Monday, May 31, 2010

Cafe Euphoria

1001 North 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 238-9209

I heard from a friend that Cafe Euphoria had great little pocket sandwiches. He was right. These little numbers are around $3, and hit the spot. Think gourmet circular hot pocket. I ordered one with mozzarella, tomato and pesto, and one with Korean bulgogi, mayo and lettuce. The shop is located in the Piazza at Schmidts and they have great iced tea. They also sell boba drinks, but I wasn't in the mood. I really liked the bulgogi version, it was like Korean flavored cheesesteak meat. The mozzarella version was also tasty, and together they set me back $6.5. Not too shabby. A great place to stop for a light snack.

Note the machine that turns pieces of bread into pocketed delights.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jake's Sandwich Board, revisit.

After my last trip to Jake's Sandwich Board, I was excited to return. Luckily my new job put me right in the neighborhood and by day three, I was ready to revisit.

I opted to try the Village Turkey, for something a bit lighter. It involved fryer-roasted, sliced turkey breast; cherry wood smoked bacon; fresh arugula; and black cherry spread. It was light, refreshing, bacony, and delicious. I was somewhat worried when I felt how light it was, but it filled me up nicely, and the cherry spread tied everything together. I can't say I have ever had turkey with cherry; it was a clean, slightly sweet, slightly tart change of pace from the usual cranberry spread. The arugula did its job of adding some fresh peppery crunchy, and the bacon, well, was amazingly fruity bacon. That's all I can say about it.

I was once again impressed with Jake's, and I am thinking I need to try something with steak next time - in the near future.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Percy Street BBQ

600 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

"Barbeque" and "summer" are two of the sweetest words in the English language. Although it is not quite summer yet, the weather has been warm for the most part, and dry(ish) - a sign of things to come in the usual sweltering Philadelphia way. I saw the doors to Percy Street were open, and I knew it was time to give them a try. Given it was lunch time, some sandwiches were in order. First up, was the chopped brisket sandwich. I decided against the pork belly sandwich, as the server let me know it was not crispy, and rather fatty (which is to be expected, but I was not in the mood). The chopped brisket is served with sliced onions and pickles. It was mighty tasty. The brisket was lean and smoky, with nice crispy pieces of bark intermixed. I was mighty glad that they had some sauce already mixed in with the meat, as the sauce they placed on the table was mediocre at best. It was really warm, and tasted like ketchup with some hot sauce mixed in. However, the brisket as it came out was perfect, and I felt no compulsion to add the suspect sauce.

The coleslaw on the side was good, nothing special, but a solid accompaniment.

The smoked chicken sandwich (besides apparently moving while I took this picture) was wonderful. I was super happy to have the smoky, salty, crunchy chicken salad on my tiny bun. Okay, the buns aren't tiny, but they are pretty small. Probably on par for a $6 sandwich, but a bit less than you would expect from a BBQ joint on South Street.

I have heard some good things about the mac and cheese, so of course, that was in order as well. It was nicely baked, in a long dish, and the crumb topping was plentiful. The mac and cheese itself was very creamy and really quite good. Not the best ever, but certainly worth looking into when you stop by Percy Street. I am also into the idea of the Lockhart Special, which requires a minimum of 4 people, includes all of the meats, all of the sides, and a choose your own dessert; at $24 a person - sounds good to me!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


310 E Johnson Hwy
Norristown, PA 19401
(610) 277-6600

I heard tales from my Dad about the "Zep" that he used to love to eat way back when in Norristown, so I decided to pick a couple of them up to give him a jog down memory lane (which coincidentally you will need after eating a zep).

From the outside, Eve's is a rather unassuming place in a strip mall, and upon entering, it is not much different. I liked it immediately.

The medium Zep is about $5.50, and well worth it.

So what is a Zep? Well, it is basically an Italian hoagie with no lettuce. And by basically, I mean that's exactly what it is. At Eve's they slice the tomato fresh, and certainly are not stingy with the onions. They were, however, a bit stingy with the hot pepper spread. Luckily, I was able to add some when I got home. The salami is great, riddled with whole peppercorns, and the cheese is standard provolone, but generously applied. The bread is fresh from Conshohocken Bakery, and is light and airy, a perfect vessel to deliver this package of meat and cheese. The Zep is a good sandwich, and I really enjoyed it, but mostly to reminisce with my Dad. It was hardly ground breaking, but to get a taste of how things used to be, Eve's delivers.

Jamon Iberico at Di Bruno Brothers

930 S. 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19145
P. 215.922.2876

I was recently treated by friends to a taste of the Jamon Iberico, and I must say, it has almost ruined prosciutto for me. The tender, rich ham literally melts away when it touches your tongue. The nutty flavor that develops as a result of feeding the pigs only acorns for the last three months of their lives is truly astounding. The rich ribbons of fat are so meltingly tender, I would eat this and only this as my lunch meat for the rest of my life (if it weren't for the equally astounding price tag of $130 a pound!). Price aside, it is worth it to grab a couple of slices of this ham, and treat yourself. You will be more than impressed!

No need for the cantaloupe, this pig should stand alone.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jake's Sandwich Board

122 S. 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

When I heard that Jake's roasts a whole pig every day, I was sold (I have been obsessing over roasting a whole hog this summer). So after a breakfast including both scrapple and bacon, I headed over to 'cash out early' in completing a day of pork, ending it here with lunch. I went for the hand carved pig sandwich. I was impressed that they left the carcass sitting out under a heat lamp to intimidate vegetarians everywhere.

They have a sheet where you fill out what you want on the sandwich. Another plus is that they don't charge for the ingredients. I went with everything but roasted peppers (I just feel roasted peppers are kind of played out and tend to be too large and wet).

To say I loved this sandwich was an understatement. The horseradish sauce took a cue from the Arby's horsey sauce that I remember from my days of beef and cheddar's long ago. The au jus kept everything nice and moist without soaking the Carnagi roll. Did you notice the last ingredient? Cracklings? On my pork sandwich? Yes, please. All in all, this was a knockout sandwich. It would not hold up well if not eaten immediately, but that's why you come here - to eat in. I don't know how you could have the self control not to scarf it down within 30 seconds of acceptance. I know I certainly don't.

The "Mensch" was the other victim. It includes 12 hour brisket, horseradish sauce, fried onions, and melted sharp prov. I also loved this one (I also am still sick from eating so much). The brisket is pulled, and perfectly tender. The onions were well carmelized, and gooey provolone never disappoints.

Did I mention I made this a combo, with fries? Insanity. The fries were actually excellent as well. Perfectly crispy, and served hot. The selections on the menu, down to the Kodiak soda is reminiscent of a certain place I like to frequent, but everything is slightly different, and I am not complaining. Jake's is a real winner, and I look forward to many, many, more meals there.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Shorty's Sunflower Cafe

1494 North Charlotte Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
(610) 970-5111

Shorty's is a gem in the suburbs. It is one of the best breakfast places around. They make their food with love, and it shows. Fresh, creative items, for a reasonable price. There is often a line, but it is worth the wait. We were able to sit outside and skip the wait all together. Win-win. I went for the breakfast club. I have had it before, and I was in a comforting breakfast sandwich mood, thanks to the festivities of the bike race I was in yesterday (I actually did a required shot of beef blood, and it was as gross as it sounds). Stacked on the breakfast club (get it?) is bacon, egg, mayo, lettuce and tomato on toast. I love the simplicity of this sandwich, and the interplay of the fatty bacon and the fresh crispy lettuce and moist tomato bites.

This is the dirty eggroll. I hadn't eaten this one before, but I am sure glad I can say that I now have! It is a scramble of ground beef, eggs, Monterey Jack cheese, and breakfast potatoes, all tightly rolled in a large flour tortilla. The barbeque sauce on the top is fantastic. It was tangy and smoky, and you could smell it from the other end of the table. This was a great breakfast burrito.

Finally were the Texan eggs in a hole. This was always my go-to dish. It is two eggs cooked in Texas toast, with jack cheese, salsa, and sour cream, served on home fries. It is soo good. I actually copied their style and make my eggs in a hole like that all the time now. It's so good with the salsa to keep everything moist. This is yet another great dish. The yolk mixes with the home fries beautifully as they cook the eggs perfectly. The only hard part of eggs in a hole is not overcooking the eggs. As usual, Shorty's Sunflower Cafe did not disappoint.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Homemade Sour Pickles

I love pickles. In all forms. So I can't believe it took me so long to make a batch of my own. It is super easy, and they taste sooo good. Here is how to do it yourself. These will make you a believer in the quick-pickling method. I have to give a shout out to a reader who found a couple of measurement errors and fixed them for me. Big thanks to Mr. Rivers from Portland, Maine.


Recipe for (1) 32 oz. jar of pickles:

One large (32oz) sterilized jar (preferably with a snap top)
2 green cucumbers - fresh from garden or wax pealed (or 3 Kirby cucumbers)
1/2 medium onion
1.25 cups of apple cider vinegar
1 cup of filtered water
Pickling mix (2 bay leaves, 1 Tbl. yellow mustard seed, 1/2 tsp. peppercorns and 1-1/2 tsp. fennel)
1 cup of sugar
4 T of kosher salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
2 cloves crushed garlic

Combine everything but the garlic, onion and cucumber in a pot and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn the heat off and let it steep for ten minutes. In the meantime, thinly slice the onion (I used a mandolin for this part), and crush the garlic. Now place the onion and garlic in the bottom of the jar. Now take your cucumbers and slice them to your desired thickness (I used a knife for this because the mandolin would have made them too thin).

As you go, fill the jar with the sliced cucumber pieces. This is pretty fun. Be sure not to over stuff the jar, as you want the slices to be able to move around a bit, in order to facilitate even pickling.

When you have the jar filled with cucumber slices, gently pour the steeped liquid over your future pickles.

Allow the jar to sit out overnight, uncovered, and then cover and refrigerate the next morning. They are best after at least 24 hours, and will keep getting better over the course of the week. They will also be good in the fridge for up to two months, but you will be hard pressed to keep them around that long. I am through (with some help from my friends) half of this jar and it has only been two days! You can branch out from here by using hot pepper flakes to make a spicy batch, or use double the sugar for a sweet batch. It really is quite easy, and everyone will be impressed. These are the perfect cheeseburger pickles, although I have quite enjoyed them with everything from a cheesesteak to a grilled cheese. They also aren't too shabby by themselves for an afternoon snack. Speaking of...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Desi Chaat House

501 S. 42nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 386-1999

I drove past the Desi Chaat House a couple of weeks ago, and I new I had to try it. When I found myself in West Philly again this weekend, it was time to give it a go. Chaat is an Indian street food that consists of crunchy crackerish pieces of fried dough mixed with a variety of sauces and proteins. The Chaat House has multiple bins lining their shelves, each containing a different selection of delicious crunchy bits. The bin they use is dependent on which Chaat you order. I am going to let you in on a little secret, you can't go wrong. Everything I ate was incredible. Bursting with fresh exotic flavors, and profiles my taste buds had never before experienced.

I ordered the lamb chaat, which was marinated strips of lamb, ground spices, barbecued in a clay oven served with chaat. They tailor each order to the spiciness the customer prefers. I like it really spicy, and they delivered. It wasn't "can't eat it because it is SO hot," but it actually provided a great blend of heat and spice. The yogurt really helped to cut the fire. The flavor was packed in these containers. I mean packed. I marveled at just how good it was. Some of the best Indian food I have had. The owner is really nice, and he loves to talk about his food. They have a great variety of sauces, and each one lends a VERY distinctive flavor. There are pockets of creamy yogurt that inadvertently become mixed with the tamarind, chili and other flavored sauces to create a masterpiece. Between two of us, we tried three dishes and even ordered a fourth to take home for later after we had already eaten the first three!

Below is the samosa chaat. When I saw samosa on the menu, I expected traditional samosas with dipping sauce. But THIS was samosa chaat. A samosa was stuck in the corner, and surrounded with beans, boiled potato chunks, sauces and chaat. There were so many contrasting flavors and textures that it was unlike anything I had ever eaten. It was fantastic.

The Dahi Ballay consisted of white lentil balls in yogurt, with potatoes, chick peas and chutney. A bit on the sweeter side, this dish was still both spicy and cooling thanks to the hot chutney and creamy yogurt sauce on top - it was quite delicious. Every single dish tasted completely different, which was a pleasant surprise.

Here is a shot of the menu and two of the workers.

Here is the rest of the menu. If you look below it, there are all of the Chaat containers.

Here is the Dahi Ballay.

So, while eating, I noticed someone outside had little puffy dough balls that they were cracking, and filling with a creamy mixture and pouring some kind of liquid in with it. It looked amazing. I asked the owner what that was, and he informed me it was Pani Puri. Pani Puri consists of crisp semolina puris filled with mixed sweet and sour filling served with spicy water that is flavored with date and tamarind. They are a perfect snack food, and I loved the spicy water. I may have liked these best of all (I also have a weakness for crunchy fried snack food). I was thoroughly impressed by all of the offerings at Desi Chaat House, and as I told the owner, I only had one qualm. Why isn't there one in South Philly? To my delight, he reassured me he was currently scouting a second location down this way. Amazing. I can't wait to go back, and I will consider that my go-to place for Indian in the city now. I mean, when it comes down to it, I am a street-food person above all else, so my Indian cravings just met their match.