Archive: March, 2010
|What's in a name?|
At 6 p.m. on Mon., March 8, agents from the State Police Department's Bureau of Liquor Code Enforcement (BLCE) raided Origlio Beverage in Northeast Philadelphia in a search for beers not appearing on the Commonwealth's list of registered beer brands. Don Russell and Bob Warner of the Daily News have the full story here.
Though beers like Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale and Duvel Belgian Golden Ale do appear on the registered beers list, a mismatch between their label appellations and the names listed on the registry led agents to order Origlio to cease sales of the beers in question. "We lost three days of sales," says Duvel-Moortgat rep Megan Maguire. "I don't even know how many thousands of dollars."
Duvel has been selling its signature golden ale to Pennsylvania customers for years. "Years ago, when we first introduced Duvel to PA," says Maguire, "We outsourced the registration process. No one from our company would ever call Duvel 'Duvel Beer' [as it appears on the registration list]. As of today (Thu., March 11), we have officially re-registered the brand under its correct name, Duvel Belgian Strong Golden Ale, and it is again for sale."
"We have two people, Kim White and Jenny Rogers, devoted to logistics. We are kind of religious about registering our beers, even one-offs like Adoration," adds Maguire. "We have over 200 accounts in the five-county area, and it really saddens us that our accounts had to take it off their shelves. It's just not a good use of time and energy by PA."
"We always follow the letter of the law," says Maguire. "We just didn't know they wouldn't use common sense."
Stephanie Thaw has announced that she'll close Sweetie's Pie Diner, her all-vegetarian pie restaurant at 1822 Spring Garden (it earned good looks from CP's Trey Popp back in January), this coming Sunday, March 14. The baker says that 10 percent of sales on her finale day will benefit the Wissahickon Charter School; she'll seat folks until 6 p.m.
After the jump, read Thaw's statement touching on the reasons behind the closing. (Here's our previous coverage of the venture.)
This Sunday, March 14, will be the last day for Sweetie's Pie Diner.
Since opening in October we have been fortunate to have really great press, a core group of loyal customers, and a really great and committed staff. For a new business in these times, it has grown nicely. Unfortunately, it has not grown quickly enough to be self-sustaining and we have reached a point where the financial resources have just run dry.
As a small business, committed to a triple bottom line, I am proud of the way we have operated throughout these past few months, even if that meant a smaller profit margin. In keeping with our core values, we will end our run with a final Community Giving Day to benefit Wissahickon Charter School and we will seat people until 6:00 PM. A full 10% of our sales will benefit this great little gem of a school in Germantown and I am confident you will enjoy the artwork done by their students, which has livened up our walls for the past month.
If we are that restaurant that you have been meaning try, now is the time. Although Sunday is our last day, we will have a full menu, plenty of desserts, and lots of cheer, despite the weather forecast. We will also continue to take orders for pies both sweet and savory for at least the next month. Motley Fuel is available in a few locations and can be ordered directly from our site.
I have really enjoyed the many people I have met over the course of this venture and I want to thank all of you who made us a part of your routine. Small neighborhood businesses add flavor and character to a place, and they can only do this if the neighborhood supports them in kind. While our run is ending, I hope that you will seek out and patronize them. They are the fabric of your community and it is only as strong as you make it.
I hope to see you this weekend and thanks for your patronage.
Spring is so close I can taste it -- taste it in Dogfish Head's super-seasonal, catch-it-while-you-can favorite Aprihop, that is. The apricot-infused American pale ale is continuously hopped for mega bitters while the stone fruit adds aroma and an effervescent, fruity undertone. It debuts for the season tonight at The Belgian CafÃ© (2047 Green St.), where some of y'all have seen me tending bar on occasion.
You know Belgian wouldn't bring in Dogfish Head's supercool rep Wendy Domurat just to debut one brew, right? In addition to the Aprihop on draft, hard-to-find drafts of World Wide Stout, Pangaea, Fort and Palo Santo will be flowing, plus a cellared firkin of the one-off, maple syrup-hit, cask-conditioned 75 Minute IPA. The fun starts at 7 p.m.
What would possess a person to take a day off work, drive 300 miles and camp out in a chilly parking lot?
The opportunity to win a year's worth of free food from Chick-fil-A.
Since 2003, the chain has marked the opening of each new location with the "First 100" promotion, where the first 100 customers earn 52 passes for free combo meals. People gather and camp out for 24 hours or longer in hopes of being the first. Port Richmond's Chick-fil-A (2301 E. Butler St., 215-744-1410) opens tomorrow at 6:30 a.m.
By 6 a.m. this morning, though, a large crowd of people were crowded around the roped-off parking lot. Since more than 100 had shown up, a raffle assigned numbers and turned the rest away. Later, groups set up tents inside the barricaded gathering zone, which participants are forbidden from leaving until the store opens its doors, lest they be disqualified.
Surprisingly, most people camped out at the Aramingo locale were not even from Pennsylvania. Some came from as far away as Virginia or Arizona. Since the coupons are valid at any chain location, several participants explained, there's an incentive to rack up as many as you can. For some, it adds up to hundreds of dollars in savings.
Eleanor Wagoner, 70, of Elkton, Md., has participated in 22 "First 100" promotions over the past four years. "It's more about the people you meet and the fun you have, rather than the food," she says, "but the coupons help." Wagoner attends the promos with her son as often as she can, even driving as far as Ohio last year, where she camped out in the snow. "It just never gets boring. You meet so many interesting people, we end up e-mailing, keeping in touch with each other."
Wagoner is not alone in her dedication. Another man at the event was participating in his 25th First 100, though he declined to speak with us. Lisa Rayle, another frequent attendee, drove nearly 300 miles yesterday, up from Hampton, Va., to complete her eighth "First 100" campout. Rayle said she gives most of her earned coupons away, preferring to participate just for fun. Twice she showed up too late and was turned away, though the discouragement didn't stop her from trying again. "Eight out of 10 isn't bad," she says. "After the first one or two times, you just get addicted to it."
For now, the group is still camping out, passing the time by napping, tossing footballs or playing cards. The restaurant is keeping its faithful followers sated with free food and all the sweet tea they can can drink. In the evening, a DJ and entertainment will help move the time along.
I don't know about you, but it strikes me as an awful lot of effort for freebie chicken nuggets and waffle fries, even if they are delicious.
|Courtesy of Keith Primeau
... or at least that's the impression we get from this image of the completed streetside facade, which the Flyers great dropped us this morning. (We first mentioned the spot back in December.) Primeau says he hopes the space, at the corner of Broad and Lombard, will be open no later than Monday, March 29. Keep you posted.
|Click to enlarge
Here's your peek at the menu for 500Â°, the burger joint Rob and Maggie Wasserman of Rouge are planning on opening at 15th and Sansom on March 23. The first thing we notice off the bat is that unlike chain competitors like Five Guys, 500Â° will offer customers the option of choosing their burger's temperature. Pricing's on point, with the most expensive burger going for $5.75 ("The 500," with lettuce, tomato, cheddar, bacon and their as-yet-unexplained house sauce) and combo meals topping out at $12.50. Milkshakes (chocolate, vanilla, black and white) will be made with Bassett's ice cream; for fries, choose from plain, spicy or truffled.
Meal Ticket's own Felicia D'Ambrosio debuts some brand-new real estate in the print edition of this week's City Paper. Titled Spirit Sister, the bimonthly column will tackle the bar, beer and cocktail scene here in Philly. "Spirit Sister delves into the people and places that provide us with magical elixirs, soporific drams and other temptingly toxic potions," says Flea of her plan of attack. Her first installment, which'll be online a little later this evening, deals with Ladder 15 rejiggering its entire concept after the arrival of chef David Ansill. Check out Flea's previous coverage of the bar here on Meal Ticket.
|Courtesy of Nicole Yates
Nicole Yates, whose Polish Goodness pierogi we've written about here on Meal Ticket, passes along word that Ida Mae's Bruncherie (2302 E. Norris St.) is serving French toast using babka baked by her mother, Rita Zebrowski. Ida Mae's chef and owner, Mary Kate Ralston McCaughey, whips up the dish using thick slices of the Polish dessert bread handmade with folded-in cream cheese, golden raisins and a crumb topping dipped in the batter she uses for challah French toast. It's available as a special regularly for $8.50. Polish Goodness has also added cheese babka to its product list.
More than just its throat-soothing, influenza-defeating properties, what my mother likes best about Boilo is the danger. "I found an article that said making Boilo was the number one cause of house fires in the anthracite-coal regions of Pennsylvania in the '30s," she practically bubbles. A simple mixture of oranges, lemons, ginger ale, honey, cinnamon and caraway hit with eye-watering amounts of moonshine (we used Everclear grain alcohol, lacking a still of our own), Boilo is akin to a hot toddy on steroids.
Boilo, known as the anthracite coal miner's cure for anything that ails you, was not a part of my mom's Drexel Hill childhood. She learned about it from her mother's sister, Joan, who recalled her own mother Felicia Ciokajlo (nÃ©e Swatski) making it with her own homemade ginger ale in Mt. Carmel, around two hours northwest of Philly, the early 1930s. "I've seen several different recipes," my mother related as she juiced orange and lemons for our Boilo project. "Some call for anise, mace or allspice, but I knew my family was poor they didn't have a car and they couldn't have afforded spices like that. Moonshine, however, they definitely had."
Intuitive cook that she was, my great-grandmother made her Boilo without a recipe. It was up to my great-aunt Joan to write to her second cousin Joseph Ciokajlo for more information. Joseph passed along a recipe he'd gleaned from a New Philadelphia grandmother that does use lemons an exotic item in Depression-era Mt. Carmel but none of the fancy spices my mother finds so unlikely. Despite the name, no boiling happens, as that would evaporate away the microbe-killing booze. As for the danger element, I heartily recommend keeping this project far from open flames, as Everclear or any high-proof alcohol is extremely flammable. Pouring the booze carefully into the pot, my mother looks positively giddy. "Just a lovely mother-daughter afternoon making hooch!" she exclaims, then adds her second-favorite quote from her stash of Boilo lore. "At this point in the recipe, the Boilo may explode."
Nazdrowie to that.
(from "a New Philadelphia grandmother," as written by Joseph Ciokajlo in a 2003 letter to Joan Wright, nÃ©e Ciokajlo, adapted by Felicia D'Ambrosio and Catherine Giacobbe)
1 Liter bottle good-quality ginger ale
1 heaping tsp. caraway seeds
6 sticks cinnamon
1.5 quarts honey (local preferred)
1 gallon Everclear or 100-proof whiskey (Four Queens suggested in original recipe)
Equipment: 2 big pots, one with tight-fitting lid; cheesecloth, juicer/reamer, colander, funnel, clean dishwashing gloves
Halve and juice all of the oranges and lemons into the stockpot that has a lid. Throw the rhines (sic) into the pot, along with all of the juice, pulp and seeds. Solids will be strained out later in the process.
Place the stockpot over medium heat and add the liter of ginger ale, caraway seeds and cinnamon sticks. Pour in all of the honey.
Allow the mixture to come to a simmer when it foams, give it a good stir. Cover pot with lid and turn the heat down to medium-low; allow mixture to cook at a bare simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
Place a colander in the second large pot. Pour the hot juice-honey mixture through the colander to strain out the big pieces.
Wearing the dishwashing gloves and working carefully (the rinds are very hot), squeeze all of the pulp and liquid out of the rinds through the colander. Discard eviscerated rinds and rinse the colander.
Move the colander over the original pot and line it with cheesecloth. Pour the mixture through the cheesecloth to catch any remaining solid bits or seeds. You may need to scrape the cheesecloth with a wooden spoon to press the liquid through. Gather the cheesecloth around the remaining solids and squeeze hard. Discard solids in cheesecloth, and return the strained mixture to low heat.
Here is the dangerous bit: Working carefully so as not to splash (Everclear is extremely flammable and cannot come into contact with open flames), pour the gallon of grain alcohol into the pot. Despite the name, DO NOT BOIL.
Warm the mixture through gently for just a few minutes and then remove from heat. Using a ladle and funnel, decant the Boilo back into the gallon Everclear jug.
Stopper the jug and store in the pantry, or use it to fill smaller glass bottles or jars for gift giving.
Serve Boilo warm by placing the jar in a gently simmering pan of water with the lid off; the water should come three-quarters of the way up the jar. Remove from the pan with tongs and serve straight up in shot glasses.
On Friday, we told you about the new Chick-Fil-A opening at Butler and Aramingo, and the chain's "First 100" promo, where the first 100 customers to fall in line at the location win free food from the chain for a year. A rep for Chick-fil-A drops us this shot of the line at 5:30 this morning (we altered the pic slightly in Photoshop so you can better see the nugget fans). The restaurant doesn't even open till 6 a.m. THURSDAY. Y'all nuts.
Oh ALSO! Team Meal Ticket's Alexandra Harcharek is on the scene and tells us she spotted none other than Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino lurking about. We're waiting on photo confirmation on that and hope we get it. Unfortunately, we don't think this Chick-fil-A serves Spam musubi. Scratch that! No Shane Victorino. Or Spam musubi.
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