We were pretty close to going to Philly Cooks this year. I’ve always wanted to go but it was always almost a little too cost prohibitive. This year it was possible, but we had so much else going on that we missed out on the early bird tickets, then the regular priced tickets, and pretty soon the event had come and gone.

“Oh, well,” I thought, “there’s always next year.”

And then Noshhh came along.

Billed as a smaller scale Brewer’s Plate (another event I’ve been lusting after attending for years), Noshhh brought together local vendors and bartenders for a night of bites, brews, and craft cocktails set to the musical stylings of Ensemble Novo. The evening was organized by Spirit Forward, Home Brewed Events and Brew Crew Events in United By Blue‘s gorgeous cafe/shop and there was a huge turn out.

_DSC0007 2

• • •

 

_DSC0002

• • •

 

The most exciting thing about events like this is discovering vendors and artisans that you hadn’t heard of before. In my experience, I find that I’m generally at least someone familiar with the vendors at events like this, but at Noshhh I was overwhelmed with the how many I had never heard of before. For instance, did you know there is a local coffee roaster out of Lansdowne that serves cold brew on Nitro? I sure as hell didn’t. They’re called Backyard Beans and their cold brew is fantastic. This stuff should be on tap at every bar in city.

 

_DSC0009

• • •

 

_DSC0010

Pure cold brewed coffee on nitro. <3

 

Another vendor that seriously impressed me was Manatawny Still Works out of Pottstown. I’m pretty ashamed to say I had no idea that we had a small batch whiskey purveyor so close by, and their stuff is great. Aside from the standard aged stuff, they also sell a fantastic un-aged variety that reminded me of tasting white dog on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. It’s also described as being reminiscent of tequila—a little fruity, floral, and surprisingly light.

 

_DSC0030

Locally distilled whiskey, gin, vodka, and rum.

 

Noshhh lived up to its name with edible treats as well. Chocomo Cookie Cups served delicious little cocktails inside cup-shaped, chocolate coated cookie vessels that impressed me despite my lack of a sweet tooth.

 

_DSC0014

_DSC0017 • • •

 

And speaking of sweet, Beat it Betty!‘s mini cupcakes had me circling their table trying to decide if I should just try one of each or eat three red velvets because they were blowing my mind.

 

_DSC0020

Yes, that cupcake bacon on it.

 

The main event, however, was easily the bar. Dan Lan Hamm of One Tippling Place and his cocktail-centric event company, Spirit Forward, graced Noshhh with their presence and spent the night slinging gimlets with fresh fruit, herbs, and of course, one’s choice of Blue Coat gin or Tito’s vodka.

 

_DSC0024

• • •

_DSC0027

• • •

 

_DSC0026

• • •

 

I love a good gimlet and gin was my first love, but as you know I’m primarily a whiskey drinker. I had made a mental note from the event listing about The World’s Best Old Fashioned™ making an appearance, so for our final drink we decided to see if we could order one despite seeing very little brown liquor in other’s cups around us. Before we knew it we were—much to our surprise and initial terror—whisked behind the bar for a hands on lesson with Dan himself. Turns out we’ve been making old fashioneds wrong this whole time. Thank you, Dan, for enlightening us. And thanks to everyone behind us in line for being patient while we got our impromptu lesson—we were as confused as you were.

 

_DSC0035

The fruits of our labor.

 

The next Noshhh is coming up in June, so if you missed out on the premiere soiree I implore you to keep an eye out for tickets to the next one on Homebrewed Events’ Facebook page. There are few better ways to spend $15 and an evening out in Philly.

What do you do when you have a Pisco sour party and wind up left with an extra bag of adorable little key limes*? Obviously, you make a key lime pie. And what better day than 3/14/15 to share this incredibly simple recipe? This was not only my first time attempting a key lime pie, but it was also my first time making a graham cracker crust and a meringue, and it came out as close to perfect as I can imagine a key lime pie being. This recipe is legitimately fool proof.

*We found our key limes at Huong Vuong in Philadelphia.
Bottled key lime juice works just as well, or you can tart-up some Persian lime juice with lemon juice.

_DSC0005

• • •

_DSC0011 2

• • •

_DSC0014 3

• • •

_DSC0017

• • •

_DSC0020

• • •

_DSC0002 3

• • •

_DSC0004 2

• • •

_DSC0008 1

• • •

• • •

• • •

Key Lime Pie

Adapted from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook

Ingredients

Crust

10 graham cracker rectangles (5 1/4 ounces)
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest (from Key or Persian limes), preferably organic
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling

3 large egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice (from about 20 Key limes), or 1/2 cup fresh Persian lime juice (from about 4 regular limes) plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 about lemon)

Meringue

3 large egg whites
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crust assembly

God, this recipe is so easy I can’t even stand it. Okay, so first things first. Make that crust.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C)
  2. Pulse your graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Don’t try to mash them up in a plastic bag like I did. Just get out the stupid food processor and accept the fact that you’re going to need to clean it later.
  3. Add the butter, sugar, lime zest, and salt until combined.
  4. Press into a pie pan, flatten with the bottom of a clean glass, and pop it in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Filling assembly

  1. While that’s baking, beat you egg yolks with a hand mixer or immersion blender until they lighten a bit.
  2. While mixing, slowly pour in the sweetened condensed milk and beat until it thickens.
  3. Add lime juice.
  4. After the crust has cooled a bit, add the filling then put it back in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until set. It’ll have a slight jiggle but will retain it’s shape.

Meringue assembly

  1. Get out your stand mixer. I really don’t recommend doing this by hand, your arm may fall off.
  2. Beat the egg whites with salt until they start to get foamy.
  3. While mixing, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time and beat until you have stiff, glossy peaks. Add the vanilla around medium-peak time.

Assembly-assembly

  1. Scoop the meringue onto the pie and smooth with a spoon. Get creative here if you want. Mound it up in the center or make it all the same height. You can even pipe the meringue on in designs. Just remember, the rougher the top the more yummy brown bits you’ll have when you broil it.
  2. I did this in a toaster oven so I could keep close tabs, because once this stuff starts to brown it has about a two second window before it burns, and a 5 second window before it flames up like a piece of paper. Keep an eye on it and when it starts to brown and smell like toasted marshmallows, you’re done. If you want to pretty it up even more, hit it lightly with a brûlée torch.

Happy π Day!

Whenever my friend and farmer Jack Goldenberg alerts me about a pop-up dinner, I take it seriously. Regrettably, I recently haven’t been able to check out most of them, be they his own or dinners hosted by his friends. However, when I saw Rob Marzinsky‘s Demo Tapes pop-up upstairs at Barbuzzo, I was lucky enough to have that Wednesday evening free so Mel of Squirrelly Girl Bakes and I set out for a lady’s night.

Marzinsky recently embarked on a world tour of sorts (he’s currently in Australia, I highly recommend giving him a follow on Instagram), but before shipping out he, designer Ian Chapin, and Birmingham-based bartender Steva Casey came together for one last project. And, oh man guys, it was so good.

Set list

Set list

Soundcheck (Snacks)

• • •

Starting at the front with the “lobster roll” and going counterclockwise.

“Lobster Roll” – lobster roe gougére, shrimp salad

Celery Root – black walnut, Birchrun Blue, apple butter

Fried Oyster – chicken salad, Rick Nichols’ pepper hash

Crispy Parsnip – “escargot butter”, parsley, black garlic

 

• • •

• • •

Cocktail: Spending Warm Summer Days Indoors
(house-made rose vermouth, brandy and rosemary Demarara syrup)

 

Track 1 (First Course)

• • •

• • •

Pierogi “Soupe à  L’oignon”
Caramelized onions, raclette, onion and soy broth

 

Track 2 (Second Course)

• • •

• • •

Albacore tuna
Fried broccoli, tonnato sauce, peanut and celery leaf

 

• • •

• • •

Warm day boat scallops
Browned butter, celery root and apple rémoulade, sea urchin and jalapeño

 

• • •

• • •

Cocktail: Let the Broken-hearted Love Again (Sherry Darlin’),
(Bowmore scotch, sherry, Cynar and Byrrh)

 

Track 3 (Third Course)

• • •

• • •

Roasted sunchokes
Glazed La Ratte potatoes, chive, smoked trout roe, potato skins and sunchoke chips

 

_DSC0020

• • •

Fried buttermilk chicken
Liver mousse, pickled carrot and mushrooms, sesame, buttermilk biscuit, jalapeño vinaigrette

 

Track 4 (Main)

• • •

• • •

• • •

• • •

Golden Curry
Massaman Thai curry with North Carolina shrimp, sweet potato, lemongrass, served with Carolina Gold rice, and cabbage “som thum thai”

 

• • •

• • •

Cocktail: A Jumped Up Pantry Boy,
(pisco, lemon carrot/turmeric shrub, Galliano, sparkling wine and Peychaud’s)

 

Outro (Dessert)

• • •

• • •

Blue ice cream and black walnut tuile

 

• • •

• • •

Vietnamese coffee

Bitter coffee pots de crème with soy milk dulce de leche and Carolina Gold rice pudding

 

Rob Marzinsky’s Demo Tapes ran from February 25th – 27th upstairs at Barbuzzo in Philadelphia.

Every city has their must-have dishes. Quintessential bites that locals are excited to share with visitors. San Francisco has the Swan Oyster Depot’s Crab Louie salad. New York City has Russ & Daughter’s new Holland herring. And Philadelphia has Zahav‘s elusive pomegranate lamb.

Generally only available to parties of nine or more and only if you reserve it in advance, I spent a long time being certain I would never experience the unprecedented bliss of Solomonov’s 2-day brined bone-in lamb shoulder goodness. That is, until the brilliant team at Cook N Solo announced that in February, Zahav’s back dining room would be turned into an all-lamb BYOB. (From what it looked like, the front was undergoing some renovations. Like I said, brilliant.)

The $36 a person meal began, of course, with Zahav’s gorgeous salatim, and hummus tehina with laffa followed by the star of the show. The meal ended with chocolate kanafi, a crispy cloud of shredded phyllo dough with bitter chocolate and pistachios. I could go on about this meal for pages. The familiar nuttiness of the beets with henina, the kale tabouli I could have eaten a pound of, the deep pink center of the blackened lamb shoulder as it melted off the bone, the fact that I was stuffed beyond belief by the time dessert came by the kanafi was so delectable I couldn’t stop myself from devouring it.

No, I won’t go into all that. That would be bragging.

_DSC0036

 

_DSC0017

Menu

 

_DSC0003

Glorious, glorius salatim

_DSC0004

<3

_DSC0005

Beets, carrots, tabouli, cucumbers.

_DSC0011

Hummus tehina.

 

_DSC0016

Did I mention no corkage fee?

Lamb of my life.

Lamb of my life.

_DSC0031 3

Chocolate kanfi.

I’ll miss you, Lamb Shack. I hope we meet again.

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a preview of an up-and-coming dinner series gracing Lucha Cartel on March 1st—Meals of Antiquity. The first dinner features a menu painstakingly researched by designing cook and historian Colin Barth, and aims to recreate a hearty, seasonal meal that would have been served during the First Dynasty Period almost 4,000 years ago.

At first glance, the menu may read like a standard, hearty winter’s meal studded with nourishing grains and gamey proteins. But a closer look reveals several less common ingredients like Emmer, nigella sativa, and cypress. The meal is also served with leavened Ninda, a deliciously dense bread the color of burnt umber.

Special thanks to Evi Numen for the beautiful photos.

Barth has been researching the menu since November with a goal of remaining as faithful to ingredients, which hasn’t always been easy. As it goes with translating ancient languages, sometimes meaning can be debatable. He learned this the hard way after a particular mistranslation resulted in a recipe test that failed in such a way he knew one of the ingredients must have been translated incorrectly. It turns out what he read as “pounded yogurt” actually meant “pounded locusts*“.

While I am calling this a “new” dinner series, that isn’t entirely true. A few years ago, special events and concerts group Dancing Ferret organized two sold-out Uyghur dinner events. They’re looking forward to re-launching the series and bringing a unique culinary experience to their attendees.

Tickets are just $45 and are selling fast, so snag your spot now if you want to part of this historic (pun fully intended) event. You can view the full menu here and find more info at dancingferret.com/babylon. Don’t forget to follow Meals of Antiquity on Twitter to stay up to date on future events.

*The Babylonian dinner menu does not contain pounded locusts. Unfortunately.

 

I’m really into eggs. Like, it’s borderline problematic. I am absolutely one of those people that goes ballistic when pretty much anything is topped with a soft egg, so the first time I had shakshuka a few years ago I instantly fell in love. Not only because it was delicious but because it seemed… attainable. And adaptable. After a few obsessive compulsive experiments I realized it’s also extremely forgiving, so much so that pretty much anyone with a standard pantry and a few eggs can whip up a big bubbling skillet of it in about 45 minutes. I tested this theory this week when I resolved to freestyle shakshuka for dinner without absolutely zero planning. The results were so good I’ve officially added it to our weeknight dinner rotation.

Ingredients

One 28 oz can of tomatoes, whole peeled or crushed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups feta
4-6 eggs
cilantro, basil, or parsley for garnish (optional)
salt to taste

So, about that ingredient list up there—it’s just a base, and even the base is pretty flexible. The only things you *need* are tomatoes, onions, eggs, and spices. You can play with the spices as much as you want. Don’t have cumin? Throw in some oregano and make an Italian spiced shakshuka. No feta? Go dairy-free or crumble in some goat cheese. Try this recipe with meat (lamb sausage works beautifully) by browning it in the pan before cooking up the onions and garlic. Throw in whatever veggies you have hanging out in your fridge, particularly peppers and leafy greens like chard. Roast a jalapeño, dice it up, and add that to the mix as well. You are the master of your shakshuka destiny.

Okay, on to the recipe.

Recipe

  1. In a cast iron skillet (or any wide, deep skillet you have laying around), heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add onion. Cook 10 minutes or so until soft, then add the garlic.
  2. Add your can of tomatoes, liquid and all. If you have whole tomatoes you can dice them before or simply break them apart right in the skillet with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Add vinegar, honey, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste. I recommend adding the red pepper flakes a little at a time as some brands are hotter than others and everyone has their own heat preference.
  4. Let simmer about 20 minutes until tomatoes begin to reduce. Stir in feta.
  5. With the back your spoon, make a little nest in the sauce for each egg. Gently crack them into the pan, spacing as evenly as you can. Carefully drag a spatula through the whites a bit to help them mix slightly with the sauce.
  6. Keeping the sauce at a gentle simmer, cover the pan and let cook 8-10 minutes so that the whites cook through and the yolks remain runny.
  7. Top with fresh herbs and serve with crusty bread. Extra points if you bake your own.

Kevin and I may not be big on Hallmark holidays, but we are big on pizza. So it seemed only appropriate that we un-celebrate with a homemade pie. Kevin was on dough duty, and after reviving an almost-botched tomato sauce, we added fresh basil and burrata. I am being perfectly serious when I tell you that this pizza refused to NOT be heart-shaped. I swear to you, I tried to make it round and that little dough wound at the top just would not heal. So we decided to roll with it, but in keeping with the Un-Valentine’s Day theme, got a little creative with the pizza cutter.

SONY DSC

</3

SONY DSC

Happy Un-Valentine’s Day!

 

I’m new to South Philly, and I’m still kind of getting my bearings. I don’t really know my way around, I can’t gauge walking distances of anything (everything seems to be 15 minutes away, how is that even possible?), and since it’s been cold I haven’t explored as much as I would like to. Especially today. Today was freezing, and I really didn’t want to go outside. However, after a week of being vaguely sick and totally inactive I managed to drag my ass to a yoga class. Then of course, as a reward, ventured down the Avenue for P’unk Burger‘s first lunch service.

The P'unk Burger in all of its glory

The P’unk Burger in all of its glory

Regrettably, I couldn’t try their whole menu today as much as I would liked to have. I settled on their signature burger. I was also hellbent on a black and white milkshake, then when I read the menu and learned their B&W is made with Nutella instead of chocolate I nearly burst into crazed joyous tears.

The signature burger is a beef patty topped with peppercorn bacon from 1732 meats, smoked gouda, an onion ring, and their signature sauce. Generally I prefer some sort of greens on my burger, but with as high as this thing was stacked I appreciated that they pulled no punches with the decadent toppings. I had expected their signature sauce to be In-N-Out-esque but it isn’t at all. It’s more barbecue-inspired than anything and it had a wonderful sweetness that constrasted perfectly with the peppery bite of the bacon. Oh, let me also just say that the roll P’unk uses is sturdy—these burgers have structural integrity. In spite of all the cheese, sauce, bacon, and onion rings, this thing did not fall apart at all even after I put it down a few times. That may seem minor but I really appreciate a burger that doesn’t dissolve in my hands.

SONY DSC

B&W milkshake with Nutella

Do I really even need to talk about the milkshake? You know how it was. It was delicious.

I do have one big regret from today. I didn’t get fries. Don’t be like me! If you go to P’unk Burger for lunch (and you should), get the lunch special. It’s $12.50 for a burger, fries, and a soda. With all of the burgers (aside from build-your-own, these start at $7.95) ranging between about $10-$12, it’s a steal.

I’m really looking forward to trying more of what P’unk Burger has to offer, and when it warms up I see many lunches here in my future. Their menu is unique to most burger joints in that they seem to really offer something for everyone. You have your choice of organic beef, chicken, turkey, or ahi tuna if you’re meat-included, or you can get a veggie patty made by Vegan Commissary. Their specialty burgers hit all the right notes, and even include a local take on the Juicy Lucy—which, by the way, is next on my list to try.

  • <3
  • Kensington ketchup and spicy mustard
  • Semi-private BurgerTime alcove

P’unk Burger
1823 E Passyunk Ave
http://punkburger.com/

Despite being from South Central Pennsyltucky, I had never heard of the magical elixir that is apple pie moonshine until a few years ago when my friend Maria gave me a jar. I’m not generally one for sweets, but I am an apple cider fanatic and it hit all the right notes. Sweet for sure, but still maintaining the crisp distinct apple flavor with just a hint of cinnamon. Liquid apple pie.

Shout out to Kevin and his beautiful handwriting

Shout out to Kevin and his beautiful handwriting

This jar came with a warning, however, and thus so shall this recipe. This stuff may taste like dessert and be totally devoid of the an alcohol bite, but it is strong. Apple pie moonshine is mean to be sipped, shot, or added to cocktails. It’s delicious straight, but go easy. It creeps up on you.

Ingredients

1 gallon apple juice
1 gallon apple cider
2 cups brown sugar
4 cinnamon sticks, or more to taste
1 pinch apple pie spice
1 (750 milliliter) bottle Everclear
1 (750 milliliter) bottle vodka

Assembly

This is the world’s simplest recipe. Combine everything but the booze in a large (and I do mean large) pot and simmer on the stove for an hour. Then, let it cool completely, add alcohol, and bottle.

I made a batch for last week’s Philly Food Swap and it was a bit hit. Turns out swappers love a jar of booze (I knew you guys were my people). It was my first time attending a swap, and I can’t believe I waited so long. I think I was partially intimidated by the overwhelming amount of talented home cooks that come. Either way, I could not be happier that I finally joined in the fun. It was an absolutely whirlwind of an evening that resulted in a gorgeous haul of homemade goodies lovingly crafted by local bakers, canners, and cooks. I even came home with a batch of home-cured bacon.

Food swap haul

That’s right, I snagged bacon, cheese, AND gin.

Gorgeous, right?

I’m already brainstorming my contributions for next time since the word on the street is that swaps may be happening quarterly (please let it be true!) and I want to get creative. If the rumors are true and a spring swap is on the horizon, I think I see some foraged gifts in my swapping future.

My first trip to Montreal was just two years ago. My long time friend Mike and I snagged a deal on the Adirondak train and spent three days wandering about on a tight budget. We stayed at Casa Del Popolo and drank cheap pitchers of Canadian beer at St. Laurent Bifteck. We ate Portuguese chicken, Australian hand pies, and hunted down smoked meat sandwiches at 4 AM. Despite the punishing winds of Canadian March, we were both instantly in love with the city. Especially Mike. When it finally came the morning of our train back to the States, he did not accompany me. Mike made his home in Mile End, and I’ve never seen him happier.

Fast forward to this past December, Mike had settled in a flat a few blocks from the Jean Talon Market and I was finally able to plan a long weekend visit. Kevin and I were fortunate enough to snag a gorgeous AirBnb right around the corner from the market, Metro, and of course, Mike.

 

 

Last time I was in Montreal I was flat broke. I was going to school full time while moonlighting as an event planner for a restaurant tour company and getting all the freelance writing contracts I could handle. This time I was no longer a starving writer, and I budgeted in the most important part of any trip—food. My goal was to essentially eat my weight in pork and foie gras, and I think I came pretty damn close.

Day 1

Jean Talon Market was like like a francophilic Reading Terminal and it was glorious. Wall to wall cheese, chocolate, meat and foie gras. We even managed to find foie gras macarons, and while we didn’t expect to like them I think we wound up eating about 5.

  • All maple everything
  • <3
  • I'm officially sold on foie gras in dessert

That evening we ate at the iconic L’Express. There are few better ways to end a day than with martinis and red meat.

  • I stole his olives.
  • Bone marrow with coarse salt
  • Escargot.
  • Egg with mayonnaise
  • Hanger steak with shallot butter and fries

 

Day 2

We spent most of the day walking around and eventually wound up in Vieux-Port, which had been turning into a lovely little winter village. We made our way back to Mont Royal for a late dinner at Au Pied de Cochon to feast on its namesake plate. And I do mean feast.

Seriously, look at that thing.

Seriously, look at that thing.

Not the most attractive thing I’ve ever seen but possibly one of the best. It’s an entire pigs foot stuffed with foie gras on top of a bed of polenta blended with so much cheese it took on an entirely different form. It was phenomenal. If you are ever in Montreal and want to spring for a night out, you absolutely have to have this place at the top of your list. Have a late lunch and make reservations for after 10 to save your sanity.

Day 3

Our final day consisted of a bagel expedition which due to its unexpected complicated nature, I did not photograph, followed by a much-needed pitstop at Crudessence. This place is just so lovely. Big bright windows and two cozy communal tables, as well as a very impressive raw vegan menu. It was snack time, so we stuck to dessert and smoothies.

  • Mango, cranberry, orange, goji berry, ginger, dates, almond milk
  • Cashew un-cheesecake/faux-fromage
  • Cacao, maca, banana, coconut, Brazil nut milk, dates

 

Oh, by the way, did you know Montreal has a cat cafe? Because after we got smoothies we spent probably two hours there drinking tea and giggling at the furry residents.

  • So. Many. Cat. Puns.
  • BFF
  • A cat tree doing cat tricks

 

We had an early train back, so we initially planned to keep it simple for dinner.

SONY DSC

Don’t judge me.

However, I thought it would be borderline criminal to bring Kevin to Montreal and have him not experienced smoked meat  and poutine. So, after a few pints at trusty St. Laurent Bifteck, we set off for Schwartz’s to split their famous sandwich then proceeded to trek across town to Resto La Banquise for some of the most well known cheese curds in Montreal.

  • Classic poutine
  • Schwartz's medium fat smoked meat sandwich

I regret nothing.