Archive: March, 2010
Here's Andrew Sabin, Dave Conn and Anthony Scuderi of Tinto rocking out with a bestial 35-pound octopus that the Jose Garces Basque tapas joint (116 S. 20th St.) just got in. Look at that thing! They're going to be hacking up the big boy for Pulpo Gallego, with the meat poached in red wine vinegar, lemon and spices before sautÃ©eing, then hit with smoked paprika and served with sides of potato confit and fiddlehead ferns. Depending on whether or not there's any pulpo left after this weekend, they may introduce a cured octopus plate next week.
Franklin Square (Sixth and Race) opened for the 2010 season today, and our man Benjamin Franklin (as portrayed by master Benny impersonator Ralph Archbold) was the on scene, riding the Philadelphia Park Liberty Carousel, playing mini golf with kids and dishing out the first burgers and shakes at Stephen Starr's burger shack, SquareBurger.
In addition to the burgers and hot dogs, you can also enjoy a decent veggie burger, massive sundaes and shoestring French fries. (Try the Philly Dog, a kosher hot dog wrapped in kosher salami and served on a soft potato roll.) We're happy to see they've kept the Cake Shake, an (un)holy union of Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. New on the menu this yea: chicken fingers (four for $4.75) and a Shake of the Month, available starting May 1. All the items are still priced at $5 or less.
The food stand will be extending its hours this season, opening all through the summer and during select weeks until Dec. 31. Check out the full menu and hours after the jump.
SquareBurger's 2010 Hours:
March 26-May 27: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
May 28-Sept. 6: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily
Oct. 1-31: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon-7 p.m.
Nov. 26-28: 5-8 p.m.
Dec. 27-31: 5-8 p.m., daily
|Click to enlarge|
Newbold's coffee/beer cafÃ© Brew (1900 S. 15th St.), which landed its liquor license last week after waiting for a relatively ridiculous amount of time, is celebrating its long-delayed acquisition with some nice dealage tomorrow, March 27. The first 25 customers will receive a "Staff Discount" coupon, giving them 25 percent off their next purchase. From 7 to 9 p.m. that night, they'll offer sixers of PBC's named-for-the-'hood Newbold IPA for just $6.50, plus tax. Then, at 9, of-agers are welcome to drop in and raise a complimentary pint of Newbold to toast to the occasion.
If you read our latest What's Cooking column, you know that Zahav (237 St. James Place) is offering a one-of-a-kind Passover menu (in full after the jump), which'll launch this Monday and run through the following Tuesday, April 6. For $42, chef/co-owner Michael Solomonov will cook eight courses showcasing his modern interpretations of Passover fare. Meal Ticket's Felicia D stopped by the restaurant the other day to learn how to put together Solomonov's leek fritters with charoset, a fruit- and nut-based paste that's a staple of the holiday. (It, like all the elements of the Seder ritual, holds massive symbolic importance at the Passover table.)
|Click to enlarge
|Photo l Michael Persico|
|Matzagna al Pesto for Passover|
Born in Rome and raised in Riverdale and Manhattan, Il Portico (1519 Walnut St.) chef/owner Al Delbello shrugs at the notion of "typical" seder dishes. "Typical depends on your background," the chef says over a plate of his matzagna al pesto, an airily layered take on lasagna he makes especially for Passover.
Il Portico, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary in September, was one of the first restaurants to colonize Philadelphia's Restaurant Row, as well as bring the cuisine of the Roman Jewish ghetto to the city. "Il Portico d'Ottavia was the walled Jewish ghetto," says Delbello. "This cuisine is over 2,000 years old. It is very different from Eastern European Jewish cuisine, from Sephardic cuisine."
Now appearing on Il Portico's menu, matzagna al pesto is a delicate combination of unleavened matzah squares (standing in for the usual flat lasagna noodles), bÃ©chamel sauce, basil pesto and ricotta cheese, garnished with pine nuts. The recipe comes down through Delbello's family, many of whom own and operate restaurants from New York to Hong Kong, Bali to Istanbul.
"The Jewish faith spread throughout the world," sayd Delbello. "So every culture has their own style of cuisine. It was the Jews who brought fennel, eggplants and artichokes to Italy in the first place."
Learn to make Il Portico's kosher for Passover matzagna al pesto, after the jump.
Matzagna Al Pesto (Matza Lasagna with Pesto Sauce)
Recipe courtesy Al Delbello, executive chef/owner, Il Portico
2 cups pesto sauce
8 egg matzot
2 cups ricotta sauce
1 cup milk
Coat the bottom of deep square baking dish slightly larger than the matza with pesto. Make alternate layers with uncooked matza and pesto sauce with dollops of ricotta sauce. Continue to make layers until you have exhausted all the ingredients. End with the ricotta sauce. Pour all the milk over the prepared matzagna, covered with aluminum foil, and bake in preheated 350 F oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot or at room temp.
Salsa Di Ricotta Per Pesach (Passover Ricotta Sauce)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons Passover cake flour
1 1/2 cups hot milk
1 cup ricotta
Heat the butter and flour in a saucepan and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the milk all at once and cook another 2 minutes, and whisk. Add ricotta and simmer, stirring until ricotta is almost completely melted
Yields approx. 2 cups
In this week's What's Cooking, Alexandra H. told us about Oyster House's (1516 Sansom St.) first annual oyster shucking competition this Sat., March 27. We caught up with third-generation restaurateur and O.H. owner Sam Mink to find out more.
Mink tells us he will shut down normal service for a few hours to make room for the two-part event. In the first segment, pros (including raw-bar rapiers from Oyster House, Snockey's and Union Trust) will be timed shucking two dozen medium-sized oysters as Kirsten Henri (Grub Street) and Rick Nichols (Philadelphia Inquirer) keep a watchful eye from the judge's table. Careful fellas, detached meat and cracked shells knock a few points off your score and there is a hefty prize to be wonâ¦200 clams, er, dollars.
Think you can shuck with the best of them? Sign up at the door for the second leg: the amateur shuck-off. With Henri and Nichols still grading, novices will shuck a dozen for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to Oyster House.
Admission to the 2 p.m. event is $5 - not a bad deal considering the competitors' newly ajar oysters will feed the crowd. The kitchen is closed, but pints of Dock Street West Pale Ale straight from firkins will be sold at the bar to wash down the bivalves.
|Photo courtesy Marigold Kitchen
|Wild striped bass with citrus-kohlrabi salad
Late March is tough for locavores in Pennsylvania. But just when you thought you would cry at the sight of yet another streaky storage apple, spring's first bright crops of fiddleheads, favas and rhubarb begin to appear. Robert Halpern's newest menu at his over-the-river BYO Marigold Kitchen (501 S. 45th St.) makes lusty use of these edible signs of life in dishes like "chicken stuffed chicken" with truffled mousse, fava bean puree, baby carrots, pickled fiddlehead ferns, plumped pistachios and apricot bubbles. Less seasonal but as rich with promise is a three-hour sous vide-poached egg lavished with fried hollandaise, Canadian bacon crisp and osetra caviar.
Marigold's menu varies from week to week, and a nine-course chef's tasting is available daily. Take a look at the complete early spring offering after the jump.
Artichoke Escabeche, Potato Salad, Black Oil 10.
Pan Fried Sweet Breads
Cauliflower-Saffron Puree, Pedro Ximenez Jus, Crispy Fried Dehydrated Cauliflower 14.
Baked Crab âMac & Cheeseâ
Orzo, 2 Year Aged Grafton Cheddar, Pickled JalapeÃ±os, Shitake Mushrooms, Panko Crust 10.
Medley of Spring Baby Lettuces
Lola Rosa, Red Oak, Butter, Dandelion Greens, Marigold House Vinaigrette 8.
3 Hour Egg
Sous Vide Poached Egg, Fried Hollandaise, Canadian Bacon Crisp, House Made Crouton, Osetra Caviar 11.
In Various Forms & Textures 9.
Loin of Lamb
Yellow Curry Sauce, Baby Vegetables, Fried Somosa, Tamarind Bubbles 28.
Pan Seared Scallops
Wild Morels, English Peas, Berkshire Farm Bacon, Parmesan Broth 26.
Crispy Skin Salmon
Parsnip Puree, Raita, Upland Cress, Rose-Cardamom Bubbles 22.
Wild Striped Bass
Broccolini, Toasted Pepitas, Citrus-Kohlrabi Salad, Blood Orange Oolong Broth 25.
Chicken Stuffed Chicken
Truffled Mousse, Fava Bean Puree, Baby Carrots, Pickled Fiddleheads, Plumped Pistachios, Apricot Bubbles 23.
Rabbit in Multiple Preparations
Milk Braised Leg, Black Trumpet Stuffed Loin, Buffalo Fried âWingâ, Pickled Bubbles 28.
Baby Vegetables, Yellow Curry Sauce, Fried Samaosa, Tamarind Bubbles 18.
Chef's Tasting Menu 85.
|A special seder plate|
Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the Jews' exodus from Egypt, begins this Tuesday, March 30 upon sunset this Monday, March 29. Jewish families celebrating the holiday hold Seder dinners the night before Passover so that they may reflect on the suffering and trials that the culture endured while in Egypt. Seder (which means "order") dinners must have ritualized items present (these items are usually placed on a Seder plate) that represent the hardships and renewals the holiday honors. On the plate you will find bitter herbs, horseradish, charoset, salt water, a shank bone and a hard-boiled egg.
It may be difficult to get family members to change things up on such a tradition-soaked holiday but we think these Passover menus will have even the sternest Jewish granny considering a night out. After the jump we have a list of places (and some menus) that invite you to their Passover table.
- This Friday, March 26, Molly's Bookstore (1010 S. Ninth St.) is holding a screening and snacking event at 7 p.m. Stop by to view Joe Van Blunk's documentary "Echoes of a Ghost Minyan," which recounts the arrival of Russian Jews to South Philly in 1882 via the S.S. Illinois and the story of the few remaining members of the once-large population. Afterward, enjoy Molly's homemade knishes, schneken and kugel cooked up from her own family's recipes. A $10 donation to aid possible future renovations of Molly's back gallery is requested.
- Chef Michael McNally of London Grill (2301 Fairmount Ave.) will host two prix-fixe dinners ($40 for adults, $20 for children) on March 29 and 30. Some of the featured menu items will also be available a la carte until April 5. To mark the end of the Passover holiday London Grill is serving up Meatball Monday three new ways: pickled salmon, veal, and lamb with mint for six bucks. And don't miss out on $9 Passover cocktails (Manischewitz martini, Sweet Miriam's Revenge, 11th Plague, etc.)
Menu: gefilte fish, matzah ball soup, vegetable stew, chicken with spring herbs and natural jus, braised brisket, poached wild sea bass, roasted veal breast, braised lamb shank.
- Fork (308 Market St.) offers Passover prix-fixe dinners from March 30-31. The cost of the three-course dinner is $45 and is set to include sautÃ©ed chicken livers, braised brisket, whole fish and braised lamb shank.
- On March 29 and 30, chef Mitch Prensky is preparing a Supper (926 South St.) of a Seder Passover Dinner.
Menu: Charoset, hard-boiled egg, and matzah for the table; Hors d'oeuvres: chicken liver mousse, pickled beets; Dinner: gefilte fish or chicken soup, roasted chicken or braised brisket with a variety of sides; dessert: flourless chocolate torte, apple-matzah kugel
- Chef Michael Solomonov's Passover renditions will be available at Zahav (247 St. James Place) from March 29-April 6. The seven-course prix-fixe runs $42 per person. (UPDATE: Check out our video segment featuring Solomonov preparing his leek fritters with charoset.)
Menu: handmade matzah, salatim and hummus; roasted matzah balls in black garlic broth; white tuna with beets and horseradish; asparagus with spring egg salad and walnuts; leek fritters with charoset; coffee-braised brisket; matzah brei with red wine-spiced ice cream
- One dish has been added to the menu at Il Portico (1519 Walnut St.) from March 29 until April 2 in observance of the holiday. "Matzagna," lasagna that has converted to Judaism, consists of pesto, bÃ©chamel and ricotta layered with matzah. (UPDATE: Check out a recipe for Matzagna.)
The Jewish community at University of Pennsylvania also has a bunch going on. Click here for more details on Seder and Passover dinners and activities.
|Leotah's Place flickr|
|Partners Blew Lewis and Kristen Baskin|
Since May of 2009, Britteny "Blew" Lewis has brought her special lattes to the people via her traveling coffeehouse. Now Leotah's Place, named for her mother, has inked a lease on a space at 2033 E. York St., on the corner of York and Coral in East Kensington.
"I've always wanted to have a coffeehouse," said Lewis in a phone chat. "What I really love about them are the personal relationships, listening to one another -- creating a place of comfort." A successful year of tinkering with her portable espresso machine and hosting floating events like Bring Your Words, an open mic night for poets, storytellers and musicians, has inspired Lewis and business partner Kristen Baskin to make Leotah's Place a permanent endeavor.
Exposed brick and plenty of light define the 50-seat space, which Lewis plans to utilize as three rooms -- a family friendly front room with coffee bar and kid's corner will be the "noisy room", the next becomes the "medium" room, full of books and cozy couches, while the farthest-back space is the "quiet" room, for folks who would like to work or read uninterrupted. Food, including sandwiches, chips and salsa, shakes, salads with "fun and tropical" dressings and soups, will take inspiration from the many diverse cultures all living in East Kensington.
Direct Trade coffee from Guatamala is roasted by Ohio roaster and friend La Terza, and the critical element to Lewis' signature "cups of love" lattes. "We use milk from Merrymead Farms in Lancaster," she says, "and the latte is just sweet enough, but you can still taste the espresso."
Event-wise, Bring Your Words will continue, as well as workshops, classes and skill shares. "I want to do community building in this space," says Lewis. "This store represents what I am really desiring for this community and all of Philadelphia."
Ryan Pollock says mid-April is likely for the opening of Rybread, a sandwich-centric cafe he's running along with his father, Dennis.
Pollock's spot, at 2319 Fairmount Avenue (formerly a pet boutique),will be open for breakfast and lunch to start (They'll brew Chestnut Hill Coffee Co. beans), with eventual plans to expand to p.m. hours. A graduate of the architecture program at Catholic University in D.C., Pollock's been handling design and construction himself.
The menu features a slew of sandwiches named after American cities. (The inspiration behind this, Pollock says, was a several-month road trip he took with his girlfriend a few years back.) He'll use Le Bus breads and Boar's Head meats for sandwiches like the "New York" (a deli special, with corned beef, Swiss, kraut and Russian dressing on rye), the "NOLA" (shrimp salads, greens) and one named for the cafe, featuring a crab cake, greens, tomato and chipotle mayo on a bun. "Good, quality sandwiches that make people want to try the next sandwich," says Pollock. Soups, salads and homemade treats will round out the eats.
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