Archive: March, 2009
If talking about strippers is your bag but youï¿½d like a hunk of meat to go with it, than youï¿½ll like Rare. Thatï¿½s the name of the gentlemanï¿½s club and Italian steakhouse from Joe Polutro (chef/owner of Mio Sogno at 15th and Oregon) and currently unnamed partners thatï¿½ll occupy a 30,000+ square foot space on the 6100 block of Passyunk Avenue, near (but not within the reach) of Jerryï¿½s Corner and the Southwest Philly auto malls. By April, we hear.
Just a reminder that you should attend tonight's Arcadia/New Holland Beer and Cheese Smackdown, which I have the honor of hosting, at The Sidecar (2201 Christian St.,215-732-3429, thesidecarbar.com).
For just $12, you get to sample six cheeses (courtesy of Claudio) and a total of 12 beers to decide which Michigan-based brewery is tops when it comes to pairing. Fred Bueltmann of New Holland and Tim Suprise of Arcadia will be in attendance to discuss their beers and, of course, talk a little smack to each other.
The competition is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m., but GET THERE EARLY to ensure you get a ticket. Space is very limited.
See you there!
|photos | brian howard
It's here, it's here!ï¿½ As the Keg Hammer of Glory is conveyed from The Grey Lodge to the Comcast Center for Opening Tap tonight, the start of Beer Week inspires feelings both delightful and dreadful.
Ten days ofï¿½ happenings last year were a Herculean feat for those working (and enjoying) the festival.ï¿½ This year, the ante has been upped in every way.ï¿½ Beer Week has grown in size and scope -- last year, we had one Tuesday night of Meet The Brewer events. This year, the schedule is so clogged with brewer appearances, I'd be surprised if these men and women have anything more than bones left of their shaking hand.
Brewers are not the only ones overbooked. Chances are, you're not getting a seat at your usual bar unless you arrive at 11:30 a.m. with the staff.ï¿½ In all this mania, it's easy to overdo it --coming out the other end of the week without walking pneumonia or being brandedï¿½ "permanently banned"ï¿½ takes a bit of strategy.
MAKE A PLAN: You can't get to everything. Hit up the Beer Week Web site now, pull up each day's calendar, and write down which events you must attend.ï¿½ Scope start-times, especially.ï¿½ A few popular events last year -- like the South Philly pub crawl -- were so crowded they became miserable.ï¿½ Arrive early and exit when things become too reminiscent of a sweaty frat party.
GET ON THE BUS: How cool are you going to feel if all you get out of Beer Week is a DUI?ï¿½ Lose the car keys for the week and grab a SEPTA Sip Safely pass that grants you all-day travel on bus, subways, trolleys and regional rail for $9.ï¿½ Also, temperatures are predicted to be in the fifties and sixties for much of the festival -- let's you and me walk to the bar!
HYDRATE: The pros know, you gotta drink water.ï¿½ Tip your bartender a buck to keep a pint glass full of H20 alongside that 12 percent barleywine, and things will look a lot rosier in the morning.
FEED: High-grav brews are guaranteed to wreak havoc on an empty stomach.ï¿½ Thanks to PA's puritanical Blue Laws, the majority of bars participating in Beer Week also serve damned good food.ï¿½ Get a burger, or join your fellows streaming towards Center City Pretzel Co. (819 Washington Ave.) at midnight for a trio of fresh-baked, hot soft pretzels.
MOVE IT: Take part in one of the runs or bike rides scheduled for each weekend of the fest.ï¿½ Your fat ass will thank you later.
- The video above is from Hulu because bravotv.com stopped allowing embedding about three quarters of the way through this season. Of course, it cuts off right before that salt-and-pepper-headed guy with the non-moving eyeball announces this season's $10,000 Fan Favorite. To no one's surprise, it's Fabio, he of the panty-disintegrating accent that we've talked so much about this season. I am OK with this. Did you know that he is William Shatner's private chef? Even if he was an incorrigible bastard, I would still vote for him for Fan Favorite based solely on this. And apparently he is getting his own show.
- Lackluster conclusion to this season notwithstanding, is anyone else kind of bummed out that Season 5 is actually over? I would always temper the impossible-to-understand claw hammer to the brain that is the latest season of LOST with some good, clean Top Chef fun. Now I'm slowly slipping into fullblown madness.
- Leah and Hosea drunken pouty relationship crap: nomorenomorenomore. Both cheftestants' relationships are now kaput. That's probably a good thing. And now, please pour one out for Hosea's betrayed ex-girlfriend, who is quite attractive (and seems to just love the outdoors! fellas?):
- Why does Richard, who was voted off the show in Episode 3, constantly feel the need to remind everyone that he is popular with bears? Richard, you are a farcically large gay man who could crush my head with your bare hands. That you are a hit in the bear community is a given.
- Is wearing an "I <3 Foie" T-shirt, like Episode 1 victim Patrick, more or less obnoxious than the act of harassing someone who just happens to love foie?
- I kind of like Jamie now. I think she's funny. I would like to apologize for ridiculing your overreliance on scallops throughout this season.
- I've ready several takes on last night's reunion that criticized its reliance on overproduced montages, which focused on everything from "stew room" antics to the Stefan/Fabio "bromance" (retire ... word ... now). Why?! Overproduced montages are pretty much the only reason I watch TV. You have seen America's Funniest Home Videos, no?
- Till next time, Padma. Have I mentioned that you are transcendently beautiful?
Coming across this short video of our dude David Katz whipping up his now-famed sizzling mussels reminded me just how much I dig this starter. The Mï¿½mï¿½ chef/owner pops the little guys out of their shells and lightly dusts them in Wondra flour before sautï¿½eing in a pan. As you can see in the clip, the seasoning sesh is kept short and sweet savory ï¿½ salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, lemon, olive oil ï¿½ before the whole deal is transferred into a incredibly hot cast-iron skillet.
You will start shoveling these things into your mouth the second that skillet is dropped on your table. You may burn a temporary hole in your tongue. You will not care.
Eat this immediately.
Video: YouTube user ifiwerethemayor
Kite & Key owner Jim Kirk (left) and Yards' Tom Kehoe will fight over this mask.
Photo | Michael Persico
- Felicia D. runs down her picks for the best events of PBW09. Among the highlights: Yards Brewing founder Tom Kehoe and Kite & Key owner Jim Kirk's March 14 sumo wrestling match. At stake: Kirk's Eagles-themed luchador mask.
- Nick Norlen, who writes CP's Running Numbers column, had never tried beer until recently. He documents his first foray into the world of hops in "The 25-Year-Old Teetotaler."
- Sure , all the city's most prominent drinkeries are going to be slammed for the next 10 days. But what about the places with kick-ass draft lists that you don't hear about as often? Brian Howard runs down Philly's Top 5 Underappreciated Beer Bars.
- Fork, Le Bec-Fin, The Four Seasons ï¿½ more and more of the city's high-end restaurants are getting their craft beer games right. Tim Hyland tracks the trend ï¿½ move over, wine.
- In Small Bites, we've got quick hits on Troegs Nugget Nectar, barnivore.com, Ferran Adria's Inedit beer and an ambitious Citywide Special-related move uncovered by staff writer Isaiah Thompson.
- Nikki Volpicelli shares even more Beer Week picks in her What's Cooking column.
- Believe it or not, we actually had some room for non-beer-related coverage this week! Check out Feeding Frenzy, where I'm sharing info on Williams Cafï¿½, the return of West Philly's Gold Standard, lunch at Bistrot La Minette and tomorrow's Beer and Cheese Smackdown at The Sidecar.
If the Board of Health required restaurant owners to post their inspection letter-grades in the window, would it affect where you chose to eat?
Los Angeles County has had this policy in effect for a decade, and the highly-visible placement of an "A", "B" or "C" grade has had a positive effect on food safety, writes Glenn Collins, for The New York Times:
Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, director of public health for Los Angeles County, said an independent study showed that its letter system had not only reduced food-borne illness outbreaks associated with restaurants, but also had lowered associated hospitalizations by 20 percent.
Collins reports that New York City will be implementing the same policy in 2010, raising a hue and cry from fearful restaurant owners. The main argument stems from the fact that the restaurant will be required to display their letter grade immediately following its annual surprise inspection by the Board of Health, though an appeal hearing to challenge the grade can't happen sooner than three weeks after the inspection.
Citations with number values are issued to restaurant operators for infractions ranging from lack of "Employees Must Wash Hands" signs, evidence of living or dead vermin and their feces, moldy food and plumbing leaks. In New York City, a cumulative score of 28 results in the restaurant being immediately closed.
Philadelphia's agency is Environmental Health Services, which performs risk-based evaluations. The higher the likelihood of the food being processed to contain pathogens, the more heavily associated infractions are weighted. The Office of Food Protection provides training to workers on safe handling and cooking of hazardous foods.
WelcometoPhilly.com created this Google Map last year that allows users to type in the name of any local restaurant, bakery or food truck, among others, and view its record of inspections.
That said, if you dine out with any regularity, you're going to get food poisoning now and then. According to the Center for Disease Control, very few cases of food poisoning reach life-threatening outbreak status like the recent peanut-salmonella scare.
In his article for the Associated Press, Mike Stobbe writes, "Next time you have a case of diarrhea that lasts a day or more, chances are better than 1 in 3 that it was food poisoning."
Lovely. He goes on in this fashion, noting that:
Food poisoning affects an estimated 25 percent of Americans every year. That compares with roughly 30 percent of people in industrialized countries, according to the World Health Organization. The toll is much higher in developing countries, where diarrheal diseases are a major cause of death for children.
So, really, we've got it good. You can snag a carton of free-range eggs and make brownie batter you can eat off a spoon, order your pork tenderloin "medium" in a good restaurant, or purchase a chunk of organic ground beef and make steak tartare without fear. Those with compromised immune systems ï¿½ very young children and the elderly, especially ï¿½ and pregnant women,ï¿½ must exercise greater caution eating potentially hazardous foods.
Meal Ticket is giving away two passes to this year's Brewer's Plate, scheduled for this Sun., March 8 from 4 to 7 p.m. at UPenn's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (3260 South St.). Now in its fifth year, the event brings together local restaurants and local breweries, who team up to pair dishes with 3-ounce pours of well-matched beer.
Just a few of this year's participants on the beer end: Dogfish Head, Earth Bread + Brewery, Nodding Head, Philadelphia Brewing Co., Sly Fox, Stoudt's, Triumph, Troegs, Victory, Yards.
And here's just a portion of the restaurants that'll throw down: Bar Ferdinand, Belgian Cafï¿½, Cantina Dos Segundos, Distrito, El Camino Real, Pub & Kitchen, South Philly Tap Room Southwark, Tinto, Tria.
Want to win? All you have to do is be the first person to e-mail drew.lazor @ citypaper.net with the correct answers to our beer trivia quiz. DO NOT LEAVE ANSWERS AS A COMMENT.
Questions after the jump. Good luck!
UPDATE: OK, so we might've screwed up a little bit. Turns out there's not really a definitive answer to one of our questions. Taking this into consideration, we feel it is only fair to crown TWO winners. Congratulations to Meal Ticket readers Marc Hensley and Jason Portnoy, who'll both get a pair of tickets.
Answers after the jump.
- What two events inspired the creation of Philly Beer Week?
The Book and the Cook (out of which the actual Brewer's Plate grew, so that was also an acceptable answer) and late, great beer writer Michael Jackson's tutored tastings at the Penn Museum were the two events that truly inspired the creation of our city's smashing Beer Week festivities.
- There were many local winners at the 2008 Great American Beer Fest in Colorado. Name at least TWO Gold Medal-winning breweries and what categories they won in.
Everyone from Sly Fox to Iron Hill to Dogfish Head took home golds at the most recent GABF. You can check out the full list of winners on the Beer Fest's Web site.
- According to the original text of the Reinheitsgebot, what are the only elements that can be included in German beer?
According to the ORIGINAL TEXT of Germany's beer purity law, the only ingredients allowed in German beer are water, barley and hops (or "wasser, gerste and hopfen," as purist Joe Sixpack submitted). But what about yeast? Well, the Reinheitsgebot originated in the late 15th century ï¿½ before dudes even knew what yeast was. Tricky, I know.
- In England, what alcohol-by-volume measure is required for something to be called a "session beer"?
Here's where things got a little funky. In concocting this question, Team Meal Ticket was working with the knowledge that 4 percent was the ceiling for easy-drinking session beers in England. We heard this from several sources. After consulting several other sources, however, it became clear that there truly is no hard and fast ABV applied in the UK. Basically, if it's 5 percent or under (and there are exceptions aplenty to this), it can be called a session beer. That's why there are two winners.
- Name at least TWO locally produced beers making their official debuts during Philly Beer Week 2009.
Joey6 recently posted a mouthwatering list of all the new beers on his blog.
|Chef Chip Roman and his coq|
Press releases are behind way more news than you realize. While we'll leave block-quoting publicists to other, lazier bloggers, we did feel obligated to share this fab photo of James Beard-double-semifinalist Chip Roman of Blackfish in Conshohocken.
Chef Roman tenderly clutches a rooster against his outfit of crisp, spotless whites and a prom-dress of a protective apron. On a less devastatingly handsome fellow, this would look ridiculous. Here, it's foodie fantasy.
Blackfish, 119 Fayette St., Conshohocken, 610-397-0888, blackfishrestaurant.com
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