Sunday, February 27, 2011

Not Rice but Organic White Bees Wax Pastilles

We've used about #40 of beeswax since Market Day Canele got traction. No success so far in acquiring local, certified organic wax.

From a new vendor we sourced a  fresh batch of certified organic beeswax pastilles. These are scheduled for testing this week.

Friday, February 25, 2011

French Roast Fresh

I stopped in Four Worlds Bakery yesterday to check out a new, new oven that we might be using very soon. The West Philly atmosphere was tinged with roasted coffee tang and Philly Fair Trade Joe was conducting the roasting.

These are the beans that we bring to market every weekend. Roasted on Thursday and Friday before Market Day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Few Italian Market Buys

ItaIian Marlet's Watchful Eye
The Lil lady agreed to test out a Salt & Pepper Shrimp recipe using Otolith's spot prawns. We needed a few odds and ends for that recipe and some things to round out the menu. Scott & Judy Produce supplied baby arugula, jalapeños and scallions.
At DiBruno Bros, Zeke suggested I try a taste of BirchRun Hills Fat Cat. During the Market Year I eat this regularly. Sue Miller and I are next door neighbors at Headhouse from May to Dec. Zeke said that this batch is the best ever. I tasted it and was sold.  A slice of Calkins Creamery brie and ficelle left with me too.
I stopped at the Spice Corner for whole coriander. While there I could not resist the beluga lentils and Tellicherry peppercorns.

This dinner had 3 dishes starting with a bowl of chicken veg soup. Next was the S&P shrimp. Next was Cherry Grove lamb loin that was crusted with the coriander and tellicherry pepper. The plate used black trumpets from Iovine, pappardelle from Talluto (in cream from Kreider) with garlicky arugula.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

PHO 75

#1 large.
The consensus among the pho aficionados I consulted  is  75.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Almond Florentines

These crispy cookies were a test for a possible farmers market offering. Recipe pretty much verbatim from Williams Sonoma.

"Why Aren't Genetically Modified Foods Labeled" Mark Bittman,Opinionator

The Opinionator raises important issues. Check out the comments.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tri Tip Cheese Steak @ Johnny Bears 1512 Lounge

Parking is tough in the neighborhood but the sub is just a couple of blocks away.

We doubled down last night with a roast pork as well as cheese steak. The tri tip John is using is extremely tasty with zero sinewy stuff. Delicious on the seeded roll from Cacia's.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

The snappy red and white twine from my buds at

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cheese and Chops

These were tasty pairings. The pork chop is with cannelloni filled with fresh ricotta, Reggiano and Pecorino Tartufello.  We had this with a seeded round loaf from Faragalli that was toasty, tasty and toothsome. Quite different from loaves we sampled recently.

The veal chop is with standard gratin dauphinois. The chanterelles and leeks from Iovine in RTM. Lil lady made a chicory salad to balance out this plate.

Both chops were real nice from WholeFoods South Street. Crispy sage on both plates.

Faragalli via 9th St. Dibruno's

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cherry Canele for Valentine's Day

Everything's better with a cherry on top. Well the Valentine batch of canele have cherry inside. There will be a few at Rittenhouse and Clark this weekend. On Monday,Valentine's Day you can grab a box of 4 reg and 4 mini fresh baked at Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market for $12.
These Cherries are Chilean, I'm just saying.

Canele Blabber II Chez Pim Ponce of Canele

When TV 'Chefs' are presented as experts or masters it generally gets my goat. Here at home we don't even have a TV. When we do watch, we find mostly crap pandering to the lowest common denominator. 

Online, where there is somewhat less of a greed factor, things are different. Diversity is hard wired into the online world. Anyone can blog or post, so skill or ineptitude unsurprisingly runs the gamut. There are the talented, charming and modest, and there are other sad, self aggrandizing creatures who can't say enough about themselves. Just like on television, few have the integrity of Jacques Pepin, Mike Colameco or Lidia Bastianich . Boobs who pander to the common idiot gain fame. It is the same with online boobs. The crassest, sheeple shepherds are often the award winners. 

I enjoy the zany and diverse online content that I come across, with a few exceptions. For example, when folks in Philly talk what I perceive to be plain crap, I get all compulsive about speaking out. The same happens with canele 'experts.'  Something about caneles draws forth the phony, pretentious and self appointed experts.  Google kindly alerts me daily to the use of the word canele online. In the last month or so I've received and investigated many canele alerts.

The news is not good.

Last week Chez Pim went on and on and on and on and on about how she's got it (canele) all figured out. She tells us she makes "perfect" canele, even with silicone. Oh boy! The post is bloated with misinformation, self congratulation and plain old talking to hear herself talk. I hadn't heard of Chez Pim. I've learned she's a minor celeb! When I chided her for publishing mistakes and unfounded theories, she and her sheeple-like minions swooped down on me like pigeons on a Philly soft pretzel. Ouch. Her readers, like those devoted to Rachael Ray or Paula Dean, are not the savviest or highest functioning  gourmands.

Next up is the blog of the Institute for Culinary Education. First they give some free publicity to Celine's canele. Celine is a NYC canele person who sells frozen, low calorie, grapefreuit flavored canele! She sells fresh canele too and other flavors. Enough said about that. The culinary "Institute" gives a canele recipe that is plainly wrong. Naturally I pointed out the error. Nicole Kaplan was more receptive than Chez Pim to the correction but the recipe is hopeless as it stands. 

Swerve Calgary did a canele post too. I might have been a bit of a prick with this guy, but his canele look just barely acceptable. Yet they are all proud! I had to give them a poke up there in the north.

A Philly food writer alerted me to caneles being baked at Fork Restaurant. She was not complimentary. Anyone had these?

Le Pain Quotidien offers organic, vegan, sugar-free, apple canele. WTF? That is not a canele!  Pics of these online look appalling.

Loads of alerts concern purchasing canele molds, best deal, sale etc. The fact is that Fante's has the best prices I've seen anywhere on silicone molds for home use. Last I checked JB Prince has the best prices for copper molds in the US. I understand that Baillardran has an excellent deal on copper molds but it seems like you need someone in EU to access them and then ship em over.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Benton's Bacon and Super Bowl Grub

We did a little a lil family party for a combo Super Bowl/birthday.
The dishes were lobster rolls (very nice lobsters and fair price from Hung Vuong), Chipotle chicken wings with St Agur, Bitar's pita and Zahav's hummus with roasted veggies (guests KILLED the hummus), 1/2 shell little necks, and poached shrimp. The main plate was halibut with Benton's bacon, cipollinis and horseradish. It was a success.

About the bacon....I had seen it at DiBruno 9th Street labelled as "the world's best bacon." Isn't that quite a claim? Over at Fair Food in RTM I was told they are also selling the world's best bacon. It was not Benton's. A few weeks back I made the same dish and used WFM dry rubbed bacon and thought it was delish.

Benton's has an aggressive hickory smoke to it. Sometimes I find that style tastes of house fire. It's tasty and all, but smoke is such a pervasive flavor element that it's got to be incorporated deftly or..... In this case I thought the smokiness would be fine with the horseradish, and it was. I was concerned about the saltiness. Eating a piece of the bacon alone is a salty experience. Plated up, it all came together.

Stogie Joe's

I have no idea why we're the last to know about this spot. We grabbed a pizza there last week and it was on a par with Santucci from O street. Santucci's on O is the pinnacle of Sq pizza in my book. 

This is a great find since we drive to O street all the time because of the curiously sad state of affairs with CC pizza.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spezzatino Di Agnello ---- Le Pain Quotidien Baguette and Wheat Sourdough

One cold day in Cape May we saw Chef Lidia Bastianich make this dish on her NJN cooking show. Her version used pork. The lil lady and I were both convinced it was worth trying out at home. Later, as I referred to a Carla Capalbo cookbook, I found that her ragu used lamb. For both of us lamb was  more appealing. 

So far I've made the dish 2x. I used pappardelle both times. Both tries were successful (the leftovers are extraordinary), but next time it will be with polenta. When Lidia made it she used farro. On google image search I see no one is using a noodle. My bad.

Along with this dish we served roasted cipollinis and fennel and side plates of broccoli rabe. These were  excellent complements. The cipollinis were especially wonderful. We also served Le Quotidien bread for the first time. I tested out baguette ancienne and wheat sourdough. I liked them both well enough, but the loaves I sampled in no way excel their counterparts at Metro. In the baguette department they'll have even more competition since both Parc and WildFlour produce tasty loaves. Quotidien's wheat loaf was maybe a bit too rustic with the enormous size (available in full/halves and quarters) and on the brink of scorched crust. It was not so rustic in the texture where it tastes entirely of one note finely milled wheat flour. The baguette also lacked depth since it was very, very toasty, and the flaky crust texture was just slightly different than the center. It was close to cracker like. The crumb was fine and it was the same from the center out to the edge. This was tasty as a plinth for something savory, but eaten plainly it was too one note to my taste.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Iron Chef vs. Bocuse d'Or

Chef Bocuse photo :Fred Dufour

Is Bocuse d'Or the opposite of Iron Chef? By coincidence this year the Bocuse d'Or went off on the same week that Garces and Solomonov wanked faced off on  "Iron Chef". You can get a sense of the qualitative differences in competitions by taking a gander at Bocuse's mien above. Contrast that with the characters and caricatures that populate the Food Network and Iron Chef specifically.

Way back when The Village Voice's Robert Sietsema wrote a piece about the pathetic phoniness of The Iron Chef. I felt that Sietsema rightly highlighted the disingenuous essence of that program   Maybe the show is presented as a light hearted, semi-comical affair but lots of folks interpret it as a substantial notch on a celebrity chef's C.V.  Whatever, when I reread this article I cracked up at the part where he discerns that the Batali character is an impersonator with breasts that are far more pendulous then the real Mario. The impostor is shrouded in fog so as to remain convincing to the TV audience. Having a Batali impersonator is not so egregious. But pretending there are challenging unknowns, intense time constraints, and the most talented chefs slavishly creating masterpieces on the fly strikes  me as tragically bogus. It's a disservice to culinary arts that panders to the lowest common denominator.

Last year Time Magazine weighed in on the Bocuse d'Or. Josh Ozersky asks: 

"What the Bocuse d'Or Says About Culinary Culture"

Chef Achatz too weighs in on the Bocuse d'Or with some real time observations and experiences.

The Bocuse d'Or takes place in Lyon with merit based participants from all over the world while the Iron Chef is a made for TV shenanigans with bloated celebrities, fog  and a Wizard of Oz like dolt blabbering on about what is plainly obvious. 

I'm not all sour grapes about celebrity chefs here's a thoughtful chat with Mario Batali also from Time Mag.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Calissons de Provence

I made a small batch of calissons recently. I'm wondering if these would find love in Philly's Farmers Markets under the Market Day banner. 

I made them sort of blindly. I'd never tasted one or even seen one in Philly. There is no shortage of online recipes but the correct flavor cannot be adequately portrayed by words alone. So... I ordered a package of calisson from Arnaud Soubeyran. Wow these are quite the bite. Amazing subtly delightfully sweet, fruity and flowery with a bit of nuttiness all at once. Not completely different than my endeavor but different enough to send me back to the testing kitchen.