Archive: April, 2010
|Photo | bethysmalls|
Meal Ticket reader BS drops us this shot of a liquor license posting that recently went up at the Cira Centre the location of Jose Garces' "farm-to-table" concept, about which he's stayed altogether mum. The applicant is listed at Urbanfarm LLC could Urbanfarm be the name of the joint? We're seeking comment from Jose G. and will update if/when we hear.
UPDATE: Nope, this ain't the name, says Garces.
This Saturday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Food Network's holding a casting call for Worst Cooks in America at the Loews Hotel at 1200 Market. They're looking for people "with a genuine inability to cook, but a need to desire and improve" to apply to the show, which involves woefully unskilled kitchen jockeys getting trained by pro chefs Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan. The elimination series involves a $25,000 prize to whichever cook survives till the end. (Above is Philly's Jenny Cross, who made it all the way to the finals on the show's first go-round.)
If you're interested in applying (or want to nominate someone), e-mail worstcooksphilly[at]gmail.com with all the pertinent info: name, age, hometown, occupation, phone number, and a "recent photo of the hopeless cook." More info and the application available here.
|Photo | Neal Santos|
- Zavino, from chef Steve Gonzalez, has been earning some praise for its pizzas in its few few months of business, but Trey Popp discovers that there's so much more to like about the place, from lighter-than-air pastas and "fisherman-style food" to an interesting and affordable wine list.
- Iron Chef and Food Network personality Bobby Flay opened a location of his Bobby's Burger Palace mini-chain in Philly earlier this week, and we snagged a few minutes with the dude to talk competition, inspiration, the art of sticking Lay's chips on burgers and more.
- Feeding Frenzy has all the pertinent details on the aforementioned BBP, plus new taqueria Mexico on the Square, new lunch hours at two well-loved spots and other tidbits.
- Happy birthday, Honest Tom and Grid! Plus details on rye-inspired parties, sake shindigs and family recipes, in What's Cooking.
|Photo | Drew Lazor
Best smelts around!
|Photo l Michael Persico|
|Last year's withered cherry tomato gone to seed.|
Instead of cleaning up our extensive container vegetable garden in late October like responsible adults, the boyfriend and I went to California for a few weeks. When we returned in November, the whole thing was a windblown, rain-smashed disaster and we were too busy frantically playing catch-up at work to care. Then it snowed, and snowed some more, and the splattered-tomato mess was covered up until the big thaw of March 2010.
We sorted it all out a few weeks ago and have this year's seedlings outside hardening off this very minute. We got a surprise today, when the weeds that had taken root in one of the uncovered containers turned out to be one of last year's withered cherry tomatoes, now aflame with a crop of seedlings (pictured).
From the wild abundance of shoots, it appears every seed left in that wrinkly old fruit burst into life. Gardening method requires snipping all but the strongest seedlings to produce hardy, uncrowded plants, but maybe I'll transfer this guy to his own bucket and just let nature take its course.
SNACK TIME: Philly Mag's new food editor, a look at Il Pittore, oversized omelette fodder, snack cakes to survive the nuclear apocalypse, Stephen Starr is restless
|Messy and Picky|
|A side-by-side egg comparison by Messy and Picky.|
Every Wednesday, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
- KleInsider never stops working. This week he shares details on Il Pittore, Chris Painter's northern-Tuscan collaboration with Starr Restaurant Organization, set to take over the former Ansill space. The dreamy handmade pastas Painter became known for at Angelina will make their overdue comeback here.
- Congratulations are in order for Grub Street's Kirsten Henri, who's just been named the new Food Editor at Philadelphia magazine. Great news for her, better news for aspiring foodie professionals. Think you have what it takes? Grub Street Philly is looking for a new part-time food editor, listing job deets here.
- Messy and Picky makes us question why we even buy boring ol' regular eggs when we can eat these giant goose eggs from Pecan Meadows Farm in Newburg, Pa. instead. M&P say you can buy them closer to home at the Fair Food Farmstand in RTM for $3 a pop.
- Today marks the 77th anniversary of the Cullen-Harrison Act, or more plainly, the abolishment of Prohibition in America. To help you drink up like your great-grandfathers did, Foobooz shares details on how to celebrate.
- Stephen Starr just can't sit still. The prolific restaurateur is working on a ridiculously long list of projects, The Illadelph reports. Among them: El Rey (opening soon), a Fishtown beer garden, some pizza shops, expansion at Stella, plus two new rumored spots in West Philly. Maybe we should buy him a puppy.
- Did you know there are 39 ingredients in a Twinkie ... and five of them are derived from rocks? Neither did we. The durable snack cake turned 80 yesterday, Serious Eats reports, and gets a whole book dedicated to the nutritional mysteries inside.
Last night, Food Network aired an episode of the cook-off show Chopped featuring two local competitors Eric Paraskevas of terra (243 S. Camac st.) and Mackenzie Hilton of Mercato (1216 Spruce St.). We just touched base with both chefs to get their thoughts on the experience (spoiler after the jump, in case you haven't seen it).
Hosted by Ted Allen, the hour-long show involves four chefs and three rounds appetizer, entrÃ©e and dessert. Each chef is given a basket of random ingredients and 30 minutes to come up with a dish. It's cruel and unusual for professional chefs and usually pretty entertaining for those watching at home.
Paraskevas was eliminated in the entrÃ©e round, for which the "secret" ingredients were tapioca pearls, carrots, fruit leather (yes, fruit leather) and rabbit. Judges chalked it up to an undercooked piece of meat. A third competitor, Dorchester, Mass.-based chef Chris Coombs (placed into the role of "pretentious villain") got the nod over Paraskevas, despite failing to plate a good portion of the meat in a loin/rack/liver rabbit trio.
Hilton made it all the way to the final round, where she and Coombs were asked to make a dessert with yucca, calimynra figs, hoisin sauce and red jalapeno peppers. The chef, who's been at Mercato since it opened in 2005, ended up winning the competition and a $10,000 purse with cinnamon zeppoles with hoisin chocolate sauce and fig yucca cream. On the show, she says the money will support her dream of opening her own restaurant, but she doesn't have any solid details to share on that project as of right now.
On how she ended up on the show: They contacted Mercato and told them that they were interested in having me apply for the show. I'm not sure how they got my name, but I had a feeling they were looking for more female chefs. This year they seem to be trying to get more diversification on the show, because it's been so male-dominated.
On the other guy who wasn't Eric: My competitor for the last round [Coombs] I've gotten a lot of messages, text messages, messages on Facebook, saying how everybody hated him. He was a little bit abrasive at times, but he was really, really, honestly a nice guy. We all had a great camaraderie that they didn't put on the show. For example, in the dessert round, we had all planned out ahead of time that whoever was left, we would just grab all the stuff that we needed and keep it between our stations, and communicate who's got what. "I'm grabbing the sugar, I'm grabbing the flour." They didn't show that at all. They wanted to make it a little nastier than it actually was.
By the time Chris and I got out of there, it was like 10:30 at night. We ended up grabbing a drink afterward. We'd spent this entire day together. Everyone [has been saying] this guy is such an asshole, but he's not. He's very accomplished for his age, coming up and really hungry in the industry. It was cool to meet more people like that, chefs on the same pathway as you.
On whether or not they encouraged her to play up a Mercato/terra rivalry: I didn't think of it as a rivalry. I was excited that Eric was there. It was a high-stress situation and Eric's a really cool, laidback, funny guy. He kept us really relaxed. He's not a stranger he was Marcie Turney's sous chef [at Lolita] when I was [Marcie's brother] Evan Turney's sous chef [at Mercato]. I liked the fact that he was there.
On whether she would do it again: No. It's so difficult, because you have to consider that they can take anything you say or do out of context and portray you possibly differently that you want to be. I felt like I had to be very calculating because I didn't want to say something that could be misconstrued. I can't imagine going through months of that like they do on Top Chef. I was really glad I did it, but they kind of make it hard to represent yourself well as a chef. You're in a foreign kitchen with completely foreign utensils, you don't know what's where, you're cooking ridiculous combinations. On every level they're kind of setting you up to fall on your face and look like an idiot.
On how he was portrayed: I have to say, I was pleasantly pleased with how I came across. I thought they made me look pretty good. ... [However], I was shocked at the sheer volume of space I took up. People always tell me I'm a big guy but I never really fully see myself. It was weird to see my whole body on camera ... strange to see how giant-esque I appeared.
On whether or not they encouraged him to play up a Mercato/terra rivalry: I did want to win. They used a "I wanted to beat the woman down the street" quote, but of course I did. I'm ultimately glad that [Hilton] won because that other dude [Coombs] was a choad. But they didn't make us play up anything. When we were competing, I could hear them mentioning that we were neighbors I imagine that's why we were both cast to be on the same show. I'm glad Mackenzie won and I'm glad they painted me in a good light.
On being eliminated: I was kind of mad about the decision. Obviously I was disappointed. Mackenzie put together a good-looking dish, but [the judges] said it was big and bulky. After hearing the faults [they thought her dish had], [Coombs'] food looked like a pile of blah. I didn't have a meat thermometer [for the rabbit]. I tried to make it happen, took a risk but failed.
On TV do-overs: The only thing that isn't scripted is the actual [cooking] time. Once you finally do open those baskets, the time starts then. [For other segments], they ask you to go back to certain things to talk about. They'll say, 'The judges said something, what do you think of that?'
On whether he would do it again: I would, I definitely would. It was a chance at victory. It was a one-day shoot. Ten Gs for one day of work even after taxes, that's $7,000 for one day of work. Why wouldn't you?
|Photo | Felicia D'Ambrosio|
First Person Arts has been gathering the family recipes of area foodies for their Edible World blog series, and today's post features our girl Felicia D. Check out the site to read her family's version of Boilo, the antracite coal-miner's cure for everything. FD says it's "akin to a hot toddy on steroids." Just what the doctor ordered.
Mike Stollenwerk, owner of acclaimed/teeny BYO Little Fish and the larger, newer fish, decided to pull the plug on the former restaurant this past weekend due to concerns over the building's condition. The chef, along with wife Marilyn, has released a statement about the decision via e-mail:
"To all of our loyal customers who made Little Fish what it was, we would like to thank you. Without all of you, Little Fish would have never been so successful. As you may have noticed, the condition of the building in which we lease space has been rapidly deteriorating. After many months of attempting to get the building repaired, we have become increasingly worried about the safety of our establishment for our customers and employees. Because we can no longer safely operate out of our 6th and Catherine location, we have decided to close Little Fish."
Any Little Fish gift certificates will be redeemable at fish, at 1708 Lombard. We'll keep you posted on a potential new home for Stollenwerk's BYO.
Yes, Wilco like the band. Jeff Tweedy and Co. are playing a way-sold-out show at the E-Fac this coming Saturday, April 10, but P.Y.T.'s irrepressible Tommy Up managed to snag a handful of tix. How can you get them? Head over to The Piazza and order the Chicago-influenced Wilco Burger a split brat, asiago cheese, Emerald relish, mustard, chopped onions and yellow hots, all on a pattied pretzel roll and you're automatically entered into a raffle to win one of three pairs of tix. The drawing will be this Friday at 6 p.m.
The burger and a side of fries is $12, but if you yourself wanting more food, don't cry you can rely on him (Tommy). You can combine anything you want.
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