Peach crostata; Crumb Trackers prowl

Posted: September 13, 2012

Excerpts from Craig LaBan's online chat Tuesday:

Good afternoon, my hungry friends, and welcome back to our weekly romp through the edible and drinkable wonders of Philly's food scene.

Congrats to Christina Wilson, the ex-Mercato chef and South Philly resident who won Hell's Kitchen last night. I despise the show, but it sounds like she actually got a real job out of it (executive chef at Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas), so hats off to her for enduring the gauntlet of reality TV to get there.

My last official act of summer baking was this peach crostata, which I put together with sugar dough I thawed from the freezer and some beautiful late-season fruit. It's super-easy to make (see my recipe at www.philly.com/peachcrostata) until you get to the moment of removing it from the pan, when the crostata is really delicate.

I'll concede I haven't perfected that step yet (lots of good spatulas and a few assistants helped) so good luck! Mostly, this is a great opportunity to share one of the best recipes I got from cooking school in France, an easy sugar dough made in the food processor that has been one of my stock basic recipes. I use it for fruit tarts, and it stores well in the freezer (thaw overnight.)

It's been a good week for restaurant dining, too, as you can tell from this week's Crumb Tracker quiz. Guess where I ate these dishes: (1) dosa with Mysore spice, avocado and arugula; (2) super-thick tuna sashimi (the highlight of tuna sushi lunch special No. 6, a steal for $10.50); (3) chicken pot pie . . . Ready, set . . . start crumbing!

Reader: Have you been to Cafe con Chocolate at Norwood & Snyder? Happened upon it on Yelp and gave it a try - and it was amazing! Some of the best Mexican in the city, possibly even better than Distrito!

 Reader: What fall openings are you most looking forward to?

C.L.: That's the focus of my column Sunday, so I don't want to say too much - but let me note that the burbs are getting a serious jolt of new restaurant energy.

Michael G: #1. Philadelphia Chutney Co.

C.L.: Yes, Michael G. You're on fire - no, I was, after eating the delicious Mysore chili paste-smeared dosa. I'd been to the Philly Chutney shortly after they opened, and loved the concept of quick-serve South Indian (predominantly vegetarian) . . . but something was always off about the place. . . .

Well, true to form, the AC was broken the day we went for lunch. And then I started spooning through a bowl of chile-hot sambar . . . and the sweat started rolling. But! The dosas were far better than I remembered - nice and crispy, with good fresh curried potatoes inside. I loved the "fusion" addition of avocado and arugula, too.

JetJill: Is #3 Magpie?

C.L.: Yes - an easy one for JetJill, who runs the wine bar across the street (and Rex 1516, which just got 2 bells Sunday). Welcome to the chat, JetJill! Magpie is the new pie cafe on the south side of South. You'll be hearing more from me on it soon, but suffice it to say: go.

jj: 2. Fat Salmon

C.L.: jj, you are the first to nail the last answer. We've talked about Fat Salmon in the last year. I loved this No. 6 special because it put the focus square on the tuna - a roll, nigiri, and this sashimi, sliced about half-inch thick, like biting into a ripe melon.

Reader: So is there a Le Bec review coming anytime soon, or are budget cuts making that impossible?

C.L.: Things are rough in the newspaper business, but we still have a mission to fulfill! You will have a definitive answer to that soon enough.

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