Archive: December, 2009
SNACK TIME: Top 10 dishes, where to revive your sorry carcass Jan. 1, winners, winners, everywhere, don't get open-bar busted, a bellyful of bells
|Michael Persico for Philadelphia Weekly
|Fond feelings for the Village Whiskey burger abound this year|
Every Wednesday, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
-- Adam Erace crowns the PW's 10 Best Dishes of 2009 and provides a scathing quiz on the five worst, in multiple-choice format.
-- Foobooz lists places to eat and drink even more on New Year's Day, including who is serving bacon-topped bloody marys.ï¿½ Our livers are cringing in anticipation.
-- The last days of the year are OpinioNation, and Collin Flatt of Phoodie.info isn't about to keep his to himself.ï¿½ The 2009 Phoodies are posted; laurels have been placed on the brows of a few multiple-year winners.
-- Planning on heading to a fixed-price, open-bar New Year's Eve party?ï¿½ KleInsider rains all over your sodden parade with the news that open bars (not at catered events) are illegal in our fair Commonwealth.ï¿½ Read the Title 40 regulations and hide the bongs while you're at it.
-- Craig LaBan runs down The Year in Bells in the Inquirer, adding a few ringers here and there to deserving spots (Mï¿½mï¿½, Snackbar) and ripping their sole bell away from the ever-hangdog Del Frisco's.
|Courtesy of Hillary Rea
The Space 1026-associated Vaudevillains comic troupe made its Mummers Parade debut in 2008, and the group's chaotic but ultimately triumphant inception was chronicled by Ryan Creed in a Dec. '07 CP cover story.
Back then, they worked off the theme "Mummers in the Global Warming-Induced Perpetual Summer," and in the 2009 parade, they earned fifth place in the Comic Division for "Mummers in a Post-Apocalpytic Nuclear Winter." For the 2010 parade, the Vaudevillains are cutting their struts with a Food Inc.-style sensibility, fancily addressing big agribusiness with the theme "Philly Phood Phantasia."
Vaudevillains captain Tip Flannery, a friend of Meal Ticket, explains that the troupe's performance will address federal corn and soybean subsidies, aka the practice of the government financially rewarding American farmers for raising crops used to produce soybean oil or high-fructose corn syrup ï¿½ "building blocks for fattening foods." Critics place at least partial blame for our country's obesity epidemic on this practice, which negatively affects consumers both health-wise and financially.
Yes, it's pretty heady stuff for a Mummers troupe to tackle, considering that most understand the backbone of the venerable Philadelphia tradition to be, well, fizzy beer-fueled buffoonery. But we're confident the Vaudevillains' performance will deliver the goods.
We're going to have to wait till this Friday to see just how it all plays out on Broad Street, but for now, here's a sneak peek at the Vaudevillains' Phood Phantasia costumes, as modeled by troupe co-captain Jay Roselius. (Thanks to co-captain Hillary Rea for the photos.) Above is the pizza costume that multiple 'villains will don (they'll come together to form a whole pie at some point in the performance). After the jump, a wearable pulled pork sandwich, and a lettuce/tomato costume that we're pretty sure will hoagie-fy something or someone.
|Courtesy of Hillary Rea|
|Photo | Drew Lazor
Firkin-tapping power couple Brendan Hartranft and Leigh Maida have some good stuff planned for Thursday and Friday of this week. On New Year's Eve, check out their special three-course prix-fixe menu at Resurrection Ale House (2425 Grays Ferry Ave.), which they'll begin offering at 5 p.m. (no reservations necessary). It's $45 a head, with optional beer/wine pairing for $35; check out chef Joey Chmiko's menu after the jump.
On Friday, Local 44 (4333 Spruce St.) is celebrating its first anniversary (they opened Jan. 1 '08) by tapping a gang of winter and anniversary beers they've been hording especially for this occasion ï¿½ they'll have stuff from Dogfish Head, Russian River, Port, Lost Abbey, Ommegang, Stone and more. There'll also be free food circulating ï¿½ expect stuff that doesn't appear on the regular L44 menu ï¿½ starting at 5 p.m.
Duck Confit Crepes
Braised Belgian Endive
Grilled Ribeye Steak
Chickpea and Kale Stew
Olive Oil Cake
Honeyed Goat Cheese
Pain con Chocolate
Q BBQ owner Kevin Meeker wrote us earlier today with some sweet info on new eats they're introducing to their Old City barbecue/Mexi joint (207 Chestnut St.), which opened in April. He and partners Janet Meeker (his wife) and Tom Stewart have been putting in hours of what we're sure is excruciating research, "tasting some of the best burgers on the East Coast" (poor folks!), to roll out a burger element at Q in the second week of January.
They'll offer a "Q Quick Burger" ï¿½ thin patties (one, two or three) presented West Coast style on a soft roll with free fixins ï¿½ as well as bigger, more upscale versions that'll boast thicker patties made from a Black Angus/brisket meat blend. Gourmet burgers choices will be numerous (and you'll be able to build your own), but Meeker teases a coffee-rubbed burger with pineapple and soy glaze; a spicy pepper-and-cheese-stuffed beast; and a breakfast burger with bacon and a fried egg. Prices will top out at $9.
Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti (212 Walnut St.) turns five next month, and to celebrate the Old City seafood restaurant will offer a different $5 deal ï¿½ cocktails, flatbreads, desserts, etc. ï¿½ every single day from the Jan. 1 till Jan. 17, its actual day of birth. They'll also be doing a five-course prix-fixe for $55 for the first half of January, as well ï¿½ that menu will let you get down on tuna crudo, pan-seared scallops, wild boar ragu, half a roast chicken and Capogiro gelato. Lastly ï¿½ every diner who eats at Positano between this Friday and the 17th will be entered into a contest to win a monthly dinner for two for the entire year of 2010. They'll pick a name at their anniversary bash, scheduled for Jan. 16.
In early December, we chatted up chef Marc Vetri about Amï¿½s, the Roman trattoria he's working on at the corner of 13th and Waverly (between Pine and Lombard). The paper just came off the windows at the Vetri/Osteria owner's third Philly spot earlier today, and we were able to grab a few photos of the nearly-there interior around lunchtime.
Pretty much all the parts are in place here ï¿½ a U-shaped zinc bar backed by tall boxed-out windows, a gleaming open kitchen (with stool seating), church-pew banquettes, various light fixtures (one type's built from Campari bottles; another features mirrored glass that bounces light around), beautiful custom-built tables made by milling together mismatched slats of wood (no two are the same). Vetri's confident he'll be able to open on Monday, Jan. 18. He's also says he's excited about the opportunity to blast rock over the sound system ï¿½ this is a first for a Vetri production, as you'll probably never hear Steve Miller Band while the sommelier uncorks an expensive Montepulciano at the chef's eponymous white-tablecloth restaurant.
Vetri says Amï¿½s' menu, which'll be executed in an open kitchen by current Vetri chef Brad Spence, should be finalized by the end of this week. We'll share it here when it's done. For now, check out our Dec. 3 post to get an idea of what to expect.
In his latest review, CP critic David Snyder praises Stephen Starr's Pizzeria Stella, and draws a correlation between the Headhouse Square eatery and Starr's flagship Continental and Second and Market:
Fourteen years ago, Philly's dining scene appealed to a much older crowd ï¿½ to the extent there was a dining scene at all. But after Stephen Starr opened the Continental in 1995, everything changed. The Old City martini bar "struck a nerve with people who were young, and people who wanted to feel young," Starr recalled in a recent interview. [...]
Pizzeria Stella, the latest addition to Starr's ever-expanding restaurant galaxy, may turn out to be just as revolutionary for Philly.
Holly Moore of hollyeats.com took umbrage with Snyder's characterization of he Continental as a harbinger of imbibable modernity here in Philly. His response, in the comments (Snyder writes back, too):
Yo you young whippersnapper: Ever hear of the Restaurant Renaissance? Ever hear of Yuppies? Philadelphia has had an exciting restaurant scene since at least the mid 70's. All along it has been at least partially driven by young professionals.
Stephen Starr is an important part of today's restaurant scene, but I don't recall the Continental being all that groundbreaking other than serving a bunch of flavored martinis.
This discussion raises a few interesting questions. Snyder is not the only person we've heard cite the opening of the Continental as a hashmark moment in the development of Philly's current dining identity. But is the martini bar's importance overstated? Would Philly's restaurant scene still have advanced healthily without it, or did it set the bar for others? What do you think? We'd especially like to hear from those who've lived in the city since 1995, when the Continental first opened.
Leave your opinion in the comments here and/or in the comments of the Stella review.
|Yana Paskova for the New York Times
|Damon Dyer prepares a Monte Cassini|
On Christmas Eve, the New York Times highlighted a 500-year old ingredient that is making a comeback with crafty cocktail bartenders in NYC.ï¿½ Bï¿½nï¿½dictine, originally crafted by French monk Dom Bernardo in 1510 as a medicinal elixir, has grabbed the attention of mixologists who value its bitter, herbaceous flavor profile.ï¿½ Read the article for the full story on Bï¿½nï¿½dictine's evolution through the centuries, but if you like a drink that delivers the full range of cocktail happiness -- bitter, sharp, acidic, sweet and round on the tongue -- run over to one of our many fabulous cocktail bars and ask for Louis 649 bartender Damon Dyer's newest concoction, a Monte Cassini.
As writer Jonathan Miles notes, the Monte Cassini's equal parts Bï¿½nï¿½dictine, lemon juice, yellow Chartreuse and 100-proof Rittenhouse Rye whiskey will appeal to fans of the cultish Last Word, a classic imbibe of equal parts green Chartreuse, lime juice, Maraschino liqueur and London dry gin.ï¿½ï¿½ The reason I advise?ï¿½ Green Chartreuse was de-listed by the PA LCB about three months ago, making it a Special Liquor Order only.ï¿½ With a new glut of avid bar managers seeking the stuff, it's become impossible to find.
With Green scarce and Yellow just barely hanging on, I feel in need of a drink.ï¿½ Bartender, a Monte Cassini, please?
Wired.com thrills to Japanese megabrewer Sapporo's latest project: Sapporo Space Barley, a beer brewed with grains descended from barley that spent five months in the Zvezda Service Module on the International Space Station.
Russian Academy of Sciences and Okayama University joined forces with Sapporo, who produced just 250 six-packs of the brew to be sold for 10,000 yen ($110) each to benefit educational programs for children.
ï¿½This beer will be sold for charity, to contribute to the promotion of science education for children and the development of space science research in Japan and Russia, through donation of all proceeds to Okayama University,ï¿½ wrote Sapporo in a press release.
Wired.com isn't fooled by all this what-about-the-children rigmarole. They've deduced the real reason behind the project.
Also, what will astronauts drink on future extended spaceflight missions? They canï¿½t take multiple yearsï¿½ worth of beer with them, so clearly they will have to brew it themselves. But what about the hops, you say? Donï¿½t worry, those were launched into space in August. Super Space Beer!ï¿½ Indeed, according to Sapporo, the space-barley research was done for ï¿½the purpose of achieving self-sufficiency in food in the space environment.ï¿½ Because how self-sufficient could one really be without beer?
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