Wednesday, December 23, 2009


152 West Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19123
(267) 886-9556

Ok, I am going to make a bit of a bit claim here. As far as I am concerned, Paesano's has effectively created the best sandwich in the world. Their self titled sandwich is quite possibly the best sandwich I have ever eaten. Ever. And this is in light of the fact that it was the third sample of their sandwiches I ate that day. So extreme hunger did NOT come into play. What came into play however, was perfectly cooked brisket, creamy ricotta and roasted tomato, the burn of a good horseradish mayo, and a perfectly fried, yolky egg delicately balanced on top. This is a change up from the original Paesano, and a welcome one at that. Don't get me wrong, the original was great, but you simply cannot, in good faith, compare it to perfection. I would gladly take on any and all competitors for greatest sandwich in the world, and watch the others, though delicious, fall short every time. This is like a rustic Italian gourmet cheesesteak, but I have never eaten any cheesesteak that can hold a candle to this beast. Well, now that I have gotten my boasting out of the way (as though I had something to do with it, besides being infatuated with it), look at some pictures, read about some other incredible sandwiches, and GO TO PAESANO'S.

On to the Zawzeech (which I am assuming is pseudo Italian for sawseege). This sandwich is simply sweet Italian sausage, caramelized peppers and onions, sharp prov, and marinara like the Italian grandmother of your dreams might cook up on a good day. Simple, perfectly executed, and delicious. One trick they have going for them is their pans. They are completely covered in caked on delicious, delicious grease. The other thing that really makes a sandwich here is love. Attention to detail might be a more objective term for it. They painstakingly make every sandwich perfect. And it shows. The sausage is fried for a couple of minutes to brown it up, and it is SO GOOD with the overly caramelized onions and peppers, sharp prov and the most delicious sauce make this one ANOTHER winner.

Last but certainly not least is the Daddy Wad. It sounds gross, but it is actually their name for a traditional Italian Hoagie. Mortadella, and salami with sharp provolone (can never go wrong with sharp prov) as a base, with sweet peppers, arugula, tomato, hot peppers, and onion, and a splash of house dressing. Delicious. A hearty traditional Italian, done with quality and love. I am already dreaming of my next visit. Also, they are soon to open another shop where the old Butchers Block cafe (good riddance), used to be in the Italian Market (9th and Christian). Apparently some problem with PGW running the gas lines, and giving them the run-around is the hold up to them opening. I can't believe PGW made something inconvenient. Strange.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

By George!

12th and Arch
Reading Terminal Market

I have eaten at almost every place in the historic Reading Terminal Market, but in all the hustle and bustle I never realized that By George! makes cheesesteaks. It's not hard to believe, because there are about 3 other steak places in there, not to mention the fact that that is NOT the place I would normally go for a cheesesteak. But as I was walking by the other day, I saw their grill. And I noticed the portion of sizzling steak on there. Upon deducing that it was just a regular steaks worth, which could have easily been two steaks, I knew it would be worthwhile. By the time I saw wild mushroom's as an option, I was salivating heavily, and could feel my arteries preemptively squeezing and hardening. Hunkering down before the storm hit.

So I ordered the wild mushroom steak, with grilled onions and extra cheese. If you are going to go for it, you might as well get the extra cheese. A crusty roll can lend to a dry steak, and you can be left searching for cheese. By ordering extra, there is no excuse for a dry roll.

This was a great cheesesteak. Good chopped meat, gooey cheese, and just the right amount of grease. The bread held up perfectly, and really sopped up the fat. The mushrooms were meaty, earthy and absolutely perfect with a the hearty steak. It was highly satisfying, and an ample specimen. I would certainly recommend this over any of the other steak places in the market. They have a variety of toppings, and you could alternatively order regular mushrooms instead. One gripe, no refills. I mean if we had just spent $20 there, and were waiting for our food, and drank half of a soda, fill it up so the customer can enjoy a full beverage with the salty treats they have just purchased. What will it cost you, (literally) two cents?

Charlie's Hamburgers

(610) 461-4228
336 Kedron Ave
Folsom, PA 19033

Charlie's is an old-school burger and shake shack. They are closed on Tuesdays. They only serve hot-dogs and hamburgers, and they cook them on a flat top that still has grease from the time of the greasers still glistening off of the florescent lighting. It is a hamburger stand, and that is it. And it is delicious. This is what McDonald's started as. A simple grilled burger. Nothing gourmet, nothing you have never seen. But it is done well. Greasy and tasty. The black and white milkshakes are also a treat. You can order your burger Charlie style, and they will include ketchup, mustard, pickles, relish, and grilled onions. Perfect. I didn't realize that you can get double burgers, and therefore after I ate my first, I ordered another. At $2.40 a pop, that's a hit I can take. If you are out in Folsom, you need to check this place out. The fonz and company might be hanging out planning their next prank on their cross town rivals. It's that old school.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I found this on Stevil's blog. Had to post it, because it's that cool.

Friday, December 18, 2009


10th & Federal
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone:(215) 755-1121

I love middle eastern food, and Bitar's is just that, fresh, delicious ethnic food. One of the best parts, it is a block away from two of the worst cheesesteak places in the city that out of towners mysteriously line up for at all hours of the day. Yea, you know which ones I am talking about. So anyway, when I am around the Italian market, and I want something healthy(ish) I always go to Bitars. Plus, unlike every other place around it, they take cards ($10 minimum). And they have a small selection of specialty items, such as huge jars of tahini, fresh hummos (or hummus if you are American) and awesome pita bread. Plus you can find things like 300% harissa. I don't quite understand how all that can fit into a woefully inept can, as I am pretty sure it should be exploding out twice over.

Anyway, they actually make delicious falafel as well, as it is char-grilled instead of fried, and quite garlicy and crispy. But I usually opt for a grilled chicken wrap, or beef and lamb shawarma. You can get all of the options with different fillings, including dolmas INSIDE of the wrap. It's pretty awesome. One drawback, however, is size. They are perfectly reasonable for the average non-glutton, but I could easily put down two. A good option is getting a side of falafel or cucumber salad. If you are hankering for a gyro, this is a great alternative, and it's a bit easier on the figure. Oh and the pictures look like there is alot of lettuce but it's deceiving, the goodness is in there right behind it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Crystal's International Cuisine

Guest blogger Justin Smith, has an awesome write-up on a Gyro place out in Oregon. I can't wait to visit it this summer:

1425 Northwest Monroe Avenue
Corvallis, OR 97330-5884
(541) 752-6403
Corvallis, Oregon has pretty mediocre food on the whole. This is ironic because the region is an absolute mecca for organic vegetables, free-range whatevers, wine, seafood, and an array of other fresh ingredients. This makes for a cook's paradise and an eaters nightmare. Being a grad student with a plethora of free time, I'm definitely an eater. As eaters often do, I've eaten at about every food establishment in this town. Some satisfactory, some downright tearful, then along came Crystal's International Cuisine.

Cyrstal's International Cuisine is a very special place. Formerly, Crystal's Lebanese Cuisine (they have hotdogs and tuna on the menu now so that may have prompted the name change), their menu has everything you can dream up of the shawarma, gyro, falafel variety and some you might not. I've yet to venture into the seafood teritory of the menu but it's just a matter of time. Pictured below is their exquisite lamb gyro. It's about the lenght of a football and weights just as much. An incredible blend of seasoned lamb, saffron rice, and fresh lettuce is accented with an expertly prepared tzatziki sauce. They also dash some sort of special salt/ seasoning on top. It kind of looks like dirt and it is probably 99% MSG but I'm willing to accept that (I ate a whole lot of Doritos as a kid and if that didn't kill me this isn't going to ).

Aside from the food, Crystal's is a very unique place. They've got an array of hookas for sale, a museum of traditional Lebanese musical instruments on the wall, and below the baklava case there's an assortment of very small swords that appear to be for sale. In a pinch this may function as a culural exploration if ever the extreme homogeneity of the Oregon population ever gets you down.

The bottom line is that if you ever find yourself in Corvallis take adavantage of nearly two years of sorting through mediocre restaurants and go straight to Crystal's. Even if you don't like it you're still going to be fed for a whole day for about $6 (does not apply to accomplished "eaters"). It's on Monroe Avenue right across from the OSU campus and literally 5 feet away from Pita Pit.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


2330 Aramingo Ave,
Philadelphia, PA (inside the Rock & Roll Exxon)

Phone: 215-739-3801

A cheesesteak, from a gas station. Not that I haven't indulged in gas station steaks before, but grilladelphia takes it to a new level. In the running for my favorite cheese steak in the city. I like my meat chopped well. I like alot of cheese. If I am paying $9 for a steak, expect a alot of food. Not some stringy meat, cheese wiz tourist crap. Keeping in mind that I didn't have to get the $9 cheesesteak at grilladelphia, when you post a one pound cheesesteak on your menu, I am going to have to try it. I like to eat.

Wow, it looks big, doesn't it? You have no idea.

That, my friends, is the cheese steak pouch. And that meat is "steam grilled". They use no cooking oil, which makes for a tender "healthier" steak. There is absolutely NOTHING healthy about this sandwich. The one pounder is a meal for two. And a delicious one at that. Meat chopped fine, onions grilled nicely, this specimen was of the hoagie variety, which meant a bottom layer of lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Hot peppers were dispersed throughout and gave it an awesome kick. The roll is baked in South Philly, and is soft inside, with a little crispiness on the outside. It holds up to the mess inside and really makes this an amazing sandwich. Oh wait, did I mention, it's inside a fully stocked gas station, which even has a flavor machine to mix and match soda flavors. It gets better. Grilladelphia is open 24/7. That's right. And you can take my word for it, they taste great at 3am as well!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fu-Wah Vietnamese Hoagies

810 S 47th St, Philadelphia

If you have never had a Vietnamese hoagie, you don't know what you are missing. Which actually isn't too bad because you don't understand the amazingness that is the Vietnamese hoagie. Now I love hoagies of any kind, but these little numbers are some of my favorites. The change-up from traditional Italian coldcuts (which I also love), is a welcome reprieve to a hoagie eating kind of guy (or girl).

The hoagie originated because the French occupied Vietnam, and introduced the baguette. The rest was history. Although there are many, many toppings, traditionally you can get shredded BBQ pork, chicken or tofu at just about every hoagie shop. Here in Philly we are blessed with many shops to chose from, and on a bike ride this afternoon, I happened to be in West Philly and so I wanted to check out Fu Wah, which I have been hearing rave reviews about. Their tofu hoagie is the star, and so that what I decided to devour (I WAS on a bike ride after all). Unlike most places, they marinate their tofu, which gives the sandwich some delicious flavor, which usually can be lacking with tofu. They also included the usual sliced carrots, pickled radish, jalapeno slices and cilantro. I was missing the mayonnaise/aioli spread most Vietnamese hoagies have. Also the roll was not the crispy crunchy french style baguette we are spoiled with down in South Philly, and Chinatown. Overall, a good stop if you are in West Philly and craving a fresh crunchy hoagie, but I would still prefer my other Vietnamese hoagie joints.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Turkey Tacos

I love Mexican food, and these tacos are a quick and easy weeknight meal. Using turkey is an awesome alternative to beef, but one problem is that it can dry out easily, and another is it is lacking the same flavor as beef. I hadn't made these for years, but they really turned out great.

I started with one package of ground turkey. Make sure you don't get the extra lean, as it will tend to dry out. I chopped half of a Vidalia onion, and threw it in a hot pan with some olive oil and let it cook for a couple of minutes. I then threw in the pack of turkey, added some salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. Next came a can of fire roasted green chilis, and cilantro. I cheated on the cilantro and used two cubes of frozen chopped cilantro (you can find it at Trader Joe's).

As that cooked, I sliced a Florida avocado. Florida avocado's differ from traditional Hass avocado's, in that they have a smooth green skin, and are about twice as large. The flavor is less creamy, but they have less fat, and thus were in keeping with my healthyishness theme.

I let the meat simmer for about 15 minutes, until it was all cooked almost through, put in some chicken stock, and threw a lid on, to let it simmer. The lid and stock really help keep the meat moist.

To serve, I garnished with some thinly sliced Avocado, chopped onions, and special sour cream sauce on flour tortillas. I take some thin authentic salsa, and mix it with some sour cream. It is quite simple, but it is absolutely delicious. It adds a some flair to chips and salsa, and really pulls a quick Mexican meal together. Plus you cut some of the fat of the sour cream with salsa. So try this meal if you need a quick healthy weeknight meal. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Schmitter

If you have ever been to Citizen's Bank for a Phillies game, you know that the food there is top notch ball park grub. But a couple years ago, I was turned on to a little known sandwich stand there that has taken the ball park sandwich to the next level. The Schmitter is an amazing sandwich, but when I heard you could try the original in Germantown, I knew I had to give it a go. McNally's Tavern is a hole in the wall, with no real signage, but if you know, you go for the Schmitter. I took a long bike ride through Wissahickon, and after a super tough climb up Bells Mill Road, a magical sandwich like this one hit the spot. I could describe the ingredients, but I think this sums it up better than I could. The special sauce (homemade Thousand Island) is out of this world, the grilled onions, and salty salami are perfect partners, and the Kaiser roll really pulls it all together and makes for a perfect serving vessel. This is one of my favorite sandwiches of all time. And an awesome bike ride for a Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ginger Scallion Sauce

I have been hearing the buzz about the Momofuku cookbook coming out, and even though I have never eaten at any of these amazing (I am sure) establishments, I had to buy the book. When I was pre-ordering it from the Amazon page, the recipe for this sauce was on there. I made it that night, and could not wait to get my book after tasting this. I can't explain how good it is. It's simplicity is key, and it reminds me of Nanzhou Hand Drawn Noodle House here in Philly. MAKE THIS SAUCE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It is bursting with fresh flavors, and will take about 30 minutes to make a meal out of. You will be sooo happy you did.

Ingredients (from the book):
  • 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 large bunches)
  • 1/2 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons usukuchi (light soy sauce)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

(Makes about three cups)

Directions (from book)

Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Use as directed, or apply as needed.

Here is the liquid part before adding the chopped Scallions and Ginger.

Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Though it’s best after 15 or 20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from the minute it’s stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. I added some ground beef and noodles, and mixed it all together. It's SUCH a quick and easy meal, and you and whoever you eat it with won't believe the flavor that comes from such simple ingredients. BUY THIS BOOK!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Elevation Burger

Elevation Burger
50 East Wynnewood Road
Wynnewood, PA
(610) 645-7704

I have been hearing alot about elevation burger, and I just couldn't wait for one to be opened in Center City, so the trek was made out to Wynnewood to give it a go. There have been numerous comparisons to In and Out, so of course I was intrigued. Well to make a short story short...

The burgers were good. Fresh ground, free range, organic beef. They had good toppings, though not as many as five guys. They had a thousand island style sauce that was unfortunately very bland. But they had 2 standouts. The fries, which are fried in olive oil, were awesome. Not super crispy, but crispy enough, with a GREAT fresh flavor. And the other standout was the balsamic mustard, which I got on the side for dipping the fries in. I also got the thousand island, but it was meh, so I attacked the mustard. It was really, really good. Not bad for a low guilt burger and fries. With two center city locations coming soon, I will definitely be back. Oh and the staff is SUPER friendly.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Red Onion and Cilantro Relish

Ok so as the final garnish to my Korean tacos, I wanted to make something with a little crunch to give it a different texture. Red onion and cilantro relish was a no brainer, and SO easy to make.

2 large red onions
half a bunch of cilantro, de-stemmed
2 limes
1 cup of rice wine vinegar

I diced the onion, and threw it in a big non-reactive bowl. After that I added the vinegar, lime juice and salt. Toss, and let sit, tossing occasionally. About a half an hour before serving, add in the cilantro (you don't want it wilt too much), and add to your tacos. The vinegar and lime really dull the sharp onion taste, and it adds such an incredibly light and refreshing crunch to your tacos. I would use this recipe on ANY tacos, and will certainly do so in the future.

Korean Salsa

To go with my short rib tacos, I wanted a bit of a Mexican-Korean salsa to garnish them. I bought about 10 plum tomatoes, and 10 tomatillos. I threw them on a pan with some salt and olive oil, and put them in the oven at 400 for about a half hour. You will hear the tomatoes pop when the heat gets to be too much, and this is okay. After 20 minutes, check them every five.

When they are sufficiently roasted, pull them out of the oven, and throw them in a pot. In the pot you should start with some minced garlic, sliced onion and oil and cook for a couple minutes. Throw in the tomatoes, add a cup or so of water, the juice of 2 limes, a tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of sesame oil and a cup of chili sauce or gochujang. Let this simmer for about a half hour on low medium heat.

When that has reduced and cooked together a bit, throw the whole mix into a food processor and blend until there are no remaining chunks. When it comes out, add more lime, or chili sauce to taste. I also tossed in some sesame seeds at this point and stirred them in. Let it rest in the fridge, but try and give it enough time to come up to room temperature before serving.

This would also be great for a unique twist on any Mexican dish. The spicy sweet chili sauce combined with the smoky roasted tomatoes is a delicious combo, and I am glad I made extra that I can use in the future. It should last up to a month in the fridge.

Korean short rib tacos

I am not a big fan of fusion food, but I must say, when I heard about Korean tacos, I was intrigued. Korean and Mexican are two of my favorite kinds of food. Actually they ARE my two favorites. I when I heard about Kogi, I almost moved back to LA on the spot (not really). But it DID make me want to try and replicate them in my new shiny Dutch Oven.

I went to the Italian market and got 4 pounds of beef short ribs, cut in half at the butchers. I also picked up some fresh vegetables, and went home to experiment.

Short Rib Ingredients:
4 lbs. Short Ribs
6 cloves of garlic
1 large yellow onion
4 medium red potatoes
2T fresh grated ginger
1c gochujang (you can make a close approximation with Siracha, Ketchup, Brown sugar, and a dash of sesame oil)
1/2c miso paste
1c soy sauce
1c water
1c chicken or beef stock
1c brown sugar
1T sesame oil

First, let the meat warm up for about thirty minutes to an hour, then heat a good amount of oil in the bottom of your Dutch Oven. Take the ribs dump in salt and pepper in the bag they came in
and shake to coat. Pull out the ribs and place in the hot oil. Don't move them for a couple minutes. This will let them brown up nicely. Then rotate them and continue browning on all sides.

At the same time, I started a sauce pan with oil and threw in the garlic letting it saute for about 2 minutes. After that, pour in the stock, water, gochujang, miso paste, brown sugar and sesame oil and let simmer, stirring. After the short ribs are done browning, dump this into the dutch oven, cover and put it in the oven at a temperature between 250-350 degrees depending on how much time you have. I had all day so I set the oven at 290 and let it cook, covered for about 3 hours. I then pulled it out, and let it sit, covered, on the stove and come to rest. It is VERY important at this stage that you leave the ribs in the cooking liquid as they come to rest. They will soak up the liquid as they SLOWLY cool in the dutch oven, and remain incredibly moist and tender.

About 2 hours before I am going to serve them, I heat the oven to 300 and put them back in. I also toss in the onions and potatoes to cook for the last 2 hours. I don't put them in at the beginning because don't want the potatoes to turn into mush. Allowing them to slowly come back to heat really lets the flavor build in these succulent morsels.

I cook for an hour with the lid on, and then another hour with the lid off. The lid off allows the exposed pieces of meat to carmelize, and in turn makes for a DELICIOUS piece of beef in your taco, or eaten plain. You will not believe how good this is. One of the best meals I have ever made.