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foodzings: June 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fun in Manayunk

I spent Sunday at the Manauynk Arts Festival. I go every year, and it's really fun. It's big, it runs for quite a long stretch of main street, and there are many actually talented artists. Much of it's ridiculous and expensive and unattainable for us regular folk, but there are many things that are affordable. I picked up a few necklaces this year, and even my frugalness wasn't too upset by it.

There's not much food actually at the festival. There's some juice and water booths, a smoothie place, some chinese, some burgers, and some of the local restaurants set up something right outside their places. There are plenty of restaurant on main street that have outdoor dining though. We ended up browsing for much longer than planned, and a smoothie and a giant water ice just didn't do it for us. We stopped at the Couch Tomato Cafe, an adorable pizza / salad joint just off of main street on Rector. They have all kinds of crazy pizzas, as well as regular ones, with a thin crust. I had a slice of bbq chicken, and it was damn good. They also have lots of specialty salads. On a previous visit I had a Strawberry Fields Forever salad, and it was basically candied lettuce in a bowl. So damn tasty. The service is a little spotty. They forgot about our slices being in the oven, so they got overcooked a bit, so the dough ended up a bit more crunchy than I would have liked, but it still tasted good. They are expanding though, and will have a new second floor full of dining. As of now, there is limited dining on the first floor and a few tables outside.

Walking back to Roxborough, we passed a mini park with a playground that had this cool soft pretzel sculpture. Now this is art I can get into. Is there other food related art in Philadelphia? If so, I want to capture them all for this here blog!

Big chain BBQ

How do you feel about big chain restaurants? As a concept, I'm not a fan. Probably because there are so many bad ones out there. The food is crappy and what they're selling is not food, but the brand, the experience, the chotchkies. This is not to say that I never go to chain places. Especially when I'm travelling, and if I haven't done any research in advance, there's always a few chains around that you know you can count on. There are certain ones that I actually do like, such as the Pappas chains (Pappadeaux's, Pappasito's, etc). I even love the grilled caribbean salad at Chili's. If I lived near a Sonic Burger, I'd be there all the time.

So I was a little hesitant about going to Famous Dave's. They're a national chain and they're serving something sacred, barbeque. It's so easy to do it badly. But I'd been watching all this stuff about bbq on tv and had a hankerin. The restaurant is a big old log cabin lodge type of place, with fishing gear as decoration. The tables themselves are no frills, with rolls of paper towels hung on pipes for you to clean off your mitts. There's a six pack of bbq sauces for you, this I just loved. Ranging from their rich & sassy, sweet & zesty, to the two spiciest ones, Texas Pit and Devil's Spit, you could pick your own sauce to slather onto your meat. Design your own bbq basically.

They've got an extensive menu, and you can pretty much order whatever you want. You can get a sandwich, or a salad, ribs, any combo of meats. I went with the two meat platter. I got brisket and chopped pork. You also get two sides, in addition to corn on the cob and a corn muffin. So you know what? I liked it all. I liked the brisket. It comes with the rich & sassy sauce, but you can also get it dry. It actually had the red ring around it, which shows that it was slow smoked and cooked for a long time. The chopped pork was also damn good. It was really surprising. I had the garlic mashed potatoes as one of the sides, and these rocked. I could have eaten a giant bowl of these. I had the beans too, and these were good, but nothing exciting. There were big hunks of pork in it though, so those were the best bits. I also loved the corn muffin. I love corn bread and corn muffins in general. This one was nice and sweet and moist. It wasn't dry or crumbly, which I can't stand. The corn was good too. So good and juicy that when C bit into his, he shot corn water into J's eye. It was classic.

Here's a shot of the two meat combo with brisket and sausage. I'm not too into sausage so I didn't taste it, but everyone who got the sausage liked it. We also had a few Texans in our party, and they all enjoyed the food. Our waitress was adorable and was extremely helpful in explaining the food and the different sauces. Even with such a big party, our food came out fairly quickly. And even when A spilled his beer, they brought him out a free one. And it was his fault! I definitely want to try some of the non-chain bbq places in town, but the next time I feel a need for bbq, I won't hesitate to go back to Famous Dave's!

Suburban Saturday eats

On lazy Saturdays, I like to head over to the Ardmore Farmers Market in Suburban Square to grab a bite. There are many options - pizza, chinese, sushi, fried chicken, seafood, etc. I've had the chinese, it's good and different, but a bit pricey. Z always gets the amish fried chicken at Stoltzfus Poultry. I'm not big into fried chicken, that's why I don't get it. But it is pretty good. You can tell it's made by hand and made with love. The batter is nicely spiced and crispy and it's cooked very well. You'll see no pink bits here.

Genji Sushi Express is a little to-go sushi place. It's very small, but I've always found their food to be pretty good, for to-go stuff. And they will always make something fresh for you. On this day, I asked them to make me a california roll with brown rice. I'm not a health nut, but sometimes, I make small efforts. It actually tastes better with brown rice, as it adds a different flavor angle. They also recently started serving some udon dishes, and they're not bad. It's a nice quick choice.

I'm my own butter churner...

Have you ever made your own butter? I hadn't until last Monday. I had just bought some fresh raspberries, and thought to myself, wouldn't fresh berries and cream just be delightful? Yes! So I wanted some whipped cream. But instead of buying some, I decided I would make my own. So I bought a thing of heavy cream. I put some in a small bowl and started whisking. I don't have one of those hand mixer things, so I had to use sweat. I whisked for a long time. I think my whisk was a bit too big for the bowl. I whisked some more, but it only got a bit thicker. I had to get to work, so I decided to just shake my way to whipped cream. I put a lid on it and started shaking in the car. Eventually, I pretty much couldn't hear any liquid sounds. There was still a little bit so I thought I would just give it a few more shakes. That's when I passed that point of no return. And then I started hearing the clunks. When I opened it up, I had butter and buttermilk. I drank the buttermilk, which was delicious, and also tasted the butter, which was even more delicious and fresh. Who knew you could do this? And it actually made quite a large hunk of butter. It almost seems like it's cheaper than buying butter. In my next attempt, I did end up with whipped cream, but perhaps next time, I'll just buy some.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Center City Sips, Take 1

Last week was the second week of Center City Sips, and I had to partake. There are of course dozens of places to choose from, but somehow, we ended up back at Tragos for $8 pitchers. Sometimes it's good to stick with what you know! Sadly, white sangria was not available as they did not have fruit. So instead we tried margarita, mojito, and bay breeze. Or was it sea breeze? I have no idea... There were alot of pitchers, and we had a great time. After pickling ourselves, we needed to eat. They did have some appetizers, but they were all picked through and devoured already. So somehow, we ended up at Audrey Claire again!

We couldn't get an outside table, but there was still a great indoor spot. And with all the windows open, it's pretty much like you're outside. We had two of the grilled flatbreads - the smoked salmon one and the pear one. The salmon one with greens and hummus was still good. The pear one, with gorgonzola cheese and toasted sunflowers was also very good. It was that very sweet with the very salty taste combination, and it worked. We were all very surprised with this one.

We got the grilled octopus salad again, and just like last time, I was in love with it again. There's just something about its smoky chewiness that just does it for me. I could have eaten this all night. We also had the mediterranean spread of hummus and somes other dips, which came with pita bread.

There was also the pappardelle pasta dish with portobello mushrooms. This dish was very greasy, but in a nice and buttery way. It did not have a strong flavor, but it was still very good. we also had a few orders of the mussels. I finally got to try them! The mussels come in a slightly spicy tomato based broth. The mussels themselves were fairly puny, but they were fairly tasty. The broth was delicious. We also had the grilled shrimp dish, which came topped on some rice. I absolutely loved this shrimp. They were perfectly cooked and the flavors were great. I only wish there were 100 of these...

Another great night at Audrey Claire. It's quickly becoming one of my favorites. I should probably pick some different places to try for the rest of my Center City Sips tours, but I won't be surprised if I end up back here again.


Definitely not the American Heart Association dinner

M invited me to "play" quizzo on tuesday night at Barristers. It was something hosted by the Philadelphia Econony League, and was focused on questions related to Issues Philadelphia. So basically, I didn't know the answers to any of the questions. But it was fun to watch a lot of city employees get so competitive. M's team did not win. What was winning however, was my extremely healthy appetizer of chili cheese fries. Yum! When you order fries at Barristers, they always come with a mix of regular fries and sweet potato fries. I have a soft spot for sweet potatoes, and an even softer spot for sweet potato fries. They laid a heaping of chili on top and an even bigger heaping of cheez whiz. I quite enjoyed it. The chili itself wasn't very good. It was very dry, so I didn't eat too much of it. But there was something magical about the combination of sweet potato fries and extremely savory fake cheese.

We then headed over to the Naked Chocolate Cafe to round out our healthy meal with chocolate for dinner. On this particular night, there was a live jazz duo playing. Patrons came in and out while we were there. So for those of you that are crazy about chocolate, this is literally going to be like a kid in a candy store time. They serve all types of chocolate drinks and chocolate desserts. They also offer teas and other non-chocolate desserts. But it's all dessert though. There's no sandwiches or anything. Now I'm not actually crazy about chocolate. I do like it, but if I had a choice of ice creams, I would rarely pick chocolate, and again, if I had a choice of cakes, I would rarely pick chocolate. But I'm crazy about hot chocolate. In winter, me and Swiss Miss have a special connection.
We ordered a frozen drinking chocolate. It's basically is a giant chocolate drink, emphasis on giant, with tons of whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top. There are different varieties of this, and we went with the Aztec one, which had some nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. It was extremely strong, decadent, and indulgent. Perhaps, it was a bit too bittersweet and too chocolatey for me. M and I shared this, and we kept thinking to ourselves, how could we possibly drink/eat all of this? Then we watched a couple sitting near us, who had ordered one for each, and they drank both in like 5 minutes. I was impressed, and yet also disturbed at the same time.

I also had a caramel infused waffle which was covered in chocolate and then rolled in chocolate crunchies. Oh my goodness. It tasted just like advertised. It was so good. The other things that looked really appealing to me were the chocolate covered pretzels of all different flavors. M ordered one chocolate ganache truffle type thing. She loved it. I certainly don't suggest to others that you make a meal out of Naked Chocolate Cafe. But for dessert and for chocolate nuts, then this is definitely the place for you.


Another trip to Banana Leaf

Never one to pass up a meal in Chinatown, we headed out to Banana Leaf for my second visit there. I was excited, because I really enjoyed my first Banana Leaf meal. We had a big party, and it's actually quite a good place for large groups. They have several large round tables there and where we were in the back, a slightly sectioned off area in front of the kitchen, perfect for groups who want a bit of privacy. We started off with some appetizers including roti canai, satay tofu, and a smattering of other random appetizers that I didn't know the names of. Point is, they were all good. This place is really good. I might even like it better than Penang now. There was a bunch of deep fried looking stuff. Those are my favorites. They came with several different dipping sauces, each of them fabulously tasty.

I really wanted a noodle soup dish, but it was just too hot outside for this option. So I went with the mee siam. with is a vermicelli noodle dish with tofu, shrimp, sprouts in a spicy thai chili sauce. It was very flavorful and barely spicy. I enjoyed it, but the shrimp tasted a bit odd, perhaps not so fresh.

Here is the mango shrimp. It has shredded mango cooked with shrimp, in a sweet and sour sauce served in mango shell. It's a very beautifully presented dish. You can also get this in chicken or fish varieties. This is a good dish, but it's not very exotic. The mangos make it a bit exotic, but it's basically a sweet and sour dish.

Here are a few of the clay pot dishes that were ordered. The first one looks like a green seafood curry. The second one is curry mixed vegetable in clay pot, which has a spicy curry broth. I quite enjoy these clay pot type of dishes. They're full and hearty and flavorful. But I don't eat them here, because they all have coconut milk in them. And you know how I feel about coconut milk in my curries.

This is the basil chicken, which is sliced chicken with carrot, green and red peper and scallion with a house special basil sauce. This is basically a thai dish, so for those of you who are afraid of what to order here, you can always go with this thai classic.

The service here is excellent. They're attentive and even with such a large party, it doesn't really take too long for your food to come out. They also gave us a complimentary dessert. I have no idea what it is, but it was a warm slightly sweet broth with little tiny tapioca balls (I think). I enjoyed it. And even though I was full, we still went to Capogiro afterwards. Yes folks, the addition still reigns strong.

Banana Leaf
1009 Arch Street


Sausage, Korean style

S had a hankering for some spicy food, and I suggested dukboki. So we hopped on over to the H Mart food court to Monsieur Tong Tong, for some extra spicy goodness. As usual, it was tasty and super spicy. I'm not all that crazy about sesame seeds, but when it's on dukboki, I don't mind a bit. And why is it that the hard boiled egg is my favorite part about this? I love spicy eggs. I always put hot sauce or sriracha on eggs.

We also got some soondae bokkum. Soondae, is the Korean version of blood sausage. Yes folks, it's a bunch of unknown stuff shoved into a sausage casing. When it's not stir fried into a bokkum, it's typically eaten plain, dipped in a mixture of salt and chili powder. Don't ask me what's in the soondae, as honestly, I really do not want to know. I just know that it's delicious. I've always been quite into it. This was my first time eating soondae bokkum though, where it's cooked with some veggies and spice. I didn't know that there'd be sesame leaves in it. Yuck. I have this real aversion to it. In korea, it's known as kkaennip. It's very prevalent in korea, not necessarily used as an ingredient, but it's often the main ingredient of certain side dishes, or it's used as a wrapper for putting other things in. It has a very distinct, strong, and unique taste that you either like or dislike. And I dislike. Intensely. That's ok though, as luckily, the flavor had not seeped into the soondae. And I still enjoyed the dish. I was just very careful not to eat any piece of the sesame leaves, no matter how painstaking it was!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Summers at the Patio Cafe

The building next door is hosting the Patio Cafe on wednesdays for the summer, offering box lunches for a steal. They come with a burger or hot dogs or a rotating special (chicken the first week, tuna steak this week) and then a bunch of other tasty treats. You get your choice of chips, a little side salad (potato, pasta, etc), soda, and dessert. They've had cookies, brownies, and cake. They also have fixins for your burgers and dogs. All this for only $6. It's even less if you get the hot dogs.

The first week it all came in this adorable little carry out box. It was so popular the first week that they ran out of burgers and people got stuck with hot dogs. The burgers are 8 oz angus burgers, and after you eat this thing, you don't really have much room for the other things afterwards. So then I had all the rest of the day to chow down on chips and cake. Yes, that piece of chocolate chip cake is as big as you think it is. And I ate it all. Yum! It was a simple angel food cake with chocolate chips and it was perfect.

Last friday, chef Donald wasn't there, but one of his super grillers were. We had some grilled steak and turkey dogs, along with some saladworks. It was all quite quite delicious. There's just so many reasons for TGIF!

Another random Conshy restaurant

S was in town from LA last week and she took us out to eat at the Stonewell Restaurant, a local Conshohocken sushi / korean joint. It's in an unfortunate location on very busy Ridge pike, and in a homely standalone building. I think it used to be a different sushi/korean place, but now it's called the Stonewell. Whatever.

The coolest thing about the joint is that when you walk in, there's a big stuffed hammerhead shark looking at you. This is definitely the first sushi restaurant I've been to who enjoys displaying taxidermy. The place itself on the inside is hideously 80's with bad pink wallpaper and really 80's furniture. It's fairly small, with a tiny little sushi bar. When we went, there was only a handful of people there. It made me feel a bit sad.

The menu is standard sushi/japanese fare with a smattering of korean dishes thrown in. I'm assuming koreans own the place. Most sushi places are run by koreans, whereas most korean places are not run by japanese, so my assumption is probably a pretty good one. I went with dolsot bibimbap, which is the mixed rice in the hot sizzling stone bowl. It comes with all the fixins laid on top, and you mix it yourself with however much of the spicy kochujang you want. I like mine spicy. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. It's the best bibimbap you'll find in Conshohocken! Ha!

S got hwae dup bap, which is mixed rice topped with a bunch of sashimi. I'm not sure why, but I never eat this stuff. I mean I like the mixed rice part and I like sashimi, but I guess I just choose not to mix the stuff together. She seemed to like her food just fine. It's definitely a very pretty dish.

I guess if you're really hankering for korean food and you can't stray far from where the Stonewell is, then it will serve your needs. But really, you should drive the few miles down the street to Norristown and go to August Moon. It's far superior, even though that's in a rather ghetto area. The service at the Stonewell was rather slow. It was one little lady, she was probably the wife, and the guy making the sushi was probably the husband. I wonder if it gets hopping at night?
Stonewell Restaurant
415 W Ridge Pike
Conshohocken, PA

Friday, June 15, 2007

Jerk Hut

The rest of the Sunday was spent roaming at the Odunde Festival on South Street. It was crowded, it was loud, it was really quite fun. There was alot of food there, mostly of the deep fried variety. I got quite hungry while there. They had some jerked food there too, so I thought to myself, let's just go to Jamaican Jerk Hut. It's another Philadelphia institution I'd never actually been to, although I'd always wanted to go there, and I've walked or driven past there dozens of times. Even Hollywood movies have been filmed there. There's a small dining area inside and a veranda area on the outside, with one section covered, and one large section open. There's a large open "lawn" type area on the outside as well. They also do other cool things out in this big lawn, like show movies and such.

It's a BYOB, which is sweet. They give you some free chips and salsa to start with. I'm always up for chips and salsa, and free is certainly a nice surprise. I went with the oxtail stew as an entree, which is served with rice, jamaican cabbage, and a piece of fried plantain. I loved it! I'm used to eating oxtail because oxtail soup is a Korean staple and I grew up eating this slightly odd looking cut of meat. The stew flavorings were strong, pungent, and tasty. The jamaican cabbage was a nice surprise. It was my favorite item on the whole plate! I do like cabbage, and I don't know how they cooked it, but I just ate this up.

Z ordered the jerk chicken platter. His came with some rice and beans, jamaican cabbage, and the fried plantain. I tasted some and it was nice and jerky, and by jerky, I of course mean spicy. It was also well cooked. In all, the food here was great, everything I expected and more. The service isn't great, but it's certainly acceptable. I don't think this is a place where you go expecting great service. Sitting outside on the veranda was also quite nice, but it was a little buggy, so come prepared!

Jamaican Jerk Hut

1436 South St

Philadelphia, PA



Thursday, June 14, 2007

A relaxing Sunday in Northern Liberties

I was hanging out in Northern Liberties on Sunday, first visiting Elixir Cafe, a fairly new coffee shop. We think it's run by a Russian couple. There's free wi-fi, hooray! There's lots of cheesy italian-style leather furniture. I'm not a coffee drinker because I can't do caffeine (seriously, I physically can't do it) but I wanted something, so I got a decaf iced coffee. What I liked best about this place is that they had a bottle of simple sugar. This way, I didn't have to worry about putting sugar in my iced coffee and not having it melt. I put lots in mine, and it worked perfectly. Oh, and they also have food, sandwiches, crepes, and such.

We biked up to Liberties Walk to get a bite to eat. Liberties Walk is a fairly new apartment community, somewhat swanky, with the ground floors dedicated to retailers. On this particular Sunday, they had some kind of outdoor pet-related festival going on, with lots of pet-related vendors and also a mobile pet adoption trailer. It was cute. We headed over to a Full Plate Cafe, which I've read about tons from Foodaphilia and other Philly food blogs. I was really excited about it.

It's an adorable little place, very colorful, with mostly a bunch of two top tables. The inside is basically one small room. We sat outside in the sunshine. I wanted something sweet, again, so I had the waffle-wish. It was waffles with a banana cream, topped with freshly sliced strawberries and coconut shavings. So good! It also came with some delicious home fries. I loved everything about it. There's something about the strawberries that restaurants use. Whenever I buy strawberries, they're never that good. Whenever I get some at a restaurant, they're super sweet and fresh. What's the deal?

Z had the chicken salad sandwich. This sandwich was awesome! It was shredded chicken, as opposed to the standard cubed or chopped, and it had little bits of red grapes in it. So good! There was some celery in it, and I don't like celery, but they chop it small enough that it's just a crunch, and not anything offensive. I also loved the fact that they give you water in giant mason jars with lemon. You'll never need a refill because they're so big! The service was good, the food was even better. Definitely worth all the recommendations I'd read.

Elixir Cafe
944 N 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A waffle-ing we go

After the disappointing meal at Cafe de Laos, we biked onward more towards center city and passed the Bonte. I don't know when these popped up in town, but I'd read about them from Gastronomy. I'd passed it a few times earlier and wanted to stop, so on this beautiful day, I did.

They serve a belgian style waffle freshly made, as if you were getting it on the streets of belgium. I've never been to Belgium, at least not yet. But I believe I did have a belgian style waffle when I was in europe. And I remember watching this belgian movie, Rosetta, where the protagonist took over a waffle cart. And none of these supposed belgian street waffles looked anything like the waffle at Bonte. Not that that's a bad thing.

I just ordered a plain one. And it doesn't come plain, it comes with lots of sugar crystals. When you first see it, you say to yourself, hey, why does my waffle have salt all over it? It looks like hunks of salt that you would find on a soft pretzel. But fear not, it's deliciously sweet hunks of sugar instead. Yum. I found the waffle a little bit too doughy, in that when you're eating it, you keep asking yourself whether it sat in the wafflemaker long enough. But I guess that's how it's supposed to be. I certainly wouldn't mind it if it was a little more "done" but it's still tasty nonetheless. And at less than $3, it's an affordable dessert/snack. They also have coffee too. We sat outside that day and after I placed my order, they brought it out to me. That's what I call service.


Monday, June 11, 2007

I really wanted to love it...

I've been wanting to go to Cafe de Laos for a long time. I've heard great things about it. So after a brief visit to the BBoy BBQ on Saturday, we rode our bikes a few more blocks to Washington Ave and found the only Laotian (I think) restaurant in Philadelphia. It's on South 11th, just off of Washington Ave, next to that other Vietnamese shopping center on Washington Ave. Yes, there are two.

It was fairly early, so we were the only diners in the whole place. It's small and intimate, dark and decorated with standard stuff you would see at a Thai place. It is actually Laotian and Thai food. There were elephants everywhere, you know what I mean. It's a BYOB, and we didn't know, so we had no B. But that's ok, we were riding around on bikes. We didn't need to get BUI's.

Z got the tom yum, from the thai menu. There was actually a tom yum gai na on the laos side, which I imagine is a laotian take on a thai standard. It was quite good. There was a calimari special tha we got as an appetizer. It was plain calimari, not battered, that was grilled and served with a little side salad and a spicy sauce. The side salad was delicious, and came with a ginger type of dressing you would normally find at a japanese restaurant. This was slightly sweeter though, so a thai-ized version from the japanese. The spicy sauce was not special at all, but basically a fish sauce with some spice and herbs thrown in. I like fish sauce, or at least don't mind it, so it wasn't a problem for me. Z hates it and can't even stand to smell it, so he asked for a side of any random hot sauce. The hot sauce they brought out kicked butt. It was delicious. The calimari itself was good, but may be a bit too natural for some. It's plain and grilled with no flavoring. So it really just tastes like the sea. I love squid, and I'm even very used to eating dried squid, so I didn't mind the very natural taste and smell. But I imagine that it's not for everyone.

For entrees, Z ordered Om Laos. It was under the "Laos Curry" section but it did not have any curry powder in it. It did have beef and veggies. In my opinion, it was basically a laos style beef stew. I liked this quite a lot, but it wasn't very exotic. It was simple but tasty. I asked the server what was quintessentially laotian, that did not have coconut milk in it. I do not like coconut milk, so I avoid it at all costs. He recommended Hor Mok Kai, which was steamed marinated chicken breast with herbs and spices in banana leaf. This is where things get bad. This was, hands down, one of the most unpleasant dishes I've ever eaten in my life. And I've eaten a lot of food, and there are very few things that I truly dislike. This hor mok kai stuff - it sucked. And I would hardly ever say this about any food. There was some extremely offensive herb or spice in this dish, and you could taste it in every bite, and it nearly made me want to vomit. It was just me though, as Z ate it just fine. He didn't like it, but he said he didn't hate it, and he ate it up anyway. He was quite hungry this day. I was glad someone was eating it, because I wasn't having any of it. The only way I could eat a piece of the chicken was if I drowned it in that hot sauce they had brought out earlier.

~SIGH~ I so wanted to love my laotian food experience. I really really truly did. But what did I conclude from the two entrees that we just happened to pick out? 1) Don't ask your server what is quintessentially laotian, as that obviously sucks, and 2) they make good beef stew. Is this really what I came here to find out? I was so disappointed. So so so damn disappointed. I would definitely eat here again though. The service was quite good and attentive. Perhaps too attentive as since we were the only diners, I swear, they watched us take every bite. The prices were reasonable, but you don't get very much food, at least for dinner. I've heard better things about their lunch specials. I just hope that I somehow picked the most unfortunate dish in the whole menu. Or next time, I need to stick to the thai side of the menu.

Cafe de Laos

1117 South 11th Street



Chef Donald, grillin' machine

The ice cream truck has been coming around lately, and he stops in front of our building every few days. It's been hot as heck lately, so it's nice. He doesn't play the music though, which is a bummer. I had a big bomb pop that day. It's one of my favorites. The truck is manned by a sweet old white haired guy who speaks with a funny accent.

Chef Donald graced us with chicken last Friday. The first Friday he was here, he had two helpers. This time, he was on his own. But once again, he was well armed with garlic and onions and a bevvy of spices. I saw a big jug of wine this time too. Who the hell knows what he does with the meat of the week and the veggies and mystery spices? All I know is it's damn good. The man cooks for well over 100 people on one not that big grill, and it's cooked well, not overdone, not dry. How does he do it? I guess it's just because he's a pro.

Friday, June 8, 2007

What the World Eats,29307,1626519,00.html

Fascinating, just fascinating, I do say... Check out this cool photoessay.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Scampi Time

On Saturday night I was treated to a homemade meal of giant shrimp scampi. These shrimps were big. Really really big. Huge even. They graced us courtesy of Super Fresh and came pre-deveined. How decadent. Z cooked them with a scampi recipe he found which consisted of garlic, shallots, butter, olive oil, green onions, and chives. It was absolutely delicious. These shrimps were sweet and perfectly cooked with plenty of scampi flavor. We ate them on a bed of angel hair pasta along with some steamed red potatoes. What a great dinner! And I didn't have to lift a damn finger. Those are my favorite types of meals.

We also had some hummus with some bread and triscuits. It was spinach and artichoke hummus, and I wasn't too crazy about it. I don't like cooked spinach and I'm not too into artichokes either. For dessert, we tried to make some mixed fruit smoothies, but F's blender was booty. It whirred and whirred and made a big stink (literally), but it didn't mix a thing. It's a shame because all this fruit ended up going to waste. I hate wasting good fruit!

On this day, I also happened to volunteer at the Appel Farm Art & Music Festival. I do it every year and I love it. One of the best things about volunteering is that they feed you lunch. Haha. This year they had pulled pork sandwiches, again. They were incredibly tasty this year. Last year was ok, but this year it was so much better. They also had an unbelievable corn, tomato, and asparagus salad. I went back for more and the bowl was gone! Damn. So if anybody knows of a good recipe for a corn, tomato, and asparagus salad, please pass it along. It was simple with a vinaigrette type of dressing on it.