Archive: November, 2008
Baby bok choy has no competition for the title of Cutest Cabbage. Milder than its more mature counterpart, the young bok choy is suitable for braising, stir-frying, grilling or steaming. Sliced thin and added just before serving, it adds nutrition and texture to a winter soup. Rich in sulfur-containing phytonutrients, bok choy is related to cabbage, a cruciferous family that all contain those cancer-fighting compounds. Hung Vuong Supermarket at 11th and Washington has a diverse fresh produce section, and usually stocks bags of the petite cabbage for around two dollars.
A quick steam is all that is needed to preserve bok choy's mild flavor and appealing crunch, while a dressing that utilizes every part of the grapefruit — zest, flesh and juice — adds an acidic spark and pretty color contrast to the vegetable. Wash your grapefruits thoroughly with hot water and some vigorous friction to remove any wax or residual pesticide on the skin before zesting. A microplane or similar small rasp makes zesting about 5 million percent easier. Get one.
Recipe after the jump.
Steamed Baby Bok Choy with Grapefruit Vinaigrette
Go Get This:
1 lb. of baby bok choy heads
3 ruby red grapefruits (two for sectioning, one for juicing)
1/2 cup mild flavored oil, like grapeseed or flax
sea salt to taste
pinch black pepper
Now Do This:
1 Thoroughly wash grapefruits and baby bok choys. Drain.
2 Zest one grapefruit completely, taking care to leave the white, bitter pith behind. Reserve zest.
3 Section two grapefruits. Slice off the stem end in order to create a flat surface for the grapefruit to stand on, and slice off the remainder of the skin and pith with a sharp serrated knife.
4 Holding the fruit in your non-dominant hand, cut out sections of the grapefruit over a bowl to catch all the juice. Reserve the sections in their juice. Squeeze the crap out of the grapefruit skeleton to get out any remaining juice.
5 Completely juice the third grapefruit and add to your reserved sections. If you don't have 1 cup of juice, add bottled grapefruit juice to make 1 cup.
6 Whisk together the grapefruit juice, zest, grapeseed oil, sea salt and black pepper and reserve. Taste and adjust seasoning.
7 Pour two inches of water into a pot with a steamer lid, or if you don't have a steaming pot, stick an all-metal colander into a pot with an inch of water and lid tightly.
8 Slice each baby bok choy lengthwise and place in the pot. Once the water is boiling, steam for just a minute or two — bok choys should still be crisp and bright green.
9 Dress the bok choy with the grapefruit vinaigrette and serve warm, or refrigerate and serve chilled. Strew grapefruit sections on top of bok choy for a pretty garnish.
|Mr. Oerbier, cup in hand, as Mr. December|
|De Dolle Brouwers|
Yesterday, we stuck our nose in a Christmas beer book by local writer and beer guy Joe Sixpack. Today, we will stick our nose in a real Christmas beer. De Dolle Stille Nacht is an unspiced ale brewed in Esen, Belgium by a pair of brothers who rescued a historic 19th-century brewery for a lark, and ended up creating a renowned line of light-hearted but complex ales.
Stille Nacht, which means "silent night," pours a tarnished gold color, with a fluffy off-cream colored head. An initial nose into the glass reveals citrus and sour aromas, as well as a hot whiff of alcohol. At 12 percent ABV, Stille Nacht is best removed from the refrigerator and allowed to warm, still capped, for 10 minutes before serving.
The body is spritzy and effervescent, with flavors of orange zest and vanilla at first taste. As the beer warms, the flavors develop and change on the palate, revealing an amazingly complex ale driven by a seriously funky house yeast. From the first citrus splash, banana and spice flavors emerge, then stone fruits — mostly peaches — and finally toffee and candi sugar. Though the beer is dark golden in color, the body is full and creamy, with suspended particles of yeast creating a haze in the glass. Holding a mouthful on the tongue reveals the truly knockout (but well-integrated) quantity of booze in this ale.
De Dolle Brouwers means "the mad brewers," and the brothers have worked hard to make fine, unique beers that retain a sense of whimsy and magic. Due to cultish devotion to this particular beer, quantities are extremely limited. Bella Vista Beer is expecting a delivery of cases of Stille Nacht by Tue., Dec. 2. The $86, 24-bottle case is the perfect size: eight beers for drinking, eight beers for giving, and eight to cellar and drink on a future silent night.
Bella Vista Beer & Soda Distributors, 755 S. 11th St., 215-627-6465, bellavistabeverage.com
Six months ago, Chima Brazilian Steakhouse opened on JFK Blvd. Chris Scarduzio and Georges Perrier opened the Comcastic Table 31 in July. Stephen Starr debuted Butcher & Singer in the grand former Striped Bass space in October, with Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House hot on their heels, opening for dinner this Fri., Nov. 28. Union Trust, yet another fancypants meat market, anticipates an early February opening. Meanwhile, most people have modified their dining out from filet mignon and magnums of cab to mac and cheese and cans of Pabst. What the hell are these steakhouse owners thinking?
Every one of these spaces was negotiated, leased and in construction long before the world economy was revealed to be a house of cards, built on the shifting sands of high-risk debt and unregulated securities. They had to go forward, like it or not. And they are not going to like it, not one bit. The corporate expense accounts that allowed executives to wine and dine clients with prestige vintages and $65 steaks are as dead as the bull market. Citigroup, America's largest bank, is laying off 50,000 employees and has received a multi-billion dollar federal bailout package, but might not even remain solvent through the fiscal year. Wall Street refugees are sending résumés to the restaurants where they once martini-lunched.
With the economy in free fall, economists agree on one thing: They don't know where the bottom is, but this ain't it. Things are going to get much worse before they get better. Opening a 600-seat posh steakhouse in the midst of this panic is sheer folly, but Del Frisco's forges ahead, saddled with a cumbersome flotilla of staff and the crushing overhead of their gigantic space on Chestnut Street. The upcoming boutique steakhouse Union Trust just bought a 1.75-liter (approx. 59-ounce) $33,000 bottle of Remy Martin Louis XIII Black Pearl 2 cognac at the recent Philadelphia Whiskey Festival. That means the restaurant's cost for a paltry one-ounce pour of the stuff is $559. If they plan to make any money, they will have to charge at least $650 for a glass. Even if you have the scratch and can't die until you've had Louis Tres from the only magnum in PA, doesn't it seem just a shade ostentatious these days?
Vacationing Europeans might soften the sting for the steakhouses for a minute, but Europe has just as much consumer debt as the the USA, and their party is at last call, as well — the E.U. just passed a gargantuan $200 billion stimulus package. People revert to comforting, familiar food in times of trial, and steak and creamed spinach will always be popular. But good food and service, even combined with a killer wine list in a beautiful setting, are not enough to make a high-end restaurant a success. Hopefully the minds behind this glut of steakhouses will put their heads together to beat prolonged contracted consumer spending; otherwise, they might bleed their last in this bloody market.
Starbucks teams up with Red Campaign for World AIDS Day, bringing out unparalleled dickwaddiness in Facebook community
Starbucks is working with the Red Campaign to raise support funds on World AIDS Day, which is Dec. 1.
Join us in support of World AIDS Day. We're giving 5¢ to the Global Fund for every hand-crafted Starbucks beverage sold on December 1, 2008 at participating US and Canada locations.
Invite your friends! We're counting on every customer to help make a difference. Together, we can do a world of good.
Naturally, this ostensibly positive (and rather benign) charity function has been met head-on by a bunch of assholes who happen to have Internet access.
After the jump, check out a minute cross-section of the thousands of thousands of terrible people who have posted comments on the event's Facebook page (must be logged in to view).
Here is my personal favorite:
Thanksgiving Eve is the biggest barrin' and boozin' night of the year. Start early and economically by dropping by Bella Vista Beer Distributors today at 3 p.m. The Fetfatzes family will be doling out the gratis booze in the Belgian abbey room in the front of the store. My understanding is they'll be giving it away until they run out, which I imagine will happen pretty fast, so get the hell over there.
Don Russell writes a weekly beer column for the Daily News as Joe Sixpack, an inveterate beer drinker and promoter of craft brewing and culture. His latest book, Wishing you a Merry Christmas Beer: The Cheeriest, Tastiest and Most Unusual Holiday Brews (Universe), explores the world of celebration beers and the history of drinking strong, spiced ales around the holidays.
Meal Ticket: Why should a non-beer drinker pick up your Christmas beer book?
Don Russell: I hope that non-beer drinkers could pick up this book — especially wine drinkers. There are a number of beers that I can point you to that wine drinkers will really enjoy. Troegs Mad Elf tastes more like wine than any other beer; its fruity, complex character is something any wine drinker can taste that and think it's the most marvelous stuff out there. Samiclaus is so different — it's like drinking a brandy, almost.
The variety of Christmas beers is what I love. They are multi-dimensional in terms of character. I am also a big softie ... I love Christmas. There is a lot in the book about the traditions of Christmas, even a whole chapter on Santa Claus!
MT: Though you state in your book that "Christmas beer" is not a certain style, many of these brews contain mace, allspice, grains of paradise and the like. What is the connection?
DR: Not all of them have spice, but a large number do. There are two parts to that tradition: Beer was often spiced with many different ingredients, because it was a long while before brewers settled on hops as the main bittering agent in beer, in the 1500s. Before that, brewers used anything they could get their hands on to bitter and preserve their beers.
The second part is the Christmas tradition of wassailing, which began in the 1600s and continued on into the 20th century. Wassail is a strong British ale spiced with sugar and nutmeg, served out of a bowl to people who went door to door visiting, bringing their own cups. The tradition of caroling comes from wassailing, and the style of wassail is the root of these spiced beers. There are also different offshoots — Norwegian beers made with spruce instead of hops, for example. That is what is going on with Anchor "Our Special Ale," which they flavor with spruce or some other evergreen, changing the recipe every year. That is really the prototypical American Christmas beer.
MT: What is your number one favorite holiday beer?
DR: My personal favorites are listed as the top 50 beers [in the book]. I'd be the first to say it could change from year to year, because recipes change and my taste changes. I just consider these to be the best. The best-known beers are very popular for a reason. Troegs Mad Elf is number one, and a good section of the country won't be able to get that beer, but I put regional beers like that in because the nature of Christmas beer is collectability — beer people make a special effort to get these beers. If you are living on the West Coast, you should make an effort to get this really special beer. People who travel abroad at Christmas should try and pick up beers not available in the U.S. I used to buy a case of Affligem Noel and lay down half of them for the next year. Corsendonk Christmas has supplanted that for me — I really enjoy that one quite a bit. It's expensive, so but so complex and richly full of flavor.
MT: Where are the best places to acquire holiday beers in our region?
DR: The motivation of this book was to lay out for people the variety of Christmas beers, and use it like a hunting guide. Most of these beers are available in the Philadelphia area — we are lucky to have the selection. [Ed: See below for Russell's list of non-Foodery spots to pick up unusual or limited Christmas edition beers.] When you go to other states, you get a different selection, because they have some beers that aren't registered in PA.
Heads up for holiday brews:
Capone's. Capone's is not big, but the variety is almost up there with the Foodery, and they have some beer you can't get at the Foodery. This is attached to an Italian restaurant on Germantown Ave., and is listed as Norristown, but is really in West Norriton Township. (224 W. Germantown Pike, Norristown, Pa., 610-279-4748)
State Line Liquors. Very convenient to 95 South, just off the Elkton exit in Maryland, and very good with the Belgians. (1610 Elkton Rd., Elkton, Md., 800-446-9463)
Monster Beverage. In Glassboro, N.J. Exceptional choices. (1299 Delsea Drive, Glassboro, N.J., 856-881-0458)
Total Wine. Nothing like the Foodery, but a good selection. (699 Naamans Road, Claymont, Del., 302-792-1322)
|No seitan, either.|
|Landau and Jacoby|
|Photo | Michael T. Regan|
|Dynise "The Urban Vegan" Balcavage with her husband, John "Omniman" Gatti|
|Photo | Steve Legato for New York Times|
|Photo | Greg Bezanis for South Philly Review|
|Exhibits A though Ugh.|
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
Exhibit A: My gloriously seared Cannuli Bros. pork shank, waiting to be returned to the pot to be braised.
Exhibit B-squad: A box of pink Franzia "wine" left at my house from an all-girl photo shoot. No, I will not tell you that story.
Exhibit C-list: A bottle of Holland House red-dyed "cooking wine" purchased at the Acme by my well-meaning but misguided boyfriend.
White Trash Dilemma: I'm braising this pork shank with ingredients culled only from the pantry and fridge. A can of crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, a few fresh bulbs of garlic and fennel, and we're in business. The recipe calls for red wine to make up the rest of the braising liquid, and Exhibits B and C are all we have on hand. It's cold and I'm not driving to the liquor store for six ounces of wine, and for the first time ever, we have no beer.
Which of these two losers do I use? The boxed wine is at least real alcohol, and has this fun tap on it, so it won't be nasty and oxidized. But it's box wine. And it's pink. How embarassing. The Holland House swill is 100 percent fakeness, and tastes like your drunk uncle's morning breath. Oh vomit, I just grossed myself out.
Stuck between a box and a hard place... which one would you use?
James Beale, proprietor of CP's Sports Complex, shares his honest take on the food at Citizens Bank Park on FanFoodie, a blog that looks to "the premiere locally-based sports bloggers on the web to offer their culinary tips and suggestions when rooting for the home team."
The truth about Stadium food at CBP is that — aside from the surprisingly excellent Bull's BBQ, where you can cop a Turkey Leg that could double as a club in a pinch and catch Phillies legend Greg "The Bull" Luzinski mingling with the crowds outside — it's made for outsiders. Is it dope that Tony Luke's is making your sandwich? Yeah, of course, but smart locals are copping one from the original half a dozen blocks away and bringing it in anyway. I've heard plenty of people rave about McNally’s Schmitter, never the native Chestnut Hillers who grew up drinking beers at the original McNally's while their fathers sat at the other end of the bar and pretended not to see them.
Despite what Beale deems to be "faults of standards" with some of CBP's offerings, he still shows love to many aspects of the Bank grubbing experience, from Harry the K's to the stadium's renowned vegetarian options.
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