Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll

Last year, the University City District kicked off a series of “Baltimore Avenue Dollar Strolls” in which local merchants along Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia sampled their wares for the low, low price of one dollar. They had a few strolls during the warmer months but I never had the chance to check them out. This year, I vowed to take part in at least one stroll.

Last Thursday was the first event of the 2011 season. My husband was working late and I figured I’d take the opportunity to hang out with my family. I grew up in West Philadelphia, just off 47th and Baltimore and the area holds a special place in my heart. I hopped on the 34 trolley after work and took the quick ride to 47th street. As I rode west on Baltimore Avenue, I noted the changes that have taken place since I moved out of the area seven years ago (I lived in West Philly for a year after college.) The Wurst House is now The Best House, there has been an influx of Indian restaurants, the old flower shop is now the wildly popular Green Line Cafe and West Coast Video is no longer…and that’s just a start. At the same time, Fu-Wah is still standing (although they’ve adjusted to the changing clientele–you can buy organic tampons there!,) the Ethiopian bar-restaurants are as popular as ever and good old Davis Pharmacy is still kicking.

As I walked down 47th street, the sun glistened on the greenery around me and I was reminded, for a moment, how much I love West Philadelphia. I relaxed on my parents’ porch swing as I waited for my father to come home. When he arrived, we headed down the the first Thursday afternoon Clark Park Farmers Market of the season. I had heard that Guapos Tacos would be making an appearance at the market and, after picking up a juicy container of strawberries, I beelined towards the truck. There was no line! In the nature of blogging research, I just had to try some. The truck is adorable, of course, decorated with bottle caps.

I checked out the menu and decided on the chipotle short rib tacos. I’m a big fan of short ribs.

After a short wait and a conversation with the owner of an adorable (but not as adorable as mine) bulldog, out came our tacos!

Because I knew I’d be eating for the next few hours, my sister and I split the order, eating one taco each. She liked hers!

The verdict? The meat was chewy and plentiful with a nice amount of crunchy, fresh veggies but the chipotle flavor was nowhere to be found. Nowhere. In fact, I had to double check the photo I took of the menu to make sure that I had not mistakenly remembered that chipotle flavor. In the end, I prefer Honest Tom’s.

After finishing our tacos, we headed west on Baltimore Avenue and stopped into the pet shop to cuddle with their kittens and pick up a few treats for my dog. I refrained from the pink camouflage sweatshirt and the bejeweled “Bad to the Bone” shirt and stuck with some basic treats for my dog and a couple toys for my best friend’s kitties–cat toys were two for a dollar!

From there, we crossed the street to Desi Village where they had samosas, vegetable pakora, Mango lassis, milk balls (a dessert I love but don’t know the real name. Always call them milk balls) and another dessert. Growing up, my family ate a lot of Indian food. We ate at the Tandoor buffet when the occasion called for a night out and still frequent the restaurant. The owners love my family and dote over my father every time they see him.

We opted for a samosa and mango lassi, my sister’s fave. As she enjoyed her samosa (she was heading to work in a bit,) I grabbed a quick photo.

Meanwhile, I snuck sips of her mango lassi. My family loves this drink but I’ve never jumped on the bandwagon. Well, apparently I’m late to the party because mango lassis are the bomb!

Damn. If I had any foresight, I would have touched up my nail polish. Sigh.

From Desi Village, we continued west. I left my sister at 47th street and met my father outside Dahlak where he was chowing down on an injera lentil wrap–that little sneak! We weren’t supposed to get food until my mom got there. Well, if he was going to do it, so would I. I hopped in the Vientiane line.

Vientiane was serving up chicken or tofu skewers and vegetarian summer rolls.

The line was reasonable and I’m glad I grabbed their food early because by the time we looped back down, the line was almost a block long. I got a chicken skewer and veggie summer roll. They were both excellent. The skewer was tender and flavorful while the summer roll was perfectly crunchy and seasonal.

As we munched, we continued westbound and passed the current Mariposa Co-op storefront. Then we passed the new location. I’m so excited for them! Mariposa has grown HUGELY in the past few years and I look forward to seeing their continued growth.

Our next intended stop was Dock Street but they didn’t have a beer special and it was too hard to snag down a server so we headed to Elena’s Soul Cafe. Elena’s is the type of place you didn’t go to back when I lived in the neighborhood. Luckily, the atmosphere has changed a bit without losing its charm.  This was the first of three dollar beers we indulged in that evening.

The Pabst was icy cold, which is the only way to enjoy mediocre beer (more on that later.) My father and his friend, Arthur, chatted by the window and asked me to snap a photo of them in front of the artwork.

We threw back the beers and strolled out of Elena’s. By then, Baltimore Avenue was certainly hopping. Next up, The Gold Standard, who gets points for having a DJ spinning.

They had a large spread including sliders, chicken wings and something falafel-esque. Chicken wings were one for a dollar. C’mon man, one for a dollar? We could have gotten three for a dollar at Lucky’s Chinese store down the street and I’m sure they would have been just as good.  I believe they had a few desserts as well.

I was extra pumped for my slider…

…until I bit into it. It was a black bean burger!  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy vegetarian meals as much as the next former vegetarian, but I was really, really pumped for a juicy little slider. Oh wells. We ran into some neighbors as well as Rep. Jim Roebuck. What a stand-up guy he is.

On our continued migration east on Baltimore, we passed Calvary Church with a band playing on its steps.

It was about this moment that I began to muse about the possibility of Passyunk Avenue hosting its own dollar stroll event.

We intended to hit up Vientiane so my mom could taste some of the awesomeness that was their skewers and summer rolls but the line was at least a half a block long. They weren’t that good. Instead, we jumped in line at Dahlak (note Lucky’s Chinese next door. Shoulda gotten the wings there…)

Dahlak was dishing up some tasty red lentil injera wraps.

I’ve spent countless hours in Dahlak, a neighborhood institution, but it’s been a while since I’ve eaten traditional Ethiopian food. I promised myself it wouldn’t be so long next time. The doughy injera is just so tasty with just a bit of a spongy tang on your tongue.

After finishing up wraps, Arthur noticed a sign in front of Abby’s Dessert Lounge advertising dollar beers. Unlike Elena’s, Abby’s is still the type of place I wouldn’t tend to frequent. In fact, amidst my early 20s bar frequency between 46th and 48th and Baltimore, I had never set foot inside the place.  Despite my trepidation, we made our way into the dimly lit bar and were greeted by a pleasant bartender and plenty of friendly folks, including a gentleman who gave me his seat so I could sit next to my mother. We enjoyed our frosty Buds (despite the weird trick the bartender did with the napkin that was, I believe,  her attempt at keeping the mouths of the bottle clean) and made our way.

As we ambled pleasantly towards 46th street, we noticed the increase in crowds which brought long, long lines. I wanted to bring my parents back to Desi Village but that line was down the block and around the corner.

At that point, we figured it wouldn’t hurt to have another beer, being as how we were approaching Queen of Sheba and all. When I was finally able to push through the throngs of people to get inside, the helpful bartender told me that they had run out of the cold PBR and had put a new case on ice. Warm PBR, albeit a dollar, just didn’t sit well for me. I dragged Arthur out of there, promising him we could return later.

We passed by this cute little cupcake truck that I’d never heard of before. People were chowing down.

When we passed a neighbor enjoying the Bassett’s ice cream being scooped by Milk and Honey, she offered up this crucial tip: “go to the line inside. It is much shorter.”  Thank you, Janet. That tip was a godsend! We bypassed the looong outdoor line and waited indoors for just a few minutes before my mom, dad and Arthur were happily slurping their mint chocolate chip. As we made our way down the block, I noticed another tent set up adjacent to the Milk and Honey ice cream scoops. My parents were chatting and I heard someone from the tent saying here she comes. I followed her gaze and caught sight of a woman crossing Baltimore Avenue with a full chafing dish in her arms. I quickly gathered my companions and hopped in line, not knowing what we were waiting for. We were in luck–Milk and Honey’s new prepared soul food store, Roost, was serving up chicken on a biscuit. In many ways, I consider that my best score of the night.

The biscuit was buttery and flaky without being too dry and the chicken was a carrier to the nottoohot hot sauce that I added.

I was ready to wrap up at 45th street, but my parents (mom) just had to go to Green Line. We walked the empty two blocks to the coffee shop and mom and dad enjoyed iced coffees and these cute little cupcakes. I  hear rumor they were vegan but missed the flavor.

We wrapped up at Green Line and my mother wanted to make one final stop at Desi Chaat House because she loves their samosas. As we approached the monstrous line, mom says “this line’s not too long.” We waited in line for about 10 minutes without moving until I decided to take action. I convinced the group that we’d be waiting until tomorrow if we stayed in line for a simple dollar samosa. As we walked away, my mother says “do you know how much they cost normally? $1.50.” I was floored.

The Baltimore Avenue Stroll is a beautiful way to bring together the community while exposing people to restaurants or cuisines they might not otherwise try. I loved strolling down the avenue that I called home for 20+ years while envisioning the same stroll on my new “Avenue.” It just reminds me how much I love this city–the diversity of people, neighborhoods and cuisines is beyond comparison.


Far From Home Cafe

Ever since I stumbled across Far From Home Cafe food truck (“your favorite comfort foods from all around the world”) I knew I had to check it out. I love comfort food! I was intrigued by the menu containing a variety of burgers, tacos and enchiladas. Hmm…this could either be very good or very, very bad. Unfortunately, my work schedule does not often allow a long, leisurely lunch hour and I never knew where the truck would be. Lucky for me, Far From Home Cafe has a new home, along with Guapos Tacos and a variety of cupcake trucks. Also lucky for me was the fact that my co-worker was in possession of a car for the day (most of us bike or take Septa.) Because it was a busy birthday week, we had taken my co-worker to a Thai lunch the previous day and opted to check out the truck on Friday.

As we headed out, I tweeted out that we were heading over for some birthday lunch.  When we got to the truck (as my other co-worker circled Love Park in fear of a parking citation,) the super friendly staff recognized us–perhaps when my co-worker mentioned it was my birthday–and asked who we were on Twitter. I’m still getting used to introducing myself by my real name and then my Twitter name. It’s funny to meet people in the Twitter world who respond “oh you’re Row Home Eats.” We chatted for a bit before placing our massive order of chicken tacos, black bean tacos, curly fries, the Mighty Moo burger and the Mighty Euro burger. We wanted to try the empanadas but they were all sold out. I’m thinking that it’s a pretty popular item. Because it was our birthday, we got  a special dessert on the house! I cannot, for the life of me, remember what exactly my dessert was but it was some sort of blondie with chocolate chunks (or something like that.) It was pretty tasty and I love the packaging!

After we placed our order, the owner came out from inside the truck and chatted with us for a bit before introducing us to the friendly city employee who spearheaded the “lunch at LOVE” program, bringing city folks back into the park during the lunch hours with food truck, entertainment and more.

Check me out in front of the festive truck.

We finally got back to work and got down to business.

The curly fries were a great accompaniment to the burgers, although I certainly didn’t need them with my Vetri birthday dinner fast approaching. Curly fries are my fave.

Next, we opened our burgers. These juicy burgers (yes, I tried my co-worker’s burger too. All in the name of blogging) were just my style. They were cooked on the flattop with a little char ,which provided a nice crunch, and lots and lots of flavor. My “Mighty Moo” had the basic toppings–lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, American cheese and “mighty sauce.” I fluctuate between wanting the simplicity of a burger like this one, with all the “normal” toppings and wanting something a little more far out. I went traditional this time, but my co-worker went all out with the “Mighty Euro” with bleu cheese, crispy bacon, sauteed onions, tomato, pickles and, once again, “mighty sauce.” I actually preferred the Mighty Euro. While the toppings added a ton of flavor, they didn’t overwhelm the patty tucked between the buns.

The Mighty Moo from the top.

The Mighty Euro–check out those fixins!

I only tried the black bean tacos and they were light and refreshing.

Far From Home Cafe fills a perfect niche in the Philadelphia food truck scene.  They’re not trying to do anything spectacular beyond cooking tasty, straightforward food which is welcome in my city any time.

Gnocchi

I made gnocchi, y’all! Let’s go for a pictorial on this post…

I tossed them in flour and laid them on a cookie sheet lined with a dish towel for a quick freeze. Once that was complete, I tossed them in a ziplock bag. A week or so later, all I needed was the following:

And I ended up with this!

30 by 30 update

So it happened. It came and went. I’m finally 30 and, aside from a little sag or wrinkle here or there, I’m pretty much the same. Since my 30 by 30 post in September (well, it was really a 13 by 30 because I never came up with 30 things to do,) I’ve accomplished some of the things that I set out to accomplish before my 30th birthday, while others are still waiting to be conquered. Let’s visit my list, shall we…

1. Make pie dough. Ah, the elusive dough. This one hasn’t happened yet. It probably doesn’t help that I was sick during the holidays and my in-laws moved so I didn’t get a lesson from the best–my father-in-law makes AMAZING pie with his homemade pie dough.

2. Bake bread. Ouch, I’m 0 for 2 so far. The good news is that I recently (yesterday) commandeered a breadmaker that I found at work. This is very strange but making bread is on the short, short list.

3. Cook 7 Fishes dinner for Christmas Eve. Jeez, I’m feeling pretty unaccomplished thus far. I actually wrote this goal knowing that I would not complete it. I will cook 7 Fishes one year but I’m guessing that it won’t be for a while.

4. Catch and cook a fish or crab. Nope, didn’t do this one either! I do have grand plans to do some serious crabbing in Maryland this summer at my friend, Wayles’, childhood home.

5. Make gnocchi. I did it!!! My gnocchi post is actually in my draft folder as I type. I loved making the gnocchi but eating it was even better. There’s something special about putting a completed dish on the table that started with simply potatoes, eggs and flour.

6. Make something-cello. I did this too! Things are starting to look better! I took advantage of the abundance of citrus during the colder months and made some tasty key lime and blood orange cellos. We’ve been enjoying them ever since!

7. Have Dim Sum with a Chinese person. Thanks to my good friend Teresa, this was actually the first item I crossed off my list. Now that I think about it, I’m getting a hankering for more turnip cakes!

8. Make as many types of dumplings as possible. Well, I kind of did this one. I made some dumplings here and there. You’ll see my ravioli in this post and I’ve played with gnocchi. I’m still a little scared of dough so I’ll have to forge ahead bravely.

9. Learn how to can. Well dammit. In my defense, canning isn’t a prevalent activity in the winter months and I did make this list in September. OK, stop the excuses. I need to hit up Food in Jars for a canning class ASAP.

10. Take a cake decorating class and make a cake look pretty. OK, now I just feel inadequate. I thought I had a pretty decent year of cooking and eating. I actually haven’t been able to commit to a Fante’s class but I have found someone who is willing to come to my friend’s house and teach a private class. We’re looking to put it on the schedule sometime after school lets out in late June or July. I did, however, take a chocolate class with some co-workers so maybe that kinda counts?

11. Recreate my great-aunt’s apple cake. I actually did this one. Unfortunately, my phone took a bath last week and I lost all of my pictures. Suffice it to say the cake was phenomenal, although it could never hold a candle to Aunt Bette’s. I used this recipe minus the wheat germ.

12. Eat at Talula’s Table. Check! This was a night I’ll never forget for a variety of reasons.

13. Have the grand tasting with wine pairing at Vetri. Done and done. This was actually my 30th birthday wish and we visited the restaurant on my birthday. I chose to remove my food blogger’s hat and enjoy the meal like a completely normal person (who just happens to be obsessed with food.) From the complimentary glass of prosecco to the petit fours and conversation with the sommelier, the night was absolutely perfect. I cannot think of anywhere else that I would have rather spent my 30th birthday (well, ok, you could twist my arm with Tuscany.)

In retrospect, it’s been a pretty unforgettable year, food-wise. I celebrated my 29th birthday at Supper restaurant last May. I started the blog in August and have since had many unique and special culinary experiences.  We bought lobster fresh off the dock in New England (and then took a tour of Maine’s lobster rolls😉 we brought our dog, Jewels, to brunch at Supper; I spent Christmas Eve morning at Termini’s with a couple hundred of my closest friends; we hosted a Soup Swap; we enjoyed Meme’s fried chicken lunch; we partook in the Han Dynasty 20-course Szechuan tasting; I successfully made chocolate (and went to a chocolate making class recently as well;) we visited Adsum for brunch and two dinners, meeting Top Chef Kevin Sbraga there most recently; we ate grilled paella; I met lots of new bloggers at a Philly Food Bloggers Meet-Up, some of whom have become friends; I attending the Philly Wine Fest; we brunched a lot (a whole, whole  lot) and enjoyed many a sandwich from the Sausage Truck.  We ate lots of Vietnamese food and we cooked, ate, baked and cooked some more. And, of course, we had two meals of a lifetime at Vetri and Talula’s Table. We’ve eaten well this year.

Although it was a difficult year personally–sadness abounded–I found my solace in cooking, eating and joining friends and family at the table. (Cue the violin.) When I was sick during the holidays, I requested borscht from Hymie’s, when my dear friend’s step-father passed away, my way of helping was deciding what food would be served. And bringing her a bottle of gin, of course. The same friend celebrated a monumental birthday–more special and important than any birthday I will ever have–in August and again I helped with the menu (and cooked the potstickers during the celebration.) My oldest friend’s father is diminishing and my way of supporting her and helping him was to cook sausage and peppers for the man who always enjoyed good food.  Two of the happiest moments I had this year were recent–and were at restaurant tables. Food and cooking have given me the ability to forget all else. I can’t even attempt to put words to the past year. It’s a time in my life that I hope to forget for so many reasons. As I forge ahead into my 30s, I am confident that I will be able to put this time behind me.

Through all this, my husband has been my sole rock. He’s cooked dinner for me when I just can’t bear to move and he never complains when I want to order out, regardless of how full our fridge is. Who cares if my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I order three appetizers and two entrees for the two of us. He sure doesn’t. He has been by my side, always providing a positive word and a tasty bite. Who ever would have known that the cute guy I met when I was 21 (21?!) would become the most important person in my life and my biggest cheerleader. One of the things that I love most about him is his willingness to try anything. When we met, Zach’s skills in the kitchen were limited. He had a small repertoire, much of which involved a can opener. In the 8+ years that we have been together, he’s transformed from the nervous, recipe-checking, question-asking novice to someone who is confident and sure of himself in the kitchen. While I tend to think of the kitchen as my domain, I often check myself (ok, fine, he usually checks me) when I try to give him guidance or advice. To know that I have had that impact on his life, to know that I have helped him become someone for whom eating is so much more than subsistence speaks to the power of our relationship.

When we were at Vetri, the night of my birthday, I mused aloud that I was lucky. My husband wasn’t just doing me a favor by taking me to a fancy restaurant for my birthday. We were partaking in this gastronomic experience together and equally relishing it. When we’re old and storied, we’ll be able to tell our grandchildren about our myriad amazing meals and food experiences–from the fresh-caught spiny lobster dinner on the beach in Costa Rica to the Parmiggiano factory in Emilia Romagna to our honeymoon lunch at Chez Panisse. These are our memories. My father always jokes that my mother can’t remember where she left her glasses but she can describe in detail a meal she had years ago. I feel connected to her in that way. And while I hope that the upcoming year and years are better than the past, I know we have lots of good eating to look forward to.

Adsum Collab Dinner with Kevin Sbraga

There are so many things I love about Twitter. One of them is the ability to connect and communicate with people with whom you might not otherwise know. Another is that it allows one to be a voyeur, of sorts, watching others interact with one another. This brings me to my  most recent meal. A few months ago, Adsum chef, Matt Levin and Top Chef Season 7 winner, Kevin Sbraga were chatting on Twitter.  As their online (and very public) conversation unfolded, they made plans to cook a collaborative dinner at Adsum. As an Adsum and Top Chef fan, I thought that sounded neat and tucked it into the back of my mind. Soon thereafter, I caught sight of the details, once again on Twitter, and booked a reservation for four knowing nothing about the menu or pricing but banking on Chef Levin’s top notch cuisine and Chef Sbraga, well, dude won Top Chef.

The day of the dinner, my best friend called out sick from dinner. She’s a huge Top Chef fan and I knew she had to be in bad shape to miss the dinner. Nonetheless, I was sad to see her go. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find another pair to join us and we had to change our reservation at the last minute. I hate doing that.

As we prepared to leave the house, Twitter provided us with a sneak peek as my friend, Amy, had the earlier seating. From her reports, we were in for a fantastic meal. We left the house with intentions of taking the bus and ended up taking a cab whose “meter didn’t work.” Oh well, better deal for both of us.

We walked in the door of the light and airy restaurant and were seated immediately. We were even lucky enough to have my friend, Jason, as our all-star waiter for the evening.  We  browsed the menu and I was immediately a little nervous for the pig tails. For someone who doesn’t eat much pork, pig tails seemed to be just a bit, um, adventurous.

Although I didn’t realize there would be a wine pairing, we both opted for it upon Jason’s suggestion. We were almost immediately bestowed with some bubbly in champagne saucers (which my husband just adores.) My wine recollections for the night will be poor as I’m belated in my blogging, but each one paired nicely with the dish, especially the bubbly and the sparkling rose with dessert.

The first course was a variation of eggplant (crispy, charred and marmalade.) I wasn’t sure what to expect from this as eggplant isn’t exactly my favorite veg.

Much to my surprise (ok, I wasn’t actually that surprised) this dish was quite enjoyable. Although I was especially a fan of the marmalade, the three variations played off of one another nicely–and I always enjoy a nice crunch which the fried version so nicely provided. This was also one of Winston Justice’s favorite dishes, as he told me later on Twitter.

The next course was probably my favorite dish of the evening–smoked mahi with cabbage slaw and green goddess dressing.

While smoked fish can sometimes have a very strong flavor, this mahi had such a subtle smoke that it was almost undetectable. The fish was cooked perfectly and had none of that overly fishy flavor. This dish as a whole was clean, light and refreshing and was paired with a white that was just as crisp and drinkable.

Uh oh, the pig tails were up next. We received our third wine and first red of the night. It was robust and matched the strong porky flavors nicely.

Pork cheeks adobo are on the top and the crispy Korean-style pig tails on the bottom. Both of these were phenomenal and packed with flavor in their own unique way. The pig tails felt almost like chicken wings (which made me feel a little better) and the pork cheek was fork tender. I could have eaten either one of these all night, but I was especially partial to the pork cheek adobo.

We ended the night with a chocolate moelleux with a beetroot ice cream paired with a sparkling rose. The moelleux tasted like a brownie but the star of the plate was the ice cream. I literally felt like I was eating liquefied beets. The flavor was so fresh and prominent.

Chefs Levin and Sbraga were in and out of the kitchen throughout the evening, mingling with guests and quite obviously having fun with one another.  My husband and I had the opportunity to chat with Chef Sbraga for a bit and then we snapped this photo on the way out the door. Pardon the sunburn–those are the downfalls of being a softball coach. Check out these two four-eyed cuties!

The Cantina

Ever since September, my former student, (and new friend!) Jerome, and I have been trying to get together for dinner. We both love good food and looked forward to spending some time together outside of school. Well, September became October, November, December and all of a sudden it was March and we still hadn’t gotten together. We finally committed to making it happen and I asked Jerome to come down to my neighborhood so I could check in on the dog before we went out.

When Jerome got off the 23 at Passyunk, I gave him the choice of Mexican (the Cantina,) bar food (Lucky 13,) or something else…I think I threw Stogie Joe’s or Marra’s out there as well. He immediately chose Mexican and we crossed the street and headed into the Cantina.

Sometimes the former vegetarian in me sneaks back and I couldn’t help eyeing up the seitan buffalo wings. Jerome was nice enough to indulge me and we split an order of them to start.

The “wings” were good. They were fried extra crispy and had a big kick. We sopped up plenty of blue cheese to counter the spice. Those who get squeamish when dealing with seitan or other “fake meat” probably would have been ok with this dish.

I went with the quesadillas for my entree. I knew this would happen. It’s been a few weeks since our visit and now I can’t remember what kind I got. It was either chicken or mushroom. Either way, they were darn tasty.

And Jerome went with the goat burrito. Now Jerome is not a little guy but look at the size of this burrito!

Isn’t Jerome adorable??? I love his blog, too, even though he hasn’t updated it in months! The burrito defeated him about 2/3 of the way through and he packed up the remainder for the next day’s lunch (or perhaps a late night snack.) What a lovely evening with a lovely gentleman.

It’s Pesach Time: Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake (adapted from Epicurious.com)
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate (recipe called for bittersweet but I used what I had)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper. If you’re like me and ran out of wax paper, butter the crap out of your cake pan.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Might I argue that I have the best (invented) double boiler ever!

Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture.

Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. If you happen to realize that you only have 1/4 cup of cocoa powder left, no biggie. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate. Dust confectioner’s sugar on the top if you want to be extra fancy.

Unlike me, try to remember that you replaced your missing sifter and use that rather than sprinkling it with your fingers. It will look prettier.

If you want to get extra fancy, pull some frozen raspberries from your freezer and cook them into a compote with a touch of sugar. Serve the cake with a splash of compote and perhaps some ice cream if you so desire.

Recent Eats

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger lately. As I impatiently count down to my landmark birthday and the corresponding arrival of my Canon Rebel (!!!) I’ll share some recent eats as captured by my Blackberry.

Chef’s salad with ribeye, blue cheese, hard boiled egg and mushroom makes for a tasty dinner.

Quinoa porridge (hold the raisins, please)from Green Eggs Cafe makes for a healthy, yet filling, brunch. Still not sure that I like quinoa, but it works incredibly well in this dish.

I love poached eggs (and my dad makes the best poached eggs in the whole wide world) and I want to get into the practice of eating them outside of the traditional breakfast. It worked beautifully atop leftover Syrian spinach casserole.

And then there’s always lunch at the Reading Terminal. We switched it up a bit this time and I went with the a classic reuben from Hershels while the husband got his Italian hoagie from Salumeria–with the works, of course.

My sandwich had enough meat for a second sandwich on Saturday afternoon.

Philly Food Blogger Meet-Up

I’ve been blogging for less than a year and this will be my third mention of Supper. I really, really love the place. What can I say? When my new friend, Wendy, told me that she was organizing a Philly Food Bloggers Meet-Up at Supper, all I could say was yes and YES! The chance to meet other food bloggers AND have a tasty brunch at Supper was exciting on so many levels. The menu looked divine and the fabulous owners, Jen and Mitch Prensky, promised to have a small, passed versions of some of their most popular brunch menu items with a special nod to us bloggers–they had a full sized version of each dish for photography purposes. LOVE these guys!

I walked into the restaurant on the cool Saturday afternoon and headed upstairs to Supper’s private dining room where Wendy and other food bloggers milled about with their mimosas in hand. I grabbed a hot apple beignet and quickly started chatting with Wendy, Helen and Tenaya (no handshakes due to finger-lickin’ greasiness from the beignets) before making my way to the bar.

Somewhere along the way I had my first taste of the morning–Dock Street porter pancakes with candied apples, vanilla suds and homemade cracker jacks.

I loved the strong vanilla flavor in the foam and the “cracker jacks” made for a great crunch amidst the dense chewiness of the pancakes.

While standing at the bar, I got a chance to chat with the fabulous tag team couple behind 22nd & Philly. Ironically, my husband played youth soccer with Mr. 22nd & Philly so it was fun to get to know him and his wife a little better. While we were chatting, we got comfortable with one another pretty quickly. You have to when you’re eating dessert for brunch like Supper’s RENOWNED red velvet waffles with cream cheese mousse and bourbon cherries. Things tend to get a little racy.

Isn’t that just stunning? I will say that I enjoyed the small portion of it and don’t know if my (minimal) sweet tooth could handle an entire serving of this luscious dish.

While our hungry group milled about, Mitch and Jen did more than just organize the event. They were kind enough to chat with us, entertain us with stories (Mitch’s professional background is fascinating) and even pose for pictures. He is pictured below with the folks from 22nd & Philly and my friend, LeeAnne.

I could have eaten about 37 of the Dixie biscuits with scrambled egg, ham and pimento cheese. These little sliders were awesome but the grits that accompanied the full-sized verion were buttery and divine!

On the “lunch” side of brunch, Mitch and Jen served two of their favorite menu items–the Supper burger and Supper dog. I first had the burger at the Hair o’the Dog Brunch on New Year’s Day–there was no better hangover cure than the juicy burger with caramlized onions, roasted tomato, bacon and gruyere. The baby burgers were super cute and a perfect three-bite taste.

The Supper dog was my hands-down favorite (although the Dixie biscuit was a very close second.) You may remember that I don’t really eat pork. Well, folks, the Supper dog ruined that for me (I’m obviously really disappointed about that!) The dog is 100% pork shoulder wrapped in bacon and deep fried (!!!) with sauerkraut, bbq onions and a beer mustard on a split top roll. This is what they looked like in the mini version.

But check out this full-sized monster of a dog.

O….M….G….

I love how it’s perched so daintily atop the split top bun. Wow. I just loved everything about this dish. Oh, and once the photos were all taken, those fried pickle chips disappeared in a heartbeat. I could have eaten those guys all day long.

Aside from the afternoon’s food, which was phenomenal, it was great getting to put faces to the names of the folks I know from Twitter and the the blogosphere. Many, many thanks to Mitch and Jen for a mouth-watering spread and great company to boot! If you haven’t been to Supper, you’re definitely missing out.

Check out some of the other attendees (I stole this list from 22nd & Philly.)

1. La Phemme Phoodie
2. Philly Foodie
4. Midtown Lunch Philadelphia
5. Eating in South Jersey
6. Two Eat Philly
7. Jonny Sparks Lounge
8. The Pour Curator
9. NJ Epicurean
10. In Search of Beer
11. Exton Dish
12. Doris and Jilly Cook
13. South Jersey Locavore

14. Zagat Buzz

15. Apples and Cheese Please

And check out these great write-ups of the event:
Apples and Cheese Please
22nd & Philly
In Search of Beer
La Phemme Phoodie (the lovely organizer of this event)

Mixed Berry Cobbler

Mixed Berry Cobbler (adapted from Betty Crocker’s blackberry cobbler)

2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) blackberries (do not use blueberries) (I used mostly frozen berries. No time to thaw!)
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted

-In medium bowl, stir together blackberries and sugar. Let stand about 20 minutes or until fruit syrup forms. (Whoops, missed that part too) Heat oven to 375°F.

-In large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and milk. Stir in melted butter until blended.

-Spoon blackberry mixture into 8x8inch square pan. Top with batter (it will be clumpy.) Now, for some reason, the recipe said to put the batter on the bottom and top with the berries. I obviously didn’t do that and mine came out just fine–I prefer it MY way!

-Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until dough rises and is golden. Serve warm with cream or vanilla almond ice cream.  If you’re my dad, you’ll sprinkle some blood orange ‘cello over the whole deal. Why the hell not?