Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Philly Food Events

Philadelphia Vendy Awards
WHAT: The Vendy Awards are back in town and the trucks are gearing up to be this year's top curbside chef. Whether you want to feast on Yumtown's Southern/Mexican/Asian cuisine, The King of Falafel's healthy Middle Eastern cuisine, Delicias' Venezuelan fare, Lil Dan’s Gourmet Italian and American grub, Lil Pop Shop's innovative popsicles (like cantaloupe rose with goat cheese), or Sugar Philly's French macarons, there are sure to be multiple dishes to your liking. This annual event organized by The Street Vendor Project is a fundraiser for The Food Trust, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization that strives to make healthy food available to all. Follow the Vendy Awards on Twitter for the latest news and announcements @vendysphilly and like them on Facebook at Vendy Awards. Who will win the coveted Vendy Cup, Best Dessert, and People's Choice? Be there this Saturday to find out!
WHEN: Saturday, July 28, 2012, 3:00-7:00 p.m.
WHERE: The Lot @ 39th and Market.
COST: $55 in advance and $60 day of event; purchase tickets online for the all-you-can-eat event inclusive of beer and wine

University City Dining Dayss
WHAT: 34 restaurants in the University City neighborhood are offering three-course prix-fixe menus at either the $15, $25 or $30 price point, so it’s a great chance to taste some of West Philadelphia’s great restaurants without the steep price tag that usually accompanies a three-course meal anywhere. Some of our favorites are Marigold Kitchen, Sabrina's Cafe, Dock Street Brewery, and Tria Wine Room. Take a look at the complete list of participating restaurants online.
WHERE: University City, various restaurants
WHEN: now through Thursday, July 26
COST: Varies

The Craft of Ice Cream at the Philadelphia Art Alliance
WHAT: With the combination of Ben Franklin’s invention of ice cream in 1787 and Franklin Fountain’s nod to the forgotten flavors of Philly’s past, “The Craft of Ice Cream” will prove to be an interesting history tale of sweets. Beginning with an optional burger and fries dinner, tickets are $35 (drinks not included) and grab you a 5:30 p.m. reservation at Rittenhouse Tavern, the Art Alliance’s restaurant serving contemporary American fare from Chef Nicholas Elmi. If you’re skipping dinner and heading straight for dessert, admission is a cool $20 and buys you a front row seat to Berley’s ice cream chat and tasting from 7-8:30 p.m. More information here.
WHERE: 251 S. 18th Street
WHEN: Thursday, July 26, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
COST: $35 dinner and admission; $20 admission only

The First Annual Northern Liberties Christmas In July
WHAT: A week of shopping, dining and giving back to the community. Participating shops and restaurants in Northern Liberties will feature sales of up to 75% off. Each purchase will also enter you into a raffle for a chance to win a NoLibs shopping spree. Participating businesses will also be collecting canned goods and dry foods for Philabundance to stop hunger in our communities. A full list of participating businesses can be found online.
WHERE: Various locations in Northern Liberties
WHEN: now through Sunday, July 29
COST: Varies

Thursday, July 12, 2012

LA's the Place (to eat)

Earlier this summer I explored Los Angeles, with a focus on food. My host and I ate mostly outside, puncturing our afternoons with iced coffee and pastries. What follows is a highlight reel of the bites of Los Angeles, with an eye towards the unique, the summery, and the fun.

The Sweet:
I’m a firm believer in multiple dessert days during vacation months. Los Angeles, land of yoga and coconut water, also has a sweet tooth.

Grab ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery in Brentwood. They’re known for salted caramel, but you can get salt as a topping on any flavor. The blueberry muffin flavor that I tried was excellent and unusual. The crumbly muffin and blueberry bits fit nicely into an ice cream.

Most cakes are a little dull, a little dry, and rely heavily on icing. Not so at Sweet Lady Jane bakery on Melrose (they also have a Santa Monica location). This bakery is open late and serves HUGE slices of cake, from vegan berry to cappuccino cheesecake. We tried red velvet and chocolate almond mocha, and could not stop raving about the moist cakes and their flavorful frostings. These cakes are decadent, but not too sweet. Bonus: We were there near closing, so they offered us some free day-old bread and croissants. Breakfast the next morning was excellent!

Short Cake Bakery at the Original Farmer's Market
This relatively new stand came recommended from The Amateur Gourmet, so we had to check it out. The decor is adorable and there are lots of sweet food and drink options. We had a peanut butter bar that was good, but not revelatory. I'd try something different next time (we came late in the day so choices were limited).

Cool Haus Ice Cream Sandwiches
This food truck (which exists in multiple cities) was at the Yamashiro Farmer's Market, a wonderful summer Thursday confluence of food trucks, farm stands, live music, and views of the Hollywood Hills. There are even shuttles to take you to the top! Coincidentally, I went on the same day as Philly's Night Market and it was a great substitute. At Cool Haus you design your own ice cream sandwich with their array of cookies and ice creams. We tried chocolate chip sea salt cookies with red velvet ice cream! So decadent, and so good.

Fruit grows better in a warm climate.  California nectarines, cherries, and strawberries are sweet and juicy, begging to freshen a hot afternoon. Farmers markets proliferate widely, and Mexican food back east just can’t compare.

The Savory:
In-N-OutOne of the first things I ate in LA was In-N-Out. This West Coast Burger Stand deserves all the press it receives. The burgers are so fresh and the animal style toppings (a special sauce and pickles) are delicious. I don't eat red meat often but I had no regrets about my animal style cheeseburger. I didn't even mind eating it at 11 AM.

CubeMy first dinner in LA was at Cube, a restaurant that bases its ever changing menu on different regions of Italy. I was there for Umbria and had a lovely dinner. They greet each diner with a special cheese pairing presented on a cute chalkboard. Also, their onion rings were amazing (they served them with a special spicy ketchup).

Loteria Grill at the Original Farmer's Market
Loteria Grill was some of the best Mexican food I've ever had. They have a menu that goes way beyond tacos and burritos. I ordered chilequiles, a Mexican breakfast dish that consists of layered tortilla strips, eggs, and various sauces. I first tried the dish in rural Mexico over 6 years ago and it's something I could eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Lasagna Cupcakes from Heirloom LA. Heirloom LA had a truck at the Yamashiro Farmer's Market and everyone was talking about their lasagna cupcakes. They had lots of flavors (the person in front of us on line got the last heirloom tomato) and the size was perfect. We had the roasted vegetable one and it was, aside from the cute presentation, very good lasagna.

Los Angeles may be the cleanse capital of the world but it's also a diverse place full of great food, creative chefs, and some of the best desserts I've had in a while. Maybe a good slice of cake is just the ticket to enduring Los Angeles' crazy traffic!

For more LA suggestions, check out our foursquare list of suggestions. We have ideas for New York and DC too.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Greensgrow Farms' LIFE Program

Beginning on July 14, 2012, Greensgrow Farms will embark on its annual initiative, Local Initiative for Food Education (LIFE). LIFE aims to provide community members with better access to local fresh fruits and vegetables, nutritional education, and food preparation training. Participating families in the program receive a share of fresh vegetables and fruit each week at the farm (see right), which they pay for with SNAP benefits, and attend weekly cooking and nutrition classes to learn recipes and skills for preparing meals with the contents of that week’s farm share. In addition, as a participant, for every $5 spent using the ACCESS card, earn a $2 coupon in Philly Food Bucks towards purchasing more fruits and vegetables. Greensgrow’s LIFE Program provides a heavily discounted 100% local farm share exclusively for low-income families living in the city who use SNAP benefits, making LIFE a unique program in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia lacks access to fresh food despite the fact that it is one of the most prolific farming regions in the world. LIFE aims to break down barriers – financial, logistical, and educational – that contribute to the deteriorating health of our communities. The program is designed to increase participant’s household food security, their knowledge about local food and nutrition, and empower them to take charge of their health while supporting local farms and our local economy. To this end, Greensgrow has revamped elements of the program to make it more convenient and more rewarding than ever for LIFE participants.

Every Saturday starting on July 14 and ending September 29, farm share pickups (10-11:30 am) and classes (11:30 am-12:15 pm) (see left) will be held at Greensgrow Farms (2501 E. Cumberland St, Philadelphia, PA 19125). For more information, please email life@greensgrow.org, call at (267) 496-0148 (ask for Dee), or visit www.greensgrow.org/life.

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