Endless Spirits: Manatawny Still Works

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Craft spirits are becoming increasingly popular. Yes — “craft spirits” is a thing.

The Manatawny Still Works is a craft distillery in Pottstown, PA across the street from Sly Fox Brewery. The still works creates whiskey and rum from beginning to end and re-distills vodka. Surprisingly, Pennsylvania is one of the most welcoming states to distilleries; it is just hard to distribute the product once made. But why, the small town of Pottstown, PA? Possibly because the still works creates their wash in the brew house at Sly Fox.

Manatawny Still Works is located in an industrial park building with an open setup where you can sit at the bar, look to your left, and see the stills in action. You may even be able to catch a Manatawny bottling party. Whenever the still works is going to bottle a spirit, they make an announcement on facebook for volunteers to come in and help bottle. In return, the volunteers earn an employee discount for the day, free food, and an exclusive t-shirt that says “will work for whiskey.”

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Endless Beers: Cape May Brewing Company

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The fiance and I frequent Wildwood, New Jersey throughout the summer months. We’ve found the food and drink spots to avoid, and determined our “go to” spots. The one thing I was missing was local craft beer. In the past couple of years, I noticed a “Cape May IPA” popping up at the local bars. Finally I realized that the Cape May Brewing Company is located just miles away. Housing several fermentation tanks, small brew kettles, and various bearded men, the Cape May Brewing company is making its mark on the New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia craft beer market.

The founders of the brewery (Chris and Ryan) are South Jersey residents and wanted to have a craft beer that was locally brewed. Unfortunately, there were few options. After some careful planning, the Cape May Brewing Company opened in July of 2011 and began brewing various beers to satisfy their urges. In only three years, the brewery (and taproom)’s reach continues to grow. A larger brew house is in the plans to help them fulfill their distribution wait list of 60 + vendors.

The taproom manager, Jim gives the tour and is well versed in the history and the making of their beer. Jim moved over to working in a brewery after working as a bartender for several years. Jim never really liked beer since he was tasting the water-like substance many of us call “big beer.” However, he visited the taproom and they gave him a flight of various beers to taste. Since then, he’s been hooked on beer. Jim’s advice to craft beer “novices” or noobs is to go to a brewery, order a flight, and keep give it a try.

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Cocktail Trend: Flowers in Our Booze?

We love cooking with booze, eating flowers, and putting booze in our food. So what about flowers in our cocktails?

To celebrate the opening of the Philadelphia Flower Show and the current Van Gogh exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Granite Hill Restaurant is offering a floral-themed Chef’s Table tonight featuring menu items such as quiche lorraine with edible pansies (PANSIES, not panties).

But what really caught my eye is the Van Gogh cocktail. The drink in question is a mixture of Bombay Sapphire gin, crème de Violette, lemon juice and simple syrup, with, yes — a flower floating on top.

Have you ever had flower cocktails, ESers? Yay or nay?

I vote yes, because, for the love of god, IT’S ALCOHOL.

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All Oyster Crackers Are Not Created Equal

A few weekends ago I found myself ordering clam chowder and two beers at 10pm. I was pretty hungry, having not eaten lunch, so I tore into the packet of oyster crackers and ate one as my chowder cooled. I turned to my friend and asked, “are these supposed to taste like this?”

She replied, “chalk? Yeah. That”s normal.”

I didn”t give it much thought past that. I used to eat oyster crackers for a snack as a kid and I loved them. I think it was just because my dad would bring them home as leftovers from lunch and tell me he “brought me a present.” Many years later, it seemed my friend was right: oyster crackers all taste like chalk.

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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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Scrapple For Everyone: Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market to Expand

The little slice of heaven that is know as Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market is slated for an upgrade.

Business has been booming at Philly’s Shangri-La of gastronomic delights thanks to the overall growth in interest of food and more recently by the expansion of the nearby Convention Center. The folks who run one of the preeminent indoor food experiences in the country are going to shuffle some of the vendors around and move some storage areas underground to free up some space.

Storage areas along “Avenue D,” the aisle closest to 11th Street, will move to the basement to make room for up to five new retailers, which have yet to be named. Veteran tenants – the Spice Terminal, L. Halteman Family Country Foods, Flying Monkey Bakery, Spataro’s, and DiNic’s – will move to new spaces.

New faces are always welcome, but perhaps the biggest impact will be the relocation of a few of the big names. DiNic’s, in particular, is the proud purveyor of what I believe to be the best damn sandwich in Philadelphia.  Yes, I’m a cheesesteak man until I die, but the roast pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe is otherworldly.

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