The multiple-course ancient Abruzzese feast known as La Panarda is returning to Le Virtu (1927 East Passyunk Ave.) this Sunday. Chef/madman Joe Cicala is planning on a 10-plus hour tasting complete with wine pairings and "digestion breaks" for a select group of insane intrepid diners. There must be a minimum of 20 courses for a feast to be considered a Panarda but Cicala has doubled the number with his menu clocking in at 40 plates.
Maccheroni with lamb ragu, chestnut gnocchi and braised mutton stew are just a handful of the plates that are going to be served at this day-long affair, certainly not for the faint-of-dining-heart is going to be. The Le Virtu crew will be lighting fire pits in their patio area so that guests can get a bit of fresh air in-between courses.
Think you have what it takes to tackle La Panarda? (Might want to give GQ's recap a read before committing to the meal.) Tickets are going for $250, kind of crazy cheap considering the massive amounts of food and wine that are going to be on the menu. Give 'em a call at 215-271-5626 to reserve your spot at the table.
While we certainly have a special place in our hearts for Federal Donuts, they aren't the only boutique fried chicken option in town anymore. We headed west to Wishbone (4034 Walnut St.) to sample their craft fried chicken menu.
The University City space, a former Lee's Hoagies has been transformed into a really lovely space with exposed brick, rustic exposed beams and some very classy Christmas decor. The menu is brief, a choice of pretzel-crusted white meat tenders and dark thighs and drumsticks or wings paired with a selection of schmancy dipping sauces like chipotle lime mayo and Pommery honey mustard. To round out the meal there are petite seasonal handpies (think pecan, pumpkin and apple) plus a New Hope fountain featuring health(ish) soda options like watermelon cream, Italian lemon and skinny cane cola.
The verdict? The pretzel-crusted tenders were damned good, sort of like a gown up take on chicken fingers and even better with a side of green goddess. We could do without the cloying Thai red curry dipping sauce. And we've got to say we're suckers for the fountain Pennsylvania birch beer.
Yesterday we swung by the newly opened Rittenhouse outpost of Plenty (1602 Spruce St.) and we've got to say that owners Anthony and Damon Mascieri have done wonders with the former jewelry store space. The bi-level space has been outfitted with repurposed warm wood walls, pressed tin ceiling and cozy cafe seating. On the menu are internationally-inspired sandwiches the the Seoul with bulgogi-marinated short rib and pickled daikon and the Oslo with smoked salmon and horseradish-caper-dill cream.
There are also a handful of breakfast sandwiches (think pancetta hash and fried eggs and brisket), pastries, granola and steel cut oatmeal to pair with pour-over coffees from a roaster of local roasters.
City Council just held hearings and advanced legislation to create a land bank - a long mulled, frequently misunderstood proposal to fold city owned vacant land under a single organization that could streamline land management in a city struggling against blight. After a dust up yesterday afternoon when a leaked email showed Council President Clarke's office attempting to rally community groups against a version of the land bank ordinance without his amendments, the Inquirer reported that pols have apparently hashed out a last minute compromise.