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Bar Guide My father has been trying to get me to appreciate “a nice red” since I was 18 or so, insisting it was the perfect thing to follow a bite of steak. There were certain things, he’d say, that just go well together. I never really believed him until I studied abroad in London. I tried hard cider for the first time in an English pub that looked exactly how I imagined it would. Flowers climbed the pub’s stone walls with hungry, green shoots. Inside, every crevice was lined with knick-knacks. The tables sat low to the ground, their wooden hides marked with a thousand passersby. My first sip of cider was delicious—not too sweet and just cold enough to ward off the summer heat slinking inside the open doors. The cider, I found myself thinking, probably tasted better here than anywhere else in the world, where cobblestone streets snaked outside and my friends and I were the only Americans in sight. I came to appreciate the idea that some things are meant to go together. In this issue of Bar Guide, we explored the favorite pairings of chefs, bartenders and mixologists. From wine to beer, brunch to dinner, the city’s bars and restaurants have their own opinions on what makes a good pairing. Me? I like my cider—Rekorderlig Wild Berries, please—best on a sunny July afternoon in the middle of Kensington Gardens with a group of friends, when the breeze is blowing just right and the world seems to be made of slanting sunlight and the shade of ancient oak trees. Victoria Mier A&E Editor

Wine pairings: ‘purely chemistry’ Keith Wallace founded the Philadelphia Wine School to share his knowledge of complementing food and wine. By EAMON DREISBACH Assistant A&E Editor Keith Wallace’s introduction to the restaurant business began when he forged his work permit to work as a dishwasher at age 13. “The best thing I ever ate was probably spaghetti and meatballs by that point,” Wallace said. “When one of the chefs gave me a prepared meal for the first time, it was pasta with garlic. I had never tasted garlic before that moment, so that was a revelation.” Today, Wallace serves as the owner and founder of the Philly Beer School and the Wine School of Philadelphia at Chestnut and S. 22nd streets, where he teaches classes revolving around food pairings and the composition of wine and beer. While seeking a college degree in English at Salem State University, Wallace worked as a cook, eventually rising to the rank of sous chef. However, Wallace left the food business after graduation to pursue his love of writing, working as a journalist for outlets like The Baltimore Sun and National Public Radio Boston.





BRICK and MORTAR | BAM Bloody’s


spiciness of the Bloody enhances the “I think thebright flavors of the eggs.”

of the salmon matches very well “Thewithmeatiness a lighter red wine like a Pinot noir.”

New tavern attracts diners with brunch

Flavor, color, taste: ‘a perfect match’

Brian Ricci | Brick and Mortar head chef


Brick and Mortar seeks to redefine the look and taste of a traditional American tavern and remind visitors and locals alike there’s more to Philadelphia than Center City. By ERIN BLEWETT The Temple News Michael Welsh believes Philadelphia’s restaurant scene “deserves more than just Center City.” “Center City is amazing, and people go there all the time,” said Welsh, founder and managing partner of Brick and Mortar, a modern American tavern located at 315 N. 12th St. “It’s part of the draw to Philadelphia, but there are neighborhoods that people don’t explore enough, and this is one of those neighborhoods.” Brick and Mortar is fairly new to the city, just coming up on its ninth month in business. The team is passionate about their unusual brunch pairings. Unlike his restaurant, Welsh has been in Philadelphia for 20 years, and has been in the restaurant industry since he moved to the city just after graduating high school. Welsh said he has spent more time “in the Philadelphia area than anywhere else in his life.” He has worked as a bartender, busboy and chef during the last 20 years—which all played a large role in the development of Brick and Mortar. Welsh said his experience has aided him in the process of starting and owning a restaurant. “In a cool way, it’s allowed me to relate to a lot of the staff together because I understand where everyone is coming from,” he said. His first restaurant job at a Red Robin helped him learn the importance of doing “the same thing the same way, every time.” “It was good, because as much as we all like to diminish the role of the corporate restaurant, there are a lot of great things to learn there,” Welsh said. “There’s a tremendous amount of structure, and for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience in the business, there’s nothing better for trying to pick up the trade.” The restaurant currently offers a brunch

and dinner menu and hopes to expand into a lunch menu soon. The menu is “rustic American” with hints of more exotic flavors like the Middle Eastern spice Za’atar found in the baked eggs and chickpea, a brunch dish. Such elements are a nod to the knowledge of international cuisine possessed by head chef Brian Ricci, who graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York City and worked at Tabla, a restaurant known for combining French and Indian culinary techniques. The baked eggs and chickpea dish, consisting of two eggs, Za’atar, Calabrian chilies and chickpeas all baked in a pan, is best paired with the house Bloody Mary, Ricci said. The BAM Bloody’s is made with cumin, ginger and garlic, and guests can choose vodka, gin, tequila or whiskey for their drink. Ricci paired these two because of their complementing flavors. “I think the spiciness of the Bloody enhances the bright flavors of the eggs,” Ricci said. “The two work nicely together.” Welsh said none of the dishes on BAM’s menu contain “fluff.” “Everything on the plate is meant to be eaten,” he added. The rest of the brunch menu incorporates modern twists on classic dishes. The Grilled Peanut Butter + Jam adds bananas and confectioner’s sugar on a brioche bun. Ricci said the combination of the BAM Bloody’s and baked eggs represents Brick and Mortar’s brunch menu because it showcases its signature style. “I think from a food perspective, I don’t think anyone is doing baked eggs like we do,” he said. “It’s pretty cool with the Za’atar and other spices.” It also takes a lot of work to create the desired experienced for customers when they walk in the door, Welsh said. “We want to be like your living room.” *

John Mann | Barra Rossa bar manager

Walnut Street wine bar Barra Rossa carefully pairs wine with Italian dishes. By ERIN MORAN The Temple News Barra Rossa, just down the street from the Walnut Street Theatre, is a frequent stop for foodies, theater-goers and wine enthusiasts. The wine bar and pizzeria, located at 929 Walnut St., specializes in fresh Italian dishes and specialty pizzas, and offers an extensive wine list to pair with its dishes. For dinner this season, bar manager John Mann recommends pairing signature entree Salmon Toscana with either a “big” California chardonnay or a lighter red wine, like Pinot noir. “There are some general guidelines you use to begin with,” Mann said of the pairing process. “The color of the flesh matches the color of the wine. The lighter it is, it will tend to go better with the white wine. Heavier, richer like beef, salmon, tuna … those proteins are going to go better with a richer, meatier wine, so we go to reds.” Kristin Birch, a sommelier at Barra Rossa, said one of the most important pairing factors to consider is the acidity of the wine. “With fish generally you think whites,” Birch said. “But with salmon, since it’s a meatier, more flavorful fish, you can definitely start getting into reds, especially the lighter-body reds. A really classic salmon pairing is Pinot noir. The acidity in the Pinot noir can definitely cut the fat content of salmon and hold up to its flavor.” While the general rules of wine pairings are a good place to start, Mann said “you can mix and match” according to preference and the type of dish. Barra Rossa’s salmon dish, he said, is a good “in-between” dish when it comes to the type of wine to choose. “It’s a cusp,” he said. “Like zodiac signs, when you say you’re a cusp, you’re a little of both. Heavier fish and lighter meats, they can be a little bit of either-or.” Being in the restaurant business and constantly learning more about wine, Birch said, is enough to pique anyone’s interest in pair-


Birch said, however, she really became interested in wine pairing when she was in college studying classics. She said that the study of wine is the intersection of geology, geography and history. “People have been making wine for 5,000 years in some cultures,” she said. “So with wine, all the nuances of the environment of a specific area all go into the wine.” These nuances include the specific minerals and flavors that ultimately make a certain wine pair perfectly with a given dish. Different grapes have natural flavors, Mann said, that can sometimes match spices in each dish. “To use an analogy, chocolate and peanut butter,” Mann said. “Who thought that would work? But there’s things that just oddly pair together well.” “[For the Salmon Toscana] in particular, you have the peppers and the light white sauce combined with the pasta that matches with the chardonnay very well,” Mann said. “On the other hand, the meatiness of the salmon matches very well with a lighter red wine like a Pinot noir. That’s why that dish in particular matches with both red and white wine.” Mann said although there are traditional guidelines for pairing dishes with wine, cocktails are more independent from food and do not follow a similar pattern. “Generally the habit you see is people will have a cocktail maybe before dinner, then ‘foodies’ will move to wine with dinner because wine has characteristics that pair with food on a much higher level,” he added. “A Jack and Coke doesn’t match really with much of anything unless you marinate your burger in Jack Daniel’s.” Most people have a few favorite cocktails and stick to them no matter what they order for dinner, Mann said. He noted that most restaurant-goers are more likely to try a new variety of wine than a new type of liquor. Although the general guidelines are a good place to start when pairing, Mann said they do not always have to apply. “You like what you like and if it’s off the beaten path, so be it,” he said. “You have to kind of experiment a lot, too. Sometimes what I think is a perfect match, other people think it just doesn’t taste well at all. A lot of it is up to personal flavor profile.” *

W e


Fish Lighter meats Salty foods

ts sh a Fi r me ds te foo gh Li alty S







pair [the dish] with the same beer or a like “beer,If youyou’re going to pull out those flavor notes.”

The notes are kind of nutty, it’s super elegant and “luscious. Anything rich would go well with it.”

A modern twist on German classics

Wine and cheese bar stresses complements

Neil Rickett | Bierstube bartender

Michael Naessens creates traditional German dishes with new flavors and spices. By EMILY THOMAS The Temple News There are not many bars in Philadelphia where a German tourist can walk in and order a beer from their hometown. But Belgian-born restaurateur Michael Naessens prides himself on his vast collection of beers, numbering in the hundreds and ranging from local brews to imported Belgian and German lagers. Naessens opened Bierstube in 2012 on the corner of 2nd and Market streets, after his first restaurant Eulogy Belgian Tavern—located just down the street—started gaining more popularity and praise. Focusing on dishes found in the Rhineland of Germany and Wallonia in Belgium, Naessens highlights two regions he feels are under appreciated when it comes to German foods. “Germany is so big and most Americans think of Germany as just Bavaria,” he said. “A lot of people do just Bavarian [foods] with the heavier meats and sausages and gravies.” Naessens uses an extensive spice chart to match particular dishes with similar or contrasting beers, depending on what taste he wants. Each year, he tries to sample each of the bar’s more than 400 beers and often asks regulars or workers to sample a taste pairing. A traditional German-style braised short rib paired with the Dark Knight brew—a Belgian strong dark ale beer brewed specifically for Bierstube and Eulogy Belgian Tavern— provides hearty comfort food for the cold winter months, Naessens said. The short-rib, seared first to lock in flavors and then slow-cooked in the oven, leaves behind fond, the leftover caramelized drippings of meat, which Naessens uses to make a vinegar-based gravy, poured on the housemade mashed potatoes alongside fresh grilled vegetables. Naessens, who has lived all across Eu-

Kevin Foley | Tria general manager


rope and America, recognized that in order to maintain a successful business, he had to modify his dishes to keep up with the rapidly changing taste profile of Americans. “If someone tells you German food is what their uma [grandma] ate, those restaurants pretty much went out of business in Philadelphia,” he said. “The taste profile was not what people wanted. I’ll put a spicy twist to things, which some of the older Germans don’t like, but I just took it up a few notches to hit the younger taste profile.” While some older Germans might not agree with Naessens’ changes, his ways of modernizing German dishes are actually taken from their natural roots. “Even though I start with recipes from Germany, I take them back to their roots then extend that into the current time,” he said. Naessens regards pairing food and beverage as a luxury, something that heightens an eating experience and “makes your mind go on a temporary vacation.” “We say that the experience here should be a $25 two-hour vacation,” he said. “When pairing food and beverage, they work in tandem,” added Bierstube bartender Neil Rickett. “The ingredients that we use to make the sauerbraten … if you pair that with the same beer or a like beer, you’re going to pull out those flavor notes that we used.” “I chose a beer that has high original gravity, which means it has a lot of sugar in the beginning of it,” Naessens said. “It’ll stand up to all the flavors that you taste in the short ribs, it’ll complement it very well as opposed to contrasting it.” Naessens said the sweet maltiness of the ale will contrast nicely with the well hidden vinegar in the gravy, giving a sweet and sour taste. “We’ve realized that you can’t just keep cranking out the same German food as you did in the 1950s and ‘60s,” Naessens said. “I might anger some grandmas, but at the same time … people appreciate the new flavors to traditional German recipes … we’ve adapted to the lighter German taste and I think you need to do that to really survive.” *

Tria plans each pairing and extensively trains its staff. By TSIPORA HACKER The Temple News For Sande Friedman, wine was always designed to complement food. “The same with beer,” she added. “That’s the lifestyle.” The 2010 journalism and American studies Temple alumna is the cheese director, beverage director and marketing and education director at Tria, a wine and cheese bar. Friedman oversees the purchasing and inventory of all the wines and beers that Tria carries, and runs the weekly staff training events. “Every staff member tastes every wine, beer and cheese,” Friedman said. “We tap everything through the lens of how our staff can help you when you walk in.” “Things that grow together go together,” said Aja Tenerovich, a server and bartender. “It makes a lot of sense to me to pair local things with local things, like a French goat cheese with a French wine.” Tenerovich also finds the science behind pairings interesting, and uses her knowledge to help guests find the perfect combination. “The proteins in cheese are attracted to the chemical reaction of tannins in the wine,” Tenerovich said. “It breaks down your saliva in a way and makes you appreciate the protein better. That’s scientifically pretty cool.” The menus at Tria are designed to help guests make sense of the offerings, and the options don’t change often. “Our menus are laid out in a way so the top is the lighter body, and the bottom tends to be much heavier,” said Ben Jones, a server and bartender. “All of our menus compliment each other,” Friedman said. “We don’t do menus that change. While we do pay homage to seasonal beverages, we always have something of every style. You can come in December, and again in July and get the same dark, stout beer. There’s always one available.” Tria’s niche is as Philly’s “original wine-andcheese bar,” but the restaurant is also taking a modern spin on things by incorporating beer as well. The two owners of Tria each respectively

Rosé Salads Cold vegetables Rice dishes

Red High-protein meat Hard cheeses

Champagne Seafood Light chicken dishes


oversee the wine and beer selection. “Jon Myerow is our beer director, he chooses every single beer,” Friedman said. “Our wine director, Michael McCaulley, has worked in lots of different wineries and vineyards.” One of Myerow and McCaulley’s mottos, Friedman said, is “they want beer to grow up and wine to chill out,” meaning both should be accessible to guests. One way to do that is make a dish that’s “cool-looking and straightforward,” said general manager Kevin Foley of Tria’s Truffled Egg Toast with Fontina Fontal, paired with Crémant du Jura Brut, a bubbly wine. The dish is a “sliced square of brioche with fontina melted on top with a raw egg yolk,” Foley said. The wine paired with the truffled egg toast is chardonnay, one of the traditional grapes of champagne, grown in Jura in Eastern France. “The notes are kind of nutty, it’s super elegant and luscious,” Foley said. “Anything rich would go well with it, because the bubbles cleanse your palate.” The classic pairing costs under $20. “It’s fun, decadent and inexpensive,” Friedman said. “It’s probably one of our biggest sellers,” Foley added. “It’s super delicious, an easy snack — it’s addictive.” Tria enjoys taking spins on the classics, but often concentrates on timeless wine and cheese pairings, Friedman said. “Like champagne and rich cheeses,” he added. “We bring that in with sparkling wine and mouth-coating cheeses.” The staff focuses in on what works about the textures of the projects, and enjoys doing it. “Tria pushes stinky cheese and bubbly beers,” Friedman said, as those are “really fun ones to approach.” Friedman also noted that the staff has fun with dessert and wine pairings, like barleywine and blue cheese, or a “funky cherry beer with blue cheeses.” Ultimately, the staff at Tria finds pleasure in making exciting pairings for guests. “Pairing specific items with other items can enhance an experience for a guest,” Foley said. “If something is paired properly, you can appreciate both items tenfold,” Tenerovich said. “A really good wine and a really good cheese made for each other will exponentially positively affect your experience.” *




Keith Wallace worked as a sous chef before founding the Philadelphia Wine School at Chestnut and S. 22nd streets.



Reporting in Baltimore during the United States’ crack epidemic of the early 1990s was an experience that he found rewarding but harrowing. He would often carry a fake wallet and hide money inside his socks when on assignments. “I got shot at a few times, I had pit bulls unleashed on me at one point. But I also got to meet pretty much every single governor in the United States,” Wallace said. “I actually met national politicians including Al Gore and little Bush back before he was president.” Without the pressure of holding a career in the culinary industry, Wallace rediscovered his passion for food and drink and moved to Philadelphia to work as a wine consultant for local and overseas vineyards, earning a degree in viticulture from the University of California, Davis in 1999. Soon after the move, he opened the Wine School in 2005. Despite an initial aversion to public speaking, Wallace found he had a natural talent for teaching after a client encouraged him to instruct a class. “My mom is a schoolteacher and my father is a minister, both of who talk for a living in front of people,” he said. “What I realized is I actually had that ability, and not only did I have it but I actually liked being able to give people [advice]. … I felt that I actually could contribute something of value.” When it comes to pairings, Wallace stresses the importance of three main ingredients in wine—acids, which help give wine its fruity flavor and sourness, tannins, which affect bitterness, and alcohol levels, which determine how well the drink will match with spicy foods. “It is just purely chemistry,” he said. “And you think about wine not as how it tastes, but what it’s composed of.” For highly acidic white wines, Wallace suggests an accompaniment of salty dishes and to stray away from other acidic foods, like Caesar salads. Steak, hard cheeses and other dishes with high levels of fat and proteins are what let red wines really “sing,” he said. Beers tend to blend well with spicier foods due to their low alcohol content in comparison to wine, and residual sugars left from the brewing process work to round out the flavor. Wallace endorses Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir as universal wines, which tend to work and pair well with the majority of foods. 2010 broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media alumnus Neil Ross, a student at the Wine School and beverage director of the Aegean Restaurant Group, is also fascinated with the science and research involved with wine pairings. Ross uses his past culinary experience and knowledge from the Wine School to educate staff members at Estia, a Greek fishouse restaurant owned by the group, on the ins and outs of alcohol and food pairings, in an effort to create a “gastronomic harmony,” for the guest. “I think that in the world of gastronomy in general, there needs to be a lot of research,” he said. “The cool thing about Philadelphia is there are a lot of people doing it. If you go to somewhere like Vernick, their preparation and their research, all

the ingredients that they use, from cocktail to food, they’re very careful in the ingredients that they select. It’s sort of like you’re creating a harmony in everything that you do.” All science aside, Wallace emphasizes that presentation is “99 percent of everything.”


Keith Wallace prepares ingredients for a class at the Philadelphia Wine School. Wallace said he purposefully chooses flavors that are difficult to pair with wines to challenge his students to make complementary dishes.

“We eat with our eyes,” he said. “You can present something, and it can be the best meal in the world, but if it’s just gray or if it’s just haphazard on the plate, your brain is going to say, ‘This is s--t.’” For Wallace, the most rewarding parts of his trade come from watching his students succeed and earning the respect of the wine community—both nationally and internationally. “When we were in France, the winemaker’s wife invited us in for dinner, and there’s like 10 of us, and just cooks us dinner,” he said. “These are people who are famous in the wine theater, they’re well respected and they’ll just open their doors for us and invite us in. Things like that are just amazing.” “Every day I go to class with Keith, I realize I don’t know anything,” Ross said. “There’s such an amazing world out there that I’ve only begun to scratch.” In the future, Wallace hopes the city’s wine community can band together to make his passion more accessible. “The wine trade is supposed to be about community, it always has been,” he said. “There’s a small group of people in Philly that just want everything for themselves. … We drink for a living. No one should be angry.” “Everything tastes better when you’re happy.” *

Volume 94 Issue 22 — Bar Guide 2016