has been moved to new address

See you there!!!

foodzings: February 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cuban birthday bash

On Saturday I went to my first birthday party for 3 year old twin girls. I love party food because I love appetizer and hors d'oeuvre type of stuff. I never order that type of stuff when I go out to eat, but I love to eat it at parties. Half of the party is of Cuban descent, so there were lots of Cuban dishes. But there was certainly one of my favorite classic party foods - deviled eggs! I love me some deviled eggs. And these were delish.
We also had cheese and crackers, some fruit, some 7-layer dip (or 7-ish), guacamole from Whole Foods (surprisingly zesty and good), and a baked brie for the appetizer type stuff. For entrees, we had Cuban goodness - rice and black beans, tortilla (not Mexican tortilla), baked ziti, salad, and tamal en cazuela.

The rice and black beans were great. The hostess said she had messed up the beans, but then the host miraculously salvaged them. I wouldn't have even noticed. The tortilla is not flat round flour or corn based coverings for tacos or burritos. It's an egg dish, and this one had potatoes in it. Baked in a round dish, sort of like a fritatta. I didn't eat it, but I heard it was a bit bland. The ziti were delish, but nothing even came close to the tamal en cazuela. Basically, the tamal is if you took tamale innards, and didn't put them in the corn husks to physically make tamales. Instead, you cooked it in a pot. Normally, they make it with chunks of pork, but because the hosts were vegetarian, abuela made this version meat free. But it was still great. But I'm sure it would have been heavenly if it had big chunks of pork in it. As Anthony Bourdain says, everything tastes better with pork.

There was cake, of course, and crazy 3 year old girls putting out candles when they wish, not when we were done singing. They also do a great job of eating rice with their hands. I had no idea that this party would have so much food, and such excellent Cuban food. The best 3 year-old twin birthday party ever.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hangin out in NoLibs

Azure bills themselves as a "Vacation" style restaurant. I'm not sure what that means, but I suppose it means island-ish food. Azure is a fairly small place, but not tiny. Basically two long narrow rooms, the first being more bar, and the second being tables. There were ten of us and they put us in a spot right in front in the non-bar room. It was fairly secluded and nice so we were able to talk to each other. It is a nice place to get a group together.

I got a big margarita, which came in a pint glass. It wasn't great (I've lived in Texas and been to Mexico a bunch of times, so I know what a great margarita tastes like), but for a non-Mexican restaurant in Philly, it was great. On the rocks with no salt. Not quite sour enough, but nice and strong. I ordered the soup of the day, which was a New England clam and oyster chowder. It was surprisingly good. There were alot of carrots in there, and I don't like cooked carrots, but I even ate those. There were big chunks of clams and oysters and it was thick and creamy.

For an entree I got the grilled filet mignon tips. I don't like my meat raw so I ordered it almost well done. It came out great, cooked, but still tender. They served it with a bunch of greens, flour tortillas, a "refried roasted corn risotto cake", and a chipotle aioli. The aioli I didn't really use at all, and the greens were plain. But I ate up the filet and corn cake. A few others got the same meal, but in the seitan meat-free option. We all weren't sure what to do with the tortillas. Were we supposed to make a little fajita or taco? The meat comes out more in chunks, and not in strips, so we all improvised.

A few others ordred the scallops, which now that I look at the picture, look absolutely delicious. Don't you love the rosemary garnish sticking out of the middle? The jerk chicken sandwich looks great too. I'm getting hungry just looking at it! HA! I was too stuffed for any dessert, but we had a birthday girl amongst us and she got a brownie type cake which looked great. I just couldn't take another bite! Azure also has a special running Monday and Tuesday nights where you get two entrees and a pitcher of beer or a bottle of wine for $30. That's a great deal!

Azure is right in the heart of Northern Liberties on 2nd street. It's literally next to North Bowl, the still fairly new hipster bowling joint. Being Friday night, we knew it was going to be packed, and even if we wanted to bowl, we would have had to wait at least 30 minutes, so we passed on that. The Standard Tap is also a few steps down the street too, but being a small place that was obviously crowded, we also passed on that.
That's how we ended up at the Foodery. The original Foodery being in Center City, this is the Northern Liberties arm that opened last summer. It stocks hundreds, if not thousands of different beers from all over the world. I'm a big lambic fan, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they had my favorite Lindeman's Peche, but also an apple flavored lambic that I never knew even existed. For those of you new to lambic, it's basically a fruit based ale from Belgium (there are others, but these are the most popular and well known) historically made from spontaneous fermentation. Meaning that they don't add yeast, there's just natural yeast in the area where they brew the lambic that causes the magic to happen.
My apple lambic was light, sweet, and very smooth going down. It can get you in trouble because it tastes like juice but has alcohol, so sometimes you don't even realize how f'd up you get. Some others in the group tried Taj Mahal beer, which had a picture of the Taj Mahal on it. It was hilarious. There was also Tiger Beer from Singapore, Big Daddy, and the Blithering Idiot. All in all, it was a great night of good food, good drink, and good company.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Main Line dive bar / Main Line not-so-dive Bard!

I found out through some food blog surfing about a local dive bar. A true local Main Line dive bar in Haverford - Roach's! Roach & O'Briens, officially, on Lancaster Ave, right across from Wendy's. It's about postage stamp sized. You walk in and there's a jukebox, a phone booth, a dartboard, a bar, and some tables and booths. Maybe some video games in the back? There were about 5 locals in there and they have $2 moosehead every day as well as an ok selection of domestic beer. This isn't a classy, extensive imported beer list, mussels and pommes frites kind of a joint. People said they had great burgers, and that's what they got. Burgers, sandwiches, and fries. We got a couple of cheeseburgers, his with bacon, and a basket of cheese fries. These burgers were rather large. The bartender said 8 oz before being cooked. They came on kaiser rolls and were quite good. Piled with lettuce, tomato, and such, they were very tall burgers. And the fries are a thicker kind, and were served with cheese whiz. Overall it was a good time. I have a few other pubs around in my neighborhood, even within walking distance, but this one is really a great little divey one with personality. No pretense about it whatsoever. Two burgers, fries, and 3 beers later, it wasn't even $20. Not bad, eh?

We then headed over to Yeats just to round out the local Route 30 pub crawl. I'd passed by it thousands of times but never went in. It looked divey from the outside. Strangely enough, Yeats Pub is actually quite nice! It has a long bar taking up one entire side of the restaurant and then all tables and booths. Their menu looked quite good (even had buffalo burger) and their beer, booze, and wine selection is quite extensive. No dart board, no pool, no nothing. Just drinks and food. It was a Monday night and there was almost no people in there. The staff outnumbered the patrons about 2 to one. We just grabbed a beer (I had a hoegaarden on tap) and then skidaddled. I think I'll have to go back and have some food!

Roach & O'Brien
560 W Lancaster Ave
Haverford, PA 19041

Saturday, February 17, 2007

She's soup crazy

So I thought I'd take this post to recap some of the work food experiences from this week. Wednesday was the day after the big storm, so there were only about a dozen or so people in the office. For whatever reason, the catering company still showed up with the food - wraps and pasta salad and ridged potato chips. Because there was barely anyone there, they gave us 5 minutes to grab what we wanted so they could take it all back and come back with it on Thursday. The wraps were ok, the pasta salad was great. The chips, which I'm not sure if they are real Ruffles as they came in unmarked white bags, were also lovely.

So the food came back on Thursday. I was a bit wary on how wraps with deli meats and cheese and veggies would hold up being stored for a day, so I stayed away from it. But I did try the soups - cream of potato and chicken and rice. The chicken and rice was good, but had way too many crazy carrot chunks. The cream of potato soup was not so good. First off, cream of potato soup is not cream of chicken soup that you throw potato chunks into. It's more like potato soup that may have some chicken stock as a base. It's as if they took some cream of chicken soup out of a can and threw in some leftover diced potatoes. Did not enjoy it at all. And I am a huge soup lover.

I remember the time we were at a company off-site in Atlantic City and we ended up at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill for dinner. None of the entrees piqued my interest, but the soups did, so I decided to get two soups for dinner. Everyone thought that was hilarious. To this day my boss always comments on if I'm eating soup for dinner. What was even more funny is that I had asked the waitress if the soups were big. She said no, they're pretty small. Wouldn't you know it when they came out the bowls were about the size of my head. Seriously, everyone's eyes bugged out. And I ended up eating only some of each cause they were so big. This waitress had a seriously distorted view of the word small.

Anyway, so one of the soups was good, the other not so good. The pasta salad was still good, so were the chips, and so were the pickles. Yum. Friday was pizza day as usual, but in a stange twist, it wasn't from Tony A's. Instead, it was from Pizza Time Saloon, another local Conshohocken joint. And I loved it. The bbq chicken pizza was weird. It was a breaded chicken that they had cut into cubes with a bbq sauce that had a hint of chinese 5-spice. Or at least it seemed like it to me. My colleague said it tasted like general tso's chicken pizza, and it strangely did. My pizza of choice had sausage, sweet peppers, and onions. It was awesome. And it was a very doughy and thick crust. It was better than Tony A's, even better than the bacon burger pizza. What's a girl to do?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sang Kee Asian Bistro - finally!

So the night of the crazy snow storm (not really crazy at all) we finally ended up going to Sang Kee Asian Bistro for dinner. It's been open for awhile and it's just around the corner and next to Whole Foods, but I'd never been. Maybe because I thought it would be all PF Chang's like. Well, it does actually LOOK like PF Chang's on the inside. It's swanky and nicely decorated. But it has an Asian staff, so you know it's not some crazy chain.

We had a short wait, surprisingly. They don't take reservations, and it was Feb 14th after all. And with people probably not willing to drive into the city or elsewhere for a nice "romantic" dinner, we figured it would be more crowded. It was packed, but we only had about a 10 minute wait. NICE! While waiting, I had a local celebrity moment, as I spotted Denise Nakano dining with her husband. She soon left, and guess what? We got seated at the same booth! Ha!

So Sang Kee does have a liquor license, but they recently got it. Now the strange thing is that they still allow you to BYOB of wine, but they charge a $10 corkage fee. If you bring your own beer, they charge $3 a beer, or something to that affect. The alcohol that they sell is actually quite reasonably priced, so it might not really be all that bad to buy their's.

They serve Chinese food, albeit Chinese food in a bistro-like setting. They also serve some big noodle bowls and have fixed priced chef's dinners. For the next few weeks, they also have some special $30 per person deals for Lunar New Year. Sang Kee also has their Duck House in Chinatown, and also a spot in Reading Terminal Market.

Z ordered some veggie spring rolls and they were pretty good. I had hot and sour soup, because I love hot and sour soup. Their's was actually not quite spicy or sour enough for my usual liking, but I still enjoyed it. It was
different, but good. I ordered Sauteed Seafood Udon Noodles, which came with gigantic shrimp, scallops, and squid. It wasn't a wet noodle dish, it seemed just quickly stir fried. The squid was a tad bit overdone, but still good. The scallops were not overcooked at all. Z ordered Four Seasons, which had much more sauce and was also quite good. It had some delicious bbq'd pork. Yum!

I was BEYOND stuffed by the end of it all, but we ordered some green tea ice cream. I don't like green tea, but this ice cream was very good. It was incredibly creamy and it didn't taste like green tea at all (this is a good thing). It was great! I'm not sure if they make it on their own or buy it, but if I could buy it, I would have! All in all, it was a really nice dinner. The service was also great and the food came out in about 2 winks. I was very surprised! I wouldn't switch to Sang Kee as my local take-out place (that's Pak Yue, hands down), but I would definitely go there again.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Define "Day off"

I took the day off yesterday and ended up shoveling snow for most of it. And thus is my life. I also tried very fruitlessly to try to find a place around me where I could get a simple haircut. Apparently, it is an accepted truth that hairdressers do not work when there is a flake of snow. After hours of looking, I did end up at one, but honestly, it should not have entailed that much work. There is literally a salon on every block, and yet somehow they were all nearly closed, on a Tuesday.

Afterwards, I did get to make one of my favorite things to make, ever. Mainly because it's easy and good - make at home pizza. Please notice that I did not say homemade pizza. Homemade pizza implies homemade dough, which involves flour, yeast, rising, throwing and twirling, which is just way too much work for me. Instead, I buy the premade dough that comes raw in a plastic bag from Trader Joe's. Look folks, they do the work for you, and it's 99 cents. Yes, not even $1. It comes in white, wheat, and an herby variety, with green specks of stuff. The wheat I don't care for and I'm a bit scared of the green specs. I'm good with the plain old white dough. It used to be 79 cents though. But I guess TJ's must be struggling since they had to make that 20 cent price bump. That's really gonna hurt my wallet. Now I'm that much further from purchasing that vacation house in the Hamptons.

You simply take this dough, put a little flour on it, and use whatever technique you can to get it to resemble some type of round shape. Put it on a cookie sheet, put some sauce on it, cheese, and topping(s) of choice. I also use premade sauce, from a can or a jar. I know, shame on me. For cheese, it's usually mozzarella, and this time I used pepperoni. But I've also done this with veggies, fruits, etc. Pop it in the oven and you're good to go. I've also made stromboli with the dough, and they claim it makes good breadsticks. It's not a thick or ultra-chewy dough. In fact when it gets cooked, it kinda thins out a bit, but I still like it better than the other pre-cooked varieties. It's better and costs about 1/10ths of the price of Boboli and others.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Memorable food names

I was in a colleague's office today when I noticed a bagged snack on his desk. It was reddish with some black and I asked him "is that poppycock?" Yes, I uttered these words. To an Assistant Vice President. They weren't Poppycock after all, they were Lay's potato chips. But some how, I'd thought they were just from a slight sideways glance at the packaging. Now what's even more bizarre is that I don't know that I've ever even eaten Poppycock! I'm pretty much a Cracker Jack kind of girl. I love Cracker Jack more than probably anyone else out there. Some people tell me I have a Cracker Jack problem. I've been known to eat it for lunch or dinner. As a meal.

So the fact that I'd recognized their red and black packaging as Poppycock was strange enough. But the fact that I knew the packaging even though I'd never eaten it was even stranger. But not as strange as the name Poppycock itself. Seriously folks, what marketing geniuses came up with this stuff? Probably the same people who named a hamburger chain Fuddruckers.

Sometimes I really worry about what's stored in the deep crevices of my noggin. Now I really want some Cracker Jack...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Poor Man's Le Creuset

So I should fess up something about myself that you may not realize. But I am about the most frugal person you may ever meet in your life. Why? I don't know. I'm not poor but I'm not rich either. I grew up in a typical lower-middle class immigrant household. I was never hungry, but I certainly did not have the nicest things in the world. Even when it comes to food, I much prefer quality over ambiance, taste over decor. Even when it comes to the things that live in my kitchen cabinets, you will not find a Global Knife, you will not find sparkling Calphalon pots and pans, nor will you find a commercial Viking stove. Instead it's all a mish-mash of leftover stuff from college, one-offs handed down from relatives, random necessities that can probably be found in that big blue and yellow Swiss named warehouse, and decent appliances from the scratch-n-dent.

I really did want a cast iron dutch oven though, and everybody knows that all you need in this category is a le creuset. There's no messing with anything else. But being who I am, my frugalness just would not plonk down the ~$200 for one of these prized pieces. Instead, I asked for a poor man's version as a holiday gift. See, I couldn't even bear the thought of someone else paying that much on a gift for me!

So my poor man's version was courtesy of Mario Batali, via my brother. Thanks bro! And so with that finally here (my original holiday gift had to be returned so this one was a much-belated replacement), I got to make a recipe I'd been hankering for:
Braised Hoisin Beer Short Ribs with Creamy Mashed Yukons and Sesame Snow Peas, courtesy of Dave Lieberman (Philly's own!).

I think it was one of those weekend mornings when I lazily turned on the TV very early and just vegged watching the Food network. Dave was on and started cooking this dish in his beautiful multi-colored le creusets. Damn him. But with my much cheaper dutch oven in hand, I got to finally make this. And it was glorious!

I got the short ribs from H Mart, since Koreans are the kings of short ribs. I also got my snow peas there, and my Yukon potatoes came courtesy of Trader Joe's. It was an extremely long meal to make, as I started soon after noon. I had to simmer the ribs for hours, but it was well worth it. During the entire process, I got to watch a couple of movies I'd dvr'd weeks ago.

The final products turned out damn well. Seriously. I'm not one to pat myself on the back, but it was delicious. The potatoes were great, the chives gave them that extra kick. The snowpeas were crunchy and perfectly seasoned. The ribs had solid flavor and were more than hearty. I have plenty of leftovers for the week. My poor man's dutch oven stood up great!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

I heart conference centers!

I had quite the food day yesterday. I had to go to an all day off-site meeting at the ACE Conference Center. It's one of those places who exists purely to house people having conferences and meeting. That's what they do. They're not a hotel, they're a conference center. There's also a golf course there too, but you have to be there for a conference to use it. So it's not a golf club either.

Anyway, I love going there because they feed you all day long. And I mean all day long. First off, they have drinks for you all day. Sodas, water, Wawa lemonade and chocolate milks, coffee, tea, hot chocolate. The works. For breakfast they had fruit, yogurt, some bacon-y puff pastry with potato thing, and granola. You could snack on it all morning. Then for lunch they have a cafeteria that serves a slew of different things, buffet style. I love buffets because it lets me taste everything. I had some really great chicken, mahi mahi, pasta, salad, nachos, rice, corn chowder, and on and on. And for dessert I had some peach cobbler a la mode and some pineapple. They also had a bunch of cakes and a bunch of pies. And cookies. For afternoon snacks they brought out some mini chicken cordon bleus, more yogurt and puddings, various ice cream (fudge bars, ice cream sandwiches, fruit bars, strawberry eclairs), cookies, Pepperidge Farm gold fish, M&Ms, and fruit. And they left that out all afternoon too. Seriously people, I was in heaven. I didn't take any pictures because, well, I didn't want any of my colleagues thinking I was some weird ass freak who takes random pictures of food at conference centers (but I will try next time!).

All I know is, I have to go back there in a few weeks, for two whole days. I'm going to be obsessing over it until the day is here!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Colts, triscuits, and Prince

It wasn't until just a few years ago that I even knew how football worked. I'm not all that into professional team sports, so I just didn't care enough to know. A few years ago, at a Super Bowl party, I actually learned how the sport worked. And I still remember most of the rules now. This year wasn't too exciting team-wise, but I had to watch, if only because I had put in $6 to the office block pool. I lost, of course, but it was fun nonetheless.

I really enjoyed the game though, mostly because of the rain. It added that element of the unknown, and I loved all the slips and fumbles. Prince was good too. The whole time before half time I thought for sure Prince wouldn't play in the rain. His diva-ass self must have had some "no bad weather" clause or something in his contract. Something about not affecting the quality of his purple catsuits. He kicked it out though. I thought he sounded great, looked great, and put on a good damn show. The cirque du soleil crap in the beginning was just crap. I couldn't even pretend to watch. But that was one of the best half time shows I'd seen in awhile. I only chuckled a little bit when his guitar speakers went out right at the end.

I didn't have any fun Super Bowl food. No chicken wings, no Doritos, no beer. Instead I scrounged up some random goodies from the pantry. I had some Roasted Garlic flavored Triscuits. OMIGOD. Now I love regular Triscuits just fine, but I had these for the first time right before New Years, and these are delightful. These kick regular Triscuits to the curb. Seriously, I'm in love with these. I also boughth some Izze, clementine flavor, at the Target the other day. They're alright. Honestly, it tasted like Orangina. But I like Orangina just fine so I enjoyed these. For the price though, I think I may stick to the sparkling juices from Trader Joe's (blueberry being my favorite). I also had some Ritz so I made some Ritz peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I love the salty and sweet combo of these!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Quick weekend Korean fix

My mom invited us to come to H Mart for dinner on Saturday night. It's something I love to do because it's close, there's lots to choose from, and it's good. Now we did not eat in the H Mart but there is a food court above it. There's good variety, including Korean, Japanese, and Korean/Chinese. I hadn't eatn any Korean in awhile, so I opted for something very Korean - dolsot bibimbap. Bibimbap literally means mixed rice. It includes veggies and some meat mixed with rice and a spicy pepper paste (kochujang), and you just mix it together and eat. The dolsot part means it comes in a burning hot stone bowl, so that everything is hot, hot, hot when you eat it, and if you let your rice stick to the bowl, it will crisps up nicely into a burnt crunchy snack. You can make it as spicy as you want or not, by adjusting how much of the kochujang to put in. I like mine spicy! It also came with the obligatory kimchi (which was very bland) and a couple other banchan, plus some soup. The soup was quite good!

My mom opted for some seafood udon from the sushi place. She wanted something healthy. Z also opted from the sushi place, getting a couple of avocado and cucumber rolls and a shrimp tempura roll. They made it fresh for him, and it was all quite good. There's a stall there called "Monsieur Tong Tong", which makes "fried chicken" and certain other more fried dishes. They have an excellent Japanese tonkatsu. It's HUGE and the sauce is quite good. And you get a bunch of side dishes. It's definitely for sharing. At "Chew Young Roo" they have alot of dumplings and buns and specialize in Korean-Chinese noodle dishes, like champong (spicy seafood noodle soup) and chajangmyun (noodles in black bean sauce). I often pick something from them as well. It's nothing to write home about, but it's good for fast Korean food!

Friday was pizza day for lunch, but I was in a training class all day so they catered some sandwiches for us. They had one of my favorites, chicken salad on a croissant, and they also had some of the best grilled green beans I'd ever had. They were smoky, crunchy, and had a slightly asian-esque flavor. I wanted to eat the whole giant bowl! Speaking of eating the whole giant bowl, ESPN2 showed a bunch of reruns on professional eating competitions on Sunday. Sometimes, I dream of getting into competitive eating. Perhaps it's something I'll have to try out once in life. I'm just not sure what I would pick as the food of choice!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Indian, Tiger Tiger style

It's been a heavy cook at home week. Now I don't go out to eat all that much, but this week has been especially full of actual activity in the kitchen, beyond popping something in the oven. Not sure why. I made one of my most favorite dishes to make last night - Chicken Tikka Masala. Indian, you say? Yes, Indian. Not from scratch mind you, but it doesn't get much easier than this. I use the Chicken Tikka Masala sauce from Tiger Tiger. Now you can also find similar sauces at Trader Joe's or even your grocery store, but typically they are not Tiger Tiger. When I say Tiger Tiger is the best, please listen to me. Their sauces are by far the best when it comes to Indian cooking. I've tried Patak's, and it ain't no good. And neither is Trader Joe's. Tiger Tiger is your only choice.

I used to have to drive all the way to Delaware and go to World Market to get this stuff. Whenever I'd go, I would buy 5 of them at a time so they would last awhile before I had to go back. Lucky for me, now I have a much closer source. I live near the Ardmore Farmers Market, which is also conveniently located 10 feet from the Trader Joe's. There's a new spot at the Market called Adriana's Caravan. It's not a store, because well, it's not a store. It's right at the entrance across from Trader Joe's when you walk in. You see Genji Sushi right in front, and to your left, is the nook that Adriana's Caravan occupies. This place is GREAT. It basically has every ingredient you will ever need to make any international dish. EVER. All and any ethnic cuisine you can think of, they've got what you need. And they carry all of the Tiger Tiger products. Apparently they have an exclusive agreement. All I know is that now I'm only 5 minutes away from Tiger Tiger goodness. Plus, the lady who runs it is super nice. And she named the place after her daughter, Adriana.

So when I say this is easy, I mean it. Cut up the chicken and onions and cook it for awhile in some oil. Then dump the sauce in and simmer for a bit longer. Put over rice and start shovelling. Seriously kids, it's delicious. If you buy some naan from Trader Joe's, then it's even better. So tonight's dinner was the leftovers. Plus, today at work, it was Pretzel Thursday. All hail Pretzel Thursday!

Labels: , , ,