Archive: May, 2009
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|Patio drinking, anyone?|
Moore Brothers Wine Company in Pennsauken, New Jersey, has long been the go-to shop for oenophiles suffocated by the limited selection and disdainful storage of wines by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Every one of their wines is selected from small producers in Europe and California, and from the moment it leaves the winery, is shipped and stored at 56 degrees Fahrenheit to preserve delicate flavors and aromas that are destroyed by the first hot truck or warehouse.
Reasonable prices are another appealing characteristic of Moore Bros. Their top-selling white wine for the last eight years running has been Chï¿½teau Turcaud Entre Deux Mers Blanc, a $12 white Bordeaux that harmonizes wonderfully with a wide variety of foods. Moore Brother's Web site states "this is stainless steel tank fermented wine, comprised of the classic Bordelaise varieties Sauvignon, Semillon, and Muscadelle, vinified at low temperature and meant to be drunk young and fresh."
Fresh is an apt way to describe this sprightly white, which has just a bit more body than a varietal Sauvignon Blanc. A deposit of Garonnaise gravel, "unusual on this side of the river," creates an underpinning of minerality to the bright forward grapefruit, pear and citrus notes. A gentle bite of acidity balances the youthful sweetness that finishes each swallow.
Greg Moore explained over the phone why Chï¿½teau Turcaud wine could be had for such reasonable prices:
The river Garonne flows down from the Pyrennes, and most of the Garronaise gravel is on the left bank; places like Pauillac, Mï¿½doc, Margaux.ï¿½ The right bank (where Entre-Deux-Mers is) is mostly clay limestone, with outcroppings of this gravel that produces really fine aromatics.ï¿½ It's just one of those unusual places.ï¿½ The guy (Maurice Roberts) just made a great selection in the Entre-Deux-Mers, which is awash in mediocrity.ï¿½ It's like building an Aston-Martin and having to put a Yugo logo on it. That's the story of of a lot of wine production; the wine is very good and undervalued 'cause it's Entre-Deux-Mers.
Snap up the values ($12 per bottle, $11.40 with case discount) at Moore Brothers, 7200 N. Park Drive, Pennsauken, N.J., 08109, 856-317-1177, moorebrothersblogs.com
|William Perlman | Star-Ledger
Back in the day, PBR was brewed in Newark, New Jersey ï¿½ you could tell where by the 60-foot-tall beer bottle (really a 55,000-gallon water tank) jutting up over the Garden State Parkway. It was eventually taken down in pieces and stuck somewhere to make way for construction projects ï¿½ but the bottle recently surfaced in a Newark junk yard, reigniting interest in it. Via Ralph Ortega of the Star-Ledger:
A shopping mall developer also estimated the cost of moving the bottle from its resting place in the East Ward.
New West, which built about 30 homes and plans to construct a commercial shopping center on the old brewery site on South Orange Avenue along the Irvington border, estimated it would cost $200,000 to relocate the bottle. West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice said the bottle was to go outside the mall, which would be named accordingly: "Blue Ribbon Square."
Jeff Vanderbeek, owner of the New Jersey Devils had been interested in the bottle as well.
Vanderbeek wanted the bottle for a proposed plaza outside the Prudential Center in downtown Newark, but the plan has been stalled, largely because of a rent dispute between the Devils and the arena's owner, the Newark Housing Authority.
Several people have put the total costs of moving/resurrecting the Pabst bottle at $150-$200K. I know it's a recession, y'all, but WE CAN DO THIS.
Has anyone else noticed that food writers eventually become overweight or sick and slowly convert to chronicling their struggles with diet and exercise? Once the grim realization that you cannot, actually, have your cake and eat it too sets in, the "sensible eating" and "increased activity" mantras start flying off the keyboards.
Take Serious Eats founder Ed Levine. Serious Eats is the highest-trafficked national food blog, with subsidiary blogs that discuss nothing but pizza (Slice) and burgers (A Hamburger Today). But for the past year, Levine's main written contributions to SE have been focused on his trials losing weight, a lifelong struggle magnified by a career in food journalism. The hundreds of comments his Serious Diet posts garner suggests Levine is not the only Serious Eater who must mind their waist.
My personal favorite food blog is cook eat FRET, the culinary output of transplanted New Yorker Claudia Young. Living in Nashville, if Young wants Lupa-type pasta or pine nut cake, she's gotta make it herself. But for the past few months all she talks about is eating less, while posting tempting calorie-dense recipes for things like bagna cauda, the anchovy-rich, Italian hot oil bath perfect for dipping other caloric things into. You cook it, you eat it, and then you fret about it. All the damn time.
Even my hero Mark Bittman (NY Times' The Minimalist, Bitten) has been on a weight-loss binge for months now. His credo? Eat vegan before 5 p.m., then add a bit of your much-lusted-after animal protein for dinner. He's lost 30-plus pounds with this method.
Since most foodies aren't going to shun pork belly, butter and Vosges haut chocolat wholesale, we have to start moving to balance the multi-course chef's tasting menus.
Marc Vetri has two locations in Philly, but Sweat Fitness has seven. $20 gets you a 30-day trial that includes new, free group training sessions ï¿½ so even if you don't know how to work a weight machine, you're out of excuses.
Kevin Hensei of Fit4Life has a 30-Day Challenge on right now ï¿½ sign up by May 19 for two free group training workouts per week and nutrition tips from this seriously motivated personal trainer. Workouts are Tuesdays and Thursdays at Fit4Life in Cherry Hill, and you can't really beat free.
If the boot camp approach is too scary, Dhyana Yoga has three studios (Old City, Center City and a new one in West Philly) and teaches Ashtanga, Kundalini and Yin Vinyasa styles of yoga. Bikram Yoga of Philadelphia on Sansom Street is the city's only hot Bikram studio, adding gallons of sweat and a serious challenge to the flow.
No matter what tack you take, spring is here and it's time to bypass happy hour for the gym hour. Or else start writing about your discipline skipping those cream puffs on a trip to Paris.
Grid, that homegrown magazine with a sustainability/do-it-own-your-damn-self bent, came out with its new issue at the beginning of the week. As usual, it's got a theme, and this one's food.
It's a good read: Will Dean has a very easy-to-understand article on how to make your own compost (throwing in fruit peels is good! tossing in milk is baaaad!), Dana Henry wrote a piece on a 17-year-old girl from West Philly who is naysaying her peers' poor eating habits and growing healthy crops, and finally, finally, Sarah Grey acknowledges that even though we're reading Grid doesn't mean we're rich enough to shop at Whole Foods, and details how to eat well on food stamps, cooking clubs and CSAs instead.
But not all the writing waxes philosophical about food. I liked the section with recipes the best, namely because they came from Philly chefs like Tria's Nick Mezzina and Pumpkin's Ian Moroney. The latter's beet and lentil vinaigrette, with wine, shallot, sherry vinegar, olive oil, one beet and cooked lentils, is a simple and tasty topper. Check out the online version of the mag for more recipes here.
SNACK TIME: the Fu-Wah never-ever cheesesteak, gay drinks and trendy shallots, a prep-intensive rooster, free fruity pitchers at Bindi, and Noble moving pictures
|Fu-Wah tofu hoagie, pre-devour|
Every Wednesday, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
- The Unbreaded boys take on the Fu-Wah tofu hoagie, a vegetarian's contender for the classic Philadelphia sandwich. Only here can you get banh mi on an Amoroso roll.
-Kelly White's best quote ever: "We have a case of a kitchen that's trying too hard, combined with a bar that's not trying enough. This is Sansom St., home to the best bikini wax in the world. You need to hang with those guys. There's no room for high-ceiling bars that bury shallots in trends." Click over to Livin' On The Vedge to find out which restaurant she's talking about.
- Rooster in wine, or coq au vin, is a classic dish that is "deceptively hard" but "very tasty" for I'll Eat You. Try Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles recipe the next time you're feeling cock of the walk enough to peel all those pearl onions.
- Foobooz hooks readers up with a coupon for a free pitcher of mixer at modern-Indian BYOB Bindi, courtesy the Center City District's mid-May e-mail. Tote your own booze to combine with nimbu-pani (pomegranate-ginger lemondade) or mango-sharbat (mango, lime, green cardamom).
-MenuPages blog posted videographer David Fields' digi-film of his opening night dinner at Noble American Cookery. Get a look at chef Steven Cameron's much-buzzed cuisine and the two covetable indoor-outdoor tables in action.
Bibou, the new BYO from longtime Le Bec-Fin exec chef Pierre Calmels and his wife Charlotte, opens tonight at 1009 S. Eighth Street. The Insider and MenuPages have the menu, which reads refined and classically French ï¿½ think escargot ragout, braised pig's feet stuffed with foie and skate grenobloise.
Try for a table by calling 215-965-8290; it's cash only.
|Oooo-whee the sucking up should be phenomenal!|
Zahav, 237 Saint James Place,ï¿½ 215-625-8800, zahavrestaurant.com
Last week, I stopped in to Brew, from South Philly Tap Room owner John Longacre, beer guy Joe Bedia and coffee guru Aaron Ultimo. The space (1900 S. 15th St., 215-339-5177), which will open this coming Friday, May 8 at 7 a.m., is a combo bottle shop and coffee house ï¿½ while Bedia will be heading up the 500-plus-variety beer end of the bargain (liquor license still en route; it's a less than a month out), Ultimo, formerly of D.C.'s Murky Coffee, will be in charge of all things caffeinated. He and his wife Elizabeth were kind enough to walk me through some of his offerings ï¿½ all supplied by North Carolina's Counter Culture roasters. I was a little extremely tweaked out by the time I left, but it was totally worth it.
If I somehow found myself on the board of trustees for a coffee museum, Ultimo would be my first choice for curator. The guy speaks about coffee eloquently and passionately while still managing to keep it clear and understandable for the less well-versed. Longacre linked up with him for this project through West Philly musician Denison Witmer, who met Ultimo awhile back while touring.
Brew (Ultimo Coffee when referring to this operation singularly) will work like this: Every morning until 11 a.m., the crew will serve coffee brewed in a Chemex. From 11 on, however, you'll be treated to your choice of four artisanal coffees hand-brewed using Bee House pour-over drippers (see first pic). Ultimo says he prefers this technique (just $2-$3 a cup) to French press, as it lends a little more clarity to the coffee. Espresso, also acquired from Counter Culture, is pulled with a top-of-the-line La Marzocco machine. All the coffees and most of the gadgets here will be offered wholesale, as well.
"This menu is sourced specifically because it's out of the ordinary, and it's taste-specific," explained Ultimo of his selections. They're all very different, and each carries with it an intricate back story, from sourcing to climate to details on the real-life people who work to produce it.
Some brief notes on Ultimo's four current handcrafted coffees:
- La Golondrina (Colombia): A "sugar browning" coffee, which basically means it has darker notes akin to caramel and chocolate. Slight acidity and bitterness to it, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
- Bwayi (Burundi): An "enzymatic" coffee, carrying more fruity aromas and flavors than your average. Notes of flowers and citrus. Burundi is not yet well-known for its coffee production, but it's an up-and-coming player in Africa.
- Idido Misty Valley (Ethiopia): This is a unique one ï¿½ the pre-brew grounds burst with the scent of berries, so you might be under the impression that it's a flavored coffee. It's not ï¿½ using the ripest fruit from the coffee plant under strict and carefully regulated drying guidelines produces the fruity characteristics.
- Ariel Pajoy Microlot (Colombia): A lovely, balanced and subtly sweet coffee named after the farmer responsible for growing the beans. "Microlot" means this is a coffee roasted in extremely limited quantities, so get this while it's still available.
A quick word on the eats approach, being headed up by Elizabeth ï¿½ they plan on carrying croissants, babka and other bready-type things from Four Worlds Bakery; locally produced granola; yogurt; and a lineup of simple sandwiches (brie/honey/apple; goat cheese and jam).
One last thing ï¿½ yes, they will have decaf.
Cool read from the May 1 NYT on how New York-based Top Chef contestants fare once the show's over. Featured are Leah from Season 5, Season 1 winner Harold, Season 3 winner Hung and Season 4 contestant Nikki. The skinny: Though $100K and the title of Top Chef (not to mention the Gladware!) looks quite sexy on paper, it doesn't always go far in translating to off-screen success:
... [Harold] Dieterle, for his part, quickly learned that investors were more interested in a solid business plan than a star turn on a reality show, and that his winnings wouldnï¿½t go far.
"It's kind of like being handed a case of vodka and saying, go open a bar," he said. "It's not going to happen."
Lackluster 2007 review from the Times notwithstanding, at least Harold owns his own restaurant. The same can't be said for Hung, my favorite Top Chef winner to date:
As the months dragged on, however, one location after another fell through. Finally, in January, Mr. Huynh decided to strike out on his own. But the offers that rushed in immediately after the show have slowed, and the current economic climate has made investors increasingly averse to risk.
"I'm dying right now," Mr. Huynh said with a grin to show he was joking, sort of. "I'm not a celebrity chef. A celebrity has money. A chef has a restaurant. I have neither."
When Benna's Cafï¿½ and B2 owner Nancy Trachtenberg needed to source locally made, gluten-free snacks for her coffee shops, she clicked her way through the top gluten-free hits on Google. "Mr. Ritt's Bakery on Passyunk Ave. used to be the place to go for wheat-free baked goods," Trachtenberg said, "but they moved to New Jersey and I figured there had to be something made locally." Enter Sweet Christine's Gluten-Free Confections, owned by a mother of three who was diagnosed with celiac disease after a long journey of misdiagnosis and mystery.
Once Christine Ruggio knew she had celiac disease and needed to avoid gluten completely, she began tasting gluten-free cookies on the market and was sorely disappointed in their taste and texture. Knowing her children couldn't live without Mom's chocolate-chip cookies, Ruggio set out to make delicious treats that everyone could enjoy. In March of 2008 she opened her brick-and-mortar bakery in Kennett Square, while providing gluten-free muffins, cookies, brownies, cakes, pizza crusts, sandwich bread and pizzelles to wholesale accounts from cafï¿½s to hospitals.
Rice, potato and tapioca flour substitute for wheat in Ruggio's sweets. Her blueberry and flax muffins, sugar and oatmeal raisin cookies as well as vegan, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (individually wrapped to avoid contamination) are now available at Benna's Cafï¿½ and B2. Trachtenberg noted that if the demand was there, she would expand into carrying Christine's gluten-free baguettes for sandwiches.
Visit Sweet Christine's Web site for more information: sweetchristinesglutenfree.com
Benna's Cafï¿½, 1236 S. Eighth St., 215-334-1502, bennascafe.com
B2, 1500 E. Passyunk Ave., 215-271-5520
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