Monday, March 24, 2008

Food Meme

Stolen from Court over at By Product

What were you cooking five years ago?
Not much of anything, to be honest. A killer macaroni and cheese (from the box?)?

What were you cooking 10 years ago?
Definitely nothing. I came to my love of cooking late in life.

Five snacks you enjoy:
-Sugar snap peas
-aged gouda and fresh baked bread
-cheddar and crackers
-frozen grapes

Five recipes you know by heart:
-My mother's this-is-how-you-fry-an-egg
-Tomato sauce with butter and onion
-I'm very bad at memorizing.

Five culinary luxuries you would indulge in if you were a millionaire:
-Following the fresh produce around the globe
-Expansive countertops/stove
-Personal bartender
-My own garden

Five culinary indulgences you crave, and can afford without being a millionaire:
-New pans
-New knives
-Electric kettles
-Artisan cheese/bread
-Organic produce/meats/dairy

Five foods you love to cook
-Tomatoes (canned or otherwise)
-Brussels Sprouts

Five ingredients you simply adore:
-Canned whole Italian tomatoes

Five things you cannot/will not eat:
-Things suspended in jello
-Butternut Squash

Five favourite culinary toys:
-Wooden spoons
-Stock Pot
-Electric Kettles
-I'm not much of a toy person...

Now you!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New York Minute

I know this blog is subtitled ‘Food in Philadelphia’, but it really should be ‘Food in My Life.’ If only because, sometimes, this food-blogger sets forth to other places to sample their gastronomy.

This past weekend, I hopped on the Penn-to-Penn bus to New York City, to visit a very dear college friend, J. She and I lived next door to each other sophomore year, and have remained very close. I finally made good on my promise to come visit her, her boyfriend, and her kitten in their tiny apartment in Queens. On Friday last, I would be the first to tell you, I am no fan of New York City. Now, I would amend that statement to say I am no fan of Manhattan, but the rest of boroughs? Probably fine by me.

When I arrived on Friday, we went to a relatively new restaurant around the corner from their Astoria apartment, called, wittily, Rest*au*rant. A small, dark eatery, it is much like a less-sophisticated, deconstructed Tria. They had beer, wine, and cheese, as well as salads and paninis. I had the mozzarella, basil, and avocado Panini and it was delicious. The wine and beer list were disappointingly short, but the full bar and cocktail list made up for the dearth. I had a peach cosmopolitan that was just as bubbly and fresh as one could wish.

On Saturday, J. and I grabbed bagels and coffee from her neighborhood bagel place and hopped on a train over to the Bronx. We were aiming for Arthur Avenue, an ethnic Italian neighborhood that has also been called Little Italy in the Bronx. Arthur Avenue is a few streets, just a stone’s throw away from Fordham University, that is covered in ethnic Italian shops, businesses, restaurants, and cafes. There’s the covered market that reminded me of Philly’s Reading Terminal, just smaller and more Italian. We lunched at the Arthur Avenue Café, home to the best eggplant parmesan in New York City (the chef even beat Bobby Flay!). It was pretty good too. As was the mozzarella caprese (oh my goodness, REAL balsamic vinegar! I’ve never seen its equal) and the Caesar salad I had. But, my friends, the cannoli. The CANNOLI! Our waiter claimed that it was the best on Arthur Avenue, and boy, was he right! I ate half a dozen all by myself (though not all at once).

That evening, we changed our cuisine of choice, and dined at the Café Henri, in Long Island City (Queens). The Café Henri is a little, ex-BYOB filled to the gills with ambience and tasty Bellinis. I had a sweet sausage and chevre crepe. It was delicious. The goat cheese was warmed to almost melting point as it hit my tongue and disappeared in a haze of delight. We followed dinner up with drinks at the LIC Bar, where there’s a photo booth, good music and beer, and fontina and sage grilled cheese sandwiches!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


This was most certainly a weekend of sloth and indolence. Granted, my GF and I did take several walks (including running errands in the thundering rain showers that Philly had on Saturday), but most of the weekend was spent lolling around in bed, drinking pineapple orange juice and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But, oh, the food! I sure did have some good eating.

On Saturday, I decided to reacquaint myself with my (disruptive and aggravating) oven. I haven’t used it since December, when I had to call maintenance when it took over an hour to heat up (and there went my visions of Christmas cookies). But I decided to be adventurous and see if I could coax it to work. It did, and I got a lovely, rosemary-scented roasted chicken as a prize. I love roasting chickens—it is one thing that I never fail to do well. This was a delightfully simple recipe from Marcella’s book. It only comprised of the chicken, three cloves of garlic, dried rosemary, and two tablespoons of olive oil. Pop it in a 375 degree oven for an hour and 15 minutes, basting it every 15 minutes in its own juices, and voila! You have a crispy-skinned, tender, juicy chicken.

Sunday showed up sunny and chilly for day light savings’ time. The GF had an interview in the Gayborhood, so I toddled down with her and sat in the Last Drop and drank a chai latte. Afterwards, as we walked with rumbling stomachs past the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Broad Street, we debated what kind of food we wanted. Sandwiches? Pizza? Brunch? We finally settled on a whim for brunch at the Happy Rooster. The Happy Rooster is an eclectic little spot with a dark and cluttered bar and larger, airier dining room. It is one of those places that seem to abound in Philly, with very random decorations and beautiful old-fashioned walls and ceilings. I had chorizo hash with eggs over easy, while the GF has marinated skirt steak with potatoes and scrambled eggs. Her potatoes turned out more like Belgian French fries (think Monk’s), while her steak was delicious. My chorizo hash was very flavorful, though greasier than I would have wished. The best part was sopping up the leftovers with the crunchy toast points that accompanied my entrée. I also had a Bloody Mary, my favorite Sunday morning drink. And whoo-eee! Watch out for the Happy Rooster’s Bloodies! This one was made very strong with a lot of horseradish. Not for the faint at heart or horseradish hater!

Sunday afternoon was spent watching even more Buffy and simmering the chicken bones down into broth. I can’t really thinking of a more satisfying task. You don’t really even have to do anything, except watch the heat and skim off the fat if you so please. My broth came out a little fatty for my taste, but I’ll be able to skim that off when I want to use the broth. The most satisfying part is that I now have 4 tupperware containers of chicken broth in my freezer, just ready to be thawed and used in any number of soups, pasta sauces, vegetable dishes, and even quinoa to give it a little extra flavor. Nothing like setting food by for later use.

My favorite culinary happening of the weekend actually took place on Monday, which was an extension of the weekend anyway because I stayed home from work to nurse a cold. I made spaghetti with rosemary and butter sauce. Rosemary. Butter. The slightest eseence of garlic. Pasta. Combine all of that in a warm, Parmesan covered bowl of comfort, Italian style. It was so delicious. It wasn’t at all how I envisioned it—instead of being very buttery or very rosemary ridden, the tastes all blended together and became creamy with the addition of the Parmesan cheese. I think I’ll be making more tonight—it was delicious.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Wanted: Culinary Muse

Hi, all.

I'm so sorry about the lack of posts recently. I've lost my motivation somewhere in the last week or so! But don't worry; I've put out an advertisement for a culinary muse and I'm sure one will find me soon.

In the meantime, I'll leave you a list of the food-related things that I've been pondering:
-extra-chopped salads--why?
-pasta with sage-butter sauce. Heaven in a pan.
-food related websites (thoughtfully recommended by fellow blogger Court): Chowhound and Yelp. Both are looking to be awesome resources and I'll be exploring them in conjunction with this blog in the near future.
-I also recently joined PhillyBlog. I'm in love.
-Revamping the look of this blog. Any suggestions?

Don't worry. I'll be back soon, with good food to write about!