Archive: September, 2009
|Go Mambo! Tour Journal|
Go Mambo! is the rolling incarnation of Mambo Sprouts, a marketing company whose trademark is offering deals on natural and organic products by distributing free coupon books at retailers like Whole Foods, as well as on their Web site.
The Go Mambo! van is beginning their carbon-offset cruise of the MidAtlantic region this Saturday, when they will make stops in Philadelphia to distribute coupons and samples of products from Kashi, Organic Valley, Back to Nature, Canus Goat's Milk, Chef Paul, Florida Crystals (organic cane sugar), Seventh Generation and Traditional Medicinals, among dozens of others.
Mambo Sprouts, which represents more than 800 clients producing natural or organic products, was founded by Matthew Saline of Philadelphia and is based in Collingswood, NJ.
Grab some free goodies at the Go Mambo! stops, which you can view after the jump.
Sat., Sept. 19: Look for the Go Mambo! van making stops at 2nd & South, 43rd & Baltimore and 9th & Market
Wed., Sept. 23: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Whole Foods Market (2001 Pennsylvania Ave.);ï¿½ 4-7 p.m., Whole Foods Market (929 South St.)
Thu., Sept. 24: 4-6 p.m.,ï¿½ Whole Foods Market (339 E. Lancaster Ave. in Wynnewood, PA)
|Image courtesy Square 1682|
|Ginger-marinated yellowfin tuna at Square 1682|
Square 1682 in the Hotel Palomar by Kimpton (121 s. 17th St.) is right on track for an October 14 opening.ï¿½ Meal Ticket spoke with Square chef Guillermo Tellez late in August for the details on the upmarket project, which aims to be the first LEED-certified restaurant in Philadelphia.
Now Square has released two dishes that will appear on their opening menu: a "warm" dish of Serrano ham with saffron, tomato bread, manchego cheese and lentil shoots, as well as a "cold" plate of ginger marinated yellowfin tuna with, shallots, scallions, avocado, sesame oil, and potatoes (pictured above).
In keeping with Tellez' 30-plus years working with sustainable ingredients, the yellowfin on the opening menu will be line-caught tuna from Maine.ï¿½ Tellez tells us he also sources tuna from Hawaii and the Gulf of Mexico depending on the seasons, but always serves ocean-friendly seafood that is identified as a best choice or worthy alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program.
Old City presents both an enticing bustle of pedestrian traffic and a concept conundrum to enterprising restaurateurs.ï¿½ It is stuffed with tourists visiting historic sites, locals walking to and from their homes workplaces and carloads of ladies in sparkly party tops and well-gelled dudes looking for the happening party every weekend.
Striking the balance between destination bar and favorite restaurant is a tough one.ï¿½ Bocca (236 Market St.), which opened in April after life as Amici Noi, pleased our critic David Snyder with its modern approach to Italian-influenced small plates.ï¿½ Chef Chris D'Ambro incorporated newfangled foams and faux "caviars" with more familiar ingredients, but the focus was always on flavor.
But flavor is not enough, since D'Ambro was let go on Tuesday in the wake of a menu reconception.
"They decided to redesign the menu concept and they no longer needed me. I guess you could say 'laid off'.ï¿½ They went to, like, chicken fingers, quesadillas and nachos and stuff," said D'Ambro in a phone conversation with Meal Ticket.ï¿½ "We parted ways, no harm, no foul."
D'Ambro is considering a few job offers at this time, but he did admit that ultimately he wants to helm his own ship. "I do want to do something of my own... I"ve come to the quick realization that I'll never really be happy until my name is on the door. Chefs usually are not in it for the money, we just want to pay the bills, cook great food and please the customer."
Meal Ticket is awaiting delivery of Bocca's new menu; more details on that to come.
|Courtesy of 10 Arts|
|Michael Walsh and Jennifer Carroll accept a
On Sunday, September 13, 10 Arts by Eric Ripert (The Ritz-Carlton, 10 S. Broad St.) received the "Best Event of 2008" award from the Philadelphia chapter of the world's oldest gastronomic society, The Chaine des Rotisseurs. Officers of the Philadelphia Chaine voted unanimously to honor 10 Arts, which hosted the Philadelphia Chaine Induction Gala on September 21, 2008.
Above, Ritz-Carlton general manager Michael Walsh and 10 Arts chef de cuisine Jennifer Carroll (now appearing on Bravo's Top Chef) accept their award.
|There's a chocolate risotto recipe in there.|
Fans of "muscular Mediterranean" cooking and the hunky, chiseled-cheekboned superchef who makes it are in for a treat today. At 5:30 p.m., celebrity chef Todd English (Olives in Boston, NYC and Vegas, among others) will hosts three of Philadelphia's chef-restaurateurs at Macy's (1300 Market St., third floor) for a dinner party to benefit our region's largest hunger relief organization, PhilAbundance.
Douglas Rodriguez of Alma de Cuba, Brian Wilson of Le Castagne and Olivier Desaintmartin of Caribou Cafï¿½ will each prepare their restaurant's signature dish, while English greets customers and signs copies of his newest cookbook, The Olives Table (Simon & Schuster).
On the menu is Rodriguez's salmon bundles with pickled carrots, limes and crunchy garlic, Desaintmartin's skatefish Parisienne and Wilson's handmade gnocchi with sun-dried tomato pesto. English will be doing a cooking demonstration, showing guests how he prepares a classic minestrone with herbed ricotta crostini.
A spate of Restaurant Week participants will also be on hand. Look for bites from The Plough & The Stars, Bistro St. Tropez, Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse, Joe Pesce and D'Angelo's Ristorante Italiano & Lounge.
Tickets to the event are $25, and every dollar goes to Philabundance. RSVP to 1-888-622-9769.
SNACK TIME: dining a la IKEA, Elevation coming to Walnut, drinkers disregarding imported brews, cupcakes continue their cute domination, Foobooz names its Top 50 bars
|Alyssa Cwanger | Inquirer|
|Nicole Cosom and Jeffery Tillery
display a stuffed salmon fillet with
chive and dill sauce at IKEA's cafeteria.
Every Wednesday, Meal Ticket pokes around the food blog world to see what's simmering.
- Cookbook author, chef and food writer: Lari Robling's resume is bulletproof. All the more reason to listen to her tout the kid-and-wallet-friendly choices at the IKEA cafeteria in Friday's Inquirer.
- Blogalicious is excited to report that Elevation Burger's grass-fed, organic beefiness will be coming to Walnut Street. Dan Marino, GM of the Wynnewood Elevation,won't give up the precise address, but look for the Oreo shakes and olive-oil fries to hit town in 6 to 8 months.
- Seen Through A Glass writer Lew Bryson notes that year-to-date imported beer sales are down 9.3 percent. Seems like as drinkers walk away from more expensive foreign beers, they tend to veer straight into the American craft aisle.
- Cupcakes continue to trend upward in Philly, with The Restaurant Club revealing that Flying Monkey Bakery will be opening a Center City location at 1112 Locust St.ï¿½ Owner Rebecca Michaels says that progress is about 80 percent complete ... take one guess what is holding up the last bit.
- Sure to provoke much heated dissent, Foobooz dropped their Top 50 Bars list today. Take a look to see who's on top and who got no love.
Went out on Friday night for a burger (above, bottom left) that simply must be considered in this "best burger" thing that's gripped the city. Got it topped with goat cheese and artichokes. Tell me where.
For bonus points, since there was a substantial wait, where'd we pre-game?
(Photos below/after the jump.)
|Early distillation of "America's native spirit".|
On August 2, 2007, Congress unanimously passed Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning's bill to make September National Bourbon Heritage Month. Bourbon whiskey, named for Bourbon County, Kentucky, was declared "America's Native Spirit" by Congress in 1964.
The Federal Standards for Distilled Spirits define bourbon not by geographic origins (though 99 percent of bourbon is made in Kentucky), but by the methods used to produce the whiskey. Bourbon must be distilled from a mash that is at least 51 percent corn, distilled to no more than 160 proof (80 percent alcohol by volume) and aged in charred, new oak barrels for a minimum of two years.
Interestingly, the origins of bourbon trace straight back to Pennsylvania. More than 200 years ago, the first Scotch-Irish settlers of Pennsylvania arrived, bringing their whiskey-making traditions with them. Rye, a grain that grows easily and well in Pennsylvania, was the primary grain used in the mash. In 1791, when the Continental Congress attempted to tax whiskey production, the tough Scotch-Irish defied them in the famous "Whiskey Rebellion" of 1791-94. To rid themselves of the troublemakers, Congress offered incentives to anyone willing to pull up stakes and move to Kentucky (at that time a part of Virginia).
Further sweetening the deal was Thomas Jefferson, who was Governor of Virginia at this time. He offered pioneers 60 acres of land in present-day Kentucky if they would build a permanent structure and raise native corn. Abundant corn, which is both bulky to transport and highly perishable, was quickly turned into whiskey.
This corn-based distillation would only become bourbon after two coincidences: French names were applied to counties in America, in honor of their assistance in the war against Britain, hence Bourbon County, named for the French royal family. The next phase of bourbon development is a bit more hazy, but one favorite tale goes like this: Bourbon County distiller Elijah Craig, a thrifty old reverend, charred oak barrels before filling them with his whiskey to be transported for sale in New Orleans. The charred oak barrels mellowed the harsh spirit, as well as lending it a caramel color. Craig called his spirit "Bourbon" after the place it was created.
There are many conflicting legends that attribute the "invention" of Bourbon to different distilling families; it seems to have evolved into its present form by the late 19th century. Celebrate the most American of beverages this month with a pour of your favorite.
Starfish Junction, the Long Island-based production company behind the award-winning Philly Craft Beer Festival, believes in the Philadelphia beer scene.ï¿½ So much so that they launched their graphic-heavy, Outlook-compatible calendar site PhillyBeerEvents.com on July 31, a month before the September 1 launch of NYCBeerEvents.com.
Visitors can scroll through the month-by-month listings of local beer festivals, beer and food pairing dinners, tasting events,ï¿½ lectures, book signings andï¿½ fundraisers, as well as other local beer-related special events.ï¿½ï¿½ There is also an option to receive bimonthly emails that delivers event listings to users' inboxes.
Lynda Calimano of Starfish Junction says the site has received "great interest" so far, and welcomes restaurant and bars to submit beer-related events; send them to LyndaC@starfishjunction.com.
After the jump, chef Jose Garces touches base with Meal Ticket to talk about his upcoming appearance on The Next Iron Chef (debuting Oct. 4 on Food Network), food TV, his new restaurant project and more. Garces can't say too much about the show just yet ï¿½ the Iron Chef America victor is competing to join Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Mario Batali, Cat Cora and Michael Symon as a titan of Kitchen Stadium ï¿½ but check out what we got him to share.
It's been unfolding greatly for us. It's been really well-received, and we're excited about it. How could you not be excited about bourbon and burgers? And the Whiskey King, that's a pretty decadent, tasty morsel ... let's go on a per-night basis. For example, on Friday night [Sept. 4], we sold 140 burgers, and of those 140, 40 were Whiskey Kings and 100 were Village Burgers.
|Courtesy of Food Network|
How did your appearance on The Next Iron Chef [TNIC] come about?
Well, as you know, I did compete against Bobby Flay. They had that piece of footage, and I cooked and did pretty well on the show, and I guess [they selected me] based on that. I did interviews for the first season of The Next Iron Chef, but I didn't make the cut for that one. So I'm glad I was able to come back for the second season. I think [the first season] was a pretty stacked lineup.
There's been speculation that you missed this year's James Beard Awards, where you won Best Chef Mid-Atlantic, because you were off filming TNIC. Any truth to that?
Yeah, the show was taped during the spring, and it happened to land during the James Beard Awards. It was a really tough decision to make, but I weighed both options. The James Beard Awards has been something I've been working toward most of my career, so I was somewhat disheartened not to be there, but I was well-represented by my wife and my brother and my director of operations.
Plenty of people have asked us if you were approached to do Top Chef Masters.
No, actually. I haven't been asked to do Top Chef Masters.
How many of the other TNIC competitors did you know personally prior to the competition?
I knew of some of the other competitors, but personally, I knew only Roberto Trevino, because we've done some events before in the past.
From the looks of the first episode, it seems that the competition is going to be pretty intense, as Iron Chef is a huge title. What were interactions like off-camera? Were you friendly, or was too much at stake to get really buddy-buddy?
I think that it definitely was really competitive, and especially during the first episode. During that time leading up to the first episode, it was a lot of feeling each other out, people getting to know each other. Obviously, with what was at stake, it was highly competitive, with that energy, that aura, that competitive nature in and around at all times. My focus going into it, my goal, was to go in and win, and be the next Iron Chef. It was good to meet people, but when it came down to it, that ultimate goal was what was in my sights.
You have an insane schedule as it is. If you were to win this competition, how would you fit filming Iron Chef episodes into your itinerary?
I'm a huge fan of the show, and I highly respect the chefs that are Iron Chefs, so I would take it very seriously. I would definitely set some time aside. I'm flexible enough right now in my career and in my company that I can do that. If I did become that person, I would definitely put a lot into it.
Is it difficult to keep a straight face when you hear some of the over-the-top things Iron Chef chairman [actor Mark Dacascos] says? The stuff he says is so campy. What is he like in real life? Is he really intense, or kinda zen?
I think you're pretty accurate on that ï¿½ï¿½the chairman's routine is pretty funny, but when you have such high stakes on the line, you can't help but take it very seriously. You definitely crack a smile and there is some humor to it, but the competitive nature [of the show] kept me pretty serious. Off-camera, he was very nice, very charming and I think he wanted to make all the competitors feel welcome and comfortable more than anything else. I could see myself having a beer with him.
|Courtesy of Food Network|
On shows like this, there's often a lot of strategy and gamesmanship ï¿½ sometimes, people in these types of culinary competitions get eliminated for reasons not exclusively dealing with their cooking. Do you think this devalues the art of cooking in general?
I feel like of all the cooking shows out there, I think Iron Chef definitely has the most credibility compared to the other shows. Starting from the first episode, it was apparent to me that it's definitely more about the cooking than a lot of the other shows, some of which can be kind of gimmicky [or] a little more whimsical. Even on Top Chef Masters, on the first episode, they had these great chefs cooking in a dormitory with toaster ovens. That takes away from who you are as a chef. I'm happy to say that on The Next Iron Chef, I definitely felt like it was about the cooking 100 percent ï¿½ whose food was the best.
In the first episode you identify Seamus Mullen, of New York's Boqueria, as your heaviest competition on the show. Is that because he also does Spanish food?
I think that on the first episode, I felt that his confidence level was very high. Some of the food he did on the first episode was pretty solid, and of all the competitors I felt he had the most confidence.
Were there certain things ï¿½ aspects of personality, maybe ï¿½ that you gauged when sizing up your competitors that you also look for when hiring chefs for your kitchens?
It's a hard read, you know? I've seen people, although they're quiet or introverted, who can cook their tails off. I've also seen chefs who are really confident and talk a huge game about food and their expertise, but when they get into the kitchen, it's a whole different story. Then there's the end results, what happens during the battles, what happens during the presentations ... there's a lot of factors that are involved.
What can you tell us about your forthcoming Garces Trading Company at 1111 Locust Street?
The Trading Company is going great. We already started our commissary. The Trading Company has three functions. The commissary is one, so it's a producer of different products for all the restaurants ï¿½ pastry and bread production, [our] charcuterie production and sausage making, the [meat] grinds for the burgers [at Village Whiskey] ... that's all being done out of that operation. Then we're going into construction in the next couple weeks to set up what will almost be like a market with a wine cellar. We have a partnership with the PLCB, so it'll be a wine, cheese and charcuterie shop, as well as a cafï¿½. We'll launch our Garces Trading Company coffee there. [The cafï¿½] will be eat in for lunch, and [for] dinner we'll convert it into a full-service restaurant. The experience should be you walking into a wine cellar, picking up one of these exclusive bottles of wine only available there ï¿½ we'll have 200 selections ï¿½ and then you can sit in our cafï¿½ and we'll give you some food that matches that wine. [It will open] around November 15.
Finally, we've heard a few rumors that your friend, chef Marc Vetri, recently filmed an episode of Iron Chef America. So?
I cannot confirm or deny that.
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