National Puppy Day (or: Gratuitous Great Dane Puppy Pics)

Once upon a time, in June of 2014 (which practically feels like an eternity ago and WILL I EVER BE ABLE TO FEEL MY FINGERS AGAIN?!), a new man entered my life. Only instead of really being a man, he was just a baby. And actually…. he was a puppy. His name was Cornwallis (though he immediately became Wally) and it was pretty much love at first sight.

Hello little man, welcome home!

Hello little man, welcome home!

He’s not even a year old yet. But, since it’s National Puppy Day (sure, that’s a thing!) and I love him even though we recently discovered I’m allergic to his saliva (lucky me, he is the drooliest dude in the kingdom), I figured…. why not?

He puts the Dane in Dainty (you just have to sound it out)…. Wally Dog, Beast of the East.

Just for scale, this is the first picture we have of our little baby.

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I know. I really do.

And now… some recent snapshots.

Sometimes he’s sleepy. Must be all the growing.

Supporting his favorite rugby team, the Rabbitohs. That is a queen sized bed.

Supporting his favorite rugby team, the Rabbitohs. That is a queen sized bed.

Sometimes, he is a gentleman.

Please, have a seat in my office. Would you like a water bottle to chew on?

Please, have a seat in my office. Would you like a water bottle to chew on?

He is never a scholar, because he is actually quite a fool.

Most of the time… he is trying to play with my mother. Who, for the record, is 5’4″ on a good day.

Dwarfed by the dog

Dwarfed by the dog

But, no matter how big he gets (last measurements, he’s taller than she (easily) and weighs about 145 lbs), he will always be our little puppy brother.

Our first meeting. I'm smitten.

Our first meeting. I’m smitten.

Happy National Puppy Day to all you dog lovers out there, and thank you for tolerating my excuse for gratuitous Great Dane pics.

The Best App You’ve Never Heard Of

Here’s the thing: I’m no Craig LaBan, my favorite Philly food critic. But, as Marc Vetri implied and Sandy Hingston supported, perhaps traditional food journalism and critique are a thing of the past. It’s no surprise to many of you that I’m a wildly active Yelper. I’ve been known to review restaurants on my blog, and I’ll talk about the Philly food and drink scene with anyone who will listen. And probably some people who don’t want to listen.

No, seriously. The lamb at Zahav will NOT QUIT, stranger on SEPTA! You feel me?!

Because of this, when a friend of mine mentioned off-hand some app coming to Philly looking for “tastemakers”, I was intrigued. What I stumbled onto (thanks to Google and a few email forwards) wasTastemade, an app I was shocked I’d never even heard of before. And, with a quick download and a few clicks of some buttons, I was on it like brown and cilantro on rice (can you tell I’m hungry?)

Photo from the Tastemade Site

Photo from the Tastemade Site

Tastemade basically seems like a way to rave about your favorite food spots in Philly or BEYOND! However, instead of mere photos and words to paint the picture, you’re able to take videos, mash them together with some built-in bits and pieces like music and filters, and VOILA you’re a regular producer.

You can either choose a quick take (just a few quick snippets) or a “Full Scoop” video, which only ends up being about a minute long.

Gimme that full scoop!

Gimme that full scoop!

If you do a “Full Scoop” you’re expected to get on film (read: SELFIE VIDEOS!) and take a bit of footage to capture the ambiance and the food. You can choose different themes for different spots, and there’s matching background music to pair with each (that’s all the words on the bottom, like Quartet, Postcard, UP LATE, etc).

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Apparently this is a real spot in Camden!

I’ll admit, it took me a minute to knock away the initial oddness of filming myself in random places (‘Scuse me? Miss? Are you filming those vegetables or can I take a squash?) but once I got past it, it kinda felt like being a hot shot Food Network champ for a few seconds. And who better to share the best spots to eat in a city than the folks that are experiencing it RIGHT THAT MOMENT?!

I’ve so far done three videos but, after hitting up the Philly Tastemade Launch Party last night, I’m feeling pretty stoked to do more. PLUS with the impending trip to NYC to visit my best buddy for her birthday, we’re dining at a buncha spots unreviewed. As Claire stated: They’re MINE FOR THE TAKING TASTING (see what I did there?)!

Wanna see me talk about hummus? Interested in capturing moments like this tasty screenshot?

Precious moments

Precious moments

Scope out the @foodsweatnbeers Tastemade Page! Join and let me hear how weird YOUR voice sounds on camera! HELP NORMALIZE VIDEO SELFIES!

(And don’t blame me when folks start walking into tables at your local restaurant whilst trying to capture selfie ambiance all at once…. I recommend sitting or standing still.)

The 5 Devices and Services That Changed My Life

Life is full of crossroads.

Some are Blues inspired musical dramas

You know that’s not what I mean.

Britney gets it

Nope. Not even close.

Bone Thugs get it.

Oh, come on. Now you’re just being silly.

Nope. They’re those points in life where you make a decision, and everything changes. I’ve had quite a few. The joyful decision to head to Chapel Hill for undergrad and the terrifying one to leave North Carolina 7 years later.

The most heartbreaking decision that was made for me, not by me.

And, of course, the most important, life changing decision of all that I made almost 5 years ago today (March 21, 2010, at 215 lbs). It’s insane to look back at what can change over 5 years. And, though I know that it takes a strong, independent woman to take that leap, I also recognize that I couldn’t and wouldn’t be who I am without a little help. Some helpers were monumental, and some may seem small, but all 5 have one thing in common: they brought me where I am today (and, in case you didn’t catch it, that’s a place where I am blissfully happy.)

  1. The Big One: Weight Watchers
    I was never one for dieting, growing up. I actually didn’t realize I had put on a ton of weight until I felt like a balloon. I’ve written about my success with Weight Watchers in the past, but I’d be extremely remiss to not mention it. Because it not only changed the way I look and think about food, it made me begin cooking and falling in love with food. So that’s a given.
  2. Heart Rate Monitor / FitBit
    It’s like two generations of the same big change. My initial Garmin FR60 was actually a prize from an online contest. And it changed the way I worked out. Suddenly, I was competing again, even if it was just against myself. I watched my efforts steadily increase, I could see improvement in my workouts. And now, with the FitBit, I actively strive to walk and hit my step goal every day. I am sure it’s pretty apparent, but I love technology. And being able to utilize it to improve my physical fitness, to me, is the bees knees.
  3. Vegetti
    Wait a minute. Does everyone know of the power and glory of zoodles (zucchini noodles)?
    Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.25.31 PMTruly, these, the next generation of spaghetti squash, have totally rocked my world. I got a Vegetti sometime over the summer, and I never looked back. I probably eat zoodles about 3x a week (spaghetti squash almost that often when it’s in season) but all of the sudden I’m able to have filling, nutrition lunches that taste wonderful and can take the spot of spaghetti.I know, it seems like a little thing. But goodness, it’s just… everything.
  4. Untappd
    So life is all about moderation, right? There was a time, at the beginning of this journey, where ALL I could think about was food-in, exercise-out, and almost no extracurricular activities. And then I found Untappd, my favorite beer-tracking app, and the craft beer community. And it added some spice back into my life.

    Ahhh remember June 2011? I was just a baby!

    Ahhh remember June 2011? I was just a baby!

    Now, I track my brews religiously, I socialize with friends near and far, AND it’s given me a great hobby and brought my into this pretty fantastic beer gaggle. All work and no play makes Jordy a dull girl. And craft beer variety…. well, that’s the spice of life.

  5. ClassPass
    Sure, initially I started writing about ClassPass because they gave me a free month to try it out and I wanted to review.

    Nope. That's not me. I get way sweatier.

    Nope. That’s not me. I get way sweatier than these chicks.

    Now, all the sudden, I’m scheduling two-a-days. I’m throwing my entire body into my workout instead of visiting a bland Zumba class and feeling whiny about the slow music and repetitive moves. I’m getting bendy at yoga, I’m leaving it all in the studio at FlyWheel, and, as I just recently purchased my OWN ClassPass, I’m actually down almost 10 lbs since I started. Not only this, my pants are fitting better and I think the switch from pure cardio to strength, cardio, stretching, and tiny muscle movements like Barre classes…. I can feel my body changing. My mom and dad noticed it, I even braved my winter bod to try on/buy some bathing suits at Target!

    I know. You can hold your applause until we’re together in person. This ClassPass thing has just brought a renewed excitement into my fitness regime.

It’s been a pretty incredible 5 years. And for those of you who have been reading for a while, thanks for sticking with it. For everyone else, so glad you’re along for any of this ride. Who KNOWS where the next five will take us?

What’s the biggest change in your life that’s occurred over the past 5 years?

That Time Yards Brewery Took Me on a Date

Who would’ve thought that an abysmal “attempt” at a date in college would’ve led to a night on the town courtesy of one of my favorite local breweries, Yards? In honor of Valentine’s Day, love, and (most importantly) their malty, rich brew, Love Stout, Yards hosted a contest online for the entrant with the worst date they wish they could “do over”. And I can’t tell if I should be proud or ashamed of this, but yours truly was the lucky winner!10404855_10153025475933070_5522467349947890047_n

However, the misfortune of 19 year old Jordan proved the boon for the Jordan of today! And after shooting a few congratulatory emails and scooping around to find a suitable date partner, I was treated to a #LoveStoutDoOver Date this past weekend! Our first stop was the PHS Flower Show, one of Philly’s signature yearly events that brings visitors from all over to bask in floral glory at what blooms can be transformed into by talented horticulturists, florists, and gardeners alike.

GUESS THE DISNEY MOVIE!!

GUESS THE DISNEY MOVIE!!

This year’s theme was “Movies” (namely, Disney flicks) and it was truly impressive to see this flora recreate some of my favorite flicks. My top two favorites (pictured above)included a beloved movie (left, can you guess?) and one I hadn’t seen (right, a little tougher, and it’s NOT Aladdin!) But the best was yet to come. Because, considering how well their annual Pop-Up Beer Garden has been going the past few years, PHS decided to establish one inside the convention center!

Yards treated us to eats and, of course, beverages.

Roast beef and cold Philly Pale Ale -- Can't beat it!

Roast beef and cold Philly Pale Ale — Can’t beat it!

I tried (and surprisingly enjoyed!) the PHS Horticulture Cider whipped up by Wyndridge Farm especially for the show, but knew we had bigger fish to fry (oysters are fish, right?)

We boogied home to change into some more “date night” appropriate attire and digest our late lunch, in order to clear some room for a romantic trip to Pennsylvania 6… that NEARLY turned into another date that needed doing over!

If you’ve never been to Pennsylvania 6, it’s a pretty cozy establishment. At night time, the tables have tea light candles, and it’s all very cute. Know what that’s not good for?

A 6’1″ oaf rocking a puffy coat and trying to be “dainty”.

Upon my arrival do you think I:

a) ran into the table?

b) bumped into a water glass having it fall on the table?

c) accidentally dipped my coat into a neighbor’s drink?

d) nearly burnt a menu?

If you chose: E) all of the above, CONGRATULATIONS!

Sorry candle. Sorry water glass.

Sorry candle. Sorry water glass.

All was forgiven and forgotten (except by the table got the jacket dip, I’m pretty sure they’re still pretty ticked.

And then, our oysters (fried and raw) and Love Stout were dropped off, complete with adorable miniature Tabasco sauce. So I felt better.

Pardon that camera tilt, I felt so awkward snapping shots with a DSLR in a tight squeeze like PA6!

Pardon that camera tilt, I felt so awkward snapping shots with a DSLR in a tight squeeze like PA6!

My dish was the winner, IMHO, and was a slow roasted bone-in short rib that just fell apart at the mere suggestion of a fork.

Yup.

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We took our “dessert” (a six-pack of Love Stout) and some Yards goodies home, and they even treated us to cab fare (because they’re classy like that).

SO despite my clumsiest, best efforts at ruining a date on my own terms, Yards in fact took me and my date out on a lovely evening and treated me like a lady.

….I hope they call soon.

(Meat)Ball So Hard on South Street

I never had one of those Italian grandmothers that you see in the media. You know, the short, plump ladies who you never see without an apron, hand permanently glued to a saucy wooden spoon that practically lives in the kitchen.

“Eat, eat! You’re wasting away!!”

My grandmothers’ specialties were deviled eggs and baked beans, or sneaking me Godiva chocolates from the fridge. Needless to say, I loved them…. But I kinda liked the idea this Italian grandma. Someone whose only goal was to fill the bellies and hearts of everyone around her and keep the house warm and smelling of gravy and sausage. It’s no surprise, then, that I immediately felt at home walking into the doors of Me N Mo, South Street’s new meatball home, specializing in balls of meat and pasta to eat!

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I was lucky enough to attend a pretty fantastic grand opening party and the staff pulled out all the stops. And, by all the stops, I mean just about any meatball you could imagine!

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Stuffing fontina into meatballs? Brilliant.

Making ANY chicken based dish Buffalo-style? My kinda joint.

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They also have some more traditional options, including spicy pork and beef. But, oddly enough, my favorite was a combination I never even considered.

I believe they call this their "Hong Kong" meatball

I believe they call this their “Hong Kong” meatball

Pork and Shrimp?! No, these bad boys aren’t Kosher at all. But they ARE delicious, moist, and jam-packed with savory flavor.

As I am a dainty and delicate lady, I made sure to enjoy tiny portions of each. I literally couldn’t stop eating these saucy spheres.

This may or may not have been my second plate.

This may or may not have been my second plate.

The cost for four meatballs of any type and some Sarcone’s bread is $8 which is honestly a little steep for beef meatballs alone, IMHO. However, I think that for some of the more interesting options (Pork and shrimp, lamb!!) it would be worth a trip. Surprisingly, the vegetarian balls tied for second place for me and my buddies. So whether you want your balls meaty and spicy, meat-free and creamy (their mushroom-cream sauce would be a great option for the veg-heads!), Me N Mo has got you covered. You can also get a buttload of balls from their catering menu, as a few of my friends did for Super Bowl Sunday this year. Nice little variety from the standard pizza and wings offerings, and who doesn’t wanna show up to a party armed with buckets of balls?

….Maybe don’t answer that.

Me N Mo: Meatballs & MORE!
214 South Street
Philadelphia, PA

Townsend does East Passyunk Restaurant Week…. perfectly.

Fun Facts about Chef Townsend Wentz:

  • He goes by Tod.
  • He’s a pro at deboning entire pigs (check it out!) and posting it on Instagram
  • Homeboy KNOWS how to do Restaurant Week right.

I’ve always been a little wary of restaurant week. My inner cheapskate breaks down the numbers of the restaurants offering everything from special dishes to old favorites to one-off dessert experiments, and weighs this with my typical levels of hunger. Most often, the result is a decisive Nahh, I’ll just wait for the crowds to die down and order the exact amount of food I want for the price I expect/am willing to pay. 

That said, when I saw that East Passyunk Avenue, Philly’s hottest nook of up-and-coming dining spots, was hosting their own neighborhood restaurant week, I immediately raced over to OpenTable to make a reservation for my two girlfriends and I. I gotta say that, while I was A-OK with the mandatory phone-in reservation at Zahav a few weeks ago, there’s a remarkable ease and convenience to being able to filter using number of diners, date, and time when we were looking for a Monday night out on the town. We spotted space at Townsend and booked it post-haste.

We made the right choice.

You can look at the EPRW menu here if you’d like, OR you can check out this difficult-to-read but beautifully lit photograph below.

Elegant and simple

Elegant and simple

Since there were three of us, we figured we’d try one of each course. Then we saw that one of the first courses was a foie gras butternut squash terrine. And since I’d just binged on terrines last week…. looks like we’re doubling up on Brandades!

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Course one (served shortly after a DIVINE bread basket [that may have been divine or may have merely been ‘good’, we were pretty hungry]) included a creamy parsnip veloute with brown butter chestnuts, a hint of black truffle, and just enough brussels sprout leaves to leave us wanting more (hee hee). The brandade, a dish I’d never had before, was a crunchy brioche topped with a quail egg, shellfish bouillabaisse, and pernod. How such a tiny little toasty brioche could be so full of flavor…. well I don’t (per)nod, but it was incredible. The veloute was rich and creamy, a nice complement to the light fluff and crunch of the other appetizer. But the best was yet to come…

Enter: the mother lode

Enter: the mother lode

I’ll shoot you straight, the saffron malloreddus, pictured top right, was a little cold by the time it got to us. Flavor-wise, it was fairly unremarkable, and the tastes of caramelized onions and fennel, while there, were hints. If you were only getting this dish, I would not consider your experience worthwhile. BUT if you’re lucky enough to have some dining pals, perhaps they’ll slip you bites of the glorious speck-wrapped cod (bottom right) atop Tarbais bean garbure with tiny cockles (that came with their own fork!) This fish fell apart the moment your fork touched it, delicate… dare I say exquisite?

Oh, if I dared, I’ll repeat that word for the venison en crepinette (different from the online menu, description here). Exquisite. We nearly came to (fork) blows over these half-dollar sized medallions, each soaking up the jus and pairing perfectly with the parsnip pureé. This dish would bring me back again and again.

Somehow, we had room for dessert. Luckily, it was both light and a delight.

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The crème brûlée, flawless. Visible vanilla bean is my jam. The blue cheese plate was a nice tangy option for those without a sweet tooth. And for those WITH a sweet tooth: enter pavlova. No, she’s not your exotic, sexy neighbor (maybe she is, I don’t know where you live). She is actually an it, specifically a crunchy meringue dish topped with mixed berries and strawberry coulis, speckled with fresh mint.

Yup. Imagine the finest cotton candy you can even fathom. And then make it fancy, and French, and bury it in berries. We couldn’t get enough.

Take your dates, your dads, your dudes, your dames, yourself, take them all to Townsend. I’ll be back soon to try out their take on rabbit…. I’ve only heard (read* since I practically live on Yelp) the best things.

Thanks, Tod and team, for the tasty treats.

Cinder-eat-a: A Night Out at #PhillyCooks

As far as princesses go, I’ve never identified much with CInderella. Sure, I’m blond and my whistling skills have been known to call woodland critters to my side (though, in Philly, it’s mostly pigeons and Rittenhouse rats. Gross.) But I can’t stand house cleaning, I get along famously with my siblings and mother, and I’m rubbish on heels, glass or otherwise.

Last night, however, I think I had my Cinderella moment. Instead of a fairy godmother, I had the team from Philadelphia Magazine as my benefactor. My pumpkin coach was an UberX, and my gown was a hastily thrown together number sourced from Athleta and Nordstrom. Most importantly, instead of seeking out a dance with the handsome prince, I was here for one reason.

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Philly Cooks.

One of the city’s premier dining and drinking experiences, this soirée is put on every year by Foobooz, my go-to for all Food and Booze news in Philly. Tickets range from $85 for the early birds to $100. This plucky princess managed to win a pair, due to some sort of pixie dust I’m sure. And so I grabbed my date (read: my mom) and headed to the castle Marriott.

Imagine an enormous room with vaulted ceilings, complete with warm lighting and the dull roar of live music, chock full of Philly foodies, sprinkled with some of the top chefs in every genre of edibles from neighborhoods far and wide.

Yup, I was in paradise.

Yup, I was in paradise.

From ceviche and smoked salmon to pork, pizza, and potatoes to more terrine than you could shake a stick at (seriously…. what’s with all the terrine, chefs?) With a gauzy, tent-like speakeasy stationed in the middle of the vast space pouring cocktails from Franky Bradley’s, Olde Bar, and Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co. (my personal favorite was a Reverse Valencia from Olde Bar – Tanqueray, Oloroso Sherry, Manzanilla Sherry, and apple bitters), the party was in full swing by the time we arrived around 7pm.

Cocktail line-up looking so fly

Cocktail line-up looking so fly

After we obtained our beverages of choice, we began to loop around. Laurel’s Nicholas Elmi (who all Top Chef fans know as a winnnnnerrrr and all Philly folks know as proprietor of restaurant you can’t get reservations to) started off my night the right way with duck confit and foam, and the party kept going strong from there.

I’ll shoot you straight, when you’re surrounded by ravenous hoards of hungry folks all queueing up for tiny plates, whipping out your phone for photos becomes low on the priority list. In fact, I kinda forgot about it for some standouts. Like, sure I can’t recall EXACTLY where I consumed the most divine lobster (maybe) grilled cheese and tomato soup, when my mother thrust it in my hands (Maybe… The Hunt Room?). But I guess when I went back for my 2nd 3rd, let’s be honest here, slow roasted boar and foccaccia panino with pickled red onion, I deemed it worth for a photo (SERIOUSLY SOMEONE TAKE ME TO CAPOFITTO POST HASTE!)

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I want to fall asleep on this soft focaccia next to a pile of that boar. Is that an appropriate way to describe food?

Probably.

Weirdly enough, though I rarely have much of a sweet tooth, the dessert area was my dream-come-true last night. Wonder why….

Sweet Box glory

Sweet Box glory

Goat cheese ANGLAISE?

Goat cheese ANGLAISE?

Huge up to The Master’s Baker, who have given a new lease on my concept of goat cheese’s LIFE.

But then, I reached the mecca.

Oh, what's that? JUST A S'MORES BAR!

Oh, what’s that? JUST A S’MORES BAR!

Yup, 10 Arts brought the HEAT quite literally. Because, in case you didn’t know, s’mores are my favorite dessert. Want proof?

YOU GOT YOUR PROOF

YOU GOT YOUR PROOF

That’s unbridled joy at the thought of consuming a s’more consisting of graham cracker, housemade marshmallow, AND A REESES CUP.

The rest of the night was a blur of snacking, sipping, spinning around in awe, and sadly seeing some spots sans sustenance. By 8pm, a TON of vendors were fresh out. Made me wish we’d come early, but no one wants to be THAT Cinderella. Princesses need to make an entrance. And as my stomach swelled happily, and the clock struck midnight (JK it ended at 9pm but all that eating tuckers a gal out), my mother and I raced down the escalators, pausing only for one farewell photo.

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Foobooz and Philly, you know how to feed a gal. And you just let me know if you spot any glass slippers in a women’s size 12. I’m not saying they’re mine or anything…. but you wouldn’t believe the blisters those puppies give ya!

Zahav’s Temporary Transformation: The Lamb Shack

If anyone says they heard the term “Lamb Shack” and didn’t immediately start thinking in terms of the B-52’s 1989 hit, they’re a liar. Or they were born in the 1990s. Either way, I probably would avoid hanging out with them, and instead click this link and listen to it while you’re reading along. It’ll bring you along for one of the more delicious rides of my life.

(apologies for the lousy pictures, hate to whip out the DSLR on a date in a fancy resto…)

Having followed Mike Solomonov’s work religiously since I moved to Philadelphia like some sort of food-groupie, when I heard that one of the most coveted dishes in Philadelphia was going to be available to the huddled masses, I immediately called to make a reservation. If you’re not “in the know”, this legendary dish, a whole lamb shoulder, is described better by Adam Erace, so I’d recommend checking out his review. This dish is typically reserved for parties of 4+ and has to be ordered in advance. For the brief month of February, though, Zahav decided to offer this decadent meal to every visitor for a mere $36 per guest (along with the standard fare of hummus tehina, house made pita, vegetarian salatim, and a dessert).

Oh, it’s also BYOB.

Yup, the hits keep coming. But let’s get to the good stuff.

Salatim and hummus

Salatim and hummus

Six different vegetarian sides that almost almost make you forget you’re about to devour a hunk of lamb so rich, so flavorful that you can taste the fields in Colorado where the lamb grazed. My absolute favorite sides were the pickled cabbage and onions, the twice-cooked eggplant, and a tabbouleh salad with pomegranate arils littered throughout. All of this served with house-baked pita that was sprinkled with spices.

Don't worry, I promptly cleared this plate for the main event.

Don’t worry, I promptly cleared this plate for the main event.

But I knew, despite the cloud-like pillow of pita in front of me spread with assorted salads and dips, the best was yet to come. And then…. it came. And it might just be the delicious smells that surrounded me, or the killer 90s soundtrack that blasted through the tented rooms that resembled the inside of some sort of casbah… maybe it was the second glass of Shiraz. But I’m pretty sure that my waiter was briefly replaced with an angel who floated a tray of meat my way.

hubba hubba

hubba hubba

That angel deposited the goods on our table, my date and I shared a moment or pre-meal bliss, and we began to carve our lamb.

One word: Nirvana.

Served on a bed of Persian rice and chickpeas, this hunk of fatty, flavorful, tender and incredibly juicy meat just fell apart at my touch. And then I fell apart with each bite. We tackled as much as we could, but we made sure to hold out a bit of extra space in our tummies.

The grand finale:

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Chocolate kanafi – basically a bird’s nest of shredded phyllo dough filled with a melted chocolate ganache and topped with a dollop of passionfruit mascarpone (which was maybe a hint too tart for my tastes). The ganache was like a gentle chocolate lava that oozed into my mouth and filled me with assurance that everything would be okay.

We waddled home, our to-go bag running over with leftovers, knowing full well the glory that awaited us the next morning. Because you better believe, when a meal is this good on a Saturday night…

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…Topped with an egg or two, it’s going to be even better on a Sunday morning.

They’ve still got a few reservations if you wanna try to sneak in before March hits Philly (give them a call at 215-625-8800). And if you can’t get in before then, find yourself a handful of friends that dig good food and round em all up. You won’t regret it.

ClassPass in Philly: A Review from a Center City Gal

(Heads up: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I make a few dollars if you sign up for ClassPass using this link [You’ll also be able to skip the waitlist!] I received no compensation for writing this post, however, and all opinions are my own.)

Ok, phew, had to get that out there. Because the thing is: I LOVED my complimentary month (and some change) of ClassPass (in case you missed THAT whole announcement or initial feelings). And I’m really impressed with the progress I made in my classes I attended. Unfortunately for me, my time with CP fell during the holidays and two longer weekend trips, which resulted in me attending about 16 classes over the course of my 43ish days. This WOULD have cost about $150 on ClassPass (pro-rating my half month, and basing it on the former prices).

Pretty happy camper, over here

Pretty happy ClassPass-Kid, over here

I think I visited something like 8 studios (two for spinning, two for yoga, two for barre, one for rowing, and one for cross-training) which is definitely not even close to scratching the surface of the options. And this worked for me. I went 110% in every class, I enjoyed all but two, and I fell in love with a few. That said, as of right now, I’m going to hold off on renewing my ClassPass. Partially this is because of my personal circumstances, which are currently a little helter skelter at work with a fair amount of “off-schedule” hours coming up, partially because I’m commuting to-and-from Wilmington every now and then which can really cut into my after-work and before-work workouts, but mostly because, despite their recent drop of prices from $99 to $79 per month in Philly, the cheapskate within is not sure the increase of $35 from my standard gym membership is worth it (however, that recent drop in prices may have me checking back in come March!!)

The PROS of ClassPass

  • Diversity of classes. Y’ALL, there’s a ROWING class!! There’s yoga, hot yoga, power yoga, Lithe Method, spinning (total FlyWheel convert over here), cross-training (weights! Cardio! Yoga! OH MY!) bootcamps, and things I have never heard of (and still haven’t tried yet…) No need to get in a rut when you’ve got all these options!

    Sick form on that stroke, eh?

    Sick form on that stroke, eh?

  • TECHNOLOGY! I love the App, the website is super easy to use, and some of the studios (COUGH FLYWHEEL COUGH) even give you the bonus tech of THEIR sites. Below is a report of my 4 FlyWheel classes. Pretty amazing way to track progress and how you perform day to day!

    Clearly Monday, January 26 I became an ANIMAL

    Clearly Monday, January 26 I became an ANIMAL

  • The Studios Themselves: ClassPass has done an amazing job of getting the TOP fitness studios in Philadelphia signed up. If I’d taken 16 classes individually, I likely would’ve spent at least $300. And then been kicked out of my apartment for inability to pay rent. These are the finest, cleanest, most-updated studios in the area. And I loved being a part of them all, in some capacity.

The CONS of ClassPass

  • The diversity is spread PRETTY far…. Here are all the classes offered in “Philadelphia Metro Area”:Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 4.42.47 PMNot too shabby, right? Except, as a woman without a car (and no real interest in trying to get one just to work out), THESE are the studios I can/would go to:Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 5.03.40 PMAnd even some of those in the Northeast are pushing it…. It’s still more than my current gym offers, but far less than it appears in that first map.
  • The cost Whoah. As I was writing this up, CP dropped down to $79… and suddenly seems less out of reach and more… manageable.
  • ClassPass classes only: Lots of studios should mean the feeling of an endless SMORGASBORD of classes, right? Except… not always. Many of the studios I’ve visited before only have “ClassPass” Spots in the early morning, or during the middle of the day…. For someone without a very flexible schedule, this can be an issue. I tend to prefer to workout before work or IMMEDIATELY after…. but sometimes classes were only offered to certain studios at 11am or 7:30pm. Not my cuppa tea (whether it’s because I’m working, or already considering bed…)
  • No-Show Fee: You cancel a class within 24 hours of the time it starts? $20 fee. YES this made me feel very accountable. BUT come on, life happens. $20 is a steep price to pay if you get caught in traffic, or if plans suddenly change.

All in all, if you’re already spending money for a gym membership and you don’t feel like you’re getting a ton out of it, ClassPass could be just what the doctor ordered!

PLUS if you wanna skip the waitlist and join ClassPass ASAP, click this image to use my affiliate link.

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Juno: No Match for Meat Week at Percy Street

There was this one time that every meteorologist in Philadelphia predicted the storm of the century. Her name was Juno, and she was supposed to be a beast. And so we watched, and we waited, and we bought an outrageous amount of milk, bread, and eggs (as is tradition). It was briefly beautiful.Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 6.40.16 PMThe weather outside was frightful. But not REALLY that frightful. So I made my way to Flywheel, like a winner.

Lemme tell you what could happen when you DESTROY a Flywheel class: you MIGHT hit a PR (I know I did). Your heart rate will DEFINITELY be up. Your blood will almost certainly be pumping. And, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll feel like you belong at the top of the food chain.

Enter: Percy Street Barbecue. Namely, their Meat Week. For $20, the Meathearts (like sweethearts, but meatier) at Percy Street are offering family style Brisket (MOO), Chicken (cluck), and pulled pork (OINK!), pinto beans with brisket burnt ends, german potato salad with a warm bacon vinaigrette, collard greens with smoked ham hocks, coleslaw, extra sharp cheddar mac & cheese, and buttermilk chive skillet cornbread.

Do yourself a solid and reread that. And then, ogle the goodies.

Housemade Pimento Cheese!

Housemade Pimento Cheese!

I had to take a separate picture of the mac & cheese because it disappeared so fast

I had to take a separate picture of the mac & cheese because it disappeared so fast

The cornbread, unfortunately, was too quickly consumed for my phone to take a photo. Sorry, folks. But it was delicious…

And then, the money shot:

MEAT'S ON!

MEAT’S ON!

Yup. A little bite of every beast you could want, savory sides, Texas toast. The hits seemingly kept coming, and by the end of the meal, the five of us were left with bellies teeming with protein (proteeming?) AND leftovers. All for $20 per person! Can’t be beat.

If you’re gunning for meat week you’ve got until January 30th (that’s TWO MORE NIGHTS!!) but here’s some pretty good scoop:

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 7.26.46 PM

Percy Street’s Lockhart can be purchased ANY DAY OF THE YEAR! Sure, you miss out on mac & cheese and cornbread, but pretend you’re going low-carb and you’ll never miss them.

(You might miss the mac & cheese, but for $6 it could [and should] be yours.)

If you’ve got any other meaty meals in Philly that are must-tries PLEASE share. Because I’ve realized that the only thing I want after a hard workout is to remind myself of the Viking Woman Amazon Warrior within.

And she’s hungry.