Archive: June, 2009
Rebecca Michaels, owner of Reading Terminal Market's smashing Flying Monkey Patisserie, tells Meal Ticket that she's started the ball rolling on Flying Monkey Deuce, a standalone concept at 1112 Locust (formerly Village Coffee House). Deuce will serve all of Flying Monkey's signature treats (baking will still be done @ RTM) as well as coffee. Michaels is shooting for a September opening.
Open since Friday, Leila Cafï¿½ (401 S. 13th St., 267-319-1903) is whipping up Middle Eastern grub on the corner of 13th and Pine, in the former Wasabi House. (That's now at 1218 Pine.)
Co-owner Al "Smiley" Chebab, who runs the place with partner Mohamad Kammoun, has been in Philly for just five months. He came to the country from Lebanon about 33 years ago, and since that time he's opened or helped open a total of 35 businesses ï¿½ cafï¿½s, fast food, burgers, Middle Eastern, burritos, etc. ï¿½ in a number of states. Chebab says he's learned how to say "thank you" in a different language with every opening. (Meal Ticket watched him test out an well-delivered "arigato" on a satisfied customer.) Leila, the name of Kammon's daughter, means "pure night" in Arabic.
There's room for about 24 inside, with five outside tables. Menu features all sorts of combo platters, sandwiches, an extensive smoothie selection and plenty of vegetarian options. Ten different flavored tobaccos for hookahs, which run $17.
Food, drink and hookah menus after the jump. (In the early going, they're opening between 10 and 11 in the morning and closing by midnight, but the hours will eventually expand to match those on the third menu page.)
|Click to enlarge|
Vegans often find themselves out of the loop come barbecue season, when carnivores are too busy filling their faces with charred flesh to pay any mind to the grazers and their sad, soggy plates of macaroni salad. That's just not right, says the folks on The Vegan Bus ï¿½ that's why they're making a trip from Northampton, Massachusetts to Clark Park this Fourth of July.
The Vegan Bus is a two-year-old program founded by Derek Goodwin and a rotating collective of activists, performers and speakers, all of whom use art and entertainment to expose a compassionate vegan lifestyle to a national audience. They're managing all this while puttering around the country in a school bus powered by waste vegetable oil.
All money that the group raises at its events is used to expand the org, and though they don't officially have non-profit status just yet, theyï¿½re heading in that direction. "We're actually in the process of becoming a valid organization right now," says Goodwin, "and Philly will host our first big event in helping to get us to that non-profit status."
At the day-long event, the crew will be hanging at West Philly's Clark Park ï¿½ we're invited to bring a picnic blanket, delicious vegetarian grub and a hula hoop or two. The Bus will be handing out samples of burgers, dogs and other fare courtesy of vegetarian company LightLife. The Bus has teamed up with Public Eye Philly and its Kids Club in putting on this event, so much of the stuff theyï¿½re planning will be family-friendly ï¿½ performance activities, art projects, etc.
After the BBQ, the Bus will be heading to Chinatown's New Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant to party with dim sum and drinks alongside Vegan Drinks Philly, a social networking organization dedicated to promoting veganism. Twenty bucks will get you in to the restaurant for dinner, and you can BYO whatever youï¿½d like. (RSVP required; flyer after the jump.) Do the Bus peeps have any special plans for this evening portion of their Independence Day escapade? ï¿½Weï¿½ll have the bus on display for anyone interested in taking a look inside, but weï¿½re mostly excited to just chill out with you Philly people," says Goodwin.
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The Bruegger's bagel chain, which has a location at 1900 Market, is loving all over America this holiday weekend by offering these intriguing-looking red, white and blue bagels. They'll be sold from Friday, July 3 to Saturday, July 4, with a portion of sales benefiting the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
Look at those things! I bet if you lobbed one into a crowd of hippies it would come sailing gently back to you within seconds.
|Photos | Brion Shreffler|
Take a long walk down the elegant alleyway to the left of the Old City Cheese Shopï¿½s storefront and you'll find something rare for Philly ï¿½ especially in this neighborhood. The stonework of neighboring buildings rises, chimney-like, around you, while lush ferns and the canopy of an overhanging tree creates an embowered feeling. Candlelight complements lights strung overhead. It's hard to find a better escape for a casual Friday night summer dinner than the hidden outdoor patio at the Cheese Shop (160 N. Third St., 215-238-1716) ï¿½ especially since this once-a-week tradition, which features all manner of BBQ-ed meats and combos, won't run you more than $18.95.
On my recent wine-in-hand visit, they were offering barbecue chicken, ribs, a ribs/chicken combo and lamb chops. Main courses were preceded by slices of crisp Italian bread accompanied by artisanal olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The skin of my chicken was crisp and well-seasoned, while the evening's sides ï¿½ cole slaw, a Fourth of July-style potato salad and a large bowl of brown sugar-y baked beans ï¿½ brought back all sorts of family cookout memories.
The small space behind the Cheese Shop is also utilized to great effect every Tuesday night for film screenings. The patio space can be enjoyed at any time, though, even if you grab their lunch special ï¿½ $7 for soup and a well-crafted baguette sandwich. And in the off chance it rains, as it threatened to do for a bit this past Friday, the interior has a nice feel, as well.
Lovely, leafy Lansdowne, just outside West Philly in Delaware County, celebrated the opening of new BYO Sycamore (14 S. Lansdowne Ave.) this past Friday. Located in Regency Cafï¿½'s original space (that coffeehouse and music venue moved to 29 N. Lansdowne Ave.) Owners are Stephen and Jennifer Wagner and chef Meg Votta, a CIA alum who's worked locally as exec chef at West Chester's Simon Pearce, the Joseph Ambler Inn and Feast Your Eyes Catering.
Votta's menu is refined American ï¿½ plates include a pancetta, onion and goat cheese tart; crab cakes with brandy crema and mustard chive sauces; a pork shop with a port reduction, figs, gorgonzola and sweet peas; and from-scratch tagliatelle with three-meat gravy.
One cool featch at the BYO: a proper cocktail list. All you gotta do is supply the booze. Drinks here include the Peachtree (whiskey, peach nectar, black tea, mint); the Farmer's Market (gin, grapefruit juice, basil, lemon curd, seltzer); and the La Paloma (tequila, grapefruit soda, lime juice, salt rim).
Hours: Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Menus after the jump.
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|Photos l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|Kohlrabi with its greens sliced off and set aside|
Kohlrabi, a Sputnik-shaped member of the cabbage family, is poised to make a comeback. ï¿½The kohlrabi has a European pedigree, and was a popular vegetable amongst peasants and nobility alike for hundreds ofï¿½ years before falling out of fashion.ï¿½The vegetable is often mistakenly referred to as a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, but it has a flavor all its own.
The bright green or pale purple bulbs grow just above ground, with stems and leaves sprouting from multiple points on the bulb. ï¿½ The green and larger bulbs must be peeled before eating raw or cooking, while the purple variety is tender enough, when small, to eat entire.
The flesh is crisp and refreshing, with hints of both broccoli and cabbage.ï¿½ Kohlrabi is only about 19 calories per half-cup and rich in dietary fiber, potassium, vitamins A and C and folic acid.
Once peeled, the bulb can be sliced or grated to eat raw in salads or included on a vegetable tray.ï¿½ For a heartier snack, the flesh can be julienned and simply boiled for two minutes, then tossed with sea salt and a small pat of butter for healthy kohlrabi fries.ï¿½ The washed greens can be blanched and sautï¿½ed like you would prepare swiss chard. Look for the standout vegetable at farmer's markets right now.
Super simple method in pictures, after the jump.
|Peel the bulb with a sharp paring knife|
|Slice as you would french fries|
|Boil until al dente; serve with sea salt and butter|
The 28th international location of Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man opens in Philly this coming Wednesday, July 1, at 9 a.m. 3:30 p.m. Located around the corner from Butcher & Singer, just up the block from Good Dog and directly across the street from the brand-new Miga, the Israeli choco chain did its research as far as Center City geography goes. (They're saying 1500 Walnut for the address ï¿½ same as B&S ï¿½ but the entrance is on 15th.)
The gregarious hairless dude Meal Ticket met with identifies himself as Max Brenner, but his real name is actually Oded Brenner ï¿½ the company was founded 13 years back in Israel by he and partner Max Fichtman, who melded their first names together. Brenner eventually bought out Fichtman and co-opted the nickname Max for marketing purposes.
Oded/Max took us through a handful of items off the menu ï¿½ same offerings as the chain's two NYC locations ï¿½ during our stop-in. The branding here is truly outrageous ï¿½ everything's hip and cute and cool and polished to a space-station-caliber sheen. Milkshakes come in slick ceramic cups that scream "DRINK ME." Brenner's ergonomic "Hug Mugs" are meant to be cupped with both hands to invoke your childhood beneath-a-blanket hot cocoa memories. A latte "Kangaroo Cup" features a "pouch," or divot, in which you rest slowly melting pieces of hard chocolate. The kids' menu features a giant syringe full of chocolate ganache you're meant to insert in your mouth and squirt before popping a Gummy Bar. (All the chocolate Max Brenner serves is made from scratch by the company from raw cacao beans sourced from around the world.) Though you might not guess it, there are a slew of savory selections here, too, from breakfast and brunch through dinner. Brenner says the average check ends up being between $16 and $17 a person.
The space has 111 seats all told. There's also a chocolate bar and a separate chocolate gift shop on the premises; the space will have a liquor license.
"When I go to a Cuban restaurant, I want to feel like I'm in Havana. When I go to a French restaurant, I want to feel like I'm in Paris. When I go to an Italian restaurant, I want to feel like I'm in Tuscany," says Brenner of his desire for immersion when dining out ï¿½ no wonder his stores exude such grinning, cartoonish otherworldliness. "And when I go to a chocolate place, I want a full chocolate story."
Max Brenner will be open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to midnight, Friday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
|Photo | Drew Lazor
Looks like South Street's Subway, which shut down at Sixth and South a few months back, is returning at 11th and South. Meaning many will have to travel five extra blocks for their $5 footlongs. This additional walking will be a good thing for those of you who enjoy the nearly pornographic Italian B.M.T. on a regular basis. That's Big, Meaty and Tasty ï¿½ not Bacon, Mayonnaise and Tomato, kids/old people. Have I ever told you that I used to work at Subway?
Last night, Meal Ticket was lucky enough to snag a table at the soft-opening of Brauhaus Schmitz, Kelly Schmitz and Doug Hager's highly anticipated German bierhall and restaurant (718 South St., brauhausschmitz.com). The bilevel space looks just right, with lots of polished wood and some beautiful exposed brick uncovered during construction; main dining room's when you first walk in, with roomy booths and the bar coming into focus as the space gently bottlenecks in the back. Twenty beers on tap ï¿½ check out the Brauhaus Hausbrau (house brew), a crisp lager brewed by Stoudt's. (Lew Bryson says it's the same as Stoudt's Gold?) No pics of the dirndl-wearing waitstaff because we're not creepy.
Most apropos feature ï¿½ a giant version of the Reinheitsgebot, the German Beer Purity Law that dates back to 16th century Bavaria, is displayed in all its backlit glory near the bar. This thing is so old it doesn't even account for the inclusion of yeast in the brewing process, as the stuff wasn't even discovered yet.
Refer to A.D. Amorosi's piece more info on the place, which'll open to the public this coming Monday, June 29, at 11:30 a.m.
Dishes we ate, in photo order:
- Bread plate with herb butter
- Obatzda (cream cheese spread made with camembert, butter, farmer's cheese, caraway, and onion, served with rye bread)
- Gerï¿½ucherte Fischplatte (assorted smoked fish with greens, accompaniments and rye bread)
- Radi (salted, curled white radishes)
- Potato dumpling, red cabbage
- Gemï¿½sespï¿½tzle (sautï¿½ed traditional German egg noodles with asparagus, caramelized onions, wild mushrooms and topped with a wild mushroom cream sauce)
- Jï¿½gerschnitzel (served with a mushroom sauce)
- barstool scientist
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- Chef Salad
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