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penn appĂŠtit FAL L 2011

eatinglocal philly-area farmers and producers 18

progressive meals throughout the city food crawls 24 sustainable ingredients plus DIY flair cafe estelle 22 a 1950s dinner party 34

fall 2011

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penn appétit e di to r - i n - chief Alex Marcus e d it o r ia l s taf f Marisa Denker, Chelsea Goldinger, Becca Goldstein, Jenny Lu, Julia Ng, Shaye Roseman, Sam Schnittman, Teagan Schweitzer D e si g n Edi tors Ellen Amaral Jaclyn Chen J u n i or d e si g n e di tors Sabrina Bral, Shakeil Greeley, Vivian Huang Photo e di tors Maggie Edkins, Evan Robinson j u n i o r p hoto e di tors Jennifer Sun, Sky Yoo p h o t o s t af f Gianni Anfuso, Matthew Cheng, Demetra Fe, Iana Feliciano, Sika Gasinu, Carissa Gilbert, Ali Kokot, Lisa Marsova, Taylor McConnell, Derick Olson, Max Wang, Marlie Winslow B lo g e di tors Elliott Brooks, Nicole Woon P u b l i c i t y m a nag ers Rachel Marcus, Eric Yoshida Bu s i n e ss m a nag ers Cady Chen, Samantha Meskin b u s in e s s s taf f Rachel Besvinick, Sabrina Bral, Beth Chan, Barbara Jun, Nikki Lam, Amina Erica Mobley, Ali Och, Rachel Rosen, Ally Ross, Samantha Sharon, Ariel Sadeghi, Lisa Marsova, Danielle Sakhai, Nicole Woon, Ben Yang T re a su r er Alex Brownstein g e n e ra l b oa rd Julia Brownstein

Penn Appétit is the University of Pennsylvania’s innovative, student-run magazine covering all things food. We publish one print issue each semester and have a blog that’s updated daily. To inquire about advertising, collaborating or getting involved, email us at We are always looking for new contributors in writing, photo, layout and business.

letter from the editor Dear readers and eaters, Through eight issues, we at Penn Appétit have amassed some wisdom on how to build a food magazine. I see this issue as the first entry in a new generation, representing the marriage of that insight with the thriving passions for food that all of our staff members possess. It offers conceptually delineated sections, more articles of varying lengths and a balanced combination of writing on home cooking and eating out, all of which is designed to sum to a magazine that’s more readable—and more worth reading— than ever before. In addition to the new print format, I’m proud to say that this a big time for Penn Appétit as an organization. We recently launched our first outreach initiative, and excitedly announced the Penn Food Summit, a conference for leaders of college food clubs and publications to take place this spring on Penn’s campus. Read about both of these exciting developments in our expanded Food 411 section, which profiles happenings in Philadelphia’s food world. Beyond that, you’ll find the return of our Elements section, focused on the basic ingredients that come together to make spectacular meals. This comes in addition to the larger focus on Philadelphia dining that debuted in our last issue. The section we’re most excited about, though, is our ode to local eating, which everyone on staff hopes to see cement itself as more than just the latest food craze. Given how much cooking and eating mean to all people—not just the food-obsessed like us—, it’s imperative for everyone to fully embrace the bounty that’s right in our backyard, where produce is freshest and most flavorful, and doesn’t have to travel hundreds of miles in fossil fuel-powered vehicles to reach our plates. This is particularly true in Philly, whose citizens are known for their DIY ethos, whether playing concerts and street performing or distilling whiskey and curing meat. It’s just another reason to make a local choice that keeps jobs and artisanal creativity within our communities. Adopting smart, responsible eating habits today ensures that our children will have a food legacy to inherit tomorrow. It also enables us to get more involved with the items on our plates and those individuals responsible for producing them. It’s the least we can do to ensure the long-term health of a food system that’s shaped on our terms to be as fruitful and sustainable as possible. Cheers,

Cover Photo by Mike Chien

Alex Marcus Editor-in-Chief

Reading Food & Wine at age three fall 2011

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contents fall 2011


11 fish food The joys of eating raw seafood make getting over any initial trepidation well worth it.


12 ingredient spotlight Discover more about two lesser-known ingredients, with a featured recipe for each.

26 NYc vs. PhL A New York transplant compares her high-profile, native food scene to that of Philadelphia.

14 a chicken in waiting When preparing a chicken for dinner, most cooks don’t consider the experience from the bird’s perspective.

28 brotherly love This city’s food history is rife with siblingry, keeping generations-old family traditions alive.


elements q+A Check out detailed answers to your most pressing food questions.

29 lost in translation? Find out how Philly’s ethnic restaurants satisfy the cravings of foreign exchange students from France, Mexico and Japan.


i can’t believe it’s nut butter! Tired of plain old peanut butter? These spreads provide fresh alternatives, along with appealing health benefits.



eat local! Philadelphia offers countless opportunities to engage in eating that’s local, responsible and delicious.


31 DIY: the ultimate Cheesecake We walk you through the steps to creating a sinfully decadent version of this classic dessert.


a toast to local drinking Area brewers and distillers are producing many exciting beers and spirits right in our backyard.

32 the hole truth Doughnuts aren’t just an American favorite; many nationalities offer a take on the light, fried favorite.

21 philly chocolate Our city offers a variety of chocolates made with sustainable ingredients and personal care.

34 1950s dinner Betty Crocker’s charmingly anachronistic advice will get you in the mood to throw a dinner party with period flair.


36 food memories The transporting power of food is explored in this personal narrative.

cafe estelle Chef Marshall Green produces almost everything in house at his cozy, Northern Liberties restaurant.

fall 2011

24 food crawls Our itineraries for progressive meals are the best way to eat your way through Philadelphia.

39 kool-aid haikus A devout fan offers an elegy to favorite discontinued flavors.

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PHILLY’s Fried Food Revolution by Sa ra Cho do sh

The fried food phenomenon has hit America. Formerly relegated to chip shops across the pond, delicious and unusual fried dishes are increasingly appearing on American menus, at venues as varied as state fairs and gourmet restaurants. State fairs in particular have long been ground zero for the strangest of fried items, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when the Iowa State Fair recently announced its newest menu attraction: an entire stick of butter dipped in cinnamon honey batter and deep fried. This might win the prize for unhealthiest fried food thus far, but it is certainly not the most bizarre. Texas takes the cake in that category, with bubblegum, pineapple upside-down cake and Texas salsa—all deep-fried—appearing at this year’s Texas State Fair. But fried delicacies aren’t all relegated to Middle America; sophisticated, interesting entries in the genre are popping up everywhere, including right here in Philadelphia. So if you’re looking to get your fried food fix, here are a few winners to sample right in our backyard.

Chilly • Ice Cream Sweet, chilled ice cream inside a chewy, warm exterior— what more could you want? There are a lot of places to pick some up in the 215, but we recommend Sakura Japanese Cuisine (1521 Spring Garden St.) for your local fix. Its rendition offers the perfect ratio of warm and crispy to molten and freezing. Wacky • Pickles Dill pickles dipped in batter and deep fried might sound like a horrifying combination, but this salty and crispy concoction is a wonderfully quirky treat that hits the spot. You can sample some top-notch, kosher dills at the Memphis Taproom (2331 E. Cumberland St.). Their thick, doughy skin is perfect to soak up the accompanying horseradish-buttermilk sauce. Gooey • Macaroni and Cheese Adding a crisp layer of batter around the already indulgent creamy texture of mac and cheese only serves to amplify the feel-good quality of this delicious comfort food. Philadelphia’s Tommy Gunns American Barbecue (4901 Ridge Ave.) serves up a wonderful “hockey puck” rendition of this sinfully rich delicacy.

Also check out the fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls at Barbarella, featured in our “Food Crawl” article on pg. 24.

photo by D erick Olso n

1. Penn Appétit: Chopped has been extremely successful ever since it first aired in 2009, and it’s currently in its ninth season. What’s something that viewers don’t know about the show just from watching? Ted Allen: One episode takes twelve hours to shoot, so we’re on set all day. All the interviews are filmed after the actual cooking competition; we have contestants narrate their side of the story to create a more intimate storytelling arch during the course of the show. And we’re excited because we just got the go-ahead to begin shooting 39 more episodes in February. fall 2011

Sugary • Oreos It may have been Mars bars that jumpstarted England’s frying frenzy, but the combination of an airy, deep-fried pillow wrapped around a chewy, warm Oreo rightfully steals the spotlight in this category. You can order some today from Wrap Shack (120 S. 18th St.), complete with a soft coating of powdered sugar.


2. PA: Contestants must be creative with ingredients and kitchen tools when planning their dishes. Do you have a favorite piece of equipment in your kitchen? TA: I’m a big fan of my two dishwashers. They’re incredibly useful because I cook so much! I also love my vent hood. You need one to get that perfect sear on a steak, or else you’ll set off the smoke alarm.

Ted Allen


We took a moment to talk with Ted Allen, host of Food Network’s Chopped and veteran food writer. He was extremely gracious and down to earth, opening up about television, cooking and his favorite guilty pleasures.


by Nic o l e Woon

PA: What’s your food weakness? TA: Potato chips! No particular brand, as long as they’re salted. I could kill the guy who created low-salt potato chips. Cheese and pizza as well—thin crust; I like my pizza crispy. penn appétit



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Best Thing

Located in the heart of Reading Terminal Market, Hershel’s East Side Deli attracts tons of traffic—and for good reason. The stand’s hand-carved sandwiches and other Jewish delicacies live up to—if not exceed—the quality of food found in any New York delicatessen. Hershel’s cures its own Kosher-style meats with traditional family recipes used for generations, so there is no doubt that its fare is authentic. The moment you place your order, whether it’s a corned beef Reuben or beef brisket sandwich, a carver immediately begins cutting thick pieces from a steaming, dripping hunk of meat right before your eyes. After the slices are generously piled atop classic rye bread (fresh from Kaplan’s New Model Bakery in Northern Liberties) and complemented with a crisp pickle spear, you’re in for one awe-inspiring meal. It’s easy to order well on a menu this good. Still, there’s no doubt that Hershel’s shining star is its pastram, sliced thick and stacked so high that the sandwich containing it barely fits in most mouths. The deli’s trademark peppery rub is more complex than that on most pastrami, creating a flavorful crust that lends a unique, fragrant spiciness to the dish. And the meat that it envelops is so tender that it practically dissolves upon each bite, with the fat holding the pastrami together perfectly balancing the pungent crust. To make sure you don’t miss this awesome item, go early; Hershel’s often runs out post-lunch.

Maple-Black Pepper Milkshake

alex marcus: editor-in-chief

fall 2011

$6.25 LOS Burger Truck Location varies; check Twitter (@ LOSburgertruck)

The LOS in LOS Burger Truck stands for Lucky Old Souls, which— and bear with me here—all of the folks who taste this milkshake will instantly become. See, like an uncle with a corny joke at the ready, the truck’s got some old-fashioned sensibility; it blasts jazz from mounted speakers and asks that you fill out a form on carbon paper to place an order. But it marries that vibe with a young, hip charm; LOS makes use of sustainable ingredients like local heirloom tomatoes, and communicates its location and specials via Twitter. Oh, and as the guy working the window was quick to point out, that carbon paper is actually carbonless. All that aside, the best news about the truck is that its chefs are willing to experiment. Specials of some sort are always available, and I had the good fortune (I’ll spare you the corny joke this time) of visiting when the truck was offering a shake with maple and black pepper. To cut to the chase, it was brilliant. Each sip first tastes like a solid vanilla milkshake: just the right amount of creaminess so that it’s tough to suck through a straw, but still too thin to be eaten with a spoon. Then comes a hint of maple—though subtle—that primes your taste buds for the coming avalanche. And suddenly, there it is: pepper, the last flavor you’d expect to complete this combination. For a flash, your palate will think it’s eating a savory dish, or some kind of kitchen experiment gone horribly wrong. But then the rich vanilla and deep, smoky maple will rush back in, subverting the pepper’s sting and creating a miraculously cohesive whole. It’s a real winner, and goes nicely with the truck’s fries and delicious homemade ketchup. But if you want this shake, be sure to check LOS’ Twitter first, as it’s only offered as a special—for now, at least.

shakeil greeley: junior layout editor

Tam Buu Chien Don (Three Stuffed Delight)

Pastrami Sandwich

nicole woon: blog editor

$8.98 Hershel’s East Side Deli 51 N. 12th St. (within Reading Terminal Market)

p h oto by e va n ro bin son

we’ve eaten this semester

$10.95 Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai Restaurant 907 Race St.

The Three Stuffed Delight at Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai Restaurant (a mouthful, I know) opened my eyes to a whole new flavor profile within Vietnamese and Thai cuisines that was rich, unique and filling. The restaurant sits in the heart of Chinatown, and yet offers a menu full of Viet-Thai comfort foods— along with some culinary oddities. While making sense of it all, my eyes caught sight of this dish on the menu, and I was immediately drawn to something about its combination of ingredients: eggplant, pepper, shrimp and black bean sauce. Soon, the dish emerged from the kitchen, its bowl overflowing with thick, marinated slices of eggplant and roasted hot peppers. When its first bite touched my tongue, the choice was immediately validated— and then some. It was flavorful, juicy, succulent, tender, sweet, savory and spicy all at the same time. The eggplant pieces burst with perfectly cooked shrimp, and the dish had a lingering sweetness from the sauce as well as the ripe eggplant. The peppers were crisp and spicy, also stuffed with just the right amount of shellfish. When I finally ate the last morsel, I could do nothing but sit back, stomach full, mouth still reveling in the barrage of flavors and textures. My wallet stayed happy too, as the dish is very reasonably priced, leaving no excuse to wait another moment before trying it. Just remember to bring someone to share with. penn appétit



The Winter Harvest by Amanda Sh u l man

As fall slowly shifts into winter, the food on our plates should be shifting as well. Blistering cold months call for hearty, soulwarming dishes that allow us to forget the frost outside, even if just for a few bites. Fortunately, the season ushers in a rich new crop of produce, and we’ve crafted some recipes to take advantage of its harvest. In season now: Root vegetables like parsnips, turnips and rutabaga Brussels sprouts Mushrooms Squash Escarole Cauliflower Endive Kale Sweet potatoes Leeks . . . and much more. Visit the farmers markets profiled on page 18 to pick up these items and see what else is fresh.

illustratio ns by maggi e e d ki ns

Crispy Brussels Sprouts 2 lbs brussels sprouts, with brown ends removed 1/4 cup olive oil Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tbsp) 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic Slice the sprouts at roughly ¼” and toss with the olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Lay in a glass casserole dish, trying to avoid overlap, and sprinkle with salt and pepper according to your taste—a teaspoon of each goes a long way. Bake at 400ºF for 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Once the sprouts are tender, turn the oven to broil for about 5 minutes, until they start to get toasted brown. Remove and sprinkle with more salt and pepper to taste.

amusements for the palate at marigold kitchen by E m m a B ieg acki

Don’t judge a book by its cover . . . or a restaurant by its façade. In the South 45th Street townhouse occupied by Marigold Kitchen, the front door creaks and the floorboards are worn down, but there’s nothing dated or boring about what you’ll get on your plate. The restaurant’s chef, Robert Halpurn, is turning out the wildest and most delicious molecular gastronomy experiments in the city. His appetizers and entrees are uniformly delectable, but what really makes Marigold unique, is the parade of unexpected, madly creative little bites that emerge from Halpern’s kitchen throughout a meal there, taking the traditional amuse bouche to an entirely new level. They’re a complementary bonus that ends up stealing the show. On a recent visit, fried parsnip “frizzles” were presented with our menus. Dusted in Mexican chocolate, chili powder and salt, the earthy alternatives to potato chips excited our palates and tided us over while deciding what to order. Next was a house-made cucumber soda, sporting pickled “bubbles” and tapioca pearls that washed over the palette like a summer breeze. A mango

This spring, Penn Appétit will sponsor the Penn Food Summit, a first-ever gathering for leaders of food-related clubs and publications at colleges around the Northeast. Over the weekend of March 31 – April 1, 2012, we will inspire future food leaders through learning from each other and from experts in various areas of the food world. The two-day event will include panel discussions on business, social and environmental responsibility and writing, as well as activities like meet-and-greet sessions and a cooking competition. Many details about the Summit still need to be finalized, and we’re looking to expand our planning team as the event nears. If you are interested in helping facilitate this first-of-its-kind event, or are a member of a club that would like to participate, send an email to


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“sphere” was painstakingly arranged in a soup spoon with chili oil and micro basil garnish, looking something like roe. Its soft skin burst in the mouth, releasing sweet, tropical nectar and revealing Halpurn’s expert handle on texture. The order in which the small plates are brought changes constantly, and their content changes based on local ingredient availability and Halpern’s creative whims. What remained a constant through my meal, though, was the fun that lay in the surprise from each subsequent bite. My palate was certainly caught off guard by the rosy spoonful of watermelon granita paired with greek yogurt and tarragon ice. Warm, daffodilyellow corn ravioli, drenched with butter and cumin salt, similarly thrilled my taste buds. Halpern bombards diners with these delightful morsels up until the very end. Two rough-cut chocolate covered caramels, sprinkled with sea salt, accompany the bill. The candies are simply divine, a fittingly sweet ending to one of the most adventurous, refined and wholly memorable meals you will ever have.

Penn Appétit is in the process of introducing its first ever large-scale outreach program, in collaboration with the Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI). The program will provide a two-day food writing workshop for students in UNIsponsored nutrition and cooking classes around the city. If you are interested in being a part of the Community Food Writers team, as a workshop instructor, editor or layout designer, send an email to and we’ll put you in the loop.



dedi cate that d to the mak e up ingredie nts our m eals

fish food By Larry Tang

Photos by Sky Yoo

Raw seafood presents myriad pleasures for the adventurous eater

Anthony Bourdain can have his pork; I have an obsession of my own: raw seafood. Shrimp and scallops, clams and crayfish, oysters and octopus and more—never cooked. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, I suppose I’m part of a peculiar bunch. As the place’s name suggests, we’ve got close ties to the ocean and its abundance of seafood. And when it comes to seafood, I want the best and the freshest. I will go far to procure such quality. I can still remember the smell of the sea surrounding me as I meandered around the wharf in my hometown. I would watch the boats come in every Thursday to sell their fresh catch. I was particularly drawn to spot prawns, characterized by the distinctive white dot on their translucent heads and their notoriously sweet crunch. They would lay alive in gigantic mounds in front of me, selling for a tenth of what they’d cost at a gourmet supermarket. I would grab a pound for only two dollars, tear the heads off, peel them, and indulge on the sweet raw flesh, saving only a few for the journey home. I know some of you are judging me, grimacing. “How can he eat that animal, still alive?” “How can he even swallow something raw?” For too many among us, even a California roll is a foray into dangerous territory, and the mere sight of an uncooked fillet sliced up into chunks can send folks running for the door. fall 2011

Even as globalization brings cuisines together, a stigma remains against the “creepy crawlies” of the sea. But the age of the alternative meat is already here. The French have bouillabaisse, the Italians calamari and linguini vongole, even Americans love Maine lobsters and Dungeness crabs. In many coastal Asian nations, diets are almost entirely constructed around seafood. Even eager consumers of these cooked dishes may approach raw food with trepidation, but there is nothing to fear. Let’s take an oyster for example. This shellfish is commonly eaten on the half shell, with a couple drops of mignonette on top, and downed in a quick motion. Though it may look unappetizing—slimy and gray—it is briny and so delicious that many people prefer it raw rather than in its tougher, cooked form. Just like you wouldn’t slather your prime cut of protein with an overpowering sauce, there’s no reason to distract your palate when you can simply enjoy 100% oyster, and nothing else. Raw seafood is a glorious taste, and like a childhood fear, can only be overcome by diving in to try it. It may grow on you; it may not. Whatever you decide, I recommend one specific type of raw seafood as a particularly strong initiation into its joys. It may not seem so appetizing at first, but are actually incredibly delicious. Welcome to the world of fish eggs. Think chicken eggs, like the ones you eat

for breakfast. Easy, right? Now size down, and think quail eggs: significantly smaller. Go even tinier, and we come to fish eggs. These are also known as caviar or roe. Roe are miniscule eggs that explode in your mouth as you bite down on them. Some of my favorite food experiences originate from the Japanese roe, served either on top of a bowl of rice, or on a small gunkan-style sushi flanked by seaweed. Masago is the smallest, and tastes the sweetest and crunchiest. Tobiko, or Flying Fish roe, is slightly larger and saltier. I also suggest giving bright orange Ikura a try. Because it’s the largest, it packs the biggest salty punch. Sea Urchin roe, or uni in Japanese, is harder to recommend, as the flavor is hit or miss. During summer, I ventured to Korea and had the pleasure of visiting the famous Noryangjin Fish Market. There lay urchins, which I purchased for next to nothing. The tough outer shell had been split for me, and I ventured inside to spoon out five golden tongues of roe. The flavor was overwhelming at first, but soon gave way to an incredibly rich, intensely creamy, lingering taste. Fish roe, uni, and all other raw seafood are a necessity for individuals like me, and we endeavor endlessly to obtain it. Eating these items is an experience that gives increasing pleasure over time, a satisfaction of which I can never have enough. Maybe it really is an addiction. penn appétit


ingredient spotlight grits

ph oto s by jenn i f e r s u n Penn Appétit‘s Picks for Grits in Philadelphia Honey's Sit 'n Eat Classic grits are a popular side with eggs at this Southern/ Jewish establishment 800 N 4th St. (215) 925-1150

Catahoula Smoked gouda grits put a new, Creole spin on the classic 775 S Front St. (215) 271-9300

City Tap House Shrimp and cheddar grits unite to form a favorite Creole appetizer 3925 Walnut St. (215) 662-0105

Spring Garden Restaurant Classic grits at this diner are buttery and rich 400 Spring Garden St. (215) 922-6254

by Ali Kokot I used to knit my eyebrows together whenever I heard the word grits. Plural or singular? Breakfast food or side dish? A cousin of oatmeal, cream of wheat or neither? This Southern staple simmered with mystery. But as I learned on a trip below the MasonDixon line this summer, within the bounds of the “grits belt” that sweeps from Louisiana to Virginia, those loyal to this comfort food will eat their fill all day long. Just as they don’t discriminate between grits for breakfast, lunch and dinner, neither are they picky about singularity versus plurality. Grits is good and grits are good. Despite their ghostly hue, grits are neither a wheat nor oat product. They’re derived from America’s favorite grain: corn. Traditional Southern hominy grits differ from polenta in the processing of the kernel. Hominy describes corn kernels that have been soaked in acidic lye and stripped of their hull—the outer skin—and germ—the solid, seed-like portion at the bottom of the kernel. To make grits, the hominy is dried and then ground—either coarsely or finely, to suit different tastes. While some like their grits smooth as silk, others enjoy the texture of the grain. Like so many corn products in the Americas, today’s grits were inspired by Native American fare. Hominy is simply the anglicized version of the Algonquin term rockamoninie, recorded as a part of American food culture far back as the early 1600s. Captain John Smith of Virginia wrote that it was a common meal among the servant class, but that

when hominy was boiled in milk for richer flavor, the elite would happily wolf it down. Through its versatility of preparation, grits became a food for everyone, crossing socioeconomic lines throughout Southern history. In the South, grits are boiled in milk, water or a mixture of the two. Though the milk can cloud the taste of the corn, it does impart a richer flavor and a creamier consistency. Happy accidents involving rogue ingredients falling gingerly into pots of grits have lead to an overwhelming variety of grits preparations. For breakfast, some like creamy grits with a dollop of preserves, or grits mixed with grated sharp cheddar cheese served up next to eggs right off the skillet. A favorite old Southern dinner is the combination of shrimp and savory grits prepared with chicken broth gravy and topped with slices of crisp bacon. In 1952, South Carolina Newspaper The Post and Courier exclaimed, “A man full of grits is a man of peace.” I couldn’t have agreed more after practically inhaling a heaping plate of shrimp and grits at the Hominy Grill, a Charleston establishment, last July. The dish is refreshingly simple, its creamy texture and naked flavor capable of momentarily transporting you to a slower, Southern way of life. Though grits are harder to come by in the North, Philadelphians can get their fill at a fare share of breakfast, lunch and dinner establishments, or they can whip some up at home. Whatever the means, enjoying this homey, Southern staple is absolutely worth the effort.

Let-the-pot-do-the-magic Breakfast Grits serves 4 2 cups water 1 cup milk (2%) 1 cup yellow or hominy (white) grits 4 Tbsp butter ½ cup raisins 3 Tbsp dark rum maple syrup dark brown sugar


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Combine raisins and rum in a bowl, ensuring that all of the raisins are covered, and let soak. Bring the water, milk and salt to a boil in a pot. Pour the grits into the liquid and stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients come back to a boil. Put a lid on the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Let cook for 30 minutes, checking the pot occasionally. if grits begin to look dry, slowly add more liquid in a 2:1 ratio of water to milk. Once cooked, spoon the grits into bowls and drop a tablespoon of butter on top of each serving. Drain the rum from the raisins and sprinkle them on top, adding maple syrup and brown sugar to your liking.

Dan Dan Mian serves 4 1/2 lb ground pork 3 Tbsp dark soy sauce 3 tsp salt 1 cup peanut oil 3/4 lb Chinese thin egg noodles, fresh or dry 3 Tbsp finely chopped garlic 2 Tbsp finely chopped ginger 5 Tbsp finely chopped scallions 1 cup chicken stock 2 Tbsp sesame paste (or peanut butter) 2 Tbsp chili oil 1 Tbsp Szechuan peppercorns, roasted and ground Combine the pork, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Mix well. Heat a wok or sauté pan and add peanut oil, then heat to about 425° or when drops of water sizzle upon hitting its surface. Fry the pork, stirring it with a spatula to break it into small pieces. When the pork is crispy and dry (about 4 minutes) remove it with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off the oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons’ worth in the wok. Reheat the wok and add the garlic, ginger and scallions. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, sesame paste, chili oil, peppercorns and remaining soy sauce and salt and simmer for 4 minutes. Cook the noodles separately in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes if they are fresh or 5 minutes if they are dried. Drain the noodles well in a colander. Divide noodles into individual bowls or place them in a large soup tureen, and ladle on the sauce.

szechuan peppercorn by A nd re w H o n g

It starts with a tingle. From the tongue it spreads to the lips, sparking a numb pins-and-needles feeling. The warmth takes over the mouth, and the lower lip seems to vibrate as the fierce burning intensifies. A surge of heat rushes inside the cheeks, and it stimulates the palate in an explosive burst, like fireworks over the night sky, each falling spark a numb point tickling the inner mouth. These sensations combine into a unified force, numbing the tongue and lips into an ethereal state of near-paralysis. The typical full-bodied feeling we’re accustomed to on our face slips beneath the potent spell of one magically unique and seductively addictive spice: hua jiao. Hua jiao, or the Szechuan peppercorn, is the numbing spice responsible for the unique ma flavor in many dishes of Sichuan cuisine, mixing the elements of taste and touch in a spicy, lip tingling sensation. This ma flavor is one of the pillars of traditional Sichuan food, along with la (spicy) and suan (sour). Duck and chicken dishes like la zi ji work particularly well with hua jiao, as well as noodle dishes like dan dan mian and fish dishes such as hua jiao yu pian. People love its unique kick to food that doesn’t necessarily make a dish overbearingly hot, yet jolts the taste buds into a tickling, but overall smooth numbness. In one traditional dish, ma po tofu, the peppercorn is paired with the pure la or spicy taste of hot peppers, creating a numbing heat that is fiercely addictive. The only way to really appease this tongue-tingling sensation is to fuel it. It is certainly an experience in itself that’s worth a try for everyone, regardless of whether or not one ends

fall 2011

up loving or fearing the flavor. Having a bite of ma po tofu is undoubtedly a thrill, but for some with sensitive palates, it seems more of a poison than a spice. Look for it at Szechuan Tasty House (902 Arch St.), where Chef Zeng Mi Chen works this ma and la combination into a perfectly balanced ma po tofu as well as other colorful fare like three-pepper chicken or hua jiao chicken. The history of the hua jiao is probably as colorful as the flavor itself. Harvested as the dried berries of the prickly ash shrub, the peppercorn is grown in China, Japan and North Korea. In 1968, the U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibited the import of hua jiao into America, because it was found capable of carrying a disease called citrus canker that was dangerous to the U.S. citrus industry. The ban was never on human consumption, but instead on imports, due to the potential harm to the citrus crop, especially in states like California. Despite the ban, some stores around the U.S. still continued to surreptitiously sell hua jiao, particularly those in Asian food hotbeds like San Francisco and Manhattan. At the time, prices for this black market hua jiao could skyrocket to as high as $25 per pound. Luckily in 2005, a treatment was approved that killed the canker through heating, and the USDA and FDA lifted the ban. With hua jiao having returned to spice store shelves nationwide, now is the time to embrace the magically addictive wonders of Sichuan cuisine’s fiery, mouth-paralyzing secret weapon. In the words of Roger Waters, a man much wiser than I, “Now I’ve got that feeling once again, I can’t explain so that you would understand, this is not how I am. I have become comfortably numb.”

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a chicken in waiting by Chelsea Goldinger

photo by evan robi nson

I lie in the grocery store amongst my friends. It’s an average Sunday night, and we are all just chilling— literally. You come along and begin to take a better look. First, you look at my pal to the left. You grimace and complain to a friend that he’s about to expire. Ridiculous. Do I base my interaction with you on your expiration date? You don’t even have an expiration date. Our expiration dates are there as a favor to you, and yet you have the naiveté to smirk and taunt my friend’s ex date, then say it’s “too soon.” You grab at me, and apparently I’m “just right,” because I find a home in your shopping cart adjacent to a stick of butter and a package of granola bars. Perfect. This really beats lying on the shelf with my friends. You bring me home and chuck me into a freezer. By myself. I pass the time by counting ice cubes and comparing the nutritional information on a bottle of Smirnoff to that on a package of frozen peas. Finally, you decide it’s my day to roast. Or fry. Or bake—only you know which. You take me out and leave me on your kitchen counter near a toaster oven, not far away from a sink and your odiferous dishwashing gloves. Hours pass before you give me another thought. All I know of the human world and its haunted kitchens are based on rumors. I begin to wonder what’s coming and if I should be scared. I choose to pass the time by admiring how sharp your knives are: how perfectly they could cut a delicious slimy earthworm or even a coarse, nutritious grain pellet. And that’s when you make your first move. You remove the only thing separating the two of us from an intimate touch—the plastic wrap bundling me tight. You inspect me with your eyes, but then soon involve your hands. You violate me. I don’t know what I ever did to you, but you stick your hand


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right down my front and start removing parts of me I didn’t know were there. You feel around for my neck, liver and gizzard; you even play around with my heart. Finally, you pull them all out together—from deep down inside of me—in one fell swoop. Even though you have yet to pause and ask my name, you apparently haven’t had enough. You reach in again, stretch my skin wide, and look inside. You see into me as no one has before—checking for what I’m not sure, possibly to ensure that you haven’t left any bits of my broken heart lying around. Your hand goes for my skin, and I cringe at the anticipation of your touch. How could it get any worse than having my heart ripped out from inside of me? What else could you do? You pluck one of my feathers out without blinking. It’s not a Band-Aid, all right? It’s a feather. Try to be gentler. Couldn’t you just try? What are you reaching for now? Haven’t you had enough? Why are you turning me on my backside? What is there for you? Yes, those are my intestines. Yes, you are using your finger to poke at them. No, I would not like you to take them out from inside me. Couldn’t you at least hasten this process just a little bit? I could use a good tan. Can we skip the tension and get right to the flames? Well now, this is different. The water’s not too hot or too cool; it feels somewhat refreshing against my now newly bare and slimy skin. I haven’t felt this clean since I bathed at the pond what feels like an eternity ago. Ouch. Water down my cavity? Don’t you think that’s overkill? Can I get some mud to play with or something? I’m clean already. Get on with it! Make with the parsley and sage. Or is it rosemary and thyme? A chicken in waiting can only speculate.


elements P HOTo by d e ri ck o l son

Karen’s favorite combinations:

Creamy: flour, buttermilk, vegetable oil, salt, pepper Chinese: soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar South Asian: chili powder, lemon juice, heavy cream, yogurt, salt

By karen man Q: What are the advantages to marinating meat beyond just adding flavor?

By Amanda Shulman Q: These days, the label “Whole Grain” is slapped on countless food products, without much of an explanation of what it means. So what exactly does make something “whole grain,” and what are the advantages or disadvantages to eating whole grain foods? A: As soon as we walk into a deli, a café or any type of restaurant, we are immediately inundated with options and must quickly make decisions. We’re asked if we want our turkey and muenster sandwich made on white or wheat bread, if we want our pizza made with a white flour crust or a whole grain crust, if we want white or wheat pasta. One time or another, we’ve all been told that we should lay off the white and switch to whole grain. The question is, why? Are whole grains healthier? Do products made with whole grains have fewer calories? So, what is this whole grain business all about? Foods made from whole grains contain all of the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. See, when grains in white flour are milled, up to 80% of a grain’s nutrients are lost. Keeping the parts of the grain intact preserves the nourishing substances within, and adds more texture and flavor. Studies have yielded results showing that eating whole grains in place of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases such as stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Regularly eating whole grains can lead to better weight management, too. The fiber in whole grains can keep people feeling full longer, which in turn can prevent overeating. Whole grains also contain bran, which provides a constant source of energy. Refined grains are also not as rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium and zinc. Looking at the nutritional content of whole grain vs. white grain products, the whole grain ones tend to have more calories. While we’re usually inclined to go with the option with fewer calories, in the case of whole grains, these additional calories are good, because they contain key nutrients that will boost your energy and fill you up more. Fortunately, whole grains are gaining popularity. People are becoming more adventurous explorers in the food world, and many have found that whole grains have a nutty, earthy taste. Some common whole grains, like popcorn and brown rice, already fill our pantries without us realizing it. Other, lesser-known whole grains, like quinoa and barley, are also beginning to appear on more menus at home and in restaurants, giving passionate eaters ever more opportunities to partake in their rustic flavor and many health benefits. fall 2011

A: The perfect slab of meat starts with the perfect marinade, which contributes depth of flavor to any meat dish. But more than that, the science of marinade can be manipulated to increase meat tenderness. Toughness in meat can be attributed mostly to collagen, a protein that makes up connective tissue in animals. A good marinade degrades this tough protein and allows water to penetrate the meat, creating a product that’s much easier to eat. The first key ingredient is a weak acid—like lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk or yogurt—that will help denature, or break down, the structure of collagen, resulting in softer meat. However, the subsequent unraveling of the collagen structure can cause water molecules to escape, and this loss of water can lead to tighter clustering of the protein molecules, and a tougher mass of fibers. Fortunately, including salt can fix this problem. It creates what’s called a concentration gradient between the inside and outside of the meat: with salt in a marinade and permeating the meat, the inside becomes hypertonic to the outside, which is to say that it has more salt. This disparity induces the diffusion of water into the meat, in order to bring the water-salt concentration of the system to equilibrium, solving the problem that the acid induces. The next key ingredient in marinade alchemy is oil, which is used to seal the surface of the meat from air and keep water locked inside the meat fibers. Another useful addition is an ingredient with proteolytic enzymes, which are particularly effective at breaking down proteins like collagen that cause toughness. These enzymes are present in many fruits, including pineapple, papaya, kiwi and ginger root. However, they work fast; meat left too long in a marinade heavy on proteolytic enzymes can get undesirably mushy. It’s best, then, to use enzymes only in moderation and not to expose the meat to them for more than an hour or so (give or take depending on the amount of enzyme used, of course). Whatever combination you come up with , poking holes or cutting small slits in the meat will help the marinade to be absorbed more efficiently. Alternatively, a basting syringe can be used to inject marinade directly into the meat interior. And while the marinade is working its magic, you can get ready to enjoy meat as juicy and tender as it gets. penn appétit


elements By katie ierardi

photo By jennifer sun

nut butter! (i can’t believe it’s)

The classic PB&J sandwich is a staple for many kids and adults alike. Perhaps memories of grade school lunch periods or family picnics come to mind. Peanut butter, however, is not the only delicious spread sitting on many stores’ shelves. There are many under-theradar nut butters that are both healthy and tasty. They are great alternatives for people with peanut allergies or those who desire some variety in their nut butter diet.


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Tell me a little about yourself.

Almond butter is a popular alternative to peanut butter. It has a deep, subtle yet nutty flavor that enhances snacks, desserts and even main dishes.

Though technically not in the “nut” category, sunflower seed butter is another delicious option, boasting a rich flavor and thick texture that proves to be very filling.

Cashew butter is a sweet and tasty, well-kept secret. Although not as widely sold as other spreads, this delicacy also offers an array of health benefits.

What will you provide for my body?

Almond butter has several impressive benefits: protein, calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium and low saturated fat, among others. This tasty spread will make your taste buds happy while giving your body the nutrition it needs.

One serving of sunflower seed butter contains 1/3 less saturated fat than peanut butter and 27% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E. It also offers iron, fiber, protein and healthy fats—especially monounsaturated fats.

In addition to exhibiting a rish, sweet taste, cashew butter is packed with nutrients like protein, iron, magnesium and zinc. Plus its fat content is largely made up of oleic acid, which promotes good cardiovascular health.

What do you bring to the table... specifically my plate?

From a classic pairing with jelly to a secret ingredient in chocolate chip cookies, almond butter is just as versatile as peanut butter! Use it to top oatmeal, yogurt or ice cream. Dip apples, celery or pretzels in it. Or include it in savory dishes, like an almond butter sauce for noodles.

Sunflower seed butter is great to include in a healthy diet. Besides sandwich and dip options, recipes for pancakes and cookies can take on a new twist by adding this seed butter.

Like the cashew nut, cashew butter has a mellow, subtle nut flavor. It is a perfect sandwich spread, smoothie ingredient and dip. This nut butter is also a great alternative to cream when thinned with liquid. It can be used in soups, Indian dishes and sauces as well.

Now that I know I will love you, where can I find you?

For a basic almond butter, try the Barney Butter brand, or the house offerings at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, which come in crunchy, smooth and unsalted varieties. Justin’s and MaraNatha—brands that can be found in gourmet stores and online— add maple and dark chocolate flavors to the mix, respectively.

A reliable source of delicious sunflower seed butter is the SunButter brand. It offers the concoction in a bunch of varieties: smooth, crunchy, with added omega-3 fatty acids and unsweetened. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods also offer smooth and crunchy varieties in their stores, and MaraNatha produces jars of the smooth variety.

Cashew butter is easy to find, but appears most frequently in the smooth variety. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell the butters in house, while the MaraNatha brand is stocked in gourmet stores and online. Artisana offers certified-organic cashew butter, available online from a variety of health and wellness retailers.

t nu rs ttee buecip r

sunflower seed butter muddy buddies 9 cups Chex brand cereal (any type) ½ cup sunflower seed butter 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips ¾ cup butter 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups powdered sugar

Put Chex in a large bowl. Melt the sunflower seed butter, chocolate chips and butter in a microwaveable bowl for one minute or until smooth. Stir in the vanilla andpour the mixture over the cereal. Stir constantly until all the pieces are completely covered. Add the powdered sugar and continue stirring until everything is coated. Spread onto a parchment paper or foilcovered cookie sheet to dry. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

flour-free almond butter chocolate chip cookies 1 cup oatmeal ¾ cup of almond butter 1 banana, mashed 1/3 cup of chocolate chips or raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mash the banana and add the almond butter. Incorporate the oatmeal and chocolate chips (or raisins). Mix well. Drop in spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes.

cashew butter sauce ½ cup cashew butter ¾ cup coconut milk ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper pinch of salt fall 2011

Whisk all of the ingredients together over medium heat in a saucepan. This versatile sauce can be served over rice with chicken or tofu.

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penn appétit

photo s By maggie edk ins

by Mar isa Denker and Shaye Roseman

Local! eat


“ I t ’ s ab out a r elati o n s hi p w ith p e o p le ” “It’s about a relationship with people,” Lois Fahnestock explains, leaning across upturned barrels of apples. In an age where technology serves only to distance us from the things we eat and the people who produce them, there is a growing movement worldwide to reestablish the connection between earth and table, grower and eater. Choosing to eat local—from farms like Fahnestock’s Hands on the Earth Orchard—is the best way to ensure sustainable practices that benefit consumers and farmers alike. While there is no standard definition of what may be considered locally grown, most locavores aim for food sourced within 100 to 150 miles of their homes. The close range ensures a smaller environmental footprint than the average American food product, which travels 1500 miles before spending days on supermarket shelves. This need for extended shelf life in turn requires the addition of chemical pesticides and preservatives. But buying farm-fresh, seasonal produce, the eater eliminates the need for synthetic additives in food that mask true taste and may harm health. For the grower, the middleman is cut out, so 100% of the price of farm-to-table food goes directly to support the local economy, compared to the average wholesale producer, who earns only 18 cents on that same dollar. Fahnestock admits that she would not be able to make a living in wholesale farming. Instead, she and her grandchildren travel nearly 75 miles every weekend to the Clark Park Farmers Market in West Philadelphia, where the group sets up a bountiful farm table. Our conversation is quickly interrupted by a discerning market goer who grasps several Honey Crisp apples in each hand. “We’re friends after all these years,” the customer says of Lois, “we trust each other. How do I know that those guys [at the farm stand] over there wash their apples like they say they do?” Just next to the farm stand at which she is pointing, a group of market-goers have encircled a guitarist for an impromptu sing-along. It seems that at Philadelphia farmers markets, fruit and vegetables are not the only things that develop organically.

Penn Appétit’s Favorite Farmers Markets

FARMERS MARKETS Picture this Orange pumpkins, deep-green asparagus, yellow squash. The bright colors of the market dance before your eyes. People stroll throughout the colors, a lively cross-section of the community, tasting, buying, eating, enjoying. Hear this Students laugh and talk with the dairy farmer over which cheese they should choose. An elderly couple stands near the asparagus, in deep discussion about tonight’s menu. Lively and bustling, the market sounds trickle outside the park, touching and tempting neighbors. Smell this Hearty, fresh aromas beg you to stop for blossoming loaves of bread and other baked goods. A few steps down, the intoxicating scent of fresh basil surrounds you, unlike any basil you’ve ever smelled before.

The low down Farmers markets entail farmers and local producers gathering once or twice a week to sell their products in a central location, directly to the community. Unlike a stand affiliated with only one farm, markets bring together farmers from around the area. And the benefits are manifold. Farmers make more money by selling directly to the public instead of through wholesalers, and the markets also enrich the local economy, helping to make it stronger and more sustainable. They can also serve to educate consumers about where our food comes from; farmers and producers are always happy to expound upon their craft and teach us about the roots of what we eat. As for quality, the locally focused nature of these markets says it all. Consumers can be confident that all of what’s offered is fresh, in season, unprocessed and did not take an expensive, environmentally harmful trip to get to their plates.

Clark Park S. 43rd St. at Baltimore Ave. Thursday 3 - 7p (May - Nov.) Saturday 10a - 2p Don’t miss: Homemade potato chips from Forest View Bakery; Breakfast Tacos from Honest Tom’s Headhouse S. 2nd St. at Lombard St. Sunday 10a - 2p (May - Dec.) Don’t miss: Tart cherry juice from Three Springs Fruit Farm; Pork sausage breakfast sandwich from Renaissance Sausage Fitler Square S. 23rd St. at Pine St. Saturday 9a - 2p Don’t miss: Italian peasant loaf from Big Sky Bread; Buckwheat honey from Two Gander Farm

Restaurants The farm-to-table movement is on the rise in the restaurant world, and is hopefully here to stay. As the molecular gastronomy and comfort food crazes begin to fade, it’s simple, elegant, local eating that seems poised to take over as the dominant trend in the restaurant world. Chefs in the arena play with just-picked ingredients or just-slaughtered meat, drawing out the essence of each element to create meals with flavor that no processed or long-distance alternative could create. Rather than search the ends of the earth for some obscure ingredient, many chefs are looking into their own backyards, with in-house gardens and pickling operations popping up left and right. For local eating, though the real victory will come when the movement cements itself as not just a fad, but rather a new way to look at all of the food and drink that we consume. As fickle as the restaurant world is, many chefs are quick to point out that local food is not just better tasting, but often cheaper too—especially as more purveyors pop up due to the growing trend. For the sake of our palates and our environment, then, it’s our hope that the financial viability of local eating will ultimately translate into the permanent adoption of sustainable sourcing policies in restaurants everywhere. Why it’s awesome Farm-to-table chefs helping save the environment, one meal at a time. By sourcing locally, they help to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, while encouraging the growth of small farms. Thus, the chefs not only gain more control over the food they serve, but also support sustainable farming instead of the entrenched, industrial food system. Moreover, since fall 2011

ingredients don’t have to travel long distances, there’s no need for chemicals to help preserve it. With preservatives and long transit times out of the picture, local ingredients are more full of essential nutrients and taste better, offering assertive, pure flavor that can be bracingly intense. The dish Want to get a taste of this trend? Right in our backyard is an array of restaurants on the local food bandwagon. In general, if a restaurant’s menu changes seasonally, there’s a good chance that it sources food locally. Popular Old City BYOB Chloe, for example, features a chalkboard menu of dishes that highlight the fresh, local ingredients that have been delivered that day. On South Street, Supper takes the concept to a new extreme—its chef, Mitch Prensky, has contracted with Blue Elephant Farm to produce food exclusively for the restaurant. Beyond the improved quality of local sources, there’s an intangible benefit in customers’ minds, on which restaurants seem eager to capitalize. Barbuzzo features a chalkboard listing all of ingredients sourced from local purveyors, while White Dog Café posts a list on its website. JG Domestic actually devotes a whole page of its menu to citing partner farms, which its waiters are generally overeager to describe. Indeed, some of these initiatives walk the line between sourcing responsibly for the right reasons and exploiting a trend for financial gain. As Marc Vetri said in our last issue, “It’s my job as a chef to respect the environment, to use local, and to be aware as I’m able to. I don’t write about it and tout that that’s what I do, because that’s what you ought to do. You’re doing your job.” continued on p.37 penn appétit


Drink this! BOOZE Philadelphia Distilling Philadelphia, PA Bluecoat American Dry Gin, Vieux Carré Absinthe Mountain Laurel Spirits New Hope, PA Dad’s Hat White Rye, Dad’s Hat Whiskey Kings County Distillery Brooklyn, NY Moonshine, Bourbon Art in the Age Organic Spirits Philadelphia, PA Root, Rhuby BEER Yards Philadelphia, PA Brawler, General Washington’s Tavern Porter Philadelphia Brewing Company Philadelphia, PA Walt Wit, Winter Wünder Victory Downington, PA Hop Devil, Mad King Weiss Dock Street Philadelphia, PA Man Full of Trouble Porter, Amber

a toast to

local drinking by Becca Goldstein

photos by derick olson and max wang

Put down your cans of Natty Ice and Keystone Light, throw away those boxes of Franzia and empty out your cabinets full of plastic liquor bottles—it’s time to start a revolution. While many people recognize that the locavore movement has changed the way people are eating, not as many are aware of the burgeoning concept of drinking locally. Since the recent trend of emphasizing sustainability has us scrutinizing our daily practices, it’s important to remember that ordering a Guinness or a glass of Bordeaux leaves as much of a carbon footprint as buying any other product that’s shipped from afar by means of fossil fuels. While I’m certainly not opposed to Champagne toasts or the occasional after-dinner European cordial, I’m more than ready to embrace local drinking, which offers an experience just as, if not more, rewarding in a much more sustainable manner. Many state governments seem to agree. Over the past few years, micro distilling has been increasing in both popularity and prominence, and lawmakers have been reacting accordingly. In 2007, New York followed states such as Nebraska and Illinois, which had since deregulated parts of the industry, by passing a law that allowed for “farm distilleries” that produce high-quality liquor on a small, local scale. The government realized the many benefits to “farm” distilling,


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including additional local jobs and increased use of in-state ingredients. So, when consumers buy the product, they support a local business that is, in turn, supporting another local business; it’s something of a win-win-win situation. Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, where I spent my summer as an intern, is a perfect example of this dynamic relationship. Colin Spoelman, coowner of the distillery, explains, “Spirits, because of legal constraints that have been in place since Prohibition, have been one of the last groups of consumables to undergo an artisanal renaissance. In the case of whiskey, that means spirit produced from organic or sustainably produced grains, which are grown local to the distillery. It can also mean distilling near the consumer, which makes sense in terms of saving energy for deliveries and distribution.” The base for Kings County’s moonshine and bourbon is more than seventy-percent corn, which is sourced from the Finger Lakes region of New York. It buys rye from Wild Hive Farms in Poughkeepsie, which happens to supply other prominent culinary ventures in the area, such as Mario Batali’s Italian superstore Eataly. Once distilled and bottled, Kings County’s small-batch, handcrafted spirits are sold in bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout New York. Spoelman says that the movement of local

distilling “encourages variety and creativity in the spirits themselves, as independent distilleries aren't beholden to corporate parents that put profit over quality.” Despite the opportunity this creates for drinkers to support a local business in a novel way, not everyone has caught on. Education about local spirits, Spoelman says, is a continuing obstacle. Andy Farrell, general manager of City Tap House in Philadelphia, sees such education as an integral part of his job. Farrell explains that craft beer and local liquor represent “a new language. Dropping someone into that environment can be intimidating—they’re going to want to fall back onto what they know and what they’re comfortable with.” As a result, Farrell ensures that his staff members are not only servers and bartenders, but teachers as well. They explain and encourage craft beer consumption, to an audience that exhibits near-ideal demographics. “With such a high population of 18 to 25 year olds,” Farrell says, “there is no better city in the county and no better time to be someone finding their drinking palate.” Indeed, we college students represent the age stratum best suited for fueling the movement towards local drinking; beer and spirits are a regular part of most of our diets, and unlike our older counterparts, we are not yet set in our drinking habits. continued on p.37

philly chocolate by sa ra h li nd s t ed t ph oto by j enni fer s u n Ph oto by j enni fer s un

a treat for taste buds and the community


nder a farmer’s market tent or tucked in between storefronts along the streets of Center City, artisanal chocolate awaits anyone with curious taste buds. Its purveyors are invested not only in mastering the basics, but also in creating flavors that are sure to bring their customers back for more; strawberrybalsamic and “lingering lemongrass” are just a few examples. These chocolatiers’ goals, however, are not only built around the taste of the products they sell, but also include a larger, multifaceted concern for the city they call home. John & Kira’s chocolate, which you may have seen on sale at local farmers markets, boasts a wide variety flavors, including bite-sized truffles bursting with succulent crèmes like honey-lavender and raspberry. Their fruitand herb-infused chocolate flavors run the gamut of herbs and crops one might find in a local farm or garden— because their ingredients actually come from local farms and gardens. One of John & Kira’s most popular chocolate bars is the Garden Mint variety, which contains mint that the company purchases from student-run gardens at Drew Elementary and University City High School in Philadelphia. These gardens are sponsored by the Urban Nutrition Initiative, a Penn-sponsored project that sets up nutrition programs in inner-city schools. The business partnership with John & Kira’s not only ensures highquality, locally sourced ingredients for the chocolatiers, but also helps UNI further its goals of teaching students the importance of healthy living and eating. In a similar light, Marcie Blaine Chocolates aims to connect with the heart of city and surrounding businesses as well. Its unique Philly Series line features chocolates

fall 2011

whose surfaces exhibit images evocative of the city: the Liberty Bell, the skyline, a soft pretzel and the LOVE statue. Each image is applied onto the chocolate in glaze form, using a method very similar to the silk-screening that factories use on fabric and clothing. What’s most exciting, though, is that the inside of each chocolate offers a flavor combination that stays true to the theme of the treat. The soft pretzel variety, for example, has actual bits of pretzels inside the filling. Aside from highlighting iconic Philadelphia landmarks, Marcie Blaine also has an eye for local, organic farms when sourcing its ingredients. All of the cream and butter used is fresh from Lancaster County, and many of the herbs found in the infused chocolates—such as the rosemary in the Italian Flirt variety or the namesake of the lavender truffle—are also picked from local farms. No matter the ingredients, chocolate shops use various methods to ensure that the flavor of their crèmes is top notch. John & Kira’s, for example, uses a technique called emulsion, in which water and cream are mixed together before melted chocolate is added. The cream is then flavored by the addition of raw plant and herb ingredients. In the case of their Garden Mint chocolate, the flavor of the locally grown mint is extracted in syrup form from the leaves, and then added to the mixture. The result is a bar that tastes like a fresh mint leaf wrapped in smooth, rich chocolate. One taste will make you realize how artificial all of the other mint flavoring you’ve ever had truly is. Indeed, the creativity of Philly’s chocolatiers is sure to intrigue any chocolate fan, with a variety of fresh, interesting flavors offered citywide. But it’s their artisanal concern for the local community—supporting area residents, organizations and farmers—that truly sets the makers of these mouthwatering treats apart.

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Taking local to a new level CafĂŠ Estelle provides its customers with yet another reason to love the sustainability movement by combining local and organic ingredients with in-house craftsmanship and a do-ityourself flair


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by Eesha sardesai photos by mike chien The menu this weekend at Café Estelle very well might feature a Lancaster County romaine salad: dilly beans and pungent gorgonzola flouncing the best of Pennsylvania Dutch produce. There’s also the spinach salad, with supple roasted pears, bacon vinaigrette and greens sourced from that same county. The egg that drips over brioche and gruyere in the Croque Madame was laid on an organic farm within a few hours’ drive of the restaurant. And that coffee? Fair-trade, organic and locally roasted. Chef Marshall Green’s bright café, tucked in a corner of Philadelphia’s artsy Northern Liberties neighborhood, might not appear unusual by this account. A slew of locavore outposts have sprouted up in the past few years as interest in local, sustainable eating proliferates. Café Estelle, with its promise of creamy, shirred eggs and delicate, apple-stuffed pancakes, sounds like a particularly good one. But a second look at the café’s offerings reveals a deeper commitment to homegrown cuisine, one that redefines the very term “local eating.” The spinach in that salad might come from Lancaster County, but the marbled hunks of bacon that dress it? All cured, smoked and dried in Green’s backroom kitchen. The pillowy walnut sticky bun—a cream-swaddled must for weekend brunch-goers—is also made in house, as is the brioche, the flatbreads, the ciabatta and whole wheat sandwich breads, and the pile of chubby brown muffins splayed on the counter. Oranges bounce around in a plastic contraption set atop the bar, squeezing out fresh juice; club soda is carbonated nearby, ready for mixing with any of sixteen flavored syrups. Ice cream, mayonnaise, mozzarella, smoked and brined turkey—all are prepared in Chef Green’s kitchen. At Café Estelle, local often means, well, right here. “We make hand-crafted food,” Green says simply. “It’s all hand-crafted food; it’s all cared-for food. We try to find the best ingredients that we can and prepare them, not always in the simplest way, but in a way to reflect their high quality.” A big practical advantage of crafting so much on site is the influence it allows Green to have over what he serves. “If you buy, say, a turkey breast, you can’t always control how salty it is. You buy it, and that’s what you get. Here, if we don’t like the way that something’s coming out, we can taste it; we can adapt it to different applications.” “Food’s sort of alive,” he adds. “And you have to make it the fall 2011

best that you can on any specific day.” It’s clear that Green’s excited by this constant variability. The chef ’s voice is reverent as he speaks, as though he can see before him the endless possibilities for homemade specials on his menu. Not as if the current menu at Café Estelle doesn’t boast plenty already. Green and his team serve up a sizable selection of breakfast and lunch fare, along with a lineup of rotating specials— seven to thirteen, depending on the day of the week. The velvety stuffed French toast is “My favorite compliment that a perennial standout on the specials board— I get from people is when egg-dipped brioche loaded with everything from golden-sweet pineapple to crisp, spicy someone says, ‘it reminds ginger snaps to decadent cheesecake that’s me of my grandma.’ That’s also impossibly light. It’s unpretentious food, the sort of transcendent like home but better, and perfectly meshed experience you can have with with the chef ’s hands-on philosophy. food.” Chef Marshall Green That’s because for Green, the extra step of actually brining a turkey or baking ciabatta—rather than just sourcing them from the neighborhood butcher and baker—is emblematic of a certain degree of care for both the food and the customer. This is evident, for one, in the obvious safety precautions that go with any food service venture. “You’re entrusting the staff with preparing for you safe, wholesome, quality food—not poisoning you,” Green explains. However, there are also less tangible notions of how a chef connects with the diner and how he can further his part in the customer’s food experience. Green’s hope is that when someone takes a bite of the house-cured tuna melt sandwich or his famous French toast, they will taste the care that went into its preparation; that it might remind them of a meal made with similar affection, or that it creates a special experience for itself. “My favorite compliment that I get from people is when they tell me that a food reminds them of a time or a person,” Green remarks. “When someone says, ‘it reminds me of my grandma,’ or ‘that reminded me of this time that I was up in this little diner in New England,’ or just this specific food memory—I think that’s the sort of transcendent experience you can have with food, any time. It doesn’t have to be in a five-star restaurant; it can be anywhere. But food has the ability, no matter where it’s served, to transcend a body. And that is what keeps me coming back to it.” penn appétit


The Hood: Rittenhouse Square

The Grub: Dessert for Brunch

On a weekday morning, we all need a savory dish and some caffeine to help us attack the day. But if it’s a weekend morning (or afternoon—we’re not judging), there’s nothing that satisfies like a hearty, sweet brunch. Try this crawl right near campus that’ll get you ready to attack any weekend day. And by that, we mean put you in a sugar coma to make it a truly lazy Sunday. Start at Bonté Coffee and Wafflerie (130 S. 17th St.), a small Belgian specialty shop that sits down a few stairs from 17th Street. Most Americans are unaware that there are actually different types of Belgian waffles, and we are used to the light, fluffy Brussels style, which is made from a batter. Bonté offers a unique alternative: the delicious Liège-style sugar waffle ($2.75). You wont be able to wander by the shop without stepping down to investigate its enticing aroma. Liège-style waffles are made from dough instead of batter, making them dense and chewy. Keeping with tradition, Bonté covers theirs in large-crystal sugar, creating a gooey, caramelized texture on the waffle’s crunchy exterior. The waffles are extremely satisfying on their own, but if you’re feeling indulgent, Bonté allows you add a scoop of ice cream and a caramel or chocolate drizzle. For your next stop, stay ahead of the culinary curve with a trip to The Dandelion

signature margaritas. Sure, they come by the glass, but why not indulge in a pitcher ($35)? The frozen blood orange variety is tasty and super-sweet, but we like pineapple canella for its added complexity, including pineapple puree, cinnamon and other spices. After leaving El Vez, you’ll probably want to head somewhere slightly less harried. Enter Zavino (112 S. 13th St.), a low-key Italian wine bar with brilliant, thin-crust pizzas. We love their classic Margherita ($12), mostly for its sweet, crushed tomato. But The Stache ($15) is a great change of pace, boasting pistachio pesto, baby arugula and meyer lemon vinaigrette. A glass of Aresti Sovignon Blanc ($9) offers a perfect, fruity partner to this indulgence, so take your time and enjoy. Last on this tour is a food paradise that unites Italian flavors with those from the rest of the Mediterranean, and where small plates boast huge flavors. Barbuzzo (110 S. 13th St.) has seats for walk-ins right in front of its open kitchen, where you can sample plates with your eyes and nose, including the restaurant’s legendary salted caramel budino ($8). If you’re not ready to dive completely into sweet territory, try out the sheep’s milk ricotta and figs ($10) for a more savory option that comes accompanied by sweeter-than-vinegar vin cotto, herbs and grilled bread. The only negative is that you’ll never want to step off of 13th Street and back onto American soil.

The Hood: South 13th Street

What if someone said that you could journey from the US to Mexico and across the Mediterranean, all without walking more than a block? Lo and behold the wonders of South 13th street, between Chestnut and Sansom, which enables an eclectic smorgasbord of culinary adventure. To prepare for your travels, start off at The Corner (102 S. 13th St.) for a last taste of food from home. It’s stark but cozy, with sleek wooden booths and a wealth of tempting menu items. But pace yourself; the best bet is to grab a couple of starters and save some room for your coming travels. Crispy pork belly sliders ($9) are a great way to begin the journey. Their meat is tender and fatty enough to wake up your palate quickly, and it’s topped with homemade sauerkraut, whose bitterness adds extra punch. Once your passport is stamped, grab the sombrero that’s been sitting in your closet since that trip to Cabo in 1998 and walk over to El Vez (121 S. 13th St.). Dominating the corner at Sansom Street, this Stephen Starr experience is expectedly bright, loud and flashy. Order the original guacamole ($13) for a wellexecuted winner, or opt for the bazooka limon variety ($15.50), which offers the pleasantly sharp punch of goat cheese and the crunch of pistachios against the requisite mild avocado. And that’s not all—roasted tomatoes add hearty flavor, and a dash of chili flake lends some welcome spice. As you dip your warm chips in the tasty concoction, refresh with one of El Vez’s

(124 S. 18th St.), Stephen Starr’s homage to the gastropub frenzy from across the Pond. Its menu has all the marks of proper English pub fare, including a beer-battered Chatham cod ($19.50) that’s a golden triumph of the deep fryer. But if it’s brunch you’re after, look no further than the Scotch pancakes ($11). They’re warm, fluffy and drizzled with maple-glazed apples and a luscious cinnamon cream—more than reason enough to stop by. Finish your dessert-inspired brunch crawl by stopping at Di Bruno Bros. (1730 Chestnut St.), a cavernous gourmet store that offers a combination of imported and homemade foods and products. The café upstairs offers french toast, tiramisu and more, but we prefer to grab some sweet treats to-go and have a picnic in Rittenhouse Square. A box of mixed desserts (price varies), like the oatmeal raisin peanut butter chip cookies, the rocky road brownies and, of course, the classic cannoli, is always a winner. So too the store’s sticky buns ($4), which are served warm and under a sheet of deliciously sweet and sticky goo. But what’s most fun about DiBruno is that you never know just what the place will offer. That’s why we recommend walking a loop through the store to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Then grab what looks best and take it to the park, to eat while lingering and enjoying your day off.

The Grub: Around the World in One Block 24

penn appétit

by the Penn Appétit Editorial Staff


The next time you eat out, we invite you to cast off the concept of the sit-down meal in favor of a more diverse dining experience. Penn Appétit has carefully curated four progressive meals—or, food crawls—to lead you dish-by-dish, and drinkby-drink, through some of Philadelphia’s key culinary neighborhoods. Each crawl has a distinct area and theme attached to it, ensuring that there is something to satisfy every palate. From sweet to savory, Rittenhouse to Fishtown, there’s no better way to taste your way through the city.

The Grub: Upscale Junk Food

The Hood: Chinatown

If you think it’s a tad too expensive to travel across the Pacific for an authentic Asian meal, try Chinatown—just a SEPTA ride away and filled with delicious, true-to-form Asian food. First, stop off at Philadelphia’s premier purveyor of soup dumplings, Dim Sum Garden (59 N. 11th St). Despite its unwelcoming location in a dark underpass beneath a convention hotel, the place serves up fantastic steamed buns and dumplings that explode with flavor. Their famous soup dumplings, or xiao long bao ($5.25), arrive in a metal steamer, piping hot and full of rich broth. Orders come with eight perfectly made dumplings, making the dish a relative steal. That said, poor technique could render your investment worthless, so make sure you eat the soup dumplings with care. First, poke a hole with a chopstick to let some steam release. Then suck the soup out, being careful not to burn your tongue. Finally, dip the dumpling in the vinegary brown sauce provided to further enhance the flavor of its meat and doughy skin. After enjoying your dim sum, it’s time to head to the northeast corner of Chinatown. Here hangs a simple sign for Sang Kee Peking Duck House (238 N. 9th St.). Step in and look around the restaurant’s simple interior; while this may seem like an ordinary eatery, its signature Peking Duck ($23.40), served with pancakes and plum sauce, is definitely extraordinary. Pick up a soft pancake, add a generous helping

The Grub: Asian Exploration

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an order of onion rings ($4) will. They’re perfect specimens: thick-cut, sweet onion surrounded by a batter that’s mercifully light and assertively seasoned. Once you’re done mingling with PYT’s club kids and scenesters, head east to Barcade (1114 Frankford Ave.), a new addition to Philly’s nightlife scene that is, thank heaven, exactly what it sounds like. Make change for a Lincoln and indulge in vintage arcade games while munching on kicked-up small bites like nutella and bacon toast ($4) and sriracha deviled eggs ($3), served until midnight. Wash it all down with a brew from a vast and everchanging tap list—just be sure you don’t spill on the Asteroids machine. Finish off your night of junk food-infused debauchery at Barbarella (951 Frankford Ave.). Located above the Barbary—a rowdy bar and dance club—Barbarella sits on prime real estate. Get cozy in the divey atmosphere and grab some deep-fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls ($6) and a PBR ($2). Enjoy your last stand before tomorrow’s junk food detox, then head downstairs to dance off your grease-and-sugar high all night long.

The Hood: Northern Liberties / Fishtown

Nights out should be indulgent, right? If you’re on board with that idea, try out this crawl for delicious bites alongside great drinks, in a variety of fun atmospheres. Start the night off by adding a little Spanish flair to your favorite indulgences at Bar Ferdinand (1030 N. 2nd St.). Crowds here build up quickly, so order a glass of house-made red sangria, refreshing and sweet, before the bar gets too busy. Forget a regular hamburger and opt for the pato ahumado ($9), duck breast sliders topped with a membrillo and almond jam that’ll seriously satisfy your sweet tooth. Want more? The datiles con tocino ($6) are dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with honey, cream cheese and almonds, taking junk food to a new level. Head across the street to the open-air Piazza at Schmidt’s (1050 N. Hancock St.), and follow your ears to PYT. The burger jointcum-nightclub doesn’t let up on the blasting music once night falls, and you may even see the party extending outside on a temperate evening. Grab a spiked shake ($10); the Cookie Monster adds Irish cream and vanilla vodka to the traditional ice cream-and-Oreo combination. If that doesn’t do it for you,

of duck and spring onions, and drench it in sauce. Each mouthful is a beautiful mix of sweet and salty, with a satisfying crunch as you bite into the crispy skin. Next, head to Nan Zhou Hand-Drawn Noodle House (927 Race St.) for a bowl of delicious noodle soup. Try the Beef Brisket Noodle Soup ($5.75), embellished with bok choy, Chinese pickle, green onions and cilantro. The broth is smooth and not overly salty, serving as the ideal complement to slender, fresh-made noodles and tender, flavorful chunks of beef brisket. And the service is amazingly fast—odds are your bowls of noodle soup will arrive within minutes of placing the order. End your meal at Penang (117 N. 10th St.), a Malaysian restaurant serving authentic food with bold flavors. Though service can be curt, wood walls resembling village houses give the restaurant a homey feel—plus the food more than makes up for any lack of decorum among the wait staff. If you’re still in the mood for something savory, their roti canai ($3.95) is a lovely rendition, with a fatty, spicy curry sauce and a roti pancake for dipping that’s at once perfectly doughy and crisp. If you’re more ready to satisfy your sweet tooth, indulge in their fried ice cream ($6.75), a sinfully delicious dessert. The contrast of the warm, slightly salty batter and the cold, sweet ice cream is an undoubtedly amazing way to end your food crawl.

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NYCvs.PHL by Hoi Ning Ngai nyc PHOTOS by matt powell phl PHOTOS by sky yoo

(is it worth a fight?)

Growing up in New York meant being exposed to one of the fastest-paced, most food-centric cities in the world at a young age. Now that I live in Philadelphia, I’ve been questioned more than a few times about whether it can live up to what New York has to offer. My retort is simple: Why should it? No matter how much New Yorkers or Philadelphians may position their food scenes in opposition to each other, the two cities are worlds apart in terms of pace and intensity. New York is a place of a million possibilities, but like a menu overrun with options, it can be overwhelming. It’s easy to verge on hyperventilation when considering how many choices there are for a meal, and once I finally decide, I often cringe from anxiety thinking about how many great dishes I might be missing. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is like a menu with just the right number of options—enough to provide variety, but not so many that I feel paralyzed by choice. Generally, Philly is exciting yet manageable, and boasts a strong sense of community throughout. Indeed, the vibe of the city’s food scene is decidedly different from that of New York’s, but the two share some key areas that are worthy of comparison. Ethnic Cuisine When immigrants first arrived in the United States, they often congregated in the same areas, creating ethnic neighborhoods permeated by each culture’s sights, sounds, smells and tastes. In New York, these communities continue to thrive, with strong Asian representation in each borough’s Chinatown, significant Greek pockets in Astoria, heavy Indian and Columbian populations in Jackson Heights, and countless more. As immigrants have continued to build and secure their food presence in New York, locals of all colors and creeds frequently flock to areas like Koreatown in Manhattan, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, and Flushing in Queens for their ethnic food fixes. Because Philadelphia is smaller, its ethnic communities are also smaller. While this generally limits the number of individuals selling food, the quality is what ultimately matters. Fortunately, Philadelphia’s tremendous diversity provides consistently delicious ethnic flavors. Walking through the various neighborhoods, I am amazed by how immigrants from all over the world continue to see and utilize food as a form of cultural expression. Jamaican Jerk Hut (made famous by the movie In Her Shoes) offers perfectly fried coconut shrimp, plantains and other authentic Jamaican food in South Philadelphia. For Mexican food that is delicious and affordable, El Jarocho in Bella Vista consistently receives rave reviews for its burritos and tacos, particularly the carne asada, chorizo and al pastor. Moreover, Philadelphia’s smaller size inherently means that its ethnic communities are closer to one another. Italian pastry shop Isgro, for example, offers sweet pignoli cookies and heavenly cannoli just a few blocks over from Nam Phuong, which serves up unctuous, steaming bowls of pho. And for those of us who are more inclined to experiment in personal


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kitchens, the Italian Market is literally steps away from the Oriental Supermarket, making cross-cultural ingredient gathering a snap. Farm to Table The food world is increasingly utilizing ingredients that are organic, local and sustainable. With more people focused on where their food is coming from, how it is grown and how it food is obtained, the degree to which farms and farmers markets have been increasingly recognized by professional chefs and home cooks alike is not surprising. One of my favorite spots in New York is the Union Square Greenmarket, which began with a handful of farmers in 1976 and has expanded to 140 regional farmers, fishermen and bakers during peak season. Moreover, chefs from some of the city’s best-known restaurants—like Blue Hill, Daniel, and WD50—craft their menus around meat and produce available at the market. With a wealth of farms outside the city and farmers markets inside the city, Philadelphia offers the same opportunity for food lovers to bring items straight from farm to table. Organizations like Philly Homegrown, the Food Trust and Farm to City work in partnership to make food from local farmers accessible to everyone around Philadelphia. Whether I am racing through the University Square Market on Wednesdays during lunch, or casually strolling around the Rittenhouse Square Market on Saturday mornings, I always make a beeline for the crisp apples from Beechwood Orchards. The Headhouse Market is a perfect stop on Sunday mornings, especially if I am looking for a wide selection of meats, cheeses and vegetables from vendors like Birchrun Hills Farm. Like their counterparts in New York, many chefs in Philadelphia are focused on helping diners make the connection between farm and table. Popular BYOB Pumpkin varies its menu daily in order to include local ingredients that change just as frequently. South Street staple Supper maintains a relationship with Blue Elephant Farm to grow produce exclusively for the restaurant—produce that is picked five days a week by the chef himself. These are just a couple of many restaurants that are making ever more conscious decisions about what to put on their tables. Fine Dining Despite my predilection for cheap eats, I must admit that I did appreciate getting my first grown-up job and paychecks, which ultimately allowed me to expose my palate to fine dining. New York is a destination for celebrities and celebrity chefs, and I have always found the food and star quality of dining experiences in the city to be second to none. I was thrilled to taste impossibly tender sweetbreads at Mario Batali’s Casa Mono, and to lunch

Block parties and neighborhood festivals exhibit the collaborative spirit of Philly’s food community.

Big names dominate the New York restaurant scene.

New York photos courtesy of our friends at the Columbia Culinary Society

at Eleven Madison Park, which was the setting for a memorable Carrie and Big scene from Sex and the City. I had a remarkable meal at Craft, by Top Chef host Tom Colicchio, who has expanded throughout the city with a small empire of restaurants. Since moving here, I’ve been so pleased to find that Philadelphia offers the same level and quality of fine dining, but at more moderate prices. Even the most upscale and trendy meals in Philadelphia cost considerably less than the same in New York. On a recent visit to Talula’s Garden, my friends greeted Mayor Nutter a few seats away, yet spent only $60 per person for an expertly executed meal. Other fine dining favorites of mine include Michael Solomonov’s Zahav, Stephen Starr’s Barclay Prime and Jose Garces’s Amada, all of which create a dent in my wallet of a much more palatable size. Collaboration and Creativity It’s clear that Philadelphia is capable of creating culinary excitement to rival New York’s, but what’s more is that the city does so in a way that supports collaboration and creativity. While vendors and proprietors are fundamentally bound to compete, there is something about the City of Brotherly Love that lends itself to relationship building among chefs fall 2011

and restaurateurs. A fairly new concept on the food scene is the popup restaurant, in which chefs will set up shop in a restaurant space for a matter of days or weeks in order to test out new food or restaurant concepts. In a particularly successful collaboration, Aimee Olexy of Talula’s Table in Kennett Square created a pop-up in Stephen Starr’s Washington Square space during the summer of 2010. Not only did the venture receive rave reviews, but it also resulted in the opening of Talula’s Garden a year later. The closeness of Philadelphia chefs and restaurateurs has also given rise to another popular trend: the collaborative chef dinner, where several chefs come together to create an elaborate multi-course meal, often around a particular item or theme. South Philadelphia Tap Room hosts a farmhouse ale dinner every fall, bringing in chefs from Cochon, Southwark and even New York’s Balthazar. Bistrot La Minette and Meme are just a few of the other restaurants that have hosted collaborative dinners of late. The opportunity to cook with friends not only stimulates culinary creativity, but pushes chefs to present their best fare in the spirit of friendly competition. And no one benefits more than the diners, who get to enjoy all of the tasty exploits. continued on p.38 penn appétit


brotherly LOVE philadelphia’s food culture lives up to the city’s moniker BY Emily Orrson

photos BY sika gasinu

“This is no Wawa, we take care of customers!”

Ezra Haim exclaims, sliding slices of roast beef onto a piece of wax paper and offering it towards the line waiting inside of Koch’s Deli. Now a 24-hour franchise, Wawa was in fact once a small market, family-run and neighborfrequented. And some Philadelphia businesses stay that way. From the Koch’s duo to Porcini’s David and Steve Sansone to cheese experts DiBruno Brothers, Philadelphia’s food legacy seems rife with siblingry. And in the City of Brotherly Love, would we have it any other way? “It’s a tradition here to let you try samples,” Ezra says, looking up with a grin at the line of customers. “Here,” he challenges, reaching for a tub of chicken salad, “I’m going to do it right now.” Tradition plays a large role at Koch’s. In 1966, Fran and Sid Koch started the deli at its 43rd and Locust locale, chatting with customers and delivering homemade chicken soup to those who fell ill. When Fran passed away, her sons Bobby and Lou received over 1,500 condolence cards, and inherited the Deli themselves. “Bobby was the flirty swinger type with a Corvette,” said Dr. Brian Kutner, who graduated from Penn Dental in 1980. “Lou was the chunky one, always telling stupid jokes—a big, jolly guy.” When Dr. Kutner returned to Koch’s a decade after graduation, Lou looked up from the counter and greeted him by his first name. “It was just one happy family in there,” he said. The letters and cards taped to the walls tell the same story. “A place I felt welcome,” “The big brothers I never had,” “We all feel a part of the Koch family,” read just a few. Pictures of Ezra and his partner holding neighborhood newborns dot the collage. Though not part of the brotherhood, the two took over after Bobby’s death in 2005 and are continuing the Koch legacy, complete with its family-owned feel. Koch’s Deli may have managed to stay in the family for two generations, but DiBruno Brothers is on its fourth and still going strong. In 1939, Danny and Joe DiBruno opened their first store, on 9th street, near the Italian market. “Danny and Joe, they were like showmen,” Danny’s grandson and current DiBruno’s owner William Mignucci said. “They celebrated great food and great people.” Mignucci used to spend his weekends helping in the store, bagging cheese and watching his uncle and grandfather run the business. And what set the two men apart? “They were relentlessly, unconditionally committed to their customers,” Mignucci says. “At the end of the day, what drives us is preserving and building upon the legacy of Danny and Joe.” While both Koch’s and DiBruno’s build on a legacy, Porcini’s is just creating its own. Steve and David Sansone started the restaurant in 1996 on family recipes and a two-dollar bill for good luck. And what about the authentic Italian experience? “We have it,” David says, before recounting how he’d often watch his grandfather buy a goat’s head and eat the animal’s brain. Steve would watch his mother buy cow tongue. “If you want it? I got it,” he says. Two of seven children, Steve and David grew up with big, family-style Italian dinners—complete with accordion music. And now Aunt Rosmarie’s recipes line the menu, Grandma’s potato masher hangs in the kitchen, Steve’s daughter Chelsea waitresses and Mom drove down from Buffalo just to decorate the bathroom. “My destiny is to keep the heritage and the true purity of my family’s food and culture out there,” said Steve, who is known around his kitchens for talking to his ancestors as he cooks. The day before Porcini opened, the owner of La Famiglia (and an old boss) dropped in to look around. “Oh your mother’s in the kitchen?” he asked. “You’ll be fine.” continued on p.37


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lost in translation? BY amina erica mobley photos BY evan robinson One of the first manifestations of homesickness is longing for authentic-tasting food from home. As an international student from Japan, although I miss my family and friends back home, the thing I miss above all is bona fide Japanese food. I’m sure this happens to anyone who has been away from home for an extended period of time. Still, international students studying in Philadelphia are lucky: the city boasts a fair share of authentic ethnic foods. I decided to put Philly’s culinary diversity to the test by selecting three exchange students to rate restaurants serving food from fall 2011

their respective countries. The ultimate test of authenticity is if each restaurant can relieve these students of homesickness, at least for the length of one meal.

Traditional French Food: Parc in Rittenhouse Square

Colas Mazeron is a 21-year-old College junior and an exchange student from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lyon. We ventured to Parc in Rittenhouse Square, one of Philadelphia’s best-known French restaurants. Not surprisingly, Colas had penn appétit


already heard of Parc and was eager to try its rendition of his favorite French dessert, profiteroles. As were walking up to Parc, he was already nodding in approval at the exterior design. Colas explained that the red awnings were typical of a brasserie, which is a mix between a casual café and a bar. Apparently even the chairs were representative of a standard brasserie. Stepping into the restaurant, he praised the interior decoration as “a fantasy of what France looked like a century ago.” However, he was appalled that there were no tablecloths. “In France,” he lamented, “they would at least have a paper tablecloth,” noting that the French take lunch, or dejeuner, very seriously. Still, he confessed, “I’m not going to lie, they did a really good job; they even have a fake French liquor license hung behind the bar.” After we were seated, Colas commented, “The service is horrible. It feels like home—very authentic.” I asked him to scan through the menu and point out anything that was glaringly not French. To my surprise, he estimated that 95% of the dishes were authentic. He chuckled when he saw the onion soup and remarked, “Americans think that it’s so French. Yes, it’s common, but we don’t usually order it in restaurants. Basically it’s just water and onion. Its something you eat at the end of a wedding party at seven in the morning.” Another complaint was that 11 dollars was far too pricey for the staple Parisian ham baguette, although he attested that it tasted very true to that served in France. “[In France] you can get 11 whole baguettes for 11 dollars,” he commented. Furthermore, he considered the chicken liver mousse very inauthentic. In France, chefs use duck or goose liver; never chicken. For his entree, Colas selected Quiche Lorraine. He was very satisfied with the taste, but found that the portion was much bigger than that served in France. When taking a bite of French quiche, he explains, it’s essential to obtain a perfect crust-tofilling ratio. But in the case of the American-sized quiche, the filling was much thicker, so it was difficult to fork off the perfect balance. For dessert, Colas insisted on having profiteroles, which are pastry puffs filled with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Since this is such a common dessert in France, it is almost always factory-made. However, he was pleased to find that in the U.S. they are generally made from scratch, which enhances the flavor. Generally, espresso served in France comes with a small chocolate on the side. At Parc, there was no chocolate, but there was a homemade cookie, which was a nice surprise. Overall, Parc proved to be a satisfactory experience. Colas remarked throughout the night that he was puzzled as to why what he considered typical food was being served at such a nice restaurant. Regardless of some of his criticisms, when he saw that I was particularly slow in finishing my french fries, he smiled and said, “The food is good, and you’re obviously not eating them as they deserve to be eaten . . . so let me help you.” That’s when I knew that Parc had passed the test of authenticity.

Exploring Japanese: Sushi Rolls at Vic’s The next ethnic food I explored was Japanese cuisine. I met up with Koichiro Narita, a computer science major from the International Chrisitan University in Tokyo, Japan. He was the


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perfect candidate: on many occasions, Koichiro has complained about how he was afraid that he wouldn’t survive a whole year in the U.S. because the food was so different. Since he had just arrived in the country, Koichiro was not accustomed to “Americanized” sushi. I expected he would be in for a surprise. We chose to go to Vic’s Sushi because of its reputation for authenticity and reasonable prices. As soon as we walked into the crammed little eatery, Koichiro remarked that the smell of the place reminded him of home. He looked around at the sushi counter and orange walls with a satisfied grin. However, the grin faded away when he saw the itamae (sushi chef) standing behind the counter wearing disposable gloves. “That would never happen in Japan,” he sighed, in disbelief. He remarked that wearing gloves diminished both the aesthetic and the craft of sushi making. According to Koichiro, the texture and sweat of a sushi master’s hands are of great importance--so much so that it is supposedly one of the reasons why there are so few, if any, female sushi chefs in Japan. It is also rumored that the fluctuation of the temperature of a woman’s hands during her menstrual cycle is one of the reasons women are barred from the sushi counter. In defense of the chef, though, it is a health code violation for those preparing sushi to not wear gloves. As we examined the menu, Koichiro noted that two thirds of the menu consisted of specialty rolls, such as California or Volcano Rolls, while the remaining third listed traditional, simpler sushi like tuna, eel and cucumber. He pointed out that in Japan it would be the opposite; the bulk of the menu would be simple. Some of the adjectives he used when describing the pictures of sushi in the menu included “flashy,” “grotesque” and “unbelievable.” When our order of miso soup came out first, Koichiro looked confused, because in Japan, miso is served at the end of the meal to clear the mouth of the fishy aftertaste. Our main course order included tuna, egg, spicy salmon, eel, avocado and Ocean Brother rolls. An avocado roll is unheard of in Japan, since the vegetable is not native to the country. Koichiro was shocked that the seaweed used in the egg roll was sweetened. He explained that in the Japanese version of the roll, the egg is full of flavor, while the seaweed is bland. “Here the egg is dry and tasteless, while the seaweed is sweet.” When he tasted the tuna roll, his face looked downright miserable. “This is worse than the tuna that they serve at 100 yen (76 cents) chain restaurants.” Eel was his favorite out of the traditional rolls, because the eel sauce used was very authentic. Surprisingly, his favorite roll was the most non-Japanese specialty roll: the Ocean Brother roll. He explained that since that roll is so far from what sushi really is, the “strange” combination of tempura and avocado allowed him to just enjoy it, instead of forcing him to compare it to authentic Japanese cuisine. “When I eat this, it’s like I’m just eating a different food altogether. It’s not even sushi anymore, but it’s delicious.” Koichiro commented that the only thing that was not Americanized were the portions, which were in line with those in Japan. Koichiro was also disappointed by the lack of interaction between the customers and the itamae. He explained that in Japan, the itamae keeps up a casual conversation with the customers from behind the counter. The conversation makes the customers trust him more, and subsequently trust the food he is making.” continued on p.38

DIY • ingredients crust 4 oz butter, melted 2 cups chocolate cookies, crushed 3/4 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped caramel sauce 2/3 cup light corn syrup 3/4 cup heavy cream 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

• step-by-step

fall 2011

filling 1 1/2 cups mascarpone or ricotta cheese 3/4 cup fromage frais (quark or farmer’s cheese will also do) 12 oz chocolate 1 Tbsp butter 2 eggs optional: 2 oz dark chocolate, shaved

BY di ana blidarescu

photos BY max wang

the ultimate cheesecake This smooth and creamy dessert wins over hearts through its tantalizing combination of dark chocolate, hazelnuts and caramel. The goal: to create the most decadent cheesecake possible. Pre-made cake batters and cookiecutter recipes won’t do. This masterpiece must be composed so that each ingredient exists in tantalizing harmony with the others. This cake shall transform into a unique work of art. In this endeavor, as in all art, one starts with the raw materials and builds up. Essentially, a cake has three components: base, filing and decorations. Depending on the occasion and the audience, one must decide what key ingredients to use for each component. More is not always better. There are thousands of taste receptors on your tongue, but too many tastes will send conflicting action potentials to your brain, leaving you in a state of mild confusion. Instead, select a few key flavors you want to accentuate. In my experience, a good rule of thumb is three big flavors—one for each element of the cake. My favorite combination: hazelnuts, dark chocolate and caramel. First, ponder the structural framework of the cake: the crust. In my opinion, cheesecakes look naked without one, plus they offer an opportunity to add another texture to the mix. From a purely aesthetic perspective, the crust allows for increased intricacy and cohesiveness. It should offer a foundation for the rest of the cake, but not be the point of focus. Keep it down to earth. Combining melted butter, blended chocolate cookies and finely chopped hazelnuts, I firmly pat the mixture into the bottom and onto the sides of a springform pan. Next comes chocolate, but choosing the variety to use is in itself significant. It may seem as simple as white, milk or dark, but there are an infinite number of variations within each category. For a chocolate fiend like me, dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao is the undeniable best choice. It also has the advantage of low sugar content; there is such a thing as sickeningly sweet. Whether dark or light, a pure chocolate is essential—one that contains just chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and lecithin. Avoid chocolate that has vegetable fat listed as an ingredient. Once you’ve found the perfect type, melt it in a double boiler, tossing in a tablespoon of butter to keep the mixture smooth. As soon as it’s melted, remove it from the heat and let it cool. Now, I know many of you believe the cheesecake is the ultimate American dessert. It turns out, though, that it was actually a popular dish in ancient Greece and later ancient Rome. As for the origin of cream cheese, now a common ingredient in this dessert, William Lawrence from New York was looking for a way to recreate the French cheese Neufchâtel when he instead ended up creating the first cream cheese. But in keeping with cheesecake’s European roots, I suggest avoiding the trite combination of sour cream and cream cheese. Be bold! Use the intimidating snobby foreign products you don’t know how to pronounce. I highly recommend mascarpone or ricotta cheese, combined with fromage frais (also called farmer’s cheese), to create an incredibly smooth texture. If you like your cheesecake more tart, substitute some more fromage frais for the equivalent amount of ricotta or mascarpone. Once the perfect ratio is achieved, combine the cheese with the chocolate and eggs, and mix until they reach an even consistency. continued on p.38

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*the classic The classic American doughnut developed in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (modern-day Manhattan). In his novel Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut, Paul R. Mullins notes that the olykoek—a Dutch pastry literally meaning “oil cake”—was popular on American shores in the early 18th century. Early colonial recipes soon dubbed these sweet fritters “dough-nuts” because the “little nuts of dough” were fried in hot pork fat. The only drawback? The balls cooked too quickly, resulting in unappetizing raw centers. Fillings of hazelnuts, walnuts or jam initially remedied the problem. But during an 1847 sea voyage, the now-quintessential hole became the new solution. Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory allegedly struggled helming his ship and holding his pastry simultaneously; the swabby on deck thus impaled the dough ball on a steering wheel spoke and inspired a mandate for holes in all future doughnuts. Other accounts claim differently—some assert, for example, that Gregory disliked the nut filling, whereupon the cook removed centers with a round, tin pepper box.


oon le w o c i feng BY n tra e m e d kins o BY p h ot a g g i e e d m and


No one can question, however, the doughnut’s complete integration into American society. The fried delicacy is commonplace in both neighborhood businesses and national chain retailers throughout the United States. However, Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme outlets in Philadelphia are far eclipsed by esteemed local establishments like Frangelli’s Bakery, a South Philly mom-and-pop store that creates many delectable options, from raspberry jelly doughnuts covered in cozy blankets of confectioners’ sugar to plush powdered doughnuts stuffed with one-inch-thick blocks of Neapolitan ice cream. Federal Donuts, which opened in October, specializes in sumptuous cake doughnuts served two ways. One technique transfers just-fried rings of dough immediately into unique sugar blends, such as a cocoa concoction enhanced with clove and orange blossom; the other method pumps doughnuts with rich custard and lacquers them in silky glaze. Their most ambitious doughnut is filled with billowy coffee custard, covered in decadent chocolate-tahini glaze and topped with roasted peanuts.

E truth L O

Whether in the standard toroid or a stick shape, served plain with golden honey or infused with tropical coconut, get ready to open your mind and mouth to an array of international doughnuts, all in your own backyard. 32

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*the churro

Spanish cuisine hosts a variety of fried dough treats, from buñuelos to sopaipillas. Arguably, the most popular of them all is the churro. Whether straight as a line or coiled in a ring, generously dusted with cinnamon sugar or dipped in thick hot chocolate, churros are sublime in every form. Their disputed history has one variation nested, surprisingly, in Chinese culture. When Portuguese explorers returned from China during the Ming Dynasty, they brought home new culinary techniques, including a modified recipe for yóutiáo. The churro’s unique star-shaped contour comes from being pushed through a die, as opposed to being hand-pulled in the Chinese fashion. Another story proposes that Spanish shepherds invented churros. Living high in the mountains with no access to bakeries, the nomads decided to design treats that were easy to fry over a fire and made from a simple batter. Indeed, the shepherds took care of “Navajo-Churro” breeds of sheep, with the fried pastries appearing strikingly similar to the sheep’s horns. Distrito offers mini toffee-colored churros as a sweet ending to a meal. The tubular sticks are freshly fried, crunchy on the outside and soft within. The accompanying spicy Valrhona chocolate sauce and milky cajeta crema complement the cinnamon sugarcrusted fritters nicely. Los Catrines Tequilas serves churros in a similar fashion, but with different sauces: caramelized dulce de leche, fruity strawberry jam and rich dark chocolate. Each offers the palate a distinct sensory approach, but whether dipped in the sauces or devoured plain, the sweet grooved ridges of Tequilas’ pastries explode with flavor on each bite.


The French are renowned for their elegant desserts, from crème brûlée to éclairs to macarons. Their beignets are no exception. Nothing more than plain puffy squares of deepfried dough liberally sprinkled with powdered sugar, they are extraordinary precisely because of their simplicity. Historians trace this traditional French recipe back to the Middle Ages; the etymology of the word does indicate Middle French origin, as the French words “buyne” and “beigne,” mean “bruise” or “bump” respectively, in accordance with the beignet’s bulging shape. Other theories claim that its name evolved from an early Celtic word “bigne,” meaning “to raise.” These doughnuts then made their way to the United States, introduced by Ursuline nuns to modernday Louisiana in 1727. Beignets have since then become a New Orleans specialty, officially named Louisiana’s state doughnut in 1986. For traditional beignets that transport you to New Orleans’ French Quarter, check out Beck’s Cajun Café inside Reading Terminal Market, serving heaping baskets of them on Sundays and Wednesdays. Toasty to the touch and blanketed with snowy powdered sugar, the puffs are excellent paired with a mug of authentic chicory coffee. This classic dish gets a refreshing twist at JG Domestic, where the large fritters are plated alongside bourbon vanilla mousseline and Maker’s Mark butterscotch. Each bite begins with a lightly crisped exterior, instantly giving way to an impossibly airy, cloud-like interior.


Yóutiáo are not found with the dessert selection, but rather at the breakfast table. Also known as “Chinese crullers,” these long, golden-brown strips of savory fried dough often come as two separate pieces, joined in the middle. Yóutiáo’s Cantonese name— yàuhjagwái, meaning “oil-fried devil”—is derived from its presence in Chinese folklore. Song Dynasty Prime Minister Qin Gui despised the well-respected general Yue Fei for diminishing his official power and presence. Bent on bringing about the war hero’s demise, Gui and his wife conspired to charge Fei with a crime and ultimately executed him. A baker, furious upon hearing the news, relieved his anger by making bread in the shape of two people twisted together and deep-frying it in burning-hot oil. The two fried dough strips symbolized Qin Gui and his wife, burning in hell and soon to be eaten by the public. Despite their dark past, yóutiáo are nonetheless tasty treats, commonplace in casual Chinese dining establishments. At Ting Wong Restaurant in Chinatown, for instance, yóutiáo is often paired with congee, a simple Asian rice porridge. The crisp sticks of dough have just the right touch of oil to provide body and flavor and act as a wonderful accompaniment for savory dishes. Of course, they are also delicious eaten on their own; Heung Fa Chun Sweet House serves them fresh in sets of two throughout the day. Customers regularly consume them with dou jiang—sweetened or salted warm soybean milk—, forming a delicious, traditional Chinese breakfast to kick start their day.

fall 2011

*the beignet

g like “There’s nothin ughnut a piping hot do fryer. As fresh out of the e your soon as you tak d dough first bite, the frie e puff of releases a gentl ntly melts steam and insta It is the in your mouth. pillow of ultimate sweet perfection.”

penn appétit


Bet t y Crock e r ’ s B est A d vi c e for

{a 1950s dinner party} Few other female cultural icons are as closely associated with the 1950s as Betty Crocker. Although Betty Crocker became synonymous with baking and homemaking, she was not an actual person, but rather a trademark and brand name created by General Mills in the 1920s. General Mills used the Betty Crocker character to convey to women the most desirable ways to run their households. In the 1950s, one of the most important aspects of keeping a household was, of course, entertaining. Here we take a look at some of the advice Betty dispensed in her highly touted cookbook Betty Crocker’s Guide to Easy Entertaining: How to Have Guests—and Enjoy Them. Hopefully the aspiring host or hostess will be sure to find many suggestions that make him or her smile as well as some gems to improve his or her next dinner party.

by Teagan Schweitzer


If you have children in your household that might otherwise be underfoot during a dinner party:

“Any of the tiniest children can be pressed into service in the first half hour of a party to the benefit of all concerned. At one house I love to visit, I am always greeted at the door by a smiling little eight-year-old who directs me to the room where I am to put wraps, leaving his mother and father free to remain in the living room to WELCOME EACH NEW ARRIVAL and make introductions. He is better than any butler.”


penn appétit

The hostess is the lead from beginning to end at dinner parties:

“The hostess gives the sign to leave the table. She need do no more than LAY HER NAPKIN BESIDE HER PLATE and start to rise at any time when no one is in the middle of conversation. Or she can say, ‘Shall we leave the table?’ or ‘Are we ready for coffee? Let’s have it in the living room.’”

fall 2011

if you have a guest that you fear is too dull: “Worth remembering are the words of one of my friends to her daughter who was complaining about having to entertain one of her husband’s friends she termed ‘A CRASHING BORE.’ ‘Try to see him as he sees himself. Treat him as if he were fascinating – and maybe you’ll find that he has something.’” Betty’s advice on menu planning for your dinner party:

“Don’t be known as a onemenu cook! Keep A FILE OF GUESTS and the foods you served them so that you won’t set forth exactly the same meal, no matter how delicious, three or four times in succession for the same friends.”

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food memories by KILEY BENSE


It’s obvious that the power of food extends beyond sustenance, beyond momentary indulgence or aesthetic experience. Food is important, not only socially and culturally but also individually, in that so many of our memories are informed and shaped by our meals. What we remember is often inextricably linked to what we eat. As a fragment of melody can transport us back to a sweaty middle school dance, so a nibble of raspberry can equally collapse decades of distance to return us to a summer spent with jam-stained hands. There’s a reason we pass Christmastimes away from home hungering for our grandmother’s sprinkle-dusted cookies, and a reason we crave mom’s chicken noodle soup when we’re sick, even though it’s never salty enough and made with canned stock. If there are people who can construct the stories of their lives as a series of pivotal baseball games or significant birthdays, mine might be best illustrated with sandwiches, ice creams, and chocolates. I find food to be a visceral connection to far away people and places, and when those tastes are recreated— accidentally or purposefully—it brings their memories speeding back to me. My memories most sated with color—those most easily summoned and sketched—are the ones plucked from and built because of meals. My first food memory is a sliver of a night at a Chinese restaurant as a toddler: greasy, golden-brown noodles and a struggle to wrap my tiny fingers around the foreign idea of chopsticks. I was never


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the kind of kid who shied away from “adult” food: shrimp cocktail on New Years’, squishy sushi, even an unmitigated love for heaps of steaming spinach and slabs of pink salmon. I ate shark in Florida at my aunt’s table and fried calamari on a seaside patio in San Diego, delighting in both. But these memories are more incidental than indelible, more notable for novelty than for sentimental longing. What really permeated the fabric of my childhood were the treats I savored over and over, that I anticipated and awaited annually. In the fall, there were late-night hoagies picked up after trips to the haunted house; hayrides and bonfires with speared hot dogs and gummy marshmallows; scrapple served with tooyellow eggs at the 24-hour diner by the friendly, lipsticked waitress. Fall has always been my favorite season. There are the usual reasons— the smoky sky, the fallen leaves of the Japanese maple transforming our lawn into a carpet of brilliant red—and the culinary ones—Halloween-night binges of Hershey bars and Tastykakes, brownies on my birthday ribboned with cream cheese. Those brownies’ flaky crust and rich insides were the perfect ending to the stew my mom made every fall. She used a recipe written in tiny script on a rumpled, stained scrap of paper, and the aromas of slow-cooked broth would fill the house with warmth. It’s a reminder, when I smell it now, of a time when steaming soup was a panacea, when meals appeared at the table seemingly of

their own accord and my parents chided my brother for refusing to eat the mushy, dime-sized carrots floating in the bowl. Summertime memories stick, too, mostly for their boardwalk confections: custard cones, cotton candy and caramel corn wedged between teeth, the rewards of Augusts squandered at the shore. Paper plates piled high with watermelon, fresh fish and corn, ingredients fetched that afternoon between dips in the ocean and trips to the water ice cart. The sundaes we ate after dinner at the retro ice cream parlor were just a detour before the next day’s breakfast: huge, glistening sticky buns ferried from a nearby pastry shop on yellow cruisers with white wicker baskets, the morning’s rolled-up newspaper lounging beside them. The sticky buns arrived nestled in wax paper and glistening with sugar; we cut them apart with a plastic butter knife and ate them in our kitchen. When I get one now, which isn’t often, it’s like being whisked away to salty breezes and careful morning sunlight. For all my memories, some of the strongest and clearest are tied to food. It’s a connection I’m grateful for because it makes reviving them forcefully so much easier. But food is not just about rehashing the past; it’s about creating our present and vitalizing our future. The meals we share with people now are not only about the calories we’re consuming; they’re the scaffolding on which we build lifelong relationships, friendships, and memories.

continued articles Eat Local! continued from p.20 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Check your drop-off point—or your doorstep— for seasonal produce served up by subscription. As the local food movement gains traction, so too do CSA programs, which offer another way to bridge the gap between farm and table. The basic CSA model involves individual farms offering a limited number of shares of their produce to the public. A share works something like a subscription: consumers choose a type that suits them (offerings usually come in bundles like family, individual, full, half and fruit only) and they pay the corresponding membership fee. In exchange, they receive a weekly box of seasonal produce—whatever is ripe on the farm at the time—which can be picked up from a local dropoff point. Certain CSAs also give shareholders some choice as to what ends up in their weekly boxes, allowing them to submit preference forms or even pick produce themselves. everyone wins CSA members get all of the benefits of locally grown food without having to tend their own gardens or even venture to a farmers market. Pre-picked shares can also introduce you to new ingredients that normally wouldn’t make it onto your shopping list. Another encouraged part of the CSA system is building a relationship with your farmers, visiting their land and learning more about how the food is grown, which can enlighten your family and help create a community around local food. And a communal feel is undoubtedly at the center of the movement. Choosing to support an independent farm ties you intimately to the farmers and to the land—as well as its success and failure. When the season is rich and the harvest bountiful, you eat well. In colder months or drier years, you witness firsthand the effects on your local environment and community. Farmers benefit from CSAs as well, as they receive payment for their produce upfront and early in the season, giving them insurance against an underwhelming harvest and the ability to plan their finances more easily. Last but certainly not least is the opportunity for farmers to meet the folks that enjoy their food; the farming process truly comes full circle over a box of the appetizing end results. where it happens Greensgrow Farm in Kensington was named the 2011 Small Business of the Year by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Greensgrow distributes produce to local restaurants, operates a bountiful farmers market and leads sustainability workshops for neighborhood residents, all in addition to running a thriving CSA program. It offers full and half shares, as well as a work share option that knocks $200 off the full share price in exchange for 40 hours of volunteer work each season. In addition to standard-fare produce, Green Pasture Farms in Starrucca, Pennsylvania will deliver sustainably raised meat, eggs and dairy fall 2011

products directly to your door. It offers a wide variety of unique mix-and-match share options and operates year round. Blooming Glen Farm keeps its shareholders involved by requiring them to contribute two to four hours of work per season in its Upper Bucks County fields. The small community is capped at only 250 shares, which allows members to build a tight-knit community and easily avoid crowds if they choose the pick-your-own crop option. Lastly, for the student who loves the idea of using local produce but can’t commit to a regular delivery, there’s Mariposa Food Co-Op, right in our backyard (4726 Baltimore Ave.). The co-op functions like a grocery store, with discounted prices for members, who can buy in or out at any time. It’s just another of many great ways to introduce more responsible, more delicious, uniquely local ingredients into your diet. A toast to local drinking continued from p.21 So let’s use this period of development as an opportunity. Lucky for us, there are plenty of ways to do that right nearby. If you want to learn before you drink, go on a free Saturday tour offered at Yards Brewing Company. You’ll get an explanation of the brewing process, learn about the history of Yards and get to enjoy multiple samples (because who doesn’t love free beer?). Yards brings new meaning to sustainability: its power comes from 100% wind energy, its bar is made out of reclaimed wood from bowling lanes and its production area crafted from recycled skate park materials. In addition, the company supports local producers; grain left over after fermentation goes to Wildflower Bakery and a local bison farmer. In turn, the bakery donates bread and the farmer gives bison meat for the brewery to use in its kitchen, whose exploits patrons can enjoy alongside their brews. Says Mike Hans, Yards tour guide and beer aficionado, “We’re trying to promote Philadelphia as a beer town, and it’s working.” Yards consistently sees demand exceed supply, which is why company is constantly expanding. They are not the only brewery in town, though—nearby counterparts include Victory, Philadelphia Brewing Company and Dock Street (right here in West Philly), just to name a few. In order to truly develop a well-rounded body of knowledge, we must be sure to not limit ourselves only to local beers. With its gin, absinthe, vodka and non-aged whiskey in establishments throughout the area, Philadelphia Distilling gives us ample opportunity to enjoy local spirits as well. Penn alum Tim Yarnall, one of the company’s owners, notes that Philly is a city of loyalty. He and the two other owners of the distillery saw how incredibly supportive and proud Philadelphians were of food products like Tastykakes, and started their company with the hope that this pattern would continue into locally produced liquor. The men of Philadelphia Distilling were actually the first in the state since the mid-1800s to submit an application for a distilling license, a fact that can be attributed to the stringency

of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. But they saw the challenging system as a potential benefit; since the state controls all distribution of liquor, they were able to secure an immediate channel of supply for their products rather than having to invest in a costly sales force. Once they finally navigated through all of the necessary red tape, Philadelphia Distilling was able to widely distribute liquor to stores throughout Pennsylvania. And since Yarnall and his partners opened the distillery in October 2005, they have expanded distribution of its liquor to nearly 30 states. The best place to enjoy their craft spirits, though, is right here in Philadelphia. “Pride should be taken in something that’s made in your backyard,” says Tim. It’s certainly easy enough to support a local business when all you have to do is order a new drink at the bar. Although red cups and cheap kegs will undoubtedly continue to be staples of the college drinking scene, local booze and brews should also be integrated into our consumption habits. It is an easy way for young consumers to truly make an impact in the local economy and expand the horizons of their palates to include a wealth of new, interesting and sustainable drinking opportunities. BROtherly love continued from p.27 Even while preserving their family legacy, Steve and David have found a new one. “The guy I buy my fish from eats here, the guy I buy my bread from, the guy I got my knifes from—they all eat here,” Steve says. He stops our interview to give his credit card and pin number to Ernesto, an employee, for a purchase. Then he talks football with Freddie, “the knife guy.” Clientele are included in this warm family of relatives, chefs, purveyors and servers. David, who works front of house and has won a citywide “Waiter of the Year” award, has welcomed 15 years of customers to the family business. “Anybody who walks in the door, they are guests in his home,” says Steve. “The one thing I know is that I can always trust my brother.” Steve and David opened the restaurant within six weeks of its conception. “‘Say listen Dave,’” Steve recounts their conversation, “’we’re gonna open that restaurant, or we’re gonna leave Philadelphia.’” He continues: “We knew that we could win together. We’d been winning our whole lives together in sports.” The two scraped up the rent, painted the walls, put up molding (“you can just tell we were rookies when we did it”), slept on the restaurant floor and watched the fourth of July fireworks from the roof with Steve’s then four- and eight-year-old daughters. Once opening night finally came, the duo realized that they didn’t have any music on hand, so the two Deadheads just played “Fire on the Mountain” and other Grateful Dead songs they had on hand. But more than music, more than sports, more than anything, really, it’s food, Steve says, that keeps his family together. And in brother-owned restaurants in Philadelphia, “family” can extend to include just about everyone. penn appétit


continued articles New York vs. Philadelphia: Is it Worth a Fight? continued from p.29 In another collaborative effort, Audrey Claire Taichman (of Audrey Claire and Twenty Manning Grill) recently partnered with Philadelphia Magazine to create COOK—a kitchen-classroom that brings together celebrity chefs and the foodies that love them. By creating intimate interactions over food, COOK contributes to the collegial atmosphere already evident within the culinary community in Philadelphia. It’s just another of many efforts that reject keeping chefs and diners at arm’s length from one another, and instead minimize the social distance between those who prepare food and those who eat it. BYOB Last but not least, one of the unsung heroes of creative collaboration is Philadelphia’s longstanding and ubiquitous BYOB (bring your own bottle) culture, which allows diners to choose their own wines and spirits to pair with a restaurant’s food offerings. The popularity of BYOB restaurants has risen for a number of reasons. The state of Pennsylvania has a monopoly over liquor distribution, which means that restaurants (like individual consumers) must buy their liquor through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board—at a price that would need to be tripled or quadrupled for the restaurant to achieve a reasonable profit margin. Moreover, a tight supply of liquor licenses in the city means that their cost can be quite prohibitive, particularly for new chefs in small spaces. Again, the winner is the diner, who gets completely free reign over what he or she drinks with dinner, and can choose something at a considerably lower price than it would cost in a restaurant. Even better, some restaurants encourage customers to look beyond simple wine for their BYOB meals. Upscale-Mexican eatery Lolita, for example, recommends tequila to pair with a variety of fresh-squeezed margarita recipes in flavors like blood orange and pomegranate. Throwdown . . . or Not? As much as it might be fun to consider New York and Philadelphia as culinary rivals, I wonder if the fight is worth it given that the temperaments of the cities are so different. Unlike New York, where restaurants are fiercely competing with each other for customers, Philadelphia has more real estate for new culinary ventures, and a spirit of collaboration and peer support among chefs. At the end of the day, the City of Brotherly Love is a town that stands by its namesake, bringing together chefs and diners, creating space for culinary experimentation and embracing all that the food world has to offer.


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LOST in translation continued from p.31 Unfortunately for Koichiro, Vic’s didn’t satisfy his need for authentic cuisine from his homeland, although its specialty rolls were quite tasty when judged outside of authentic Japanese constraints. At the end of our meal, Koichiro commented, “If I came here expecting authentic Japanese sushi, I would be extremely disappointed; but if I came expecting American sushi, it is quite delicious.” Mexican Fast Food: Mexicali Food Truck The most casual stop on the ethnic restaurant tour was the food truck (with affiliated restaurant) Mexicali in University City. My Mexican cuisine taste tester was Helena Zambrano of the University of Monterrey in Mexico. She studied architecture and is currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Building Design at Penn. Mexicali is a northern Mexican state capital known for its blend of Mexican and American tastes in its food. Since food trucks are ubiquitous in Mexico, eating from one to judge authenticity made perfect sense. Helena scanned the menu and her only complaint was that burritos don’t normally come stuffed with egg, tofu or sweet potatoes. According to Helena, even the “El Philadelphia” burrito had all of the proper Mexican ingredients. We ordered the Steak Fajita burrito and the Mexi burrito. Helena noted that the rice and beans in the burritos were “standard,” although she did mention that in Mexico there are many different colors of rice mixed with ingredients such as nuts and raisins, and embellished with various sauces. She remarked that the Steak Fajita was what she was expecting from a food cart, but The Mexi burrito, which was stuffed with plantains, did not garner that same approval. “[Plantains] don’t have anything to do with burritos. It’s like putting fajitas on top of sushi.” Helena was more fond of the guacamole, despite noting, “It’s pretty hard to mess up guacamole.” She deemed that Mexicali did technically have all of the ingredients of Mexican food, but the quality and flavor were lacking. “It’s the ingredients [themselves] that make a difference. For example, the lime is almost sweet here, but in Mexico it is very sour. So it is impossible to recreate the real thing when the ingredients themselves taste different to begin with.” Overall, each of the students found a little taste of home, albeit in an altered version. At times they were disappointed; at others they were pleasantly surprised. And no matter how far removed the cuisine was from the original, it was still always possible to find delicious food.

DIY: The Ultimate cheescake continued from p.33 Pour the filling into the pan and bake the cake at 325° for roughly one hour. Given the unique texture of cheesecake, the tried-and-true toothpick trick won’t work here in its normal form; the cake will be done not when a toothpick stuck into it comes out completely clean, but when it comes out not wet, even though chocolate residue will remain. Be careful that you don’t over bake the cake, because it will dry out and crack. Unfortunately, in this artistic effort, you’ve still got to pray. Pray hard. Cheesecake is a temperamental thing. Some say that placing the cake in a water bath will prevent it from cracking, but there are no guarantees in life. After removing the cake from the oven, let it set for one hour. This process is very important for the cake to retain its shape once the springform pan is removed. You want a Colosseum, not a Leaning Tower of Pisa. While the cake is cooling, create the next layer of goodness. One option is to mix heavy cream with melted chocolate and spoon it over the cheesecake once cooled. If you choose this option, let this layer of simple chocolate ganache set while preparing the cake’s other decorations. If you’re not the biggest chocolate lover, a glaze made from sugar or honey and water is an equally nice way to distinguish the cake and create an adhesive for fruit. For my cake, though, I want the ultimate in decadence, so I combine corn syrup, heavy cream and light brown sugar on the stove to make a caramel sauce. This part requires special vigilance: caramel sauce burns far too easily, so the moment it turns light brown, it is ready. Remove it from the heat immediately, then let it sit and thicken for 15 minutes and drizzle it over the cake. For the grand finale: chocolate curls, easily the least important aspect in terms of the taste, but the most important for visual appeal. Many alternative decorations can be placed on top of the cake, including fruit, nuts and icing, and undoubtedly, handmade chocolate curls are on the challenging end of the spectrum. It’s exacting and messy, but if you’ve got a brick of chocolate, a vegetable peeler and a can-do attitude, it’s absolutely doable. Sprinkle the chocolate curls on top of the cake, and stand back to admire the masterpiece. Needless to say, jaws will drop at the sight of this cake. Every ingredient, every layer, every element has been painstakingly planned to create a work of true perfection. It is a symphony and you are the maestro—enjoy your work of art.

elegies to the discontinued flavors of a childhood classic by David Poplar illustration by maggie edkins Like so many ill-fated love affairs, it started innocently enough. But as they say, we don’t choose love—love chooses us. From the very first moment—when a friendly coworker on my landscaping crew offered me that first otherworldly sip of Pink Swamingo under the hot Georgia sun—my desire could not be quenched. I was set adrift in a blissful sugar coma, helpless to resist. My passion developed quickly, and I soon fell in love with the other character-based Kool-Aid flavors as well: Purplesaurus Rex, Incrediberry and of course, The Great Bluedini. For the next few years, we were inseparable, until the day when my world came crumbling down like a brick wall toppled over by a smiling, red pitcher. As rapidly as my obsession had grown, my loves deserted me. In a panic, I searched far and wide, leaving no aisle of the grocery store untraveled, yet they were nowhere to be found. Calls to Kraft confirmed my worst fear: my favorite flavors had been discontinued. Left directionless, and facing a dangerously low level of glucose in my bloodstream, I attempted to harness my anguish and wrote the following poems as an elegy to my long lost loves. Oh, yeah.

Still hungry


recent highlights: Tasting Our Way Through TASTE Philadelphia From sumptuous mini parfaits to smooth lobster bisque to tangy barbecue sauces, TASTE Philadelphia Festival offered plenty of samples, as well as wine tastings and a cooking demo led by Ted Allen (host of Food Network’s “Chopped”). fall 2011

In fine restaurants Make mine Purplesaurus Rex B. Y. O. K-A Its color beckons Like Caribbean waters The Great Bluedini From the first faint sip Stimulates my very soul Get the Ritalin Measure out the mix I decide how much sugar I know not “too much” Forever my drink But five glasses in a row? I need to sit down Sweet sugar bouquet Not quite cherry, not quite punch Ahh, Pink Swamingo

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Italian Market Guide Mamma mia, Paesano’s sandwiches and Isgro’s cannoli! Our guide to the best places to grab a bite in Philadelphia’s Italian Market.

Night Market: Chinatown Edition An abundance of music, lights and lines of food trucks. We share our take on the most decadent cupcakes, best wood-fired pizza and creamiest ice cream sandwiches.

Recipe: Butternut Squash Risotto This is the perfect dish to cook as the weather turns colder, at once delicate and soul-warmingly hearty. penn appétit



penn appĂŠtit

Fall 2011  

Issue 9, Fall 2011

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