Archive: July, 2009
|Center City District on Flickr
Earlier today we asked y'all to send us some photos of Kate Carrara's Cupcake Truck making the city rounds. The Center City District has delivered. Check out more of their shots of the mobile goody mover on Flickr.
Head here for more on the Truck.
The Good Word is a new weekly Meal Ticket feature where we ask Philadelphia food people questions. Weï¿½re going to start by highlighting the cityï¿½s many excellent food writers and bloggers, with eventual plans to extend beyond the scribeosphere. The questions will be different every week unless we come across a really sweet one we want to reuse. Want to nominate a future Good Word candidate (yes, you can nominate yourself), or submit ideas for questions? E-mail email@example.com.
In this installment of The Good Word, weï¿½re chatting with Pete Proko, deputy editor at Philadelphia Style. Pete is in charge of the magazine's dining coverage, and we were eager to pick his glossy food-focused brain.
You always have to be mindful of the times and your audience, and while Philadelphia Style may cater to a more upscale crowd, the fact is no one is immune to what is going on around us. All you have to do is look at the countless "stimulus packages" being offered around town and across the country. It's like Restaurant Week every week ... when Lacroix starts doing $35 dinners and Georges Perrier is letting you pay what you wish, it's evident that everyone is playing things close to the vest.
That being said, the great thing is that Philly is a foodie destination and the dining scene here will continue to thrive. I like to say the only thing a Philly foodie likes more than their favorite restaurant is a new restaurant. We don't have celebs walking the streets regularly here, aside from athletes; chefs are the stars in this town. And no matter what economic class you fall under, we are fortunate to live in a city full of educated gourmets who don't mind paying for something they appreciate. Whether you are talking about a white tablecloth spot or a gastropub, good food is good food and I think Style does an excellent job of covering all aspects of the local scene, which, let's face it, is quite layered.
What newcomer chefs locally are you really excited about right now?
Iï¿½m excited to see Luke Palladino [of A.C.'s Borgata; taking over the former Les Bons Temps on 12th Street] come to the city ... you can't really call them newcomers, but I think Jen Carroll does an amazing job and I love what David Katz has done since opening Mï¿½mï¿½. And I really canï¿½t wait to see Matt Levin step out on his own with Masano. It sounds funny with his reputation, but he is one to watch.
Is there a current restaurant trend ï¿½ a drink, a dish, a preparation, etc. ï¿½ that you're straight-up sick of?
Overcrowded menus! You got small plates, larger portions, family style, a bar menu -- enough already, I didnï¿½t study for this test!
It's lunchtime, you're hungry and you have $10 in your pocket. Where are you going?
This is like trying to pick your favorite song ... the possibilities are endless but you always have your go-to spots. Since Iï¿½m constantly visiting so many great restaurants for dinner, I like to have a less formal lunch when I can. If Iï¿½m undecided, I might swing through Whole Foods or Di Bruno Bros. to see what catches my eye.
The tacos at El Jarocho are always a treat, but like a lot of Philadelphians, I love a good sandwich for lunch and thereï¿½s no shortage of those throughout the city. The folks at Johnï¿½s Roast Pork are family friends and you can never go wrong with a cheesesteak with fried onions and sharp provolone. If I want a hoagie, I'm lucky because our office is in South Philly so I'm able to regularly treat myself to Chickie's and Mi-Pals. The Palm Tree market in NoLibs is a decent spot, but lately I just head north to Girard for the extremely addictive Gustaio at Paesanoï¿½s.
It's like I said, there are so many choices, and it really just depends on where Iï¿½m at and what Iï¿½m in the mood for. But if itï¿½s been one of those mornings and it looks like itï¿½s going to be one of those afternoons, I resort to a sandwich Iï¿½ve been eating since I was a little boy: the roast beef special on rye from Gooey Looies in the Pennsport Mall. It's the kind of monstrous creation that should come with four extra slices of bread and two people to help you eat it.
The "Catalan Express" lunch at Amada (217-219 Chestnut St., 215-625-2450) is probably the sweetest deal you'll find at any of Jose Garces' restaurants ï¿½ every weekday, you can get soup and your choice of a salad or sandwich for $14.50. (Used to be $12 but y'all know how it is.) Though the Old City spot's new Saturday lunch menu (check it out after the jump) doesn't feature that thrifty option ï¿½ it's simply a truncated version of the extensive dinner spread ï¿½ it's reassuring to know that you'll now be able to snag some albondigas, piquillos rellenos or chorizo pamplona while your out-of-town relatives drag your jaded ass around to historical sights. Saturday lunch hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Garces' Chifa (707 Chestnut St., 215-925-5555), too, is introducing Saturday lunch, but over there they've decided to offer their "Hiram Bingham Express" (same idea as the Catalan, except $3.50 more expensive) as an option.
|Click to enlarge|
|Photo | Michael T. Regan
"That could not be further from the truth," said Skipper, who stressed what a serious investment the multi-restaurant chain has made in its eight-month-old Center City steak house. "We're not going anywhere." Then, without naming any names, Skipper touched on his and his team's belief that such rumors originate with other area restaurateurs.
Debunking baseless claims is part of our job ï¿½ and we know this is a non-story and not really worthy of a "Food News" tag. It does, however, raise an interesting question, so we'll pose it: Say the erroneous rumor of Del Frisco's closure does indeed originate with another restaurant. What, exactly, does that restaurant have to gain by putting it out there? Do they think that diners who catch the damaging talk will avoid Del Frisco's and head for their spots instead? Or is it more trite than that ï¿½ simply doing a competitor dirty just because it requires little effort?
What do you think?
Union Trust (717 Chestnut St., 215-925-6000) has joined Oyster House, Coquette and a few other spots around the city in the buck-a-shuck business. Weekdays from 4 to 7, they'll serve Chesapeake Bays, Bluepoints and Cape May Salts for a dollar a slurp. We've sampled the raw spread at UT before and can attest to its cocktail sauce-dolloped excellence, so do this deal due dilligence.
Kate Carrara, whose Cupcake Truck we told you about last week, Tweeted last night that she'll be making a few business deliveries around town today ï¿½ meaning you've got a chance to catch a glimpse of the besprinkled vehicle (above) before it starts putting down vending stakes in the coming weeks.
Here's where to spot the thing today:
- 12 p.m. Sparkle Plenty Designs (Somewhere in Queen Village, not really sure where)
- 12:30 p.m. Lisa's Flowers (Fourth and Ranstead streets)
- 1 p.m. Center City District (Public Ledger Building, Seventh and Chestnut streets)
- 2 p.m. listbox.com | pobox.com (11th and Vine streets)
- 3 p.m. GroundUp Marketing (13th and Locust streets)
If you see the Cupcake Truck, snap a pic and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll buy you a cupcake.
The final Top Chef Masters episode before the six-slot championship round featured massive amounts of dudelove. In a way, it represented both what is most and least appealing about this spin-off ï¿½ while it's refreshing to watch pros hand out cellophane-wrapped bundles of luvandrespect to each other, the lowbrow, finite-attention-span reality TV fan in all of us wants needs to see jettisoned colanders, drunken screaming matches and duplicitous pan-fried sabotage on the reg.
I don't see the show getting any more trashy. These last few episodes will probably feature a good amount of bro-hugging and cheek-pecking and helping-hand-ing as the sextet reaches for that $100K donation. Maybe I'm wrong ï¿½ but if I'm not, at least it'll make the Aug. 26 debut of the regular Top Chef seem that much trashier/glorious.
This week's lineup: Art Smith (former personal chef for Oprah and onetime contender for the head chef job at the Obama White House); Michael Cimarusti (seafood-focused chef from L.A.'s Providence); Jonathan Waxman (the iconic NYC chef whom I, for some reason, associate with all those funny-named restaurants in American Psycho); and Roy Yamaguchi (the Hawaiian fusion chef who's got an outpost here at 15th and Sansom). These dudes were so goddamn kind and sweet and close it was kinda like:
In a way.
Quickfire: The chefs get assigned the "Aisle Trail" ï¿½ each man has to cook a dish using ingredients taken from a single grocery aisle, with a budget of 20 bones. Cimarusti, who's referred to as a "young little chicken" by Smith (dudelove sesh starting right about ... now), gets the baking aisle; he ends up with a chocolate parfait with ginger and rum. Yamaguchi, vexed by the dearth of Asian ingredients in his area (no, there's no soy sauce in the pasta section, Roy), whips up noodles topped with a fried egg that two-thirds of the Whole-Foods-worker judges find "strange." Waxman, with the international aisle, comes up with a lentil salad, while the grains section leads Smith to a risotto. Cimarusti edges his buddies out with a perfect QF score from the judges.
Elimination: The cheftestants head back to Whole Foods to pick out 11 ingredients apiece. The twist is that their basket is then handed to a competitor, who must use seven of the 11 mystery items in a dish. So this is where it got real cute: While the chefs could've filled their baskets with a bunch of disparate crap, each gives the next guy a fighting chance, selecting versatile veggies and proteins. "I want Art to show the world his love and passion for food," says Yamaguchi, who blesses the Southern chef with some chicken. Awww. When are y'all going to go on a group camping/whitewater rafting trip together, and I can please come?
Yamaguchi admits he's not the best at thinking on the fly (who is?), and it shows in his mahi/short rib dish, as he ends up with a mediocre 15 stars. Waxman ends up with a total of 20 for his "retro '80s" (see, American Psycho!) pork chop dish, edging out young buck Cimarusti's 17.5. Smith, however, ends up on top, earning 22 stars for a delicious-looking fried/ smothered chicken dish served with a teeny mango pie. Everyone hugs and snuggles. "I love the way you all took care of each other," Gael Greene tells the foursome. Daw.
So here's the Final Six:
- Anita Lo
- and this dude!
I'm rooting for Art.
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
Behind the counter at Snow White at Second and Market. (Click to enlarge.)
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
Aromatic House of Kabob (113 Chestnut St.) has long held the Old City hookah crown, but now they've got a little puffy competition: Sphinx Cafï¿½ (100 Chestnut St.) opened about a week back, and they're coming for y'all.
Hookahs at the open-airy Sphinx (yes, owners are Egyptian) run $17 right now. Compare that to the $23 charge across the way and it seems like a no-brainer. Don't forget, however, that Aromatic runs a hookah happy hour weekdays from 4 to 7, when they discount down to $20 ($10 for refills). Even better ï¿½ on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, an Aromatic staffer tells Meal Ticket, they'll be offering a special where that $23 base charge drops to $12. SAVINGS!
WHO will prevail in this epic Iran/Egypt conflict?! WHO will end up offering us the best sheesha-scented deal? HOW LOW will the price of apricot-flavored tobacco go? Argh, the tension is palpable! Someone pack me a bowl!
Sphinx also serves food. Menu after the jump.
|Click to enlarge|
Here, watch food author/CP copy editor Carolyn Wyman, who penned our recent cover story on the 10 best cheesesteaks you've never had, get steak-ified by none other than chef Georges Perrier. What goes into Le Bec-Fin legend's riff on the regional staple? Prime filet, caramelized onions, Dijon, pickled carrots and onions, beef au jus and Gruyere cheese. Interviewing is Michael Klein of The Insider, who penned the piece this video accompanies.
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