Archive: December, 2009
Interesting tactic for curtailing gun violence in Cumberland County, New Jersey: Offering food in exchange for firearms. The Press of Atlantic City reports:
Gun buybacks are not a new tactic to cut the number of firearms in circulation.
But Cumberland County leaders are tweaking that idea by offering food as the trade, in hopes of attacking two problems at once: the proliferation of guns and hunger in New Jersey's poorest county.
Gun buybacks have been used in cities across the nation, and over the past year or so, some have done what Cumberland leaders are doing and tweaked the idea to make it a food trade-in, capitalizing on the recession. Organizers give people food vouchers in exchange for their guns.
The article goes on to explain that the goal of the program is not to get the so-called "the gang bangers in the street" to relinquish their weapons ï¿½ rather, law enforcement officials hope that the vouchers will serve as an incentive to those who find or are in possession of illegal firearms. They're hoping that fewer available weapons will mathematically translate to an overall drop in violent crime.
Bobby Bolders, a longtime hot sauce aficionado who left the IT industry to pursue his serious hobby fulltime, will open WMD Hot Sauce at 1212 South Street this coming Saturday, Dec. 12. WMD (that's World's Most Delicious) will be a hub for the avid home seasoner ï¿½ they'll carry an array of hot and barbecue sauces, plus spices and rubs. Bolders is also offering a customizable option for those interested in designing their own sauce ï¿½ you can do everything from picking which peppers go into it to designing the bottle label.
|Photo l Julia Koprak|
Photographer/food fiend Julia Koprak, who spent several years living in Asia, was eager to check out the dumpling situation at the new Chew Man Chu, so we sent her over to grub out. Here's her report.
After observing many a packed house since its opening in late October, I was excited to visit Chew Man Chu (Symphony House, 400 S. Broad St.), housed in the space that was previously Du Jour. The menu spans a multiple Asian cuisines, which makes a lot of sense given executive chef Tyson Wong Ophasoï¿½s background: Born in Laos, with a Chinese/Japanese father and Thai mother, Ophaso speaks several languages. So many, in fact, it was difficult to keep track of the different countries he rattled off in one breath.
In Asia, dumplings and noodles are often considered street food, but Ophasoï¿½s approach is much more crafted. He finishes pot stickers (above) with brown butter to create an extra-crisp bottom; he stuffs soup dumplings with blue crab and serves them in a white wine, vinegar and ginger sauce with goji berries. Actually, there was no soup (read: pork juice) to be found in the oxtail soup dumplings I sampled, but that might've been because they werenï¿½t brought out in a traditional bamboo steamer. Some of the other atypical elements youï¿½ll find in Chew's dumplings and spring rolls ï¿½ ricotta, mirepoix and hollandaise (!).
|Photo l Julia Koprak|
I spoke to Ophaso about some of the liberties he takes on his menu. When I asked him why he dialed down the fish sauce flavor in thepPad Thai, he explained he wanted to please American customers, thus upping the amount of tamarind paste and adding paprika (you wonï¿½t find any of that spice at your favorite Bangkok noodle vendor). Still, this is definitely the kind of restaurant where, if you prefer a little more kick, they'll happily provide whatever you may need. One of the more authentic touches at Chew is the little condiment jars on each table ï¿½ though you'd probably have a hard time finding a chef who makes his own soy sauce at your average hole-in-the-wall dumpling joint.
|Photo l Julia Koprak|
One highlight of my meal was the complimentary bag of fresh-made donuts served tableside.ï¿½ Shaken up in a brown paper sack with powdered sugar, this dessert brought back memories of wandering through night markets eating delicious fried morsels out of bags. Given its polish and location, Chew Man Chu can't really be considered a replacement for the slightly grungy (but cheap!) spots we love in Chinatown. But for those in Center City looking to a meal with a little Asian flair ï¿½ especially pre- or post-theater ï¿½ the spot offers something unique to the area.
Ommegang, brewed in Cooperstown,ï¿½ NY, is owned by Belgium's Duvel-Moortgat.ï¿½ Little wonder, then, that Ommegang's lineup of brews hew closely to classic Belgian lines, especially their first beer, the 8.5 percent ABV Ommegang Abbey.
This sweet and spicy double style, all a-swirl with notes of licorice, caramel and dark stone fruits,ï¿½ is generally paired with meaty dishes like carbonnade Flamande, roasts or rich cheeses.ï¿½ On Tuesday, Dec. 8, Cantina dos Segundos (931 N. Second St.) will take on a Belgo-Mexi mashup,ï¿½ cooking pork belly tacos in the toffee-like dark ale for $1 each, to pair with $3 ten-ounce drafts of the same.ï¿½ Duvel-Moortgat rep Megan Maguire will be on hand, offering free samples of Ommegang Abbey and generally making merry.ï¿½ï¿½ Party starts at 6 p.m.
Rob Tod, owner of Allagash Brewing in Portland, Maine, will visit Philadelphia to make the U.S. debut of the first-ever American spontaneously fermented lambic in a Tria Fermentation School class on Thursday, Dec. 17. Hyped lambic-heads have already sold the class out, a testament to Philadelphia's devotion to the rarest and weirdest of all artisanal beer styles.
Tod is already in Belgium in advance of his beer's big premier at Day of the Lambic festival in Belgium on Dec. 12. Meal Ticket called the man up for the details on the ways and means of America's first homegrown lambic, why it isn't coming to a store near you, and the one ingredient he said they'd never make a beer with, after the jump.
Meal Ticket: What is the name of your new lambic?
Rob Tod: It doesn't have a name yet. Around the brewery we just call it Allagash Spontaneous.
MT: When was it brewed?
RT: The first batch was brewed in December of '07 (see video above). We've done 7 or so batches since then.
MT: What was it aged in?
RT: We used a mixture of used French oak wine barrels, "virgin" barrels and barrels we had aged beer in a few times.
MT: Will this be available as a bottled or draft beer?
RT: It might not be available at all. Every barrel brewed was not usable ï¿½ say, each batch was seven barrels, and one or two was no good. Then we fruited some of it, so there isn't much right now. This will probably be something you see only at the brewery and for special events.
MT: What kind of fruit did you use?
RT: Some cherries, some raspberries, and I think our brewmaster Jason Perkins did a batch with Maine blueberries, 'cause we always said we'd never brew a blueberry beer. Some of them should be ready about 6 months from now.ï¿½ [Ed: Philly Beer Week! cough cough]
MT: So you don't think you are going to sell bottles around here?
RT: I don't know if I would ever sell it. I just don't have any plans for it currently. You know, lambic traditions goes back years and years ... these brewers have passed down their methods generation to generation, and we're really just taking our first stab at it. It might even take a year, or 10 years, to get it right. We will have it for special events.
MT: What will you be bringing for the Tria tasting?
RT: A straight, unblended lambic from one batch, one barrrel. It's uncarbonated.
Chef Steven Cameron, who opened Noble: An American Cookery back in May, just dropped a note to officially share word of his October departure from the Sansom Street restaurant. (He earned good looks from our Trey Popp.) Meal Ticket's heard a few rumblings about a replacement, but nothing solid just yet. Will keep you posted.
UPDATE: Cameron wrote again to point out that while he's no longer in the kitchen at Noble, he's still an equal partner/owner in the business with Bruno Pouget and Todd Rodgers.
UPDATE: Noble co-owner Rodgers has checked in with the following statement on Cameron's departure: "We accepted Steve Cameron's resignation on October 14. Our talented sous chefs, who have been with us from the start, have continued to prepare the menu at Noble. We will be announcing a new Executive Chef in the coming week."
Back in July, CP's Trey Popp heaped praise upon Mark Coates' Bebe's Barbecue (1017 S. Ninth St., 267-519-8791), dubbing the Italian Market meat smoker his "biggest temptation on a street teeming with them." Here's a bit of good news for y'all Bebe's heads -- they're introducing delivery service, available Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. The restaurant closes at 7 p.m. usually, so this is a hell of an expansion to your pulled pork acquisition window.
After the jump, check out a Google map of Bebe's delivery radius.
View Bebe's Barbecue Delivery Area in a larger map
|Courtesy of Tortilla Press Cantina
Chef Mark Smith's Tortilla Press Cantina (7716 Maple Ave., Pennsauken, N.J.), forced to close in the fall of 2008 when the 18-month Merchantville bridge construction project snuffed out the flow of business in the South Jersey town, is back in action as of today. The menu features both Mexican faves from Smith's original Tortilla Press location in Collingswood alongside more American choices. The biggest difference between Smith's two spaces, though, is that the Cantina's got a liquor license ï¿½ they pour a slew of specialty margaritas and other cocktails, and they've got beer, wine and by-the-shot tequila lists. They're open for dinner and drinks Tuesday through Sunday.
|Courtesy of The Wrap Shack|
The Wrap Shack Kitchen & Bar (120 S. 18th St.), which recently renovated and landed itself a liquor license, has come up with a variation on the never-gets-old roast pork sandwich. All the insides are the same ï¿½ six ounces of sliced-thin pig, sharp provolone, sautï¿½ed spinach (not rabe), hot peppers or horseradish ï¿½ but they're twisting it all up in a white, wheat, tomato or spinach wrap. (If this hurts your or your Uncle Sal's soul too much, you can also get it on a long roll, don't worry.) It's usually $7.95, but the Wrap Shack's offering the sammich for $5 today (and every Friday) from 6 to 8 p.m., along with $3 happy-hour pints of Lager or Coors Light.
Preston Eckman, beverage manager at APO Bar + Lounge (102 S. 13th St.) doesn't need to criss-cross the globe for cocktail inspiration ï¿½ take the Corner Store, a brand-new cold-weather tipple he's concocted using ingredients sourced from ... the corner store near his house in Fairmount.
He snagged a majority of the more rudimentary ingredients for the gin-based drink (OJ, cinnamon, black tea) at JK Food Market at 20th and Green, but the garnish came about by pure happenstance ï¿½ Eckman says he ran into a dude outside the store who was brandishing a box of black mission figs, and ended up pocketing a few. Then voila ï¿½ "Corner Store is born."
Beefeater 24, the new tea-infused gin from the UK distiller, is Eckman's liquor of choice for the drink. Steeped for 24 hours (but of course) with 12 atypical botanicals ï¿½ stuff like Japanese sencha tea, Chinese green tea, bitter almond and Seville orange peel ï¿½ BE24 represents a bit of an interesting cocktail-head departure for the London-based label, which has a long-standing reputation as your pop's bottle of choice (what, your pops doesn't drink Beefeater?). BE24 debuted in Philly in October and can be found at most mixology-savvy bars here in the city.
Eckman tells Meal Ticket that the Corner Store is part of an in-the-works APO specialty list that'll feature tea-based drinks ï¿½ it doesn't appear on the proper menu as of right now, but just ask for it by name and you've got it. Check out his recipe after the jump.
The Corner Store
Created by Preston Eckman of APO Bar & Lounge in Philadelphia
2 oz. Beefeater 24
1 oz. black and brown syrup*
.5 oz. fresh orange juice
2 springs of thyme
1 black mission fig
Muddle 2 sprigs worth of thyme leaves and 1 black mission fig then add 2 oz. Beefeater 24. Shake ingredients heavily and double strain over ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a smacked thyme sprig stuck in half a fig set on the rim of the glass.
* To make the syrup: Combine 2 cups water and 5 crushed cinnamon sticks and bring to boil for 10 min.ï¿½ Let steep for 10 more min and strain off cinnamon. Add .75 cup of white sugar and stir until dissolved. Then steep 12 black tea bags for 20 minutes. Cool and use.
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