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foodzings: August 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Crab Man!

On Thursday, P turned the big 3-0. Yes, it's all downhill from here folks. In order to celebrate, he picked up a half bushel of maryland blue crab on his way home from his gig in Annapolis. I loved that it was his birthday, yet he brought us crab and fed us. It was my kind of celebration. Look at these perfect specimens of crutaceous splendor. They were a bit on the small side, but still delicious. Lots of work to get to the meat, but still worth it all. At least I was nice enough to provide the birthday boy with his beer of choice, Rolling Rock.

A also baked a cake. It was an adorable strawberry cake topped with a whipped frosting and fresh strawberries. Please excuse the crazy black sparkled candles from the dollar store. It was a bit windy outside so they all started blowing out. The cake was from a box so it tasted like fake strawberry, but heck, I like fake strawberry flavoring. Thumbs up from me on the cake!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Checking out Warmdaddy's

On Sunday nights at Warmdaddy's, the Rich Tucker Blues experience jams it out. It also happens that Rich Tucker, aka "Richie", is T's cousin. It was totally fun! We sat right in the front so our eardrums got quite a workout. Oh, they serve soul food too.

You get a fresh hot piping iron skillet full of cornbread. Seriously, it's hot. It's pretty good, not great. Not quite sweet enough for me.

T ordered the catfish with candied yams and black eyed peas. I didn't taste this, but it sure looks pretty. Those catfish filets look beautiful.

I went with a fried shrimp po boy. No idea why. It wasn't that great. It was supposed to come with sweet potato fries, but it came with half sweet potato and half regular. It was weird. I felt jipped. The sandwich came with a cajun sauce. I liked that, but it was only in the bottom of the roll, so I only got some every other bite. That's kinda annoying, no? And of course I ordered a side of mac and cheese. It was ok too. As it got colder, it got saltier and saltier. That was a bit annoying too.

When the band is playing, it's loud. Very loud. So don't expect to go there for a nice romantic dinner. Service is so so. So is the food. But the music? Yeah, the music is hot. It's just a fun place. So head down there!


I should be in Geek Squad

Having worked in the technology or technology-esque world for the past 8-ish years or so, I've somehow become the family techie. When my mom's internet died, I had to fix it. Then she told me the sound wasn't working, so I had to fix that too. I did fix both, without much trouble. A simple reset of the wireless router (why it didn't work when I told her to do it on the phone, I will never know) and a new audio driver download make everything good to go.

To reward me, she brought me dinner. Sure it's no Geek Squad fee, but seriously, you can pretty much get me to do anything by feeding me. Well, just about anything. She picked up some naengmyun for me from somewhere in the H Mart food court. We'd had it before awhile back and it wasn't very good. Someone told her they changed the recipe and that it was much better. Well, it wasn't any better. Well, it wasn't as bad as last time, but it still wasn't any good.

It's such a weird looking dish, isn't it? It's grey noodles (made of buckwheat), swimming in a bowl of cool beef based broth. There's some slices of cukes and pickled radish too. A half a hard-boiled egg and some sliced egg too. Don't you love the ghetto mini banchan (regular kimchi in one, and cucumber kimchi in the other) in plastic containers and the wooden chopsticks? The broth was the problem. The noodles weren't that great, but so-so noodles can be redeemed by good naengmyun broth. This broth wouldn't do. But I ate it anyway because I was starving. I'd only had a smoothie that day. I feasted mostly on the veggies. The regular kimchi was awful. The cucumber kimchi was edible, thankfully. If she ever tries to order this again from that place, I'll put the kibosh on it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Silk Cuisine - Thai in Bryn Mawr

It certainly seems like I like thai food a lot. After all, I've eaten it nearly a handful of times in the past few months. The thing is, it's not even my favorite! Of asian food, I much prefer Korean or Vietnamese. I think lately, it hasn't been my pick, but it's something that I'm always happy with. But not necessary my first, or second, or third choice. But always a fairly safe one.

On Tuesday night I really wanted a hot bowl of soup. Pho in fact. But I would have been happy with any big bowl of soupy noodles. Although there is a vietnamese place in Bryn Mawr, their pho is weird, so we passed on it. Z wanted thai so we headed to Silk Cuisine in Bryn Mawr. It was cold, miserable, and raining out. The place was dead. We were the second and only other party there. I guess people in the burbs don't get out much when it's cold and raining in August.

We started with the seafood rice soup. I tell ya, this soup is damn great. It's a simple light broth with rice and lots of seafood. Crab claw meat, squid, and shrimp are included amongst the greens. It definitely has a strong seafood flavor. If you like seafood but don't like stuff to smell seafoody or taste extremely from the sea, then don't get this. But for those of you who truly love seafood, this soup is the one for you.

We ordered shrimp with bamboo. It was basically a bunch of big shrimp with bamboo shoots and other veggies in a thai basil sauce. You know thai basil sauce, it's very distinctive and can be easily found in every thai restaurant. This dish was good. The shrimp were big, there were a lot of them, and the flavor was well dispersed through all the ingredients.

Like I said, I wanted a noodle soup dish. No noodle soup dishes were to be found on the Silk Cuisine menu. I went withe closest thing, the baked tofu. It didn't exactly serve as a good substitute for noodle soup. There were many many slivers of ginger. And the dish had an extremely gingery flavor. I like ginger and all, but I hate biting into ginger. It's like they used ginger as the main ingredient, not something for adding a bit of flavor. So I had to remove them all. That took a long time. The flavor of this dish was very mild and plain. Nothing exciting about it. I added some chili paste and it tasted much better. It was fine, but it wasn't a bowl of soup and it was hard to eat. I would never get this again. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it either. Unless you want to eat straight up ginger. Not bad, but nothing that I need to eat again.

The place has a decent sized dining room. It's decorated in typical thai style, but there aren't that many elephants on the wall. Service was good. But it better have been. There was a 1-to-1 ratio of waitress to table.

Silk Cuisine
656 Lancaster Ave
Bryn Mawr, PA


La Viola Ouest - best of the BYOBs

I'd been hearing about La Viola all summer long. Everyone had been raving about it. It's not a new place, but it seemed that everyone was discovering it this summer. There are two locations, both on south 16th, the original La Viola and the bigger and slightly nicer Ouest location. Because we had a big party, we had to go to Ouest on the west side of 16th. Hence the name. Please keep in mind that the Ouest dining room apparently has more items on the menu and that dishes are about $1-2 higher than the regular La Viola. In the original La Viola, it's much smaller and more crowded.

La Viola Ouest does not have a sign. So good luck finding it. It's basically in a row home, so it's a long and narrow dining room. It's decorated very simply. Real Italians, with accents and all, are the waiters there. It's a BYOB, so bring your own booze people! No corkage fee either, which is nice! They give you free sourdough tasting bread that is warm, and (hopefully) home-baked. I quite enjoyed it.

The prices are quite reasonable. These veal dishes above were $14, as were most of the other veal dishes. There were plenty veal dishes to choose from. I don't know what the first one is, but it certainly looks damn fancy. Are those veal medallions? The gnocchi was only $9. What a bargain.

I went with the lobster ravioli. I absolutely love ravioli so I try to order it whenever possible. And I especially love lobster ravioli. There were only five, but they were large. I wished there were 50 more! So yes, I liked them alot. In fact, everyone loved their food! There's so much to choose from here, I definitely have to come back and try more dishes out.

La Viola

253 S. 16th St


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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rufus in a Dress

I love Rufus Wainwright. I just do. I know we both like boys, but still, I wish I could love him. Literally, hahaha. We went to see him Friday night at the Mann, and as always, he put on a great show. Not only is he talented with his darn songwriting, musicianship, and singing, but as a live act he's hilarious. Seriously, he should be a comedy act. This show was the first time where it was much more of an actual production. This dude that looked like Amadeus was the musical director, and there were even costume changes. Towards the end, Rufus even put on a dress, or at least a tuxedo jacket that served as a dress. He put on earrings, lipstick, a ring, and heels. And he danced around with long slim legs. I was jealous. It was absolutely fabulous. True, he could have just sung a phone book and I would have still loved it, but it really was an amazing show. I even got really cheapie discount tickets, but I so would have paid regular price! That's how good it was!

Before the show, we went for a bite at Sangkee. It was close and the food typically comes out quickly. On a Friday night at 8, this place is hopping, busting at the gills. Perhaps not the best idea. We sat at the bar because we didn't want to wait. But wait we did. Note to self. Sangkee on a Friday night is not a good idea if you don't want to wait! We waited an awful lot. But we got to watch all the kitchen action. It's a really small and narrow kitchen filled with male chinese cooks. Not a woman to be seen in that kitchen! We watched some blowtorch action, lots of stir frying, some pork hacking, it was quite entertaining.
We had the chicken satay appetizer. Man, this was good. Perfectly cooked, not dry at all, with good flavor and a zesty dipping sauce. It was a peanut based sauce, but very mildly peanutty. Plus these lovely chicken sticks came sitting on a little bed of pickled daikon and carrots, which I just love love love! K got chicken with fresh ginger and fired scallion in brown sauce? Watch out, there's big huge chunks of ginger in this! Otherwise, it was a pretty good dish, with just enough flavor. Whatever chicken they use, I like it. It's good chicken. White meat, but not dry.

I went with a special, singapore chicken. It came with pineapple, mango, and lychee in an "exotic" sauce. Ok, the sauce wasn't exotic, actually fairly plain, but it was still a good dish. I like sangkee because they also give you the choice of white or brown rice. I went with the brown rice, and it was good! We had a nice meal, showed up at the Mann just in time to not have to sit through the two openers, and didn't even have to pay the parking fee. During dinner, it had stormed like a mofo, but we missed it all! So at the show, it was nice and cool. It was a perfect night!


Friday, August 17, 2007

Other Vegas Eats

On Saturday, we got up late and then decided to go to a buffet. Yes, we were in Vegas, so we HAD to go to a buffet! We stayed at the Rio, and they had a buffet that always gets best buffet in Vegas, so we went for it. That was the Carnival World Buffet. It's ginormous. It was almost too much. It was also a champagne brunch, so since it was pretty expensive, I made sure I got my moneys worth by drinking alot of cheap champagne. They had pretty much everything you could think of. They had all kinds of asian noodle soups. I tried the pho, it was bad. I had some king crab legs. They were fine, but they don't give you crackers, so they were hard to eat. I had some pretty good chinese dumplings, and one seafood stir fry dish was amazing. The squid in this dish was perfectly cooked and flavored. They also had galbi, korean bbq. It was a bit on the sweet side, but it wasn't half bad! Sadly, they did not have creme brulee, my favorite dessert in the world. But they had a crapload of other desserts. They had some gelato that I am happy to say was really tasty! I ate a bunch of different flavors. The dude scooping the gelato noticed how many times I came back!

After brunch, we went bowling. While there, we drank some fabulous blueberry mojitos. They came with a little sugar cane stick and nobody wanted their's. So I munched on about a dozen sugar cane sticks. Hahahahaha! So now let me tell you about the food highlight of our trip. At
Lucky Strike, they have these fantastic appetizers - crunchy mashed potato rolls and mac and cheese bites. Oh my god! Both of these are fabulous! The crunchy mashed potato rolls are basically spring rolls filled with mashed potatoes served with sour cream. Dreamy! Now, these mac and cheese bite were just about the greatest things I've tasted in a long time. It's basically mac and cheese, shaped into a little bite sized appetizer, that is somehow battered and crispy on the outside. And they serve it with a marinara type dipping sauce. Seriously people, these were brilliant! I am still thinking about them!

After clubbing on Saturday night, we had a late night bite at the
All-American Bar & Grille. It was the only place open that late. I ordered chicken fingers and these weren't chicken fingers, they were like giant freak chicken fingers. They were huge. And there was way too much breading for me. What we all liked about this place is that the fries they served, were always mixed. There was regular, seasoned waffle, and seasoned curly fries. All restaurants should do this! It mixes it up and adds some nice variety.

The last and first time I went to Vegas, it was truly a glorious dining experience. I ate some amazing food at some amazing restaurants (including Nobu!) and found the food and the service in Vegas to be pretty damn great. This time wasn't the best food-wise, but it was still lots of fun. You have to remember that my first Vegas trip was for a convention, this one was purely for some girls' weekend fun. But really, those mac and cheese bites were worth the whole trip! Lucky for me, we have a lucky strike in Philly!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Eating Out at Pink Taco

Yes folks, I said it. Can you blame me? If you eat at a restaurant called Pink Taco, you have to joke about it a bit. :-)

So after our fried snacks, we went for a real meal at Pink Taco. You've probably heard of it because it's owned by Harry Morton or something, one of the names that's been associated with Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan or the like. It's a chain too. In Vegas, you can get your very own pink tacos at the Hard Rock. We had a long wait, so we did a tiny bit of gambling. Nobody did very well, except for A who won a bunch on the Wheel of Fortune slots, but then lost it all later. It's fun anyways.

So Pink Taco. Yes, Pink Taco. I read up a little bit on it, and it's gotten terrible reviews. So I prepared myself for the worst. People don't go there for the food. People go there because it has an amusing name, and they're drunk and hungry. We were hungry, and we thought it was a hilarious name.

They give you free chips! Yes, I love free stuff in Vegas. The chips were extremely greasy. You get three different types of salsas. I thought the chipotle one was the best. It wasn't all that great, but it was the one I liked the most. But seriously, these chips were just a bit too greasy. They make their own tortillas, so I imagine they may actually make these chips. They should think about degreasing these a bit!

We ordered some guacamole. It was $7. It was ok, but nothing enthralling. For $7, it should have been fabulous. Honestly, I think the guac you can buy at Trader Joe's is far better. It is pretty looking though, and I like that they threw the pit in the dish. Very artistic.

T ordered the tamales. I didn't taste them, but they look alright. They were pretty big. L got some kind of salad, I believe it may be the chicken tostada salad. It's also rather attractive, or at least colorful. She said it was pretty good.

A, our bachelorette, went with the namesake - the pink tacos. They are chicken tacos on corn tortillas that are pink, because of the pickled onions. It came with a huge ass pile of rice, see? I didn't taste the entire taco, but I did taste the pink. It was indeed pickled onions. A sour onion. Not bad really.

C went with the carnitas tacos and I went with the carne asada tacos. Basically, she got pork tacos and I got beef. My tacos weren't terrible. They were ok. The beans were strangely spicy. There was a weird spicy kick to them. I had to eat them along with the rice because the spiciness just threw me. The rice was blah. It was a bit too crunchy and wasn't really flavored. It came only on one tortilla. When you get real mexican tacos, you always get two tortillas. Pink Taco, use two tortillas per taco, because they fall apart quite easily.

The service was ok. We were in a booth, and they were these weird tall booths, so when you sat, I couldn't touch the floor with my feet. I know I'm short y'all, but I'm not that short. It's a bit weird. It was like sitting on stools, but in a booth. Took some getting used to. So their food is alright. They do have quite an impressive tequila selection, pretty much anything you would want is there. So even if the food ain't great, you could just get wasted on top shelf tequila.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Must Share Flight Story to Vegas

This past weekend, I went to Vegas for a bachelorette party weekend. I know this is a food blog, but I must share my bad travel story. I'll interject pseudo food related anecdotes where I see fit. So some of you may have heard of a minor TSA incident in Charlotte Friday morning. Apparently, some dude bypassed the security screening and they spent all morning looking for him. They did not find him. So any flights that left Charlotte at that time had to have extra screening and inspection. And of course, my flight originated in Charlotte. Yey me. So that led to a delay getting out of Philly. And because they were delayed they didn't empty the toilets. So in the middle of our flight to Vegas, the toilets got full. Eeg. Seriously. Instead of just plugging along, they decided to stop in Denver to empty the toilets (this was supposed to be a non-stop flight). Folks, I can't make this up. They wouldn't let us off the plane as they cleaned the toilets. And yes, it smelled. Oh, by the way, I bought a snack pack on the plane. It had chips and salsa, cheese and breadsticks, a blueberry bar, and some nestle crunch candy. The chips and salsa were good, so were the cheese and breadsticks. The blueberry bar was crappy. The crunch candy too sweet for me. I was starving. Seriously. Because I was on a plane for about 8 hours without real food.

Eventually, I made it to Vegas, nearly 4 hours late. I love flying! Out of the 5 of us, two of us had delayed flights. Statistically, that's probably the norm. Since we were all starving, while getting ready for our first night out, we ordered in some deep fried goodies. Mozzarella sticks, fries, and onion rings. We were just trying to set up a nice base in the bottoms of our bellies for a drink-fueled night to come. More to report on the Vegas trip after this post. But unfortunately, my camera broke right after our dinner Friday night. So sad! So for the rest of my trip eats, I'll just have to describe the goodies. And we had such goodies!


Tempura Time!

The other weekend, I cooked. For real! It involved lots of preparation and use of the stove. And it wasn't easy either! You see, this day I decided to play with the magic of deep frying. After all, everything tastes better when deep fried!

We had a bunch of shrimp, and even some leftover pork cutlets, so we made both shrimp tempura and our version of tonkatsu, japanese pork cutlet. For the pork cutlet, I pounded the pork chops down flat using the bottom of a glass. I didn't have a tenderizer so I had to improvise. Then I coated it with store-bought tempura mix (just the straight powder, not the actual batter that you make by adding water to the mix), dipped it in egg, and then coated it with panko. Panko is a japanese breadcrumb you can buy. It makes everything fried taste great. Then I just pan fried the pork until it was golden brown. We did buy some bottled tonkatsu sauce, but after an unfortunate lightpole incident, the bottle broke. We did salvage a tiny bit of the sauce, and if I do say so myself, the tonkatsu with the sauce tasted mighty fine. F said that it tasted like pork mcnuggets. Hey Mcdonalds! Pork fried nuggets! Take notes!

So onto the shrimp. Peeling, deveining, and butterflying are always fun. Most of the time when I deep fry shrimp, I usually just use the tempura batter. This time, we went for the panko. So just like the pork, it involved coating with the tempura mix powder, dipping in egg, and then coating with panko. And then into the boiling oil it goes! Cook until golden brown. I used to have a fry daddy, but I can't find it. I have an electric wok that I use now for anything deep fried. I like it because it has a temperature gauge so I can set it to what I want, it has a little drip tray thingy, and it has a lid so the grease doesn't have to blast everywhere. There is also bottled tempura dipping sauce mix. Once you dunk your hot crunchy shrimp and the dipping sauce gets all greasy, it makes it taste even better. Yes, it takes alot of effort, but sometimes, you just need to go for the deep fry. Your arteries will thank you!