June 3, 2012 |
ROME - They twirled, they sniffed, they slurped, they chewed. The dozen homemakers who gathered at a Rome hotel on a recent afternoon took their work terribly seriously, rating plates of pasta for chewiness, saltiness, gumminess, or done-ness - that perfect balance known as al dente, or firm to the bite. Pasta is serious business in Italy, and the recent blind taste test by the world's biggest pasta-maker drove home that an awful lot of thought goes into making the simple combination of durum wheat semolina and water from which Italy's national dish is made.
May 19, 2012 |
At Kitchen Kapers in Ardmore, one trendy tabletop product occupies most of the front window display. At Simply Elegant Home in Media, owner Mary Rhoads has devoted an eight-foot-long wall unit, plus a 48-inch round table, to this French-designed import — in a store that is 1,000 square feet. And, at Everything but the Kitchen Sink in Hockessin, Del., manager Suzanne Edgar devotes to it four five-foot shelves. "It doesn't go on sale," she says. It's Le Cadeaux, and customers can't get enough of it. Last year Rhoads had a "smattering" of sales.
May 1, 2012 |
DEAR ABBY: May I comment on the letter from "Working the Window in Georgia," the drive-through worker who said people should have their orders ready when they pull up to the speaker? Many drive-through restaurants place their speakers in FRONT of the first menu you see. Unless you frequent the restaurant, it's impossible to know what you want until you reach the menu. Also, if "Corporate" is timing its employees, then maybe it should dispense with having the employees greet customers with a long list of item suggestions before taking the order.
April 26, 2012 |
DEAR VERY HIP City Restaurateur: I think it's time we had another talk. It's about your small plates. Well, not specifically the plates themselves — some of which, if we're being honest, stretch the definition of "small. " Rather, what we need to talk about is the manner in which these plates are brought to the table. Your "coursing," to use the au courant terminology — or more precisely, your lack thereof. You know what I'm talking about: Two of us show up at your restaurant and your chirpy server suggests that we order two "or three or four" small plates per person.
April 24, 2012 |
MAYS LANDING, N.J. — Lined up in clean chef's whites and paper toques, five teams competing Monday in Atlantic Cape Community College's Academy of Culinary Arts annual Student Iron Chef Competition — the school's version of the popular television show — were nearly breathless waiting to find out the secret ingredient. Would it be clams? Squid? Or scup, the decidedly unglamorous bottom-dwelling fish species known around here as porgie? Porgie it was. And by the end of the six-hour exercise — in which the teams of five students each were judged on communication, presentation, and other skills — about 20 dishes had emerged from the kitchens, all featuring the firm, mild-flavored white fish.
April 19, 2012 |
Upscale vegan eateries in the Philadelphia area have a dirty little secret: "I'd say at least two-thirds of our clientele are not vegetarian," says Ross Olchvary, chef-owner at New Hope's Sprig & Vine . "I think most of them are just looking for something different. " Rich Landau, chef and co-owner of Center City's Vedge , with his wife, Kate Jacoby, has observed a similar pattern. "With so many celebrities like Bill Clinton, Mike Tyson, and Ellen DeGeneres talking about eating vegan, people realize that it's not just some cleanse, and it's not some hippie-dippy diet of steamed beans and lentil loaf.
April 12, 2012 |
I AM, FIRST and foremost, a lover of all things Italian. But even I must acknowledge this: There are too damn many Italian restaurants in this city. Whenever I hear that a new trattoria or ristorante is about to open, the question immediately springs to mind: Does Philadelphia really need another Italian place? And yet — like seemingly everyone else — I always find myself anxiously awaiting the next one. Ah, la dolce vita, we never tire of you. But after waves of rustic BYOBs and old-school red-sauce joints and upscale pizzerias and fancy northern Italian spots, another question nagged at me: Are we running out of fresh Italian concepts?
April 11, 2012 |
Cincinnati seems intent on breaking the mold for baseball's small-city teams. Owner Bob Castellini has concluded the only way to make the Reds a consistent contender is to spend to keep the team together rather than losing players through free agency. "You do that to build a franchise and a foundation for years to come," Castellini said. "So I don't [expect] to continue to have all these huge contracts. But you build your franchise on the people that are in that dugout and on that field.
March 22, 2012
Il Portico (1519 Walnut St., 215-587-7000, www.il-portico.com ) is launching Pasta Mista Fridays. "Pasta mista" means "mixed pasta," and Il Portico's version, available for lunch or dinner, includes gnocchi, parpadelle, fettuccine, tagliolini and eggless bigoli tossed with fresh seasonal ingredients. Tomorrow from 5 to 8:30 p.m., Granite Hill, the restaurant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-684-7990, www.granitehillrestaurant.com )
March 22, 2012 |
The floor plan is set. Brett Youmans is assigned to spot 99. His work space - outfitted with a brand new GE 30-inch black electric range, made just for the event - will be identical to those of his competition: the other 99 contestants who have made it to the final round of the 45th Pillsbury Bake-Off, set for this weekend in Orlando. This is Youmans' second time competing, and he's sworn to enjoy it more. "That was the very first cooking contest that I had been involved in," says the Reading resident and Philadelphia-based flight attendant of his first go-round two years ago. "I didn't get the full experience because I was so nervous.