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Everything posted by orion

  1. I don't remember seeing things like this in years past (maybe I just didn't notice), but this year it seems at least a few restaurants a doing set New Year group meals. As I was perusing Chung King Garden's menu online today, I noticed they have a set menu they are offering for groups of ten for a couple weeks in February. (It didn't look all that exciting to me, honestly). Also, when I went to pick up my lunch from Szechuan Tasty House today, they have a big sign in Chinese advertising what seemed to be two menu options, one for something like $270 and one for around $150 I believe (I may even be interpreting the sign incorrectly). Though they didn't have any information inside in English, I was told I could call ahead and set up my own a groups of 6, 8, or 10. I'm tempted to put a group together but I'm not sure I'm up for the hassle of it. Thought some of you would like to know though.
  2. The Post-Gazette is running a four-part series on the PLCB that's interesting and infuriating. This thread is cited in one of the articles as are several posters. There doesn't seem to be an overview link, but here is a link for an article from today that includes links to the other articles published so far. There will be more tomorrow and Wednesday: Post-Gazette PLCB series
  3. I look forward to the Penn Museum event like kids look forward to Christmas. The tutored tasting is nice and informative, but the real treat is having 90 minutes to taste an insanely good and huge lineup of beers. The Real Ale Festival looks very promising as well. I can't get enough cask-conditioned beers.
  4. Actually the euro is up to a shocking $1.47. I was thinking in terms of the $1.25 or so it was last fall. Jamon iberico de bellota is a good bit more expensive than just plain jamon iberico (what's available so far in the US) and I did pick out the most expensive one - there were others cheaper by 10 or 20 euros/kilo IIRC - but you're right, figuring in the absurd exchange rate I'm not sure the price is much different at all. That's depressing. *edited for tags*
  5. I noticed that this morning as well and was a little peeved. Especially since I've been to the Ferry Market in SF a couple times and would definitely take the Terminal Market over it. Maybe I didn't spend enough time there, and I wasn't there on Saturday when they have the additional farmer's market outside, but it seemed to me no comparison as an all-around market. And it's not as if SF, Seattle and Philly (the three American cities cited in the article) are the exceptions...NYC's the one lagging behind cities like Baltimore, Cleveland and Columbus in this regard, just to name a few.
  6. Oh, and the stuff I had did indeed melt in my mouth like butter.
  7. One of my fondest memories from spending a month in Madrid last year was tasting jamon iberico de bellota (from pata negra pigs who are fed exlusively acorns, I believe). I had ignored it for most of my time in Spain until it came up in conversation. A German thought it was overrated and a Spaniard contradicted him, saying that it melts in your mouth like butter. So, I went down to el Corte Ingles in the Puerta del Sol, (a mammoth dept store chain that has a large gourmet foods section in Madrid) and selected the most expensive one they had (it's quite a sight, even for Spain, with 30 or so hams hanging on a wall all in a row). I got 50 grams I think, and paid 7+ euros for a handful of slices. (I remember it being 180 euros/kilo, but the math doesn't add up...maybe though). In any case, I couldn't wait to dig in and was scarfing down ham from one hand and a baguette from the other while walking down the street a little after sunset. It was easiest the best ham I'd ever had and definitely was a big step up from Jamon Serrano. Still, even at Spanish prices I would need a pretty big excuse to justify the expense. Maybe NYE is reason enough to try a few slices of the stuff that's made it through the FDA hoops and see how it stacks up.
  8. Not Bishop's Collar at 24th and Fairmount? I had brunch there a couple of years ago and remember liking it.
  9. I was considering including El Fuego as well but didn't since it is fast food...though so is Hardena and Jose's really. I've had dozens of great lunches at el fuego, nearly always the veggie burrito, which includes guac, sour cream, cheese, salad and a mix of stewed peppers and onions that's awesome. In fact, that's what I'll get for lunch today. It's not quite as good SF burritos, but maybe the only CA-style burrito in Philly that's worth eating for me.
  10. And of course, there's Hardena. Cheap and good. ← Hardena is exactly what I was thinking of. I just wish it was spicier.
  11. Tampopo at 21st and Chestnut and Jeweler's Row. Especially the Fresh Tuna BiBimbap. Sang Kee at 9th and Winter. Especially the Roast Duck Wonton Noodle Soup, which is my favorite soup in town. Tiffin at 7th and Girard. This place is so much better than other Indian in town it's not even funny. Prices keep going up but it's still a deal. Especially the funky delivery service if you, unlike me, are good at knowing that you want Indian food hours in advance. I second Jose's, probably the best value for Mexican in town, especially the $5 lunch plates. Grace at 21st and Gray's Ferry has my favorite burger, Martin's Sausages, good beer, better fries than Monk's and the same bourbon mayo. Of course, I never stop at one beer there, which puts it over $15. Divan in Gray's Ferry is probably slightly over $15pp for the cheapest meal you could have there, but not by much, and I still think it's one of the best values in town. Finally, while trying to look up an Indonesian deli that's dirt cheap and not bad (at 10th and Mountain maybe?), I came across a review of a full service place called Indonesia at 17th and Snyder in the most recent Citypaper. Looks very promising.
  12. Actually, that's probably not soy sauce on the table: typically places like this just use the soy sauce bottles for the dumpling sauce, which seems to always be a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and a little bit of sesame oil. (Sometimes the contents of the sriracha bottle are different too...the hot sauce is sometimes much thinner than sriracha is.) And if you think $2.50 is a great deal for the dumplings, you should check out the places in NYC that charge $1!
  13. I've just gotten back to Philly after being away for a few months so I don't know how new this place is or if it was covered somewhere on the board already, but I don't see anything and this is a fairly big deal to me. Philly's Chinatown finally has an answer to all the delicious and dirt-cheap dumpling places that can be found in NYC's. Whenever I take the Chinatown bus to the city I usually can't resist a sesame pancake and an order of fried dumplings from Dumpling House on Eldrige St, where 6 delicious pork and chive dumplings are a buck and a sesame pancake with beef is $1.50. Now there's a Dumpling House in Philly (I don't think there's any connection to the NYC store though), and though it's a bit more expensive, there is finally a place to get sesame pancakes and cheap dumplings. Yesterday I tried the pork and chive dumplings, $2.50 an order, and a sesame pancake, which was 75 cents but didn't have any filling. (I figured the basic version would at least include the cilantro and pickled carrots but apparently that's the "vegetable stuffed sesame pancake.") The dumplings were awesome, maybe not quite up to Dumpling House or Dumpling Man in NYC but close enough for me. The Sesame pancake was a bit different than I'm used to. For one, it was an individual bun instead of a slice of a pie-shaped loaf as in NYC. It seemed fresh-made and was nice and crispy on the outside. It was pretty good all around besides being too thick though, with too much doughy inside. I'll happily take it as a first step though. I'll be definitely making it part of my lunchtime rotation. It's between 9th and 10th on Race, in one of the storefronts between Xe Lua and Nan Zhou.
  14. orion

    Cooking with Beer

    I'm looking for some advice: There's a great beer bar in Pittsburgh that serves a terrific Hop Devil Potato Soup, made with cheddar cheese, potatos, bacon and Victory's fantastic IPA. I've improvised a version on my own which was pretty good but a bit bitter. Last time I think I substituted a half a cup or a cup of Hop Devil for an equal amount of the recipe's 3 cups of chicken stock. I'm thinking I need some sweetener but I'm loathe to just add sugar. What should I use to sweeten it? Or maybe I just used too much beer? Does a .5 cup beer vs. 2.5 cups stock sound right? (There's also 1.5 cups cream.)
  15. I filed away this post in some corner of my head for the past year and finally had occasion to seek it out last weekend. We spotted two Korean places in the shopping center by the 7/11, wandered into both and asked if they had fried chicken. Neither place did and no one claimed to know of a place in the neighborhood that did. One place looked really good and our girlfriends would have been plenty happy to stay, but my friend and I stubbornly decided to walk around the block to see if there was anything else. We finally spotted a place on Cheltenham with large windows and brightly painted walls that seemed fairly busy despite being quite large. We stared and pointed at a group of Korean girl's table, much to their discomfort, trying to see if they were eating chicken. We went in, my friend went to their table to ask while I talked to the host. They did have fried chicken, although it wasn't the place mentioned above since it had only been open for a day. Close enough for us. The place had a very cool vibe...nearly everyone in the restaurant was a stylish 20-something Korean, and everyone seemed to be there more for drinks than food, although the foil-covered baskets of chicken were ubiquitous. A boisterous table in a corner were celebrating a birthday with a bottle of Johnny Walked black label and a lot of chicken...not a bad idea. The host was friendly and apologized that there were no menus yet in English and did his best to translate the menu on the wall, which didn't help very much. (I figure it's a safe bet that we were the first non-Koreans to eat there). Anyone read Korean? We got some soju for $12: and my friend got something called pocky maybe, a sort of ice cream soda involving what seemed to be a few pocky sticks and fruity pebbles. Looked tasty. For the grand opening, pitchers of lager were only $6(!) which washed down an order of spicy fried chicken quite well. (This was after we had dug in a bit already...) I've never had Korean friend chicken before and it's as impressive as the article in the nytimes suggested a few months back: super-light and crispy, w/o the heavy greasiness that keeps me from eating American fried chicken too often. I definitely wish I could get this closer to home in South Philly! The four of us split an order and were still somewhat hungry afterwards and wanted to try something different. We tried asking a waiter what else we could have and he suggested nachos. Hmmm...Instead I pointed at some noodles at another table and asked for those, as well as the white cubes that everyone seemed to have with their chicken. These were called "moo," I think, and tasted pretty much like kimchee w/o the sauce. The cold, sour and salty pickled radish would have been awesome with the fried chicken...wish we had asked sooner! The noodles came with conch and a spicy sour sauce that was pretty tasty. The conch was a little rubbery but it made pretty good drinking food as well. All in all it was a pretty great experience, and the kind of night I really enjoy...not really having much of a clue of what I was ordering and getting a glimpse of the way another culture eats and drinks w/o having to worry about the restaurant pandering to what they think we wanted to eat. Although the waiters had some trouble communicating, they were really excited that we wanted to try something we weren't familiar with and enjoyed it when it came. And it was pretty fun being the only table in the place speaking English. The only downside was that it was a little bit more expensive that we expected. The chicken was $20/order and the noodles were $25. Still, that's not bad considering those two dishes were more than enough to feed four of us, but with how addictive the chicken is I could easily put away an order by myself. I'd love to know where the other place is in the neighborhood up there to try it out. In the meantime I think I will be checking out the place at Church and Chambers in NYC one of the next times I'm up there.
  16. That's odd for a "Mexican" place. Papas a la huancaina is one of the more famous Peruvian dishes. It is indeed a spicy creamy cheese sauce served over potatoes. I think they have it on the menu at Sol del Peru.
  17. I once went to a bunch of the South Philly tiendas looking for fresh epazote and never found any. However, the produce tables on 9th St that are run by Mexicans sometimes have it. One time one of them told me they only had it on weekends, but even then it's not always there. Of course, most if not all of the tiendas have dried epazote, although I've never tried using it.
  18. Vichyssoise was a special at Audrey Claire last night. I pass by them every day and specials tend to stay a while, so it's more likely than not that it's still there today.
  19. Thanks Vadouvan... I was pretty shocked at how not dry the Sockeye was with the slow-roast method actually. I'm going to have to try with wild King salmon now. Those two techniques you described are very intriguing, but realistically unlikely for someone of my limited skills and ambition. (And my refrigerator is far, far from monkishly clean.) My anal nature appreciates your explicit instructions though, and the "salmon tartare canneloni" especially sounds pretty bangin'.
  20. There was Copper River sockeye at the terminal market yesterday for $12.99/lb. (The fishmonger closest to Arch St, by Metro and Fair Foods) I was a little confused, since I thought the season ended a month ago, and prices are usually twice that, but I guess both can be attributed to the fact that the fish must have been frozen for a month? Or is there another explanation? I'm not a huge salmon lover, but this being the first time I've seen CR salmon in Philly, I picked some up and used Vadouvan's now famous method (for king salmon, I know) and it was indeed the best salmon I've tasted in my limited experience, with the creaminess and nuance of flavor mentioned by others. Vadouvan, since you explicitly specified King salmon for the slow-roast technique b/c of its higher fat content...is there an alternative treatment you prefer for Sockeye? (Incidently, hello everyone, I've been lurking since the Maraschino discussion last summer and was finally lured out of the shadows by my questions above...)
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