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Everything posted by MarketStEl

  1. You sound a little like Dana Cowin. ISTR her problem with Philadelphia's food scene is that while there's a lot of good stuff here, there are very few examples of truly outstanding anything. Yet somehow the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Sarcone's reputation is based on the quality of its bread, and as any hoagie maven could tell you, bread ain't beanbag when it comes to making a great sandwich; Sarcone's is about the best you can get in Philly. But neither are the meats and accompaniments, and while Philadelphians' loyalty to the hometown boys is admirable, there's much better than Dietz & Watson out there; locally, I've found both Thumann's and Boar's Head outrank D&W on the quality scale. DiBruno's may know the tastes of their customers, who (I suspect) aren't looking for New Adventures on their appetizer trays. I hope I'm wrong, but suspect I'm not. As I'm not a big sweets eater, I can't speak to Isgro's, but suggest you might want to try Termini Bros. or Flying Monkey for purposes of comparison.
  2. Actually, I've been meaning to collar Paul on one of my regular visits (he's usually there on Saturdays), so I probably can, BHF. But on further thought, there also seems to be a rough form of "zoning" at the RTM that this would disrupt a bit. The 12th Street wall of the market is a Restaurant Row of sorts, with even the few ingredient vendors fronting the westernmost aisle also offering prepared foods to eat. The ingredient vendors tend to be located inside the Market, with only Iovine's Produce having a significant exterior exposure along the Filbert Street wall. The two categories of vendor sort of coexist around the central court, with butchers Harry Ochs and Martin Giunta along its western edge, John Yi Seafood on the northern, Flying Monkey Patisserie (baked goods fall in both categories, IMO) on the eastern, and the rest eateries. I'm still not sure that the 12th Street wall is the place to put a fresh food or ingredients vendor without some additional reinforcements in the area.
  3. Actually, I'm one of those fortunate people who can walk to work, which I try to do most times, unless the weather is bad. When it was really bad this winter the Police Chief picked me up and drove me to work at City Hall. The ultimate in public transportation. I walk to most places I'm invited to. I can walk to 38 restaurants. Imagine that, in the country even. I drive to the grocery store, because the way back is uphill about a mile and a quarter and I'm 50. I'm thrifty but not stupid. And yes, I do buy non local foods too. Especially out of season and the obvious citrus not available locally in the midwest. But I really enjoy the local stuff, including the locally raised venison, and the cage free eggs I get from the city hall cleaning lady put on my desk once a week for $1 a dozen. We don't have cabs. And my house isn't all that large. I don't even have air conditioning. It was well built for natural ventilation in the 1840s. It was all they had back then. I feel very blessed to have this life style. I didn't move here out of some yuppy gone hippy fit of environmental rage. I got a good job here and it's a beautiful place to live. I lived in New York City for years and can tell you that I'm probably using less energy now than I did living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in a 60 unit building taking the elevator up and down and taking the subway to work. Then going up to the 102nd floor of Two World Trade Center, three times a day and spending 9 to 12 hours a day in a 24/7 airconditioned or heated building 107 stories high. And cabbing it everywhere else. If you're in a cab, it's just someone elses car isn't it? I'm certainly not saying that everyone who lives in a major city is inefficient. Not at all. I wish more cities were like NY in that there are small grocery stores in each neighborhood and you can walk to many things. But neither should you assume that anyone living in a single family dwelling in a small town has 5 acres of land, lives in a McMansion and drives an SUV 150,000 miles a year to go to dinner and work. I put about 10,000 miles a year on my old Ford Taurus. I know I'm not going to change the world with my vegetable garden. I'm just changing my world. ← I was going to say something to the effect that small towns full of single-family residences with yards are different animals entirely from suburbs of the same type, because they are geographically more compact and combine residential and commercial uses in such a way that many residents have the choice of not driving to work or for errands, and those yards are often used as something other than ornamental lawns... ...but Pebs beat me to it. I'll wager, as she does, that her carbon footprint is actually smaller than the Manhattan straphanger's.
  4. Someone's gonna get a talking-to at the DEP on Saturday morning? This might be an excuse for me to get my cheese platter for a party that afternoon early. I was thinking of doing an all-local, Fair Food Farmstand edition (I've established a reputation among my fellow PGMCers that I must now live up to), but need notes on the cheeses. I assume the folks there will be able to give me descriptions. I tried some 1841 last week and liked it. If you're in my neck of the woods, ue, and it looks like you will be, drop me a line. If I'm free, I may be able to meet up.
  5. We locals ought to, but the area gets a larger-than-normal share of visitors from beyond, "beyond" here defined as anything you can't get to with a plain-vanilla TransPass and no zone fare. It's sort of like having those guys who toss the fish right underneath the giant neon sign and clock at the Pike Place Market. The only problem with this logic is that the Rick's Steaks space is not the first thing many, or even most IMO, visitors to the RTM see. It's my impression that the most heavily used entrance to the RTM is the one at its southwest corner, on 12th just north of Filbert -- it's where the market's bulletin board and information booth are located. The entrance next to Rick's is the second-closest to the Arch Street entrances to the Convention Center, though, and the closest one that can handle heavy traffic -- it's more visible than the one that leads to the market's NW corner up a couple of stairs -- so maybe some of the folks attending conventions or gate shows might do a double-take to see produce, fresh fish, or meats in the display windows at this point -- but how many conventioneers cook? (Gate-show patrons are a somewhat different story; you might be able to capture some of them, as they're usually local in origin.)
  6. See what happens when I leave these boards for a while? Several of these places are not all that difficult to get to on SEPTA, though the hassle factor varies. I'd rank them as follows in terms of overall convenience: Talk of the Town Tony Luke's (depending on time of day) Grey Lodge John's Roast Pork Steve's Prince of Steaks As mentioned before, Talk of the Town is right on the Broad Street Subway, 3 blocks S of Oregon station, where the Walt Whitman Bridge expressway passes over Broad. Travel time from Center City (City Hall station) is a mere 8 minutes. Tony Luke's is at Front and Oregon, along Bus Route G, which runs from Overbrook to the Food Distribution Center in South Philly. It crosses the Broad Street Line at Oregon (see Talk of the Town above), and from there, the G bus takes about 5 minutes to get to Front Street (Oregon Avenue is unusually wide for a Philly thoroughfare and thus rarely congested). If you go during the day, service on the G is frequent -- 9-minute intervals or less -- but after 6:30 pm, the headways quickly stretch to around 30 minutes. During the day, it's more convenient than the Grey Lodge; in the evening, less so. The Grey Lodge is a mere 5-minute bus ride up Frankford Avenue from the Frankford end of the Market-Frankford Line. The Route 66 trolleybus from Frankford Transportation Center operates 24/7, runs very frequently (every 4-8 minutes) during the day, every 15 minutes from 7 to 8 pm, and every 20 minutes after that until around midnight. It's a 25-minute ride on the El from City Hall (15th Street) to FTC. Despite having a slightly longer travel time than the next option, I rate this higher on the overall convenience scale because of the frequency of service on the 66 bus. John's Roast Pork is near the eastern end of the Route 79 bus, which crosses the Broad Street Line at Snyder Avenue station. It's a 6-minute ride from City Hall to Snyder and another 10 minutes from Broad to Front on Snyder. Buses run at roughly 12-minute intervals during John's hours of operation. When I went up to Steve's Prince of Steaks for that "Hungry Detective" shoot, I took the Route 58 bus up Bustleton Avenue from Frankford Transportation Center, about an 8-minute trip (Steve's is a block or two south of Cottman Avenue, the main E-W drag through the central Northeast). Buses run every 12-15 minutes during the day until about 7:30 pm, after which time they run at 20-, then 30-minute intervals. So there you have it: A little more time, but nowhere more than a half hour or so, a lot less money, and an opportunity to get a more up-close-and-personal view of the city in all its messy glory. So: Have you eaten your cheesesteak yet? I'd offer to join you if you haven't, but my calendar is pretty full from this point on in the week. Edited to correct travel times on the Broad Street Subway and revise the rankings accordingly.
  7. Since this thread is still live, I will add that after wowing my friend Vince, his partner Brian and their guests with ribs I prepared at their Memorial Day cookout in Fox Chase, one of my favorite BBQ places in Philly is: Wherever I can get my hands on a charcoal grill. I talked these two into buying one instead of a propane model a couple of months ago; on Memorial Day, they learned why.
  8. Even though I think Daniel is right that the basic positions in this debate have been pretty much fully and fairly aired, there are some comments made since I last checked in that I would like to expand on further, and will do so later, when I have a litttle more leisure time than I do right now. But for the moment, a comment of Daniel's: reminds me of one of my favorite witticisms: "Any society that tolerates shoddy philosophy because philosophy is a noble calling, but ignores excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a mere trade, will not long endure, for neither its theories nor its pipes will hold water." Nor is it one to me. I'll drink to that -- but as I have a bunch of major expenses coming up, I'm afraid it'll have to be Two-Buck Chuck. The only problem is, I can't get it in Pennsylvania, thanks to this state's archaic liquor laws and distribution system.
  9. Best line in the followup comments, in response to the people protesting the alleged cruelty involved in producing foie:
  10. Should've given me a shout-out, Mike! You know I'm always up for wings, and Moriarty's has three floors open on weekends now.
  11. I sense in this debate an undercurrent of argument to the effect that we as humans as much as the planet as a whole are the worse off for increasing global trade. Yet human history surely suggests otherwise, for from well before the days of the Silk Road, people in various cultures around the world have sought things they have heard of that are unavailable within the confines of their own society. The Italians would never have had pasta had Marco Polo not traveled to China, nor tomatoes had it not been for Columbus bringing some back from the Western Hemisphere. The Silk Road itself was named for the fabric those who traveled it sought from the Far East. Now, there is admittedly one thing the items I've mentioned above have in common: They could be replicated or produced in places other than those they came from. And there are plenty of foodstuffs that cannot. Tropical fruits and oils, for instance, come from plants that cannot grow in temperate climates; coffee similarly requires high altitudes and mostly warm weather, the latter in shorter supply in northerly or southerly latitudes. We may be able to alter our diets so that the overwhelming majority of what we consume is produced close by, but I think that we would actually be worse off if we adhered to a strict locavorian vision in the name of saving the environment.
  12. Preach, brother, preach!
  13. I understand that in Poland, the birthday celebrant is feted with the toast "Sto lat" -- "May you live 100 years!" I don't know whether there's a similar toast in the Czech Republic, but if there is, imagine I'm saying it now -- may you live 100 years! Enjoyed this blog thoroughly!
  14. Bob: The last thing we need is someone who writes bad promotional copy teaching others how to write it too. Better you send the writer to my re-education camp.
  15. Well, I note that Pennsylvania has yet to name an official state dessert, but I suspect if it did, it would be shoo fly pie. However, the official state beverage -- milk -- is a common ingredient in many desserts.
  16. The Phillyblog discussion board host is down for maintenance right now (3:53 PM ET, 25 Apr 2008); it's been having some serious issues with connection resets and slow response. When it's back up, try doing a search within Phillyblog for the phrase "American Hyacinth Bucket", or for posts by MarketStEl. I'm even more prolix and prolific there than here. Agreed about "Keeping Up Appearances." Patricia Routledge's character is one of the greats of TV comedy, and the basic premise of the sitcom is inspired. Even though it works much better in the British context than in the American, I'm surprised that no one has attempted to transplant this show the way "Till Death Us Do Part" ("All in the Family"), "Steptoe and Son" ("Sanford and Son") and "The Office" (moved to Scranton, kept the name) have been. ObFood: Note that the series never actually showed one of Hyacinth's Candlelight Suppers.
  17. I think that while elitism requires exclusion, exclusion alone is not enough to warrant the charge that something is elitist. Any membership organization is by definition exclusive if there are qualifications for belonging, but if those qualifications are not arbitrary or difficult to meet, then the organization probably won't be perceived as elitist. Usually, the distinction between exclusion and elitism hinges on superiority, or the perception of same. One could be talking about $5 pints of beer, but if the talk suggests that somehow a person that drinks this particular $5 pint of beer has better taste or judgement than the person who drinks some other brand, then the person passing that judgement could be pegged as elitist. The sentiment being criticized is very close to snobbery but differs from it in that the elitist judgement is usually founded in some value other than the monetary one, while snobs tend to focus on superficial things like price or brand name. Preferring the artisanal to the industrial and the local to the distant are not in and of themselves elitist, but to the extent that such preferences mean spending more, it does leave those with those preferences open to the charge of elitism, or worse, snobbery. To the extent that the preference does not hinge on one of those superficial qualities but rather some more substantive values, like those Slow Food espouses, while it may still be elitist, at least it's the good and useful kind of elitism. The piece may well have been tongue in cheek, but the guy got his tongue stuck in a most awkward position if so.
  18. I'll know more after this weekend's run of grocery shopping. As it would happen, I'm out of rice. I prepare it less often than I did in the past, because one roommate has a visual aversion to it, but I always have some on hand. I don't expect to see two-digit prices for the small one-pound bags I often buy now. Good points, Ducks. In those occasional surveys that ask people their opinions of various professions, journalists usually rate very low on the scale, often below members of Congress. Since the majority of practitioners of the craft are educated not in the subjects they report on, but in the craft and ethics of reporting, perhaps it's no surprise that they often don't see some of the connections between things that more worldly observers such as Pollan (a journalist himself, remember) do. Then again, what distinguishes The New York Times from your local Gannett rag is that people like Pollan write for it. For a fillip on the ethanol subject: I understand that it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than the ethanol provides. Maybe we need to rethink that particular "eco-friendly" fuel, or speed up the research on making it from switchgrass at least. We could also divert both the corn thus freed and the subsidies spent on the fuel to food uses again.
  19. Are those "Kolonada" wafers meant to be filled or spread with something, or just eaten plain? Except for the embossings, they look to me like oversized communion wafers. I assume, though, that they have far more flavor than those, and that they are on the sweet side. Now pardon me while I clean the drool off my keyboard. Everything looks lovely, and since I have sour cream, paprika and onions on hand, I guess I'll have to buy a chicken (and a new Crock-Pot; the hinged lid on my current one's broken) over the weekend.
  20. Nice working in of the tram shot! I understand that the Czech Republic-based manufacturer ČKD Tatra is the only company now making streetcars using the legendary (Electric Railway) Presidents' Conference Committee design and technology developed in the 1930s (those rounded, streamlined trolleycars you see on Market Street in San Francisco are "PCCs"); the car in that photo looks like it has the PCC DNA in it. (A quick Wikipedia search confirms this: the tram in this picture is a Tatra T3, apparently still the most common tram on Prague streets, in modernized form.) Now: does Popcorn sell popcorn? Does that bar have a problem with cockroaches? A small but vocal group of American physicists are waging an ongoing campaign to restore Nikola Tesla to his proper place in the history of electricity. In the US, he is a relative unknown compared to names like Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, yet arguably none of what those two did would have been possible without Tesla. I'll bet this stained glass window also dates to the 1930s; am I right? (There seems to be a lot of Art Deco and early Modernist design surviving in excellent condition in Prague; that alone is worth a trip to see -- the food is a nice bonus.) Is the radio company (still|back) in business? You might want to consider relocating to Philadelphia until such time as you can afford to move to Prague. Over the past decade or so, a fairly robust sidewalk cafe/dining scene has emerged along this city's famously narrow streets and sidewalks. There's a coffee shop right across from my building's front door that's a popular outdoor hangout in good weather.
  21. You can still find Frank's sodas around, but not as widely as you could before the company was sold to an outfit in Elizabeth, NJ. There is now a local boutique soda bottler called Hank's that makes a good Black Cherry Wishniak.
  22. Thanks for all your answers, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week. (FTR: 55-minute suburban train ride from central Philadelphia to a far suburb, with a five-minute walk at each end of the trip.) All those Czech foods sound yummy. That sirloin dish sounds like main course and dessert rolled into one, and therefore intriguing. Wonder how the sweetness of the berries and whipped cream plays off the rich, savory flavor of the beef? But what I'd like to see is: Are these anything like fried mozzarella sticks? Or is a softer cheese like cream cheese used? Speaking of cream cheese: I assume that Philadelphia is widely available in Prague.
  23. Hello and welcome to the ranks of eG foodbloggers! I assume your posting handle derives from your time in Israel? What led you to choose it? (Rehoboth Beach, Del., is a popular vacation spot for both Philadelphians and Washingtonians. Variant spelling, I realize.) Do you live in central Prague? If so, then greetings, fellow reverse commuter, from eG's resident transit geek. What do you take? Bus, tram, metro, or suburban train, or some combination of the foregoing? (I know it's somewhat off-topic, but as these foodblogs are part gastronomic diary and part travelogue, if you can work in a Prague tram in your travels, I'd appreciate it.) That spread sounds good, and it sounds like something you can make at home. Got a recipe? And they look something like Kaiser rolls. Are they related? These resemble mini-sub rolls. How long are they, and how much has their price risen since January? What is the purpose of the photo array behind the scale in this photo? I also note cases of real Budweiser in your collection of beer photos. I recall reading that Anheuser-Busch has tried to block the brewery in Ceske Budovice from using its name outside the Czech Republic. Has the EU caved in to their pressure? (In the U.S., Budweiser Budvar is sold as Czechvar.)
  24. Actually, I meant "a better buy than traveling to Spain for some," but no matter -- I see I have no excuse not to pick up some La Quercia prosciutto on a future shopping trip. That Whole Foods is right across the street from my primary supermarket, as chronicled in my first foodblog.
  25. I note with approval the institutional-size jar of cayenne pepper in your dinner shots from yesterday. I take this to be a sign that you and Mr. Kim love spicy foods. Does gastric bypass surgery affect your ability to consume hot or spicy dishes? I know that people with kidney failure must avoid them (as well as whole grain bread, much to my consternation. No, my kidneys are fine -- I have a diabetic roommate [type 1] whose kidneys gave out. But I avoid plain old soft white bread unless I'm making grilled cheese sandwiches or French toast.)
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