Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lunch c/o In Riva

So the Saturday before last was relatively full of activity. The morning and early afternoon was given over to work. Then I drove over to East Falls to meet up with my visiting aunt MR at In Riva. MR was staying with her cousin in that general direction, and isn't very familiar with the roads of Philly, so I thought In Riva might be a good place to dine, as it wouldn't be too far from where her cousin lives, has a nice view, and is relatively hard to miss. We sat outside on what was a very nice and sunny day. The restaurant is located on Kelly Drive, just four lanes of traffic away from the Schuylkill. We had a nice glimpse of the river from our table, though you'll note that the bigger view was mainly one of a bike. MR was already there when I arrived but they had waited to seat her until I presented myself. So, once we were settled at an outside table (zero patrons chose to sit inside, though the interior doesn't have a terrible vibe to it) I ordered the Solari cocktail: limecello, amaro, cava, mint. Delightfully refreshing. Very pleased was I with this concoction.
MR and I both ordered starters. This was the carciofi fritti, fried artichoke with an olive tapenade in a pool of lemon yogurt. The lemon aspect didn't totally get into every bite, and the tapenade was definitely on the salty side, but all in all an enjoyable way to start the meal. MR had spicy mussels in a tomato broth, which were pretty great.

We then split the pepperoni pizza.
The dough was nice and crisp and the crust's char was well done I thought. They certainly didn't skimp on the cheese or pepperoni.
A great al fresco meal. Thanks to MR for the lunch!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Julep and Po-Boy c/o Khyber Pass

Last Friday BC gave me a call - or maybe I called her first - and suggested I meet up with her and her friend A. That is not right. What happened was this: BC and A. were going to go to a shoe boutique for some wine and shopping event. I thought about joining them but was still at work. Then BC called to say it wasn't that great (very expensive shoes) and suggested that I pick a restaurant at which we could meet and enjoy a meal and each other's company. For some reason, on that day, I was slightly paralyzed by what is usually a request I am happy to take care of. I just couldn't come up with a place right off the top of my head. Eventually I regrouped, called BC back and gave her a few options. Ultimately we opted for Khyber Pass. I do so enjoy their menu when I actually get there. One of these days I'm going to sit at the bar proper and take a closer look at that scene. In any case, when I arrived BC and A. were already seated with beers and food on the way. So I had to move quickly with my own decisions. First up, a mint julep on the rocks. Pretty good, though maybe a little sweeter than I usually would expect. This is funny because I love me some sugar, but it was noticeably sweet.
And then there was the much more difficult decision. The decision of food. The responsible-I-don't-want-to-get-so-fat-nobody-will-marry-me-and-vegetables-really-are-good-for-me-and-oh-also-I-am-not-made-of-money decision would have been a salad. And then I so enjoyed the bbq meat sampler I tried when LB came to town. Furthermore there is the fact that, actually? I don't think I've ever had a po-boy. So the call was a tough one. In the end I put my chances of ever having sex, eating vegetables or having a healthy bank account balance (or cholesterol level) in serious peril in favor of trying Khyber's fried shrimp/fried oyster po-boy, choosing to complete my downfall by opting for the macaroni and cheese as a side. Yup. I will die alone.
It was a pretty tasty sandwich, and generous in its portion size. The mac n' cheese was also very creamy and full of goodness. I only was able to consume half the sandwich and while I did get it to go, I forgot it in BC's purse when we went to National Mechanics for one more drink. Hopefully she knows this and it's not still there because, frankly, that would be pretty gross.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Return of the Dragon

As often happens at this point in the year, work has gotten busy. And with the busy-ness comes company sponsored lunches. This began about two weeks back, I believe. First meal of the busy season was General Tso's Tofu c/o Szechuan Hunan. I also had hot and sour soup, but the dragon didn't feel like posing with it.
Another meal was a quite delightful Cajun Turkey hoagie, which came complete with  "Cajun" turkey, spinach, horse radish cheddar, spicy mustard, coleslaw and red onions. Quite good. From 3J's. The dragon was so excited about it that a wing was lost.
And yet another day found me slurping mulligatawny soup and chana chat from King of Tandoor. Honestly neither was particularly awesome.
And yet another day found me, the dragon and a brick sized amount of baked ziti getting to know one another c/o Luigi's Pizza Fresca. It was quite satisfying. I've loved most ziti I've had over the years, but I feel like my earliest memory of discovering and enjoying the dish took place at the Sbarro in DC's Union Station. I often took the train to high school after vacations, and I feel like I definitely ordered the dish a few times and then enjoyed it on the train. Yep. And during the adult macaroni and cheese nights of my early post-college years, I perfected my own version of the dish. Luigi's is pretty good, but of course mine is better mainly because of the extra cheese.
And that wraps up the first week of too much food and work, too little everything else.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

First Ever Shake Shack

I think it's been a couple of years since I first heard about Shake Shack, which I believe transpired during the days when The Girl Who Ate Everything  posted more frequently (yup, seems very likely). But on none of my NYC visits did I quite make it into Manhattan to give the burgers a try. I was curious, but I was also happy to hang out in Brooklyn and eat other things. So when Shake Shack opened a location in Philadelphia, I was happy about it and knew that I wanted to give the establishment a try. Unfortunately I've been a little strapped for cash lately. My finances and the purportedly long lines for a burger kept me away. I figured I'd let the hullabaloo die down and then try it out, which is pretty much what I did, finances be damned! So last Sunday I walked into Center City fully expecting an hour wait. Instead I had about a 5 minute wait in line and then perhaps another 10 for the food to come out. The place bustled, but it wasn't bat-shit crazy. I was even able to sit outside on quite a beautiful and sunny day in order to get my first taste of the well hyped burger. I ordered the SmokeShack, attracted especially to its chopped cherry peppers. And, hey, who doesn't love bacon? Lots of people, actually, but that's not the point I was trying to make. I also ordered a side of fries and a Arnold Palmer (which they simply referred to as a half n half).
So what did I think? Pretty good. My burger was a little sloppy in its construction, and the bun a little soggy. Now the sogginess was of a better standard than, say, McDonalds or Burger King, but I like my bun to at least have a moment or two of being relatively intact before going to the squish side. Good, but not quite the life changing experience of, say, a Village Whiskey burger. But they're not really trying to be the same thing. Shake Shack, as I understand it, is focused on being a high quality fast food burger, made with better produced ingredients than the average chain. And that they certainly have down. But as far as extra love and care? Or doing some sort of voo doo magic to the meat that makes you want to close your eyes, grab a table and just become one with the burger? Well that's still VW's territory, and it comes with a heftier price tag. It's good, too, that they serve slightly different purposes and markets, considering the fact that Shake Shack is located directly across the street from Village Whiskey. I didn't try a 'concrete' (ie: shake), but I also found it curious that they decided to open up a burger and shake joint across from the aforementioned VW and Capogiro, which specializes in gelato. It seems calculated. Like they could siphon off the people who get tired of waiting for either establishment. Makes sense, but is still a little weird.
The fries were nice and crispy with a lovely creamy center. I forgot to get ketchup, but enjoyed them regardless.
I had planned on going to Shake Shack and then meeting up with a few of my new dart team members (I am now the captain of my own team, of course I am). But due to the lack of line, I had far more time to kill than I expected, so I walked to Rittenhouse Park, sat on a bench, and read Tolstoy. Because I'm classy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Le Grand Continental, Philadelphia Edition

Last Saturday started out sunny enough, but by five it had taken a turn for the rainy. LB and I had long planned on meeting up in the evening to see BC and BA perform a dance number with a veritable slew of other Philadelphians. It turned out that there was also an afternoon performance, to which AS - down from her new digs in NYC - and a few other of BC's friends attended. After that performance, which I did not witness, the gaggle of ladies ended up in my living room. This was unexpected, but delightful. Eventually the dancers returned to their staging area, AS and J. went to catch a bus back up north, and A. and I got ourselves under an umbrella and on over to the museum, where we met up with LB, C. and J. And then we watched BC and BA dance.

So much dancing, and so much rain. All participants seemed very energetic and excited despite the less than perfect weather.
Afterwards we all regrouped and enjoyed an evening at Lemon Hill.
Good times.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tomatoes and Tacos

On Sunday evening Mr. Ass and JB stopped by. This was unexpected. I often invite folks to come to the country, but it doesn't always end with them, well, actually coming. So I was quite pleased. I hadn't seen JB since Mr. Ass' big Saturnalia gathering my first year in town. I told Mr. Ass I could feed them tacos and that I had mozzarella if they had tomatoes or basil. Which, due to the splendor of his garden, he did. And behold, a nice plate of fresh tomato, basil and mozarella with a drizzle of decent olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. We sat outside and talked the talk and drank prosecco or beer. It was very nice.JB and I recollected our shared time in France for an exchange during high school, which included fond memories of emotionally disturbed children and failed attempts to drink in Paris without getting caught.

Then I heated up taco fixins and insisted on taking photographs that proved that I saw both of them. Proof!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Buying Locally, Walking Locally, Eating Tacos

I made a run into town to pick up some eating supplies for dinner on Saturday night, and for the rest of the weekend. But I held off on a few things because I knew I could buy them local at The Little Farm Store. Shout out to them! They have great eggs at certain times of the year (not now), as well as locally fed and raised beef in steak and ground form, not to mention cheese, ice cream and a few other tasty things. On my trip I picked up a pound of ground beer as well as half a gallon of raw milk. Such a beautiful day to drive around an area that is still more field and farm than subdivision and McMansion.
Once I got back to the house I took myself on a woods and stream walk. I carried a big stick, don't worry. No spiders offended this face. Props, also, to lending me her sunglasses for the last month. They were lovely.
Boots, creeks, boots, creeks.
And for dinner I made S. and myself lamb/beef tacos. I also made pico de gallo and guacamole. Additionally, I broke a blender. Dinner also included gazpacho that I made, which was quite delightful...but it just didn't photograph well on this particular evening.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Pizza Dinner in Carversville

While I was enjoying the lovely beer and field times, I was also corresponding with A.S., who had texted me to discuss a possible time for her to return some books I lent her earlier in the summer. I told her she'd be welcome to drop them off in the country, but that I assumed she was visiting Philly so didn't expect anything to come of that suggestion. Turns out she was actually staying at her parents' place, which was only about 30 minutes away from my own country location. When she invited me to join them for dinner, I happily accepted. AS's parents recently moved back to Pennsylvania from Massachusetts, and their new house is really beautiful. I pulled into the driveway behind the house and they were all sitting in the garden/patio, which was just splendidly bursting with flowers and vegetation. AS told me the hummus they were serving with pita chips was some of the best she ever had...I did not take a photograph, but I will say that she was not lying. Dinner was pizza with onions, spinach, maybe sausage? And perhaps one or two other things. Another thing this pizza was?
We sat outside under what I think was a grape arbor? Or maybe not. Salad was also served. Mmmm. Good times. Thanks to the S. family for including me in their Friday dinner plans!