MarketBasket | A pretzel twist

Posted: December 20, 2007

After so many disappointing takeoffs on Philly's beloved soft pretzels - chocolate, sweet, stuffed, etc. - we're happy to report that someone finally got it right.

James Barrett's blend of sourdough and whole wheat with fennel seed and anise flavors gives Metropolitan's savory soft pretzels the take-me-home, serve-to-guests quality our favorite street food never quite achieved.

Sourdough Fennel Pretzels, $1.50 each. At Metropolitan Bakery, 262 S.19th St. and Reading Terminal Market locations.

- Marilynn Marter

Scoop of the year

A 7-inch handle lets you dip easily into those slim coffee bags. No more plastic scoops buried in beans.

The 11/2-tablespoon measure is just right for whole bean or ground coffee, bulk tea and more. And the bonus spring jaw clip on the handle secures folded bags or keeps the scoop in easy reach. Heavy gauge stainless steel guarantees a lifetime of use.

Coffee Scoop and Clip, $7. At Fante's, 1006 S. 9th St.; 215-922-5557 or www.tribbleshomeandgarden.com.

- M.M.

Finely aged cloves

Those aren't olives being served as a side dish at Lafayette Hill's Persian Grill. Those are "seer," aged garlic cloves turned to a deep mahogany over years of marinating in balsamic and cider vinegar.

About five years in vinegar is the average for most cloves served here (they're also sold for take-out), and they've mellowed to a deeply zesty tang. The 23-year-old Grill, however, also has a reserve of 20-year-old cloves so soft, says owner Bimal Moktan, "they melt on the tongue." They cost significantly more, about $20 for a side, but make a popular holiday gift.

Standard aged garlic "seer" costs $3.95 at the Persian Grill, 637 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, 610-825-2705.

- Craig LaBan

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