Archive: November, 2009
This Wednesday, we'll have the honor of sitting on the judges' panel of the Third Annual Great Buffalo Wings Challenge, which'll air live on G-town Radio's The REC show, which runs from 8 to 10 p.m. Ten hopefuls are aiming to dethrone current champ Ruby Brown. Listen in at gtownradio.com.
Forï¿½ more on G-town, check out Bruce Schimmel's March 9 piece.
The Good Word is a weekly Meal Ticket feature where we ask Philadelphia food people questions. Weï¿½re going to start by highlighting the cityï¿½s many excellent food writers and bloggers, with eventual plans to extend beyond the scribeosphere. The questions will be different every week unless we come across a really sweet one we want to reuse. Want to nominate a future Good Word candidate (yes, you can nominate yourself), or submit ideas for questions? E-mail email@example.com.
In this installment of The Good Word, weï¿½re chatting with Michael Savett, founder of the blog Gluten Free Philly, A partner in a Philadelphia law firm who resides in Cherry Hill, Savett founded GFP in March 2009. Updated about thrice weekly, the blog explores and chronicles gluten-free dining options in the greater Philadelphia area.
What is your personal connection to celiac disease and what motivated you to start the site?
My older son, now 8, was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 3, so our family is well-versed on the gluten-free diet. I started Gluten Free Philly because I wanted to establish a resource not only for residents of the Philadelphia area, but also for visitors and tourists. My wife and I like to travel with our kids, and I have frequently found myself going to enormous lengths to track down "safe" restaurants in cities we would be visiting. I maintain links to gluten free-friendly restaurants, markets and the like in the tri-state area on my site so that people can find places near where they live, work or visit that can accommodate them.
How prepared and willing have you found Philadelphia-areas restaurants to be in accommodating gluten-free restrictions? Are more restaurants are becoming sensitive to celiacs as awareness of the disease grows?
The biggest hurdle for restaurants willing to accommodate gluten-free diets is in educating the kitchen and service staff. For people with celiac disease, it's not acceptable to eat a burger or chicken breast taken off of a wheat bun or gluten-free pasta boiled in water used for wheat pasta because of the cross-contamination. Some restaurants, like Lolita in Philadelphia and Pasta Pomodoro in Voorhees, N.J., get it. Restaurants who make it known that they have separate prep areas and different pots and utensils are going to do better because of the confidence that gluten-free diners [will have]. Iron Hill Restaurant, which has locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, recently introduced a two-page gluten-free menu with about 40 items, including chicken wings. I see more chain restaurants adding gluten-free items all the time, so I think the independents will follow suit. I'd like to see some place in Center City serve gluten-free pizza ï¿½ that's the Holy Grail for me.
You're a lawyer by trade but you also write about food, just like other attorney/dining scribes like Jeffrey Steingarten or our own David Snyder. Is this coincidental, or is there more common ground between legal work and food writing than meets the eye?
I think it's a coincidence. While it helps as a lawyer to be a creative thinker, in my view the profession doesn't really allow for creative writing. Writing about food allows me to get away from jargon, so I can be more creative when working on my blog postings.
While your 8-year-old son is gluten-intolerant, you, your wife and your other son are not. Does this pose a challenge when cooking at home? Do you prepare dishes for everyone that are across-the-board gluten-free, or do you cook separately to accommodate everyone?
Sometimes our meals at home are completely gluten-free, and other times not. We have a double oven at home, with one used just for cooking gluten-free food, along with a separate toaster, pizza cutter and cookware, so we're able to prepare my older son's meals separately without a hassle if need be. I know some families who have completely gone gluten-free even when not all members need to be, but it can get really expensive really quick. A store-bought loaf of gluten-free bread costs around $5-$6 and gluten-free bagels run about $1 each. A large bag of gluten-free pretzels is $8. We are extremely careful about cross-contamination in our house, so we've chosen to not to go that route.
|Photo | Brian Howard
- Brian Howard introduces us to Tom Culton, proprietor of Lancaster County's Culton Organics, who grows a staggering 63 varieties of garlic on his farm. After you read the piece be sure to check out slideshow of the farm, as well as audio of the interview with the garlic guru.
- Are you a DIY sweettooth? Then you should pick up Anita Chu's Field Guide to Candy (Quirk Books), which helps you ID ï¿½ and make! ï¿½ a million and one teeth-hurting confections.
- Erin Mae Srankowski breaks down the week's food/drink events in What's Cooking ï¿½ check out the deets on Phiz Fest, Whiskey Fest, Chilean vino and more.
- Hit up Feeding Frenzy for info on three brand-new destinations ï¿½ Grey Social, Jolly's Dueling Piano Bar and Coup de Taco.
Developer Ken Weinstein, who owns Mt. Airy's Trolley Car Diner & Deli (7619 Germantown Ave.), will break ground next Thursday on his second location, the Trolley Car Cafï¿½, which'll be in East Falls in the historic "Bathey House" at South Ferry Road and Kelly Drive. (The building, as you might've guessed, served as public bath house back in the day, but it's been vacant for around four decades at this point.) The project involves the input of the Fairmount Park Trust, the East Falls Development Corporation and Brinton Partners developers. Mayor Michael Nutter, City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and Parks & Rec commissioner Michael DiBerardinis will show face at the groundbreaking, scheduled for 11:15 a.m.
|Photo | Monica Simpson|
Apparently, throwing whatever relatively edible creatures are available (including squirrels) into a pot to create "stew" is as American as apple pie. This I learned at Wednesday nightï¿½s First Person Festival event at the Painted Bride.
During this taste-and-tell evening, foodie author Pat Willard discussed the research behind her book America Eats! and Fairmount restaurant Jackï¿½s Firehouse provided a down-home meal of biscuits, cornbread, pulled pork, brisket ï¿½ and stew. Strangers shared tables as they scarfed down the good food, and this combo of meet-and-eat reflected well the topic of Willardï¿½s book. America Eats! draws its source from papers from the Great Depression's Federal Writer's Project, which enlisted out-of-work wordsmiths to chronicle aspects of American culture. Part of this chronicling involved researching how America eats ï¿½ the result being not just recipes, but more importantly, tales of a time when eating was a community event, not just a necessity.
|Photo | Monica Simpson|
Willard showed photos of a church meal with tables lined far into the distance and an old-time barbecue where neighbors dug a big pit in which to roast the meat, shooting the shit until the cooking was done. Hygienic concerns may have been lacking then, but it's almost as if we've replaced companionship with efficiency these days. Yet while many of our meals have moved away from the table, an audience member was quick to point out that we still have comparable traditions such as the tailgate. And like the group stews of yesteryear, tailgates still involve meat of a questionable origin. Hot dog, anyone?
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
We're gonna have much more on Percy Street Barbecue, from Steve Cook, Michael Solomonov and Erin O'Shea, in the coming days. But for right now we figure it couldn't hurt to share a few quick photos from inside the space (900 South St.). The interior was designed by Elisabeth Knapp, who also handled Zahav and Xochitl; that chalkboard wall, which originated at a schoolhouse at 16th and Moore, comes from Provenance, the historical architectural salvage firm that's done work for Pub & Kitchen and Oyster House.
For background on the project, check out Chandler Kaufman's documentary feature.
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
|Click to enlarge
And the award for the most unintentionally pornish title for a beer event goes to Johnny Brenda's (1201 N. Frankford Ave.), who next Saturday will host the Wet Hop Rodeo, featuring eight wet-hopped beers on tap, including choices from several national breweries (a first for the fervently local bar). Wet-hopping, in layman's terms, translates to beers that are brewed with super-fresh, just-picked hops, as opposed to those brewed with hops that have been dried out for storage. This translates to bold, unapologetic hoppy flavor. (As a point of reference, think what it'd be like to eat fresh garlic right out of the ground, as opposed to a bulb that's been air-cured. You did read our feature on garlic guru Tom Culton, right?)
Anywho, since the annual hop harvest is typically in the beginning of the fall, this is an ace opportunity to check out the wet-hopped offerings. Here's what JB's will be rocking from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Nov. 14:
- Victory Harvest Pils
- Victory Harvest Ale
- Weyerbacher Harvest Ale
- Philadelphia Brewing Company Harvest from the Hood
- Manayunk Brewing Hop Harvest
- Port Brewing High Tide
- Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale
- Rogue Wet Hop Ale
- A firkin of wet-hopped ale from Iron Hill
There ain't a whole lot of English to be found at OK Bakery & Snack, which opened recently on South between Sixth and Seventh streets. But here's what we could surmise, before we were politely and smilingly shooed out of the door by a funny little lady for taking too many photos:
- It's a tiny space with all the trappings of a Chinatown bakery.
- On one side of the store, there are a dozen or more display cases featuring all manner of buns, including ham and egg, fish meat, bacon and cheese, peanut, onion and this one amazing quadruple-compartmentalized one with hot dogs stuffed in the holes.
- These buns cost A DOLLAR.
- The main display case is full up with generous wedges of round sponge cake, a million different swirls and flavors.
- These cake slices cost 80 CENTS.
- They're also doing bubble tea, hot drinks and a small selection of dim sum (shrimp dumplings, roast pork bun, crab shao mai, S&P shrimp, etc.).
- They're open Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 8 to 11, Saturday from 9 to 11 and Sunday from 9 to 10.
|Courtesy of Food Network|
Chef and dietician Katie Cavuto Boyle, whom you might know as a finalist on the most recent season of The Next Food Network Star, tells Meal Ticket she's two to three months away from opening Healthy Bites To Go, a physical storefront for her Healthy Bites catering service, at 2521 Christian Street. The space will serve multiple purposes ï¿½ in addition to serving as the hub for Cavuto Boyle's prepared-meal customers (she started out of Philly Kitchen Share), it'll be an organic market with prepared and locally produced foods, a small sit-down (no more than 10 seats) and a space for cooking classes and private parties. She adds that she hopes to launch a CSA program out of the location for the spring of 2010.
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
PETA's VegCooking blog recently rounded up their picks for the best faux meatballs in the nation, and Gianna's (507 S. Sixth St.) earned a slot for its "Haastile" meatball sub with sautï¿½ed onions, peppers and mushrooms. A solid pick, but we should also give a nod to the kofta sub at Govinda's (pictured above), which helped us through the hallucinatory vision quest that was The Week Without Meat.
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