Diamonds might be some girls' best friends, but for foodies, it's all about the snacks.
Waxing Poetic by Pagliei Collection caters to the woman who has everything — except her favorite comfort food around her neck. The sterling silver necklaces are available in your choice of raviolo, wonton, pierogie (not pictured) and tortellino. (FYI, raviolo and tortellino are just one dumpling; ravioli and tortellini are a whole plate of the little guys)
Each 3/4-inch charm and 16-inch chain combination is $38 plus shipping — mix and match for a multicultural buffet.
Baby bok choy, exotic gummies, soba and green tea noodles, S&B curry and
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
Wing Phat Plaza, on Washington Avenue at 11th Street, bustles like Penn Station at rush hour all day long. The anarchic parking lot was surely designed by some mad trickster bent on watching cars wheel and dart as though in a pinball machine. Though you can purchase nail salon supplies, book a trip to Vietnam or drown your stuffy nose in a steaming bowl of pho, the gem of the plaza is the cavernous Hung Vuong Supermarket.
Aisles stuffed with inventory beckon the grocery shopper weary of Whole Foods' dizzying prices or Acme's endless Saturday lines. Produce here is a great bargain — especially if you are keen on the sharp, bitter greens of Filipino cuisine or the various funky fruits of Vietnam — but more familiar grapes, lettuces, onions and apples are stocked, as well. At the stainless-steel barbecue counter, glistening roasted ducks wait patiently for a buyer to convey them home and serve them with pancakes. An expansive seafood counter holds dozens of fish and mollusks, some of them still swimming. Dry goods range from literally a thousand types and shapes of noodles to any of the myriad sauces that lend authentic Far East flavor to home cooking. The selection is so broad, American monoglots could spend all day peering at the mysterious labels searching for what they want.
An entire aisle is dedicated to biscuits, cookies and candy wrapped in cellophane packaging on which cheerful characters romp. The much-hyped Kasugai gummies, purported to be the best in all of Gummy World, are in full force. The melon, mango and kiwi flavors were soft and juicy, packed a realistic, not-too-sweet fruit flavor. Though the litchi flavor was underwhelming, even those pale gels left the Haribo bears in the dust.
Though you might need to call your insurance agent after a zoom through the parking lot, Hung Vuong yields up a treasure in every dizzying aisle.
Hung Vuong Supermarket, 1122-38 Washington Ave., 215-336-2803, phillychinatown.com/grocery_market/hungvuong
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|Add bread and sweets for a graceful gift. |
Showing up to any fete empty-handed isn't just tacky; it virtually guarantees a slash through your name (gauche skinflint) on the next invitation list. Bring your hardworking hostess a useful and green gift this holiday season, like Metropolitan Bakery's new reusable tote stuffed with their homemade granola, decadent chocolate cherry bread and French berry buns for her post-party breakfast. Add a pound of Irish Kerrygold butter and a brace of clementines for maximum gratitude.
The new tote is crafted from jute sustainably harvested from banks of the Ganges River in India, a fiber which is both strong and biodegradable. The reusable bag is oversized for hauling lots of groceries or packaging an edible gift for a homesick Philly local.
$9.99 plus tax at all Metropolitan Bakery locations, (except the café in Farmicia) or call 1-877-41-BREAD.
You are down to five days until Halloween. There are only a few off-hours, one ridiculous idea and one frantic trip to the craft store between you and drunken costume-required bashes. Don't end up hyperventilating in the line at Halloween Adventure on Oct. 31 like you did last year — get ready now and collect compliments on your brilliance later.
Dressing as a clever comestible will surely distinguish you from the hordes of drooling Jokers and slutty Sarah Palins sure to dominate this year's fancy-dress festivities. For the ladies, personifying your favorite cocktail is class itself. Take at peek at the White Russian for evidence: You could assemble your own pale Cossack costume from I. Goldberg or grab the complete look at anytimecostumes.com. Options for a Sex on the Beach ensemble are myriad: the only requirements are sand and lack of shame.
Pick up a novelty snout and steal some baby's security for a Pig in a Blanket costume, or geek out on homonyms wearing a gold thrift store find and multiple carrots on a string around your neck as 14-"Carrot" Gold.
|coolest-homemade-costumes.com | anytimecostumes.com|
CostumeCraze.com boasts a range of majorly edible costumes if you can't stomach the puns. Search for the honey with the money as a bag of Sugar Babies; or make the scene as everyone's favorite potted meat, Spam. Babies are never cuter than when they're dressed as food, so package the little guy in a Wonder Bread bunting and use him as a bait to gather more candy.
Coolest-Homemade-Costumes.com has galleries full of good ideas to cop: the pair of Dunkin Donuts look delicious and are safe from barfly toe-stompers.
|"I have hot kielbasa for you."|
NEW YORK (AP) — A Brooklyn butcher shop worker called his specialty "hot kielbasa" — for snorting, not eating. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the kielbasa was really cocaine — not the Polish sausage sold in a popular meat market.
According to a criminal complaint, the "hot kielbasa" was kept in the basement.
Twenty-six suspects are under arrest, including the butcher, after an FBI informant visited the shop in response to the message: "Come to the store, I have hot kielbasa for you."
Homoerotic implications aside, what kind of a fool prefers stepped-on coke from a butcher's basement to the pride of the Poles, kielbasy? The smoked delight is available in its finest form at the Northeast's own Czerw's Kielbasy (say it with me: Chev's kil-ba-sa) hidden away on Tilton Street.
|Not Czerw's, but you get the idea.|
The three brothers Czerw and their mother run the homemade Polish food business, which their grandfather founded 65 years ago. The Czerw's Web site proudly states that their kielbasy is made with tender pork butts and smoked in old-fashioned brick oven smokehouses using only seasoned, natural fruit woods. In addition to their mainstay sausages, Czerw's makes pierogies with stuffings both traditional (potato, cheese, sauerkraut, onions) and nouveau (Buffalo chicken, pepperoni and cheese, Philly cheesesteak).
Venture beyond pierogies: take home a package of Mom Czerw's Golabki (try saying ga-WUMP-ki), beef- and rice-stuffed cabbage in a thin and tangy tomato sauce; or the Polish Slim Jim, hot Kabanosa. Bring a bottle of water for that thing. The bounty of Mom Czerw and sons is only available for purchase Tuesday through Saturday; they open at 7 a.m. on Saturday and sell out fast. Don't lag in bed or you will go home disappointed.
While those fool butchers sit in jail wondering how it all went wrong, cruise up I-95 toward Czerw's for revelatory home cooking — a sweet, smoky reward for living life on the straight and narrow.
Czerw's Kielbasy, 3370 Tilton St., 215-423-1707, kielbasyboys.com
|Slide over here, my little lamb.|
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
I'm a whore for good buns, which I'll say now before some other smart-ass does. Here in Philly, where we will get in to fistfights over the best cheesesteak house, sandwich bread is Serious Business. Old school South Philly bakeries Sarcone's, Cacia's and Faragalli's turn out the choicest chewy torpedo-shaped rolls for hoagie and cheesesteak purposes, but the noble burger requires a gentler hand.
Wild Flour Bakery in the the Northeast bakes the eggy rolls that ensconce the city's best burgers: the Good Dog's stuffed patty oozing lavalike cheese, the oft-lauded Rouge Burger; none would be where they are without the delicate, smashable bun that blends so magically with medium-rare juices.
Though Wild Flour is primarily a wholesale bakery, they accomodate Philadelphians' insatiable need for bitchin' bread at their retail stand in the Headhouse Farmer's Market. Gruyere-proscuitto croissants, free-form loaves of rye with cracked caraway, and snowflake dinner rolls flirt, demanding that every hungry locavore stop and slaver.
As if this heap of carbs and happiness wasn't tempting enough, Wild Flour has added six-count bags of wee challah slider rolls, which are so off the cuteness charts they cannot be denied.
Inspired by two bags of the petite pains, I attacked the Sunday morning market on a mission to make a slider worthy of such a fine bun. Hillacres farm yielded up a package of lovely ground heritage lamb; Margerum's a crop of fresh mint, oregano and shallots. Thus armed, I dragged my cast iron skillet to dad's house and converted everyone into a lamb lover. Recipe for Carried Away by Cuteness Lamb Sliders after the jump.
|Wee little challah rolls: so shiny, so eggy.|
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
(serves 4-6 people as an appetizer or fat-kid snack)
12 Wild Flour challah slider rolls
1 lb. Hillacres Farm ground lamb
3 big sprigs mint, rinsed and dried
2 big sprigs oregano, rinsed and dried
2 not so big shallots
1 tablespoon of butter
salt, pepper, dash of cumin
THEN DO THIS:
1. Peel the shallots, dice small. They are already small so this shouldn't be hard.
2. Pick the herbs off their stems. Reserve one sprig each mint and oregano for topping the sliders.
3. Chiffonade the herbs, excepting the ones you reserved for topping. Chiffonade is just stacking the leaves together, rolling them up like a tiny cigar, and then slicing across thinly to create a pile of skinny strips. You can do it!
4. In a small saute pan over medium heat, melt a tablespoon of butter, and gently sweat half of your pile of shallots for about 2 minutes. Don't char the little things, just let them soften up.
5. In a bowl, combine the raw ground lamb, the sauteed shallots with their butter, the raw shallots, the chiffonade herbs and a dash o' salt, pepper, and cumin. Combine well until the various elements are homogenized.
6. Heat a pan-preferably a heavy cast iron skillet- over a medium flame. While the pan heats, shape the lamb mixture into 12 small balls. Press them down lightly to make a mini burger shape.
7. Cook the sliders 6 at a time in the hot pan. Once placed on the pan, don't move the burgers for the first three minutes of cooking, so they can sear and not stick to the pan. Do not squash them with your utensil. It mashes all of the tasty tasty juices out of the burger.
8. Flip after three minutes, and cook for just another minute on the second side. These are meant to be eaten mid-rare to medium, and they are small, so please, no well-done sadness.
9. Slice the wee little challah buns and insert your baby lamb sliders. Top with 2 whole mint leaves and 2 whole oregano leaves.
10. Eat. You're welcome.
|The indispensable and deadly cast-iron skillet.|
|Photo l Felicia D'Ambrosio|
|You're so pretty.|
Working at a media outlet means laboring beneath a trembling avalanche of unsolicited information every day.
Snowdrifts of faxes, endless e-mails, stolen Post Office cartons heaped
with paper mail and mystery packages share City Paper's office space
with staffers. Even Batman the Canary gets mail.
But good deals abound in these menacing piles — if you know where to look. When kitchenware catalog Sur La Table landed on my desk, I was helplessly sucked into their tasteful retrograde housewife fantasy land.
Prominently featured are highly coveted stovetop "ovens" (read: heavy lidded pots) from French cookware giant Le Creuset. Prized by home cooks and chefs alike, Le Creuset pieces are cast-iron and enameled in brilliant crayon-box colors. Lidded cast-iron cooking pots transfer heat evenly and are the ideal vessel for braising meats and creating slow-cooked one-pot meals. But though visions of coq au vin and short ribs that fall apart at the slightly touch of the fork dance in my head, a glance at the prices provides the reality check.
A 3.5-quart Round Cast Iron French Oven rings up at a healthy $174.95, but 3.5 quarts is not really big enough to make dinner for six, which is why you're buying the damn thing anyway (so you can have legendary dinner parties and make your friends jealous/full). More useful is the 5.5-quart version, priced at $219.95. I shudder to think what shipping the hefty cast iron cocotte costs.
The "good deal" part arrives in the form of more temptation: Spend $250 on Le Creuset via Sur La Table, and the'll throw in the $70 Le Creuset 8-quart enameled steel stockpot. Jesus Julia Child, that's exciting! With a choice of deliciously named colors (Dijon! Kiwi! Caribbean!), this might be the ultimate food nerd shopping bonus/holiday gift. The deal is valid until December 31, 2008.
So dig out your friendliest APR credit card and invest in a pot you can hand down to your grandchildren — but not before you host some tres serious group suppers.
Sur La Table, 1-800-243-0852, surlatable.com
|Produce in plastic is so last century.|
|Image courtesy BYO Bags|
By now it’s de rigeur for eco-conscious shoppers to tote their own reusable bags. Take a huge step toward banishing plastic bags from your life (and from under your sink) with nylon mesh BYO Bags for produce. Ann Hansen of coolhats.biz created the lightweight and washable sacks after becoming discouraged with using hard-to-open and harder-to-recycle plastic bags in supermarket produce sections.
The adorable drawstring satchels come in sets of three. They're $9 per set plus $1 shipping at coolhats.biz, or purchase them locally at Big Green Earth (239 Market St., 267-909-8661), where the set of three is $14. Whip them out to receive your dirty little beets at the Headhouse Farmer's Market for the ultimate in obsessively sustainable chic.
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