Archive: December, 2008
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Pub & Kitchen chef Jonathan McDonald (read Trey Popp's Nov. 13 review here) is featured in the January 2009 issue of Men's Journal. Jonnymac shares his recipe for shepherd's pie, the UK classic. They do plan on working the dish onto P&K's menu at some point in the near future.
His shepherd's pie is fairly traditional but has a few modern twists. Specifically he suggests using mutton, the meat from older lamb, instead of young spring lamb, as well as adding turnips and parsnips (or any root vegetable) to the mix. And he insists that cooking shepherd's pie should be as unhurried and soothing as eating it: "I like to make it on a Saturday afternoon at home with a few pints going."
|Candy-Nirvana nymph says, "Take it, you won't find it anywhere else!"|
|New York Times News Service via the Taipei Times|
Mint and dark chocolate is one of those flavor combinations that is just so Christmas. At my grandmother's Christmas Eve dinner every year, a little bowl of foil-wrapped Andes mint chocolates would be on the sideboard, and I would shadily decimate them long before dinnertime.
Pursuit of mint-chocolate confections has since expanded into a year-round pastime for me. York Peppermint Patties, the mint stracciatella gelato at Capogiro and the new chocolate-peppermint cookies at Benna's Cafe have been satisfying the primal cool mint urge so far. But, like all good addicts, I'm always on the lookout for a new way to get my same old fix.
3 Musketeers has tapped into the "girls love chocolate and mint" zeitgeist with their latest hard-to-find candy bar, 3 Musketeers Mint. They have surpassed their normal too-sweet milk chocolate coating with a darker chocolate, and the bar is very pretty indeed, with the characteristic swirled top of shiny chocolate. Nougat is the fundamental filling of the 3 Musketeer — a pretty fake version of nougat, though. Real style nougat is either white or brown, comes in soft or hard versions, and generally incorporates honey and nuts. The only thing 3 Musketeers nougat has in common with the authentic stuff is egg whites, which are what give it the fluffy texture.
Moving on. Inside the thin dark chocolate shell is a white-as-a-Gossip-Girl's-teeth nougat filling, flavored with, you guessed it, mint. The chocolate snaps and gives as you bite into it, and the soft, chewy mint filling has a pleasant, not-too-sweet mint oil quality, which lingers in the back of your throat after swallowing. I could still feel a little mint tingle a few minutes after I had destroyed the candy bar.
Tasty as the new candy is, it's bloody hard to find. Mars, which produces 3 Musketeers, has provided a helpful product locator on their Web site. You can type in your zip code and the distance you are willing to travel for your sugar fix, and it spits out the closest chain drug store that carries the Mint. There are also seriously frightening (but probably delicious) recipes that incorporate the candy bar on the site, themed with the Kentucky Derby in mind.
Its a safe bet that 3 Musketeers Mint Julep Rice Pudding (with bourbon!) will not earn you any accolades from foodie friends, but that won't stop me from making it. Addicts are predictable like that. We take our junkie specialization seriously.
|Photos | Nikki Volpicelli|
Institute co-owner Charlie Collazo hasn't had much sleep since he began remodeling his bar on 12th and Green — hell, he's barely had time have a drink. But his hard work seems to be paying off — the grand opening of a second story whiskey and Wii lounge is slated for Dec. 20. Six tall-backed booths come complete with a 19-inch flat-screen TVs and a Nintendo Wii gaming systems (rental fee of $15 an hour). Six taps will sit on the window behind the bar, along with shelves filled with the best stuff on earth (no, not Snapple). On the far left wall, through the strategically placed arches that rest above the six-person gaming havens, lies a DJ booth and a small dance area. Along with the downstairs kitchen set to open in five weeks, Collazo has some more further-future plans: a roof deck bar with a large projection screen for vintage game nights.
|One, two, three, baby.|
|Photos l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
Sabrina's Cafe is rightly famous for their ample brunch portions and epically long waits for said portions on the weekend. For a nominal upcharge, one can add their divine polenta fries with spicy tomato sauce to any sandwich. The crisp bricks of polenta are the most satisfying thing you can make with cornmeal and a little bit of water, and wonderfully cheap, as well. Minimal kitchen skills are required to covert cornmeal dust into happy little fritters — the ability to stir fast for 5 minutes is the main requirement.
Polenta served hot from the pot is an ideal comfort food, with all of the pooling butter and spoonablity of a good mashed potato, and none of the tedium. Hot polenta cooled in a shallow baking pan or casserole can be cut into bricks and then fried, for a great second-meal iteration.
Pick up a bag of Italian Instant Polenta from Di Bruno Bros. for $2.99 and ignore the totally useless directions on the back. One Tsp serving? What in the name of Fabrizio Moretti does that mean?
Recipe and method after the jump.
Polenta Fries A-Go-Go
Go Get This:
One cup of instant polenta
5 cups water
Olive or vegetable oil for frying
Little bit of flour for dredging
Now Do This:
Boil the water in a medium-sized pot. Once boiling briskly, whisk in a little of the polenta at a time, whisking away like mad continuously. No lumps! Keep whisking.
Keep adding polenta and whisking until all of the polenta is incorporated into the boiling water. Keep stirring away for about 5 minutes, until the polenta is thick, with a texture similar to Cream of Wheat.
Pour the hot polenta into a baking or casserole dish and allow to cool in the fridge, at least half an hour, until the polenta is firm to the touch. You should eat some hot, too, with heaps of butter and salt. So good.
Once firm, slice the polenta into little bricks, any size you like.
Heat olive or vegetable oil in a medium sauté pan until hot but not smoking. Roll the polenta bricks in flour to just coat, and place gently in the hot oil.
Fry for about 3 minutes per side, until crisp and brown.
Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with coarse salt. Eat solo or with a spicy tomato sauce, hot sauce, or as the starch with a stew or soup.
Lacroix assistant manager Alexandra Townsend just confimed that executive chef Matthew Levin has left the Rittenhouse Hotel restaurant. "He has no confirmed new location," says Townsend, who did not comment on the reason for Levin's departure. "He is not going to another restaurant or hotel." Word has it that Levin will being pursuing his own project — most likely in Philadelphia. A replacement has yet to be named; Townsend would not confirm or deny a rumor from our source that chef de cuisine Jason Cichonski would be stepping into the exec role.
Levin joined the Lacroix kitchen in 2006, bringing a majorly modern edge to legendary chef Jean-Marie Lacroix's restaurant.
UPDATE [4:55 p.m.]: Michael Klein of The Insider has info on Levin's plans.
"There are no pretzels anywhere in the city!" a troubled Meal Ticket tipster who attempted to buy a Center City Pretzel Co. pretzel this morning told us. Terrifying news. So we gave a quick ring over to twisted dough HQ at 816 Washington Avenue to inquire. A staffer chalked today's pretzel scarcity up to an "oven problem," but says everything will be good to go by tomorrow.
This is God putting us in check.
|Here comes the sun!|
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
Straight from the sunny citrus groves of Spain, the smallest of the mandarins is now arriving on the East Coast, just as we stare down winter's gritty, slushy maw.
The bright, sweet flavor and diminutive size of clementines make them popular with children and adults. Add in the lack of seeds and easy-to-peel skin and you've got the recipe for the top-selling orange of the winter season.
The origin and history of clementines are weirdly shrouded in mystery. Produce Pete cites a popular myth that Father Clement, an Algerian monk, discovered a mutated tree while tending to his mandarin grove. The tiny oranges he nurtured are a hybrid of the Chinese mandarin (tangerine) and the sweet Seville orange, and he named them "clementino." The Japanese botanist Tanaka suggests that clementines were a natural mutation in the mandarin orange trees of Asia, and were brought to Europe and North Africa by migrants.
There is some debate on when clementines were introduced to the United States. Michelle Naranjo on the Dave's Garden Web site claims clementines were brought to the Citrus Research Center at the University of California in 1909. Produce Pete marks their introduction in 1989, after a devastating freeze in Florida destroyed the greatest part of the American citrus crop.
An average-sized clementine is between 50 and 75 grams, and typically contains between 30 and 50 calories and up to 60 percent of your vitamin C requirement for the day. They are available in the US from late October through March, but are at their peak sweetness for a short three- to five-week period in December and January, so get 'em now. Choose fruit that has a bright, unblemished skin, and feels heavy for its size. The oranges should smell sweet and appealing, as well.
Jon Myerow of Tria e-mailed this morning to share the unfortunate news that his third location will not be coming to the corner of 21st and South as originally planned. This is disappointing for G-Ho area residents (myself included) who were amped that the wine/beer/cheese bar would be putting down stakes in the just-outside-Center-City neighborhood. (We recapped Tria's presentation to the South of South Neighborhood Association back in October.)
Here's hoping this deal falling through won't leave a sour taste in Tria's mouth as far as the neighborhood is concerned. (If you're a G-Ho resident and you know about an available Tria-friendly space in the area, Myerow says he would definitely like to hear about it.) For now, let's just hope nabes like Fairmount and Bella Vista falter in their courtships and Tria gives us another shot down the line.
Philadelphia's bakeries are an embarassment of riches: crisp-skinned torpedo rolls from Cacia's and Carangi; the sesame-seeded long loaves of Sarcone's; or the sourdough waft and springy crumb of Metropolitan and LeBus.
Fresh bread is such a treat, and the natural accompaniment to so many simple dinners. A bowl of rich tomato gravy and a brace of toasted italian bread is ultimate comfort food on a 22 degree day. Our local bread, devoid of preservatives and layers of packaging, is not long for this world, though. The loaf that snapped and sprung yesterday has reached weapon status by today, and who has the French lifestyle where one can pick up a new baguette every morning?
The solution lies in the icebox. Pick up a dozen fresh rolls and wrap each individually in plastic wrap, then deposit into a sealable freezer bag. The frozen rolls can be warmed individually for just twenty seconds in the microwave and returned to their original glory.
As friendly as the freezer is for storing bread, the fridge is bread's worst enemy. The de-humidified atmosphere of the refrigerator dries even well-wrapped bread out, making it tasteless and sticky on the tongue. Don't do it.
Geeks Who Give (GWG) is a recently organized, Twitter-communicating group of nerds who are building an open-source community of giving in Philadelphia. They are kicking off their food drive for PhilAbundance tomorrow night at National Mechanics with a party and what they are calling a "Tweetup." Cringe.
City Paper restaurant reviewer and GWG member David Snyder breaks down the event on his blog, PhilaFoodie:
For its inaugural event, GWG is hosting a Food Drive & Tweetup to benefit Philabundance. The event will take place at National Mechanics in Old City from 6pm to 9pm. Admission is a minimum of 5 non-perishable food items. The food items must be packaged in boxes, cans or plastic bottles, and should not have to be refrigerated. In addition to drink specials, guests will receive 1 raffle ticket for the first 5 food items, and more tickets for additional food items. The current list of raffle prizes includes:
• Dinner for Two at Fork in Philadelphia;
• A Gift Certificate and T-shirt from Tattooed Mom’s;
• Treats courtesy of Open Source Cupcakes;
• A $75 gift certificate to the Wine School of Philadelphia; and
• More prizes are being added every day.
The prize I’ve contributed is a seat at my table while I’m out on a restaurant review for City Paper. Of course, I’ll pick up the tab. We’ll have to keep a low profile, obviously (e.g., no Twittering the event). We don’t want the restaurant to know we’re on a review, for example, and we don’t want the world to know which restaurant will be the subject of an upcoming review in the City Paper. And, of course, it is important that you keep my identity secret. But you knew all of that; the whole cloak-and-dagger/behind-the-scenes experience, presumably, is part of the draw. That and a free meal, of course.
Be sure to show up at National Mechanics early. At 7pm, local food podcasters Fork You will be giving a cooking demo with non-perishable food items. Stick around afterwards for TechKaraoke at 9pm.
- barstool scientist
- Brew Revue
- Chef Salad
- Dirty Dishes
- Don't Front
- Eat This Immediately
- Field Trip
- Food and Art
- Food and Holidays
- Food and Movies
- Food and Music
- Food and Politics
- Food and Sports
- Food and Web
- Food Blogs
- Food Books
- Food Events
- Food News
- Food TV
- Happy Hour Hopper
- In Print
- Meal Ticket
- Menu Time
- Not So Quickfire
- Notes from the Weekend
- On Wheels
- Patio Drinking
- Philly Beer Week 2010
- Private Chef POV
- Product Placement
- Snack Time
- Stiff Drank
- Ticket Stubs
- Top Chef
- Weekly Candy
- Weird Regional Foods
- We're Here to Help
- Where'd We Eat?
- Drew Lazor's Ill-Advised Rant Factory
- Ill-Advised Ranting
- The Week Without Meat
- Philly Beer Week 2009
- Real Big
- Where'd I Eat Last Night?
- Top Chef Masters
- The Good Word
- Next Iron Chef
- Arterial Terrorism
- Food and Radio