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Category Archives: delicious

Oh, You Fancy, Huh? : Birthday Edition

I’ve finally awakened from my food coma so that I can recap the amazing dinner I had this past weekend at Zahav’s chef’s counter; a must-try culinary experience of 10-12 courses crafted by Chef Michael Solomonov himself. Here are the rules: The chef’s tasting is only offered on Friday & Saturday nights, there’s only one seating at 7:30 PM, and there’s only 4 seats available; you must purchase 2 seats at least a month in advance (It’s only $90/pp & they go like hot latkes!). You can also opt for a $50/pp beverage pairing when you arrive. DO THE BEVERAGE PAIRING! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

I apologize in advance for the lack of details on some of the dishes, as there was no written menu. But just sit back, relax & enjoy the food porn!

Course 1: Potato Chip starter, topped with chives & bottarga

Course 2: Zahav’s infamously delicious hummus, served with fluffy pita bread, lamb’s tongue & pickles

Course 3: Dried figs topped with feta

Course 4: Beet “tartare” with an Avocado crema & Salmon roe (I know lots of people are not keen on beets, but this was tasty & creative!)

Course 5: Lentil Soup with Bone marrow & Challah (This was featured on Zahav’s Instagram page earlier in the day before our dinner, so I was super psyched!)

Course 6: Lamb crudo with Eggplant & fried artichokes (One of our favorites of the night)

Course 7: Sage & brown butter “dumpling”

Course 8: Branzino sashimi with baba ganoush (Our least favorite dish of the night; it was incredibly salty.)

Course 9: The Entree – Short rib with brussel sprouts, radishes & carrots (The short rib cut like butter!)

Course 10: Dessert #1 – Poached apple & Quince

Course 11: Dessert #2 – Dates & Turkish coffee crema

The whole entire dining experience was amazing, start to finish. Chef Solomonov even came out halfway through service to check in on us and see how we were doing. I’m glad to finally add myself to the list of people who have lived through the Chef’s Counter and can now brag/rave about it to everyone else I know! Since there isn’t a pre-set menu, they do ask you in advance if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions. They also ask if you are down to eat anything; just say yes – don’t be a baby about it! I highly recommend it for your next big special occasion – or if you just feel like having a fancy, adventurous dinner. Just dress comfortably, reserve all  your daily calories and prepare to have one of the best meals of your life.

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The Splatty Awards!

Welcome all to our 100th post! In honor of this milestone, I bring you a little something I like to call “The Splatty Awards!”: recapping the best things I have been eating, drinking & doing for the past year or so.

Best food item that comes in a jar: Tomato Conserva at In Riva 

Briefly removed from their winter menu for a few weeks in December (in which I cried into my pillow every night), the Tomato Conserva is back in action!

This sweet bruschetta will have you licking the jar clean & begging for more!

Best New York City to Philly transplant (other then myself): Shake Shack

Danny Meyer’s fast-casual burger joint quickly gained a fandom on Sansom Street in the summer of 2012, and expanded this year with outposts in University City & King of Prussia.

The Smoke Shack was initially conceived for the Philadelphia location, but has expanded to all Shacks globally.

Best food I used to be terrified of but now can’t stop eating: Oysters

Yeah, they’re slimy and salty and weird and jiggly, but they’re also delicious!

I’ve been making it my mission to hit every buck a shuck & half price oyster night in town.

Best pop-up: Lucky Old Souls’ Patty Melt Pop-up at Kennett

 When the LOS truck’s engine went kaput this fall, the team at Kennett lent them a hand – and their kitchen – for the evening to raise money for a new one.

And maybe I’m a little bit biased because it was my suggestion to turn out patty melts; a once in a blue moon burger special they were serving up on East Passyunk last spring.

Best Beer Drinking Event: Philly Beer Week Opening Tap

I’ve been partaking in Opening Tap for the past two years now, and seriously, if you’re not making this a priority during PBW, you’re missing out.

Opening Tap showcases the best and brightest of the local Philadelphia beer scene under one roof (the Independence Visitors Center, to be exact). But remember, it’s a marathon – not a sprint!

Best Beer Drinking Event Involving Animals: Summer Ale Fest at the Philadelphia Zoo

Great Beer + Local Food + Adorable Animals = One of the most awesome times you will ever have. Don’t forget to take a selfie of yourself “drinking a beer” with a tiger!

Most of the animals are actually awake compared to a day trip, and zoo docents are on hand to provide detailed information on your favorite critters.

Best Happy Hour (tie): Sampan and Alla Spina

Sampan gets the advantage as they have happy hour 7 days a week from 4-7 PM, but Alla Spina offers some great bar bites and their Victory Brewing beer collab, Novello, for only $3!

Don’t miss Sampan’s edamame dumplings or the pretzel bites with beer cheese at Alla Spina (they come in an adorable wooden piggy)!

Best Brunch: Jerry’s Bar

The Brunch crowd mourned the loss of Cafe Estelle for many months, but Marshall Green’s famous & delicious sticky buns have finally found a new home in Northern Liberties.

I hated Bloody Marys until I tried the one at Jerry’s and now I’m hooked. Seriously – best Bloody Mary ever!

Best Restaurant: Spot Burger

But isn’t Spot Burger a food truck?”, you’re probably asking yourself. Well, who says a restaurant needs to be defined by four brick walls?

 SpOt Owner/Grillmaster Josh Kim is the hardest working man in these streets right now, and he proves it on a weekly basis with his innovative specials (like a $10 Lobster Roll this summer), as well as his philanthropic efforts. He supports dozens of college organizations and local charities, frequently running specials and donating portions of his proceeds to these causes. He’s been a champion for food truck rights in Philadelphia, residing on the board of the Philly Mobile Food Association, and turned the corner of 33rd and Arch St into the “Food Truck Mecca”. So next time you see his yellow cart around, grab some grub; you won’t be disappointed! Spot serves up one of the best burgers in town.

And that concludes our awards ceremony! I hope you’ll at least check out some of the places and foods I love, in addition to the delicious burgers I recap for you guys each week. Got any great places and foods you think I should try? Post em up in the comments section and maybe they’ll wind up on my “best of” list next year!

In LOVE with Vernalicious

Every week, LOVE Park on 16th and JFK has a rotating lineup of some of the finest food trucks in Philadelphia. (Try saying that last part 5 times fast!) This Tuesday I conveniently forgot my lunch and the very awesome VERNALICIOUS truck was there to save the day!

They’re mostly well known for making an amazing pulled pork grilled cheese and on top of that, they just won the People’s Choice Award at the 2012 Vendy Awards. Once I found out they were parked down the block for lunch, I was really looking forward to one of their other hit menu items: the banh mi.

 

I opted for the tofu banh mi, since I am gearing up for Meatless March (I seriously considered getting  a burger but stopped myself). I’m a big fan of tofu banh mi and was excited to try Vernalicious’ take on the Vietnamese sandwich.

The sandwich was definitely smaller then you would get at a place in Chinatown or on Washington Ave, and it was $6 compared to QT’s $5.50 for a sandwich almost double in size. (I suppose you do have to take into consideration the cost of running a mobile food business compared to brick & mortar, though). The presentation was great and the flavor composition was in the right area. The tofu was nice and moist, and was balanced out well by the crusty bread and crunchy cucumbers.

I would definitely try this again if I was looking for a healthy lunch alternative or sticking to my vegetarian diet post-March. And if you happen to be in the LOVE Park area when Vernalicious is, and the banh mi is on the menu, you should check it out too!

Oh, You Fancy, Huh? (Philly Edition)

A friend and I went out to celebrate my very belated birthday with dinner this weekend and found ourselves at Rittenhouse Tavern, which is very much un-tavern-like and very underrated. It’s located inside the Philadelphia Art Alliance building, so if you blink you’ll miss it if you’re walking down the street. I joked that I was going to get the burger (a special LaFrieda dry-aged blend, topped with Ed’s special sauce and sharp provolone on a brioche roll), but since my friend knew the chef (the very talented Nick Elmi), we got a little bit of VIP service.

Chef Elmi put together an amazing tasting  featuring a few of their menu items, as well as some special treats (like a rosemary smoked marshmallow for the dessert course!). I didn’t want to take pictures of everything and distract my dining companion or the other patrons since the lighting was pretty low, but once the table next to us cleared, I was able to capture some of my favorite dishes from the tasting.

Amuse Bouche: Truffled jelly-crema duck egg.  It was rich with truffle flavor, great texture, and it came in an adorable, hollowed out egg! This was sinfully delicious and produced the quote of the evening: “I’m a slut for truffles.”

Main course: Sweetbreads – It was my first time having sweetbreads so I didn’t have anything to compare them to. But they were amazing, beautifully plated (accented with cute little flowers!) and delicious; buttery smooth. They are not currently on the menu but hopefully the Chef will bring them back soon!

Dessert: Panna cotta – OMFG. This was ridiculous. So rich and velvety. I wanted to basically stick my face in the cup and lick it clean. That’s how much I loved it.

There was also a chocolate marbled foie gras that was part of the terrine plate that was out of this world. (Who would have thought that foie and chocolate pair so well together?) A veal and shrimp ceviche -part of the amuse bouche – brought back memories of my ex-bf’s love of fried veal cutlets, but this dish was certainly above his “refined” culinary palate. A chilled soup with salmon roe was tasty, but not really my cup of tea. (Although the roe was much on par with roe I’ve had in Japan and far less salty than the kind they use in local sushi joints.)

In a city rife with top chefs and award winning restaurants, Rittenhouse Tavern is definitely an overlooked gem. Why they didn’t make any “Best Of” lists was something we spent a good while speculating over in between courses (money and favoritism being some pretty obvious factors), but I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for an amazing tasting menu experience. Every dish was elegantly prepared and wonderfully delicious.

Five courses will run you $60/pp, with an additional $40 wine pairing option.

Philly’s Best Burger? Part 4: London Grill

There’s nothing quite like the meal you eat after a night out of drinking. Your alcohol induced state brings your taste buds to certain a level of “OMG” when anything edible touches your lips that you could probably eat a deep fried shoe and it would taste like a filet mignon. This past weekend was no exception. After a Halloween party, I was craving something fried and delicious, preferably from a diner with bad lighting and waitresses with thick Philadelphia accents and white Easy Spirit shoes. Instead, my friend suggested going to London Grill in the Fairmount section of the city. He was talking up this amazing burger on an English muffin with….. a fried egg on top. Well, that fucking sold me!


So we headed on over to London Grill, which just won best burger in Philly in the first-ever city wide ‘Burger Brawl’. I was worried and excited at the same time. Would it be able to measure up to my standards? Would this be it? Would I finally find the best burger in Philly?

The answer is both yes and no.

Yes, the burger was fucking amazing. I got mine topped with avocado, fried onions and boursin cheese. Cooked perfectly medium: Juicy, moist and delicious – everything I could ever ask for! The toasted English muffin reminded me of a home-grilled burger; no pretentious brioche buns here! (They forgot the fried egg, sadly, but I couldn’t complain.) And with crispy, handcut fries on the side, the London Burger was a steal at $11.

But I still have a long way to go on my Philly burger quest. I can’t just crown the winner right now when I’ve only hit the tip of the ice-burger! So for now, London Grill will hold the title and we’ll see if it can be defeated.

My rating?: “A+”

Hangover Food

After a night of excessive drinking in the Kabuki-cho district of Shinjuku while in Tokyo last year, some friends and I ventured back to the area the next day for lunch. In the basement of Alta shopping center lies Silver Octopus (築地 銀だこ ) which serves up Takoyaki – a fried batter ball filled with octopus.
Now you may be asking yourself, why would you subject yourself to something with octopus when you are in a state of hangover half-death and everything you smell makes you nauseous? Well, my friends, Takoyaki turned out to be the most amazing hangover cure ever. Obviously, anything fried will always do the trick, but for some reason, this was extra delicious. Maybe it was the mayonnaise on the side, or the sprinkling of bonito flakes on top – who knows? Whatever it was, it definitely was the cure for what ailed me.

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