February 5, 2009 |
I usually have an aversion to going out for Valentine's Day. If the crowds alone don't squash the romance, the typically overpriced prefab special menus and harried service will. "In the biz, we call it 'Amateur Night,' " one chef conceded. So why not celebrate alt-Valentine's, dinner out on a night other than V-day, by indulging in a growing menu trend already built for an intimate evening of fork-à-fork: the sharing-sized portion. Consider it a zaftig reply to the small-plate movement of the last few years.
March 4, 1994 |
Like thousands of area residents, I've had my fill of flurries, flakes and freezing rain. For the past three months, my world has been one giant snow cone and I can't stand the flavor I've been handed. I don't need Accu-Weather to tell me how much tonnage has fallen. How much snow have we gotten? Too much. Enough is enough, I say. I can't bear to shovel one more shovelful of snow or wield another windshield scraper. Even the weather forecasters have run out of adjectives to describe the cold, sticky stuff.
June 14, 2013 |
Believing you can improve something most people already love demands a special kind of audacity. Such boldness serves as the cornerstone of nascent Montco company Bespoke Bacon, sizzling its way into the meat market with off-kilter flavors and an uncommon interest in the proclivities of pork zealots. Its name inspired by the custom haberdasheries of London's Savile Row, Bespoke was founded in late 2012 by Lansdale residents with a shared passion for scratch cooking. "We're all frustrated chefs and food nerds at heart," said Brian Wolfinger, a former cybercrimes detective with the Philadelphia Police Department who in 2005 founded L Discovery, a digital forensics firm.
April 2, 1989 |
You've seen them. Luscious-looking berries, as bright as fresh paint, perfectly perched in their plastic baskets on tables lined with artificial turf. They're brilliant in every way but one. They lack flavor. The crowds of beautiful berries now found in the local markets - and selling for very attractive prices - were an unexpected gift in the midst of the recent fruit scares. But the gift proved to be a Trojan horse when we got the berries home. The best of the batch were watery and vaguely sweet.
May 21, 1986 |
Charcoal grilling is a natural for burgers and ribs, a trendy flavor enhancer for seafood and fish. But when it comes to the rest of the meal, most people find that grilling is an unnatural act. Its violent flame scorches the filmy skin of eggplants and runs slipshod over the tender buds of asparagus and broccoli. It can char a green bean beyond recognition and transform a cauliflower into a bouquet of briquettes. Dessert on the grill? It's practically unheard of. There's no little knob for you to turn to set a bed of burning charcoal to a nice, neat 350 degrees.
November 14, 2010 |
'Can I get a real couscous around here?" It was a good question, posed to me recently by a French expat hankering for a bowl of North African soul food. The mere suggestion, of course, kick-started my own craving - with savory flashbacks to a Morocco trip and the rustic little couscouserie I lived over during my student days in Paris. And that query was also the main reason I ended up below ground near Rittenhouse Square, waiting hopefully on the elaborately tufted couches of the quirky subterranean nook called Argan Moroccan Cuisine.
July 6, 2006 |
Local honey, if you'll pardon the pun, has got buzz. It's flowing in fashionable restaurants and showing up on shelves in fancy gourmet shops. It's being stirred into expensive, exotic teas, swirled into premium gelati, paired with cheeses, and slathered onto good, old-fashioned peanut butter sandwiches. It is harvested from as far away as Delaware and as nearby as Kensington. These small-batch honeys are produced by dedicated beekeepers, some with as few as three hives, as attuned to the seasonal rhythms of their buzzing crops as a winemaker might be to the condition of his or her grapes.
May 29, 2003 |
The Indians of America's Pacific Northwest are credited with developing the technique of wood-plank roasting. They used aromatic woods such as cedar, which they believed had important healing and spiritual powers. They would tack or weave their sacred food (most commonly salmon) onto planks of cedar or alder and stand them around a slow-burning fire pit. The salmon or game would slowly roast in its own juices, perfumed by the wood. Early in the 20th century, big-name hotels adopted this cooking method, roasting foods on wood and then presenting them dramatically at the table.
March 15, 1987 |
Maple syrup is the only natural native-American sweetener. It can be argued that it is the only native flavoring. The Iroquois were regularly tapping sugar maples for their sap by the time the first colonists arrived in New England. It flavored most of their dishes, from porridge to roasted game. They even used blocks of maple sugar for currency. Soon the colonists began tapping the maple reserves in their forests rather than importing honey bees from Europe. For one thing, it was cheaper.
January 15, 1992 |
Black and white. Hot and cold. Loud and quiet. Put them together and what do you get? Gray. Tepid. Subdued. But try the same thing with opposite flavors and watch out. When they unite, culinary sparks fly. Take sweet and sour, for example. This is the pairing of opposite ingredients such as sugar and vinegar, but rather than meshing into a new and improved flavor - swour? - they refuse to combine. Instead, they vibrate along our taste buds: sweet/sour/sweet/sour/sweet/sour. As soon as we try to commit our palates to one flavor, the other appears.