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picnics Check out our tips and tricks for an outdoor meal!

*surf&turf step-by-step guide

interview with CRAIG LaBAN philadelphia inquirer food critic

spring 2012

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CAREERS IN RESTAURANT OPERATIONS Hillstone Restaurant Group is a privately-held collection of upscale restaurants with 45+ locations in major cities across the country. The uncompromising quality of our food, service, art, and architecture has set the standard in our industry for nearly three decades.

Recruiting for Management Training Program or Culinary Management Training Program Email resumĂŠs to or visit us at


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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF editorial staff


Eesha Sardesai Marisa Denker, Chelsea Goldinger, Becca Goldstein, Jenny Lu, Sabrina Mills, Monica Purmalek, Shaye Roseman Maggie Edkins


Ellen Amaral


Shakeil Greeley, Vivian Huang



Julia Hurley Madeline Miller, Evan Robinson Alexander Meyers, Jennifer Sun, Max Wang Rohun Bansal, Sofia Ciocca, Shreeya Goel, Ellen Kim, Jenny Lu, Christina Wu Nicole Woon, Elliot Brooks


Rachel Marcus, Ali Kokot


Samantha Meskin, Kai Syuen Loh

business staff

Melanie Appleby, Sabrina Bral, Shreeya Goel, Forrest Grossman, Nikki Lam, Chelsea McCook, Grace Mutoko, Ali Och, Samantha Sharon, Nicole Woon, Ben Yang


Cady Chen


Abigail Koffler


Becca Goldstein


Julia Brownstein


Kimberly Schreiber Karen Man Erin Becks, Shaye Roseman, Eric Yoshida

Penn Appétit is the University of Pennysylvania’s innovative, student-run magazine covering all things food. We publish one print issue each semester and have a blog that’s updated daily.

letter from the editor There’s a big park in the town that I grew

up in, where everything turns green and pink with the coming of spring. Some of its hills overlook the local river, and if you climb them on a good day, you’ll see the water sparkle gray in the sunlight. As a kid, I went to the park for picnics with family. We’d arrive early in the day and stake out our spot with a thin brown blanket that smelled like incense. I helped my mom unpack lunch. We’d bring salads, made with fresh corn and coconut, or roasted sweet potatoes squeezed with lime; simple sandwiches, smeared with butter and a chutney of mint and mashed green chilies; and lots of crackers and jam and lemonade. My dad would fall asleep mid-meal, and I could never eat without spilling something down my front. It was all so funny, and tasty, and warm. My family being Indian, those first childhood picnics always had a cultural bent to them, and they showed me that picnics can take any form you want them to. They can be themed Indian like mine, or Jewish, Asian, and upscale Italian—for those looking for that global inflection, we’ve put together a list of sample picnic menus inside (p. 24). Your picnic can also feature stepped-up classics like gazpacho and goat cheese crostini (p. 22), or center on snacking, with herbed pita crisps and a swatch of dips (p. 25). With whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong. That’s what is great about picnics: they’re about sharing with those you love, through food and conversation. In that spirit, the editors offer up their favorite picnic memories (p. 20), and an intrepid writer explores ways to eat more communally when dining out (p. 17). So, we hope you’re hungry for this issue—we can’t wait to share.


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Cover Photo by Jenny Lu.



spring 2012


To inquire about advertising, collaborating or getting involved, e-mail us at We are always looking for new contributors in writing, photo, layout, and business.

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3931 Walnut3931 Street Philadelphia, PA Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 215-222-5300 |215-222-5300 |

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3931 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 215-222-5300 |

Try it!





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spring 2012

food play

10 NOT YOUR AVERAGE SANDWICH Rethinking the PB & J, and five wacky Malaysian alternatives.


CRYING, FLYING, BUZZING CHEESE A Sardinian speciality fit for only the boldest eaters.

in the city

26 CRAIG LABAN Philly’s resident eater-inchief talks food in the city and his Inquirer gig.

28 FANCY VS FRUGAL Is that $10 artisan pizza worth it? A reporter carries out the ultimate taste test.

13 TASTE THE RAINBOW Produce in every color makes this the prettiest fad diet you’ve ever seen.

30 GRADUATING HUNGRY Penn alum are


31 URBAN APIARIES A beekeeper and a local

shaping the Philly food scene.

TOFU BANDIT WANTED Tofu: mastermind of deceit, or well-intentioned substitute?

foods purveyor team up to sell honey by the zip code.

15 MIX AND MATCH MACARONS Curating the tastiest macaron boxes in Philly and New York.

16 SWEET FREEDOM! South Street’s newest bakery is a haven for people with dietary restrictions.

eating together

17 LOVE AND LAUGHTER IN SMALL PLATES Small plates for every palate, and why they’re great for big gatherings.


32 SURF & TURF By land or by sea? Our guides to the steakhouse and lobster bake.



archives of cookbook collector Esther B. Aresty.


British candy counter.


The editors share fun, flavorful stories of picnics gone by.



A culinary school grad weighs in on the eternal question.

Simple, creative dishes to bring to your next outdoor meal.

39 MY FATHER’S KITCHEN A poem on the joys of


foraging with family.

Switch up the standard picnic fare with a Jewish, British, or Asian themed menu.

spring 2012

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3131 Walnut The Left Bank 215.222.2422




Monday – Thursday 4pm – 11pm Friday + Saturday 4pm – Midnight Sunday 3pm – 10pm


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Q &A

Check out the rest of Penn Appétit’s interview with Craig LaBan on p. 26!


JONATHAN ADAMS [Executive Chef, Pub & Kitchen]: “My favorite picnic food is probably biscuits. You can bake them ahead of time and eat them at room temperature. They’re kind of different than a slab of bread and there are a million different varieties.”

PETER WOOLSEY [Executive Chef, Bistrot La Minette]:

Penn Appétit NEWS AND EVENTS Penn Food Summit This semester, Penn Appétit sponsored the school’s first-ever Food Summit, a gathering for college food clubs and publications around the country. The two-day event (held on March 31 and April 1) included panel discussions on food writing and responsible food systems, with such stars of the food world as Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman, Meal Ticket’s Drew Lazor, and former Inquirer food columnist Rick Nichols. See our blog coverage at for a full recap of the event. Penn Appétit Celebrates Five Years! We can’t believe that it’s been just about five years since we rolled out our first issue in the fall of 2007. Much has changed since then—we’ve grown as an organization and expanded the scope of our coverage—but we’ve done our best to stay true to the original mission. We serve to you, our hungry readers, the best of Philadelphia food and drink. Extended coverage of our five-year celebrations awaits our Fall 2012 issue. Keep an eye out!

“Deviled eggs are the greatest picnic food in the entire universe. They always get a little messy when transporting, but they’re always delicious and worth the trouble. Oeufs mimosa are the French version of deviled eggs, and they’re made with Dijon mustard and tarragon instead of paprika.”

CRAIG LABAN [Restaurant Critic, Philadelphia Inquirer]: “There’s nothing like eating fried chicken at room temperature. Speaking of which, I think it’d be fun to go to Federal Donuts and pick up some hot donuts and fried chicken. Don’t forget the chicken salad and traditional Philly hoagies. South Philly is fantastic for provisions: peppers with provolone, prosciutto, and marinated mozzarella balls for Italian fare; bánh mì sandwiches for classic Vietnamese; and oh—the Mexican food! I love chicharrones (fried pork rinds). There are lots of little stores in Philadelphia that sell them. Tortilleria San Roman in the Italian Market makes authentic tortillas from masa, and incredible salsa. They have the best tortilla chips in the city; I’d want those on my picnic.”

spring 2012

For full interviews of Adams and Woolsey, head over to our website at

For more on recipes and interviews from this issue, and for your daily dose of Penn Appétit, check out our website and blog at!

Everything food, all the time.

TWITTER @pennappetit and FACEBOOK pennappetit

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The beauty of tapas restaurants like Philly favorite Continental Mid-Town, located at 18th and Chestnut, is that you don’t have to commit to just one dish. It’s comforting to be free from what I call “Food FOMO”— essentially, the fear of missing out on enjoying a more delicious meal because you ordered poorly. I would happily eat anything on the menu at Continental and, because the tapas format allows a party to order many dishes to be shared communally, I can eat everything. This restaurant is heaven for curious eaters. It’s hard to choose one dish that is superior to all the others because Continental offers such a delicious array of choices, but the plate that won me over was the Teriyaki Filet Mignon. There is no dish for which I have higher standards, and this rendition surpassed my expectations. The meat is marinated in teriyaki sauce and situated on a bed of wasabi mashed potatoes, and it was so good that I seriously debated licking the plate clean. That’s the one problem with tapas—when the food is good, a bite size serving just isn’t enough. That’s why we ordered two.



The dessert that I’m currently obsessed with is a cake pop. For those who have never heard of this delicacy, a cake pop is a super-moist mixture of cake and frosting formed into a ball about 2 inches in diameter. It’s then dipped in chocolate or almond bark, coated with sprinkles, and put on a stick. So why am I enchanted with these bite-sized treats? I have five good reasons: They’re extremely cute and appealing to the eye. * They’re the perfect bite-sized treat when I don’t want to eat too much sugar. * They satisfy my pickiness since they come in a variety of flavors including vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, and carrot cake. * They keep fresh for up to four weeks when stored in the fridge. * They help reduce waste in the kitchen, as they’re a creative way to use up leftover cake.


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Sam’s Morning Glory, on a leafy block in South Philadelphia, gets the diner scene right. Rather than deal with the jockeying of a typical brunch scene, you write your name on a list and specify diner, counter, or either. That’s it. We sat at the counter and ordered coffee—really good coffee—served in a tin mug to keep coffee hot and hands cold. I also got a glass of pulpy orange juice, the kind you sip slowly. Although the restaurant was full, we never felt rushed. Our waitress chatted with us about dishes, helping me select a tofu scrambler. The scrambler was delicious, with peppers and curry spices, homefries (even better with the delicate homemade ketchup), and a biscuit. This biscuit was serious. It’s crumbly and sweet and no one in my party could leave without devouring theirs. The eternal diner brunch debate comes down to the savory–sweet question. My group went savory, but the sweet offerings of Morning Glory tempted us. We devised a strategy that I plan to employ at many future brunches: order French toast as dessert. Monkey French toast, stuffed with bananas and mangoes, drizzled with caramel sauce and whipped cream, more than fit the bill. The dish split perfectly three ways and we scraped every drop of caramel sauce off the plate before paying our bill and tumbling out into the sunshine for a lazy walk back to campus, and reality.


-Modern medieval food and so-called “medieval banquets” are a projection of our wishful, anachronistic thinking: There were no potatoes, corn on the cob, or turkey. Nor were there forks (people poked and carved with their knives). -People used peculiar food preparations and foreign names to make dishes seem more exotic, sometimes to the point where a person might not actually know what he was eating. One prominent dish was the seven-colored pudding. -Since people in the Middle Ages loved entertainment, showpieces were often incorporated into eating habits during certain occasions. Animal heads would be presented with flames coming out of their nostrils; chicken pie would be decorated with live birds attached; and suckling pigs would be placed on the table, and live eels would come slithering out. -Individual recipes were more prominent than menus. These recipes only listed ingredients, not quantities, because it was presumed that the reader already knew how to cook. The only common direction was “Don’t oversalt.”



Ground Lamb Kofta Kebabs

2 1/2 pounds ground lamb 2-3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely minced 6 medium scallions, finely minced 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely minced 1/2 cup minced red onion 1/2 cup minced mint leaves 1/2 cup minced dried apricots 1/2 cup minced cilantro 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest, minced Juice of 1 lemon 1 tablespoon garam masala Kosher salt, to taste Black pepper, to taste

There are few media on earth that have such a prodigious capacity to transcend cultural, linguistic, and territorial boundaries as food. The unparalleled universality of cuisine is central to its power, as it can infiltrate the nuclear family and transform a society from within. If this is the case, then why are picnics, an activity that embraces this idea of togetherness, always plagued by the same two food groups: soggy sandwiches and bland salads? In the face of this lack in diversity, I wanted to show that picnic fare could be different. So what happens when something so intrinsically American is intersected by another culture’s flavors and textures? Something stunningly delicious. I am delighted to share with you a recipe for lamb kofta, a kebab of Middle Eastern origin. The juxtaposition of sweetness and spice, derived from the combination of dried apricots and jalapeños, enlivens the palate, creating deep and complex layers of flavor. The kebab is accompanied by a mint and yogurt sauce, taming this kaleidoscope of spice. Easy to eat with your hands and fun to share with friends and family, these lamb kofta kebabs are a surprising and satisfying addition to any picnic. spring 2012

Mix meat with all other ingredients. Form the meat into a sausage shape and stick with metal or wooden skewers. Grill over a hot fire, about 4 minutes per side, or bake in a 350°F oven for about 20-25 minutes. Serve with mint–yogurt sauce.

Mint–Yogurt Sauce 1 cup plain yogurt 3/4 cup mint Sugar, to taste Whir together plain yogurt and mint in a food processor. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture reaches desired sweetness. Serve with Lamb Kofta Kebabs.

Recipe from Tristan Willey Bar Manager, Booker and Dax at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, NY.

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your average sandwich B Y KA I SY UEN LO H

the sardine sandwich

The sardine sandwich is a favorite lunchtime meal. Sardines are mashed, mixed with onion, then flavored with a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper. Spread the sardine paste on the bread of your choice, add some cucumbers, and this savory delight is done. Just watch out for fishy, onionsmelling breath afterwards.


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It was like the Romeo and Juliet of bread spreads. They just weren’t meant to be. In Malaysian supermarkets, peanut butter jars and jelly jars stand on the same aisle, but are separated by a vast distance. You would never see them together on the same piece of bread. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, more fondly known as PB&Js, are considered a staple food in the American diet, evocative of grade school lunches. In Malaysia, these sandwiches were the stuff of Hey Arnold cartoons: they were regarded as foreign oddities, existing only in the brightly colored fictional world of American television. Imagine my surprise, as a native Malaysian, when I tried my first PB&J sandwich at the late age of 19. Here was a combination that at first seemed crazy, yet tasted so good—nutty, but also sweet and dripping with fruity goodness. Sandwiches are a complicated enough business before even taking into account the different combinations you can have. Even with the bread—wheat, white, potato, whole grain, baguette—the list goes on and on. The Earl of Sandwich certainly did the world a blessing when he accidentally created the sandwich in 1762, but he probably did not envision the weird combinations that can arise out of this deceptively simple creation. This is especially true in Malaysia.An indubitable food mecca, Malaysia can claim creativity in any kind of food. What you may think is crazy, we call sedap (the Malay word for delicious). While rice is still our favorite staple carb, our inventiveness in the interpretation of food certainly extends to a sandwich, once an assuredly non-Asian food choice. Malaysians seem to adhere to the rule that you can make a sandwich out of anything, with the sole rule that it can be put between two slices of bread. So, PB&J, here are five Malaysian sandwich combinations that would rival even you in the odd department.

the ice cream sandwich

Americans have their Chipwich and other cookie ice cream sandwiches, but Malaysians have our own interpretation. It’s certainly more faithful to the original sandwich premise. Our ice cream sandwiches consist of ice cream between bread slices or a hotdog bun. The type of bread ranges from ordinary white to pandan-flavored (pandan is a type of leaf endemic to Southeast Asia with a creamy, minty flavor). There is similar variety with the ice cream flavors, from the more traditional vanilla and chocolate to Malaysian favorites like sweet corn, durian, or red bean. A favorite after school snack, and perfect for hot weather, this ice cream sandwich is normally sold by the Malaysian ice cream man on his motorcycle. The combination of the plain, wholesome taste of bread with sweet, creamy ice cream is heavenly. It has a practical purpose as well: The spongy texture of the bread absorbs the melting ice cream, resulting in a soft and slurpy treat.

the breakfast sandwich

Kopitiams, traditional Malaysian coffee-shops, abound with a variety of breakfast sandwiches. There’s softboiled egg on toast, typically seasoned with black pepper and soy sauce. There’s also the perennial favorite of butter and kaya (a coconut and egg jam) on toast. Both sandwiches go perfectly with “white coffee,” a coffee uniquely in origin to the city of Ipoh, Perak. This white coffee, so named for the absence of sugar in the roasting process and the consequent lighter roast of the coffee bean, is made with palm-oil margarine and served with condensed milk.

the sambal sandwich

If we can put curry on bread, why not sambal? Sambal is a chili pepper-based sauce with a pasty texture and a strong, spicy, almost pungent taste. In its simplest form, sambal is made from mashed fresh chili peppers or chili flakes, pepper, garlic, and other variable spices. When made into a sandwich with cucumbers and buttered bread, the bold punch from the sambal is complemented by the more neutral taste of the bread. The butter serves to temper the spiciness, and the cucumber cools the palate.

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the chicken curry sandwich

In a country where curry has a variety of forms, from Chinese and Malay to the traditional Indian style, chicken curry remains the one kind that everyone agrees is amazing in a sandwich. Chicken curry on white bread is fragrant, greasy, and tantalizingly good. Because of the messy nature of this meal, prim and proper sandwich connoisseurs may prefer to break their bread into pieces and dip it into the curry. But there’s no doubt they’ll be left licking their fingers at the end of the meal. penn appétit





Have you ever heard of a cheese that cries?

Well, if you haven’t, there’s no cause for worry. Very few people have tried casu marzu, an Italian larvae-filled cheese that leaks out a thick, pungent liquid locals like to call lagrima, the Sardinian word for “tears.” Casu marzu, or “rotten cheese,” is a delicacy originating in Sardinia, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, just off the coast of Italy. It’s a type of Pecorino cheese reminiscent of Gorgonzola and made from sheep’s milk. All of this sounds fine and dandy so far, right? Well, here’s where things get weird. What makes this cheese a hit on numerous “strangest food” lists is how it’s made – or rather, the creatures that make it. The cheese, encased in a bowl-shaped rind, is purposely injected with Piophila casei, the cheese fly, to aid in fermentation. Female “skippers,” so named for their ability to propel themselves great distances, can lay up to 500 eggs at a time. The acidic digestive juices of their larvae break down the cheese far past what most would consider normal fermentation. By the time the cheese reaches the proper level of decomposition, there can be thousands of larvae wriggling within its waxy walls. As unappealing as this may sound, those who have tried the cheese describe the taste as creamy and pungent, with a slightly spicy, tongue-burning kick. The flavor is said to change as you eat it; it starts off peppery and hot, but later transitions into a smoother, more buttery flavor—all with a very distinct, crunchy texture. Casu marzu is most often served as a soft spread on traditional Sardinian flatbread, or pane caseru. Locals believe that the cheese is an aphrodisiac, and they say that eating it with a glass of 12

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red wine has a strong effect on the libido. True Sardinians consider casu marzu toxic when the larvae inside are dead. Therefore, it is traditionally eaten just when the larvae have begun to reach maturation. Those brave enough to try it soon realize that casu marzu is not only difficult to swallow, but also difficult to eat. The translucent, tenth-of-acentimeter-long inhabitants inside the cheese can jump up to six inches high while alive. Some prefer to eat the cheese without live insects. It’s a simple process: place the fermented cheese in a paper bag, wait for the oxygen inside the bag to be depleted, and separate the dead flies from the cheese. The tell-tale sign of their death is the pitter-pattering created when the larvae jump away from the cheese in a desperate attempt to escape, hitting the walls of the paper bag instead. Even in Italy, where the cheese originated, casu marzu has been deemed illegal and unsafe to eat. Although most Italians are relieved, native Sardinians have expressed outrage that the cheese of their ancestors has been outlawed. However, most would agree that casu marzu does present many health concerns that cannot be ignored, including the risk of intestinal larval infection. Yet casu marzu is still being sold on the black market today for a steep price. It’s a popular wedding or birthday present and also lures in courageous travelers. Understandably, casu marzu is extremely difficult to locate in the United States. It’s almost impossible to find in Philadelphia, but if you’re ever feeling up for a challenge, Ornella Trattoria in Astoria, New York is the place to go. According to the Amuse Bouche food blogger Bradley Hawks, the cheese is only available for purchase by personal request and at the owner’s discretion.

taste the B Y KAT IE IER AR D I


The spring and summer months are the perfect time to pile your plate with a myriad of colorful foods. A rainbow diet filled with fruits and vegetables is not difficult to follow, especially during the sunny seasons. When shopping, simply grab produce in as many colors of the rainbow as you can. This diet maximizes nutrient intake; each color has its own particular benefits, and there are many creative produce options that can make healthy eating pleasing to your palate.

YELLOW Yellow is far from mellow when it comes to fruits and vegetables. These plants are filled with carotenoids that decrease risk for lung cancer, arthritis, and joint inflammation. Yellow produce also helps improve functioning of the respiratory system. Runners and athletes, this may be a helpful color for you. Comfortable joints and improved breathing? Let’s jump in. Yellow Bell Pepper, Pineapple, Corn, Star Fruit, Banana

RED Red fruits and veggies contain an antioxidant called lycopene. It protects skin from sun damage, decreases risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and reduces asthma symptoms. Produce in this shade also is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. Next time at the store, pick up: Guava, Pink Grapefruit, Pomegranate, Radish, Persimmon, Red Pear

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BLUE/INDIGO/PURPLE These fruits and vegetables get their hue from antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids improve cardiovascular health and prevent short-term memory loss. Researchers have also found that blue foods, blueberries in particular, may make brain cells respond better to incoming messages and spur the growth of new nerve cells. Signal your next brainchild with: Eggplant, Beets, Plums, Blue Potatoes, Elderberries, Black Currants

GREEN When we were kids, our parents told us to eat our greens —but why is this shade so important? Green produce contains vitamins that strengthen bones, muscles, and the brain while also promoting healthy vision. Time to invest in some more green power: Avocado, Gai lan (Chinese Broccoli), Okra, Zucchini, Kale, Cherimoya, Tomatillo, Chayote squash

ORANGE Produce of this lively color is packed with nutrients like vitamin C. Your eyes are fans of orange produce because of its high concentration of betacarotene, which helps maintain healthy eyes and mucous membranes. Scientists have also reported that carotenoid-rich foods can help reduce risk of cancer and heart disease, and can improve immune system function. Thinking outside of the orange juice carton, try: Sweet potato, Cantaloupe, Carrot, Papaya penn appétit





reward for the (preferably uneaten) capture of one b. ean curd, better known as “tofu,” con artist extraordinaire



T ofu, of Chinese origins, has no true flavor of his own. Made from condensed soy milk, he tends to be sold in

soft white blocks. In his original form, he appears bland, white, and outright boring. Do not be deceived; tofu is a master of disguise and deception. He has the ability to absorb, steal, and reproduce the flavors of other foods in his immediate vicinity. Providing an excellent source of nutrients, he is a food to be reckoned with. Many victims have sunk their teeth into a tofu meal without even realizing the trap. Carl N’vore, a college student who had such a run-in with Tofu, reported, “It was a classic case of mistaken identity. I saw a burger just sitting there on my girlfriend’s counter. She’s a vegetarian, so I figured she must’ve bought it for me. Took one bite and I was hooked. Next thing I know she’s yellin’ at me complaining that I ate her tofu burger. I was like, tofu what?” Carl’s story is not unlike many others. The right spices and ingredients can disguise Tofu beyond recognition to even the most trained tongues. Last week, one self-proclaimed meat lover (who wishes to remain anonymous) had an unlikely encounter with the con artist. “I was watching the game with my buddies and saw a bowl of chili with chips on the table. Obviously I ate some—who doesn’t love a good bowl of hearty, meaty chili?” Only later did the individual find out his taste buds had been deceived. It was actually a tofu substitute chili that he had so voraciously devoured. Readers may scoff, unwilling to believe that they could ever be duped by Tofu. However, even a routine 14

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trip to the neighborhood deli can pose a risk. Many kosher delis and restaurants are in cahoots with the con artist. These establishments use tofu as a substitute for eggs in their desserts in order to avoid crossing any boundaries between dairy and meat products. It is safe to say that tofu has a widespread network of accomplices ready and willing to help his cause. Yes, that’s right: tofu is working for a cause. He is the vigilante of the food world, working day and night, finding new ways to con us into giving our bodies a boost. Tofu is high in protein, calcium, and many other nutrients. Four ounces of tofu provides 18.3% of the daily value for protein (that’s 9.2 grams), 40% of the daily value for calcium, 33.8% of the daily value for iron—all for about 90 calories. Tofu is a con artist with a heart of gold: he has been proven to help in combating ailments such as osteoporosis, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension and even menopause. So maybe B. Ean Curd isn’t such a mischievous charlatan after all. Yes, he is a mastermind of deceit, tricking innocent individuals into consuming him. But he does it with good intentions. How else would tofu manage to get so many people to eat him—especially since at first glance, he’s not the most appealing fellow? To write tofu off based on his appearance is to pass up a plethora of health benefits. Lucky for us, tofu has overcome this hindrance and has perfected his ability to pair brilliantly with so many different ingredients and foods. Convincing one’s palate of a lie is no easy task, which is why tofu truly is a con artist extraordinaire.


macarons BY NI NA Z H U A N D S H AY E RO S E M A N


The origin of the French macaron can be traced to Paris in the early twentieth century. It

was there that Pierre Desfontaines Ladurée, heir to the Ladurée dynasty of Parisian tea salons, first thought to combine two delicate meringue shells around a light ganache filling. The original macarons inspired a rainbow of flavors and colors as their popularity spread throughout the region. Now recognized as the quintessential French dessert, macaron packaging has become as chic as the cakes themselves, sparking an array of stylized boxes and designer collaborations. In the past year, demand for macarons has exploded on a global scale, as evidenced by Ladurée’s latest openings in Cornhill, Milan, Qatar, and New York, as well as by a string of smaller patisseries, French and otherwise. Here, we’ve curated the best combinations of macarons in the area, based on Ladurée’s classic six-macaron Napoleon III box.


Laduree New York 864 Madison Avenue New York, 10021 (646) 558-3157 Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Pistachio, Raspberry, Lemon There are no macarons more classic than those from Parisian producer Ladurée. The house boasts new flavors every year, plus a host of seasonal selections, but the twelve flavors of the permanent collection always available, and nearby too, thanks to their newly opened New York storefront!


Sugar Philly 38th & Walnut St Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267) 940-7473 Green Tea, Espresso, Chocolate Sesame, Milk and Honey, Earl Grey Tea, Dulce de Leche This colorful truck in University City has won a national reputation for its creative desserts, and chef Daniel Tang certainly does not skimp on these extra-large macarons, which have a decidedly caffeinated bent. Flavors rotate seasonally as well as daily; come by on Fridays for Chef Tang’s choice of the week. spring 2012


Miel Patisserie 204 S 17th St Philadelphia, PA 19103 (215) 731-9191 Lemon Poppyseed, Orange, Blackberry, Blood Orange, Apricot, Strawberry Fruit macarons are traditionally filled with jam rather than ganache and this small pastry shop on Rittenhouse gets it right, offering up the perfect assortment of summertime sweet and citrus.


Macaron Café New York 625 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10022 (212) 486-2470 Honey Lavender, Jasmin, Lychee Rose, Violette Flower, Cassisviolette, Rhubarb Though chef/owner Cécile Cannone showcases her repertoire of more than seventy unique flavors over the course of the year, her summer blooms offer the most in terms of depth and complexity. Even apart from the direct French imports, her style is the most authentic we’ve been able to find outside of Paris.

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IT’S LIKE CLOCKWORK: A friend offers me M&M’s, dangles a scoop of Breyers dangerously close to my bowl, or passes me a plate of freshly baked snickerdoodles. When I politely decline, shock ensues. Rejection of M&M’s, Rocky Road, and homemade cookies baked with tenderness and love? Unthinkable. My mind races: Are people judging me? I’m not a particularly picky eater, nor am I an overly bodyconscious calorie counter. I’m not passive-aggressively criticizing your Betty Crocker Triple Chunk Brownies. “I’m allergic,” I explain. I brace myself for the all but inevitable dialogue that I can recite like the Pledge of Allegiance: “I’m so sorry! What are you allergic to?” “Eggs, milk, tree nuts, and shellfish.” “That sucks! What can you eat?” While my diet consists of more than water and air, I’ve struggled to find baked goods that won’t make me throw up, break into hives, or compel someone to thrust an Epi-Pen into my thigh. Enter Sweet Freedom, a vegan and kosher bakery on South Street that is also gluten, egg, soy, corn, peanut, and refined sugar-free. Nixing traditional baking ingredients such as wheat-based flours, refined sugar, and butter, Sweet Freedom opts for alternatives such as rice, sorghum, and chickpea flours, coconut sugar and agave nectar, and coconut oil. Co-owned by Heather Esposito and Allison Lubert, the two-year-old bakery strives to provide unique sweets for individuals 16


so ut h 19 lphia st. 14 , pa 6


with alternative diets. Both unable to consume gluten or dairy and having chosen to eliminate refined sugars from their diets, Esposito and Lubert opened Sweet Freedom with the ability to personally identify with their customers, of whom Esposito estimates approximately 90% have dietary restrictions. Esposito explains, “As a kid, I didn’t want anything to do with the kitchen; I hated food…I was always tired, I was always grumpy [and] moody, and food was just such a big issue for me.” While my allergies have affected my selfconsciousness more than mood, I can relate to Esposito’s struggles. Particularly as a child, I was embarrassed to ask about dish ingredients and often had the mindset of, “I’d rather starve than hold up the food court line with my ‘butter or oil?’ question.” My transition to college life, however, has been a turning point, as my newfound independence has forced me to face food allergies head-on. “If you don’t eat, you’ll die,” I remember scolding myself during New Student Orientation. For Esposito, the turning point came after she attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York for a degree in health counseling. “I started to love food and understand the power that food has to [impact] our health and affect how we look and feel.” Such a mentality towards food has allowed Sweet Freedom to connect with customers who have food allergies or are simply health conscious. continued on p.38

Love and Laughter


I grew up in a Chinese household where meals were

spring 2012

always eaten family-style. On weekends, we would head to Chinatown for dim sum (literally translated as “touching the heart”), a traditional Chinese morning meal of small, shared plates. Often we would invite family-friends to join us on these excursions. We sampled a variety of steamed and fried dishes, ranging from savory char siu bao (roast pork buns) and rice noodles stuffed with beef or shrimp, to sweeter

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items like egg custards and tofu drizzled with sweet syrup. For those of us with more adventurous palates, delicacies like “dragon’s claws” (chicken feet) and beef tripe were de rigeur. CHINESE DIM SUM Dim sum was the perfect way to treat ourselves to a meal out without spending a great deal. We usually never paid more than $40-$50 for our family of five to sample ten different dishes. With more people at the table, we could try more dishes and pay even less per person. I was particularly grateful for this in graduate school, when my classmates and I had little to no income but still wished to eat out and celebrate our successes together. To relive these happy and delicious memories, I look no further than Ocean Harbor in the heart of Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Not only does the restaurant offer all of the traditional options, including spring rolls and siu mai (pork and mushroom dumplings), but it also serves up the authentic teahouse experience—carts circulating through the room, delivering a seemingly endless parade of dishes. I always eagerly await my favorites to come out of the kitchen. The most important thing about my early years of family-style dinners and dim sum outings was that food was shared. Everyone partook of food from the same platters, and there was something celebratory about the whole experience of eating together. Historically, dim sum provided the opportunity to relax and converse over tea and food after long workdays; it was meant to be savored, and in good company. SPANISH TAPAS Being used to these kinds of communal dining experiences, I have always been somewhat thrown by the individualization common to American-style eating. From the school lunch tray to the typical restaurant meal, the focus always seemed to be on the individual eating experience—what I preferred, what I chose, what was set in front of me. Rather than trying a little bit of everything, I was resigned to my own selections. If I did not like what I got, well, it was simply my fault. I was thrilled, therefore, when I discovered Spanish tapas (meaning “lid” or “cover”), which signify a wide variety of appetizers and snacks. These range from cold nibbles like olives and cheese, to the warmer albondigas (meatballs with sauce) and empanadas. Similar to dim sum, where dishes vary in size from small to large, tapas dishes can be expanded to media raciones (half plates) or raciones (full plates) to accommodate parties of different sizes. In Philadelphia, I was glad to find plenty of tapas restaurants to choose from, especially for getting 18

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together with new colleagues and acquaintances. I celebrated my first birthday in the city with a group of ten new friends, a whole roast pig, and a tapas spread that included boquerones (white anchovies), piquillos rellenos (crab-stuffed peppers), and my favorite salad of greens, figs, blue cheese, and spiced almonds wrapped in Serrano ham. There was lots of food, wine, and laughter, and the dinner remains one of my favorite birthday memories of all time. I also love Jamonera, the newest addition to the Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran empire in Midtown Village. There, among other things, you’ll find warm Medjool dates stuffed with Valdeon cheese and wrapped in serrano ham; aceitunas alinadas, olives mixed with manchego cheese and dusted with rosemary; and papas fritas, crispy potato bites accompanied by garlic aioli and hot sauce. These smaller dishes are perfect to share between two to three people— great for a date night or catchup time with friends. For happy hours with colleagues or late nights with friends, the larger plates have even greater sharing capacity: flamequines, pork loin that is decadently stuffed with jamón and Ibores cheese; pulpo y ensaladilla rusa, octopus that is grilled yet perfectly moist; gambas al ajillo, spicy, garlicky shrimp that is lightly splashed with lemon. With the variety of dishes available, tapas meals are suitable for any time of day. Shared dishes provide the chance to bond over work or play. MEDITERRANEAN MEZE I was most recently introduced to meze or mezze (meaning “taste” or “snack”) as the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern version of dim sum and tapas. Meze dishes cover a wide range of tastes, textures, and temperatures, and are sprinkled with spices specific to geographic regions. Greek meze often involve feta cheese, kalamata olives, and keftedes (meatballs), while their Middle Eastern counterparts generally include hummus and kibbeh (bulgur, chopped meat, and spices). Head to Zahav in Old City for one of the best meze collections in Philadelphia. While Chef Michael Solomonov focuses largely on authentic Israeli flavors at Zahav, the menu does incorporate the cultural influences of Eastern Europe, North Africa, and various areas around the Mediterranean. From Yemenite soup to Hungarian lamb stew to Jerusalem kugel, the menu recognizes the diverse forms that meze can take. With the American palate rapidly expanding, small plates offer chefs a bigger playground to play in, and diners a bigger menu to choose from. In all its forms—dim sum, tapas, meze, and inevitably others—small plates allow us to take food exploration to the next level, stimulating our enjoyment of food as a shared and social experience.



STREAKS OF SUN AND WARM AIR. Toes tugging at plush green grass, and a rogue frisbee sailing over the hill. Tumblers, vivid with gazpacho; grilled chicken and pesto sandwiches; swirls of fig– balsamic dip. A pour of crisp Riesling, brimmed with strawberries. For us at Penn Appétit, there’s no better way to welcome the sunnier months than with a picnic. Our thoughts tend outside to the riot of produce bursting from local farms and markets. Together, we prepare and enjoy these fruits of the long harvest. And we share laughs and memories, and our many inspirations, with you.


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picnic memories WHAT MAKES A PICNIC SPECIAL? The people sitting around the blanket with you. The lake you just swam in. The games you play, the jokes you tell. And, of course, the food you eat. These are our memories.

Licking my fingers, I savored the last morsels of our fresh trout. After catching the fish that afternoon at our favorite fishing lake in the Poconos, we had made a pit stop at the local farmer’s market. Now, our picnic blanket was awash in the reds, greens, and yellows of our finds. My little sister and I eagerly cut up the pungent onions, juicy tomatoes, and bell peppers, fashioning a crude salsa for our fish. Though only 12, Rachel was quite the chef extraordinaire, taking the reins on creating a side salad of goat’s milk Brie and raspberries. While our parents scavenged the area for utensils, I grilled slices of ripe peaches for a quick but mouthwatering dessert. Though makeshift and last-minute, that spontaneous picnic—and its fresh flavors—makes up one of my best food memories. – MARISA DENKER

I grew up ten minutes away from the beach, so for me, all of my picnic memories are accompanied by smells of salt water and true sand-wiches. When my family goes to the beach together, we pack lunches to bring with, and I am often in charge of the sandwiches (understandably so: I am the founder of the craisin-based sandwich). These meals on the beach remind me that picnics don’t have to be fancy to be delicious and fun; sometimes all we bring with us are PB&J sandwiches and apples. Our picnic essentials include a cooler—an absolute must in ninety-degree humidity—summer fruit, and a frisbee to toss towards the sea. –CHELSEA GOLDINGER


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Eating outside has always been one of those small pleasures in life, something that you can always count on to make your day extra special. Maybe it’s because it emphasizes that the day is warm and beautiful—which just uplifts your mood and makes you want to sit under the sunshine all day long. Picnics, for me, have evolved from running outside during elementary school to escape the cold confines of the cafeteria and eat my lunch (simple sandwiches, but at that time oh-so-special) on a grassy hill bathed in sunlight, to spending an afternoon at a table in the neighborhood park with a group of friends, enjoying good food and each others’ company. No matter how many years have passed since the elementary school days, I will still always love eating outside. –JENNY LU

Last summer, I found solace from solitude in my family’s Napa Valley vegetable garden. My parents have somehow mastered the technique of growing only the spiciest arugula, and romaine plants so precious they should be accompanied by a troop of garden gnomes. Every afternoon, I would take a basket and gather my lunch. I quickly discovered the therapeutic benefits of gardening; a certain rhythm is required to shake tomatoes from the vine, and a degree of tenderness to pluck sprigs of basil. I would return to the kitchen to prepare my personal feast. A salad with my mom’s dijon vinaigrette was often accompanied by caprese and a selection of meats and cheeses. Prosciutto e melone was always a requisite, along with a glass of iced tea. Every day it was the same—a picnic for one that left both my stomach filled and my time occupied in what seemed like an endless summer. –SABRINA MILLS

I remember spring picnics in Central Park. At the first streaks of sunlight our kindergarten teachers would lead us from the classroom to cross the street hand in hand and spread blankets in the shadow of Umpire Rock. At five and six my classmates and I were too young to pack our own lunches, but we understood there was something delicious about eating out of doors. The trip down blooming park pathways was a break from air-conditioned interiors and a chance for city kids to see the sky. It was about bringing the communal experience of eating into the open and sharing it with the birds and earthworms and the baseball players on the adjacent fields. As we gradually spent less time in the classroom, our string of late-semester picnics also symbolized the transition from school to summer, and became a tradition I carried forward with friends for many years following. –SHAYE ROSEMAN

Growing up in Florida, I frequented the beach as a regular Sunday routine. We’d meet the crew at the Juno Beach Pier and find a spot spacious enough for our large crowd. After an hour or two of swimming, games, digging holes and building sand castles, all the kids would run back to interrupt the mommy chat and dig into lunch. There were always subs, sometimes slightly soggy, but nevertheless delicious. Huge bags of chips were passed around to share, along with carrot sticks, nuts, and bottles of water. Fruit kept cold in the cooler was a welcome dessert; after devouring slices of watermelon or bags of berries, we’d run to wash our hands off in the ocean. No one ever cared about the sand and salt air mixed in with the food. The post-meal ritual of spreading out towels and lying in the sun was enough to make anyone happy. –BECCA GOLDSTEIN

During the summertime, my family and I took day trips to a nearby lake to splash in the water and hike on the trails. Picnic memories for me consist of long days of sun, laughter, swimming, and, of course, delicious food. On the menu was my grandmother’s Persian chicken salad stuffed into thick and hearty sourdough rolls, a cooler full of fresh watermelon, figs, plums, strawberries, and cucumbers, homemade baklava topped with nuts and honey, and a thermos of steamy cardamon black tea. Tummies full, we would lay on a blanket under the shade of trees and sip on tea, already planning our next trip to the lake. –MONICA PURMALEK spring 2012

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picnic Citrus Tabbouleh

During the summertime, a hearty bulgur wheat salad is the perfect way to showcase the ripe tomatoes and fresh cucumbers from your garden. This salad is far from traditional with the main ingredient being savory grains instead of lettuce. Sweet and tangy citrus and bold hints of cilantro infuse into the bulgur wheat, taking this summer dish to the next level. This bright salad will be sure to please the palate and serve as the perfect addition to your picnic basket.

SERVES 4 1 cup bulgur wheat ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro Zest of 1 lemon 1 ½ teaspoons salt ½ cup chopped tomatoes ½ cup chopped cucumbers 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice Combine the bulgur wheat, lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro, lemon zest, and salt in a bowl. Store in the refrigerator overnight or until the bulgur wheat is completely softened by the mixture. Once softened, stir in the tomatoes, cucumbers, and orange juice. Garnish with more cilantro, if desired.


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Lime–Basil Pesto Chicken Sandwich

There are few things better than pesto, but a sandwich in the summer topped with olive oil, parmesan, pine nuts and basil can be a bit too heavy in flavor. Instead, opt for a “summer pesto,” which combines lemon juice, roasted garlic, and basil for a lighter and more refreshing flavor. Paired with balsamic grilled chicken and sun-dried tomatoes, this summer sandwich is as appealing on the eyes as it is to the stomach, as the lemon juice and basil blend into a bright, unmistakably natural green. MAKES 4 SANDWICHES 4 chicken breasts About ½ cup balsamic vinegar 1 head of garlic 7 tablespoons of lime or lemon juice 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves Extra virgin olive oil 8 slices sturdy sandwich bread, such as rye or sourdough ¾ cup sun-dried tomatoes, preferably not packed in oil Marinate 4 chicken breasts in enough balsamic vinegar to coat them, then grill until well charred. Set the grilled chicken aside. Heat the oven to 400°F. To make the basil sauce, start by chopping off the top of the unpeeled garlic in order to expose part of each clove. Drizzle with olive oil, then wrap tightly in tin foil. Place in the oven to roast until soft and creamy, about 50 minutes. (You can check the consistency of the garlic with a knife.) Set aside until cool enough to handle. In a blender purée the softened garlic with the lemon juice and basil. Since the garlic is now very soft, we recommend squeezing the garlic into the blender. To assemble the sandwiches: Spread the basil sauce on the bread slices. On each of four slices, stack one chicken breast and a handful of sun-dried tomatoes. Top with one of the remaining four slices.


Head to a summer farmers’ market, a friend’s garden, or your own backyard to pick ingredients for this mouth-watering soup. Combine ripe red tomatoes and prickly green cucumbers with yellow and orange bell peppers and bits of purple onion to create a dish that’s almost too pretty to eat. After the last stirs, do the final taste test: If you feel a tingling at the base of your cheeks, your family-sized batch of gazpacho will surely be a hit on any hot summer day. SERVES 10 10-12 plum tomatoes, cored and seeded 3 bell peppers, yellow and orange 2 cucumbers 1 small red onion 3-4 cloves garlic 5 ¾ cups tomato juice ½ cup olive oil ⅔ cup red wine vinegar Salt and pepper to taste Cut the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and onion into large chunks. Using a food processor, pulse the vegetables in batches until they are chopped into small pieces, but still retain their shape and character. In a large bowl, add the tomato juice, oil, vinegar and chopped garlic to the vegetables, and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving.

Ricotta & Fig Sandwich

Ricotta is one of those fabulous ingredients that take on the flavors of the elements it accompanies. This simple dish allows for a tug of war between the sweet and the savory, with hearty figs and tangy tomatoes vying for attention. These two ingredients are dispersed along the baguette, and picnickers enjoy them with a smear of luscious ricotta. A final drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of salt completes the juxtaposition of flavors. It makes this easy dish a gourmet triumph sure to impress friends and family. SERVES 8 1 baguette 1 15 ounce container whole milk ricotta 2-3 ripe tomatoes, diced ½ cup chopped dried figs 4 tablespoons honey Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Roasted Corn Salad

With sweet corn reaching its peak, it’s no wonder we can’t keep our hands off this salad. Start with a base of roasted corn, then add a fresh squeeze of lime, crumbles of cotija cheese, and a sprinkle of cayenne, and you’ve got yourself one summer side that won’t make it back into the picnic basket.

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Caprese Salad & Sandwich

Caprese salad is amazingly easy to make, as it has just three ingredients: ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. Sweet cherry or plum tomatoes complement the soft, creamy mozzarella. Punch this salad up a notch by adding some basil leaves or mixing the tomatoes and mozzarella with pesto instead of olive oil. If you’re a fan of sandwiches, make one caprese-style by drizzling thick-cut slices of tomato and mozzarella with olive oil and stuffing them between slices of bread.

Slice the baguette in half lengthwise. Spread the ricotta evenly on both sides. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and spread them over the two sandwich halves. Add chopped figs to fill in the gaps between the tomatoes. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of honey evenly over each of the halves. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper.

Goat Cheese Crostini with Grilled Fruit

Grilling ripe summer berries is a great way to take advantage of their peak seasonal sweetness. Toasting fruit over an open flame concentrates natural sugars and adds depth and dimension of flavor. Add figs to the mix and lay over a bed of cool, complementary goat cheese.

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Best Philly Picnic Spots • Independence Hall Lawn • St. Charles Barromeo Seminary • Green Roof at the Free Library of Philadelphia • Morris Arboretum • Rittenhouse Square • Race Street Pier near Penn’s Landing • Herb Garden near Pennsylvania Hospital • Philadelphia Zoo Victorian Garden • Headhouse Square on South Street • Liberty Lands Park, Northern Liberties • Fairmount Park • Penn Park


Our Dream Picnic Companions • • • • • • • • •

Barbara Corcoran Jackie O Alton Brown Rocco DiSpirito C.J. Cregg Bo Obama M.F.K. Fisher Reptar Beyoncé

A TWIST on Traditional: Themed Picnics Who says picnics can’t have a little global influence? For a change from classic American fare, try out our culturally themed picnic menus. Whether it’s Parmigiano or pastrami you’re after, or even green tea mochi, you’ll find plenty of ideas here. 1.BRITISH TEA: Early Grey tea; puffy scones with jam and clotted cream; finger sandwiches stuffed with smoked salmon and capers, or cucumbers and cold ham; Stilton cheese with crispy seed crackers and mango chutney 2..ASIAN FUSION: chilled Vietnamese spring rolls; sesame soba noodle salad; kimchi; green tea mochi; red bean ice cream with crumbly vanilla wafers 3.UPSCALE ITALIAN: crusty ciabatta or onion focaccia; slices of prosciutto, melon, and a nutty Parmigiano; grilled artichoke, mozzarella, and tomato salad, splashed with sweet balsamic; almond biscotti 4. INDIAN: aloo tikki (pan-fried potato cakes) with tangy date chutney; spicy masala chicken kebabs; corn salad with coconut and cilantro; mango lassi


Packing Essentials • Oversized blanket • Biodegradable utensils • Cutting board • Mason jars for drinks • Frisbee • Camera • Floppy sun hat & sunglasses • The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger, Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein • Boggle, Taboo, Quiddler • *Music Source and Playlist


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5.JEWISH DELI: -pastrami sandwiches smeared with mustard -red potato salad -puckery sour pickles -bagels with cream cheese and lox -chocolate rugelach -root beer or cream soda

Check out pennappetit. com/blog for indian picnic recipes

playlist: o o o o o o o o o o

Sound of Sunshine - Michael Franti & Spearhead Left & Right In the Dark - Julian Casablancas Walk Tall (feat. Paul Simon) - Ziggy Marley Get Some - Lykke Li Girl - Beck Ambivalence Avenue - Bibio Surprise Hotel - Fool’s Gold Relator - Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson I Can Change - The Very Best & LCD Soundsystem Colorful - Rocco DeLuca & The Burden

Black Bean Dip SERVES 6 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed 1 clove garlic, crushed 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoons orange juice ½ small Vidalia onion diced 1 teaspoon cumin Salt and pepper Small handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Fava Bean Dip with Roasted Garlic and Yogurt SERVES 6

In a blender or food processor purée 1 can of black beans with the garlic, oil, vinegar, and orange juice. In a small bowl, lightly crush the remaining beans with the back of a fork. Stir in the purée, onions, chopped cilantro, and cumin. Add salt and pepper to taste.

1 15-ounce can cooked fava beans 1 head garlic, roasted 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves 2 tablespoons whole milk yogurt Olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Drain the fava beans of most (but not all) their liquid. Squeeze each clove of roasted garlic out of its skin, and place all of them with the beans in a food processor. Whiz until very smooth, then add the thyme leaves and yogurt, and whiz some more. If the dip is too thick for your liking, drizzle in more olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Date–Balsamic Dip SERVES 6 1 large onion, julienned ½ clove of garlic, chopped 18 medium-sized dates, de-pitted and cut into small pieces Extra virgin olive oil Balsamic vinegar 4 tablespoons non-fat Greek yogurt Sauté the onions and garlic with enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft but not translucent, about ten minutes. Add 12 of the chopped dates, and keep stirring to ensure that nothing sticks to the pan. In a separate pot, pour about a half-inch of balsamic vinegar and add the remaining dates. Let the mixture reduce by half, about 15 minutes. Be sure to stir throughout. Once the balsamic mixture reduces, add it to the onions. Pour in more balsamic—just enough to coat the bottom of the pan—and sauté for an additional 4 minutes. Take the pan off heat and let cool completely. Once cooled, spoon the mixture into a serving bowl and stir in the Greek yogurt. For a creamier dip, add more yogurt than is indicated here.

picnicdips Sometimes it’s the small stuff that makes a picnic memorable—the light kiss of rosemary on freshly baked pita chips, or the swoop of chunky bean dip that goes with them. These dips are among our favorite springtime accompaniments: bold and vibrant, chunky or lusciously smooth, they rival any old sandwich for your attention. • Fava Bean with Roasted Garlic and Yogurt • Black Bean • Date–Balsamic

Notes: Dried or fresh figs can be used in place of the dates.

spring 2012

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interview with: Craig LaBan

Check out his latest review at philly/columnists/ craig_laban


People are always fascinated with the latest and greatest chefs and restaurateurs—but what about the diners on the other side of the table? Meet Craig LaBan, resident restaurant critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer. After receiving his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and enjoying a stint covering the food beat for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, he joined the Inquirer in 1998. Penn Appétit had the opportunity to talk with him about his food experiences and observations over the years. Penn Appétit (PA): What kindled your love for food growing up? Craig LaBan (CL): I always liked food and enjoyed eating food when I was younger, but it wasn’t an obsession in my family. After majoring in French at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, I went to La Varenne [a cooking school in France] as a work-study translator for the students. When I wasn’t translating, I took the classes myself and eventually completed a culinary degree. I didn’t know anything formally about food, but food was a quality of life there; that excited me. I used to write freelance about music, so things just came together. It goes to show that you should follow what you like. Don’t expect anything. Life is an adventure: don’t be afraid to be spontaneous. PA: What are some of the trends you’ve seen in Philly cuisine since joining the Inquirer as restaurant critic in ’98? CL: The first thing to understand are the characters of scene: Stephen Starr was just getting started; he had already opened Continental and launched Buddakan in ’98. There’s also Marc Vetri, who opened Vetri in ’98. When I first reviewed him, I awarded him three bells. He’s evolved over the years and has redefined fine dining since then. Vetri is in the prime of his career now. Jose Garces’ empire blossomed as well after Amada’s ’05 opening. Next, look at the signature of Philadelphia’s dining scene: BYOBs. It works so well because we have the laws here that allow it. They work best with the small restaurants all throughout the city; there are lower labor costs, the places are very efficient, and there’s a true focus on food. Finally, recognize the national trends. Gastropubs and the craft 26

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beer movement are both national phenomena that took place. There was the demise of formal fine dining five years ago; still, those restaurants—like the vital and vibrant Four Seasons—today are living, breathing, and evolving without giving up their soul and essence of show. A huge Mexican revolution also took place after 9/11, where a large influx of people who migrated from New York to Philadelphia caused the enclaves in South Philly to explode with culture. PA: The national food truck trend has been huge too, but it seems like Philly already had a strong food cart culture. CL: The carts that built the foundation are established and predictable; they’ve been around for years. Now the new generation has come. There’s a heavy emphasis on scratch cooking, an artisan approach, a restaurant approach. You have everything from woodfired pizza to grilled cheese sandwiches to roasted coffee. Drexel is an epicenter for innovative young trucks because of Penn’s strict lottery permits system. Honest Tom’s was “the grandpa” of the movement and started drawing other food trucks to the area. Places like Love Park have become rotational showplaces for food trucks during the week, and Night Market is a hit phenomenon; these are fantastic marketplaces for trucks to come together. PA: Since you dine out so often, do you get a chance to eat at food trucks? If so, any favorites? CL: Of course! Personal favorites include Pitruco Pizza with their wood-fired Neopolitan-style pies, Renaissance Sausage, La Dominique Creperie, and Cucina Zapata—their yellow and red curries pack a punch. Temple has a great local ingredient food truck called Yumtown, as well as a grilled cheese truck and a burger truck. There’s Jose Garces’ Guapos Tacos, which specializes in its namesake items and roams around Philly. One of my new favorites is NY Gyro on 16th Street near Love Park, where you can get a sizable platter for $5. Food trucks have it all. PA: On average, how many times do you visit a restaurant before reviewing it? CL: It varies. At a minimum, there are two big visits. Depending on the time, budget, and circumstances, I may visit a place three or four times; for instance, I might go for lunch to get a fuller experience. PA: How many restaurant meals does that add up to in a year? CL: Three hundred to four hundred. It’s truly a privilege to dine at so many places. PA: Do you have a chance to cook at home when you’re not out reviewing? CL: Yes! I have two kids and I love cooking comfort food at home on the weekends. PA: What’s your favorite recipe to make at home? CL: There are lots of them! This past weekend, for instance, I made Momofuku’s Bo Ssäm pork shoulder with steamed buns… amazing. I enjoy making paella and when I have a chance, I love using my smoker grill. It’s all about good food with fresh quality ingredients. PA: Philly’s farmers’ markets are perfect for finding top-notch ingredients. CL: It’s been a major improvement over the past few years. The whole movement of farmers’ markets, farm-to-table eating, and local ingredients is only a few years old. Headhouse Square and Clark Park’s farmers’ markets are a great way to treat yourself.

reservations for me or I make surprise visits. The truth is, you can’t fake a good restaurant for one diner. I don’t have relationships with the people I cover—no free food or drinks. I am there to do business, and that upholds my integrity. PA: What’s your biggest food weakness? CL: That’d have to be a corned beef sandwich. It is the ultimate comfort deli food; I’ve loved it since childhood. PA: Where do you get yours in Philadelphia? CL: Famous 4th Street Delicatessen—they do it very well. PA: What advice do you have for people who aspire to work in a food-related field? CL: The first thing is to jump in and get involved to gain real world experience. Try to work for good people. They must be not only good, but also demanding: there is no shortcut to greatness. I always think back to my personal mentors. My relationships with them transcended actual experiences and exposure and connected to the next level. Don’t be afraid to start at bottom: embrace that! If you want to cook, start peeling potatoes. If you’re pursuing journalism, cover budget stories and school board meetings. Don’t neglect the basics. Learn rudiments the right way. PA: What do you most enjoy about restaurant reviewing and food writing? CL: I love going to work, where it always challenges me to be creative. I am able to focus my attention on the life and growth of the culture in the city. Some might say it’s frivolous, but I am actively connecting with readers. I am developing a bond with them that’s personal and real. By writing about the city and local culture, I hope I’m improving lives by helping readers discover new places and spend money wisely.

“I love going to work, where it always challenges me to be creative. I am able to focus my attention on the life and growth of the culture in the city.”

PA: Do you find staying anonymous difficult? I imagine it must be hard, especially after releasing the newest four-bell list. CL: It’s impossible. You aspire to do your best and it’s absolutely worth preserving anonymity, but it’s a perpetuated fallacy. That being said, restaurants never know I’m coming. Other people make spring 2012

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fancy inthecity



IT SEEMS LIKE A NEW FOOD TRUCK POPS UP EVERY WEEK IN PHILADELPHIA. But most of these entrants aren’t the utilitarian, sheet metal carts with twobuck egg-and-cheeses that many associate with street food. They’re fancy, flashy restaurants-on-wheels with elaborate concepts and prices to match. Diners have largely embraced this trend, but I remain skeptical. Once a truck starts charging more than an average lunch joint, it had better deliver something extra special. So I set out to see how some of Philly’s newest and most prominent fancy food trucks stack up against their downmarket counterparts, and to determine whether they’re worth the upgrade from standard lunch fare. Burgers, Fries and Milkshakes: Lucky Old Souls Burger Truck vs. The Big Blue Lunch Truck Lucky Old Souls has one heck of a backstory. Jazz performer and promoter Matt Feldman launched it after real estate and permit woes sidetracked him from his dream of opening a jazz club. The truck would be a good way to promote the eventual club, he thought, and a fun business venture in a market demanding his product: burgers, fries, and milkshakes with a strict locavore bent. 28

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But the price point is far higher than your average truck, like the Big Blue Lunch Truck on Market and 36th. That jawn comes replete with stock photos on its sides and a menu offering just about everything—including, of course, burgers and fries. The Big Blue Lunch Truck Big Blue offers a bunch of combo meals, and one of them gets me a cheeseburger with sautéed onions, fries, and a can of Diet Pepsi for a modest $5.95. It’s served quickly and with a smile, but when it comes to the burger, I get what I pay for. The patty is thin, commodity beef, cooked through and lacking flavor. The bun is too large and too dry, as it always seems to be on burgers like this. The tomatoes on top are sweet, though, and the cheese boasts a strong flavor, even if the onions don’t. The fries, too, are addictive, somehow managing both a thick, crispy coating and a silk-smooth, potatoey center. But they are served with Hunt’s ketchup—a cardinal sin in my book. The soda is, well, soda. But it’s served nice and cold, rounding out a meal that’s halfway satisfying. Lucky Old Souls Burger Truck Lucky Old Souls’ burger, with its grass-fed beef and free


homemade sauces, seems like a relative bargain at $5.50. But when I get to customizing, things add up fast. Sharp cheddar is a buck; a slice of heirloom tomato one more. Fries cost $3 and a special shake, maple–black pepper flavor, a whopping $6.25. The total is $16.75, with no combo meal offered. Though the priciest single item, the shake turns out to be worth the splurge, offering a blissful sweet–hot flavor on top of dairy that tastes natural and fresh. The burger is good too, but uneven cooking hinders my appreciation of the quality beef, and the add-ons are definite busts. “Sharp” cheddar is blunt as a wooden spoon, and the heirloom tomato not even halfway fantabulous enough to warrant its full-dollar surcharge. The fries exhibit nice flavor from their peanut oil treatment, but are overcooked and mostly nubby pieces, too small to pick up much of the homemade ketchup on the side. That free condiment, though, is truly wonderful, with the consistency of applesauce and the taste of pure, ripe tomato. WORTH THE UPGRADE? Yes, but be prepared to pay up -----

Tacos: Guapos vs. El Maguey

Guapos Tacos is the food truck launched by famous Philadelphia chef Jose Garces. It was originally meant just for private events, but now slings modern Mexican to lunchers at Love Park and on Market Street regularly. The truck’s menu is largely based on dishes from Distrito, Garces’ West Philly Mexican joint, with prices slightly softer than the ones there. Given that many locals count this as the best taco truck in town, I wanted to hold it up against what I count as the city’s best brick-and-mortar taco joint: El Maguey in South Philly. It’s a dumpy, unremarkable storefront, with a menu ranging from fajitas to grilled cheese to linguine. If it isn’t obvious, the place’s traditional Mexican dishes are its best. El Maguey Tacos at El Maguey come three to an order, and at $6, one order is enough for a meal. Meat heaps over the doubletortilla-ed edge of each, accented by traditional raw onion and pungent cilantro. Chicken tinga tacos arrive steaming, with moist, shredded meat in a rich, smoky sauce. On the side is a bright green tomatillo salsa that is perfectly acidic, offsetting the hearty meat preparation nicely. Carnitas tacos also achieve impressive balance. Their shredded pork is sweeter, with studs of cooked pineapple mixed in. A scorching red sauce on the side is a deeply flavorful complement. For just $2 apiece, these tacos boast enough meat to satisfy for hours—even if you uncontrollably wolf them down in minutes. Guapos Tacos Tacos at Guapos come two to an order. The carnitas taco, with shredded pork and pineapple, is a good option. The meat is textbook pulled pork, and melds nicely with spring 2012

the pineapple’s sweetness. But at $7 for two, the tacos should have much more pork in them. The mushroom taco, $6 per order, is daintily portioned, too. Its filling is an unappetizing black that tastes too earthy. Fish tacos, at $8 an order, seem to be the most popular, boasting fried yellowtail and the same flavor combination that’s been winning unwarranted praise for years at Distrito. But it’s not surprising that spicy mayonnaise on a fish stick is good, nor does it help that the chipotle-infused condiment overpowers every other ingredient. All told, it takes $21 to finally fill up at Guapos, and not one bite is as satisfying as the cheaper taco alternative. WORTH THE UPGRADE: Definitely not ----Pizza: Pitruco vs. Allegro Pitruco is one of the newest arrivals in Philadelphia’s truck community, with a clean, bright-red color scheme that stands out nearly anywhere. Its pies come out of the mobile oven in the blink of an eye, and feature a host of unusual toppings. The truck also offers baguettes and focaccia baked by its wood fire. Allegro is a Penn campus standby that’s particularly popular after late nights out. The restaurant offers a full menu of Italian and American dishes, many homemade. But the centerpiece is the pizza, which comes with a thin crust and in a variety of flavors, some traditional and some less so. Allegro Pizza at Allegro is $2.25 for a plain slice, and $2.85 for one with meat. Grabbing two means around $5 to fill up. The plain variety is a nice corner joint specimen. Cheese is mild and abundant. Sauce isn’t too sweet, as is unnervingly common in these parts. Crust is thin and requires some tooth tearing, as it should on pizza like this. The barbecue chicken slice, though a favorite of the drunken crowd on weekends, is overpowered by toosweet brown sauce right out of the can. Its uneven cheese distribution also weighs too heavily on the crust, making it real soggy, real fast. Pitruco Pitruco’s pies average around $8.50, and are just right to feed one. My eye was drawn to the more interesting combinations, like eggplant with spicy garlic and ricotta for $8. That pie is light and punchy, with garlicky tomato sauce and a hot eggplant marinade, both artfully tempered by silk-smooth ricotta that the cook spoons on after the pizza is removed from the oven. A radicchio pie for $9 is even better. It pairs braised leaves with savory mushrooms and sweet balsamic, an unexpectedly tart combination that works ineffably well. What’s best, all varieties share Pitruco’s beautifully blistered crust, shaped with charming homemade imperfection. It’s light as a cloud and yields to the most gentle bite. WORTH THE UPGRADE? Absolutely (this just might be the best pizza in Philly). penn appétit


cityeating From running food trucks to working on urban farms, alumni from the University of Pennsylvania are making a serious dent in the Philadelphia food scene. They’re defining and redefining what food is all about in the City of Brotherly Love.



Graduating Hungry

Penn Alum in the Philly Food Scene TAKING TO THE STREETS

With students, staff, and faculty constantly on the go, food trucks are critical to the pulse of the Penn community. Occupying strategic locations on campus (Spruce between 36th and 37th, for example), food trucks reward customers with delicious fare at reasonable prices. And what better way to keep Penn citizens going than with sugar and caffeine? Graduating in 2003 with more than a bit of entrepreneurial spirit, Franklin Shen opened the Sugar Philly truck with fellow food connoisseurs John Suh, a Drexel graduate marketing guru, and Daniel Tang, a Temple graduate pastry chef. Seeing a gap in the snack market, Shen and his partners decided to develop a gourmet dessert truck in 2010. The seasonal menu offers sweets in upscale forms, such as French macarons, crème fraiche cheesecake, and vanilla crème brulée. For a great dessert, a perfect morning pick-me-up, or both, visit 2005 alumnus Drew Crockett at the Hub Bub truck. After working on Wall Street for two years and passing by many coffee trucks there, Crockett was inspired to bring a coffee truck to campus. He spent the next several months working through plans and building up capital before securing his own coffee truck. In addition to coffee from Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the truck sells espresso drinks and warm chocolate chip cookies. Technology has been a boon to Shen and Crockett, who both utilize social media like Twitter and Facebook to connect with customers and keep them updated on the truck’s whereabouts. Additionally,, a website created by two recent graduates (Arjun Gopalratnam, SEAS ’10 and Michael Yuan, Wharton & SEAS ’10), provides a convenient way for 30

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potential customers to discover new trucks, determine their hours, and check out reviews.


For diners who prefer to settle into a cozy restaurant, the rolls of Penn alumni showcase a fair share of restaurateurs who have opened their own restaurants, eateries, and cafés. Within the Philadelphia area, three Wharton graduates—from both the undergraduate and graduate programs—stand out in terms of their contributions to the expanding restaurant scene. With Wharton in his blood, Steven Cook graduated from the undergraduate business program in 1995. Following several years on Wall Street, he left to pursue his culinary passions at New York’s French Culinary Institute. After stints at Twenty Manning Grill and the now-closed Salt, Cook opened Marigold Kitchen in West Philadelphia in 2004. Cook then partnered with chef Michael Solomonov, and the duo soon opened Xochitl, a modern Mexican restaurant in Society Hill in 2007; Zahav, an Israeli tapas restaurant in Old City in 2008; Percy Street Barbecue in Bella Vista in 2009; and Federal Donuts in South Philadelphia in 2011. The Cook and Solo restaurant group has continued to expand in terms of geographic locations in the city, culinary concepts, flavor profiles, and architectural design. Ellen Yin, meanwhile, was inspired to keep things local. After earning a Bachelor’s degree and MBA from Wharton by 1993, Yin spent several years in management consulting and hospital administration before leaving to develop Fork, a New American bistro in Old City dedicated to seasonal and creative cuisine. continued on p.38

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Urban Apiaries, Philadelphia’s first and only commercial urban honey company, enjoyed a very sweet beginning. In the summer of 2010, a joint venture between West Philly’s Milk and Honey Market and Two Gander Farms brought store owner Annie Baum-Stein and beekeeper Trey Flemming back together. Three years ago, when Buam-Stein opened her organic grocery store, her first purchase was Trey’s country honey—a decision she calls “very poetic” given her store’s name and commitment to pure, delicious products. Their project, Summer in the City Honey, was initiated when Mr. Flemming, also manager of a 23-acre Berks County farmstead, brought hives into the city, planning to install them on roofs and in backyards. Realizing that the store’s roof wouldn’t provide enough space, Annie asked neighbors around Philadelphia to volunteer as hosts. After receiving an astounding thirty five positive responses, the two had to narrow down the number of sites to seven. Hives were temporarily placed in mostly residential backyards that provided housing for the bees from May to August. At the start of the season, Annie recalls, “we didn’t know what was going to happen, we never kept bees in the city before.” Much to their surprise, Annie and Trey experienced tremendous success during their first summer, collecting hundreds of pounds of unique honey from healthy and productive bees. Since 2011, as a result of their first season’s accomplishments, the two have kept their beekeeping methods sustainable and have strived to make each site permanent. Currently, Urban Apiaries has 35 hives located in seven apiaries throughout Philadelphia, with the smallest apiary hosting two hives and the largest, fourteen. Unlike conventional beekeepers, Trey only uses natural pesticides made from plant extracts and feeds the bees pure sugar water during the colder months. While country bees may be exposed to herbicides, pesticides, and GMO pollen used by nearby farmers, bees in the city spring 2012

collect nectar from city flowers and trees that are rarely treated with harmful chemicals. As a result, the colony survival and honey production rate in Trey’s city hives are significantly higher than those of his country bees. According to Annie, raising bees in the city can save colonies from collapse; what she and Trey are doing may be the future of beekeeping. Annie’s choice to make honey her store’s first private label product came from two connections. First, there is the clear association with her store’s name, Milk and Honey. But more importantly, honey represents the vital link between bees and sustainable agriculture. Annie hopes that Urban Apiaries will start the conversation about local eating and urban farming, and how much these practices depend on the work of bees. Currently, many large-scale commercial farms need bees to pollinate their crops, so they truck and fly in the insects from all over the country, destabilizing the bees’ habitats and contributing to the increasing rates of colony collapse. An organization like Urban Apiaries presents opportunities to establish a different model of farming, one in which smaller scale agriculture depends on hives that are integrated on site, providing stability to both growers and bees. Further, the chance to sample the range of honeys made from bees in the same city is an opportunity to understand the diversity of flavors that is often missing from conventional commercial foods. Unlike most honey producers, Annie does not mix honey produced from different hives. As a result, each jar is unique to a hive, featuring complex floral tones that transform from season to season. To sample the product of Philadelphia’s hard-working bees and to support the efforts of Annie and Trey, city residents can purchase bottles of honey labeled by zip code from Milk and Honey Market, Two Gander Farms, Weaver’s Way Co-Op, Fair Food Farm Stand, and Green Aisle. penn appétit



Surf&Turf A GUIDE TO


Having grown up in southern Maine, I’ve seen a lot of tourists flounder when presented with a freshly cooked lobster. The lure of this traditional Maine treat brings over 40,000 visitors to my tiny beach town every year, but few know how to actually disassemble and eat the shellfish they flock north to taste. This tutorial doesn’t describe how to cook a lobster, but instead how to eat one—so tie your bib, prepare your claw crackers, and squeeze some lemon into your butter because its time to enjoy a downeastern delicacy. 1. Twist off the legs and set them aside. Separate the claws from the body at their joints.

2. Use your claw crackers to break the shells of the removed pieces. Use a toothpick to extract the meat.

3. Pull the tail from the body and remove the telsons, or tail flippers. Some people enjoy flipper meat, but it requires a bit of work to remove.

4. Squeeze the meat through the tail with a fork, but be careful not to eat the lobster’s digestive tract. This looks like a vein that stretches across the outer lining of edible meat. Simply remove it and continue eating.

5. Separate the body shell and look for the liver. This is called the “tomalley” and many lobster lovers savor it.

6. Now go back to the legs that were set aside earlier. One of the best ways to eat these is to dip them in lemon butter and suck on them, squeezing out a small bit of delicious meat from each one.


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Steak. The word alone evokes rustic images of rugged ranch cowboys tearing into prime cuts of beef. This classic entrée acquired its moniker from the Old Norse word steik, which means “roast.” While steak can be cut from a variety of animals, be it lamb or pig, its connotation readily implies a hearty cut of beef. It doesn’t matter whether it’s served as a surf and turf, alongside pommes frites, or simply à la carte: That thick “hunk” of meat will always take center stage. Use this guide to the world’s most popular cuts to know exactly how to navigate the menu during your next steakhouse visit. BEEF TENDERLOIN Pleased to “Meat” You: Because this cut comes from the loin and has no connective tissue, it has a very fine grain and is thus the most tender cut of them all. It’s the basis for steakhouse favorites like filet mignon, chateaubriand, and tournedos of beef. Such succulent taste makes the tenderloin a wildly popular choice.

FLANK STEAK Pleased to “Meat” You: This is one of the few cuts taken from the cow’s lower half. The connective tissue prevalent in this part of the cow reduces tenderness but adds fantastic flavor. A single flank often provides four to six portions, making this cut an excellent choice for entertaining.

“Prime” Ways to Serve: Grill it to perfection! The tenderloin’s inherent mild flavor demands added seasoning. Many people favor wrapping the filet with smoky bacon before grilling.

“Prime” Ways to Serve: Grill and serve very thin slices cut at a 45° angle across the grain. Flank is excellent in steak sandwiches, stir-fry, or fajitas.

TOP SIRLOIN STEAK Pleased to “Meat” You: Often more affordable than other options, this relatively lean cut of meat with little marbling is firm and can be extremely flavorful when prepared properly. “Prime” Ways to Serve: Like the rib eye steak, it can be cooked in any manner. Brine or pound this firm meat to promote tenderization. Top sirloin is also a popular choice on the grill in cubed beef and vegetable skewers or teriyakiglazed beef sticks. T-BONE STEAK Pleased to “Meat” You: The T-shaped bone that gives this cut its name actually divides the New York strip steak and the tenderloin filet cuts. The bone and abundant marbling both add rich flavor. The porterhouse is a variation on the classic T-bone steak, which is cut further up the loin and contributes a larger portion of tenderloin; while meatier than the average T-bone, it can be less tender. “Prime” Ways to Serve: This cut is best grilled or broiled. It also makes for dramatic plate presentation, so leave whole with bone intact when serving. spring 2012

NEW YORK STRIP STEAK Pleased to “Meat” You: Also known as a Kansas City strip or shell steak, this steakhouse classic is cut from the strip loin, a section of meat directly behind the ribs. While strip steak has less marbling than tenderloin or rib eye, it is still extremely flavorful due to the half-inch of fat that runs along one side. “Prime” Ways to Serve: This steakhouse standard is a solid choice for grilling or pan-frying. Leave the fat on during the cooking process to take advantage of the added flavor and richness.

RIB EYE Pleased to “Meat” You: This cut has the most marbling—meaning the meat’s luxurious rivulets of fat—of all the cuts due to minimal animal muscle use. It’s one of the most flavorful and juicy steak choices, and the marbling lends it a meltingly tender texture. Rib eyes are cut from the same piece of meat used for the popular prime rib. “Prime” Ways to Serve: Grilling, broiling, or pan-frying all lead to equally delicious results.

DON’T MAKE A “MISTEAK”: Cooking the perfect steak at home

• Salt or brine your meat

for at least 40 minutes and up to overnight before cooking. Doing so ahead of time allows the seasoning to penetrate the muscle structure, flavoring past the outer surface and intensifying the flavor. If you don’t have the time or are cooking steak on a whim, it’s best to season immediately before cooking. This will produce a clean, hard sear, allow for crust development, and promote flavor-enhancing browning reactions.

• Rest your steak at least

5 minutes after cooking it. This allows the cut to remain optimally succulent without letting all the flavorful juices seep out onto the plate.

• Cut your steak against

the grain. Slicing parallel to the grain creates pieces dominated by long muscle fibers, which are tough to chew. If you cut thinly against the grain, you’ll enjoy juicy, tender slices of meat; these slices contain only short pieces of muscle fiber barely held together.

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One wintry Sunday night, I found myself brewing up a pot of steaming hot mustard soup for my friends. Mustard soup-making is not a frequent pastime of mine; however, after spending the weekend perusing Esther B. Aresty’s collection of cookbooks, I felt inspired to make something historical and unique. Esther B. Aresty’s collection spans the past five centuries and even contains what is believed to be the first cookbook ever printed, from Venice in 1475. Aresty first became interested in collecting books during the mid-twentieth century while traveling with her husband. In a 1960 interview for The New York Times, Aresty revealed that some of her most interesting discoveries “came from a little book store in Sweden and a wonderful small shop along the waterfront in Malaga.” As a curious chef herself, it was only natural that she began collecting unique and rare cookbooks. She quickly amassed perhaps the most impressive collection of books on etiquette and the culinary arts—what Craig Claiborne of the Times praised as “one of the finest collections of rare books ever assembled.” In April of 1996, over two hundred people gathered to celebrate Aresty’s bequeathal of the 576 books and 13 manuscripts on the culinary arts to the University of Pennsylvania libraries. Her treasure chest of culinary gems is now available at the Rare Books and Manuscripts library. During my visit there, it became apparent that each book has its own unique story to tell. I knew that Aresty’s most prized possession was a poem written by Fredrick the Great, lauding his cook, but I was more interested in finding unusual recipes from the past. I began my journey by peeking into a worn, leather-bound copy of The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected, taught and fully manifested, Methodically, Artificially and according to



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the best Tradition of the English, French, Italian, Dutch etc. or, a Sympathie of all varieties in the Natural Compounds in that Mysterie. Wherein is contented certain Bills of Fare for the Seasons of the year, for Feasts and Common Diets. I realized that, given the convoluted book titles, the recipes would likely be difficult to understand as well. And indeed, many of the recipes and ingredients were unfamiliar. For example, the first instruction in “To make a Cabbage Cream” was “to boyl a dozen walms.” But there was some familiar advice, such as to adjust proportions according to the desired quantity. I looked through the larger and sturdy green-covered Whole Duty of a Woman: Or, an infallible Guide to the Fairer Sex. Despite the beautiful script, I couldn’t help but be a bit repulsed by chapter titles such as “Of Meekness” and “The Duty of Virgins.” I was later intrigued by a recipe I found within The Duty of Virgins titled, “An Admirable Way to Roast a Calf ’s Head.” That is, until I read the instructions: “get a calf ’s head with the skin on, and scald it.” I turned to The Principles and Practice of Vegetarian Cookery, founded on chemical analysis and embracing the most approved methods of the art. The 1860 edition was part cookbook and part treatise on vegetarian eating and lifestyle. Many of the author’s statements seemed like they could have been written nowadays for PETA’s “Why Go Vegetarian” starter pamphlet, including “the slaughter of highly organized and sentient beings is productive of much misery to the animal creation, repulsive to our natural sympathies, demoralizing in its effects upon human character, and not the best adapted to our digestive system.” I also stumbled upon an entire section dedicated solely to the nutrient profiles of different foods. The nutrients listed were sometimes bizarre. For example, in the 18th century, eggs were thought to be made solely out of water, albumen, mucus, and yellow oil. After glancing over hundreds of these unusual recipes in the creaky and dusty cookbooks, I realized my research wouldn’t truly be over until I tried making one of these recipes myself. And so I picked up The Delectable Past, Aresty’s own book filled with her favorite recipes. I chose to make the suspicious-sounding “Mustard Soup,” which she adapted from the cookbook Le Viandier, compiled by Taillevent in 1375 for the cooks of Charles V. She claimed that, “using Taillevent’s ingredients, a delicious soup emerges that may be served hot or cold. Either way, its lovely green color is as refreshing as its taste.” Although I had never before tried mustard in my soup, I was up for the challenge. The ingredients were fairly easy to come by, with the exception of onion juice. To save the trouble of being teary-eyed and stinking of onion, I omitted it altogether. While still keeping an air of antiquity, the recipe was not difficult to make. The first step was to make a roux, a paste of butter and flour traditionally used as the start of French sauces. This, along with the egg yolks, created a thick and rich base for the soup. All steps went fine until the last one: adding three tablespoons of mustard. I used my favorite mustard, Grey Poupon’s Dijon. My soup certainly ended up tasting like Dijon mustard, but the color was not a “lovely green” as Aresty had described; it was a bright mustard yellow. And I couldn’t help thinking that I was eating a warm bowl of not very strong Dijon. I can see mustard soup as a nice accompaniment to a croquemonsieur sandwich, with crispy buttered bread and melted cheese on layers of ham. Eating the soup as a meal was a somewhat unpleasant experience, but the chance to try my hand at a recipe from the 14th century was priceless. Now, time to make some roasted calf ’s head....

recipes FROM: The Whole Duty of a Woman: Or, an infallible Guide to the Fairer Sex.

An Admirable Way to Roast a Calf’s Head

Get a calf ’s head with the skin on, and scald it, and boil it an hour and half; when cold, lard it with Lemon Peel, and then spit it: when it is enough, make good savory Sauce, as you do for a Hashed Head, and put into it Forced-Meat-Balls, fried Sweetbreads, Eggs, and Clary, a little Bacon, some Truffles and Morels, Mushrooms and Oysters, and a little Lemon Juice, and mix it all well together, with the Sauce, and pour over the Head. It may be done as well with the Skin off, as it comes from the Butcher’s. FROM: The Delectable Past. Esther B. Aresty. 1964.

Mustard Soup

2 tablespoons butter 3 tbsp prepared yellow mustard 2 tbsp flour 2 1/2 cups thoroughly skimmed chicken stock, heated 1 1/4 cups rich milk, heated 1/2 tsp salt and a dash of white pepper 1/2 tsp onion juice 2 egg yolks 2 to 3 tbsp sweet cream Melt the butter, stir in the flour and blend smoothly. Add the hot chicken stock and milk, and whisk until smooth. Add salt, pepper and onion juice. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Combine egg yolks and cream and add to the soup, custard stylethat is, temper first with a few spoonfuls of the warm broth. Last, add the mustard. If served cold, garnish with a dab of whipped cream. If hot, garnish with pancake shreds or green peas.

For more on Esther Aresty’s collection and recipes, check out Elliott’s post on spring 2012

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D O E S A N Y B O DY TA K E C A N DY S E R I O U S LY ? Among snobby foodies, candy often gets dismissed as childish and silly—a cashier checkout line reminder of school days when the only thing motivating your palate was the desire to consume as much sugar as quickly as possible. Most of the candy consumed in the world is cheap and mass-produced. It comes in bright wrappers that shout kitschy slogans and trumpet bubble-letter brands. It’s not trying to be anything more complicated than a rush of sugar: an instant, if not always guiltless, gratification. There’s something to be said for the successful achievement of a simple goal, and there is even more to it than that. Candy is one of those cultural artifacts that blends into the background when you’re home; it’s a wall of famous names and colors and shapes, each in its slot, the same in every state. You don’t notice it and you certainly don’t scrutinize it. But when you find yourself in another country, the candy section of the store becomes a bewildering and blaring reminder that you are very far from the familiar. In the United Kingdom, the candy is just different enough to be fascinatingly alien without being totally incomprehensible. I’ve been living in England for almost four months, but the candy aisle still hits me with a wave of bafflement, shaded with homesickness, every time I pass by. Because I love dessert and never need an excuse to buy candy, I decided to investigate the British varieties that can’t be found in America. One of the main conclusions I’ve come to is that many of the Harry Potter candies that I assumed were magical inventions are actually witchy versions of British brands. Another important distinction: it’s not “candy” in Britain. They’re called “sweets” here. Cadbury looms large on the British candy scene; it dominates the vending machine displays and is perhaps England’s most famous sugary export. If you think you know Cadbury, though, think again. Cadbury products in the U.S. are produced by Hershey’s, so they aren’t made the same way or with the same ingredients. Cadbury chocolate is indicative of a significant disparity between American and English 36

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candy. In general, the chocolate in the U.K. is far superior to its American cousin. It’s creamier, meltier, smoother; suddenly you realize that the 60 cent bars you’re used to are brittle, dull imitations of the real thing. My theory is that the dairy ingredients are the reason for this: the chocolate in Galaxy bars and Minstrels, Twirls, Cadbury DairyMilk and the notorious Yorkie (its packet reads: “Not for Girls!”) certainly suggests it to be so. My personal favorite, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, is a whimsical confection that comes enveloped in orange foil; it is basically a solid chocolate, orange-flavored ball split into slices, the outside dimpled to look like orange peel, the insides lined to mimic pulp. Nestlé’s Aero bars are curious things: The package promises that you will “Feel the bubbles!”—a claim that brings bathtubs and shampoo to mind, not chocolate. The mint Aeros have a milk chocolate shell enclosing vibrantly pistachio green innards. The weirdness comes when you examine the green stuffing: it’s flecked with little globes of trapped air. It looks like a sponge. I wanted to like the Aero (mint and chocolate are usually irresistible together), but with a mouthful of popping bubbles, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was eating soap. Then there are the fruity candies. The Fluke Pastilles, a knockoff of Nestlé’s Fruit Pastilles, delighted me with their cheeky tagline: “6 surprisingly fruitless flavors with none of your 5 a day.” They’re round gummies dusted with sparkly sugar crystals, reminiscent of Sour Patch Kids but with less kick. They’re basically tart gumdrops. Wine Gums taste like gummy worms—except that they’re also gumdrop-shaped, and they’re opaque like frosted stained glass. The most popular are the Jelly Babies, gummies punched in the form of a baby with a tiny plump tummy. What my foray into the world of British candy has taught me is that the candy that you ignore (or consciously resist) in the line at the grocery store has its own drama and charm. It’s a link to childhood and a time when there were few items more valuable than a baggie full of jolly ranchers and tootsie rolls and Hershey kisses.

what makes a chef? {A Culinary School Grad Offers His Thoughts} B Y A LE X A N D E R M E Y E R S

“It is not about passion. What drives cooking has to be desire. You have to want it. You have to constantly pursue it.” -Thomas Keller “You want to know what I really think? My advice to you, kid, is to quit while you’re ahead. Go to school and get as far away from here as you can.” I was halfway through school at the French Culinary Institute when my chef pulled me aside and said that to me. Between class and my internship in a swanky SoHo basement, I was beginning to completely lose myself in the bottomless world of food. I had asked him what he thought might be the best move for me post-graduation, and, with harrowing austerity, he told me to find another passion. Though I didn’t know it at the time, there is no express lane on the road to Celebrity Chefdom, and, in retrospect, I can understand his advice; I really didn’t know what it meant to be a chef. It began with the naive belief that all you need to do is make good food. Then, during week two of culinary school, I attended a demonstration by Jacques Pepin where he illustrated the classical argument against Chez Grandma (who can, in fact, make very good food). Chef Pepin stated that a cook is an artist and a chef is a craftsman; an artist makes pieces which are valuable because of their uniqueness, while a craftsman repeatedly constructs the same object and makes all versions utterly indistinguishable. But times have changed, and in many ways the artistic potential of food is realized now more than ever before. I discussed this with Pierre Calmels, the extremely talented chef at Bibou in Bella Vista; though he agreed with Chef Pepin, he also mentioned that, like many successful spring 2012


chefs, he rewrites his menu every week. Restaurants today (e.g. Grant Achatz’s Next in Chicago) are not like restaurants of the past, which were mostly rewarded for consistency—and I believe the unqualified title of Craftsman cheapens the work of today’s chefs. In the modern age of restaurants, food is art and chefs are artists. When constructing a meal, every plate must be scrutinized in terms of its relative place on the menu, flavor profile, required time for execution, design and more. Then, beyond all of this, as George Mendes of Manhattan’s Aldea states, “really good chefs are able to express who they are through their food.” Differences between comparable dishes from various restaurants reflect the chefs’ palates, training, personalities, and visions. In addition to artistic prowess, a good chef must be utterly obsessed with the process of continual refinement: the realization that no dish is ever perfect, and therefore to accept any as such is to accept mediocrity. Cooking must be an obsession, for, were it not, seventy-hour weeks broken up by the occasional day spent in the food section of Barnes & Noble would be more grueling than tiring. Life on the line is fastpaced, intense and emotionally taxing, but with this is an incomparable opportunity to learn about and approach the goal of “perfect” food. Though I am not a chef and have much to learn, I still am drawn to the cutting board. There is a moment when a diner at a fine restaurant receives a plate and must stop his or her conversation to ogle. In this fleeting moment, before the fork and mind destroy and demystify, the chef has succeeded in turning raw goods into something much greater than the sum of its parts. This, to me, is a gift; this is why I cook. penn appétit


continued from p.30 GRADUATING HUNGRY With menu items like house-made charcuterie, housesmoked duck breast and handmade tagliatelle and agnolotti, the commitment to fresh ingredients and inventive food is clear. Having worked in restaurants, kitchens, and bars during her school days, Yin was passionate about creating her own restaurant. Partnering with fellow Wharton classmate and wine director Roberto Sella, she opened Fork in 1996, thus contributing to Philadelphia’s second restaurant renaissance. Soon after the restaurant’s 10-year anniversary, Yin published her book Forklore: Recipes and Tales from an American Bistro in 2007. Like Cook and Yin, Munish Narula spent time in finance after receiving his MBA from Wharton. Leveraging degrees in finance, hotel restaurant management, and hospitality administration, Narula founded, “a web-based service that aims to provide fresh, healthy and nutritious Indian and Asian food delivery....” The service has expanded from one location in Northern Liberties to six locations serving the greater Philadelphia area. More recently, Narula opened Tashan, a contemporary Indian restaurant in Bella Vista focused on integrating authentic Indian flavors with varied global influences. With dishes like Mangalorean sausages, paneer pizza, malai kofta lollipops, and Kashmiri lamb shank, Narula is attempting to offer a unique eating experience that showcases the reach of Indian spices and techniques. BUILDING COMMUNITY

In addition to creating spaces that cook and serve food, Penn alumni continue to be key players in understanding the growth and consumption of food within the urban landscape of Philadelphia. For these graduates, the focus is not on what is being put on the table, but rather what is not being put on the table within certain communities. The Netter Center for Community Partnerships has developed the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative (AUNI) “to address issues of poor nutrition and physical fitness in West Philadelphia.” As Nutrition Education Coordinators for AUNI, Brian Cassidy and Neena Pathak (both GSE ’10) engage local youth in discussions of nutrition, urban education, and food justice. Applying their previous experiences teaching in public schools, Cassidy and Pathak utilize hands-on learning to help students make stronger connections to their food and become agents of change within their communities. 38

penn appétit

Amy Hillier, an assistant professor in city and regional planning at Penn, is another alum—she completed her Master’s degree in Social Work in 1997 and her PhD in 2001. Her research applies statistical and geographical information systems (GIS) methods to understand what prevents and aids particular communities from accessing healthy foods and being physically active. continued from p.16 SWEET FREEDOM Esposito explains that Sweet Freedom’s baked goods are more guilt-free than typical allergen-filled sweets, touting the benefits of coconut oil and non-refined sugars especially. Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid that boosts the metabolism and doesn’t store as fat. Coconut sugar and raw agave have low glycemic indexes and therefore won’t spike blood sugar levels. When I walked into Sweet Freedom for the first time, I no longer felt apologetic for my food allergies. For once in nineteen years, I was in a place where I could literally eat every food around me. Embracing my newfound sense of freedom, I jumped at the opportunity to eat my first-ever doughnut. My chocolate chip cookie crunch doughnut fell nothing short of the expectations I’d developed over two decades of watching people enjoy the doughy rings from afar: sweet, slightly messy, and delicious. After my first doughnut eating experience, I commenced a full blown food fest, sampling a cinnamon bun doused in syrupy sweet glaze, a lemon glazed raspberry bar, and two types of chocolate cupcake: mocha frosted and caramel-filled Samoa, both of which, though gluten-free, bore no resemblance to the chalky, from-a-mix cupcakes that I once baked for a high school friend with Celiac disease. I came to realize that though unconventional, Sweet Freedom’s xanthan gum, bean flours, and other alternative ingredients produced the same effects as typical baking components. Clearly, times have changed. My days as the only second grader to eat a Tupperware of fruit amidst mass consumption of confetti cupcakes are over. I’ve officially checked “Eat first doughnut” off my lifetime bucket list and have found a bakery where I have unlimited dessert options. Well, that’s great for the allergy-plagued, you say? Sweet Freedom for all! I proclaim. As evidence, I quote a food allergy-free friend as she sampled a lemon-glazed raspberry bar with one of Sweet Freedom’s characteristic three-pronged forks. “It’s so good that I almost just got angry.”

We storm back triumphant Tracking mud caked bare feet leaving marks Through the house our mother would Have a fit over later Brother and I Both black in the face between the sun And the dirt and the honeysuckle We lay our spoils bare on the counter Proud of what we have wrested from the earth Carrots turnips tomatoes plum-ripe and radicchio My father presiding knife in hand In the slant summer sunlight He needs glasses to read now But never in picking out an unripe tomato He raises one hand with gold band high Over okra and garlic scape And steel glinting slices into our jewel fruit We hold our eager fingers back Until he is through And with filthy hands pick The choicest from the cutting board Before they reach the plate

spring 2012




penn appĂŠtit


is the ultimate insider’s guide to everything fun and exciting happening in Philadelphia, especially the awesome dining scene — restaurants, bars, deals, special menus, star chefs and foodie events — plus shopping, art, theater, music and everything in between.

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penn appétit

Spring 2012  

Issue 10, Spring 2012

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