Archive: August, 2009
In print only: Grab a copy of CP this week and check out dealage on page 25ï¿½ ï¿½ 10-15 percent off at Karma (114 Chestnut St.) and up to $10 off at Nick's Roast Beef (16 S. Second St.).
APO Bar + Lounge (if you're like us, you probably still call it Apothecary ï¿½ it's cool, we won't tell the PA Board of Pharmacy) is about to introduce a dramatic overhaul of its current cocktail list, and Meal Ticket has your first look at the brand-new tipples. Consulting mixologist Tad Carducci and beverage manager Preston Eckman recently walked us through the menu, which'll roll out at the cocktail destination (102 S. 13th St.) next Wednesday, August 2 6.
There's a total of 14 (!) new drinks in the works, and Carducci and Eckman tell us many of the new cocktails are designed to celebrate the end of summer into early fall, when it's still nice enough to chill out on APO's roof deck. The additions, Carducci says, have been simplified in terms of their flavors, but the approach is "still Apothecarian" ï¿½ just expect less of a reliance on bartender-in-space techniques like tinctures and hydrosol sprays. Think of many of the new drinks as stuff you might order as an aperitif al fresco somewhere in Europe while watching really tall pretty ladies in high boots walk their dogs. There's the main menu and a separate upstairs lounge menu, with some overlap between the two.
Eckman adds that they're also switching up the options for APO Sauce (customizable drink selections based on a guest's preference of flavors) and the $6 recession menu. Pretty much all of the standards (the Booty Collins, the Midtown Village, the Clever Club, etc.) are still available, as are the off-the-menu selections.
Check out the new cocktail lists after the jump.
|Click to enlarge|
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Learn about energizing your home off the grid tonight,ï¿½ when you trade in your PECO bill for a free beer at Fairmount's Belgian Cafe (21st and Green) from 6-9 p.m.
Dragging along a friend with a PECO bill nets you another beer, and one for your buddy, too.ï¿½ Bring a crowd and learn about the benefits of clean solar energy -- the benefits of free beer are well documented.
Visit go-uee.com for all the details.
So I think I've finally pinpointed why I don't like Top Chef Masters as much as I loveloveloveamobsessedwith Top Chef. (Recap of the TCM finale is coming in a bit). Though this could very well be the product of flattering editing, these superstar chefs are so seemingly hellbent on doing nice things for other people that it feels very cheap and very wrong to ridicule them. (I tried anyway. I'm sorry, Rick Bayless! I kinda like you now because you care about others!)
While Top Chef: Las Vegas' 17 new cheftestants possess plenty of talent ï¿½ they weren't shy about flashing all the James Beard-ian-and-otherwise credentials around on last night's season premiere ï¿½ these kids aren't quite there yet. And that means I feel way more comfortable spending an inordinate amount of time concocting overly complicated ways to make fun of their hair.
To the kitchen!
Quickfire: In keeping with the Vegas setting, producers have made the QF format nice and cheesy this year, theming it around gambling. (How many chefs will spiral into baccarat-laden depravity before the finale?) This means the cheftestants are randomly drawing poker chips to determine teams, and more broadly, who'll have the best chance at a $15K QF cash prize. There's also a golden immunity chip that excuses you from competition ï¿½ Robin gets the first one of these while the remaining 16 kids split up into squads of four. First challenge is the mis en place relay we just watched on Masters ï¿½ popping clams, peeling prawns, cleaning lobsters and butchering two chops from the rib.
Well, Preeti has no clue how to pop clam shells, causing Tom C. to shake his head in disgust. (She's the chef at Google ... Google that shit!) "I might as well bring a beach chair and a fucking palm tree with me, because I might as well be on vacation," laments Preeti's big-bearded teammate Kevin, who turned down a full ride to MIT to cook in the ATL. "The hardest part of shucking clams is knowing how to do it," says Philly girl/former El Camino Real chef/current Xochitl sous Jen Z., who also struggles with the task. Fellow PHL gal/10 Arts maven Jen C., on the other hand, rips shit, inspiring a relatively sexist drunk-in-Seaside Heights-style rant ("A girl shouldn't be on the same level that I am") from Mike I., a former Stephen Starr chef who could definitely get away with chloroforming a member of LFO and assuming his identity Talented Mr. Ripley style:
The blue team ï¿½ Jen C., Bmore chef Jesse, one half of the look-like-lifeguards brother duo Bryan, and kerchief-ed Mattin (he's fabulous, he's French, he's read The Sun Also Rises) ï¿½ win the race, and Tom and transcendently beautiful Padma tell them they need to prepare a dish using the ingredient they rocked in the relay. Though Tom likes Jesse's shrimp and grits plate, describing it as a "big mouthful of ocean" (mmm!), our girl Jen C. wins the $15K chip with a simple clam ceviche. Buy me dinner, Jen?
Elimination: Each chef gets $150 to prep a plate based around a personal vice. Guest judge? Wolfgang mahfuckin' Puck. Since running down each and every contestant's dish would be about as productive as me taking note of the shoe sizes of a band of soccer hooligans as they stomped on my trachea, we'll just touch on a few. First of all, cheftestants ï¿½ there are vices other than drinking. So many of them incorporated liquor into their dishes in some way and justified it like "Well, I like booze, so ... " Yall cook. WE KNOW YOU LIKE BOOZE. Why didn't anyone cook a dish that represented a crippling Internet porn addiction, or a predilection for picking up loose women in a seedy bar (on seeded rye)? You disappoint me.
Jen Z.'s got a hot temper, she says, so she decides to stuff a chile relleno with seitan ï¿½ a dish she did at El Camino. "Why cook with seitan? Nobody fucking likes that stuff," laments Kevin, soldifying his status as this season's Guy Who Laments and Says Fuck A Lot. Laurine's vices are doughnuts, bacon, chocolate and beer (I like Laurine, not sure why ... ), so she combines as much into her dish. Hector's Puerto Rican so he deep-frys a steak. Jen C. works like 80 varieties of liquor into a lobster sauce. (OK if you're gonna take the I Heart Booze angle, do it like this.) Michael, the other lifeguard brother, gets real creative with it, fixing up a rack of lamb and breaking down a couple bulbous coconuts to represent boobs.
Top four: Jen C., Kevin, LFO Mike and Ron, a Haitian who cooks a well-executed fish dish to represent his 27-day journey across the ocean to get to the States. (Not really a vice, but hell of a story, and Tom is feeling it.) Kevin, whose vice of procrastination is conveyed by slow-cooking arctic char, takes home the very first Elimination. He looks very happy and does not say fuck.
Bottom four: Hector (achtung ï¿½ Wolfgang does NOT like his steak deep-fried), Jesse (dry chicken), Jen Z. (not feeling the seitan) and Eve, who employs the most confusing and convoluted strategy in the history of season premieres to explain how her tendency to overcomplicate (or was it oversimplify?) was conveyed in her shrimp/scallops curry cream dish, which was both complicated and simple and stupid and what?! She somehow eases her way off the chopping block despite cooking a trick-question SAT analogy, and our girl Jen Z. gets axed very first for her seitan dish, which Padma referred to as a "vegan bar midnight special." Z, you took a big-ass risk and it didn't pan out. I probably wouldn't have gone so left-field with it, but I respect the balls ï¿½ and I bet there's an army of skinny vegans out there crafting a glorious statue of you out of pliable tempeh to erect in some LEED-certified town plaza somewhere. See you over in Headhouse!
Next week: I will attempt to talk about more than four of the contestants.
Watch the Top Chef: Las Vegas premiere tonight at 10 Arts with the infinitely good-looking Eric Ripert
10 Arts (The Ritz-Carlton, 10 S. Broad St.) whose chef Jennifer Carroll is a contestant on the sixth season of Top Chef (premiering tonight at 9!), will host weekly viewing parties for the Bravo show every Wednesday throughout this season. 10 Arts exec chef Eric Ripert is coming through tonight to show his girl a little love, so stop in starting at 7 p.m. if you want to catch a glimpse of the dreamy Frenchman in all his ominous structure-scaling glory. (Seriously, look at that dude! What is he even doing in that picture?) The viewing parties will be held in the lounge, which boasts multiple flat-screens.
Oh and don't forget that Jennifer Zavala, formerly of El Camino Real and now over at Xochitl, is also a cheftestant this season. Check out A.D. Amorosi's Nov. '08 profile for some background on girlie.
Check Meal Ticket tomorrow morning for a recap of the premiere, as well as a recap of the Top Chef Masters finale.
SNACK TIME: not quite a crouton salad, a Butcher of a deal brings 'em in, Kade Out! on lounge opening, how many stars for the choco taco?, showgirls and shuckers on Top Chef tonight
|A Food Coma|
Every Wednesday, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
- A Food Coma adapts traditional Tuscan panzanella (bread salad) with summery vegetables for a meal that is satisfying but not smothering.
- Methinks The Illadelph has a source employed by SRO. That, or Starr's Twitter feed goes straight to his cerebral cortex. The blogger points us towards some facts (Butcher & Singer has been doing about 1,500 lunch covers a week off the interest in their $5.95 burger) and a new deal (the dinner menu has a new, 24-ounce bone-in ribeye for a measly $18).
- Food bloggers in Philly have new competition: the WOT Marketing-created Frankentwat known as Arthur Kade is now intent on breaking lounge openings. Recess Lounge will be "So Private that only the top 100-200 people in the city who are in the A-List are going to be allowed in," according to our too-good-to-need-an-editor model/The Journeyman/extra. Foobooz smashes own fingers in car door to distract from Kade-pain.
- Eat Me Daily notices when ABC has former NY Times food critic Frank Bruni eat and review a Choco Taco. Watch it and try not to run to the bodega to buy one. Just try.
- Finally, Serious Eats previews tonight's premiere ofï¿½ Top Chef: Las Vegas. Look out for befeathered Vegas showgirls, a clam confusion, and Tom C. looking of-the-moment in a vest.
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
|PhilaDining via eGullet|
|Shola and Alex in action at the May dinner|
Three of Philadelphia's bold adventurers into the possibilities of modern cooking techniques are Shola Olunloyo, chef behind the lauded private dinners of StudioKitchen, and husband-and-wife chef team H. Alexander Talbot and Aki Kamozawa of Ideas in Food, consultants and caterers who built their business on the success of their blog.
Now the chefs, who have been friends and collaborators for years, are hosting multi-course meals that invite guests to rethink familiar ingredients.
This is not a supper club, stresses Talbot. "The dinners we are doing are a gathering of people interested in food and ideas, an extension of our workshops with chefs and enthusiasts," he tells Meal Ticket. "It's more like a learning experience, an edible consultation. Guests are able to watch as we finish dishes. Imagine going to a dinner party where you have three professional chefs as your host, and you can ask them questions about the food, the evolution of the dish ... it's a full-on interactive experience."
Guests bring their own wines to pair with the 10 or so courses ï¿½ for their May meal, for example, they served mozzarella pudding with frozen rhubarb and olive oil. View the complete menu for the July dinner on Olunloyo's blog. Prices vary for each meal with the average around $150. The next event is scheduled for October 2 and 3.
You can reserve your place at the table (tickets go on sale today) by emailing Talbot and Kamozawa at firstname.lastname@example.org or Olunloyo at email@example.com
So Team Meal Ticket cranked out its 1000th post last week. We remember how shocked we were when we hit 100. Crazy.
We'd like to thank all our amazing readers for checking out the blog and making it so much fun for us. To our fellow bloggers, thanks for showing us all the link love.
We'd also like to ask y'all something. How are we doing? What do you like on Meal Ticket? What don't you like? What do you want more (or less) of? Thoughts, comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated and encouraged. Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|Slices of summer|
Sticking your entire face in a sticky wedge of icy-cool watermelon and competing with siblings to spit seeds the farthest is the essence of childhood in summer. Now that you have your own kitchen and a sharp knife to play with, you can enjoy all of the juicy flavor of watermelon with none of the mess and subsequent hosing-down.
Watermelon is rich in phyto-nutrients ï¿½ naturally occurring compounds that trigger healthy reactions in the body ï¿½ including lycopene, beta-carotene and citrulline. Dr. Bhimu Patil, director of Texas A&Mï¿½s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center, has studied watermelon extensively. His research indicates that enzymes in the body convert citrulline into the amino acid arginine, which has a relaxing effect on blood vessels ï¿½ the same effect as drugs like Viagra.
So not only is watermelon fun to eat, it could make the after-watermelon hosing off more fun than it was when you were seven.
To butcher a melon, lay a kitchen towel down on the counter, and place your cutting board on it to limit drips.ï¿½ Stand the watermelon up and slice it in half down its length. It's fine if one half is bigger than the other. Then place one half, cut side down, on the board, and slice it one-half to 1 inch thick. Lay each slice flat and cut the white rind away. Discard the rind, or remove the skin and make watermelon rind pickles ï¿½ try Fork owner Ellen Yin's recipe, here at Philly Mag.
Cube the flesh of the melon and chill in the fridge. To serve, toss with freshly torn or chiffonade basil; sprinkle with good sea salt, like Maldon.
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