The Endless Road Trip: Philadelphia’s Top 10 Eats 8. A Plate of Cheese and a Pail of Grapes

Sometimes it takes more than just a glass of wine. Actually, for us over at ES it usually takes a bottle (or two). But why have a bottle when you can have a bucket?

Trekking around Philly can be exhausting, but luckily there are no shortage of BYOBs where you can put your feet up. Based on several strong recommendations, we ventured to Wedge + Fig,  a gem of a market-cum-restaurant in Old City. If the weather is right, head thru the side door and walk down the exposed brick walkway to a secret courtyard at the rear of the market — it really isn’t a secret but you’d be forgiven for thinking so — here you’ll forget about your day and find yourself enamored with the tall walls, rusting fire escape and silence of the city. Oh yeah, and the cheese.

The menu is simple: tell the kitchen what kind of wine you brought and they’ll pick the cheese and meats. The nearest wine shop, Pinot Boutique had a display of Pardocx Vineyard’s paint cans full of paint cans full of wine, and obviously we couldn’t resist. Despite our klassy choice, the folks at Wedge + Fig were still nice enough to pick out a matching cheese plate for us:

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The Perfect Rack — Lamb Ribs

At The Farm and Fisherman in Philadelphia last week, it wasn’t just the bloody beet steaks that were a hit. I especially enjoyed the lamb ribs. I don’t recall ever seeing lamb ribs on a grocery shelf before, let alone a restaurant menu, but it makes sense: lambs must have ribs, which could only mean we are meant to eat them.

I decided I had to cook this myself for Sunday night dinner. But where to find the lamb ribs? I tracked them down at Whole Foods, where I had to speak with the butcher as they weren’t on the shelf. The Farm and Fisherman served their ribs sumac crusted, but I was unable to find sumac and was only offered moderate encouragement, so I decided to go a different route. I found this New York Times recipe, which I used as a base, straying somewhat for creative ownership.

Recipe after the jump.

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When The Lights Go Out

With the great East Coast Earthquake behind us and Hurricane Irene fast approaching, it’s about time for some disaster preparedness here at ES. This weekend I suffered one of the scariest things that can happen to a food lover…the dreaded dark fridge.

It was Sunday morning when I realized the freezer wasn’t working. Water was dripping from the ice box, the M&M’s ice cream cake a friend brought over the night before was a mess (possibly the best thing to happen from all of this), and the tequila was near room temperature. There was much frustration in the household. The BF and I are not practical grocery shoppers, we’re menu-specific shoppers. If we need ingredients we tend to buy them for the meal we’re going to cook. But this Sunday we wanted to go out and do a full shop, for the coming week or two. A lot of the items on our shopping list we were going to freeze, so we decided it was best to hold off, reset the freezer and hope for the best.

Ten hours later, upon our return home, the power in the fridge was gone too, the beer was warming and the butter was soft. What to do?

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Petunia: A How-To Guide on Roasting a Pig

Despite this miserably hot and muggy summer, we’ll be dammed if 100-plus degree heat is going to stop us from cooking out. But what does a food obsessed person do when you want to up the game from your casual cook out?  Roast a pig for 150 people on a Saturday that turned out to be the sweatiest day of the year, that’s what.

I’ve never roasted a pig before. I’ve been to one and assisted in babysitting one, so I figured it was about time I cooked one. But not alone — my friend Tyler was eager to jump in and get dirty, and with a garden to boot I had myself a co-host. The BF helped too, something to do with music and dealing with me stress over an 80-lb pig for weeks. We all played our part.

I’ll admit, the logistics of hosting a pig roast made me thankful I wont be doing it again for another year.  There was so much I didn’t account for or didn’t think of, and didn’t realize most of it until too late.

So here’s my gift to you: a 16-step how-to on hosting your own pig roast.


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Besting Bon App: Double Grilled Salad

I rarely like to write about recipes I read in magazines. I tend to think that if it passed the editorial muster of print publication, my skills of improving upon it usually fail. However, once in a while I manage to get it right and when I do, I like to share. I’m a giver like that.

A couple of weeks ago I had a couple of friends over for dinner. One of them is a picky eater — yes, I sometimes think to myself, why do I bother to have these types of friends at all, let along invite them over to eat? I was cooking chicken and I wanted a simple, but fresh and summery side, and I came across this Bloody Mary Tomato Salad in July’s Bon Appetit. I made this salad to the letter, and it was delicious, my guests loved it. But there was something not right. I gave it some thought and decided to make it again, this time over July 4th. Again, I was hosting, so I increased portions and changed it up some. And again, my guests loved it, all 15 of them. To see what changes I made, keep reading.


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Top Chef Masters Exit Interview: The Finale

Another finale, another Top Chef Master. We say farewell to season 3 of Masters with, in this writer’s opinion, a surprising winner — not who I was expecting to walk away with the title. Keep reading to see who won and what they had to say about their title, and let me know in the comments if you think it was deserved.

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