Archive: March, 2009
SNACK TIME: shop seasonal in Clark Park, happy birthday Dr. Seuss!, buy the (whole) bar at Brasserie, the Beer Lass has no time for swine, but illustrators gotta eat
|A wintry Saturday at Clark Park|
|The Seasonal Chef|
Every Wednesday, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
- We're getting lots of hot tips from our friends over the bridge this week. South Jersey Locavore Robin Shreeves is reminded by The Seasonal Chef that the Clark Park Farmer's Market is open year-round, with a dozen vendors supplying cheese, free-range meats and more vegetables than you would expect from the last gasp of Pennsylvania's winter.
- Food enthusiasts John and Lisa are Eating in South Jersey note that Collingswood grilled-cheese factory The Pop Shop is celebrating what would be Dr. Seuss's 105th birthday with a kid's menu that includes green eggs and ham and Who-roast-beast.
- Michael Klein at The Insider reports that the entire contents of shuttered Brasserie Perrier are up for auction, including the weighty marble-topped bar, wrought-iron artwork and chandeliers. The 40-gallon Cleaveland braising pan would make one hell of a wedding present. Auction inspection is Saturday; bidding is already open.
- Beer Lass Suzanne Woods is doing the unthinkable.ï¿½ She's giving up pig for Lent. What is she going to eat to soak up all the Beer Week goodies flowing next week, I ask? Don't do it, Suzanne, the Pope will never know!
- Illustrator Kris Chau enjoys the bounty of quality takeout from Nick's Charcoal Pit in South Philly. Smoked ribs and crispy onion rings keep Chau and her partner-in-eating Tim fueled for Drawing For Food.
Vincent Whittacre and Roger Harman, who've hopped around to various West Philly restaurant locations for close to three decades, are saying late March for the opening of their Gold Standard Cafï¿½ (4800 Baltimore Ave.). The concept is actually a same-name modern redo of the restaurant Harman and his late partner Duane Ball ran at 47th and Chester until moving their operation to the Palladium at UPenn in 1984; they eventually left there to found the long-running Abbraccio, which they sold to Vietnam Cafï¿½ owner Benny Lai a few months back.
The original Gold Standard offered a five-course fine-dining tasting menu for $12. The concept with be a little different at the new one: The 1,500-square-foot space is divided into two distinct rooms ï¿½ one side for La Colombe coffee and breakfast/lunch fare, and the other a 30-to-35-seat dining area (open Wednesday to Sunday) where chef Joey Balaaldia will offer a small comfort food menu. Proposed hours: Mon.-Tue., 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Wed.-Fri., 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Brunch will be offered Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Meal Ticket got a peek at a draft of the menu, which will be built around products from the Mariposa Food Co-Op, one block away at 47th and Baltimore. A by-the-meal few highlights after the jump.
- Breakfast (served until 11 a.m. seven days a week): Croissants, scones, fresh-baked doughnuts; bagels with cream cheese, smoked salmon, etc.; whole wheat tortillas with various vegetables, breakfast meats and sauces; yogurt/granola parfait
- Lunch (available 11 a.m.-close seven days a week): Various soups and salads; parmesan chicken wings; regular/turkey/veggie burgers; selection of cold sandwiches (hummus and avocado, turkey waldorf, Chinese roast pork hoagie, etc.); selection of hot sandwiches (marinated flank steak with caramelized onions and Cabernet sauce, Mexican chicken wrap, falafel, etc.)
- Dinner (available 5-9 p.m. Wed.-Sun.): Spanikopita; stuffed mushrooms; country-style meatloaf; osso buco; flounder with salsa verde; fettucine alfredo; eggplant stew
|Assemble at home.|
|Photo l Michael Persico|
We are lucky in Philadelphia to have venerable Swedish megastore IKEA so close to hand. Hundred-count bags of tea lights, those fluffy, creepy sheepskin throws and enough disassembled particleboard furniture to keep the entire student body of Drexel, Penn and Temple occupied for years ï¿½ how convenient.
Part of the appeal is the built-in grub options. The inexpensive breakfast and lunch items are popular with both weary shoppers and fixed-income seniors, who will hang out all morning with one 25-cent coffee. We've written before about how spectacularly cheap breakfast and lunch are, in upstairs cafeteria-style eatery to the checkout hot dog haven. Fifty-cent hot dogs?ï¿½ With free relish? Come on. In lean times, we skip shopping and come just for lunch and a chance to skateboard in the parking lot.
Which brings us to the take-away food. The frozen kï¿½ttbullar (Swedish meatballs) have tempted me for years. At $7.99 for a hefty 78-count bag of the little guys, I couldn't resist. I threw in the $1.99 packet ofï¿½ powdered grï¿½ddsï¿½s (cream sauce), too, but did not spring for the $4.99 jar of lingonsylt (lingonberry jam). It just seemed wrong to schmear meatballs with preserves.
The frozen balls are fully cooked, so all you have to do is heat them through. Twenty minutes in the oven at 375 degrees produced dense kï¿½ttbullar with the bouncy bite of a vending machine Superball. These are labeled gluten-free, and the lack of breadcrumbs was evident. Each meatball was a tightly packed flavor delivery system, and overall, not bad.
The packet of grï¿½ddsï¿½s sauce was the biggest surprise. The directions instruct you to bring one cup of water and one-half cup of cream to a boil, but I substituted 1 percent milk and added a pinch of flour to thicken things up. Poured over the hot kï¿½ttbullar and homemade mashed potatoes, the sauce added richness and hint of allspice to the heap. Once I dug in, I realized that the lingonberry jam is necessary to add some brightness and tart acid to a seriously heavy meal.
Total cost, including 4 potatoes for mashing, and milk added to sauce and mash: $10.98. The nutritional information suggests 6 meatballs as a serving, with a calorie cost of 210. Accompanied by cream sauce and a heap of mash, this is a great, cheap meal to precede a night of drinking. We still have dozens of meatballs hanging out in the freezer, waiting for the weekend.
IKEA, 2206 S. Columbus Blvd., 215-551-4532, ikea-usa.com
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
Open for about a month and a half just off the corner of 13th and Christian, Williams Café is serving tremendously well-priced homestyle grub, including one of the more killer breakfasts I've had in a minute. The restaurant (816 S. 13th St., 215-545-7555), which replaced a Middle Eastern spot called Karibu, is run by brothers Jonathan and Barry Williams (pictured L-R), along with their mother, sister and other family members.
The menu (check it below) keeps it simple, with any-style eggs, hot cakes, French toast, creamed chipped beef, omelettes and other morning-time options. For lunch, you've got platters, salads and an assortment of classic sandwiches. The section that caught my bleary eye in the A.M., though, was "Breakfast From the Sea" — this morning, I grabbed a so-tasty order of fried flounder with grits and toast ($5.50) and a black coffee (80 cents). Barry says that this item, in addition to their salmon cakes with grits, is flying the fastest so far. For that amount of food at that price, it's easy to see why.
Right now, they're open Mon.-Sat. from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., but Barry says they'll begin serving dinner (the menu'll be soul food-driven, but will also feature vegetarian options) on or around March 16.
|Click to enlarge|
|A blank canvas|
|Photo l Michael Persico|
The comedian Jim Gaffiagan once said, "A muffin is nothing more than a bald cupcake."
It's so true. Though every muffin has the potential to be a hand-held panoply of breakfast flavors, too often they succumb to overgrown size and sugar and end up little more than a.m. dessert. The healthy-sounding apple bran muffin at Starbucks weighs in at 310 calories and 30 grams of sugar. If you want a doughnut, why not ditch the charade and just eat a doughnut?
I've lately been craving a muffin with more substance than sugar. A savory muffin complements an eggy breakfast, but also fits in with the dinner crowd. The best muffin recipe I've ever used is from Mom's ancient copy of the red Betty Crocker Cookbook, complete with photo illustrations on orangey '70s film stock. The basic recipe allows for additions of any flavoring element you like, from virtuous veggies to crumbled bacon.
- Chop half a fresh fennel bulb and one large onion into a quarter-inch dice. Toss with two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, until soft and sweet. Mix into muffin batter.
-Chop three sprigs of fresh rosemary as small as you can, or measure out 1 1/2 tablespoons of dry rosemary. Add to muffin batter, along with 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
-Peel and dice two apples. Add to muffin batter, along with 3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese.
-Cook three strips of bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then crumble. Add to muffin batter, along with 3/4 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese and a three sprigs of picked-over thyme.
Recipe for Basic Muffin Batter from the 1978 edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook, after the jump.
Betty Crocker's Basic Muffin Batter (p. 199)
Go Get This:
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Now Do This:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease bottoms only of about 12 medium muffin cups, 2 1/2 X 1 1/4 inches. Beat egg; stir in milk and oil. Stir in remaining ingredients all at once, just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Immediately remove from pans. Yields about one dozen muffins.
The latest issue of Theme, the Brooklyn-based Asian arts/culture glossy, is titled "For the Love of Food." It boasts everything from a barbecue feature by chef Edward Lee and an examination into the world of food blogs (written by, uh, me) to not-for-tourists guides to eating in Mexico D.F., Sao Paulo and Ho Chi Minh City.
But please don't overlook this excellent grub-themed mix — a "multi-course menu for hungry music lovers" — from Def Jux artist Cool Calm Pete, who's a certified food fiend in addition to being a rapper.
Track list after the jump.
9th Creation, “Bubble Gum”
Audio Two, “I Like Cherries”
Gary Bartz, “Drinking Song”
The Beach Boys, “Vegetables”
Beastie Boys, “Egg Man”
BO Junior and Keb Darge, “Coffee Pot, Pt. 1”
Willie Bobo, “Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries”
The Dynamics, “Ice Cream Song”
Fat Boys, “All You Can Eat”
Monk Higgins, “Little Green Apples”
JBs, “Pass the Peas”
Kool & the Gang, “Chocolate Buttermilk”
Galt Macdermot, “Coffee Cold”
The Mar-keys, “Banana Juice”
Jackie Mittoo & The Soul Brothers, “Chicken and Booze”
Idris Muhammad, “Bread”
Elvis Presley, “Song of the Shrimp”
Frankie Seay & The Soul Riders, “Soul Food”
Booker T. & the MG’s, “Mo’ Onions”
Norma Tanega, “Bread”
Maggie Thrett, “Soupy”
Barry Ungar, “Lightly Salted”
The Who, “Heinz Baked Beans”
Wu-Tang Clan, “Ice Cream”
|Photo l Michael Persico|
Éclat Master Chocolatier Christopher Curtin is used to plaudits, accolades and brown-nosing from culinary luminaries and media types alike. His caramels were named "World's Best" by Vogue (those skinny bitches ate caramels? Oh, false alarm, it was Steingarten), and he was the first American to be named a Konditor [Master Pastry Chef] by Handwerkskammer Zu koln in Cologne, Germany. The candy man is adding a crafty flair to his creations with a new six-pack of truffles infused with local brews. Their release is timed to coincide with the building Beer Week frenzy: The sixer of sweets can be purchased at the Beer Week kickoff event, Opening Tap.
A thick, crisp shell of high cacao-mass chocolate surrounds the creamy truffle centers. They are not too sweet — definitely a grownup's dessert — and the beer flavors are subtle, appearing in the finish of each bite. Curtin selected a variety of styles from the local breweries, from a complementary chocolate stout to sharply contrasting pale ales.
The truffles include Iron Hill oak-aged Cassis, a traditional Belgian sour ale; Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, a brown ale aged in massive wooden vessels; Nodding Head Chocolate Stout; Victory Brewing Hop Wallop; Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout and Yards India Pale Ale.
Éclat's six-pack of beer-infused truffles is $15 and can be purchased at Opening Tap, March 6, 7 p.m. at the Comcast Center, 17th & JFK; Fork, etc., 306 Market St., 215- 625-9425; or by calling Éclat Chocolate, 610-692-5206 for mail order.
|Phone Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
When my little brother came up the stairs clutching a box of freshly dug Irish Potatoes, my own fat kid sense started tingling. There was half a tube of left-over Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies in the cabinet, and after dinner we totally went for it.
I know you're jealous. These are totally seasonal.
Don Russell, aka Joe Sixpack, is one of the founding fathers of Philly Beer Week. One day, our children will take their first sip of Pennsylvania-brewed craft beer and raise a glass in homage to his munificent foresight. Much like Thor had his golden hammer, the local beer gods have been delivered a tool for the ages. Behold The Keg Hammer of Glory, via Don's blog Beer Radar.
The hammer will be reverently transported to Opening Tap by a team of (hopefully burly) marathon runners, and used to ram the bung into the inaugural cask. Still no word on who is worthy enough to wield this Tool of Legend; last year it was Mike Nutter.
|The Hammer in the forge of the beer gods|
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