, you might have to drop everything and run to hand-deliver your entry form, because registration closes today.
You know what we love about the South Philadelphia Tap Room (1900 S. 15th St.) (besides the lovable Scott Schroeder of course)? The Newbold pub has some of the best beer events in town, and like the fun, unpretentious, seasonal and well seasoned cooking, they never brag or boast of make a very big deal about them. To wit: a plainspoken, unfussy email about a three events beer lovers should know about.
They start as soon as today with Founders going on heavy rotation on the taps to kick off the season for their beguiling Breakfast Stout. Anyone who's been to the annual Beer Week Founders Dinner knows the romance between SPTR and Founders is long-standing, resulting in some rare and one-offs making their way from Grand Rapids, MI, to South Philly. One that's being tapped today at 4 p.m. is the hazelnut ale Frangelic Mountain Brown, a beer so limited that customers at the brewery were only allowed one growler fill when it premiered in July.
Luc Van Mechelen, AKA Bobo, national sales ambassador for Chimay, drop into SPTR on Thursday, October. 10 for "Eat and Drink Like a Belgian, with a Belgian." Red, White and Blue will flow, while Schroeder severs up Flemish stew, a beef/mushroom/onion/caraway set-up made with Chimay Blue, starting at 6 p.m. "Bobo takes a toasted whole wheat bread with Dijon mustard and puts the mustard side face down in the stew until it dissolves as a thickening agent," Schroeder explains.
The Netherlands visit next, on Monday, October. 15., with La Trappe exporter Erwin Klijn and Artisanal Imports founder Lanny Hoff. Bartenders will be pouring Isi'dor, White, Dubbel and Quad; order any and you get a free, fancy La Trappe glass you won't have to steal.
This Saturday the Fishtown Neighbors Association and Parks and Rec are teaming up to host the fifth annual Rivercity Festival in Penn Treaty Park. There's a 5k run, loads of vendors, magicians, circus performers, a line up of local bands and plenty of food and beer to be had from 12 to 5 p.m.
A flat fee of $20 gets you access to the hospitality tent which translates to all you can drink brews from Philadelphia Brewing Company, Barry's Homebrew and soon to open brew pub St. Benjamin's Brewing. Fishtown favorite Soup Kitchen is cooking up chili for the event, Johnny Brenda's is providing dessert and food truck action is going to be provided by The Foo Truck and The Buttercream Cupcake Truck.
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