Showing posts with label Events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Events. Show all posts

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Food and Crafts: Clover Market

What happens when three food-obsessed girls show up to a craft show? We start and end at the food, of course.

Last Sunday, a few Penn-Appetit-ers decided to check out the winter Clover Market at the 23rd Street Armory. Usually, it is an open-air spring and fall market held in Ardmore, PA, but this winter market was a special treat. There were DIY workshops and about 55 talented vendors selling beautiful works of art, cool antiques, handmade items, and vintage finds….

And there were food trucks. Six, to be exact.

Pitruco’s, Lucky Old Souls, Yumtown USA, Sweet Box Cupcakes, and Rival Brothers were all lined up outside along Ranstead Street. First thing we did? Rival Brothers coffee. A necessity after our cold walk, right? The French Press in-a-cup was our choice and it was delicious. The coolest part was that you got to make it yourself, in a disposable cup.

After perusing the various goods of the crafters inside, it was time for lunch. Decisions had to be made. Did we want classic, but amazing Pitruco’s pizza? Or something a little different, like the gourmet, local organic food from Yumtown?

Two of us went for burgers from Lucky Old Souls. I got a grass-fed beef burger from Rineer Family Farms. Interestingly, it was cooked medium well, but it was still cooked to perfection. Caramelized onions and their special-of-the-day sweet potatoes added a touch of sweetness to the deal, while the sharp cheddar provided just the extra punch it needed. My friend chose the vegan veggie burger that was made from scratch. It had a really soft texture but was delicious, especially with the caramelized onions on top.

Our other friend chose to get the “The Joy” – a beer-braised pulled pork sandwich from Yumtown. The pork was tender and flavorful, especially with the added punch of house pickled jalapenos, aioli, red vinegar slaw, and a splash of BBQ sauce on top.

All in all, it was quite a successful trip, with cool crafts and even cooler food.

--Marisa Denker

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Canal House visits Penn

Near the banks of the Delaware, just across from an old-fashioned hardware store, tucked on the second floor of a red brick building, is a kitchen-studio.

On a normal day, it’s a hotbed of activity. Eight burners and two ovens blaze. Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton are turning food on.

The team self publishes their own seasonal cookbooks, the newest of which, Canal House Cooks Every Day, hits book stores this month. This hardcover tome is different from the triannual books they have published in the past.

But this day isn’t a normal day for the Canal House cooks. They’re not in their Lambertville, New Jersey studio. Instead, they’re in West Philadelphia introducing Penn students to the Italian snack tramezzini. Hamilton presents a silver platter bearing stacks of whitish spongy bread and silky truffle butter.

She opens one of her cookbooks and reads, “The truffle’s heady, intimate fragrance is powerful. Choose your company wisely.” She grins.

When Canal House started out, self-publishing was “a bit of a dirty word,” Hirsheimer says. But the former Saveur editors believed if they were interested in a subject, others would be, too. “I love this work,” Hirsheimer adds. “I’m excited every day. I like to be turned on.”

Hirsheimer and Hamilton prize reader-writer intimacy. Rather than simply listing recipes, they offer stories. A comment – signed C.H. or M.H. - ushers in each culinary concoction. “The head note has to illuminate,” Hirsheimer explains. “It has to tell something about our experience or have useful information.”

One inscription recounts the time Christopher and Melissa lugged a thirty-five pound Cinderella pumpkin home, coated its insides in pimetón and preserved lemon, and filled it with chicken broth. When the gourd was roasted, guests scooped soup and flesh straight into their bowls. They declared it the best thing they had ever tasted (“Aw, shucks!” writes C.H.)

Another head note accompanies photographs showing a cross section of a boiled egg’s insides after sequential minutes. When Hamilton told Hirsheimer she was going to nail the boiled egg, the latter loved the idea so much she leapt off her desk chair. “When people really know how to cook, often they talk about this,” Hirsheimer says, touching the egg diagram. “They think this is really wonderful!”

Self-proclaimed “platterists” (translation: they think plating each individual dish is missing an opportunity), Hirsheimer and Hamilton know meals create bonds. When they feed a group of people who don’t know each other well, they hand one guest a platter and let her figure out what to do next. The passing of a platter “engages people,” Melissa explains. “It breaks the ice, it gets people to be courteous. It’s a way of warming them up to each other.”

One more thing about the truffle (there are still a few sandwiches left on that shiny platter.) “The quality of a truffle,” Hamilton reads, “Like sex, is hard to describe. Its taste is so fundamentally good that even if you know nothing about it, your body will recognize the experience and know what to do.”

“Eating a truffle,” she says, “Involves following your senses and then some, so close your eyes and go with the feeling.”

The room erupts into laughter. Intimate, indeed.

Friday, October 19, 2012

High Steaks: Square 1682's 3rd Annual Cheesesteak Challenge

Square 1682 hosted the Third Annual “Cheesesteak Challenge: High Steaks” block party on a sunny Sunday afternoon on October 14. The chef showdown saluted Philadelphia’s signature dish while benefiting local public schools through Philadelphia Academies. This culinary competition featured three hours of unlimited cheesesteaks from 12 gourmet beef-griddlers, Smartwater and Victory Brewing Company libations, and Eagles game-airing TVs so attendees wouldn’t miss a touchdown. Who doesn’t love a deliciously spirited event that benefits Philadelphia’s public school students, fosters community, and celebrates culinary excellence?

Check out the masterpiece contenders below:

Square 1682's Chef de Cuisine Caitlin Mateo created this aged “double goat cheesesteak” with peppers, onions, and house whiz on a soft roll.

Chifa’s Chef de Cuisine Natalie Maranski interpreted her cheesesteak as an item you could find on a dim sum cart. The core of braised beef cheek marinated in Victory Brewing Company’s Storm King Stout gained extra flavor from Spanish Idiazabal cheese. Wrapped in taro dough and fried, the balls were served with a sriracha onion sauce.

Chef David Boyle from Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse brought his infamous cheesesteak spring rolls. (Check out Penn Appetit's interview with him!)

Red Owl Tavern's Pot Pie came from the mastermind of Executive Chef Guillermo Tellez; the flaky crust housed a stew of beef, carrots, peas, and onions.

University City-based chef Wayne Whiteside from Aksum Mediterranean Kitchen introduced this vegan-friendly “steak” composed of grilled seitan soaked in red pepper ketchup.

R2L’s chef Daniel Stern also took the spring roll approach. Instead of beef, however, he stuffed them with calamari and shrimp.

Hailing from Baltimore, MD, B&O American Brasserie’s chef Thomas Dunklin came all the way out to Philadelphia to share his cheesesteak rendition. A caramelized onion roll injected with beer and cheddar served as the base; a thick slice of brisket rested on top, while a lone slice of pickled pepper completed the morsel.

The expert judge’s panel consisted of local culinary personalities, media folks and Philadelphia notables, including WMMR’s on-air personality and producer Matt Cord, legendary cheesesteak wizard Tony Luke, Kristina Jenkins from Where Magazine, Marlie Hall of PHL-17, and The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book author Carolyn Wyman. Live music entertained the massive crowds.

Guests also got to munch on Philly Pretzel Factory pretzels and Krispy Kreme donuts. All proceeds went to Philadelphia Academies, a program dedicated to expanding life and economic options through career-focused learning, college readiness supports, and positive adult networks to prepare young people for success in college and in careers. Under the current leadership of Lisa Johnson Nutter, serves 4,500 youth in Philadelphia public high schools each year through 10 career academy programs in 16 Philadelphia public high schools. The career academy model was founded in Philadelphia in 1969 and has since been replicated in more than 2,500 schools nationwide.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Philly Food Events

Lunch Truck Gathering
WHAT: The Philly MFA (Mobile Food Association) and the Navy Yard are teaming up to bring Philadelphia an afternoon of food trucks, including Vendy-award winning Sweetbox, Vernalicious and Gigi's & Big R's. More info at MFA's website.
WHERE: The Navy Yard
WHEN: Afternoon of October 18th
COST: Varies

Plenty for the Planet: A talk with Anna Lappé
WHAT: Drexel's Natural Academy of Sciences is bringing sustainability advocate Anna Lappé and local experts to try to answer the question "Can we feed the world and heal the planet?" They will discuss sustainable food systems and address the roots of hunger. This celebratory evening will feature local food tastings and a chance to honor participants of the Delaware Valley Farm Share and Winter Harvest programs. More information can be found at their website.
WHERE: 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
WHEN: October 21, 6pm
COST: The program is FREE, the reception is $10 for members, $12 for non-members

Just a Pinch: A Brief and Unofficial History of Jewish Cooking in America
WHAT: The National Museum of American Jewish History is offering a savory journey through their collection, with readings by special guests and a light reception featuring the vintage recipes highlighted in the tour. Check out the museum's website for tickets and more information.
WHERE: 101 S. Independence Mall E
WHEN: October 24, 6:30 pm
COST: $8 for student, $12 for adults

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Night Market Chinatown, Round II

After the thrilling adventure I had at last year's Night Market Chinatown, I was more than ready to tackle the spectacle this year. On Thursday, October 4, Penn Appétit bloggers and Penn Gastronomy foodies experienced the 2nd Annual Night Market Chinatown, Philly's last Night Market of the 2012 season. The festival featured over 50 different vendors from around the city and shut down 10th Street between Arch and Vine Streets, and Race Street between 9th and 11th Streets.

I was quite pleased with the way the festival was organized spatially this year. While foot traffic was plenty busy in all directions, the food trucks and stands located on the side street stretch were now on Race Street, an enormous improvement over last year's cramped Cherry Street. With such a vast variety of places and cuisines to choose from, there was no doubt in my mind that I'd leave the festival pleasantly full.

After giving the various booths a once-over, I selected Local 215 as my dinner of choice. The newly launched food truck, which first hit the streets in August, is committed to sourcing all ingredients locally and acting as sustainably as possible. A quick glance of the menu and I instantly knew that pork belly over creamy polenta was on my hit list. I forked over $7 and was pleasantly surprised at the heft of the box when the woman at the truck window handed me my order; it was at least a pound, if not more. Needless to say, the satisfyingly-portioned entrée lasted me two meals. The pork belly was flavorful and as unctuous as it could be, the golden-yellow polenta coarsely-ground yet still relatively smooth. While the smattering of dressed microgreens bonneting the dish added color, they did little else.

My companion elected for Street Food Philly, located just down the street. The truck is headed by individuals with impressive kitchen cred (i.e. Susanna Foo's, Russet, Parc) and focuses on seasonal ingredients. Along with a core menu, offers a continually rotating list of tantalizing regional dishes (think "South of the Border" chicken tacos and Southern BBQ Brisket). From the variety of equally-delicious-sounding items offered, my friend chose a takeout box of butternut squash gnocchi. Sweet and hearty, it was the perfect comfort food for the evening.

I was thrilled to see Zsa's Gourmet Ice Cream again; I had first tried their awe-inspiring scoops at last year's Night Market and was ready to continue the tradition. I was delighted to find a new ice cream sandwich option I hadn't seen on their menu before: vanilla ice cream between salted toffee almond grahams. Just the name made my mouth water, and I quickly exchanged $4 for a neatly-packaged homemade sandwich. In short, it was a revelation. The salted toffee almond grahams were out of this world: sweet and salty, perfectly crisp, nuances of caramel tones. I could have simply eaten these and been a happy camper. The creamy artisanal ice cream added a lovely taste and texture contrast. As my colleague exclaimed, “The first bite is fantastic—and it just gets better!”

A stop at my beloved Sugar Philly was in order before we left. The fabulous dessert truck based in University City was debuting a new macaron flavor: pumpkin pie! With the classic French treats in tow, we left with full stomachs and the hopes that the 3rd Annual Night Market Chinatown in 2013 will be bigger and better than ever.


Monday, October 8, 2012

7th Annual Midtown Village Fall Festival

Autumn brings with it various delights for the senses: gorgeous color-changing foliage, just-harvested produce at its prime, crisp fall weather, and--best of all--seasonal festivals. The 7th Annual Midtown Village Fall Festival this past Saturday, October 6, was the first of many food fiestas scheduled for the next few months. The block party featured the neighborhood's restaurants, boutiques, gyms, and sponsors, extending from Chestnut to Locust and Juniper to 12th Streets and stopping traffic in both directions. All the stores in the vicinity came out to celebrate and pitched tents and tables in the street outside their stores. With countless food options, plenty of libations to go around, handmade artisan wares, and giveaways left and right, the festival was sure to please.

Jamonera fried up batches upon batches of their addictive papas fritas. Moorish chicken kebabs and truffled manchego grilled cheese sandwiches also had spots on the menu. (See Penn Appétit's review of the tapas bar darling!)

In addition to dishing out the triangular slices of pizza its known for locally, Zio's Brickoven Pizza cooked up sausage-and-peppers and ribeye steak sandwiches to feed the masses.

Jake’s Sandwich Board made a variety of porky bites, including its Best of Philly-winning "50/50" Sandwich (half pork, half bacon, sharp provolone, and Sriracha spread) and chocolate-covered bacon. The pig head was unfortunately not for sale.

Continuing with the pork trend, Lolita served carnitas tacos with chipotle salsa and jicama slaw. A vegetarian-friendly version with mushrooms, cheese, and poblano rajas was also available.

Representatives from Cascadian Farm distributed mini boxes of their oats and honey granola to passersby. 

Fun size Larabars--in Apple Pie, Peanut Butter Cookie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Chocolate Chip Brownie varieties--were also available for the taking. 

In addition to offering the BBQ fare its known for, Smokin' Betty's debuted their own beer garden this year with seasonal brews from the likes of Yards, Evil Genius, and Saranac breweries.

Those who paid an early visit to Smokin' Betty's were rewarded with mini red velvet cupcakes! These tantalizing morsels, with their creamy frosting and moist cake with just the right touch of cocoa, were a sweet ending to a fun-filled festival.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Food Events @ Penn

Restaurant Week!
WHAT: Dear freshman or anyone else living under a rock, let me explain Restaurant Week to you: it's the magical time of year where fancy Center City restaurants offer three-course dinners for $35 and three-courses lunches for $20. And it starts THIS SUNDAY. Participating restaurants and reservation links can be found here.
WHERE: Center City
WHEN: September 30-October 5 & October 7-12, 2012
COST: $35 for dinner, $20 for lunch

*Photo courtesy of Le Castagne

Oktoberfest Block Party
WHAT: Brauhaus Schmitz, the German restaurant and beer hall, is shutting down South Street to share with us live oompah music (kinda like the Polka) and lots of great German beer! Oh, and a pig roast. Did I mention the pig roast?
WHERE: South Street
WHEN: September 29, 12-8pm
COST: Varies

Distrito Monday Night Football Fiestas
WHAT: Distrito is serving up all-you-can-eat tacos and enchiladas for the return of their football fiesta! For those who are 21+, you can also snag yourself some two-buck Don Equis Amber and Lager.
WHERE: 3945 Chestnut St.
WHEN: Every Monday from 8-10pm
COST: $25 per person

Monday, May 14, 2012

Second Annual Cupcake Smash: A Smashing Success

What annual event lets you sample this captivating collection of creative cupcakes?

Only at the Cupcake Smash! The widely-attended cupcake contest and tasting event celebrated its second year on Saturday, April 28, drawing crowds to the Piazza at Schmidt’s in Northern Liberties. A collaboration between chief cupcake coordinator Melissa Mae Templeton, Philabundance, and Tommy Up of PYT, the competition pitted 15 amateur bakers and 15 professional bakers against each other for an elusive spot on PYT's menu.

The charity event raised an astounding $7,600, more than doubling donations from last year. All proceeds benefited Philabundance, Delaware Valley’s largest relief organization dedicated to fighting hunger by providing meals for those in need in Philadelphia. The funds raised will provide more than 15,000 meals for those in need. As Marlo DelSordo, Philabundance's Director of Marketing and Communications, observed, "It's not just a middle-aged businessman writing a check. There are people of all ages and interests donating not only money, but also their time and talents."

All cupcakes were based off of PYT's utterly unique menu, with unusual ingredients like fried pickles, tater tots, bacon, caramelized onions, and jalapeño peppers. The competition was fierce, but who eventually came out on top as cupcake king?

The People's Choice award was bestowed to That's Forking Good's "Fruit Loopy Cupcake." The colorful Fruit Loop-flavored cupcake with a Loopy Vodka buttercream frosting was inspired by PYT's "Adult Cereal" menu option (Froot Loops cereal with whole milk and Three Olives Loopy vodka). I'd certainly be content eating this for breakfast in the morning. (Read more about her experience as a contestant on her blog!)

The Judge's Choice in the Amateur division was Batter Up Baker. These talented cupcake creators designed the "Chocolate Covered Pretzel," inspired by PYT's "John Toffey Crunch Adult Shake" (a black-and-white shake with crushed Heath bar chocolate-toffee candy, kahlua, Three Olives chocolate vodka and crushed pretzels). Batter Up Baker's version similarly had a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese filling and a pretzel crust, topped with caramel icing and smashed toffee candy. This was one of my favorite cupcakes at the competition and I'm so happy that they won!

In the Professional division, the Judge's Choice was AMR Catering. Another cupcake inspired by PYT's "John Toffey Crunch Adult Shake," AMR's "Pretzel.Toffee.Crunch.Buzz" featured vanilla cake studded with Joe’s Coffee Porter & Kahlua Syrup, dark chocolate ganache spiked with Three Olives Chocolate Vodka, house-made pretzel butter toffee bits, Kahlua-infused bruleed meringue icing, and chocolate-toffee pretzel garnish. The different textures and intense flavors complemented each other quite well, resulting in a winning creation.

The “Pretzel.Toffee.Crunch.Buzz” cupcake will be featured on PYT's menu for the month of May, so be sure to stop by and indulge in dessert after feasting on one of PYT's funky burgers!

Read on for a further recap of the event, accompanied with plenty of tantalizing pictures.

Judges Tony Luke Jr. (Tony Luke’s), Leah Kauffman (, Drew Lazor (City Paper), Wendy Rollins (Radio 104.5), and Tommy Up (PYT) have a tough decision to make.

These tropical “Everythin’ Come an’ Curry, Mon” Cupcakes were inspired by PYT's "Bananas John Foster" shake (vanilla ice cream, a whole banana, sailor jerry spiced rum, banana liqueur and maple syrup topped with whipped cream and banana slices). Love the diagram!

"The Charmer" by Sweet Affairs certainly brought out the kid in all of us; the vanilla cupcake had a Lucky Charms crust, was filled with "Milk" sweet cream, topped with whipped cream, and sprinkled with the classic marshmallow charms. This number was based off PYT's Cereal Killer shake (vanilla ice cream, Tito's handmade vodka, and Lucky Charms-infused cereal milk topped with whipped cream and Lucky Charms).

What do you call a nosy pepper? Jalapeño Business! Zynnie Bakes' creation took PYT's Jalapeno Popper Burger and combined the flavors of jalapeno and pineapple for a sweet-spicy flavor blast.

These excellently-crafted "Root Beer Float" cupcakes tasted exactly like their namesake; samples were even served topped with tiny scoops of rich vanilla ice cream.

There's nothing like a cupcake to finish off a meal... but cupcakes and donuts? Now you're just spoiling me! The "Cupcake Sundae" (inspired by PYT's "Krispy Kreme Sundae") took a vanilla cupcake and adorned it with vanilla "ice cream" buttercream, chocolate covered bacon, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and shaved chocolate.

No competition is complete without bacon coming into the mix! These savory-sweet cupcakes delivered a punch with bacon toffee nestled in the frosting.

Inspired by local town carnivals where everything and anything is fried, the intense "CarniCake" created by Cammy Cakes riffed off PYT's "Cookie Monster Adult Shake" (vanilla ice cream, vanilla vodka, irish cream liqueur and crushed Oreos). The Oreo cupcake was dipped in luscious funnel cake batter, deep fried, drizzled with Irish cream and melted chocolate, and dusted with powdered sugar.

These Neapolitan-hued cupcakes by Team dee*Lish were based off the classic Banana Split and accordingly coined their name as "This Split is Bananas!" With a touch of banana liqueur blended into the trifecta of cake flavors, the cupcakes were topped with a whipped cream vodka flavored buttercream frosting, playful rainbow sprinkles, and a bright red cherry on top.

All in all, this year's Cupcake Smash was a smashing success. Kudos to all those who made this event happen! I'm already looking forward to this incredible event next year!

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