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foodzings: October 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tierra Colombiana

Tierra Colombiana is a large Cuban and Colombian restaurant in North Philadelphia, on 5th street, just east of 1. It's not in the loveliest of neighborhoods. But it does offer plenty of parking. And despite its unfortunate location, the restaurant itself is pretty cute, and certainly the cutest structure for blocks around.

The restaurant itself is quite large, with plenty of tables. They bring out some free bread, and it's yummy. It's warm and grilled. The menu is extensive, with both Cuban and Colombian dishes. They also have a large selection of fresh fruit smoothies. I got a passion fruit smoothie made with milk. It was delicious and had an extremely strong passion fruit flavor. R got a soursop smoothie, and I got a trigo smoothie.

We started with a number of appetizers. The aranitas is shredded plantain fritters served with garlic sauce. It was basically shredded plantain fries served with a garlic sauce, which tasted a bit like ranch dressing. We got two different empanadas, one with cheese and one with chicken. They were both good but the cheese one wasn't too exciting. I enjoyed the chicken one much more. Lastly, we got the maduro frito con queso, which was a whole sweet plantain with a strip of cheese. Although rather unattractive looking and phallic, the dish was good, and the cheese is nice and mild.

For our entrees, L got the ceviche de camarones, from the Colombian menu. It is shrimp in lemon sauce with onions and cilantro. When you order most entrees, you also get to select a side and your choice of rice. For his entree, I got the arroz con camarones, also from the Colombian menu. It is a shrimp and rice casserole, and I was lucky enough to taste this, and loved it. I could totally get this myself next time.

R and I both ordered from the cuban side of the menu. Essentially, we ordered the same dish, only hers was sliced pork, and mine was big hunks of pork. They both came with black rice, which was actually white rice with black beans, steamed cassava, which was basically like a steamed potato, cuban tamale, which was a cuban style tamale, and plantains. This was tons of food. Their portions are more than generous. I was actually getting full from the bread, the smoothie, and the appetizers. By the time we got to the entrees, I barely made a dent in it. Regardless, it was delicious, all of it. The leftovers were delicious.

Service is adequate and frienly. Prices are reasonable for the giant portions you get. But best of all, the food is great. So if you're up for the drive to the hood, it's a nice outing.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

People Love Them Some Free Burritos...

Last Tuesday, the new Chipotle on City Line Ave was giving away free burritos. It's the first Chipotle in the area. I don't know why, but there are many people crazy about it. Really, it's just fast mexican food. It's not any better than any of the other chains. But there are people obsessed with it. It's bizarre. I thought it would be amusing to head down there and check out the madness. As expected, it was nuts. The line was at least 100 yds long, and probably about 2-4 people thick. If I had gotten in line, I may have gotten to eat by 10PM. Not really my cup of tea. What we did notice is that two stores down from Chipotle was the not-yet-opened Pei Wei, the casual "asian diner" from PF Chang's. The menu looked pretty cool, so I'm excited to check it out once it opens.

So M and I headed over to Sang Kee in Wynnewood because we both like it and we wanted to eat right away. M got the pan fried noodles, which is her standard go-to item there. I went with the roasted pork wonton noodle bowl. I was really wanting some roasted pork. Everything was good. Even later on a Tuesday night, the place was pretty much full. Service was attentive, as usual. My pork was a bit more fatty than I would have liked, but it was still plenty of food, tasty, and really cheap.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Dining Juror

I had jury duty on Tuesday. It was excruciating. I haven't slept well lately, and I've been extra hungry. And they didn't excuse us for lunch until 1PM. I was dying. I was in Delco court, so I was in Media. Luckily, State Street in downtown Media has tons of dining choices. I ended up at La Na Thai French Cuisine. They lured me in with their lunch special sign.

I picked the lemongrass soup (tom yum) and the som tum (or at least I think that's what it was called) which was basically a shredded cabbage salad. I haven't been eating too many fresh fruits or veggies lately, so I picked that over some kind of fried roll. The soup was just fine and the salad was really good. Very crunchy. It had a sweet and sour fish sauce based dressing, and I tried my darndest to not get any of the sauce on me, but I probably did get some of it on my shirt. And I probably stank like fish sauce for the rest of the day. But I didn't care, I was only going back to sitting in the jury room.
I got the drunken noodles as my entree. I've said before, it's what I usually order any time I eat thai food. It's always a solid choice and I know I like it. It was pretty darn spicy. It had two little chili peppers on the menu, and they were quite deserving. In general, the food was just fine. Nothing spectacular, but good and inexpensive. The service was so so. The restaurant itself is fairly small, with tragic tablecloths and a really bad faux paint job. For the price, it's a good choice for lunch while suffering through jury duty.
La Na Thai French Cuisine
33 W State St
Media, PA


Monday, October 15, 2007

Bye Bye Chef Donald

Last Friday was the last week of the season where Chef Donald graced us with his grilling prowess. Sadness. This is truly the end of summer. For his last meal, he made hawaiian chicken. It was delicious, and had pineapples in it. I loved every bit of it.

I even took some home for dinner and it reheated itself beautifully. I don't know what he put it in, I never know what he puts in his lunches, but I just loved it. And I will miss him every Friday until next summer. Bye bye Chef Donald, you have no idea how much my stomach will miss you!


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fish Taco First

M and I are doing something completely cool this October - glassblowing class. And yes, it is just about as cool as it sounds. Before our first class last week, she fed me fish tacos. She made everything from scratch, from a Bon Appetit recipe. It's all totally beyond me. She used frozen tilapia from trader joe's and marinated it in some kind of milk with a little hot sauce thrown in.

She also prepared some sliced avocados, fresh pico de gallo, pickled red onions, and some kind of mayonnaise based cream sauce. She dredged the fish in flour and fried them up. Look, she even has really fancy pans.

Put it all together with warmed tortillas, and it was a delicious feast. I've never actually had fish tacos before, but I totally loved them. I love fish, I love tacos, so I don't know why I'd never eaten them before. I'd make these myself were I a better cooker than an eater!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Healthy Festival Food

Sunday was the Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts Festival, held on Germantown Avenue. Have you been to Chestnut Hill? It's friggin cute. I've only been there once before, and that was for a work dinner at the Melting Pot, so I never even got to see the adorable little town and the main drag. Trust me, seriously, it's cute.

It was a beautiful day out, and people came out in droves. It was much more of a neighborhoody gathering than, let's say, the Manayunk Arts Festival, which seems much more fancy. As far as food, there was actually quite a lot to choose from. There was chinese, barbeque, indian, burgers, fondue, all kinds of stuff. But don't think they only had fancy stuff, as they also had funnel cake. At this particular stand, they also had deep fried oreos. Eek. E wanted some funnel cake. There were actual flavor choices, but she wanted it plain.

On Saturday, I had been craving cotton candy. Why? I have no idea, but I had. Lo and behold, they had cotton candy!!! They were switching back and forth between blue and pink flavors, and I ended up with blue. It was delicious. It was probably the last warm and sunny weekend we'll be having for awhile, so it was nice to enjoy it outdoors with all the peeps.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Last Saturday was Oktoberfest down in front of Ludwig's. They shut the few blocks down, set up some tents, and brought out plenty of beer. It was all part of the Midtown Village Fall Festival. They even had a little piggy on a spit. Poor little guy, being stuck straight through its little pig bum.

There was some limited food on the menu, mainly wursts. I'm not that crazy about german food, so I passed. M&M got a pork sandwich and also got some kind of wurst. I'm not sure which type, it was some kind of ground up meat in a casing. It came with potatoes and sauerkraut. I did taste whichever wurst they got (not pictured, obviously) and it wasn't too bad. It basically tasted like a big breakfast sausage.
M also got some apple strudel. Omigosh, this was so good. The actual apple strudel part was good, but the sauce stuff that comes with it, oh dear lord, I could have drank this stuff with a straw. Heavenly! Note to self, don't go to Oktoberfest late in the day without having eaten all day. You will get drunk.

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Choo Choo Vietnamese

So I have a thing for hole in the wall places. This is not to say I don't enjoy a night at mahogany laden Vietnam Restaurant, but I like my casual joints too. I went to Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai on Friday night. You know it, it's got that big neon choo choo train in its window. You could totally miss it though if you don't know that you're looking for it.

I've only had pho or the rice flake here. Usually, it's cold enough so I go with the pho. It wasn't quite cold enough yet, so I went with the grilled pork and spring roll bun. Honestly, I've had better. The spring roll was fine, but the pork was rather odd. It seemed like big and thin pieces of pork that they grilled and then it got all folded up. It was just different than other buns I've had. And I prefer the other kinds. Now I know for next time, stick with the pho.

I'm not sure what C got. I think it was one of the banh hoi dishes, the combo vermicelli, the ones that come with the rice wrappers you can use to make your own little rolls. He got pork and shrimp. This place is small, crowded, extremely brightly lit, and the service is acceptable. Most of the time it is ok, but on this particular visit, our waiter didn't understand what I asked him (and I think that I speak English nearly perfectly) and so he said to me, in a very slow and very loud way "ARE...YOU...READY...TO...ORDER". Like I didn't speak english. Gah, it was slightly humiliating. But hey, it certainly makes it memorable.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Fancy Schmancy Chinese - Is There Such a Thing?

I met my friend L for lunch last week. A good mid point between our respective workplaces was Bryn Mawr. We picked Yangming. L used to live behind there a few years ago, but she hadn't ever gone there! It's a fancy schmancy place. Cloth napkins. Real silverware. They don't give you chopsticks unless you ask. They even have a fancy (possibly genuine) statue in their foyer. Wow, food and an art/history lesson. What more can you ask for?

It was later for lunch, and there were still a good amount of people there. It was surprising. They have quite a decent lunch menu. We started with some steamed pork dumplings. They were alright. There was pretty much just pork in them. I don't recall any vegetable looking substance in there at all. The dipping sauce was a tad on the salty side.

I got the orange beef and L got general tso's chicken. I only took pictures of my beef because the two dishes looked exactly the same. It would have been impossible to tell them apart visually. The beef was just fine. Nothing spectacular, but good. It wasn't tons of batter, which I like. There were actual big piece of meat in there. They bring out some sort of fried rice, but it's not really fried rice. In reality, it's pretty plain. They don't ask you what kind of rice you want. I wish they had, I would have just had plain steamed white rice.

Service is good and attentive. And for a swanky place, prices are quite reasonable. But you know what, I'd still rather eat in a hole-in-the-wall in Chinatown any day of the week.