Archive: February, 2011
|Photo | Neal Santos|
- Brion Shreffler visits four local firehouses to learn about our Philly firefighters' cooking and eating traditions. He learns that the meals go well beyond the stereotypical chili-and-cornbread image and just how important their camaraderie is, both in the field and in the kitchen.
- That's-a spicy multiple variety of meat-a-ball! Adam Erace digs his experiences at Marabella Meatball Co., and even provides some South Philly-style advice for ordering the vegetarian marinara like a true paesan'.
- Our food/drink events column What's Cooking has details on Monday's izakaya pop-up at Khyber Pass Pub, the 10th annual Philly Cooks! competition, Delicatessen's first birthday party and more.
- In Feeding Frenzy, we've got details on 943, Makiman Sushi, Kitchen at Penn and more fresh food news.
- In Agenda, Eric Schuman previews this Sunday's "The Whats and Whys of Mushrooms" workshop in New Hope.
SNACK TIME: Japanese Kit Kats, Cloudberries, Dog food diet, Romance at White Castle, Bourdain on Vetri, Shoes for chefs, and a 155-year old port
|Yuzu and Pepper Kit Kat|
- Baked potato Kit Kat. Salted watermelon Kit Kat. Camembert cheese Kit Kat. Ginger Ale Kit Kat. Japan always has the coolest shit. Check out WeirdAsiaNews' roundup of the Kit Kat bars we can't have.
- Cloudberries. They sound so divine. So serene and gentle. So tempting. They actually exist. Have any of you tried them? Huffington Post reports Swedish memories of these little gems, also called "Lakka" in Finnish, and a recipe to boot. Good luck finding some let us know when you do.
- Sometimes activism takes gnarly, outrageous turns: a Miami Beach dog trainer is eating dog food every day in hopes of passing a bill that increase the penalty for animal cruelty. We don't really know what else to say.
- Did you know that White Castle ups its game for V-Day every year? Red tablecloths, table service, additional menu items, fresh red roses and candles galore. My beau and I think this is pretty dope, to skip (for once) a fixed-price menu and gorge together without any pressure. Slashfood shares a video of their romantic dining experience on Monday.
- Author, wanderlust and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain nods his head in agreement with Marc Vetri's recent decision to axe a la carte from his menu, Delaware Online reports. He believes it's the "best case scenario," and those who feel otherwise should go to the Olive Garden.
- Musicians turn into actors. So do models. Or vice versa. Then they turn into a perfume brand. Then, the clothing line is released. Something functional and even relevant on this plane: chefs becoming shoe designers. Chris Cosentino and friends are designing footwear for Mozo: for chefs by chefs, and these are not Batali's crocs.
- Taylor Fladgate has just released "Scion," a Tawny Port that dates back to 1855 and goes for more than $3,000 a bottle. The Daily Meal tastes and tells. Is it worth it? That's up to you to decide, moneybags.
It's aliiiiiiive. Chef Mike Stollenwerk's Fathom Seafood House (200 E. Girard Ave.), which has hit all sorts of infuriating snags in its quest to open (we first discussed it over the summer), has been given the official go-ahead by the city; Stollenwerk plans on soft-opening the Fishtown fish house this coming Monday, Feb. 21. More soon; for now peep the sample menu we posted in November.
UPDATE: Here's the latest version of Fathom's menu (PDF).
I don't know when was the exact moment I decided I hated San Diegoans, but it was probably around the time Mark Lane, proprietor of Poppa's Fresh Fish, a nomadic "shuck 'n' slurp" raw bar and fixture of SD's righteous farmers-market scene, handed me plastic fork and a just-slain sea urchin. "We get them right off the coast," he explained, pointing down the street, where the Pacific glinted just beyond San Diego Bay and Coronado Island. "My friend is a diver. He hand-harvests them for us." Californians, man. What a bunch of lucky fucks.
Of course, I don't really hate San Diegoans — they are, by all accounts, a lovely, disarmingly friendly race — but after spending the weekend in their sun-washed, spit-polished city (a pit-stop before heading down to Baja), I've been quick to cultivate some good-natured envy. True, living in Philly, a killer earthquake will never crush me beneath a plank of highway, but my chances of eating uni that fresh again are even slimmer.
"As soon as the uni hits the air, it begins to disintegrate," Lane explained, getting to work opening a second spiny sphere with a pair of sharp kitchen shears. "They sell these for 80 bucks at Nobu, but it's not as fresh as what we've got here."
"Here" was the Saturday "Mercato" in SD's Little Italy neighborhood, a buy fresh/buy local mecca of 100+ vendors, peddling everything from olive oil and gold chanterelles to artsy-fartsy wind chimes and citrus in fresh, juiced, jammed and rosemary-infused popsicle forms. You think Headhouse and Clark Park roll deep? Mercato makes 'em look like lemonade stands — and it's not even the biggest market in town.
That distinction belongs to the Hillcrest Market, where I gorged myself at the following day. Breakfast consisted of little Hugs of pulpy orange juice kissed with guava; fresh tangerines, passion fruits and strawberries; moist slabs of banana bread from the gods (or a French patissier); fiery shrimp ceviche; delightful coconut pancakes a little Thai lady cooked in a cast-iron griddle; tamales; dried apricots; onion quiche. I tried for another urchin, but Lane was already sold out.
With just one weekend, restaurant action was limited, but I did manage to pop my In-N-Out cherry with a double-double, fries and chocolate shake. Also hit up the Linkery in North Park, a repeated reco where they brew their own kombucha and curate a dreamy Cali cheese plate, as well as the très-charming Cafe Chloe for one perfect prosciutto/cheese croissant (thanks @yournotunique!) and La Jolla's lively Whisknladle (like Mémé-by-the-sea).
If it were feasible, I'd eat all three squares at San Diego's markets. (It is feasible: Except for Monday, there are no less than half a dozen happening on any given day in different districts around the city.) I'll make one exception for Sushi Ota, a hideaway tucked into a Pacific Beach shopping center with a 7-Eleven, where the omakase experience at the low-slung sushi bar lived up to Drew Lazor's glowing recommendation. There was toro. There were oysters. There were salmon bellies and hamachi bellies, giant prawns and giant clams. There was an embarrassing amount of uni (delicious, but not as transcendent as Lane's) and fish I'd never tasted in sushi form: three breeds of halibut (who knew?) and a coral-skinned snapper specimen our omakase maestro, Toshi, hit with a blowtorch. When I said I was from Philly, Toshi got all aflutter: "Charlie Manuel, I watched him play in Tokyo when I was little."
Toshi, you've absolutely ruined sushi for me. After Ota, nothing else will compare. Another reason to hate San Diegoans. And another reason to go visit them again soon.
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
For more than 10 years, Food & Wine has scoured the country for original, creative and talented chefs to determine its annual lineup for the magazine's "Best New Chef" award. This year, they've turned it around on you to lavish one region-specific standout with the title of The People's Best New Chef. Philadelphia's savvy exists within the Mid-Atlantic realm, where four very familiar chef faces can be found among six other guys and gals from the region. Food & Wine urges voters to decide based upon genuine dining experiences in candidates' establishments to judge the food, and nothing else.
Philly chefs in the running include: Pierre Calmels, classicFrench chef, formerly of Le Bec-Fin and now owner/operator of Bibou; David Gilberg of Northern Liberties' Portuguese BYOB Koo Zee Doo; Italian chef Jeff Michaud of Osteria; and Blackfish's seafood-obsessed chef/owner, also hailing from Le Bec-Fin and Vetri, Chip Roman. Show your Philly boys some love! The winner will be featured in the July issue of Food & Wine. Get a little more cozy with your candidates and most importantly, vote here.
Any loyal patron of Oscar's (1524 Sansom St.) will recognize the placemat above. They've been hallmarks of the Center City booze hall for more than 40 years, and the classic cocktail illustrations never cease to hazily amaze.
Joe Mullan, manager of Oscar's for the past 32 years, tells Meal Ticket that the placemats are ordered through Lapinson Bar Supply, a North Philly-based standby. He also clued us in to some of the more entertaining things people tend to do with these puppies, most notable of which is a sort of Drunken Bingo. According to Mullan, some patrons make it their business to order every drink listed on the mat, one by one (good luck when you get to the Cream de Cacao). We weren't sure if this game was meant to be played in one sitting, but it got us thinking — there has got to be a way to make this manageable.
Since drinking one of everything in a single go might be slightly excessive, we've come up with a few thematic challenges that'll help you get through the placemat in bits and pieces. Better yet, share the responsibilities with a group and have each member be responsible for one part of the menu. We think this method should lighten the load, significantly reducing your risk for alcohol poisoning. Check out our versions of Oscar's cocktail placemat games after the jump.
The Dating Game: Only order drinks that are totally dated, or that seem especially rare past 1968. Work your way through the Gin Rickey, the Alexander, the Dubbonet Cocktail and the Cream de Cacao to win this round.
The Name Game: Stick with drinks with people names: This would include the Alexander, the Tom Collins, the (Bloody) Mary, and the (Gin) Rickey. Who knows — maybe you'll end up meeting the father or mother of your children while sipping a Tom Collins. Nine months later, it's a great name for a bouncing baby boy.
Southern Hospitality: It's time to head below the Mason-Dixon — and that includes waaaay South, down to the Caribbean — for this one. You're stuck with Planter's Punch, the Daiquiri and the Mint Julep.
The Mad Man: This one is for tanks only. The Martini, the Manhattan, the G&T and the Old Fashioned are the only things you're allowed if you choose to play this way. Extra points if you complete this circuit on your lunch break before heading back to the office, Roger Sterling-style.
The Leftovers: Even though each of the four sections above cover most of the menu when combined, there are still some oddballs left out in the cold. Assign cleanup duty to whoever you think would be comfortable drinking a bunch of Screwdrivers and Whiskey Sours. To be completed at your own discretion.
These are still some pretty ambitious lists, so exercise caution and feel free to edit as you see fit. Got any other great ideas for themed Oscar's Drunken Bingo (Dringo?) menus? Leave them in the comments.
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