Chris and I weren’t able to see our mothers for Mother’s Day this year so instead we ate enough for all four of us. I had never been to Green Eggs Cafe on 13th and Dickinson but we will definitely be back. This stack of red velvet pancakes was literally bigger than my head and though I ate less than a quarter of this “serving” I can’t wait to eat the leftovers for dinner all week! I mean, who can pass up red velvet buttermilk pancakes with chocolate morsels layered with strawberry mascarpone and topped with fresh strawberries, maple syrup and chantilly cream? Not this girl. I hope you and your mamas and grandmamas and sisters and aunts and all the other wonderful mamas out there had a fantastic Sunday!
[i wasn't kidding when i said we could have fed our moms with these servings!]
The longer we live in South Philly, the more I love it. The food, the festivals, the people. And there’s always something going on. Over the weekend, East Passyunk Avenue (this is the street I told you about last week that won a big nod from Food & Wine Mag, remember?) hosted its annual Flavors of the Avenue festival. Essentially, there’s a big tent where a bunch our neighborhood restaurants set up shop and offer tastings of a few of their favorites. It’s a mad house … and quite the drinking fest. Outside the tent is a free live band, vendors and a craft fair. Saturday was the most beautiful day weather-wise and a visit from Korin and her puppy Ripken completed the weekend! Though sadly, I was so enthralled by the food I didn’t take photos of anything else. I really need to get better at that. How was your weekend?
* Falafel from Green Olives Cafe. As far as easy, inexpensive casual eat-in or take-out, this is a winner.
Chris and I looove to eat. We venture out at least once a week, which is great for expanding our palates, and also our waistlines (and shrinking our wallets, too). But when you live where we do, it’s hard to resist. The five or six block strip of East Passyunk Avenue, not far from us, was named by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the 10 Best Foodie Streets in America! To toot my own horn, I’ve been saying this since we moved here! So anyway I thought I’d share with you a list of our favorite neighborhood joints (in no particular order) …
* Chhaya Cafe. Best brunch around. Try the truffled egg toast on a slice of country white bread w/aged cheddar, arugula, lemon, truffle oil and an over easy egg. And be sure to ask about the rotating selection of crepes. p.s. my sister’s name is Chaya, so I’m sweet on the name, too.
Fond. We’ve been to the old location twice before this cozy contemporary American gem moved to a slightly larger space around the corner. I hear the menu’s all different but that it’s maintained its deliciosity. Yes, that’s a word.
* Birra. This gourmet pizza shop has amazing mussels, incredible salads and a unique selection of pizza … not meant for picky palates. Just this week we enjoyed the white pizza w/ roasted duck, caramelized onion, arugula pesto and mozzarella and a goat cheese, pear and bacon salad. Um, yum.
Cantina Los Caballitos. So you already know about this place, huh? You’d be surprised how many people I talk to both throughout the city and in the burbs who are quite familiar with this Mexican staple. When the weather’s warm and the newly expanded patio is open, go early or order one of their tasty margaritas at the bar while you wait. During the summer months we indulge about once a week. Tip: don’t miss the specials on the chalkboard inside. You can’t go wrong with the selection of ceviche and there’s almost always a fun taco in the nightly line-up.
* Plenty. They call it a gourmet quick-serve, I call it the best sandwich in town. The pesto chicken panino is my favorite but my husband likes the porchetta. And don’t underestimate the prepared foods section. Plenty gave me my first taste of farro and I am hooked. Plus, they sell local jams, honeys and other fresh, local goodies. Stay tuned because if the season produces well, you might see a few figs from our tree creatively incorporated into their summer menu!
Le Virtu. We can’t talk about the South Philly foodie scene without mentioning at least one Italian place. Le Virtu takes Italian flavor to a new level with it’s eclectic twist on traditional dishes (think rabbit ragu and tons of lamb, pork and abruzzese-style sausage). My favorite is the agnolotti alla porchetta: porchetta-filled agnolotti w/ sage, butter, black truffle and crushed amaretti. Try the appetizers, too.
*Izumi. Freshest fish in all of Philly. No joke. We love the salmon, Spanish mackerel and tuna over rice. Though their roll selection is limited, it does not disappoint. Make sure you try the seared scallop on a wasabi crepe w/ buffalo mozzarella and cashew herb butter, too. Bonus: It’s a BYOB.
Okay seriously, this list needs to end at some point, but I could on forever. Stateside has great oysters and a large selection of whiskey; stop by Fountain Porter (technically right off the main strip) for a craft beer and a $5 burger (but don’t try to get fancy. cheese or no cheese … it’s that simple) and newbies Will BYOB, which we’ve been dying to try but have thus far been unable to secure a reservation, and New York chef extraordinare Christopher Lee’s latest endeavor called Sophia’s. Psst, we heard a little birdie say chef Joncarl Lachman is returning home to Philly (from Chicago) and will open Noord in a matter of days? Weeks? Who knows, but we’re excited!
Oh, and did I mention we like to have fun, too? To celebrate this extraordinary honor by Food & Wine Magazine, we residents of this quaint little South Philly hood took to the streets for some beer, sunshine and live music at the Singing Fountain on Wednesday night. It doesn’t get much better than this.
The second warm weather sweeps into town I find myself abandoning all things hot and oven-baked. With the windows wide open the smell of our fig tree wafts right in on the sweet breeze and I can’t help but want fresh, clean, simple meals. We spent the afternoon on Sunday at Reading Terminal Market picking up fresh fixings to make a French favorite … tartines (we were inspired by a recent visit here). We may have abandoned our immediate plans to visit Paris, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still crave its cuisine. Tartines are open-faced sandwiches that you can top with just about anything that suits your palate. We went with a few vegetarian options and tried to keep them light and healthy. We looked for a hearty wheat bread, but it being late on a Sunday and all, we struck out and went with fresh sourdough instead (tip: be sure to lightly toast each slice). The best part about these cute little bite-ables is how easy they are to make! The only cooking required was the sautéed spinach, which I could eat at every meal.
Bonus: be sure to scroll all the way down for my favorite … the dessert tartine!
[garlic hummus + green apple + red onion]
[avocado + tomato + alfalfa sprouts + fresh lemon juice + salt and pepper]
[Spanish goat cheese + garlic spinach + red onion + salt and pepper]
[and for dessert: nutella + bananas + roasted hazelnuts!]
My Anya said this was the best pie she has ever eaten. Talk about making a girl’s day. Especially since this was my very first pie! I’ve helped my mom with her traditional apple crumb pie for Thanksgiving, but before Friday I didn’t even own a rolling pin or a pie dish. Since I tend to gravitate toward muffins and cupcakes, I wanted to try something a little out of my comfort zone. This Italian Easter Pie (recipe here) is infused with orange flavor and stuffed with ricotta cheese and dark chocolate chips (which we all know my husband demands in all baked goods). The recipe calls for orange zest, but I used tangerines instead and the flavor was really incredible. It’s light, fluffy and perfect for spring. Happy Easter!