Archive: March, 2009
Your friendly neighborhood Meal Ticket editor was in the house for the Fifth Annual Brewer's Plate this past Sunday. One of the cornerstone events of Philly Beer Week 2009, the evening teamed local restaurants with local breweries to create sweet food pairings.
The restaurants and breweries we chat with in the video represent a small portion of the evening's participants. Check out a full list of participants after the jump.
Shot and edited by Neal Santos. And huge shoutout/thanks to Jarl Midelfort for creating our amazing new Meal Ticket video intro!
|Click to enlarge|
|Tomme Arthur with a (nearly) life-size
cutout of Vinnie Cilurzo.
|All Photos l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
Last night, four rockstars of the brewing world ï¿½ dubbed "The Brett Pack" by the beer press ï¿½ converged on Monk's Cafï¿½ for a dinner celebrating their success, individually and in collaboration, brewing with the wild yeast Brettanomyces.
Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head (DE), Rob Tod of Allagash (ME), Tomme Arthur of The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing (CA) and Adam Avery of Avery Brewing (CO) held forth at the sold-out event; the fifth member of The Brett Pack, Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing (CA), was not able to attend due to continuing work on his new production brewery. Sam Calagione:ï¿½ "He was dumb enough to buy some used 50-barrel brewhouse!" Shouted from the crowd: "Yeah, from some schmuck in Delaware!"
This sort of mocking, brotherly banter characterizes the five brewers' relationships ï¿½ they have shared fleabag hotel rooms in Belgium, invited strippers to their fellows' breakfast beer events and contributed to each others' successes in many ways.ï¿½ One of the featured beers of the evening was their collaborative sour beer, Isabelle Proximus, conceived when they discovered the complex, sour lambics of the Senne Valley on a trip to Belgium three years ago. Each brewer contributed his house yeast and a favorite barrel, and Arthur was named cellarmaster and blender, to watch over the beer's progression as it aged and mix the five distinct barrels into one harmonious brew.
The pale gold, sparkling result became one of the most-sought beers of 2008. A limited number of cases of 750 ml., champagne-corked bottles were produced, selling briskly in select beer bars at $35 a bottle. Though much hoppier than traditional lambic examples, "Isabelle Proximus is a beer I'm very proud of," said Arthur. "This beer can sit on the table with the best of the Belgian lambics."
Arthur also thrilled the crowd of beer geeks with a big reveal: His two brewing ventures, The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing, are in the process of inking a deal with MicroStar to keg his beers for the first time. They should be on draft in California, Philadelphia, Boston and New York soon.
Check out photographic evidence of brewers behaving badly after the jump.
UPDATE [13mar09]: The full menu and beer list after the jump. (Woulda been a nice .pdf of the menu, but Rob Tod knocked a beer over with his cast-ed left arm and wrecked mine!)
This menu was conceived by Chef Brian Morin, of Toronto's BeerBistro, and cooked and executed by Chef Morin, Monk's Cafï¿½ Chef Adam Glickman, BeerBistro Sous Chef Jeff Bokelmann, and the wonderful, tireless Monk's cooks.
Brett Pack Dinner at Monk's Cafï¿½, March 11, 2009
Cantillon Monk's Cafï¿½ Gueuze (Brussels) DRAFT DEBUT; a special blend of aged lambic, including a very hoppy batch of lambic brewed by Tom Peter and The Brett Pack when they visited Cantillon 3 years ago.ï¿½ Served with a raw oyster, salmon tartare, cilantro and avocado over a cauliflower Cantillon brulee custard.
Allagash Interlude (Maine); a barrel-aged saison with brettanomyces. Served wtih a warm mousseline of foie gras with crouton and an Interlude sauteed pear.
Lost Abbey Red Poppy (California); a Flemish-style sour ale with sour cherries, aged one year in oak.ï¿½ Served with a rabbit terrine with cherry sauce.
Isabelle Proximus (Cali/Colorado/Delaware/Maine); a collaboration by The Brett Pack in the style of a classic gueuze. Served wtih lobster macaroni with morels and asparagus.
Avery Brabant (Colorado); a dark ale aged in a Zinfandel cask for 8 months. Served with a roasted partridge stuffed with mushroom duxelle, roasted root vegetables and fondant potatoes.
Russian River Consecration (California); aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for 6 months with thirty pound of currants added to each barrel, 10 percent ABV.ï¿½ Served with trï¿½s stinky Epoisses cheese, Consecration bread and peaches.
Dogfish Head Festina Lente (Delaware); a lambic-influenced ale made with fresh peaches and aged in oak.ï¿½ Served with flourless chocolate cake, Festina Lente sour cream ice cream and macadamia brttle.
|Sam Calagione, ruining Tomme Arthur's rabbit terrine, baby-bird style|
Adam Avery, Dana of Toronto's BeerBistro, and Tomme Arthur making
Sam Calagione and Rob Tod swap insults.
|Photo | Marc Steel|
|Part of this restaurant's charm is its simple elegance. You may be able to identify it from one of
its signature dishes (below).
|Photo | Marc Steel|
|See the second one in the background? My dining partner was forced to order her
own. That's how good it is.
|Photo | Marc Steel|
|Unagi sushi and a specialty roll.|
|Josh Schaffner hams it up for The New York Post|
|Christian JohnsTon for The New York Post|
By 6 p.m. on Friday night, Josh Schaffner and his Manhattan cohorts had hit three Philly beer bars, with four to go. "We started out a Monk's, then went to Jose Pistola's, and now we're here at the Sidecar," he said, clutching a pint of Arcadia Mad Hatter IPA. When I asked him how he was enjoying his visit so far, he grinned widely.
Schaffner is the director of New York Craft Beer Week, which debuted in September with a 10-day festival modeled on Philadelphia's massively successful inaugural Beer Week last March. Unlike Philadelphia, said Schaffner, where our events are focused on breweries and brewers, NYC's events are more venue-driven.
"New York has hundreds of bars that are neighborhood institutions," he explained. "Unlike Philly, where your bars are pigeonholed by serving craft beer, we have bars with craft beer that are also great bowling alleys, for example."
Whoa, back up, buddy. I reminded Schaffner that our bars are hardly pigeonholed by craft beer; it's just the opposite ï¿½ drinkers in Philly are so willing to pay for craft, that it benefits every bar owner, from fine restaurants to corner dives, to serve it. Besides, even Manhattan beer bars don't have access to the premier Belgian and worldwide brews that have turned local aficionados into the best-educated drinkers in the country.
Manhattan and Brooklyn have a bare minimum of pubs that stock expansive inventories of craft beer from around the world. Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg, D.B.A.'s Manhattan original and new Brooklyn location, Blind Tiger and The Ginger Man all pour unusual Belgian beer in addition to craft beer from the Northeast, but they are the crowded exception, not the rule.
Schaffner quickly re-emphasized what he liked about Philly beer bars. "You do have great relationships with brewers," he noted, looking over at Tim Suprise, owner of Arcadia Brewing, and Fred Bueltmann of New Holland. "We don't have those kinds of relationships ï¿½ our Beer Week is more about pub crawls, helping people discover new places that serve great beer."
Crawl away, New Yorkers. Philly Beer Week is straight up.
SNACK TIME: Snackbar's new chef brings it, fry me up, fry me down, heart on a brochette, a colossal tappie with convenient fire pits to roast annoying fratties, Gaetano is prickly but tasty, like a cactus paddle
|Snackbar is putting out a burger with south-of-the-border influence.|
Every week, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
- Unbreaded's Jeff Vogel gets down to the meat of the matter with the mole burger at Snackbar, and has a sandwich-centricï¿½ Q&A with its creator, new exec chef John "Chainsaw" Taus.ï¿½ Muy sabrosa.
- Foobooz-er and man-about-town Art Etchells confessed his undying love of fried pickles to the bartending half of Meal Ticket last week. No doubt his misty-eyed crush on battered spear-and-chip babes inspired this roundup of bars that serve the vinegary fritti.
-Last week, Ansill chef/owner David Ansill put his heart on the grill, and people ate it all up. Adam at Blogalicious devoured the Euro BBQ, including the lamb heart and calves' kidney brochette, and correctly judges that everything tastes better with agrodolce.
- Michael Klein of The Insider votes University City as the most happening neighborhood in town, and catalogs the many upcoming openings. The server's-worst-nightmare Penn crowd is undoubtedly looking forward to the August debut of The Tap House, a massive bar housing 75 draft beers and six firepits in 7,000 square feet of space.
- If you have never availed yourself of the harsh but witty gastronomic criticism of Philly Market Cafe, click over and check out Gaetano's impressions of nopales (prickly pear paddles) and where to find the best deals on the best-tasting vanilla.
I've been discussing this project in hushed tones for the past few months due to my irrational fear that it'll get ruthlessly co-opted by a global pizza conglomerate, but I just can't wait any longer. The world needs to know about this.
The world needs to know about The Stuffalo Crust Pizza.
Codenamed "Project X," The Stuffalo is the brainchild of my friend Jason Fetz. It's a riff on the Pizza Hut stuffed crust, the novelty that inspired an entire generation of Sega-playing indoor kids (and Ringo Starr) to consume slices backwards. A rope of mozzarella was rolled up into the edges of the dough to produce a gooey, sinful and clearly unnecessary eating experience. As you might've surmised, The Stuffalo takes this idea and poultryfies it — buffalo chicken, not cheese, is what's being crammed into crusts in 2009.
I recently assembled some friends, including Jason, in my home kitchen to make the Stuffalo — up to that point just a fun topic to bring up while shamefully drunk at the P.O.P.E. — a tangible, scarfable reality.
How'd it turn out?
Just as I expected.
Since this was our first attempt at baking The Stuffalo, no one was sure where to begin. So we decided to experiment with several different techniques and fillers to determine which approach made for maximum Stuffalology.
A heated debate arose when discussing what type of buffalo chicken would produce the best results. An alcohol-fueled faceoff promptly developed between the breaded, already-nuggeted chicken and raw meat contingents. We decided to bake three separate Stuffalos — one featuring pre-cooked popcorn chicken simmered in a homemade buffalo sauce, another built around skinless chicken breast sautéed with the sauce in a pan, and a third option featuring Morning Star Farms fake buffalo wings in lieu of real-person pollo.
We began by prepping ingredients, most notably the buffalo sauce — nothing more than Crystal, melted butter and a few dashes of salt and pepper. Various cheeses were grated. Onions and mushrooms were chopped. Sauce cans were popped. Crappy Ikea pizza pans were lightly oiled because it seemed like the proper thing to do.
Then came the task of prepping the pie base itself. We acquired sacks of ready-to-go dough from Shop-Rite, but having minimal experience with the squishy stuff made stretching and pan-fitting a challenge. (No one attempted to throw it.) My buddy Ryan Beck, who you can see in the first set of photos above, succeeded in making the dough his lady, getting it ready for the most critical moment of the experiment — the stuffing of the uffalo.
Stretching the dough out so it hung over the edge of the pan helped create a foldable lip for our first attempt, which involved that rough-chopped popcorn chicken. But this didn't mean that the process went smoothly. Arranging the chicken and folding the dough over the cargo was easy — getting that dough to stay put like good dough should, however, was much more difficult. There was much cursing and pinching and thumb-thrusting, which eventually led to the demented result in Set 2 of the photos. No matter, though — after applying our sauce and cheese, our first-ever Stuffalo Crust Pizza went into a 450-degree oven for about 12 minutes.
I know you're supposed to wait when it comes to these things, but as soon as we removed piping-hot Stuffalo #1 from the oven, we cut it up, dumped some Ken's bleu cheese dressing into a ramekin (for dipping!) and dug in with little to no regard for the welfare of our tongues. Verdict? Thing was ugly as hell, but it tasted like heaven. There was a noticeable sogginess to the breading of the chicken in the crust, but aside from that, the conceptual Stuffalo was a success — the signature zesty kick of buffalo sauce was properly encapsulated, and in many ways intensified, by its chewy crust blanket.
The cheese/sauce part of the pizza was good, too.
Stuffalo #2, which featured raw skinless chicken marinated in sauce and sautéed in a pan prior to stuffage, had the distinction of featuring additional toppings — pepperoni, mushrooms and onions got the scatter treatment for this round. Another difference here was the decision to spread the tomato sauce prior to folding the dough over the chicken, which resulted in a bit of it leaking into the crust itself. That lent to the overall tenderness of the stuffing, but found myself wishing there was more breaded crispiness in each bite.
Then there was Stuffalo #3 — the fake chicken one. I personally prefer my buffalo flavor delivered doused as opposed to baked in, but I have to give it to the Morning Star pizza for featuring the most inside-the-crust crunch of all our attempts.
This was our first foray into the dangerous, glamorous world of The Stuffalo Crust Pizza, but definitely not our last. I've already drawn up a strategy combining all the best aspects of each pizza by preparing my own breaded chicken at home — I think it'll alleviate any sogginess and provide the elusive crunch I so long for. Maybe we'll drizzle the pie itself in blue cheese dressing next time — or maybe we'll even use crumbled bleu instead of shredded mozz/cheddar on top. We can really go in any direction with this — and knowing as much fills my heart with radioactive levels of joy.
Chef Keith Taylor has done more than you.
After graduating from Cornell's culinary program in 1988, the Nutley, N.J. native ended up working for Disney at several high-end resorts. He then spent a decade cooking in Manhattan restaurants, including a gig with David Burke. In addition to founding his own catering and consulting firm, Sami Rose, Taylor's lent out his services to restaurants, event planners and pro sports teams (Nets, Jets, Devils, Giants, Red Sox, Pats, etc.). In 2001, the chef was hired to spearhead the reopening of the Houston Marketplace at UPenn, which brought him to the Philly area.
Seems like the non-stop Taylor might be ready to key down his career sprint to a brisk jog, because he's just put roots down in Roxborough with Holy Smoke, a 140-seat restaurant and music venue (472 Leverington Ave., 215-482-7500, holysmokephilly.com) that's taken over for what was Chuck U. Farley's. (Farley's owner Frank Mitchell is Taylor's partner.)
The menu is expansive, touching on both sides of Taylor's background, American southern and Caribbean. Voodoo shrimp and conch fritter starters give way to oyster po'boys, Carolina-style crab cakes, low country jambalaya and red fish etouffï¿½. All barbecued meatsï¿½ ï¿½ ribs, jerk chicken, beef brisket, etc. ï¿½ are smoked on-site.
The space features three bars, including one Taylor's dubbed "Legends" ï¿½ it features around $80,000 worth of musician-based art from muralist Dane Tilghman. Also notable: They have the widest selection of Victory beers on tap outside the brewery's Downingtown headquarters.
Hours: Tue.-Thu., 5 p.m.-mid; Fri.-Sat., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-mid; closed Mon.
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
You can always count on Capogiro Gelato Artisans to turn an unlikely raw material into a treat of otherworldly flavor. Avocado gelato paired with sparkling lime-cilantro sorbetto transcends guacamole influences; luxe black truffles are whipped into a creamy dessert that is fragrant even when frozen. Not to mention one of their year-round top-selling flavors, rosemary honey goat's milk.
Now the Capogiro crew has trained their flavor-laser onto Beer Week.ï¿½ Today at the 20th and Sansom Street shop, Rogue Chocolate Stout and Lindeman's Framboise lambic have been alchemically transformed into frozen versions that unite their unique beer qualities with the most important meal of the day, dessert.
The Rogue Chocolate Stout gelato bears just a trace of the beer's dark color, but fully captures the rich roastiness that makes this brew so enjoyable. A bitter, bracing finish reminds you that this is an adult treat.ï¿½ Like Lindeman's Framboise lambic itself, this gelato's primary flavor is sweet and tart raspberry, finishing with the clean bite of the slightly sour, spontaneously fermented beer.
The Capogiro at 13th and Sansom is getting into the Beer Week spirit as well, with a Kasteel Rouge (Belgian brown ale strongly flavored with cherry liqueur) gelato later this week. 20th Street will be rotating their Rouge Chocolate Stout, Lindeman's Framboise and a special gelato made from Tom Peters' custom Monk's Single-Barrel Cantillon Kriek through this weekend.
You can check Capogiro's daily flavor lists on their Web site to see what is currently in the case at each location.
Capogiro Gelato Artisans, 117 S. 20th St., 215-636-9250; 119 S. 13th St., 215-351-0900; capogirogelato.com
That's Marc Vetri, Jose Garces and Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver hanging at Amada after a Brooklyn beer dinner last night.
I love this passage about Oliver from Burkhard Bilger's Nov. 2008 New Yorker piece on Dogfish Head (the craft beer industry's Orson Welles! Bilger kills it):
Oliver, who is forty-six and black, with a trim beard and a resonant voice, has done his best to become the respectable face of craft brewingï¿½its Orson Welles. While [Dogfish Head owner Sam] Calagione wears jeans and a rumpled shirt even on the ï¿½Todayï¿½ show, Oliver attends almost every event in a jacket and tie. One blazer bears the Brooklyn Brewery logo, woven in steel by the same tailors who stitch crests for the British Royal Family, and his beers have some of the same suavity. ï¿½From what Iï¿½ve seen, a lot of people still think of us as kids playing with toys,ï¿½ he told me. ï¿½So anything I can do to ennoble beer is worthwhile, whether dressing up the packaging or dressing up for a beer dinner.ï¿½
Most people order tap water in restaurants. There are a delicate few who can't stand the chlorine and knowledge of the trace pharmaceuticals present, but the majority sip their Schuylkill punch without complaint.
We are fortunate in the United States to have safe, clean drinking water for pennies a gallon from the tap. Other countries do not have this luxury.ï¿½ According to the World Health Organization,ï¿½ waterborne diseases kill 3.4 million people every year, making it the leading cause of death and disease around the world. The United Nations determined that 4,000 children die every day from drinking water contaminated with raw sewage.
David Droga, creative chairman at Droga5 ad agency in New York, launched The Tap Project in 2007, as a way to allow restaurant patrons to make a donation to UNICEF's efforts to provide clean water to people ï¿½ especially children ï¿½ in developing nations. This year, during the week of March 22-28, diners at participating restaurants can donate $1 or more for the tap water they normally enjoy for free.
Participation expands beyond the boundaries of restaurants;ï¿½ by texting the word "tap" or "agua" to UNICEF (864233), you can make a $5 donation with your mobile phone. Water always finds a way to go where it wants ï¿½ The Tap Project is asking for help getting it to flow where it will make a life-or-death difference.
Find out more or locate a participating restaurant near you at TheTapProject.org
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