Friday, November 27, 2009

Percy Street BBQ

We were at Percy St. BBQ last Monday. The austerity there caught me by surprise. I knew it was Texas style yet I expected a Philly - Texas style. Instead it was an earnestly orthodox TX take on BBQ . There were just a few dishes, nothing extraneous and the method for the meat is smoke, heat and S&P. BBQ sauce is on the side. We had to ask for hot sauce.

We ordered sausage, chicken, brisket, pork belly, (ribs 86'd), greens, coleslaw and mac and cheese. It was all real tasty. The pork belly was my fave. The servers were super attentive and the drinks were

Do you recall that I was a judge in the brisket category at the Full Plate cook-off? Percy Street's brisket was in the same league as those in the contest. Their house made sausage is made using brisket.

Whoa the banana pudding was a mouthful of southern flava.

Beets Basajo Guanciale

This dish was super. Sorry about the pic I forgot my camera.

I used heirloom organic beets from Weaver's Way, there's a crispy slice of guanciale and a few crumbles of Basajo. The dressing is white grape juice with rice wine vinegar and chives and some crispy sage leaves over the beets. This was the 1st dish at Thanksgiving dinner. Tasty!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Haiti photo:Eduardo Munoz, Reuters

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aarg Totally

Rum and
canelé go way back. My recipe for canelé uses a luxurious dose. On Monday we went South to Total Wines & more in Delaware. I wanted to see what our neighbor state had on offer.

Visiting this store was a shock to the system. It was completely different than any PLCB store that I've ever visited. It was excellent in many ways. For example the help was energized, enthusiastic and informed. The selection was vast. The rum wall was huge and loaded with stuff I've
never seen in PA. THERE WAS NO SALES TAX.

We also grabbed tempranillo, chablis, cremant, and Fundador. Everything wasn't less expensive than PA but there were lots of good buys and good values. The selection was enticing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wednesday at HeadHouse Farmers Market

Hey! Farmers market is open tomorrow. Nothing improves and enriches holiday cooking better than pristine, fresh local ingredients.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Canelé Coffret for the Holiday?

Order today at Headhouse Market

Thursday, November 19, 2009

PNC Bank "Leading the Way" in Disservice & Distress

"We see our commitment to our customers as one that supports the community..." I have a low threshold for the preposterous crap spewed by "the man". On Sunday I was listening to the Eagles game on the radio and although the action was pitiful and the sportscasters filled every millisecond with babble the main thing that got my goat was PNC's ad "Leading the Way".

An example of how PNC is "Leading the Way is their overdraft policy. It is a blatant bottom feeder tactic that leads the way in sucking resources and good spirit out of a community. It's the type of approach that disrespects and drains the community. Readers who have a PNC account may have all ready went at it with them for the involuntary program where they charge you $36 if you overdraw by a $1. You cannot decline the service.

Last year I had a little adventure with PNC. A few Kombuchas cost me a few hundred dollars. I am not kidding. After battling with the "community manager" and sparring with the phone supervisor I contacted a senior exec in Pittsburgh and we worked it out.

OOPS I did it again. This time I sniped a camera battery for a few dollars on Ebay and the account it was drawn from was short $1.04. PNC paid it and charged me $36. I am COMPLETELY SERIOUS.

Besides the obvious loss of $$ the sting of being legally swindled by your community bank is distressing and creates nasty feelings. Google "PNC sucks" and the web is thick with bitterness towards PNC. You can find stories of PNC reps who spend a hunk of their work day explaining overdraft fees to incredulous and irate customers. There are stories of customers who explain how the bank manipulates accounts so that unavailable funds lead to overdraft fees. Seriously what could be more loathsome?

"At a time when many can afford it least, American consumers are being hit with hundreds of dollars in penalties for overdrawing on their account by just a few dollars," he said in a statement. "Banks should not be trying to bolster their profits at the expense of their customers."

Another "leading the way" strategy is to accept and divert bailout money intended to help business and individuals and use it for acquisitions. With our own tax dollars PNC buys another bank where they deploy the same tactics to suck the life out of more communities.

Kim's Restaurant

I blogged about Kim's a while back. Nothing much has changed which is a good thing. Kim's serves up exceedingly tasty Korean style BBQ along with warm hospitality. Worth the trip to 5955 N. 5th St. No sushi here!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tasty Colors

Some really tasty colors from Japanese maples.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Nouvelle Days

WHYY aired an entertaining chat with Chef Fritz Blank. The MP3 is here. Chef talks about enormous South Jersey snapper turtles, musk rats, quenelles and champagne on New Years Eve with Chef Perrier.

Photo: Curt Hudson

FedEx Follies

Man, I was steaming from a recent experience with FedEx.

I order my Market Day Canele stickers from US Box. They outsource it to WS Packaging in NH. The first time I ordered the process was seamless. The quality exceeded my expectations and service was prompt. I took a lil time to use up those first thousand. I reordered and it was taking longer than I expected so I checked in with US Box. They replied with a confirmation # from FedEx. Checking that number I learned that it had been delivered the day before. Since a signature wasn't required they left it "on porch."

OK. I don't have a porch. I went back to US Box and gave them grief. They sent me a new order right away. In the mean time I called FedEx and spoke to a bunch of folks. I explained about not having a porch and they explained "porch" is just a box that's check-able on their form and it might not mean "porch." They told me that they would get in touch with the driver and get back to me. 4 days later they called and told me that the driver said he left it above my door and if it's not there or if I can't locate it then it's the shippers problem, and I should get with them. This info was left on my voice mail! Thanks Steven Dunham.

Of course I was irate. The next day I called Steven and asked him if it isn't FedEx's business to "deliver" packages. He said it was. I asked Steven why I don't have my package if they have taken my money to "deliver" my package. He really couldn't explain, so I spoke with his boss, Patricia Dubinski. Patricia was amazingly calm and seemed very practiced with this type of customer interaction. She said it was common practice to leave a package if a customer isn't available to accept it. I don't really have a problem with that as long as the package actually got "delivered" to the specified location. In my case FedEx causes the shipper to redo their work, reship and incur all those expenses. Why does all this suck you wonder? Because a week later a person who lives on another street pops over and says they found this box above their door.

I am absolutely fine with occasional errors, but manage them properly and handle them with integrity. The astonishingly absurd part is FedEx has institutionalized covering their ass so that their errors are paid for by others. I find that infuriating and dishonest.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Swell Bellies & Shoots

At the Lobster House fish market in Cape May dressed blowfish were selling for $7.50/#. We grabbed a pound. I remember my Mom making these so long ago in Beach Haven, NJ. I can't recall exactly how she prepared them. I searched for ideas and found this recipe from Craig Laban from exactly 29 years ago. It does sound tasty.

I decided to give them a spicy rub and then convection broil. I plated them with Weaver's Way peas shoots and a shot of dill hollandaise. The fish was very fresh and tasty. The pea shoots gave a distinctive green flavor and crispness. The dish overall was more fun than fantastic. If I had more I'd try tempura-ing them or maybe cornmeal or give Craig Laban's idea a shot.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Fancy Colors

Damn fantastic colors on trees, the woods are enchanted right now.

Autumn color explained

Monday, November 9, 2009

Massar's Meltdown @ Philly Kitchen Scare

I decided not to share the very bizarre story of how my relationship with Eli Massar and Philly Kitchen Share came to a disturbing conclusion. It wouldn't make a worthy blog post. If you're interested send me a private message.

Anyone have a suggestion or referral for a center city area kitchen that has baking ovens to rent? For now I'm stuck with traveling to Frankford or deep South Philly

Sunday, November 8, 2009

John & Kira's Chocolates

Last week I noticed these great looking pumpkin confections at John & Kira's table at Sunday Market. This week I grabbed them and brought them home as a gift for the lil lady. You can see the crafty beauty in a glance. Same with the flavor and texture which elicits a blissful pause for reflection. By coincidence I ate a few Teuschers champagne truffles this week. These lil pumpkins are in the same league as Teuscher. The 6 pumpkin box $15.00.

Those tender greens are crispy pea shoots from Weaver's Way.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Organic Honduran From Cooperative Capucas

Grab a cup of this just roasted organic coffee at HeadHouse Sunday morning. This is high altitude Caturra, catch a a cup and a canele for 4 beans.

Just roasted beans $13/#.

UPDATE 11/12: This coffee is a delight. I've made a pounds worth of brews since Sunday. It's an extremely enjoyable coffee. It is super smooth with deep but mild flavor. With a lively caramel note, medium body and an agreeably sophisticated finish it's easy to love.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Scharfe Maxx & Faragalli

The lil lady picked up this delicious cows milk cheese this afternoon. We enjoyed it with a braided Faragalli loaf a lil wedge of Brillat and a glass of jug red. Scharfe Maxx was painfully expensive @ $25/# (DiBruno Bro$) but that's the deal shopping for grub in Rittenhouse area. The cheese is described as sharp,sweet and barnyardy. It was really tasty at room temp.

The Faragalli braided loaf is a satifyingly dense, chewy and flavorful bread. The tiny piece of Brillat Savarin came from WholeFoods it was ripe, sweet and luscious.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Beef with FooBooz

You might get the impression that FooBooz is in the beef biz. I say that because when they aren't talking about burgers they are often massaging the meat of those places pushing Philly's
food fads.
Twice recently I sent Art at FooBooz a request to spread the word about worthwhile food events. One was the talk at Pumpkin by Bryant Simon (an SRO event). Bryant Simon is a scholar with a special interest in food marketing. This might have been useful learning for Fooboozers who are blithe swallower's.......of marketing ($24 burgers etc). On the date of Simon's talk FooBooz lavished even more attention on Garces. By now even Garces' meat must surely chafe from FooBooz slavish adulation.

On the other occasion I asked Art ( to mention my canelé tasting at WholeFoods Mkt. Now everyone might not think that canelé have culinary significance but everyone with a culinary clue does. I understand that many folks prefer a blue cupcake to a canelé. Still, vulgarity should not be encouraged. On the day that I sampled at WholeFoods FooBooz posted about Chew Man Chu the "noodles, dumplings, wok, bar" that opened in the Du Jour spot at Symphony House. This is the same guy who has Moshulu and now White Dog. They have $9 Banh Mi and an $8 pork bun. On another blog the first comment related to this spot was "an attempt to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic". I guarantee that comment is prescient and I insist that a free taste of canelé would be at least as worthwhile a taste as any from Chew Man's 60+ item menu.

You could call my rant sour grapes. I won't argue. Foobooz, clucking henhouse that it is, offers an opportunity to tap into a juvvy readership that one day may develop into knowledgeable culinary minded consumers

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Coffee & Canelé Combo at Pumpkin Mkt

Joe just received a shipment of Latin American beans including this special Honduran. He's roasting it off in small batches in Pumpkins basement. Tomorrow and Friday Pumpkin offers a fresh baked canelé with a cup of just roasted and brewed Honduran coffee for $4.00. I suggest this is an excellent way to brighten the day after a tough night in Philly.

Spatchcock III with Romanesco

This was a WholeFoods Mkt chicken that the lil lady spatch cocked. We plated it up with romanesco from Blooming Glen.

Super tasty, thrifty and felicitous pairing. We served it with a bowl of tortellini in chicken broth.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


At 6pm we rolled up to Fond and found parking directly out front and the meter was all charged up! We did the super early res so that we wouldn't miss any of game 5.

lil lady is buds with the folks here. In the dining room candles were flickering and the ambiance was welcoming and relaxed. The host offered a choice of tables. The modest menu gave me the feeling that chef is confident enough to keep things focused and perfectly manageable. We had our selections worked out quickly. Just after we ordered, our server delivers an amuse bouche of mushroom soup with tinge of truffle. It was lovely, light and flavorful, and especially delicious with the house bread which was wondrous.

The pickled shallots and fennel with the liver mousse was a excellent match up, as was the pickled watermelon with the very excellent tuna.
Broccoli rabe with polenta, feta and yellow pepper romesco was the special app. It was a delight. The polenta was an airy, crisp and tasty wedge of deliciousness. It was an elegant, understated foil for the greens and bright pepper sauce. The ravioli were toothsome little pillows with a squash filling but the buttery sauce, cheese and nuts tipped the flavors too far into the pudge range for my tastes. The lil lady thought the veal sweet breads with cinnamon gastric and asian pear went off brilliantly.

My entree choice, strip steak medium rare, had a perfect temperature and the farro with goat cheese and roasted beets that rounded out the plate made a deft composition. I may have had my fill of the ubiquitous pork belly so take my response with a grain of salt. I felt the dish, gratuitous in the fat/taste relationship, didn't emphasize flavor or texture enough to merit a recommendation. The scallops were beauties. They were lovingly seared and plated with a
truffled jus. It was a lovely plate, yet I think it would have profited from a more assertive dose of carbohydrate and some actual mushrooms vs mushroom oil or essence. For me the jus went down with a slice of bread.

We shared a passion fruit crepe. It was served with a little scoop of coconut ice. Bright clean flavors with a thin eggy crepe, yum. The French press was tasty as well.

Service was warm, polished and attentive. Fond is most definitely worth visiting. Chef's cooking follows a classic somewhat conservative template. Fond delivers an exactitude in the execution that is missing in many Byo's. I thought overall it was successful and earnest cooking from a talented young chef.