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foodzings: August 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Small Plates at Distrito

Yeeha! W wanted tapas for dinner and I threw out Distrito as an idea. Then my brother balked saying he didn't want mexican food. I insisted anyway. And W agreed. I quickly made a reservation, just to be safe, and we headed out. It was super early (early bird special early) so a reservation probably wasn't necessary. The place is huge and gawdy, something fierce. Terribly bright and colorful, but I didn't mind. It was supposed to be overly stylized. I personally loved the wall of lucho libre masks.
So if you know Jose Garces restaurants at all, you know he's all about the small plates. This one is his mexican variety. We just got a crapload of stuff. Let's begin. Ceviches - camarones and hamachi. The shrimp one was good, so was the yellowtail one. However, the sangrita sorbet on the hamachi ceviche? Weird. It was spicy, it kinda creeped me out. I did not enjoy that sorbet.
Onto the ensalada: chilango chop. I think. Simple, yet good.
Los Tacos! My favorite part. From the top: camarones y chorizo, carne kobe, and pollo. Ok, I didn't taste the shrimp and chorizo ones, but W and Moms weren't too crazy about them. They liked em, but not as much as the others. The carne kobe, oh my word, freakin kobe steak, with truffles, mash, and little french fries, topped withi cilantro greens. Seriously folks, one of the best things I've eaten all year. I could eat these all day long. But you know what? I could totally eat the chicken ones every day too. The chicken tacos were also so amazing! Super flavorful chicken ropa vieja, with queso fresco, radish, and a big hunk of avocado.
Onto the Tradicionales: Esquites. So simple, yet so good. A glass with sweet corn, queso fresco, chipotle, and lime. Hard to imagine putting these things together, but once it's done, it was so surprisingly good.
Here's the craziest thing we ate from the Mar Y Tierra section: Tuetano! Yes folks, I tried bone marrow! It was served with bacon marmalade, chopped jalapenos, and chopped onions. It came with tiny corn tortillas, and you scoop out the bone marrow, put on some toppings, and make yourself a little bone marrow taco. So what's bone marrow like? Well, it's fatty. Soft, melts-in-your-mouth, fatty. And when used as the meat for a little taco, it's quite good. Now I'm not going to say I want to eat this all the time, but for something I'd never had before, it was great. I'm glad I tried it.A few accompanamientos: plantains, and black beans and rice. The plantain came on top of some pureed black beans and were topped with queso fresco. It was great. The beans were great too. It's a teeny little serving, don't think that's a giant cast iron cauldron of beans. It was petite, but tasty.
Desserts! Flan, churros, and the cha cha cha. The flan is served with chantilly cream and coconut tuille. I didn't taste this, but W loved it. The churros were lovely! The coffee ice cream that came with it was awesome. Some of the best coffee ice cream I've ever had. And the mexican hot chocolate to dip the churros in was strong, thick, and perfect. This cha cha cha was coffee, kahlua, and cinnamon.

The service here was great. Since you're sharing and trying tons of stuff, they come and give you clean plates and utencils several times during the meal. It's a pretty well oiled machine. Everyone was nice and helpful. The food comes out as it's prepared, not in courses. So you're just constantly eating all the time, which is nice. We all loved everything we ate. We were all quite happy, full, and satisfied. And in the end, it really didn't end up being that expensive. If you take out the fact that the bro drank two strong and expensive margaritas and that desserts isn't something I typically do, it was quite reasonable, and only about $25 per person. That's not expensive at all for the quality of food and service that you're getting. They do have this VW bug booth. I want to eat there some day. I'm a fan of Jose Garces. I can't wait to see what else he comes up with.
PS - They have tons of individual bathroom stalls, with a shared trough style sink. Not sure how I feel about it, but that's just as gawdy as their other stuff.

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Beau Monde Weekend

Over the long labor day weekend, somehow I ended up going to Beau Monde for two brunches in a row. Not complaining, but it was just unplanned, unexpected, and something I don't typically do (go to the same restaurant two days in a row). On Saturday, the place was unusually deserted for a Saturday at 11AM. Perhaps everybody had left to get a last weekend in down the shore? And there were even tons of tables outside.

Moooooooooooo...I just liked this tin measuring cup the sweeteners came in. Me and my macros. So sue me.
The savory crepe special of the day... Pancetta, eggplant, tomatoes, and other stuff. Tasted sort of like thanksgiving stuffing on the inside, with pancetta on top. Really quite delicious, and worth the price. Their specials are always pretty pricey.I wanted the same pancetta / eggplant savory crepe special on Sunday, but they did not have any savory specials on Sunday. But we did manage to get an outside table in about 15 minutes. Score! Moms got the same scrambled egg with blueberry and maple syrup crepe she got before. Way to go mom, for being adventurous and trying something new.
W went wild and got the ham and cheese. The bro went real buck wild and got the chocolate, toasted coconut, and coffee ice cream sweet crepe, without the toasted coconut. But oh yeah, even though he asked for no coconut, it came with it anyway.
For me, I got the scrambled eggs with roasted poblanos, tomatoes, cheese, avocado corn salsa, and caramelized tomato sauce. This was seriously so damn good, and so filling, that I could not possibly finish it. We also got a side of the baby red potatoes, which were also quite good. Service was fine, nothing spectacular, but nothing to complain about. And I took a bunch of their matches. Still one of my favorite places for Brunch.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Grillin at Work!

M is a master fisherman. I'm pretty sure that's his thing. And a few weekends ago, he caught a whole mess of tuna. And the following week, C marinated them with some kind of honey lime cilantro marinade/glaze and we busted out the grill at work. Oh Chef Donald, how I miss you, giver of delicious, yet late work lunches. But if we were only going to grill once this entire summer, I'm glad it was for this. I don't even typically like fresh tuna (I like tuna fish in a can) but this particular marinated and grilled tuna was pretty damn good. So damn good I need the damn recipe.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dining Al Fresco in the Mall

Oh, the mall. Dining at the friggin mall. It's not that fun, not that fun at all. The food court? Cheesecake Factory? TGI McScratchy's? When I was there the other weekend, it was agonizing deciding. So we ended up at Bertolini's at the Plaza. We dined al fresco, but we were inside. Ha. Right outside the doors, they have a pretend outdoor dining area. We asked for it, and they gave.
Our server was nice enough. I mean for being a waitress at a nicer italian place inside the mall that is. Complimentary bread with garlic infused olive oil. It was fine.

R got the eggplant parm, but it wasn't quite eggplant parm. Isn't eggplant parm supposed to be breaded and fried? This eggplant wasn't breaded nor fried. It was grilled. It was still crunchy. At least the linguine and the sauce wasn't bad. But really, it would have been better just as a plate of spaghetti.

I got the lasagna. It was really really tall and thick. Seriously, the tallest lasagna I've ever encountered in my life. It was ok, but nothing I would want again. The meat tasted funny, not like funny rancid, just funny. Like it was sausage and had weird spices in it that I didn't expect nor want in my lasagna. The first time I went to Bertolini's was probably nearly 10 years ago. I hadn't missed it at all. And I won't mind if I never have to go back for another 10 years or more.


Random Snacking

So this is a terrible picture of a taro root shake I got the other morning from a Vietnamese restaurant on 16th street, whose name I don't know, nor did I ever know it. I'm not sure how I felt about it. It was too sweet. I was expecting more tarot root. The other week, I had an avocado shake at the same place. And that was strange yet good. It was super thick too, because it had an actual whole avocado in it. It was much like drinking slightly sweet guacamole, sans the tomato or onions or chips. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it was very weird. The taro root shake? Eh. I can take it or leave it. It's too much like a regular milkshake to do it for me.

So when I was rambling around South Street last weekend looking for a Philthy tshirt (I found one, thanks), I ran across this new yogurt joint. It's Philly's answer to pinkberry. But not exactly. Mind you, I didn't try it, but it's not pinkberry. It's so different.

So they have many many options of yogurt. Pinkberry has plain and green tea. They have this row full of different flavors. It practically looks like urinals of yogurt. But they do have plain tart yogurt, which is good. That's what I like. Then you apply toppings yourself. And then you pay by the ounce.

I found the whole beauty of pinkberry to be that you only have 2 yogurt flavors, an that you have tons of random toppings, including the freshest of fruit. And it's priced by the number of toppings. Phileo Yogurt's self-service topping bar was a little sad and salad bar looking. It didn't necessarily look all that fresh to me either, and you know, when you let people at things themselves, they mess that shizz up. It's gonna be hard to keep that stuff clean. Next time, I'll give it a try and let you know. They don't have a website yet, which seems dumb.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Seafood at Dmitri's

When I asked P a few weeks ago for recommendations on where to eat in the city, he threw out Dmitri's and Effie's, two greek restaurants. On the drive over to Franklin Fountain the other night, we passed Dmitri's, and I said to myself, oh, that's where Dmitri's is. The next night when I was forced to pick a place for dinner (oh, the bane of being a food blogger), I thought why not. There are two Dmitri's, and this one on 3rd is a BYOB.

The place is pretty teeny tiny, and when we got there at about 8:30, it was packed. We had to wait about a half hour, so we walked around a bit. Whenever we got back from the walk, we were seated immediately. Table space is very limited, it's pretty much packed to the gills. The waitresses are all surly and tattooed and clad in black tank tops. A bit like the cheerleaders from the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video. Like they would cut you if you wronged them.
One of the specials of the nigiht was the tomato basil and mozzarella salad. I was expecting one giant tomato and a big slice of cheese on top. Instead, we got this sizeable plate packed with some of the tastiest tomatoes ever. Man, was this good. Everything about it was good. Oh, and you get free bread and pita too. Good and good. The pita bread was a little bit charred, but lucky for me, I like burnt stuff.
P said the octopus was good so I had to try it. Again, a sizeable dished packed with grilled octopus. These are pretty no frills, just simply grilled served with some oily dressing on the bottom of the plate. I thought it was good, but I wasn't crazy about it. J wasn't crazy about it either, but that didn't keep him from stuffing himself with it. It was even garnished with some olives and pepperoncinis. J liked the olives (I hate olives) and I liked the pepperoncinis too.
One of the fish specials of the night was the tilapia. That's a whole lotta fish if you ask me. That plate is not small. Those pieces of fish are not small. This was a hearty portion of fish. It was simply prepared, grilled, and came with some kind of white wine based sauce. Simple, yet good. J was practically drinking this sauce, or at least sopping it up with bread. I went with the scallop platter. You can get this grilled or fried and I went with the grilled. Again, very simply prepared, just grilled. I thought I would get like 3-4 big scallops. Whoa, was I wrong. There were at least a good dozen scallops there, way too much food for me. These were delicious. Grilled perfectly, so that it wasn't overly done at all. Both the entrees came with rice and escarole. The rice was just fine, but this escarole crap was really unappetizing. I expected any kind of taste but what I got. Bland and bitter. Blech. I left the giant lump of this escarole pretty much untouched. In fact, when we had the leftovers boxed up, J insisted that I did not want the greens wrapped.

There was tons of food left... tilapia, scallops, and octopus. We should have just gotten a couple more appetizers, nixed the entrees, and called it a day, but we didn't know we would get so stuffed. Really, I need to stop this gorging. We ended up using the scallops and octopus the next day as ingredients for improvised lobster ravioli from trader joe's. You know what? It actually tasted even better the next day. Thanks for the recommendation P. I can see why this place is packed.

795 S 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 625-0556

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Late Nights at the Franklin Fountain

When you think about dessert options late at night, there really aren't that many that come to mind. The other night, the only thing that popped into my head was the Franklin Fountain. You know this place, it's in old city, it's an old school style ice cream parlor / soda shop. The employees even look old school.
They make their own ice cream and have tons of specialties, which include sundaes, fountain drinks, and even cakes and pies! And you always have the head of old Ben looking down on you. I went simple and got a scoop of peach ice cream in a cone. They had some signs about how the peach ice cream was made with local peaches, so I had to try it out. Man, was it good! So peachy, fresh, and light. Not artificial tasting or looking at all. J, R, and D all got shakes.
Also a variety of specialty sodas. Plus, the place itself is adorable. The two brothers who run the joint painstakingly remodeled the place. Everything about it is cute. And it's open until midnight on the weekends, and until 11 during the week. Go get you some before it starts getting cold again.

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Franzone's Lunch

I met up with some fellow Franzone's lovers to get a pie. Just looking at it makes me hungry. I asked the surly waitress for a cup of extra sauce, and to my surprise, she totally came through! Yes, this pizza is about the thin crispy crust but really, the sweet sauce is definitely what makes it. And having extra sauce to dip the slices into, gah, the best thing ever!Franzone's Pizzeria
200 W Ridge Pike
Conshohocken, PA 19428

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sonic Road Trip

You all know I'm in love with Sonic. Ever since visiting the original Sonic in Oklahoma City, I've had an unhealthy obsession with this fast food drive-up joint. And when you're a lady of leisure on a staycation, you can take road trips in the middle of the day so you can gorge yourself on Sonic goodness. The closest Sonic to me is now in Limerick. And in reality, it's not really that far at all.
You should know how this place works by now. You've seen the commercials. You drive up and order through that big ol sqwuak box. Carhops come out and give you your food. Then you stuff your face. You can also go through a regular drive-thru if you don't want to eat in your car. There's also some tables in the front so you can dine al fresco.
A got a grilled chicken salad. It comes with an onion ring. Her sister had raved about it so she had to get it. She liked it, but didn't necessarily feel it was rave worthy. But it was still a good salad.
I wanted to leave plenty of room for drinks, that's what I really love about Sonic, so I just had a corn dog and some onion rings. The corn dog was actually pretty good. A didn't know what a corn dog was. She thought it was a cob of corn. Ha! The onion rings were delicious. The batter was great, just right, and the onions were sweet and well cooked. I don't like it when the onions are crunchy, and these were perfectly cooked. Now there were only two of us but you see 4 drinks in that photo, all for us. I had an XL strawberry limeade and a regular banana cream pie shake for dessert. I just want you to see just how big this limeade is. Yes, it's huge, and I drank it all... over the next couple of days. A got a real fruit strawberry slush, which she totally enjoyed, but she got a human sized one.
Oh a beautiful close-up of the strawberry limeade... with my favorite little ice pellets. I wish you could see the chunks of strawberries and taste them too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bustin Out the Grill

After snagging some asparagus and corn from Gentile's, I got off my lazy ass and took out my grill out of hiding. Luckily, it still worked and had some working juice. It's a crappy ass grill, but it works just fine. I just put a little olive oil, salt, and pepper on these bad boys and grilled em up. They cooked up perfectly. There's nothing like asparagus with that delicious grilled flavor.
I also grilled up some chicken thighs. My super easy recipe of bottled sweet chili sauce, a dab of sesame oil, and a little salt. It doesn't get any easier.
As for the corn, I just grilled em with the husks. I removed the silks and kept the husks on and just grilled them until the husks pretty much turned black. I didn't have to soak them or anything. And they turned out super sweet and great. New Jersey white corn. Go get em while you can!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Newtown Square Produce Institution

For as long as I've lived in these fine united states, I've been doing some of my produce shopping at Gentile's Market. It's a family owned joint in Newtown Square that's been there for eons. I used to go there all the time when I worked in Newtown Square. But now, not so much, so I cherish it everey time I go. Absolutely nothing has changed about this place, except that now the cash registers are computers. Otherwise, still the same old Gentile's. Oh, this fancy sign is fairly new too. See this Frank's soda machine? Yep, it's the same one that I got grape soda out of when I was in elementary school. It's still there. Despite the oldness of some of the items there, their produce is quite fresh and rocks. I'm never disappointed.
I got some jersey white corn and peaches that day. Good golly miss molly they were both good. Sometimes I miss working or living so close to it. For all your produce needs, you need no other. They also have a decent selection of breads, milks and juices, and condiments.

Starting My Staycation

Monday marked the beginning of my week long staycation. That's right folks, a whole week of doing absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing planned, other than not going to work! To start off my illustrious week, I had to visit my mechanic as my driver's side door is acting up again. Damn you car! Since it's near 69th street, I stopped by H Mart's food court for some breakfast treats. I got a few pastries from the korean bakery. On the left was a sweet red bean bun, and on the right, a chestnut cake. Both good, but a bit on the sweet side. Had I known I'd be waiting for 5 hours, I would have gotten a smoothie too, but alas, I did not. That's ok. The day ended up being a freakin wash, and my car actually did not get fixed. Oh well. But I did a fantastic job of wasting my time away anyway.

Bowling for Tots

R wanted to do something different Saturday night. She wanted to go bowling! And thus, we ended up at North Bowl. When we first got there, they told us it would be a 90 minute wait for a lane. HA! That was hilarious. But in reality, it ended up being more like 9 minutes. Perhaps North Bowl needs a new clock. The bowling was fun, and mostly due to H/A's out of this world bowling technique. I can't even describe it. One has to experience it in person. C wanted tater tots and that's just what he got. What can I say? They were tater tots. Good tater tots. Crunchy, yet not greasy at all.

There's a vending machine there, with all kinds of random and kitchy stuff. What kind of stuff? Well let me show you. Gummy steak.
Gummy bacon.