Summer at Opa: Cheese Pies & Blue Skies

Summertime in Philly…

The temperatures are sweltering, the weekend trips to the shore test our patience, and Center City Sips has filled the streets every Wednesday with drunken 20-somethings rocking suit jackets and teetering on heels.

But there’s a distinct joy that comes with some of the sweat – Summer Menus are hitting the Philly Restaurant Scene. Seasonal produce and ingredients, seafood, and creativity galore. And Opa, known for contemporary Greek plates in Center City, is bringing out the big guns. Or, in this case, the small plates.

The highlights?

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Dakos – Barley toast with sour cherry marmalade, fresh chevre, and fennel.

I may be on a toast kick lately (check out my latest post from Fitt for the Top 9 Spots Artisan Toasts in Philly!) and Opa’s take on the dish features a tart cherry marmalade that I want in all food and drink in the future.

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Aritchokes stuffed with crab, fresh herbs, Meyer lemon, & squid ink romesco. Then topped with cheese. Whoah.

Anything stuffed with crab is a-okay in my book, but this artichoke dish had us scraping the plate clean.

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Beet Cured Salmon – carpaccio style, melon, vidalia, arugula, pickled pepper

Lox comes to dinner with Opa’s beet-cured salmon. The little melon cubes add a hint of sweetness, though the pickled peppers are ENTIRELY too hot to eat.

So, ya know, don’t make the same mistake I did.

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Spaghettini – lobster, spicy tomato, olive oil crumbs

That spicy tomato is NOT A DRILL. But neither are the chunks of juicy lobster scattered throughout this dish. A small enough portion to not weigh you down, but large enough to satisfy for a summer dinner.

And now my FAVORITE two dishes:

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Lamb Loin – filo, lamb demi, charred spring onion, potato purée

Beef Wellington goes Greek! The filo is crispy, flakey, and buttery. The onion is perfectly charred, and the lamb is juicy AF. For only $10, this dish is the star of the new menu offerings.

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Tiropita Kataifi – kefalograviera & robiola, filo, orange, honey

Cheese. Pie.

Typically speaking, that’d be enough for me. BUT for your sake – I’ll hit you with some thoughts. Crunchy pastry strings surround a core of kefalograviera (a hard Greek table cheese typically made with sheep milk) & robiola (y’know – more cheese). The whole mess is drizzled with honey and tastes of bright citrusy orange.

Dessert has arrived. It’s unexpected and whimsical and delights the tongue.  Try not to fight over the last bite.

Chef Bobby Saritsoglou and his team are making a serious name for themselves in Midtown Village, and I can’t wait to see what fall brings. Just try to keep your visits limited to Thursday through Tuesday – those Wednesday SIPs crowds are an unforgiving lot.

 

 

honeygrow: crossing broad & fitness squad

What’s that phrase all the #fitspo folks post on Instagram? You know, the one I’m pretty sure Taylor Swift lives and dies by…

OH!

Find your tribe. Love them hard.

Yup. That’s the one.

There are heaps of tribes in this city. You’ve got yogis, runners, lost Lithers, the Soul Cyclists and the Flywheel fanatics, Freehouse folks, barre babes, and those die-hard November Project kids.

Whether you’re a member of one, of none, of several, or just an occasional visitor to a few, there’s one thing they all have in common: they gotta eat.

Luckily, hometown-hero honeygrow gets it. And they’re taking this idea of tribes, and fueling these fitness fans (and anyone else who’s hungry for some tasty, local, and fast fare) and running with it. And they just recently decided to run right across Broad Street to their newest Philly location on 11th Street!

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Fun Fact: Local Artist Martha Rich created this mural using snippets of conversation she heart whilst dining at honeygrow

I was able to swing by their friends & family opening and try some of the goodies, scope out the scene, and hear a little bit more about what honeygrow’s got planned for Philly (+ other locations) when it comes to fitness.

The space is beautiful, which is no surprise. They’ve got a number of the hg classic features, from their board listing where locally sourced ingredients come from to their futuristic touch-screen tablets for ordering.

Then, they went ahead and dropped some old-school tech on us with this AMAZING board which announces when orders are ready. (Trust me, Instagrammers, this thing is Boomerang gold).

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The new order board at hg 11th Street – going old school

And, as per usual, the eats are as tasty as they are nutritious.

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Spring Thai-m Salad (crammed with crispy shallots and shrimp) & FOUNTAIN green tea! 

In addition to offering fuel, honeygrow’s also recently brought a new aspect of the company to the table: hgAthletics. According to their mission statement:

…a platform for well-being within honeygrow; we are hgAthletics. By exploring exciting curiosities + tangible realities, we foster unity in our neighborhoods, appreciation of our environments and pride within ourselves.

They kicked off their summer in Philly with some killer rooftop yoga at Bok with PLUSgives and that’s just one of many activities lined up for this summer in Philly, DC, Delaware, and beyond!

Check their Calendar of Events for updates, but here’s a little taste:

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I’ll admit, I haven’t found my tribe. I dabble a bit in quite a few, and sometimes [ok, a lot] fancy myself a one-woman wolfpack lifting in the gym.

But it’s great to know that there’s a group of hungry, like-minded fitness friends out there in hgAthletics ready to run, bend, and train with me all summer long.

And if honeygrow happens  to hand out 20% off coupons after every FREE workout… well, that’s just a bonus.

 

Tarheel Nation: Tailgating for UNC’s First Game

As I sit here wolfing down an epic salad and watching the season finale of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, in which some of the students graduate, I have to say, I had a blast this weekend reliving my college career.  As I mentioned on Friday, I had a dear friend visiting Chapel Hill for the weekend and I waited for her arrival patiently, watching loads of Degrassi and enjoying a little bit of Vino. Also, watching Youtube videos of Duckies. You know, the usual.

Once we arrived, though, we made a beeline for Top of the Hill, which was apparently THE place to be on Friday night.

Old Well White, just like old times!

I won’t get into too much details on the blog, but the rest of the night involved me acting like I’d never heard of certain UNC basketball players, which resulted in them trying to get the scoop on “that Jordan girl”. Sorry, Tyler, but I’m taken. You missed your chance in 2005.  If you want to hear my brag on end about this story and the giant ego boost that I received, feel free to tweet at me, or email me.

Luckily, I was able to crash relatively early, which made the 9 am gameday wake-up call that much easier.  Though let’s be honest, after a night of drinking Old Well Whites and Riesling like I was a fish (a fish with excellent taste in beer and wine), it really wasn’t that easy. My tummy was feeling wonky and my head was dully roaring. I knew something needed to be done.

I ventured over to Walgreen’s to get some Vitamin Water and Coke Zero (hangover remedy, why not?)  and then whipped up a little hangover cure meal to ready me for the day’s festivities.

Cures what ails ya!

The best part about staying close with your fraternity post-grad is having permanent access to cooking supplies and friends PLUS a place to park ALL THE TIME (parking is at such a premium at UNC that our football team racked up $13K in parking tickets.)

My merry band of brothers and sisters were ready for action with the tiniest grill known to mankind and a well-stocked refrigerator.

It gets the job done.

Game Day essentials

We cooked burgers and kebobs, we cooked corn on some cobs, there were beers in koozies, this tailgate was a doozy. (Sometimes, I have dreams of being Dr. Seuss.)

My eats for the day included (among I’m sure countless other nibbles):

Burger, Cheese, Avocado (and OODLES of ketchup, not yet pictured)

Grilled corn, where have you been my whole life?!

And, later, some chips and dip. I also made a healthy appetizer for everyone (read: cut up a cucumber and served up some dips).

The only healthy thing I put inside my body probably all day

The highlights of the day would have to be dominating at cornhole with Kinsley and her friends (who were all dressed in matching wolf-howling-at-moon t-shirts [sleeves removed, of course]), learning the term “landsharking” (which, according to urbandictionary, is a totally DIFFERENT and disgusting thing than what I thought, yuck), and finding a cellphone left at a bar that had enough graphic sexual texts I’m pretty sure it counted as reading a pornographic novel. Hopefully that either was returned to the owner or burned in a fiery pit of cleaning solution/bleach.  Some things you can never unlearn/un-read.

After watching UNC spank the Dukes in the first half of the game, I decided it was in the bag and enjoyed my typical post-viewing-football nap. What was NOT typical, however, was the duration (read: 4 hours).

Oh, well, there went my Saturday night (and any hopes of falling asleep at a reasonable hour).

Thank goodness for Netflix streaming Mad Men.

Betty Draper and her crazy neuroses are always up late, anyway.

Here’s to many more excellent games (and, of course, tailgates.)

What’s your favorite tailgate food?

I’m always looking to try new things!

What do you watch on Netflix?

Also, always looking for new things.