Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Whenever I go to New York I feel like I should eat somewhere legendary like Gotham or Babbo or La Bernadin.. maybe making up for the time I spent living here as a vegetarian (yup). But with a seemingly endless supply of affordable, comfortable places to eat in Brooklyn without wearing a suit, it's tough. Almost everywhere I ate this weekend made me think.. why isn't there something like this in Philly?
Beer Table was a perfect example.. a tiny brunch menu- waffles or baked eggs and a few cold small plates around 3-5 bucks a pop. Everything simple, fresh and good - super thick bacon, haricot vert salad, beer cheese, radishes with salt & butter for 2 dollars!... which sort of makes up for the awesome beer list which ranges from 5$ to 30$... wooden butcher block style tables with bench seating - the whole place only seats maybe 20 - 25 people.
The beer was right on too... I like beer, both cheap and not so cheap, but don't like to think about it too much. The recommended house draft & german Grut Bier (blonde/coriander/citrus/etc) were both great and perfect for a 90 degree day but not so exotic that you couldn't chug it like a high life. Beer Table also wins the prize of being the only place we found the whole weekend that wasn't packed to the gills all day and all night. They also do a tuesday night tasting menu for $25.
427 B 7th Ave
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Monday, April 27, 2009
I lived in New York for 5 years and somehow never ate one of these, don't know what the hell was wrong with me, eating those sketchy $1 knishes from the hot dog carts and thinking that was it.
Thank got this place is still here, they were out of celery soda but black cherry is almost as good.
137 East Houston Street
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I am never sure if it's because all year long it's a little "unpretty" and the first sign of flowers reminds me of what a great city Philly can be.
Fresh sunny side up eggs from the fair food Reading Terminal Stand for breakfast and Herbs from the Garden.
Oh and to make summer better, a long legged birdie told me that Capagiro is opening up where Roselena's used to be on Passyunk. Woot Woot South Philly!
The first hot weekend in Phildelphia and I wake up to the smell of sweet marinated meats. Tim followed that smell to the park on Morris and 15th, and found Buddhist monks praying and skewered meats grilling.
The highlight for me was this awesome cambodian grandma frying the most amazing coconut battered taro. ( for all those places that try to make coconut fried shrimp take note ) It wasn't too sweet, but just slightly sweet from the coconut milk carmalizing and really crunchy with warm taro on the inside. As you can see from the photo, she battered it up and fried it while we waited. After that I was done I didn't need to eat anything else. They were 2 for a dollar. I got a fresh coconut juice which was 3 bucks and a green mango covered in fish sauce, lime juice and salt and hot chili paste. Okay that was awesome too.
I'm pretty positive that they do this every year, since we have a huge cambodian south philly population.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Cheesesteaks are a crazy topic here in Philadelphia. People will fight to the death over the best cheesesteak, the most authentic, the least racist, provolone or whiz, sarcone's or amoroso. Some fight for no cheesesteaks at all, and prefer the city to be recognized for its "higher-brow" culinary achievements, or argue the superiority of hoagies or roast pork.
For some reason a lot of writers and experts fail to mention Phil's . I didn't even know it was there until a friend proudly announced he knew of a "secret" spot at 22nd & passyunk that has no line and better food than Pat's or Geno's. A recent re-visit confirms that this is all true. It's not nearly as busy as the well known "cheesesteak vegas" of 9th & Passyunk. But it's open 24 hours and the cheesesteaks are fantastic.
More meat than Pat's but not so overfilled that everything falls apart. And they put so much whiz on my fries that I had to use a fork. AND they have fish cakes which for me is the mark of the real deal. I think the main reason Phil's gets passed over is that it's in a neighborhood that's not considered to be the best, but it's really not that bad and totally worth the trip.
2234 W Passyunk Ave
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
My parents' house is a great place to shoot photos of food, it's filled with all kinds of old signs and pennsylvania dutch cooking tools, handmade placemats, random stuff everywhere. It's a challenge to cook with one tiny cutting board and no counter space but I'm lucky enough that my parents aren't picky eaters and will pretty much let me make whatever. Also there's a garden out back with every herb you could want, and the hottest cookbooks of the 60's and 70's so no complaints here.
I've been dreaming about pot pie for a while, figured lamb would work for easter. Braised some lamb shanks in white wine, mint, parsley, onions, celery, etc. for 4 hours. Pulled off the meat, saved the braising liquid for the veloute sauce, threw in some fava beans, cauliflower, mushrooms, more mint, puff pasty on top, and bingo, lamb pot pie. Also asparagus with shallots and black truffle sausage, and a quasi nicoise salad.
Came out really good - sort of better than I expected. Believe me I can mess up some food too, I just don't post it on the blog. My friends smile and keep eating but in the back of my mind there's a phantom head chef with bloodshot eyes yelling at me for all the things I did wrong.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
So I couldn't eat at an Indonesian restaurant and not try the durian juice. Durian is a southeast asian fruit that smells sort of like raw sewage but a delicacy for some. The waiter didn't want me to order it.
The drink was ice cold and thick like a milkshake, and in the words of one of my friends, "smelled like rotten peach juice strained through a diaper full of dirty cat litter". It does have a very distinct, sort of ammonia-sulphur odor, but the weird thing is when you drink it, it's sweet and smooth but pungent at the same time. It sort of gives you a rush, and then you drink more.
Anyway the food is really simple and delicious. Spicy chicken soup, coconut beef, fried banana, chicken satay, pork and shrimp noodle with egg, all served family style with sides of blistering hot sauce. Lots of other stuff on the menu I 'll have to try soon - coconut milk marinated fried chicken, oxfeet tendon soup, lots of frog and lamb.
Great, friendly service, we got a history on the properties of durian (apparently good for "romance", and in the winter to warm you up) and $40 total for three people, amazing.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Being half drunk at 3 in the afternoon on a thursday, what's better than eating a giant burger in the sun on chestnut street? The decor at Goodburger is sort of a strange Qdoba meets Nightclub vibe complete with blaring dance music. But the burgers make up for it- bigger than a flat, miserable fast food patty but smaller and more manageable than the super fat restaurant burgers that put you to sleep. And lots of free toppings- crispy onions, pickles, all that jazz.
Earlier this year we crowned 5 Guys with "Best Burger" but Goodburger is a close second.The fries were decent and come with a mayo / remoulade deal which is nice, but nowhere near the perfection of 5 guys super crispy peanut-oil brown bag fries. But then Goodburger has beer and wine.
It's sort of unfortunate that the burger market in Philadelphia is already oversaturated. If someone could combine the two, add blue cheese & fried eggs to the topping list, keep the 5 guys fries, replace the club atmosphere with diner booths, keep the booze and put it somewhere that isn't center city, open 24 hours, and not be a chain, that place would win best burger of 2009.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Little pete's is probably my favorite restaurant atmosphere in the city, if it ever closes I might have to move. Awesome staff, big greasy photos of the food on the wall, a tiny kitchen packed with dudes rocking out to reggaeton on their ipods. Always the best mix of people and unapologetic diner fare.
No wraps, no seared tuna sliders, no veggie burgers.. no long winded explanation of the specials, just "whaddaya want", endless coffee and your plate of hot delicious food slammed dawn in front of you about 3 seconds after you order it. Steak fries right from the freezer into the fryer- delicious. And the reubens are the best in philadelphia, period. Ive never had a bad one. Milkshakes are huge and come in the ice cold steel cup.
Unfortunately the place was way too packed to sit down so we got take out but I just couldn't resist taking some shots of my reuben dripping with russian dressing, cheese and kraut. The only drawbacks are that If you do go at 2am, it's packed and there's usually some wasted jackass starting fights with everybody. Which can be funny until he throws a burger at you or something. They deliver 24 hours but to a very limited area.
To be honest I dont stray to far from my usual order and I'm tempted to take an adventure into their dinner specials one of these days - fried fish, liver & onions or chicken croquettes. Or maybe an "individual can of sardines" cold deli platter.
219 S 17th St
Saturday, April 4, 2009
The family that works at Pearl's Oyster bar in the Reading Terminal is amazingly Philadelphia. When I ordered the homemade ice tea unsweetened, I recieved a shocking look from our waitress who said "Wha-? C'mon it's sweet tea? I mean whatever, get whatever you want"
So when the guy next to me ordered the ice tea she said "Sweetened? Yeah I thought so, that's what I would get"
The oysters came on ice with just paper cups of ketchup,lemons and a side of horseradish. 6 oysters for 8 bucks not bad.
If you can get to the Reading Terminal on Thursday or Friday (Saturday is too crowded) I highly reccommend having a leisurely lunch at the Amish Diner. Because you're in Pennsylvania! We may not have the best sushi or all nite Thai noodle bars, but darnit we've got the Pennsylvania Dutch! For 9 bucks I enjoyed a small sloppy joe platter, homemade lemonade and a fresh warm apple dumpling served with ice cold cream.
The sloppy joe tasted like it was made with maple and bacon, on a fresh potato roll. The fries were fried to order and were crisp and salty. The apple dumpling kept soaking in all the cream everytime I poured more into the bowl, it was fantastiche!
Friday, April 3, 2009
My friend picked these up at Cosmi's along with some cheesesteaks and they are pretty much the best pickles of all time. Nice & crisp and HOT. Dibruno Brothers in center city also makes a decent bright green half sour.
So if you want to support philadelphia and eat the best pickles- there is no reason to buy a jar of brown, soggy corporate pickles ever again.