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Everything posted by philadining

  1. I can't add anything original to these comments, but feel compelled to join the chorus thanking Steven (and Jason) for creating such an amazing space for exchanging knowledge and fostering lasting personal relationships. Along with so many others here, I've made enduring friends through eGullet, and gained an amazing education about food and drink as well. I can credit eG with leading to a few professional opportunities as well. I'm thankful for the contributions of so many people here on this site over the years, but most of all to those that did the heavy lifting to build and maintain it. I'm not sure any of us understand all the shifts in technology and behavior that have resulted in so many of us drifting away from the site, but it remains an amazing resource, and certainly catalyzed a lot of amazing projects over the years. It's too bad that something so sad was the reason, but it's been really heartwarming to see so many old names and avatars in this thread, it feels kind of like old times. (Although somebody might have to start an argument or go off on a tangent... ) Hope everybody's doing well, nice to "see" you all back up here again. And I join you in offering my condolences to Steven's family, and again, offering heartfelt thanks to him for providing this place where we all met.
  2. With the ubiquity of cell-phone cameras and easily-pocketable point-and-shoots, it seems to me that people are taking pictures of practically everything these days, and posting them immediately to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, wherever. There's little self-consciousness about flashes, about whether bystanders actually want to be in your shot, especially when it's being posted publicly... I find much of that quite annoying, and that's usually just people taking pictures of each other. As many have already stated, it's more a matter of courtesy and consideration: if you can do it without bothering anyone, what could they possibly complain about? But if you are making a scene: using flash, or making noise, or putting yourself or some equipment in someone else's personal space, or invading people's privacy, well you're just being obnoxious. I've been shooting pictures of my food for years, often with a DSLR, and I try very hard to be quick and discrete. I used to get weird looks from servers and owners, but photographing one's food has become so common now that it's completely unremarkable. I used to get questions about what I was doing, now I usually get advice about what the best angle is, or a request for a copy of the photos. If the light is good, an iPhone or other small camera can do remarkably well, but in lower light, an SLR is much more useful. It's possible to shoot quickly and not cause a disturbance, even with a big camera. People just need to be conscious of everyone around them, any try not to be jerks... Now, if we can just eliminate the true menace of modern pop photography: subjecting your food photos to washed-out-yet over-saturated Instagram filters, we'd be getting somewhere. No, making your sandwich photo appear to be a long-lost Polaroid that's been left on the dashboard for 10 years does NOT make it more appealing...
  3. In the flurry of (late-night) posting I somehow left off the Haloumi photo, that was the fried cheese - perhaps we can get a more Zahavified description from Jim or someone... I'm not sure whether some powerful admin can go back and revise earlier posts to integrate all this info, but if not, maybe I'll just make a new post that intersperses photos and descriptions. I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing about the pot-luck on saturday. I'm sorry to have missed that, and brunch on sunday, and general mingling and socializing. I hope all the visitors enjoyed Philly!
  4. It might be a little too late... but we'll see what time it is when we finish up at Zahav. If we can make it, I'd be up for it! They're usually open until midnight-ish on fridays in the summer.
  5. Didn't have the good camera with me last night - but I promise to bring it to Zahav! But I couldn't resist a quick iPhone snapshot during our stop at Capogiro: Yep, that's Ramos Gin Fizz Gelato. I can't say it tastes just like the cocktail, but it was good! I love their bitter chocolate gelato, but I might actually prefer the sorbetto, when they have it. It's a pure, direct chocolate bomb... (Paired here with Cactus Pear... ) So, note to other visitors, get to a Capogiro! There are several: 13th and Sansom 20th and Sansom 3925 Walnut in University City (West Philly) 1625 East Passyunk Ave (South Philly) more info, hours, flavors, etc: http://capogirogelato.com
  6. Percy makes a good point: if you're in the mood for an upscale meal, Sbraga is a good choice. FWIW, we've also been loving the food at Vernick lately if you just want a non-thematic, just plain great meal! Also of potential interest: Vedge is an excellent vegetable-centered restaurant. It happens to be completley vegan (or "vegenough" as the owners put it) but that's almost secondary, the food is delicious. It might be tough to get a table on short notice, but you can usually find room at the bar, if nothing else. I wish we had all of you here for about two weeks, we could put a better dent in our favorite places...
  7. Esquire just called Philly the "Late Night Capitol of the US" which seems odd to me, as much as I enjoy most of the places they listed. I guess I take it for granted that you can get something good to eat at midnight at a LOT of places in town. After 1 am, the pickings are slim... I think it's largely due to our excellent "bars that serve good food"scene. Those places are more often referred to as "gastropubs" but that doesn't seem quite right, in that the majority of places in Philly are less expensive, and less fancy, than that term implies, especially in other cities. In Philly, it's usually a bar with a great beer selection, probably a few good wines by the glass, and maybe cocktails. The menu will be a step-up from typical wings-and-burgers bar food (although there may be wings, and burgers... but probably really good ones, not stuff just pulled from the freezer and dropped in the fryer!) There's probably a specials board, with a few things that lean a little more toward an upscale restaurant. The real defining characteristic is that there's a real kitchen, with chefs and cooks that are actually trying, not just banging out some salty snacks to keep the beer flowing. They hit a lot of them here: http://www.esquire.com/features/food-drink/late-night-0912/philadelphia-late-night#slide-1 I'm especially partial to the Standard Tap, the Royal Tavern and the Khyber Pass Pub myself...
  8. I plan to, so we'll give you an update! Ramos Gin Fizzes for everyone!
  9. Oh, right, and Chinatown, which is right out behind the Reading Terminal Market, has more to offer than just Rangoon. Slightly unusual spots include: Dim Sum Garden, featuring Shanhhainese snacks, most importantly Shainghai Juicy Buns, or Xiao Long Bao, what we tend to call "soup dumplings." But all the dumpling-ish things are pretty great, as are most of the noodle dishes. Dim Sum Garden is right behind the RTM, on 10th St, near Arch, in a dismal-looking littel storefront, usually with a bus parked out in front of it. Some former workers from Dim Sum Garden opened Sakura Mandarin at the corner of 11th and Race, and they have some of the same food, including Xiao Long Bao, and very good, unusual, scallion pancakes. They also have sushi, which I find weird, but I'm told it's actually pretty good... But I'd stick to the Shanghainese stuff. There are also interesting soup dumplings, in a different style, at the unimpressive-looking "Chinatown Restaurant" on the corner of 10th and Arch, right under the big Chinatown arch. On the surface, this is a boring, Chinatown-cliche place, but ask for the Fuzhou menu, and you'll find lots of interesting things! The "steamed Shanghai buns" are smaller, but tasty... There are plenty of other interesting things on that traditional menu too, like Lychee Pork, stir-fried jellyfish, oyster pancakes, clams in Fu Chow sauce, etc.. Across 10th st, at Empress Garden, you can find Taiwanese specialties, like 3 Cup Chicken, and Beef Noodle Soup. Also nearby on 10th is Penang, with very good Malaysian food. There's a spin-off called Banana Leaf on Arch street that's almost identical, except that they don't have a liquor license. Sang Kee, at 9th near Vine, is very good for Peking Duck, and other roast meats, and noodle soups. Ting Wong on 10th near Race is good too, and M-Kee around the corner on Race isn't bad, if they haven't run out of everything. Nan Zhou hand-drawn noodles on Race makes... come-on, you can guess... Lan Zhou on 10th does too, but I think Nan Zhou is a little better... For fresh Cantonese seafood, Ken's Seafood at 1004 Race is our fave, but Tai Lake will fill the bill too. Both of those places are open late. If you want food REALLY late (especially excellent fried dumplings with ginger sauce) David's Mai Lai Wah is an after-hours tradition. Four Rivers does good Sichuan, and some Shanghainese too, but you might just want to wait for sunday brunch at Han Dynasty! Again, if you're looking for something in specific, just ask....
  10. Oh right, and drinks! You can most often find eG folks lurking around Southwark, at 4th and Bainbridge, or the Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company on 18th, between Sansom and Chestnut, or at Village Whiskey at 20th and Sansom. If you're up in Fairmont/Art Museum area, we'd be at Lemon Hill, or if you're a beer geek, Brigid's (especially for Belgians), or maybe London Grill. In Chinatown, there's Hop Sing Laundromat, if you're into the secret speakeasy thing, or The Trestle, if you like to drink cocktails accompanied by Go-Go dancers (no, not strippers, Go-Go dancers!) If you're into beer, you'll do well almost anywhere in the city, but you might especially consider Brigid's, Monk's, Standard Tap, Khyber Pass Pub, and... you know, there are too many to list! Luckily, there's a great beer list almost anywhere you go. Into obscure Italian craft brews? go to Alla Spina. Belgians? Monks or Brigid's. Local beer? close your eyes, spin around, and walk into the first bar you see, you'll do fine. Wine? There are several Tria wine bars with nice selections by the glass. a. kitchen has a very nice list. "Il bar" at Panorama in the Penn's View Hotel, has, like 100 bottles on-tap... Want something in specific? just ask, we probably know a place!
  11. I'm bummed that I'll have to be out of town on saturday and sunday, and be working during the day friday, but I'm looking forward to seeing you folks on Friday night for sure, and if anyone is in town thursday night (tonight) and looking for fun, get in touch with Katie, or even just post here, and we'll do our best to entertain you! If you find yourself with time on your own, Holly posted an excellent list of Philly-centric destinations, I wouldn't dare challenge that list - oh wait - I WILL on one point! If you're in Philly doing a Philly food tour, don't spend calories and stomach space on the Shake Shack!!! It's good and all, but it's a NY import, and you know, it's a burger and fries! I might agree that one of their locally-themed "concretes" would be worth it, but then, you're diagonally across the corner from Capogiro, and you really ought to just be getting gelato or sorbetto over there! If you really want a burger, go across the street to Village Whiskey, or maybe even skip the burger and get the duck fat fries covered in shreds of braised shortrib and beer-spiked cheddar cheese. I'll also second CDH's recommendation of Rangoon in Chinatown. Burmese restaurants are few and far between and this is a good one. We're also very strong in Vietnamese, with a big concentration of those places down in or near the Italian Market. We love the Pho and the Bun Bo Hue at Cafe Diem on 8th st near Washington Ave. Cafe Nuh Y near the corner of 8th and Christian has really good Banh Mi. Viet Hwong and Nam Phuong near 11th and Washington are good large-menu places. If you're interested in Cambodian, or Indonsesian, or Lao... we can hook you up, just ask... There's also lots of Mexican in the Italian Market. Taquitos de Puebla right on 9th Street does and outstanding Tacos al Pastor, but you can probably follow your nose, and do pretty well... I wouldn't worry about not having the guided tour of the Italian Market, you can go just fine strolling along by yourself. Be sure to check out both Claudios and DiBruno's, although once you have, you may be forced to pledge allegiance to one or the other! Just wandering down 9th street will provide plenty of entertainment. While in that neighborhood, there are a couple of big Asian supermarkets, if you're interested in that kind of thing. There's one at 6th and Washington, and one in the plaza at 11th and Washington.
  12. They're open for lunch and dinner every day except Monday (closed all day) I'm not sure how late they're usually open, but I went by last Sunday mid-evening and there was a "Sold-Out" sign out front, so there may be a finite amount of dough, and on busy days you may need to get there a little earlier than others! I dropped by at about 5pm on a saturday, and they were doing a steady business of eat-in and take-out. I don't think that a classic Neapolitan crust like this survives very well in a box, ideally it should be eaten immediately, but I guess the reality is that many people think of pizza as a take-out food, and there's no fighting that. And sure, even cooled-down and steamed inside a box, it's still going to be tastier than anything else in town, but folks should really should do themselves a favor and eat it in the restaurant, it's really at its best right out of the oven. Well, OK it's really freaking hot right out of the oven, so it needs to sit for a minute or two, I suggest taking pictures of it while you wait for it to cool down a little. That's a regular Margherita with sopressata. It's a bit heavier on the cheese than you'll find in most traditional Neapolitan places, but it's also very likely what most Americans are accustomed to. It also happens to be delicious, and although so much cheese can sometimes negatively influence the crust texture, in this case, the crust held up just fine. And this one had the perfect level of doneness, a bit of char on the bottom, which accentuated the nuttiness of the crust, and made the texture especailly nice, with a great combination of crunch and pillowy softness and chewiness. If you want the classic Neapolitan pizza, I'd recommend going for the Regina Margherita, which features the Mozzarella di bufala, and also lets the fresh, bright flavors of the tomato sauce shine through. If you're more a fan of a cheesey NY-style pizza, go for the regular Margherita. Of course there's also a white pizza, with no sauce, and a Marinara, which is sauce and no cheese. Right now, sopressata is the only optional topping that's offered, and I don't expect to see too many others, this place is more about the purity of the basic high-quality components. But if you're interested, it probably can't hurt to ask if there are any other topping options on any given night: I thought I overheard something about anchovies, and I'm sure I smelled them, which made me contemplate ordering another pizza...
  13. $170 USD. So much more reasonable - wonder why they are unavailable - perhaps too popular? I noticed that the SideKic indeed seemed to be chronically unavailable, with no indications of it coming back in stock, so I emailed the company. They replied that they just can't keep them in stock, and that they should be available again soon. And sure enough, after checking a few more times with no change, suddenly they were back in stock, I ordered one, it showed up today, so they do exist in the real world. So it's not as dire as the Amazon language makes it seem, they do appear, then sell out, so just stay vigilant, if you want a SideKic... I do like the shape of the Nomiku though, it looks like its deeper reach would avoid some of the water-level/evaporation problems that the SideKic can have.
  14. +1 on Wiviott's Low and Slow. I've gotten really good results following his very clear, logical steps, and trying to ignore all the other widely-divergent smoker advice out there. His techniques seem eminently sensible, and have worked for me, while using a very modest, inexpensive vertical smoker, so I've become a true believer. However, I've found that becoming a believer is bound to get you into fist fights with followers of other paths, especially when to comes to the issue of (not) soaking your wood. If you thought arguments over religion could be heated and violent, just wait until you get a few smoker enthusiasts together...
  15. Some of you may recall my posts from about a year and a half ago, about stumbling across some extraordinary pizza in Phoenixville. A local bakery was staying open on the evenings, and serving Neapolitan-style pizzas. It was an interesting story: the pizzas weren't being made by the baker, they were a labor of love of a local guy named Frank, who had walked by the bakery, noticed the wood-fired brick oven, and asked if he could make pizzas in it. It turns out the guy has some pizza-making skills! But, just as this arrangement was building some momentum, the bakery closed. There had been just enough excitement about the pizzas that Frank, the pizza guy, had some ideas about opening his own place. I'd been keeping my eyes open, but haddn't seen any indications of anything for over a year, until a friend of mine told me that Frank had gotten a storefront on Bridge Street, just a few blocks up from the bakery where the pizza project had started. It's a great spot: right across Bridge street from Majolica and The Black Lab Bistro, across Gay street from Thai L'Elephant, so it's kind-of restaurant central for Phoenixville. It's called Vecchia Pizzeria Napoletana. It's a small restaurant, dominated by a beautiful domed wood-burning oven, apparently built by some artisans from Naples, who go around building these traditional ovens. There are tables along the side, and in the back, probably room for 40-people or so, and there are even a couple of small tables out front on the sidewalk when it's nice out. He'd only been open a day or two when I first visited, and I've heard stories from lots of these kinds of pizza places about the oven talking a while to settle in, and it taking the pizzaiolo a while to dial-in the exact timings and technique for ideal results. (Some friends and I went to Stella pizza on their first night open to the public, and sat at the counter, where we could see Chef Painter rejecting almost 50% of the pizzas, for one reason or another... ) So I'm going to refrain from making any broad pronouncements about the pizza at this early date. However, regardless of any of those issues, my first pizza at this spot was very good. That was the Regina Margherita, made from ingredients imported from Italy: 00 flour, San Marzano Tomatoes, Mozzarella di Bufala. OK, the basil and the water probably didn't come from Italy, but everything else! The flavors and textures were excellent, and "correct" for this style: nice puffy cornicione around the edge; the center, a little soft; the edges, a bit charred, with some bubbles and lumps and craggs; only a little bit of cheese, so it doesn't get too wet; nice bright, fresh-tasting un-cooked tomato sauce. If I had any complaints, it's that I would have liked it charred even a little darker, but that's my particular taste, and it's a valid point of debate - I'm not sure there's one proper degree of doneness, and I know some people get freaked-out by too many black spots. I'm going to wait and see how it goes as time goes by, and perhaps let them know my preference, and see what happens. There's a very limited menu for now: the Regina Margherita, a "regular" Margherita with domestic mozzarella, a Marinara (no cheese), and a white pizza (no sauce). You can upgrade the white pizza with Mozzarella di Bufala, and you can add Soppressata, but that's it. I wouldn't be surprised if that's what the menu will be: I've been to Neapolitan-style pizza places that had permanent menus very similar to that. The famous Una Pizza Napoletana in NYC (now in San Francisco) had that basic list, except for a white pizza with cherry tomatoes on it. So I'm very excited by this place. Of course that's amplified by it being close to where I live, so the potential for getting here easily and often increases its subjective value to me! But my early impressions are very good, and I'm hopefull that they'll only improve! I'll be very interested to hear impressions from others. I'm not yet sure about the hours and days of operation, or even a website or Facebookpage, but I'll update when I find that out.
  16. So.... after about a year and a half, there is a happy ending to this story! I'm going to start a new thread, because this name and location no longer exists, but the pizza maker from this bakery has opened his own place, just a few blocks up on Bridge Street from the old location. It's called Vecchia Pizza Napoletana, and he's had a traditional domed oven built, apparently by Italian artisans who do only that... and he's cranking out classic Neapolitan pizza. He's only been open a couple of days, but my first taste was quite promising!
  17. I suspect the songwriter just forgot (or didn't know) about the original location.
  18. I get a semi-regular supply of muffulettas from Central Grocery, so I'm really hard to please in that category! Shortly after Beck's opened, I had a quarter of a muffuletta there at the counter and it although it looked great, it tasted like a baloney sandwich, just blah. It was kind of mystifying, really, with olive salad and Italian cold cuts, it doesn't even seem possible. The gumbo and jambalaya were even more disappointing, but then, it was early days, maybe they've gotten their whole act better together. I'm just as picky about Po Boys. But happily there's now an alternative to making a drive to Boothwyn to Cajun Kate's. A mere 10 blocks or so from the RTM, The Khyber Pass Pub has Po Boys that are just so ridiculously good that it almost satisfies my desire to travel to New Orleans. It's largely about the roll: Cajun Kate's has Po Boy rolls baked for them that are amazingly similar to the ones you get in New Orleans. The Khyber went one step further and gets actual Leidenhiemer rolls shipped in from Louisiana, and it makes a huge difference. Of course the fillings have to be right too, and the Khyber has the best roast beef with debris... That said, the more the merrier, so I'll certainly give Beck's another try. But if you make me skip a DiNic's sandwich (or a Khyber Po Boy) for nothing, there WILL be consequences!!
  19. I think we are FAR from saturation. How many Italian restaurants are there in Philly? Mexican? Chinese? There's room for German places to find their own niches, they're not all trying to do the same thing, and even if they are, there's no reason that a city the size of Philly can't support more than one German restaurant. Think of any regional cuisine out there: there are plenty of conceptually similar places that don't really compete with one another, because of location, or price point, or whatever. A new taqueria?!? Don't we have enough taquerias? Nope, no such thing. I'll say the same for wurst stands and grand beer halls and fancy, formal German restaurants too. If they're good, and in tune with the fact that it's 2012, I say the more, the better!
  20. I haven't gone back to Beck's for anything after a very disappointing meal shortly after they opened, but next time I'm in the RTM, I might just have to try the beignets... I can testify that they serve an excellent version at the Khyber Pass Pub, at weekend brunch (11am-4pm saturday and sunday) and yes, you can get a Community Coffee Cafe au Lait too. Chick's had really good little ones as a frequent dessert special, and the dipping sauces were great too. I'm not sure if they're still common on their menu, anybody had them lately? We ordered beignets at Vedge the other day, and while they were pretty tasty, I'm not sure I'd even call them beignets, they were more like churros. I like the ones at Cajun Kate's, but I've just been too lazy to drive down there... I'll have to fix that sometime soon, I like those guys, and their food, but it somehow keeps feeling further and further away as time goes by!
  21. http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/117864-cajun-kates/
  22. I know this won't necessarily predict anything about the level of interest in a Heartland Gathering in Philly in 2012, but just to get a vague sense - how many people generally have come to the previous events? And how did it feel - was the group too large to manage easily, or did you wish more folks had participated? Obviously, for some of the events held in restaurants, we're going to have to impose some finite capacity, but some of the less-formal things might be more liquid. But leading a tour through a market with 150 people in tow is not going to work too well... And if we're planning to get together and cook together, how many people might we be we talking about? Again, I know this year's is likely to be different from previous ones due to its location, but anybody care to offer a ballpark guess about numbers based on previous years?
  23. Happy to be on-board helping Katie with local logistics. We were discussing putting together a guide/map with some other local highlights that folks might want to hit on their own, in-between organized events. I'm sure there'll be a few informal meet-ups in the margins, but we'll try to get something down on paper, and up on the web, so participants can indulge their personal manias. We might even grudgingly tell you where the good cheesesteaks are. Be sure to let us know if there's something in particular that you're interested in experiencing. We'll make a list of stuff we think is especially cool, and unique to Philly, but there very well could be things that we take for granted. I think it's only practical to focus on food and drink, but I'm sure we can drop a few pointers to local historical and cultural attractions. Especially if they have good food nearby.
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