Archive: August, 2009
Drinking local is good for both your pockets and your hometown economy.ï¿½ Rick Nichols noted the recession-defying numbers at area craft breweries in his Inquirer feature yesterday:
Dogfish Head was doing a bulletproof business.
Beer sales are up a phenomenal 40 percent over last year, 45 percent if you include its first foray into the Nevada market.
What is more remarkable is that those aren't unremarkable numbers for local craft brewers. At Downingtown's award-winning Victory Brewing, sales were up close to 30 percent; at smallish Sly Fox near Phoenixville, hovering close to last year's 38 percent gain.
Nichols also quotes Monk's Cafï¿½ owner Tom Peters, who says that his sales of Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale tripled in the last six months.
Philadelphia's robust local craft breweries employ hundreds of good folks, from the engineers that keep the bottling lines running to the bartenders who dispense the foamy $4 pints.ï¿½ Nichols reveals the engine behind the trend: locavorism, taste, sustainability and a rejection of the "yellow, fizzy" BudMillerCoors products.
Craft fits neatly in, says Herz, offering quirky, "full-flavored, bigger, get-to-know-me beers," not just the Big Three's "refreshing, lighter-on-the-tongue" profile.
Some converts are rejecting Big Beer's crassness - its wet-T-shirt contests and beer-slob image. Craft brewers, in contrast, sponsor cycling (and recyling) rambles and brewer-farmer dinners.
Finally, Calagione argues, there's the mad-as-hell factor: People are fed up with the hubris and greed of corporate fat cats - "the Enrons, Madoffs, and Detroits" that helped dig the financial hole.
Instead of handing over their beer money to a "foreign-owned, faceless conglomerate," he says, they'd rather support local independents.
Read Nichols' full story on local breweries on Philly.com.
Last week, Andres Sanchez of Positano Coast (212 Walnut St., 215-238-0499) won the regional round of the 2009 Bombay Sapphire "Inspired Bartender Search" at Union Trust, earning the mixologist a trip to Vegas at the end of this month to compete with 39 others for a chance to be featured in GQ's Men of the Year issue. The barkeep's weapon of choice? The summery Shiso & Samba. Recipe after the jump; we'll keep you posted on Sanchez's exploits. Or just go get at the dude yourself, as he's behind the bar at Positano Wednesday through Saturday.
Shiso & Samba
1 1/2 parts Bombay Sapphire Gin
1 1/2 Parts Koren Melon
1/2 part St. Germain
3/4 parts Aloe Vera
1 oz. Pellegrino Water
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass in the order listed above.
Shake all ingredients and pour into a chilled martini glass
Top with 1oz Pellegrino water and garnish with a fresh Japanese Shiso Leaf
Philadelphia's own Urban Vegan, Dynise Balcavage, has been teasing us with just the ideas of recipes on her blog UrbanVegan.net since March of 2006.ï¿½ On October 1,ï¿½ Three Forks will release The Urban Vegan: 250 Simple, Sumptuous Recipes, From Street Cart Favorites to Haute Cuisine, and satisfy the curiosity that has consumed us for the last threeï¿½ years.
You can pre-order the cookbook now on Amazon.com and save 32% off the list price of $16.95; if you'd rather keep your dollars local, look for the cruelty-free cookbook at The Cookbook Stall in the Reading Terminal Market when it drops this fall.
The impatient can check out a few of Balcavage's contributions to local sustainability mag GRID;ï¿½ see her methods for blood orange cupcakes with easy chocolate ganache and a Jamaican curried couscous salad on the GRID online page viewer.
In this installment of The Good Word, weï¿½re chatting with longtime Philly food personality Holly Moore. Moore, who wrote a food/restaurant column for City Paper for 14 years, is best-known for his food site (not a blog!) HollyEats.com, which sees the prolific eater rating inexpensive food all over the country on his grease-stain scale. CBS3 recently did a segment on Moore, which features a clip of him riding on his signature scooter.
You ran your own restaurant, Holly Moore's Upstairs Cafe, here in Philly from 1978 to 1982. Let's say you caught the bug again and decided to open a place today. What would it be called, where would it be and what would it serve?
I am tempted to jump back inï¿½far too often.ï¿½About three years ago, I made offers on a fewï¿½locations, but none panned out. The name: Holly Dawgs. Holly Dawgs sells top qualityï¿½HollyEatsï¿½grease stain-worthyï¿½food, includingï¿½hot dogs (Usinger's imported from Wisconsin, hopefully served on a toasted and buttered New England-style hotdog bun), hamburgers and cheesburgersï¿½(four- to five-ounce, ground fresh daily), fresh-cut French fries (not shoestring), batter-dipped onion rings, draught root beer and shakes made with light cream.ï¿½ There would be no turkey dogs, kobeï¿½burger/dogs,ï¿½orï¿½veggie burgers, and no toppings other than cheddar cheese, fried or raw onion, ketchup, mustard and red and green relish. No cheesesteaks, either.ï¿½Philadelphia needs another cheesesteak place like it needs another Southern Italian restaurant.
What now-closed Philadelphia restaurant do you miss the most? (Other than your own!)
That's easy.ï¿½ Steven Poses' Commissary, the early years. The Commissary even helpedï¿½lure me to Philadelphia back in the late '70s.ï¿½ Before then, all I knew about Philadelphia was Old Original Bookbinder's and the oil refineriesï¿½seen on the wayï¿½in from the airport. After being offered a job with an ad agency, I stayed at the Latham for a few days to get the feel of Center City. The Commissary, as much as anything, convinced me that W.C. Fields had it wrong. I still crave the Commissary's fresh-baked brioche and croissants, their omelet bar and, of course, theï¿½carrot cake.ï¿½Among the other placesï¿½I really miss: Levis',ï¿½the Astral Planeï¿½and Siegfried's, a German deli in the Reading Terminal Market that made several kinds of liverwurst.
You cover a wide array of food from all over the country on Holly Eats. What cuisines have you uncovered in your travels that are underrepresented here in Philly?
Non-franchise hamburger and hot dog stands. Cheesesteaks are so dominant in Philadelphia that, unlike most every other major city, there areï¿½few walk-up stands where one can grab a quick burger orï¿½dog.ï¿½As far as an actual regional cuisine, Southern cooking options have been pretty slim until recently. Bebe's sides, and especially their banana pudding, are as good as any meat and three in the South. Philadelphiaï¿½still needs more pan-fried chicken and more chicken-fried anything.
Early in your career, you worked for McDonald's as part of the team that developed the Big Mac. When's the last time you had one?
I used to make a point of downing a Big Mac once or twice a year. That ended when McDonald's started storing cooked burgers in warming drawers rather than serving them hot off the grill. McDonald's founder Ray Kroc and I didn't get along all that well,ï¿½but I have tremendous respect for his emphasis on freshness and quality. Ifï¿½Ray Krocï¿½were around today, he would fire all the McExecutives and bring backï¿½the McDonald's of yesteryear. There are few restaurant skills as impressive as a McDonald's grill guy, spatulas in both hands, flippingï¿½sixï¿½burgers at a time, row after row after row. On road trips I will still grab an occasional Egg McMuffin.ï¿½That is about the only thing McDonald's has not screwed up.
God bless ya, Season 4 hothead Dale, for refamiliarizing us with one of the simplest joys of this show: watching one person in chef's whites post up on another person in chef's whites because the first person in chef's whites feels the second person in chef's whites is HATING. You, sir, are our Gatorade, you refreshing bastard, you. Ahhh.
Bravo played up the clash between the former finalist and Top Chef Masters competitor Michael Chiarello like crazy in the teasers leading up to Wednesday night's penultimate episode, for obvious reasons: Most of the cheftestants on TCM have been too nice, too tired or too professional to flip out. That's where Dale, who got all "whatchu gon do about it?!" with Chiarello after being talked down to, came in. Best part? Dude didn't cheapen the gulliness by apologizing after the fact. From a bravotv.com statement on the incident:
Looking back, I cannot see myself handling it in a different way. When confronted by this "Master" chef, I took his comments and tone to be insulting. Had this situation taken place with, for example Joel Robuchon, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse, I know I would react differently, as I have had nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for these great chefs.
My apologies if my reaction negatively impacted my team and the other chefs in any way. Do I think how I reacted was appropriate? No, but inappropriate is part of the chef's life. Thatï¿½s who we areï¿½ï¿½ a degenerate, compulsive, irrational, egotistical and passionate breed that knows how to cook.
YO CHIARELLO, DALE IS COMING FOR YOU WITH THIS COMICALLY OVERSIZED WHISK!
But Episode 9 did have another redeeming quality, aside from our dude's scrappy short-fuse antics. It gave us insight into the Masters finalists' managerial styles, a true testament to their acumen as executive chefs.
Some people came off better than others.
Quickfire: Host Kelly Choi blindfolded the final four -- Chiarello, Hubert Keller, Anita Lo and Rick Bayless -- and made them taste random stuff to see what they could ID, with a lineup of ingredients both easily nameable (peanut butter, corn) and rather random (a few of them got papadum). Chiarello, who referred to the challenge as a "culinary whiteout," ends up naming seven ingredients correctly, edging out Lo and Bayless (six apiece). Keller, who named only five, deserved some bonus points for wryly stating that the best part of the challenge was "Kelly putting the blindfold on me." Hubert, you French cad!
Elimination: The final four must prepare a buffet lunch for 200 "Hollywood insiders." To help, each chef is allowed to pick sous chefs from a crop of a dozen former Top Chef-fers. Bayless grabs Alex (S5), Betty (S2) and the dude Richard (S4; he talked to Meal Ticket back in November). Lo gets Dale, S2 winner Ilan and S5er Jamie, aka the Duchess of Scallopshire aka we used to hate on her unfairly but now love her. Keller gets Elia from S2 (remember when she chopped all her hair off?), Antonia (S4) and S5er/recent guest judge Spike. This leaves Chiarello with seafood chef Brian (S3, looked like he was wearing mad makeup), the never-not-entertaining Fabio (S5) and cut-up former volleyball player CJ (S3).
Prior to selections, the four finalists are allowed quickie interviews with their potential sous chefs. This is where Chiarello solidifies his dickwad status for the evening, forcing interviewees to chop carrots and scolding them when they mispronounce his last name. Strong work, Mike.
During the prep stage, with all manner of chefs running amok through the kitchen, it's easy to see how people could get heated. But it took a special brand of douchebaggery to get Dale to flip his shit the way he did -- in this case, it was Chiarello condescendingly calling the guest chef "young man" in reference to a question about a fridge that really set him off.
"For the first 20 years of my career, I ate three Dales for breakfast," Chia explains.
"Michael had it coming to him," observes Alex. "He was acting like a douche."
As the chefs scramble to get their buffets in order ï¿½ each develops a menu in his/her wheelhouse, nothing too interesting to rehash here ï¿½ Choi drops an unexpected twist: The 200-head buffet, originally slated for inside the SLS Hotel, will now be outside under the baking sun. This royally screws Lo, who'd tasked Jamie with popping hundreds of oysters/clams for an elaborate raw bar spread. Keller, who worked beautifully with his team, ends up earning the W with his beautiful and complex 18-tiny-dish approach, and Lo gets the ax, earning just 17 stars. This elimination kinda sucked because it was wholly conditional; the judges criticized quite a few of Chia's dishes, and it's not a stretch to guess the results might've been different had they served their grub in the AC.
Next week: Masters finale, and Vegas premiere. For now, please enjoy this disjointed list of quotes from our Episode 9 notes:
- "It's very odd-looking." - James Oseland on Chiarello's buffet
- "It's a Top Chef world, and we've just got to make the best of it." - Bayless
- "I'm sweating like a mountain goat at the beach." - Fabio
- "Tastes like Mexico!" - Oseland on Bayless' buffet
- "It was furry and mealy. I thought maybe it was old swordfish." - Gael Green on Chiarello's buffet
- "I'd give you a galaxy of stars if I could!" - Oseland on Keller's buffet
|Courtesy of Epicurious|
Epicurious is putting down tasty stakes at the Reading Terminal Market next week on the last leg of its second annual national farmers market tour. Stop at the recipe site's booth from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. August 17 to 22 for giveaways galore, including reusable market tote bags and recipes designed around what's seasonal in our area. (Check out Epicurious' seasonal ingredient map to get an idea of what to pick up.)
|Photo l Drew Lazor|
Leigh Maida, half of the ownership team behind Local 44 and Memphis Taproom, says in an email today that the upcomingï¿½ Resurrection Ale House (2425 Grays Ferry Ave.) is "still on for September 9th opening (PLCB pending, of course)".
Resurrection will debut with a keg of Belgian-style Resurrection Ale from Brewer's Art in Baltimore, which Maida and husband-partner Brendan "Spanky" Hartranft took a mission-specific roadtrip to collect.ï¿½ Read up on Resurrection's chef, Joe Chmiko, and the story on the concept in our previous posts.
- Resurrection Ale House names its chef [3Aug09]
- Memphis Taproom team to turn Yello'bar into Resurrection Ale House [3July09]
From Saturday, August 15 through Friday the 21st, Devil's Den will devote an entire draft tower to all things sour, funky and tart -- the legacy of a few tiny microorganisms: brettanomyces, lactobacillus and pediococcus.ï¿½ Brettanomyces boosters include some of America's best-regarded craft brewers, with the driving edge led by the infamous Brett Pack.
Successful forays into American sours by The Brett Pack have spawned even more puckery potions, many of which you can taste during Devil's Den Pucker Up! celebration.ï¿½ Highlights from the draft tower, with our picks in bold:
- Dogfish Head Festina Peche -- a peach-addled riff on the classic, low-alcohol, lactic style called Berliner Weisse
- Rodenbach Grand Cru
- Ommegang Rouge -- one of the best introductions to Flemish-style sours, with plenty of cherries added.
- Ballast Point Sour Wench
- Dock Street Dunkel Berliner Weisse
- Cantillion Gueuze -- the definitive, unsweetened, mavericky classic. Benchmark for all gueuze, ever.
- Russian River Consecration -- aged in Cab Sauv barrels for 9 months, with 30 lbs. of red currants added to each barrel -- this is SUPER RARE and amazing
- Monk's Cafe Sour
- Duchesse de Bourgogne
There will also be 15 sour bottles to choose from; the Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus (very tart gueuze with raspberries added) and Petrus Oak-Aged Pale Ale, an elegant, hoppy pale with just enough pucker from the oak to make it a perfect partner for food, are must-haves.
If you've never experienced the wonder of lambics, Flemish sours and gueuze, get thee to Devil's Den for a minimal-commitment draft pour.ï¿½ If you're a funky lambic head, your fellows will know where to find you next week.
Devil's Den First Annual Pucker Up! Sour Fest, Aug. 15-21, 1148 S. 11th St., 215- 339-0855, devilsdenphilly.com
In our recent Q&A with Daniel Stern, we asked the Philly chef ï¿½ poised to open R2L and MidAtlantic this fall ï¿½ how often we might find him at Gayle, the five-year-old space he calls his baby. "Every day," he told Meal Ticket. "Iï¿½ve been working on all of our development out of Gayle and the back patio is also my favorite hideaway in the city."
Now comes word that Stern has decided to shut the restaurant down. Here's the statement from his rep:
After five successful years, Daniel Sternï¿½s Gayle restaurant will close its doors after dinner service on Friday, September 4. Daniel Stern Restaurants (DSR) decided not to renew the lease, which is up this fall, to focus on its two imminent openings, MidAtlantic (slated to open in September) and R2L (slated to open in November).
"While this is certainly a bittersweet decision, we have some very exciting projects to focus on in the immediate future,ï¿½ Chef Stern says.ï¿½ "The elements that made Gayle so beloved will definitely play major roles in our new restaurants."
Here's a link to our 2006 review of the Queen Village restaurant.
|Photo | Dominic Savini|
Never let 'em tell you you can't pair liquor with food ï¿½ on Tuesday, August 25, Alfa (1709 Walnut St., 215-751-0201) is hosting a ROOT tasting dinner. Chef Sean Ford will work the irreverent liquor, produced by Art in the Age, into five courses. Complementing the food will be five of the cocktails featured at the recent ROOT mix-off at Silk City. The dinner's just $35 a head; check out the full menu, with drink pairings, after the jump.
A delicate morsel, utilizing ROOT Liquor, designed to excite the palate
Sweet Corn and Lobster Summer Soup ï¿½ Wynnorr Farm Sweet Corn, Vanilla/ROOT infusion garnished with Lobster Salad and ROOT Syrup.ï¿½ Served chilled.
paired with "Bomba Shack" by Lauren Phillips @ Alfa Restaurant & Bar
1 1/2 oz ROOT
1/2 oz spiced rum
1 oz Creme Coconut
1/2 fresh squeezed lemon
Seared Scallop with ROOT & Black Truffle Foam and Wild Mushrooms
paired with "Dr. Maloney's Restorative Elixir" by Colin Shearn @ Franklin Mortgage & Co.
2 oz. ROOT
1 oz. Punt E Mes
5 dashes Vieux Carre
3 dashes orange bitters
ROOT Brined Pork Loin ï¿½ stuffed with Apples and Raisins and served with a Rosemary Celeriac Puree and Root Demi Glace.
paired with "Dr. Hadleyï¿½s Root Restorative" by Kate Loeb @ Oyster House
.5 oz. Demerara simple syrup
6 large mint leaves
1.25 oz. Lairds Bonded (100 proof) Applejack
1.0 oz. Root Liqueur
.5 oz. Benedictine
.5 oz. fresh lime juice
2 dashes Fee Brotherï¿½s Aztec Chocolate bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Garnish:ï¿½ Mint sprig Muddle mint in simple syrup.ï¿½ Add ice and other ingredients.ï¿½ Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass.ï¿½ Top with a spanked mint sprig.
Grilled Venison ï¿½ Huckleberry Reduction, ROOT infused Potato Hash
paired with "Pennsyltucky Smash" by Christian Gaal @ Noble American Cookery
1 oz. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
shaken on crushed ice with 7-10 smacked mint leaves.ï¿½ Serve in rocks glass, garnish with mint sprig.
ROOT Float Roundabout ï¿½ ROOT Ice Cream with Vanilla Creme Soda
paired with "Dust and Beans"
by Lauren Phillips @ Alfa Restaurant & Bar
1 oz. ROOT
1/2 oz. Frangelico
1 oz. Chilled Espresso
Shaken over ice and served in a Cordial glass.ï¿½ Top with ROOT Infused Whipped Cream and garnish with a lemon twist
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