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foodzings: June 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Drinks at the Cantina

After finally getting some food in our bellies, we walked up to Cantina Los Caballitos to grab a couple of drinks. The place is pretty cool, colorful, and freakin loud. And on a Saturday night, fairly crowded. I've heard mixed reviews about their food, but I'd definitely heard good things about their margaritas, so that's precisely what we went for.

R got a frozen watermelon margaritas. Oh my dear goodness these suckers are strong. They're not cheap, but they don't skimp on the tequila either. A coupla these and I'd be on my ass in no time. I really liked the watermelon one.

I went with a blood orange margarita, rocks. Again, super strong. I liked this too, but actually, I liked the watermelon one better.

PS - What's with these restaurants lately and all the bathroom doors having naked boobies everywhere? Bar Ferdinand had that weird male/female bull sign with female bull boobies, and now the Cantina has this mermaid showing off her tatas. That's what seashells are for, people. In any case, the bathrooms were fine.

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Closing Marra's Kitchen

On saturday night, we'd planned on having a nice leisurely dinner at Marra's on Passyunk. Wouldn't you know it, we get stuck on damn 76 for a freakin hour. Damn you Schuylkill shoulder repaving project! So by the time we finally got to Marra's, it was damn late, and we were freakin starvin.

The inside of this restaurant is fairly unattractive. I don't think anything has changed since it opened a gazillion years ago. But that's ok, you don't come here for the ambiance. You get some free bread, and by jove, we inhaled that loaf like we hadn't eaten in weeks.

R got the chicken parm. Damn, if that's not one of the largest pieces of chicken I've ever seen in my whole entire life. Entrees come with a side of pasta or veggie, and she got angel hair. I should have gotten pasta too, but I got the broccoli instead. It was good though, nice and garlicky. I usually like to try different stuff, but I got the eggplant parm again. I got it the first time I was at Marra's. It was still good.

The food here is good and not expensive at all. And as you can see, you get giant portions. The service is just ok, as there's plenty of south philly attitude. But this isn't a place for sweet service or lovely decor, it's all about the authentic italian cuisine.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hello? Moshi Moshi?

After the not eating at Mexican Post, we had to get some actual food. Some folks headed over to Moshi Moshi, so we eventually ended up there too. On the extra roundabout walk there, I had to stop by Capogiro for a free sample or too. R had never been there, so I had to indoctrinate her on all the glory that is Capogiro.

Moshi Moshi is a small sushi place on 18th. I'd been there once before that, a couple of years ago. I remembered it being just fine before. R got a couple pieces of sashimi and a philly roll. She barely ate any of this, not because it was bad, but because she didn't realize how much food it would be.

I got a house salad with the ginger dressing. I was pretty happy with this. This is one of the better ginger dressings I've had as of late.

I ordered one of their roll specials of the day. For the life of me, I can't remember what it was called or exactly what was in it, but from this photo, I see salmon, asparagus, avocado, mango, and maybe soft shell crab. It was pretty good.

A/H was sitting at a different table, but he ordered this beautiful green avocado covered roll. I just had to include it just as food porn.

The service was ok, but we got there fairly late and it felt kind of rushed. They said it was last call for food and it was about 9:30. But it was a Tuesday night, so I don't blame them. The prices here are reasonable. It's nothing spectacular, but it's a decent and low-key place to grab some sushi.

Moshi Moshi
108 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 496-9950

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Barely Eating at Mexican Post

I got attend a lovely outdoor Yelp happy hour the other night at Mexican Post's center city location. The food and drinks at Mexican Post? Not too hot. But the outdoor patio and company? Perfect on this breezy evening. You see, at other Yelp happy hours, the establishments lavish us with plenty of food, and better yet, plenty of free booze. This time around, we weren't so lucky. The food was few and far between and gone in a blink. And the drinks? They were stingy with them, and poured out in teeny little one sip cups. Needless to say, we were all seriously disappointed.
Wings, of the hot and bbq variety. A mexican restaurant who serves hot wings and bbq wings? There's nothing mexican food about these. They were ok, but I've had much better wings pretty much anywhere.
Chicken quesadillas. Not terrible, not great either.
Some nachos. Where's the sour cream? And the guacamole? Salsa? This was some of the unmexicany mexican food I'd encountered in awhile.
Spanish fries they called these. Does sprinkling some red powdered stuff on top of something give you rights to call it spanish? Gah.
Here's the watered down barely one-sip cups. If they were regular strength and in a human sized portion, they would probably have been quite enjoyable. But like I said, the patio was great. And if their food was good, it would have been that much better.

PS - Their bathrooms ain't bad. The sinks are cute, and while not the nicest or cleanest, the tile flooring was adorable. These are the floors I want, truly.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Post-Fest Beau Monde

I spent Saturday at the Popped! Philadelphia Music Festival. I was just being a music fan, as well as helping out a bit spreading the Yelp love, so I had the privilege of infiltrating the VIP area few times throughout the day. The VIP area was the only place where you could get booze. And since it was free, I couldn't help but partake. There was also some free finger foods. Good hummus.

Afterwards, C suggested that we go to Beau Monde for crepes. Who am I to argue? C got one of the savory crepe specials, achiote pulled pork with other mexican-ish ingredients. Man, this thing was so good. And so expensive. But kind of worth it.
I wanted to go for my regular banana, white chocolate, caramel, vanilla ice cream sweet crepe, but we got there pretty late and they were out of white chocolate as well as chestnut cream. The waitress suggested banana with dulce de leche so I went for it. Ok, so this was good, but way too rich. I could barely eat it because it was so darn sweet. Don't get me wrong I liked it, but really, I can only take so much sweet. I had to get the ice cream on the side on account of C's lactose intolerance, and because I can actually be nice, so there you go.

It was a really hot day, but had thankfully cooled off at night, so we got to eat outside. It was lovely and lively. A great way to end a long music-filled day.

PS - There's only 2 unisex bathrooms at Beau Monde. Again, doesn't this seem like this isn't enough? The regular one is kind of on the small side, but the handicapped one is nice and roomy. Go for that one if you can. It's really cute too, with some kind of fancy faux painting technique on the walls and real flowers, plus big old metal milk jugs as trash cans.


Two Kings Dinner

A always gets takeout from Two Kings, a pizza/italian joint in Tamaqua, when she's up at Lake Hauto. The people who run this place are really nice and genuine italians. I was surprised. Not at the nice part, but at the genuine italian part. They have hilarious medieval decorations all over the dining area. For real, a suit of armor... in a pizza place!

J got a meatball parm platter. He's quite the fan of this. It comes with your choice of pasta, a salad, and garlic knots. It's a whole lot of food. A got a meatball parm sandwich. She got a small, but it wasn't that small.
I got the crab ravioli, which was one of the pasta specials that night. It came with a salad and garlic knots. The garlic knots were pretty good, but extremely buttery. But it was good for sopping up the pink sauce of the ravioli. The ravioli were good too, a tiny bit on the salty side, but nothing too extreme. And they give you lots of ravioli, not 5 or 6, like normal places. I have no other Tamaquan restaurant to compare this to, but I'm thinking this is one of the best options there.

Two Kings Pizzeria
272 Claremont Ave
Tamaqua, PA
(570) 668-545


Sunday, June 22, 2008


So there isn't exactly too much to do around Lake Hauto. The nearest town is Tamaqua. And don't even get me started on it. But Tamaqua does have Heisler's. It's a dairy, and at Heisler's Cloverleaf Dairy, they sling ice cream and shakes, hot food at the Dairy Bar, and also have miniature golf, a waffle shop, and a bizarre gift shop. It's kind of random, but it was one of the highlights of the trip. And around here, people come from miles around to Heisler's.
The waffle shop was closed that day. Which was a bit of a bummer. I would have totally checked it out. You can get their ice cream and take it home with you! A got a chocolate peanut butter cone. Can you see the miniature golf in the background? I had a banana milkshake. You don't have very many choices when it comes to shakes here: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, banana, and maybe one more that I forget. They have tons of flavors of ice cream, but they only make shakes from the soft serve. Strange. They should do something about that. But the banana shake? Awesome. So I can't complain too much.


Chillin' in Lake Hauto

I had a teensy weensy mini-break towards the end of last week. A invited me up to her dad's brand spankin new cabin in Lake Hauto. This place is phat, yo. And it's even more impressive when you know that the cabin was put together in a day. Yes, a day. Thus is the beauty of modular construction.

I got there on Thursday night and they treated me to a fine dinner of fried shrimp and powdered mashed potatoes, courtesy of the local Wal-Mart. I'm not embarrassed. And in light of the current economic situation, there ain't nothing wrong with doing your food shopping at Wal-Mart. Especially this particular Wal-Mart. It's hella cheap. Even for a Wal-Mart it's cheap. They're practically giving stuff away.

For dessert, we had some homemade strawberry shortcakes. There wasn't any whipped cream, but there was a scoop of Heisler's vanilla ice cream on top. More on Heisler's to follow. The strawberry topping was courtesy of A's mom. Word.On Friday, after being rowed around Lake Hauto (thanks J!), we had ranch chicken wraps for lunch. Yum. The wrapping wasn't round, it was more rectangular, which made the whole thing even better. Thumbs up on the non-round wraps. Drizzle with ranch dressing, throw some spring mix in there with some swiss cheese and grilled chicken, wrap it up, and voila!
Behold, the yummy yummy wrap!
They have a wet bar at this new swank cabin. And we found this bottle of Jacquin's Rock and Rye. What is it? No freakin clue. We did a little googlin and found out that rock and rye is rye whiskey with fruit and a bit of rock candy. It was slightly creepy. There were slices of petrified citrus something or other in the bottom of this bottle. But it was cool in a vintage way, and it came with a built in pourer! Noone was brave enough to taste.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

JB's Raw Bar

You know I love me some Johnny Brenda's. It's seriously my favorite place in all of Philadelphia. I was there the other night to catch a sold-out show, and when my cohorts found out that they had a raw bar, somehow, oysters miraculously appeared. Were these the freshest oysters I'd ever had? Gawd no, not even close. But for a bar in Fishtown, they were just fine. Not exactly 'just freshly picked from the bay', but not really all that bad either. Squeeze a little lemon, plop on some cocktail sauce and/or hot sauce, and slurp em down. They go down pretty darn easy. I love me some raw bivalves!

Oh, and shots kept appearing too. It was the strangest thing ever... They have three bars at JB's, one on each floor. It's a bit of a crapshoot as to how the bartenders are, but try the ones upstairs for better service. I've always found them to be nicer.

PS - For a bar/music venue, the bathrooms at JB's are amazing. Seriously. The Khyber bathroom is scary. The North Star's isn't too much better. But JB's? These bathrooms are leaps and bounds above the norm. Big, clean, plenty of stalls, and even attractively decorated. Yet another reason I love Johnny Brenda's so.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Vietnam Cafe Takeout

Before I headed out to G's monthly Javaflix, I had to get something to eat. Since I was in the neighborhood, I stopped by the newly open Vietnam Restaurant sister place, Vietnam Cafe, for some takeout. It was too hot for pho, and that never works out well as takeout anyway. A vermicelli bowl would have been too messy, so I settled for a broken rice plate with grilled lemon grass pork chops. It came with two really big pork chops. They were good, but a little on the bland side. It probably would have been a bit better if I was actually dining at the restaurant. You get a lot of food, so it makes up for the fact that it's not the most affordable vietnamese. Just like Vietnam, Vietnam Cafe is a bit on the pricier side. While I was waiting, I could see that the small place is doing quite brisk business. It's definitely a welcome addition to West Philly dining.

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Bar Ferdinand

I made an executive decision on Friday to go to Bar Ferdinand, sit outside, and just enjoy the weather with some tasty little plates. Everyone else must have thought this idea too, as the wait for an outside table would have been 40 minutes. I hate waiting, so we were offered a booth right by the door instead, and we grabbed it right quick. It was almost like being outside, so I say, it was close enough.
This is a very attractive restaurant. Surprisingly bigger than I thought it would be. It's fairly dark, with lots of bull motifs everywhere. There are giant ceramic/glass mosaics of bulls that are fairly impressive. Dried hanging rose stems abound around the bar, which boasts an impressive number of wine bottles that end up as really nice decoration. Even though it was really attractive, it didnt' feel at all pretentious to me. Even schlubbed out as I was, per usual, I felt completely comfortable. They have a really long table, which either seems to be for large parties or is a communal table.
We got a pitcher of white sangria. I'd read that these tend to be watered down, but I found it strong enough. It was really a great way to start out the evening. Sure, it could have been better and there could have been a wider variety of fruits in there (it was mostly oranges, lemons, and maybe some melon?) but it was still light and refreshing. I'll admit it though, I drank most of it. I'm a sucker for sangria in the summer.
They have lots of wine and a decent selection of beers. A/H showed up a little later and ordered an Estrella Damm beer. What did he think? "Damm, this is ordinary."
So since this is a Spanish Tapas restaurant, we just decided to order a bunch of stuff and share. Behold one of my favorite dishes of the whole night. It was one of the specials, a cold soup. I totally forget what was actually in it, but there was definitely cucumbers, watermelon, and probably roasted red peppers. It was garnished with some creme fraiche and sliced strawberries. Both R and I absolutely loved this cold soup. It was souper. :-)
Some calamari. I thought this was pretty good too, with a red pepper puree and a shallot aioli. Both these dips were good, and so were the calamari. The batter for the calamari seemed to have some cornmeal in it, which made it different than regular calamari, in a good way.
Charred watermelon with serrano ham and tarragon. It was fine, but the watermelon wasn't charred in any way, shape, or form. But don't get me wrong, it was still good.
One of the other favorites of the evening - mussels with chorizo, tomato, beer, and pasta. Oh man, get a big hunk of chorizo with some tomato and pasta. So, so good. The flavors in this were intense and great.
Duck confit with a berry jam/compote of some kind. This was ok, but definitely one of our least favorites. Not bad in any way, but none of us were particularly in love with it.
Ooh baby. Seared lamb with moroccan relish and citrus yogurt. I'm not usually into lamb, but a dish like this makes me want to change my mind. This was beyond good.
One of the cool things that Bar Ferdinand does is cook giant things of paella outdoors. When we got there, he had just started cooking up a big batch. Look how beautiful that is!
So you know I had to order this. This was cooked really well, and included veggies and shrimp, clams, and mussels. There was also a big hunk of chicken in there, but it was a bit undercooked, so I tried to stay away from it. I love me some paella and I would definitely order this again.
So it is definitely small plates here and nothing is of big portions. This isn't a bad thing because there's definitely room for desserts at a place like this. Don't remember exactly what this was, but it was almond ice cream based.
Yet another dessert I don't remember, but it was all kinds of chocolate / coffee stuff in a cup with a froth on top. This was extremely rich and strong. Way too strong for my wussy ass.
This was by far the best dessert of the evening, and one of the best dishes of the entire evening. Fried cider soaked bread wtih cinnamon ice cream and candied orange zest. So damn good I can't even tell you.
Last but not least, a blueberry cheesecake. The menu had a regular cheesecake, but they only had this blueberry available. It was different, but good. Not something I would order again but certainly worth trying.

Service was ok. Our waiter wasn't particularly attentive, but there were enough staff running around the place that eventually, you can flag somebody down. The food didn't take super long to come out though, but the service could definitely be better here. My water glass was always filled though, so I can't complain about that. When we ordered wine and beer, that took an unnaturally long time to come out. There was a nice mix of people there that night - tattooed nolibs hipsters, popped collars on dates, bachelorette party girls, and senior citizens looking adorable. Really, it was a lovely dinner.

PS - The place is fairly big, but only has three bathrooms. In fact, there's only one unisex bathroom on the first floor. Down the stairs, there are two more. I don't know about you, but it just doesn't seem to be enough! Aren't there building codes? They do have these cute little bathroom signs. It's a two-headed man/woman bull thingy.

I totally dug these tile floors. I wish I had a spanish style villa so I could have floors like these.

The bathrooms themselves are ok. Clean enough, all marble and stuff... modern fixtures. I think the floors are the highlight.

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