When Benna's Cafï¿½ and B2 owner Nancy Trachtenberg needed to source locally made, gluten-free snacks for her coffee shops, she clicked her way through the top gluten-free hits on Google. "Mr. Ritt's Bakery on Passyunk Ave. used to be the place to go for wheat-free baked goods," Trachtenberg said, "but they moved to New Jersey and I figured there had to be something made locally." Enter Sweet Christine's Gluten-Free Confections, owned by a mother of three who was diagnosed with celiac disease after a long journey of misdiagnosis and mystery.
Once Christine Ruggio knew she had celiac disease and needed to avoid gluten completely, she began tasting gluten-free cookies on the market and was sorely disappointed in their taste and texture. Knowing her children couldn't live without Mom's chocolate-chip cookies, Ruggio set out to make delicious treats that everyone could enjoy. In March of 2008 she opened her brick-and-mortar bakery in Kennett Square, while providing gluten-free muffins, cookies, brownies, cakes, pizza crusts, sandwich bread and pizzelles to wholesale accounts from cafï¿½s to hospitals.
Rice, potato and tapioca flour substitute for wheat in Ruggio's sweets. Her blueberry and flax muffins, sugar and oatmeal raisin cookies as well as vegan, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (individually wrapped to avoid contamination) are now available at Benna's Cafï¿½ and B2. Trachtenberg noted that if the demand was there, she would expand into carrying Christine's gluten-free baguettes for sandwiches.
Visit Sweet Christine's Web site for more information: sweetchristinesglutenfree.com
Benna's Cafï¿½, 1236 S. Eighth St., 215-334-1502, bennascafe.com
B2, 1500 E. Passyunk Ave., 215-271-5520
Lots of drunks like to wax philosophical over fine brews, but precious few know what the hell they're talking about.ï¿½ Now you can get learned in the pub when The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery'sï¿½ all-dark beer line is rolled out in Philadelphia this week.
The logo of the North Carolina outfit was inspired by brewer Paul Philippon's former life as a university philosophy teacher.ï¿½ A version of the duck-rabbit diagram, which looks like a duck or rabbit depending on the viewer's perspective, appears in Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein, a philosophy book Philippon admires.
Locals will get a chance to acquaint themselves with the fruits of Philoppon's second career at a host of samplings at locations across the suburbs and city.ï¿½ï¿½ Duck-Rabbit's Brown Ale, Amber Ale, Porter and Milk Stout are now available at select bars, including Monk's Cafe, Capone's, Grey Lodge and The Sidecar, as well as at the 2nd St. Foodery.ï¿½ Find out where you can be the first to taste these new beers, after the jump.
Mon. May 4th :
Teresaï¿½s Next Door tasting with food pairingsï¿½ 6-8 pm
124 N. Wayne Aveï¿½ Wayne, Pa. 19087ï¿½ (610) 293-9909
Restaurant/Bar Meet & Greet with food pairingsï¿½ 5-6 beers on tap
Monkï¿½s Cafï¿½ meet and greetï¿½ 5:30-7 pm
264 S. 16th St.ï¿½ Phila. , Pa.ï¿½ 19102ï¿½ (215) 545-7005
Back bar Meet & Greetï¿½ 5-6 beers on tap
Tues May 5th :
Caponeï¿½s Kickoffï¿½ 5-8 pm
224 W. Germantown Pikeï¿½ Norristown, Paï¿½ 19401ï¿½ (610) 279-4748
Restaurant/Bar Meet & Greetï¿½ 6-7 beers on tap
The Sidecar tasting with food pairings 6-9 pm
2201 Christian St. Phila. Paï¿½ 19146ï¿½ (215) 732-3429
Restaurant/Bar Meet & Greetï¿½ 5-6 beers on tap
Wed May 6th :
Foodery 2nd St samplingï¿½ 4-6 pm
837 N, 2nd St.ï¿½ Phila, Paï¿½ 19123ï¿½ (215) 238-6077
Bottle Shop sampling of 6 styles
Abeï¿½s Cold Beer sampling 4-6 pm
1301 W. Broad St.ï¿½ Bethlehem, Paï¿½ (610) 997-0831
Bottle Shop sampling of all styles
Grey Lodge Public House Rollout 6-9 pm
6235 Frankford Ave. Phila, Paï¿½ï¿½ (215) 825-5357
Meet & Greetï¿½ 3-4 styles on tap
|Emerick's barn in Hyndman, PA|
Maple sugaring season is reaching its crescendo right now in Pennsylvania, which is one of the top five maple syrup producers in the United States. To celebrate the sweet treat, retailers at the Reading Terminal Market are featuring the ingredient at Maple Daze this Saturday, April 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Second-generation maple syrup producers Matthew and Stephanie Emerick will visit the Pennsylvania General Store to teach customers about the process of turning the sap of maple trees into syrup, cream, sugar and candy. Their maple syrup, produced in Hyndman, Somerset County, will be available at a 20 percent discount during Maple Daze.
|Emerick's Maple, on Ebay|
Emerick's maple candy, with
The festivities will be focused at the Center Court of the Market, where you can try such treats as:
- Cupcakes with maple-buttercream icing from Flying Monkey
- Down Home Diner's pulled pork with maple, made by owner Jack McDavid
- Bassett's maple ice cream
- Maple fudge, maple walnut fudge and maple-cream filled chocolates from the Pennsylvania General Store
- Stephanie Emerick's maple sugar candy, "the most teeth-shatteringly sweet substance known to man," according to Pennsylvania General Store owner Michael Holahan
Meal Ticket caught up with Holahan, who along with his wife Julie has owned the Pennsylvania General Store since 1987. Holahan invited Matthew's father Ed Emerick to visit the Market 1992 as a way to convince his doubtful customers that maple syrup was indeed made in Pennsylvania.
Holahan on the basics of syrup-making:
To produce maple syrup you need two things: maple trees and mountainous terrain.ï¿½ Mountainous terrain is important because cool evenings and warm days are required.ï¿½ You want the trees to still be pulling energy from ground during the cold night.... feeding itself at night and producing sap. Then as the temperature warms during the day theï¿½ sap runs.ï¿½ When it gets too warm, the sap becomes bitter and you don't want to eat it.
After the jump, read Holahan's anecdote about introducing Emerick's Pennsylvania maple syrup to a suspicious public.
I actually started selling PA products in the RTM in 1987, and I had a maple syrup producer who stopped wholesaling.ï¿½ I heard about this big maple fesival in Somerset County, PA, on the Maryland border.
I went to this festival in 1988 which was really great ... a big event in a very small town, a very rural part of the state. Ed Emerick won the blue ribbon and I figured I should buy the winner's maple syrup for the store... he was suspicious of me, this guy from Philly. He and his wife lived up in a mountainous area ... he said he had so few neighbors he could walk outside naked and not disturb anybody.
I started buying syrup from him, and people in the store would ask why was I selling maple syrup from Vermont in the Pennsylvania General Store. I'd show them it was from PA, and they'd say, we don't have maple syrup here. I had to figure out a way to convince people that syrup comes from PA, so I invited Ed out in 1992 to meet people.ï¿½ We had a pancake eating contest ... the event continued for many years and Ed would always bring his young son Matthew.
We stopped doing it in part because we had a family and it became hard to pull off, and there was no space in the Market to do it. We were doing pancake breakfast for the firefighter's hepatitis C awareness fund, and eventually the maple thing became taken over by the firemen.
We decided to revive the event this year, and I called Ed up and sadly, his wife is dealing with cancer. But his son Matthew is married and has a baby now, so Matthew and his wife are coming out to teach everyone about maple syrup.
Matthew will be doing a thing his dad always did ... he pours heated maple syrup into this wooden trough on legs and works it back and forth and it converts into maple sugar. The syrup crystallizes into solid sugar, and it's very cool to watch.
So it's back to the future ... the next generation of Pennsylvania maple syrup makers selling in the Market.
|Rainer Zenz, via WikiMedia Commons
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: white mustard seeds; ground white mustard; Bavarian sweet
Mustard is the only condiment that exists in several different forms in my kitchen. From spicy brown for hot dogs to Grey Poupon for vinaigrettes and tuna salad, many dishes are incomplete at best without the spicy heat and flavor of mustard.
While researching "English mustard" for our upcoming DISH food supplement, I stumbled across the table above illustrating the varieties of mustard on Wiki. The illustration has been tagged "Best of Wiki" by users, who rated it as substantially enhancing the article it accompanies.
Peggy Trowbridge Fillipone writes on the history of mustard for about.com:
Mustard is a member of the Brassica family of plants which bears tiny round edible seeds as well as tasty leaves. Its English name, mustard, is derived from a contraction of the Latin mustum ardens meaning burning wine. This is a reference to the spicy heat of the crushed mustard seeds and the French practice of mixing the ground seeds with must, the young, unfermented juice of wine grapes.
Fillipone notes that mustard was used in medicine before it gained prominence as a food condiment:
In the sixth century B.C., Greek scientist Pythagoras used mustard as a remedy for scorpion stings. One hundred years later, Hippocrates used mustard in a variety of medicines and poultices. Mustard plasters were applied to "cure" toothaches and a number of other ailments.
|A potent powder|
The English mustard that started me on this journey is a finely ground mustard blended with flour and turmeric ï¿½ the most famous brand is Colman's, sold in a distinctive yellow tin. Founder Jeremiah Colman perfected the technique of grinding mustard seeds without heat, thus preserving the seeds' flavorful oils. For this accomplishment he was named royal mustard maker to Queen Victoria in 1866.
English mustard powder plays a crucial role in Pub & Kitchen's much-vaunted "roll mops," which were until last week a part of the pub's $3 snack menu. Keep an eye out for our DISH supplement in early May, when we share Pub & Kitchen chef/owner Jonathan McDonald's recipe for roll mops to make at home.
Back in December, I told you about my growing obsession with Bacon Salt, the condiment friends Dave Lefkow and Justin Esch invented in 2007. (It makes things taste like bacon.)
Turns out that there are plenty of others documenting their Bacon Salt fixations on the Internet ï¿½ including THOSE WHO STRUGGLE WITH ADDICTION. According to Dave and Justin's new Web site, dontsnortit.com:
About a year ago, we began to see videos like the following popping up on YouTube. In the video, a young man commits an unspeakable act with one of our products. Please be warned that this may be very difficult to watch and is not appropriate for young children or heart patients.
Needless to say, we were appalled.
Hoping this was just an isolated incident, we went back to our lifeï¿½s mission to make everything taste like bacon. We happily sprinkled our Bacon Salt seasoning on eggs, potatoes, burgers, fries, pasta and an occasional water buffalo. Until we saw this.
More videos and pictures followed. And the scope of the problem began to spread.
According to the British Association for the Creation of Knowledge, two out of every five UK-based teenagers have tried snorting Bacon Salt. Four out of five of these teenagers have at some point felt pressured by their peers to try it. In other countries with severe Bacon Salt shortages, unconfirmed reports of people inhaling crushed pork rinds continue to surface.
In the face of mounting government regulation and hefty legal fees, we are launching this site to help deal with the problem in a very passive-aggressive fashion.
Don't snort Bacon Salt, kids. Put it on your damn pizza instead.
This week, Munish Narula's Tiffin, which boasts restaurant locations in Fishtown and Mount Airy, is officially launching its collection of spice blends, chutneys and sauces for the home cook. Available at Fosters Homeware, the line includes everything from mango chile marinade and pear raisin chutney to garam masala and organic whole fennel seed. Well-priced, too ï¿½ nothing is over $10, with the exception of a pomegranate-infused balsamic vinegar for $18. Peep more at shopfosters.com (search "Tiffin").
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|But will they explode in the microwave?|
Today I just noticed Just Born Sugar-Free Peeps in the hyper-pastel Easter candy aisle at CVS.ï¿½ The diatetic treats are made with Splenda, and carry the appetizing warning that "excessive consumption may cause stomach discomfort and/or a mild laxative effect." Good times! Anyway, since that the female half of Meal Ticket is a card-carrying candy fiend, the sugarless marshmallow chicks had to be put to the test in a side by side comparison with traditional, corn-syrup filled Peeps.
|Traditional Corn-Syrup Peeps||Sugar-Free Splenda Peeps|
|Looks||Slightly mashed and misshapen,
these are less than gorgeous,
even in spring green
|Packaged in a wasteful but effective plastic box, these chicks get the star treatment and wind upï¿½ looking cartoonishly perfect|
$1.50 for 10 Peeps,
|$1.50 for three larger-than-average
Peeps, equaling one serving
|Taste & Texture||Crispy sugar exterior provides a
subtle crunch to the very soft, fresh
Peep marshmallow. Very sweet.
|No sugary crunch or texture contrast. Marshmallow is still soft,
but does not spring back when bitten. Less sweet than regular
Peeps, with a slight chemical off-flavor characteristic of sugar alcohols.
Behaved in the predictable manner, blowing up
Swelled into a hostile blob-like MegaPeep.
140 calories per 5 Peep serving, 0g fat,
60 calories per 3 Peep serving, 0g fat,
Gold-standard Easter basket filler.
Cheap, unhealthy and way sweet.
Lacks the crispy outside/soft inside texture
Visit Just Born's Web site, marshmallowpeeps.com, to find stores that carry Sugar-Free Peeps, or to take a tour of the Just Born factory in Bethlehem.
We're all for slow food, home-cooked and preservative-free. Why buy frozen pizza dough when you can make it at home for fifty cents' worth of flour and yeast? Some things, though, really bite our butts. Like peeling hard-boiled eggs. When all you want is a quick, protein-rich lunch, removing tiny flecks of shell with your germy fingernails is not the kind of labor that builds up an appetite.
Enter Trader Joe's, grocery crush of our miserly little hearts. Yes, the sad produce is individually triple-bagged in styrofoam and cello, but for certain things, TJ's can't be beat. One pound of raw almonds for $6.99? We'll take it. Free samples of pasta alfredo and tiny cups of coffee? Give it here. Likewise for their bag of 10 large hard-boiled and peeled eggs for $3.29. Though not quite the deal of the century, the eggs are perfectly hard-cooked (no creepy green ring-round-the-yolk), raised totally cage-free, and are ready to be mashed into a instant egg salad sandwich.
Trader Joe's, 2121 Market St., 215-569-9282, traderjoes.com
After the jump, the recipe for Cheaters Ever Prosper Egg Salad (with potato chips!).
Cheaters Ever Prosper Egg Salad
(serves one for lunch)
Go Get This:
Three hard-boiled eggs, diced or mashed
A healthy squirt of Frank's Red Hot, Tabasco, whatever hot sauce you like
1/2 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
A turn of fresh-ground black pepper
One Tablespoon ofï¿½ mayonnaise (or to taste, if you like more or less)
Dash of celery salt (for the lazy) OR one stalk celery, diced very small
Generous handful of your fave potato chips ï¿½ I like Lay's Classic Chips
Now Do This:
Combine all ingredients except potato chips in a bowl, blending well. Taste for seasoning, but don't add salt until you top the egg salad with the potato chips. Heap the chips on top of the egg salad and dig in.
|Assemble at home.|
|Photo l Michael Persico|
We are lucky in Philadelphia to have venerable Swedish megastore IKEA so close to hand. Hundred-count bags of tea lights, those fluffy, creepy sheepskin throws and enough disassembled particleboard furniture to keep the entire student body of Drexel, Penn and Temple occupied for years ï¿½ how convenient.
Part of the appeal is the built-in grub options. The inexpensive breakfast and lunch items are popular with both weary shoppers and fixed-income seniors, who will hang out all morning with one 25-cent coffee. We've written before about how spectacularly cheap breakfast and lunch are, in upstairs cafeteria-style eatery to the checkout hot dog haven. Fifty-cent hot dogs?ï¿½ With free relish? Come on. In lean times, we skip shopping and come just for lunch and a chance to skateboard in the parking lot.
Which brings us to the take-away food. The frozen kï¿½ttbullar (Swedish meatballs) have tempted me for years. At $7.99 for a hefty 78-count bag of the little guys, I couldn't resist. I threw in the $1.99 packet ofï¿½ powdered grï¿½ddsï¿½s (cream sauce), too, but did not spring for the $4.99 jar of lingonsylt (lingonberry jam). It just seemed wrong to schmear meatballs with preserves.
The frozen balls are fully cooked, so all you have to do is heat them through. Twenty minutes in the oven at 375 degrees produced dense kï¿½ttbullar with the bouncy bite of a vending machine Superball. These are labeled gluten-free, and the lack of breadcrumbs was evident. Each meatball was a tightly packed flavor delivery system, and overall, not bad.
The packet of grï¿½ddsï¿½s sauce was the biggest surprise. The directions instruct you to bring one cup of water and one-half cup of cream to a boil, but I substituted 1 percent milk and added a pinch of flour to thicken things up. Poured over the hot kï¿½ttbullar and homemade mashed potatoes, the sauce added richness and hint of allspice to the heap. Once I dug in, I realized that the lingonberry jam is necessary to add some brightness and tart acid to a seriously heavy meal.
Total cost, including 4 potatoes for mashing, and milk added to sauce and mash: $10.98. The nutritional information suggests 6 meatballs as a serving, with a calorie cost of 210. Accompanied by cream sauce and a heap of mash, this is a great, cheap meal to precede a night of drinking. We still have dozens of meatballs hanging out in the freezer, waiting for the weekend.
IKEA, 2206 S. Columbus Blvd., 215-551-4532, ikea-usa.com
|Photo l Michael Persico|
Éclat Master Chocolatier Christopher Curtin is used to plaudits, accolades and brown-nosing from culinary luminaries and media types alike. His caramels were named "World's Best" by Vogue (those skinny bitches ate caramels? Oh, false alarm, it was Steingarten), and he was the first American to be named a Konditor [Master Pastry Chef] by Handwerkskammer Zu koln in Cologne, Germany. The candy man is adding a crafty flair to his creations with a new six-pack of truffles infused with local brews. Their release is timed to coincide with the building Beer Week frenzy: The sixer of sweets can be purchased at the Beer Week kickoff event, Opening Tap.
A thick, crisp shell of high cacao-mass chocolate surrounds the creamy truffle centers. They are not too sweet — definitely a grownup's dessert — and the beer flavors are subtle, appearing in the finish of each bite. Curtin selected a variety of styles from the local breweries, from a complementary chocolate stout to sharply contrasting pale ales.
The truffles include Iron Hill oak-aged Cassis, a traditional Belgian sour ale; Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, a brown ale aged in massive wooden vessels; Nodding Head Chocolate Stout; Victory Brewing Hop Wallop; Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout and Yards India Pale Ale.
Éclat's six-pack of beer-infused truffles is $15 and can be purchased at Opening Tap, March 6, 7 p.m. at the Comcast Center, 17th & JFK; Fork, etc., 306 Market St., 215- 625-9425; or by calling Éclat Chocolate, 610-692-5206 for mail order.
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