Archive: November, 2008
|Author Kim Sunée|
Abandoned by her mother in a Korean market at the age of 3, Kim Sunée was discovered by police officers three days later, who found her clutching a fistful of cracker crumbs. Adopted by an American family and raised in New Orleans, Sunée later lived in Provence and Paris, where she learned classical French cooking technique and respect for the fine ingredients that were literally in arm's reach.
Her memoir, Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the the Search for Home (Grand Central Publishing), recalls, in vivid imagery, a young woman's restless journey around the world, seeking self by nourishing others and absorbing their unique food culture. She will be visiting Philadelphia on Sun., Nov. 16 as
part of this year's First Person Festival. A reading from Trail of Crumbs will follow a brunch based on recipes from her book at Fork restaurant in Old City. Sunée (soo-NAY) corresponded with Meal Ticket, answering questions with the same detailed, immediate language that characterizes her book.
Meal Ticket: How does it feel to do readings in front of large groups when your memoir is so intensely personal?
Kim Sunée: Readings are actually enjoyable. It’s the Q&A sessions I sometimes find difficult. Memoir is not autobiography. You can write several in a lifetime. In Trail of Crumbs, I wrote what I thought important to the narrative of this story, the heart of what I was trying to say—that which relates to hunger, love, and the search for a place to call home. But I'm often asked very personal questions about what I did not include.
MT: Since you speak so many languages (Swedish, French, English) and have lived so many places, it would seem you could be at home anywhere. What places and foods do you miss acutely when you have been absent for a while?
KS: It seems when I travel I find new flavors that make me feel "at home." I just got back from San Francisco and had the most amazing egg dish at Boulette's Larder. The eggs were softly scrambled, topped with a frothy cream and Buddha's Hand citrus zest. I talked about it for days. There’s a photo of it on my Web site. When I was in Florence a few months ago, I was focused on the crostini di fegatini and fried squash blossoms at Cammillo Trattoria, so I didn’t miss any other foods. When I lived in France, though, I did find myself longing for a spicy brown jambalaya or a really good fried oyster po-boy — dressed, of course. And now that I no longer live in France, I miss the cheese — especially a ripe Vacherin du Mont D'or.
MT: What advice could you offer readers who may have a similar story to
yours ... or, what is the moral of the story of Trail of Crumbs?
KS: I do believe everyone has a story. In telling mine, I've met so many people who want to open up about their own fascinating experiences. Knowing that we're not so alone in our sorrows and losses has been one of the most rewarding aspects of publishing Trail of Crumbs. For those who want to write their own stories, I think it's important to remember to include only those details which help move the narrative along. Not everything one did or saw or ate or thought is going to be interesting — focus on the heart of what you are trying to say.
I'm not sure there's a "moral" to Trail of Crumbs. I think it's a story of how we search for a sense of self and our place in the world, what we can contribute. And no one can give that sense of self to another — it's truly a unique journey. Hopefully from others, we can glean some knowledge of how to love and live better, fuller lives.
Kim Suneé at Fork Restaurant, Sun., Nov. 19, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., $45, 306 Market St.
|Gimme that, you don't appreciate it.|
Pizza, the greatest gift the Italians gave to the masses since bread and circuses, is a hotly debated topic in Philadelphia. Having lived here all my life, I still don't know where the best pizza in town is made. I do know that most pizzerias in Philadelphia turn out a pie with a thicker crust and sweeter sauce than I want, and those that make thin crusts usually fall victim to floppiness and the dreaded goo layer created by the unbaked dough sopping up sauce.
True Neopolitan-style pizza is characterized by a thin, crisp crust from brick oven baking and has its own DOC designation. New York-style pizza is the most commonly sold style in the United States; floppy, foldable slices with any kind of topping you want. St. Louis pizza is square, with a cracker-like crust and a specific cheese, Provel. The limitless interpretations of pizza should have provided Philadelphia with a style all its own, but sadly, ordering a pizza here is hardly more than a $20 gamble.
Where is the good pizza in this town? Readers, vote your personal favorite, make the case for the pizza parlor of your childhood ... help us crown a pizza prince in this metropolis of proles.
The CP editorial department nominates a few of their old reliables:
Food editor Drew Lazor leans on Lazaro's for all-around pizza needs in G-Ho.
News editor Doron Taussig raves about Angelino's in Fairmount.
Marra's, on Passyunk Ave. in South Philly, is assistant copy editor Nancy Armstrong's go-to.
Philadelphia needs you! Vote Pizza in '08!
Tom Block, who founded Walnut Street's infinitely popular Naked Chocolate Café with daughter Sara in August of 2006, debuted his second location at 3421 Walnut (215-222-3710) last week.
Slightly smaller than the Center City original, Naked 2 opens two hours earlier (8 a.m.) to accommodate the early-morning student slam. Most all the options you've grown obsessed with — your cupcakes, boxed chocolates and sweet beverages — are available at the new spot, in addition to many new items, including fresh-baked muffins and cookies and what Block calls "savory puffs," doughy treats filled with brie, goat cheese, ham and cheddar, roasted veggies, etc. The non-desserty selection will grow in the coming months once the team completes the in-the-works kitchen expansion at the O.G. café.
Block adds that he and Sara hope to have Naked's third location, at 18th and Chestnut, open before the end of 2008.
|Common curly kale||Italian kale, "cavolo nero"|
Kale, that curly superfood, is making its annual appearance crowding greenmarket tables. It is hard not to feel dismay viewing the heaps of greens; their arrival hails the coming of winter and its attendant lack of vegetable diversity. CSA members whose boxes overflow with the stuff week after week may become vexed by it — how much stir-fry can one family eat?
Kale belongs to the same family as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and collards; all are excellent sources of sulfur-containing phytonutrients. According to the nonprofit Web site The World's Healthiest Foods: "Human population as well as animal studies consistently show that diets high in cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, are associated with lower incidence of a variety of cancers, including lung, colon, breast and ovarian cancer."
Abundant in our area from late fall through early spring, hard frosts will produce sweet kale plants. The crop is easy to grow and prolific, making kale dead cheap, as well as providing more nutrients and fewer calories per cup than almost any food. Science aside, you won't eat the stuff if it doesn't taste good. A Web search of kale recipes turned up some unconventional preparations for the vegetable that preserve nutritional value and crank up the crave factor.
Mark Bittman, aka The Minimalist, tosses Tuscan black kale with proscuitto and pasta for a toothsome first course. One of his commenters adds a recipe for a kale salad adapted from Saveur which features so much parmigiano-reggiano it seems to void any health benefits.
Allrecipes.com has a method for making a snack out of the vegetable: baked kale chips with seasoned salt that even kids will eat. No word on husbands.
Heidi at 101 Cookbooks provides a way to amp up the nutrition of mashed potatoes with kale and garlic. Commenters point out that picky eaters will likely pick out the green bits, but at least you gave it a shot.
As with other leafy greens, dirt and sand hides well in the heads of kale. Cut the root end off the head and individually wash each leaf, or chop the leaves and wash them in a salad spinner. The tough stems of kale and the more tender leaves are practically two different vegetables; fold each slice in half lengthwise and strip out that tough central stem before cooking.
|Click to enlarge|
It's no secret that we here at CP love us some Apothecary Bar + Lounge — we've been all about their whimsical mix magic for a minute now, from my Spring '08 DISH Guide pre-opening profile to critic Trey Popp's glowing July 17 review of the 13th Street haunt. But as much as we heart it, we just couldn't make APO an every-night kind of place — the drinks, smashing as though they may be, are a little too pretty-penny to sip three, four times a week. (Note that this unfortunate economic side effect applies to all haute-y diney/drinky destinations, not just these guys.)
That's why we're very amped to learn that Tipping Brothers Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay, the guys who designed APO's cocktail program in the first place, have just introduced a new cocktail list they're calling "Recession Proof." For just six bucks a pop (!), take your pick from seven new drinks, from the Union League (bathtub gin, Porto, orange bitters) to the Morning Glory Fizz (scotch whiskey, absinthe, egg white, sugar, siphon water). The new drinks (full menu at right) are available Sunday through Thursday from 7 p.m. till close. Salud.
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
Have you ever been to this place? If so, isn't it so good? What's your favorite dish?
Also — where did YOU eat this weekend?
|Martha liked Geno's better than Pat's.|
Always has been, always will be. Don't let Martha Stewart throw you off your game.
You break my heart.
|These bars like big butts. |
The Philadelphia smoking ban, officially tagged as the Clean Indoor Air Worker Protection Law, marked its two-year anniversary on September 25. The moaning of dedicated smokers and fearful restaurant owners has largely died away as predictions of drastically reduced business proved groundless. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has followed in our municipal wake with the state-wide Clean Indoor Air Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Ed Rendell June 13, 2008 and went into effect (with exemptions) on Sept. 11, 2008.
The exemptions are virtually twin to Philadelphia's: bars where food represents less than 20 percent of total sales can apply for an exemption. That loophole was created to protect neighborhood shot-and-beer joints where the clientele's interest in sucking down cigs with their PBRs would not bother people trying to eat dinner.
All is well and good: hospitality workers are protected from second-hand smoke, pub-goers can session beers without going home stinking like an ashtray and those with sensitive respiratory systems have returned to their favorite resto-bars. The lonely lament: the best dives in the city, the truly lowbrow booze dens where the whiskey is cheap and the company cheaper, are now all but impenetrable for the fug of smoke.
The cloud that hangs over McGlinchey's is enough to suffocate the staunchest drinker; Oscar's, The Dive, Ray's Happy Birthday Bar, RUBA, Locust Bar and The Pen & Pencil are owned by chain-smoking, lager-swilling nicotine fiends. These are their places, and they puff fast and furiously, intent on asserting their Rights, driving out the eye-reddened, lung-inflamed non-smokers who attempt to colonize their smoky shores.
The Glinch, Ray's and Oscar's were always gritty dives where Bukowski and Nancy Spungen would have felt at home. They were always hazy and a little melancholy, at least until the jukebox really got going and the booze-fueled conviviality picked up momentum. Barred from every other pub in the city (and now the state), diehard tavern smokers, those turgid souls who will NEVER go outside to smoke, have congregated in leprous colonies in the last remaining smoking bars.
That leaves the non-smoking dive bar patron just two options. Build a bar in your damp and gloomy basement, stock up on John Powers whiskey and mourn at home; or, pick up a stylishly apocalyptic gas mask and reclaim your old stool at The Dive.
Two years ago Philadelphia Magazine printed The Daily Examiner’s long directory of smoking-permitted bars. Check it out here.
|Jen Zavala, steer genius|
|Photo | Michael T. Regan|
- Mouth of the Border: A.D. Amorosi catches up with Jen Zavala, self-professed "road bitch" and executive chef of upcoming Liberties Walk Tex-Mex border bar El Camino Real. Scope the full article to learn what cooking for Ozzy Osbourne and working for Bar Ferdinand owner Owen Kamihira have in common.
-David Snyder eats his way through Joseph Poon's entire culinary career at Joe's Peking Duck Original 1984, where the flavors are as big as the portions. Order from the lunch menu at dinnertime, and Joe will donate the 38 cent upcharge to cancer foundations and a scholarship fund, proving that a good cooking comes from the heart.
-Drew Lazor is up to his ears in suds, heralding the opening of both Prohibition Taproom and Mikey's American Bar & Grill in this week's Feeding Frenzy. Manayunk mainstay Bourbon Blue welcomes a new owner, longtime sous chef/manager/problem solver Brendan McGrew.
-Chefs dish up fancy grub at their restaurants, but what do they eat on their one day off? I spill the secrets of Chef's Guilty Pleasures in our Top 5 this week, I posted some bonus confessions on Meal Ticket earlier today.
- Nikki Volpicelli tells you where you can eat holistically in Cherry Hill; how to grub for charity at Chestnut Hill College; and why you should dig into some beef and beer to benefit Pop's Playground in What's Cooking. Ollie to that.
You might've noticed that the storefront of Caffé Hausbrandt (207 S. 15th St.) has been dark for weeks. Carrie Lapp, who purchased the café in 2004 with Trieste-born husband Massimo Taurisano and partners Max and Nicoletta Tuccone (at that point, it'd been open for a year already under different management), says shuttering was a business decision, and that the building will be coming down, so the fate was inevitable. The café was the retail face of Hausbrandt USA, which held exclusive import/distribution rights to all of the Italian roaster's products in the United States.
Though the flagship is gone, they're still plugging along with six locations of Academia del Caffe — 1 S. Penn Square, 1616 Walnut, in the Design Center at 2400 Market, in the Public Ledger Building at 620 Chestnut and in the Curtis Center at 601 Walnut — the espresso bar brand the couple first introduced to Philly in 2006. One important distinction: All the Academias are now serving Miscela d'Oro, a coffee brand from Sicily, instead of Hausbrandt.
For more on Philly's caffeine cognosceti, see my Nov. 2007 story on Saxbys Coffee.
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