Zahav x Momofuku: Isreali Breakfast

“Oh, you write about food? What’s your favorite restaurant?”

It’s a question I field regularly, from travelers coming to Philly for the weekend to casual acquaintances at networking events; from friends and family to total strangers that ALSO wanna gab about food. And, to be honest, there’s an easy answer, but it hurts to share.

Zahav hits every checkbox in my dream resto:

  • Diverse array of tastes served in one meal
  • Impeccable service, from the hosts to the folks tidying up the table between courses
  • Killer soundtrack (seriously, who’s curating the Zahav Spotify playlist, and can I get your info?)
  • Masterful presentation (from the open kitchen to plating of individual dishes)

This is unfortunate because, in addition to being one of the most wonderful places to dine, it’s also one of the toughest reservations to get in Philly, so I try not to boast too much when I do manage to get a meal on my calendar. But this… this was something special.

Zahav collaborated with the team from Momofuku’s Ssäm Bar (known for some killer Korean-style meat and Asian fusion dishes) for a one-time Israeli breakfast for the ages.

When I saw the tickets go up live Thursday, May 18 I’d purchased a table for 4 before 7:30am. When an opportunity like this occurs, you pay first, ask questions later. I had no trouble finding three willing dining companions and, Saturday at noon, we were seated with no idea what we’d be eating (but a certainty that it would be delicious).

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I’m going to do that thing that some people love and others hate, which is rehash the menu, so if you don’t care for that kinda thing, feel free to scroll through the photos.

First Course:

  • Israeli Breakfast Breads – we’re talking Kubaneh (linking to David Chang’s Lucky Peach article, keep it in the family) and a sweet Rugelach (perhaps date flavored, I must admit that detail was hazy)
  • An insane rose(?) and strawberry jam that I wanted to drown in (yes, we ordered extra)
  • Bentons Bacon Salad – frisée, poached egg, and smoked / cured egg yolk
  • Country ham – sliced paper thin, served with red-eye coffee gravy
  • Beef tartare – made with Yuzu Kosho (an incredible citrus chile condiment you should put on all dishes) and MORE egg yolk
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That beef tartare, though…

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Making frisée fun again…

Second Course

  • Short Ribs Al H’aesh – this was an incredible dish that was (I believe accidentally) brought to us three times. I apologize, Zahav, for not mentioning our second and third portions, but if you bring me short ribs on a skewer, I will eat them all without question.
  • Shakshuka – with smashed English peas, tomato, Saffronella, and an egg. I wish Zahav offered this for dinner, too.
  • Spicy pork sausage with rice cakes – easily my favorite dish, this dish had texture, heat, and an egg. What more could a girl ask for?!
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Shakshuka & banchan (Korean side dishes like kimchi and ginger scallions, that went with EVERYTHING!)

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Added bonus to spicy sausage dish – when your friends can’t take the heat, you get extra.

We were promptly rolled out of Zahav and into the street, where we blissfully walked the 20 blocks home on cloud nine, stuffed with the best foods around.

Zahav – you dog. You got me again. I’m unabashedly enamored with the entire CookNSolo restaurant group (and like to maintain a healthy obsession with Federal Donuts), so just keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll keep blindly throwing my money your way.

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Gratuitous food pics

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Take a Holiday in Maine (Portland, Specifically)

Whoah, it’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it? Blame August, it’s rubbish for second dates (according to the Washington Post) and also for blogging. With weekends at the shore, helping put together a small, understated pop-up party for 5,000 in this city I love, and trying not to fall completely off the health wagon after finishing Whole30, there’s been less time to write it all down.

LUCKILY, I did manage to find time for a quick vacation to Portland, ME with my Main(e) squeeze. It was picturesque as can be, but I spent more time snapping shots of our eats than light houses or sunsets (sorry, not sorry.) We did a LOT of recon before our jaunt to make sure that we enjoyed the tastiest treats and most delicious drinks. I’m pretty proud to say we succeeded; demonstrated especially by the fact that we were inadvertently tailing the New York Times, in town to update their “36 Hours in Portland” piece.

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Ok, fine, I took one picture of a sunset. You’re welcome.

The drive from the Philly area to Maine isn’t TOO bad, a comfortable 7ish hours. Luckily, en route, you pass almost DIRECTLY through New Haven, CT. Cue a fully necessary stop at Frank Pepe Pizza Napoletana. I’m no expert, but as a pizza lover, you’d be remiss to skip any opportunity to stop by for some of that New Haven-style Pizza GOODNESS!

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Not from Portland, but I had to mention it.

This “apizza” isn’t a perfect circle, just an oblong oval of crunchy, cheesy perfection. We also got pepperoni, because YOLO. But… I digress. Onto the Maine attraction (hehehe).

Portland: I love you. You’re breezy and chill when the rest of my world is muggy and hot, you’re lobster rolls when everyone else is grilling burgers, and you’re full of weird and wonderful shops and eateries. Here’s the tip of one of the most scrumptious icebergs ever….

We were in town for three mornings. Two of them featured breakfast from Portland’s “The Holy Donut”. By breakfast, I just mean a buncha Maine Potato Donuts.

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My favorite: Blueberry!

Don’t get me wrong, my heart is always in Philly with Federal Donuts. Whether it was the crisp air, the morning rush, or the delicious glaze, this donut tasted ethereal. Apparently, the addition of Maine potatoes makes the dough especially moist. And if you’re one of those people that hates the word moist, get over it, because these donuts are insane.

The next image may LOOK like it’s still breakfast, but don’t like your eyes fool you.

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One skillet. Seven slots. Infinite joy.

Boda is a hip little joint inspired by Thai street food and tapas, serving up gems like these Kanom-Krok Quail Eggs seasoned with soy sauce and scallions. I know we ate other stuff, I promise you. I have vague memories of killer brussels sprouts that are all but washed away by the distinctly crispy edges of these huevos, the salty soy, the vibrant bite of the scallions. If I could eat only these for all meals, I’d be happy. Minus the high cholesterol, or something, but definitely happy. And hey, while we’re on the topic of eggs…

Duckfat was our singular “breakfast” that wasn’t donuts. And also, we kinda ate lunch. BUT the egg on our poutine basically makes it brunch, right?

Right.

Belgian fries cooked in (what else?) duck fat, cheese curds, duck gravy AND chives. Served with (let’s call it a side of?) a house-smoked brisket panini. You know, gotta keep that girlish figure… The “vegetable chow chow” in the brisket panini is practically a salad.

And while I could talk about Portland eats for hours, but the thing is, when you go to Eventide Oyster Co., you basically hear an imaginary mic drop on your tastebuds. So here goes nothing.

Y’all.

This place.

It screams MAINE in the way that a true Maine-iac might. Which is to say it’s cool as a cucumber, hip AF, and probably tosses around the word “wicked” for good measure. We had lobster chowder (lobstah chowdah? top right), salmon poke, and (of course) our only lobster roll of the trip. But, despite the trendy take on the roll (instead of a “roll”, EOC used a steamed bun and brown butter for the lobsters. Enough of that brown butter that Paula Deen would’ve been proud.

Shoot. It’s been well over 700 words. And I’ve scratched the surface…. I guess I’ll just have to visit again.

Cheers to you, Portland. I can’t wait to come back.

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On the scene at Allagash. Doing important research.

 

 

Philly’s #NOSHHH: Snapchat Style

(TLDR; Play along with this silly #NOSHHH Philly Snap Story)

Look, I’ve sung the praises of Snapchat before, and I’ll sing them again and again. But there’s perhaps no circumstance more awesome for this incredible, mostly evanescent social media app than a night out exploring something that most of your friends may not know or have access to.

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Like a sexy party featuring bites and sips !

I’m talking Snap Stories, and, this weekend, I was talking #NOSHHH. According to the fine folks that put this bad boy together (Home Brewed Events and Spirit Forward):

Noshhh is a collaboration project between Home Brewed Events and Spirit Froward to help promote Philadelphia’s local handcrafted industry.

What better way to do so than with a killer speakeasy-themed party featuring local vendors doling out everything from (The) Bacon Jam(s) to beer from Saint Benjamin, spicy Cheng’s Chicken from Wokworks to coffee and desserts from United by Blue. I toted along my buddy, Samaya, and we had a wild ride eating and drinking everything we could to some killer tuneskies from .

LUCKILY, I saved this little story which you can watch HERE.

If you refuse to watch that INCREDIBLE YOUTUBE VIDEO, first of all, you’re missing out.

Second of all, you might miss the prep for us eating our way through all these sauces…

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Rock the Roll Sauces are INCREDIBLE, especially the Ginger Sesame Barbecue sauce. I’d never imagine I would wanna put BBQ sauce on fish… and yet here I am, wishing for some salmon for all that sauce.

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Major props to Two Brother Hummus for getting me hype enough about chickpeas to make a hummus pun (SEE VIDEO FOR PROOF). Also, for making buffalo chicken hummus that belongs on every respectable crudite platter in the country.

Don’t worry. I drank some things, too. You’ll have to see the video for the craziest one (Spoiler Alert: three words – cookie shot glasses). BUT, as a self-proclaimed brown liquor abstainer, I was terribly pleased with the offerings from New Liberty Distilling. A Pennsylvania Whiskey had both my date (who’s spent her fair share of time in Kentucky) and my self boggled… until we tasted it.

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Whiskey and Punch. Delightful combo…

I’m not saying I’m gonna run off to grab bottles off the shelf at the liquor store (at least not right away). But Kinsey’s given me hope to hang with the badasses putting away whiskey like it’s water (ya know, as long as mine’s diluted with a lot of water. Or punch.)

I could yammer on about #NOSHHH until the cows come home. But really, just watch the video. And maybe, one day, when I decide to not be a cheapskate, I’ll post videos like this on the actual blog!

HUGE thanks to Home Brewed Events and Spirit Forward for the invite, keeping my eyes on what y’all have coming up next (spoiler alert: Coffee and Beer after hour event next week….)

(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.

Hai St. Kitchen US: Rollin’ and Bowlin’

What does a newly graduated Master do with all that free time (until, of course, I have to start actually working in June?

Well, there have been a few things. I’ve been napping… a lot. There have been happy hours and puppy visits and Game of Thrones (books and show… Getting real wild over here.) But there’s one pretty cool thing that comes with all of this time: the ability to queue up with Philly’s finest foodies for a chance to fall in love at first bite courtesy of the new Hai Street Kitchen.

Lots of Options

Lots of Options

Get this: Hai St. Kitchen decided to generously offer a free entree to folks the day before their official “Grand Opening”. Super great minus one tiny little fact:

Hell hath no fury like the a Center City lunch crowd lured by the word “FREE”. 

Initial reports touted an opening time of 11:30am, running until 3pm. I ambled over around 11:45 to a line that wrapped around the block. Luckily, I had a fully charged phone and nothing but time…. And very perked up ears to overhear the gossip. Apparently, Genji, a Philly-based sushi company that rocks out the wholesale sushi scene thanks to a hookup with Whole Foods, has one Hai St Kitchen location in the UK, and this is the first venture in the US.

The concept is pretty basic, and reminiscent of Chipotle. Almost to a T…. except instead of a tortilla, all your rice and fixins are wrapped inside of some nori. Yup, basically a seaweed burrito. That’s very appealing to me…. but also, very appealing to a zillion other Philadelphians. I waited for about an hour and a half, largely due to the fact that they opened a little later than intended. Luckily, there were snacks on hand.

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For about 2 hours, the corner of 18th and Chestnut/Ranstead was the free food capital of the city, with samples from Sabra (hummus and salsa) and some Snapea Crisps (WOW!! These are insanely delicious) and hydration from Boxed Water (it’s water in a box. I don’t know.) We also had plenty of time to look over the menu.

I was torn between a few options.

Sumo Steak: FLANK STEAK, BLACK PEPPER TERIYAKI SAUCE, ROMAINE, SAUTEÉD ONION, RED CABBAGE, ASPARAGUS

Slammin’ Salmon: TATAKI SALMON, SPICY GOCHUJANG SAUCE, ROMAINE, CUCUMBER, PICKLED MANGO, RED ONION

And after watching folks in line come back with their little cardboard tubes, and salivating for just over 90 minutes, it was my turn.

 

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Appreciate the natural, and you can tell from the look of things that they’re fresh. Here’s a SUPER COOL ACTION SHOT of my sushi-rito being made:

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If you’re wondering “are those pickled mangoes?” you have a great eye for pickled fruits. And yes, they are. Finally…. it had arrived.

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Cardboard tube chock-full of goodness. But the real test comes from the taste….

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Pretty solid shot considering it’s an iPhone picture…. That salmon was just on-point. But the real star was the spicy gochujang pepper sauce. I don’t know really what that means…. but I think I want it all over everything I eat from now until forever. They offer a “crunch” option which included fried garlic, fried shallots, or yucca chips. I went for fried shallots but, honestly, didn’t taste any crunch. And truly, that’s the only thing that I felt was missing. A crunch. But I loved the texture of the nori roll, the rice was full of flavor from all the other ingredients, and  pickled mangoes: damn.

I’ll be back soon. Because I love a novel ‘rito wrap.

Flavors of the Avenue (East Passyunk Avenue, to be exact).

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, I have no excuse. Except one:

So, this one time, grad school happened.

Hopefully that’s enough for y’all.

But last night, something incredible happened. Something so delicious, so inspiring, so exciting…. I just had to come out of temporary retirement to share with the gang. I was invited to be part of a lucky group of bloggers, journalists, Twitter-heads, Instagrammers, and general men-and-women-about-town to get a little taste of one of the most delicious spots in Philadelphia. East Passyunk Avenue! Named a Top 10 Foodie Street in America by Food & Wine Magazine and the Top Food Neighborhood in Philly by Zagat, East Passyunk is a bit out of the way of my standard Center City fare, so I haven’t been out terribly often. MY MISTAKE! 

We started at POPE (aka the Pub on Passyunk East). Admittedly, I’d only been here for beers before, so I wasn’t sure what was in store, edibly. Luckily, they eased me in with a familiar friend.

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Ah, beer. Opened with a genuine East Passyunk Avenue bottle opener of my own! Lagunitas IPA, to be exact, a personal favorite. 

On the menu: Thai spiced wings, habanero mole, and a chipotle tomato soup with a parmesan tuile. This ain’t your mama’s pub fare.

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The thai wings rocked my mouth with heat (I blame the IPA, probably my bad… I couldn’t resist). The mole wings were much more chocolatey than expected, making me wonder if I should rethink my feelings about cooking dishes with chocolate…. But my favorite was probably the soup. Maybe because I’m a firm believer that adding the word (and ingredient) “Chipotle” to anything immediately improves it at least threefold.

Up next, Ippolito’s Seafood Market.

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At first glance, one might wonder “Wait… this isn’t on East Passyunk… why was it included?” I’ll respond to that by saying DON’T QUESTION WHEN SOMEONE OFFERS TO FEED YOU SEAFOOD and also, apparently they provide a lot of the seafood to the businesses that are on the Avenue, so there’s a healthy relationship. Speaking of healthy relationships, I made a very healthy one with this very photogenic tuna tostada (though it sort of looked more like a taco to me…) with spicy mayo and a squirt o’ lime.

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And, since we’re ballers, a few oysters (Cape May Salts) on the halfshell. Some folks were wary… but they came around.

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(And there you have JP’s first homemade GIF in a post!)

Next stop, to keep things fancy, was Fond, contemporary American cuisine and one of the cutest spots I’ve seen. Starting today, they’ll start offering outdoor seating, too, so go forth and develop your own fond feelings for Fond. Oh, and try the chicken liver mousse with pickled red onions.

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If you could also do yourself a solid and grab a glass of prosecco, ideally consumed after a happy toast with Tory Keomanivong, the dining manager…. well, consider yourself blessed. We also had a few folks that were wary of chicken liver, but I was less aggressive in my urging of them to dig into the crostinis. Selfishly, of course. TWO FOR ME! And none for Gretchen Wieners.

One word. Four syllables. Get ready to wanna say this all the time: Bitterballen. Literal translation: fried pork meatballs made with nutmeg, served with mustard. Pronounced “bYitter-ballen”. Best served al fresco from the arms of Chef Joncarl Lachman of Noord. My first foray into Scandinavian/Dutch cuisine, I couldn’t have asked for a better guide.

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And the inside of the restaurant…. stunning space. Take me back.

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You might be thinking, that’s a solid four restos. You probably had enough, right JP? 

This isn’t amateur hour, we’ve only just begun.

Chiarella’s Ristorante, a cozy old-school Italian spot, has tables great for large parties, recently was featured on Kitchen Nightmares and, according to Philadelphia magazine, survived and has benefited from Gordon Ramsay’s criticism. If their eggplant rollatini is any indication…. they’re not just surviving, but thriving.

ImageConfession: before last night, I’d never tried anything rollatini.

What was I thinking?

Breaded eggplant stuffed with goodness? Get your head in the game, Jordan.

Izumi was our next stop, featuring trays of pork gyoza with Pickled Cucumber (which, IMHO, made this dish).

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Pardon the crummy photo, gyoza gobbling happened so fast I hardly had time to snatch my camera out!

At this point, I was stuffed so full of food, complimentary wine, and Instagramming that I’ll be honest, strolled over to Marra’s in a bit of a daze. I’m pretty SURE it was Marra’s. However, I struggled to fit more foods into my body. But I mean… just look at it.

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Please, gnocch-me that gnocchi. I couldn’t resist a few small bites….

The after party was at a not-so-secret soon-to-be Townsend, featuring some cupcakes I sadly had to pass up (40 days of no sweets has turned into quite the test of my will)… But hopefully y’all are sated enough by the mounds of food pr0n I’ve offered up that you won’t hold it against me. And if this hasn’t made your salivary glands (and the rest of you) yearn for the goods on East Passyunk, I’m clearly rusty.

Big ups to the folks at Aversa PR, especially the media mogul Kory himself, for the invite. You’ve brought me out of blog-hibernation in the most delicious way possible….

 

 

A Revolution Without [Cleaning] is Not a Revolution Worth Having

Ok, so I know I wasn’t the only one…. BUT I recently was asked to participate in the Finish® Sticky Dish Challenge and:

Create an amazingly tasty, messy, sticky, and difficult-to-clean meal to put Finish to the test

The folks at Finish offered me a gift card to Williams-Sonoma in order to nab something shiny to mess up with food and goop, along with a sample of their Finish® Quantum® 10-pack to see what it could take. The rules were simple:

  1. Get dish.
  2. Make food (and, by default, make mess.)
  3. Do NOT clean, just let it sit overnight and get funkier/stickier.
  4. Try out the goods.

Best mail EVER!

Since I’ve been obsessed with enchiladas lately, and had about 7 oz of goat cheese to use, I went for something extra special.

Sara (from The Sprouted Kitchen)’s Roasted Zucchini, Black Bean, and Goat Cheese enchiladas! It had all the stickiest ingredients: roasted veggies, so much sauce, cheese, black beany goodness (just TRY not to make a mess with black beans). I was ready.

Let’s do this!

(bonus: Since I already had the goat cheese, the whole dish cost me about $10 to make!)

(Except the wine. That was brought by my cooking buddy, Jess, to make our dish more creative.)

This recipe was a blast to make. We laughed as we chopped and roasted….

So vibrant

We I cried while I chopped the onion.

Don’t cry for me Onion-tina

And filled the enchiladas with delicious healthy ingredients. Black beans, goat cheese, roasted zucchini and red pepper, and spinach, of course!

Steamy

Then, I got to make the mess I’d been waiting for…

Saucey

So much filling all OVER that pan!

All cooked, let’s check it out!

Ready for my closeup

Yep, that’s caked-on-the-pan, gooey enchilada goodness.

I shall call YOU lunch

If the enchiladas looked like gorgeous supermodels, the pan looked like…. a crusty lady in red after a salsa fight.

ew.

 

Gross.

Luckily, I had a (not-so) secret weapon… Wanna see how Finish Quantum did? CHECK OUT MY FIRST VLOG IN WHICH MY VOICE SOUNDS REALLY WEIRD!!

I swear, this was USED! Not brand new, as it looks…

I’ll admit, I’ve used a LOT of different dishwashing detergents before. In fact, when I was living abroad in Italy for a month, we used Glass Cleaner for the first wash before realizing it wasn’t detergent (oops…. poison? Nah, we rinsed the dishes….)

That being said, this stuff was the JAM! We also put our used dishes in there, some nice wine glasses…. not a streak in the bunch, and no food bits left behind. Incredible. I was blown away.

Big ups to the #FinishRevolution for making a convert out of me. I know I appreciated the opportunity, and I’m pretty sure my buddy Jess enjoyed the fruits of my cooking labor. Check out below if you’re trying to get in on the Finish Quantum action!
*I received this Finish® product free of charge in order to try it out and share the results with my readers (that’s y’all!!). The opinions are mine alone (though I did ask my buddy, Jess, what she thought, and the results are based on our delicious experience. I had a BLAST with this, and am happy to let anyone know that if they’d like to try out this awesome product, you can get a free sample on their Facebook Page!

Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs

I’m a lover of many things.

The University of North Carolina. Sour beers. Sleeping in. Philly soft pretzels. Hot dogs. Chilly mornings. Swimming in salt water. Learning. Jellyfish. Fancy cheese parties. Melissa.

You know, the best things in life.

On Friday, after waking up at an ungodly hour on Friday morning (equivalent to 2 a.m. Denver time), walking to the train station, training to the airport, and flying off to the Mile High City, I was greeted not just by one of those things (my hostess, MELISSA!) but, shortly after, 3 more of them.

I thought I’d be a zombie after traveling all day but, considering I slept about 2/3 of the 4 hour plane ride, I was surprisingly refreshed. When offered the chance to nap or to nibble, guess what I chose?

Not just ANY hot dogs

Biker Jim’s, according to the internet and the Colorado natives, is a Denver staple. These charred and grilled dogs are not your standard summer BBQ fare. Instead, the casing is filled with exotic meats like reindeer, wild boar, rattlesnake, elk, and buffalo.  Knowing that we had much beer ahead of us, we knew that we needed to fill our bellies to fuel our day/night.

I was initially a bit overwhelmed with the choices.

Too many options

While my North Carolina aching heart was initially distracted by the options of fried mac and cheese, fried green tomatoes and the side salad (HA, no, not even a little), Melissa reminded me of my real goal. The dogs.

After much deliberation, we decided to split two. Elk Jalapeño Cheddar and a Linguisa (Portuguese style  pork with paprika and red wine). When asked for a suggestion of what to top them with, the answer was nearly immediate:

[get them] torpedoed with Coca-Cola soaked grilled onions and a swizzle of cream cheese unloaded from the front end of a caulking gun.

Well, who am I to say no to the wisdom of the natives?

And, as I waited for my brats to cook, I watched the restaurant gradually get filled with a Friday lunch rush. You do NOT wanna stop in any time shortly after noon if you’re in a rush.

Quite the hood

And then, they were ready.

Stop drooling

The verdict?

Admittedly, the Linguisa was a little lacking with flavor. It was slightly sweeter than I like my dogs to be.  Luckily, I had my jalapeño cheddar half waiting for me in the wings.

It was juicy, it was full of flavor, and those onions should top any and all of my future meals.

Paired with some house-made potato chips which were crunchy (and also great with the onions), this food was the ideal energy boost for a LONG day of beer consumption.  And that’s what awaited us…

But I’ve got school to learn. So thanks, Biker Jim’s, for filling our bellies with the best brats Denver’s got!

Let’s DO THIS!

More GABF next post. Or, at least some sort of beer-related post.

 

Food, Sweat, AND Beers! Solid Valentine’s Day.

Oh, it is love.  Love of a day dedicated to love, and love of my friends, family, and studly boyf.  Bust mostly just love.

I apologize if your day was made sadder by my Debbie Downer post yesterday.  If you’re lucky, it really was the Most Depressing Valentine Story you read all day.  If not, you need to stop reading such sad stories on Valentine’s Day, seriously!  I tried to fill my day with productivity at work, listening to romantic songs or scenes from romantic movies, and a solid lady date.  But, really, I just tried to jam pack as much of the good stuff in as possible.  You know the stuff: Food, Sweat, and BEERS!!

Mission: Accomplished.

Food: 

Greenery!

A sublime spinach salad with black beans, avocado, yellow pepper, salsa, and cheese. Perfect lunch.

Homemade tastes much better

I DELIGHTED my office-mates with my white chocolate-covered strawberries that I whipped up on Monday night. The strawberries tasted much juicier than the ones that I recently had from some caterer.  Thus proving, yet again, that when something’s made with love, it’s gonna be dank.

Not'yo Nachos!

Spanky’s in Chapel Hill, the very first Chapel Hill restaurant I ever visited, delivered quality appetizers tonight for my lady-date with Melissa. The nachos were just the first course.  The quesadilla was so delicious that I didn’t even bother snapping a shot before wolfing down my share. What a feast!!

Sweat: 

Tonight’s Zumba class was a class of LOVE!

I got super sweaty, and my Garmin Connect even showered me with hearts my heart rate.  All the songs played featured love (or being sexy and knowing it….)  It was fantastic to get my sweat going.  If that hadn’t gotten my heart pumping, though, I’m sure that the last aspect of the night would’ve…

Beers:

Rose beers!

Not only did we get to enjoy a cask of Rustic Plow Farmhouse Saison from newcomer Haw River Farmhouse Ales, featuring rose hips and hibiscus petals, BUT that little number in the bottom right (by my OTHER hand) was a pint of Foothills‘ infamous Sexual Chocolate.

As described by the brewer:

A cocoa infused Imperial Stout – Opaque black in color with a dark brown head. Big chocolate aroma with notes of espresso, blackstrap molasses, dark sweet toffee and dark fruit. Smooth dark chocolate backbone with complex notes of coffee, dark toffee and dark fruit.

SRM: 70
IBU: 85
ABV: 9.75%

Translation? Delicious! This beer, like almost all my favorite winter warmers and chocolate beers and stouts and whatever, got better the longer it sat out.  If I ever ask you for chocolate in my life, I probably just mean a glass of this beer, served in a pint glass and let to rest for a little while. There was initially a sharp taste to it, almost like burned hot chocolate, but the longer I let it sit (and focused on my nachos), the more the taste smoothed out to a sweet, creamy chocolate taste.

Get this beer if you can.

All in all, considering my Valentine was over 400 miles away, it was an ideal Valentine’s Day. Hopefully, he thought so too, as I sent him a surprise pizza for his V-Day dinner.  I hope you felt the love as well.  And, if you’re like me, you wore your heart on your sleeve. Or maybe your chest.

to remove the giant black thing from my teeth)”]because I had a GIANT black thing in my teeth)”]Just make believe that I showed up to your door bearing love gifts. I’d be singing, too.  I’d make a GREAT singing telegram.

What was the best food you ate or drink you sipped on during V-day?