Date Night in Philly: Cake Life Pastry Pairings

Philadelphia is affectionately known as the City of Brotherly Love. And, though we do have a history littered with a few not-so-brotherly moments (cough Santa cough), at the end of the day, if you love Philly, it’ll love you right back.

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Promise, we can be nice, too.

There’s nowhere this is more evident than in the numerous collaborations our chefs, restaurateurs, and purveyors of adult beverages put together on a regular basis. I’ve noshed on lamb Barbacoa dumplings from Han Chiang of Han Dynasty & the gang from South Philly Barbacoa, nibbled Sweetgreen’s salad designed by Zahav’s Mike Solomonov, and, most recently, got to enjoy a pastry and drink pairing courtesy of two of Fishtown’s sweethearts (and neighbors!) – Cake Life and Kensington Quarters.

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Last week, the team from Cake Life and Tim Kweeder of Kensington Quarters, along with Jason Malumed of MFW Wine, banded together for an epic guided pastry & beverage pairing. While the wines were sourced from the region of Southwest France, the pastries were the brain-children of the brilliant minds of Lily & Nima, Cake Life’s co-owners.

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This was the fifth in a Summer Series the shop hosted highlighting either wines or spirits, and was one of the most fun nights I’ve had all summer. From 7:30-10(ish… five courses and wines in, and time was a loose concept), Jason and Tim led us through South by Southwest France – using tunes from the notorious music festival as a soundtrack.

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This tray is what dreams are made of…

We enjoyed savory and sweet treats highlighting seasonal ingredients like melon, tomato, and peaches. We salivated over syrupy sausage rolls and SOME of us may have even licked our plates after a particularly mouthwatering almond-plum cake, our final course of the night.

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Oh, that’s just a prosciutto crisp topping that Melon Tartlet

The time and consideration that went into the wine pairing was evident with each sip, and Jason and Tim brought us on a whirlwind tour through Southwest France that had me checking Google flights and vineyard tours.

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Sauvignon Blanc & goat cheese / tomato jam Croisstini – think the most elevated take on pizza & wine 

While the Summer Pairing Series is done for the season, Cake Life has a lot more up their sleeves… Keep your eyes peeled for similar, seasonally appropriate pastry-pairings to go down monthly. PLUS if you wanna get an amazing taste-tour through Cake Life’s goodies, try one of their Second Saturday Tastings, where duos can eat their way through the shop’s pie, tart, or cake flavors and fillings (BYOB at night – making this the ULTIMATE date night activity!)

Thanks Cake Life for making Philly (and Fishtown) a little sweeter and to Tim and Jason for livening the mood and making us look at Sauvignon Blanc in a way we never had before.

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Scarpetta Comes to Philadelphia

As you stroll out of the picturesque Rittenhouse Square and through the revolving doors of Scarpetta, the ultra-modern Italian restaurant and bar that recently opened in The Rittenhouse, the feeling is almost instantaneous.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

From the warm and sexy lighting to the bumping bass, the bustling staff and the attentive hostesses, Scarpetta feels like you’ve been transported to a hip Manhattan joint. Everyone we saw, from dates to businessmen, girls groups and buddies, was dressed to impress. The wine flowed like water and the bread baskets flowed like slightly-doughier water.  Scarpetta is a place to see and be seen, a place to bring your boss, a place to show-off to your parents, and a place to woo. I’ve gotta confess:

I loved it.

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So sleek. So sexy.

But I’ll also admit, if you wanna hear about the scene, the square footage, Uwishunu and Foobooz have done a much better job than I ever could.

I’m here to tell you, instead, about one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten.

Remember that bread basket I mentioned? Yeah, that bad boy is filled with some flawless, airy and crunchy foccaccia AND house-made stromboli.

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Heaven in a basket

Served alongside mascarpone butter, citrus infused olive oil, and an eggplant spread that wouldn’t quit, we definitely had them refill this basket (….twice).

Scarpetta’s menu is divided into four parts.

  • Crudo (raw!)
  • Primi Piatti
  • Pasta
  • Proteins (including fish, meat, and poultry)

The folks at Scarpetta were generous enough to give my date and I a little bit of everything, and I’d definitely recommend going that route if you have the opportunity.

The options for the crudo were honestly the biggest challenge we had as every dish looked better than the last. In the end, we had three of four options (don’t worry tuna, we’ll be back for you!)

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Scarpetta manages to elevate each dish in a way that not only let’s the quality of the fish shine but accentuates the natural flavor with expertly chosen garnishes. Our favorite was the  scallops. The pea and aleppo purée brought a zip to the smoothness of the scallop flavor I’d never experienced before.

The primi piatti that spoke to my date and I was something we’d tried at their preview party: Braised short ribs of beef with vegetable & farro risotto.

As expected, it didn’t disappoint. It merely melted in our mouths.

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Up next: the pasta!

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Scarpetta’s signature dish is their spaghetti, a flawless example of the classic dish. But I suggest you get at least one more pasta dish: the duck & foie gras ravioli. Velvety, rich, and drizzled with a marsala reduction, this is easily the most delicious pasta I’ve ever tasted. Each pocket was stuffed with a perfect blend of tender duck and creamy foie gras.

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Dry-aged ribeye, featuring trumpet mushroom, cipollini onion, fingerling potato & truffled spinach. Our “Carne” choice, cooked medium rare and served pink and juicy.

Full to the brim, I assumed we were done.

I assumed wrong.

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I’m so sorry that these photos don’t do the food an ounce of justice. I’m sorry I didn’t feel comfortable enough to bring my bulky DSLR to a gorgeous resto.

I’m also sorry I don’t have a vat of “unknown crunchy bits” to pour over all future desserts.

Scarpetta is a place to be spoiled, and to spoil someone. It’s a place I could easily write a thousand words about, but I’ll let these photos try and make up for about 400 of them.

Just go. Eat here. Be happy.

 

Triangle Bucket List: Take Me Out to the Ballgame…

As we all know, the Triangle Bucket List can’t just be about eating delicious honeysuckle sorbets (though that sounds like a tasty bucket list in itself.)  It’s about American traditions like Chicken & Waffles, state capitols, and BASEBALL!!

Or, in this case, basebull.

Diamonds are a boy’s best friend, too!

The Durham Bulls are the local minor league baseball team in Durham, NC, and, though I even BOUGHT tickets for a game last year, I’d still never found the time to go.  This summer, I knew I had to change that.  After checking out the promotions calendar, Melissa and I splurged for a $4.50/ticket Tuesday night game.  Deal of the century.

Broads, beers, and baseball!

The craft beers at the Foothills Beer Garden were actually more (per beer) than our tickets! But, at $6 a pop, they were cheaper than the $7 tallboys of Miller, and FAR more delicious.  And what we spent on brews, we saved on the glory of BYOD(inner).

Looks appetizing, yes?

Wrapped up in that gorgeous red cling wrap is tortilla filled with chicken, peppers, low fat mayo, tomatoes, and kale. Very tasty (and very messy.)  A side of baked Doritos (mmmmmmmmm) and I was ready for action.  Mother nature, however, was looking a little worse for wear.  We were definitely nervous of a rainout and, with skies like this, perhaps you can see why.

Dun dun DUN!

Luckily, before we knew it, she realized that there was a game to be played, hoots to be hollered, and fun to be had.

I’ll preface this by saying that, growing up, I had no interest in baseball games.  They were boring, they were long, I didn’t understand them, and it was normally sweaty.  Well, clearly, I was all wrong.  I think I just needed an attitude adjustment.

I went into the Bulls game intending on having a BLAST.  And that’s exactly what I did.

Since we brought in canned foods from Whole Foods, we were graciously given Bulls hats to rock in the stadium. $0.89 for a hat? YES!

Braids and baseball go hand in hand.

Then, due to me rocking the adorable hat, I was randomly plucked from the crowd (of no one, for a while… but it filled up later) as the Wild Wing Cafe fan of the game!  You know what that means!!

Oh.

You don’t know?

Yeah, I didn’t either.

But, apparently, what it meant was that I got my picture taken and received a $20 gift certificate to eat wings!

Cha-CHING!

I’ll take it.

Other highlights included running after a group of kids to get my hat signed by the Bulls mascot, Wool E. Bull, and rocking out on some ballpark peanuts with Melissa.

Now the hat is PRICELESS!

Melissa often gargles with peanuts.

Aftermath

After a brief stretch (aptly during the 7th Inning Stretch), I took a look at the clock, consulted with my cohort, and decided that, while we’d been screaming our faces off all night at the Bulls, we just couldn’t stay to see the result (at least not live).  At around 9:30, we left (though I checked online later, and the Bulls came out on top! GO TEAM!)

Seriously, I couldn’t have asked for a better, more affordable night out in Durham.  And if I had kids, you better BELIEVE I’d take them.

And then I’d use them as an excuse to run after the players begging for them to sign my baseball.

Bully babes!

Baseball games: love em or hate em?

Favorite ballpark food?

Though I didn’t enjoy one at this game, I love a good ballpark frank.  Maybe next time.

Surprise Date Night!

Hello out there in TV Land! (or internet land. All the lands.)

So I finished the day at the office, and realized that the minor pain that I had in the front of my ankle was turning into a more major pain.  My pipe dreams of doing AbSculpt followed by BodyPump turned quickly into just an AbSculpt (not too much action on the ankle there, right?)

AbSculpt was hardcore today.

For 26 minutes (only really about 22 minutes of working it), that’s NTS (Not Too Shabby – Cedar Rapids). Then, after work, the beau and I decided to pick him up a little apron for a grilling gig he has this weekend (for his company picnic, he’ll be the guy flipping burgers for families and friends!)  Lucky for me (and hopefully him, too!) it turned into an impromptu date… My favorite kind!

After we scampered in and out of Wal-Mart, one apron richer, we were inches away from a Jason’s Deli, a spot I’ve never been in my whole life. Ry was pretty surprised, I guess it’s a fairly common place known for it’s muffalettas, a New Orleans delicacy.  But tonight, I wasn’t feeling the fluffy bready treat, I was feeling a little lighter fare.  They just so happened to have a whole section of the menu dedicated to just that!

Savvy Chicken Salad, sign me up!

Chicken Salad with some corn chips

I enjoyed the Savvy Chicken Salad Wrap: Organic wheat wrap with lower sodium chicken salad made with almonds and pineapple, roma tomatoes, red onions, and leafy lettuce. 

It was a little sweeter than I normally like my chicken salad, but I threw some of those corn chips in the wrap and a little bit of the salsa, added some salt and pepper, and perked it right up.  Ry went for a different option:

Hot Corned Beef and Pastrami

I’m pretty sure his sandwich ate my sandwich earlier in the day. He enjoyed it though, and I enjoyed a nibble or two.

Seeing as we were in the neighborhood…. I couldn’t help myself.  Tutti Frutti!!

A little more crowded than yesterday.

And if you’re wondering, yes I got froyo two days in a row.

Sorry I'm not sorry. Not even sorry for my crazy face.

And now…. we’re enjoying Cedar Rapids, thanks to the people at Neflix.  And maybe… I’ll even enjoy this beer to my left.