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September 26, 2010

Greensgrow CSA Weeks 15 and 17

week 15

Week 15

  • Plums (Yellow Plums on Thursday, Fortuna on Saturday) - Lancaster County, PA and Beechwood Orchards, Biglerville, PA
  • Watermelon - Lancaster County, PA
  • Spinach-Graiff Farms, Newfield, NJ
  • Cucumbers- Lancaster County, PA
  • Beets- Flaim Farms, Vineland, NJ
  • Organic Sweet Potatoes- Shady Brook Organics, Lancaster County, PA
  • Sweet Frying Peppers- Lancaster County, PA
  • Amish Swiss Cheese - Hometown Provisions, Lancaster, PA
  • Eggs

Week 15 also included one of my favorite share items — Greensgrow Bucks!  I really wander around for about 15 minutes, mentally trying on all the items I could possibly take home.  This week, I opted for a particular favorite from a previous week, the Boltonfeta from Hidden Hills Dairy.  And, let me tell you, it did not let me down the second time around.  I still urge you to check it out.

    Week 17

    • Spring Mix - Blue Moon Acres, Buckingham, PA
    • Bok Choy - Flaim Farms, Vineland, NJ
    • Heirloom Tomatoes - Linvilla Orchards, West Chester, PA
    • Green Beans - Lancaster County, PA
    • Yellow Peaches - Three Springs Fruit Farm, Biglerville, PA
    • Asian Pears - Beechwood Orchards, Biglerville, PA
    • Sweet, Yukon Gold, and Red Potatoes - Lancaster County, PA
    • Butternut Squash - Lancaster County, PA
    • Garlic and Chive DiBruno Brothers’s Spread - Philadelphia, PA

    Week 17 had two items that gave me trouble.  How can you tell when asian pears are ripe?  I had some samples at Fair Food, and they were significantly juicier than the ones I have sliced up.  Are they a different variety, or am I just eating under ripe fruit?  (BTW, if you are not snapping up regular pears right now, you are missing out.  I have been eating the Bartlett pears from Fair Food like crazy!)

    The second one was the bok choy.  I will happily admit I am a super neophyte when it comes to veggies, but the bok choy got all soft and wilty in my fridge in about two days.  What is the proper way to store bok choy?

    (Preggie fatigue delayed these for a few weeks.  But, for the historical record, I thought weeks 15 and 17 should not go unrepresented.)

      September 9, 2010

      Celebrate the fall harvest outdoors!

      Summer is over, and the heat is breaking.  What better way to celebrate than by getting outside?  

      (photo courtesy of Weaver’s Way)

      Fair Food Farmstand and the Weaver’s Way Co-op are partnering on Sunday, September 19th, for the 5th annual Urban Farm Bike Tour.  They’re doing two rides this year — a 14 mile basic ride, and a 28 mile ride “for experienced riders”.  Both groups will end at Weaver’s Way for a food and beer party, all for $20.  Check out the list of stops and register.

      The Buy Fresh, Buy Local folks are also hosting their 3rd annual bike ride (Bike Fresh Bike Local!)  That’s the following Sunday, September 26th, and they’re offering 25, 50 or (yikes!) 75 mile options.  Their trip costs $35, but includes a tee shirt, on top of the food and beer.  Find out more and register for the ride.

      Not a biker?  Looking for some free harvest fun?  This Saturday, September 11th, head down to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Fall Garden Festival at the Navy Yard.   There’s food, music, planting demos, tours of the Navy Yard, a recycling center for plant containers, and (if you’re a PHS member or become one that day) free plants!  Get more details.

      September 4, 2010

      Barbuzzo

      As soon as you walk into Barbuzzo, the smell of the wood-burning oven fills your nose.  This has to be one of the most delightful, welcoming smells on earth, and immediately had me thinking happy thoughts about the 6th venture in Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran's takeover of 13th Street.

      Pig popcorn

      We started with olives and pig popcorn.  The olives were a just right starter — a small enough portion that you don’t feel like you’re eating them forever, and sprinkled with Marcona almonds and fried rosemary for a little extra punch.  The “pig popcorn”, aka pork rinds, were a light wisp of food, like a foam that magically hardened.  They had the wonderful smoky flavor whose odor hit me as I walked in the door, a nice porky taste and lovely seasonings, but, ultimately, they are a novelty dish that I probably would not order again.  (The horseradish aioli they were served with, on the other hand, was begging to be snuck out and enjoyed with an order of fries.)

      Burrata salad

      Our next two dishes highlighted the incredible produce of the season.  The burrata salad was served with generous slices of pear that brought the whole dish together.  Even Bryan, who normally objects to fruit in salad, gobbled it up. 

      gnocchi at Barbuzzo

      Hands down, the gnocchi was my favorite dish of the night. It’s served with smoked corn, tiny tomatoes, roasted mushrooms and an amazing truffled butter sauce.  The sweet, juicy tomatoes burst in your mouth when you bite them.  The corn and the mushrooms together were sweet, salty, smoky, savory, all in one mouthful.  This evening, the temperature was still pushing 88.  I can only imagine how satisfying this dish would be if evening temperatures ever dropped below 75.  Again, Bryan (for this dish, playing the role of “mushroom hater”) was won over by how the flavors played off each other, and actually took a mushroom off my plate.

      photo-24

      "We can always take the pizza home," I told Bryan, even as I knew we were probably over-ordering.  Sure enough, I only managed to eat one slice before calling it quits.  But the capriccosa pizza was definitely not at fault.  It’s topped with clumps of shredded proscuitto, black olives, artichoke, and mozzarella, with just a tinge of smoke edging the sweet creaminess of the mozzarella.  It is served with very flavorful Sicilian oregano and a housemade chili oil that you can apply yourself.  The crust was just how I like it, not too charred, not too thin.  More than a bit of crisp iwhen you finish the toppings, it’s a nice bready rind.  I’m definitely looking forward to having more of it tomorrow.

      Salted caramel budino

      We had been intending to hit Capogiro before heading home, but if there’s one phrase I can’t resist for dessert, it’s “salted caramel”.  Barbuzzo drew us in with the salted caramel budino — a glass crock with a chocolate cookie crumb base, filled with vanilla custard, topped with a generous layer of salted caramel (sprinkled with a little extra salt for good measure) and a spoonful of crème fraîche sprinkled with chocolate cookie crumbs.  It’s a little like creme brulée and a little like vanilla cream pie and a lot like eating spoonfuls of delicious salted caramel.  Needless to say, that little crock went back to the kitchen with barely a speck in it.

      Additional pluses: Barbuzzo’s kitchen is open until midnight, every night.  They do takeout pizza, in super cute boxes to boot.  If you like any of serving dishes your food comes in, I’m pretty sure I’ve spotted many of them for sale at Open House, their homewares shop across the street.  If you get there too late to hit up Verde (or your husband is concerned about melting), Marcie has included a selection of her marcie blaine chocolates on the dessert menu.  (Hopefully, this is a sign of crossovers to come.  I’d love to see some of her barks sitting on the counter at Grocery.) 

      If it isn’t obvious, I, for one, welcome our new 13th Street overlords, and I can’t wait to try more dishes at Barbuzzo!

      Barbuzzo
      110 South 13th Street
      Philadelphia, PA 19107-4532
      (215) 546-9300
      Unlike Bindi and Lolita, Barbuzzo does take reservations.

      August 27, 2010

      Spring/Summer Wrap-up, Part 2

      Check out the Spring/Summer Restaurant Wrap-up, part 1 for my 10 second reviews on Adsum, Koo Zee Doo, Paesano’s, and more!

      Hardena: You really can’t beat a place that serves up a mountain of food for $6.  They also had a fish curry that I absolutely gobbled up, and I am not typically a fish fan.  Follow your instincts on what looks good, or let the guy guide you.  Or bring a friend, and try 6 dishes for $12.  Thanks, Mark, for the rec.

      M restaurant

      M Restaurant: It’s an incredibly cute space — a quiet courtyard, set off from the street, with a little garden.  Now that it’s cool enough to consider sitting outside without getting heatstroke, it would be a great place for drinks and snacks.  None of the food was memorable in any way when we were there, so I’m happy to hear they’ve changed chefs and menus.  Let me know what you think if you go by!

      Amis: I seriously never recommend Italian places.  So, take this with all due seriousness.  I have recommended it to people, and I would go back.  This probably translates, if you normally dig Italian, to: you will find this restaurant mind-blowingly delicious.  I thoroughly enjoyed everything we ordered (the rice balls were my particular favorite.)  Also, the people-watching was great.  I was very amused by the guy sitting next to us bragging to his date about how he was a regular, and knew all the best dishes, and she should just let him order for her.  Then he ordered exactly what we had gotten.

      photo.jpeg

      El Rey: It’s fun.  It’s kitschy.  The chilaquiles were good.  The enchiladas were delicious.  It was cheaper than El Vez, but even louder.  How loud?  My waitress repeated my order back to me, and it was loud enough that I couldn’t hear her confirm that she had heard me wrong.  Oh well.  The carnitas tacos I ended up with were tasty enough; if you actually had the gorditas, tell me if I missed out.  I’d probably go back if I were nearby, but wouldn’t make a special trip for it.

      Maru Global: Oh, Maru Global, I wanted to like you so much.  I love takoyaki!  I want so badly for there to be non-sushi Japanese restaurants in Philly!  But after you made me and my co-workers wait FORTY minutes from ordering to food on the table, at lunch no less, and offered up not so much as an apology, I will not be back.

      August 23, 2010

      Greensgrow Week 13

      csa week 13

      This week’s share contained:

      • Niagara White Grapes - Linvilla Orchards, Media, PA
      • Watermelon - Lancaster County, PA
      • Heirloom Tomatoes - Reineer Family Farms, Lancaster, PA
      • Red Bell Peppers - Lancaster County, PA
      • Collard Greens - Flaim Farms, Vineland, PA
      • Golden Zucchini - Landisdale Farms, Jonestown, PA
      • Organic Beets - Lancaster Farm Fresh, Lancaster County, PA
      • Hot and Sweet Peppers - Lancaster County, PA
      • Red and Yellow Onions - Lancaster County, PA
      • Herdsman Cheddar-Style Cheese - Cherry Grove Farms, Lawrenceville, PA
      • Eggs, eggs, eggs!

      First off, nothing like half a BILLION eggs being recalled to make you feel good about your CSA eggs.  I will be enjoying my over-easy eggs with extra relish for the next few weeks. 

      This week also had a couple of major YUM! moments.  Bryan’s comment on the grapes: “These grapes are delicious.  They don’t even taste like grapes!”  The Herdsman cheese called to me as soon as I saw it, and man, sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.  Delicious.  So buttery and rich.

      But the preggie blues are getting to me.  I had to divest myself of the collards, beets and zucchini; I just know I’m not going to have the energy to do something with them.  Even the peppers are wearing me out.  So you know what that means — share some recipe ideas (preferably ones Bryan can make for me!)

      August 12, 2010

      Spring/Summer restaurant wrap-up

      I cannot tell a lie.  Being pregnant has definitely reduced the number of places I write full-on reviews for.  But I do leave the house, more often than you might guess from the posts of late.  Here are some 10-second reviews of spots I’ve hit this spring and summer.

      adsum pickled watermelon

      Adsum: Their foie gras poutine sparked a heated debate over which was the superior over-the-top fry dish, that or Village Whiskey's short rib fries.  (Me: poutine, Bryan: VW.)  The fried chicken was tasty, but Rick Nichols had me expecting mind-blowing.  The pickled watermelon is the distillation of all things summer, so go grab a drink and snack at one of their outdoor tables!

      Sampan: Their pan-asian fusion food was fine.  Maria Valetta from Sips, Bites and Sites raved about their ramen, which I am hot to try when it returns to the menu come fall.  But none of the dishes created a burning desire for a return trip, and the world’s most overly solicitous waiter made me feel like my dinner for two was fast on its way to a dinner for 3.

      Koo Zee Doo: This was the last place Bryan took me for a date before our wedding, which may have burnished its glow, but I thought this place just had such a warm and wonderful vibe.  They were doing lively trade with couples, larger groups… I even saw a few kids there.  Being portuguese, the menu is fairly fish-centric, but the Bife à Portuguesa (steak, fried eggs, potatoes, yum!) was on at least a third of the tables, so I don’t think I missed the ultimate experience dining with my seafood-hating husband.  Seems likely to get a return visit post-pregnancy.

      Sketch Burger: Everything was very tasty, but we had a burger, salad, fries, shake and a soda, and spent more than $30.  I probably will not be back.

      The Arista
      Image of the Arista, courtesy of Robyn Lee

      Paesano’s: OMG.  Everything you have heard about Paesano’s is true.  If you haven’t heard anything, let me spread to you the glorious word.  Their sandwiches are amazing, and I can’t believe I waited this long to go there.  Warning: No human being could eat a whole one at once.  Their magic: We reheated them in the oven for dinner, and they were JUST AS GOOD as hot at the shop.  I might almost say better, because amazement is such a delicious side dish. 

      A couple of weeks later, I heard someone at Reading Terminal complaining about some lackluster sandwich they had just eaten, saying, “And I could have spent that money getting a sandwich at Paesano’s!”  I am with you 100 percent, sir.  If they got Paesano’s to open a location in Reading Terminal Market, it could truly seize the title of sandwich mecca.  Kick that sushi bar out of center court.  Reading Terminal, your destiny is waiting!

      For more 10 second reviews, check out my Winter Wrap-up (Part 1 and Part 2).

      August 9, 2010

      Greensgrow CSA Week 11

      week 11 basket

      • Nectarines  - Beechwood Orchards, Biglerville, PA
      • Cantaloupe - Lancaster County, PA
      • Zucchini - Lancaster County, PA
      • Spinach - Graiff Farms, Newfield, PA
      • Kale - Flaim Farms, Vineland, PA
      • Heirloom Tomatoes - Rineer Family Farms, Lancaster, PA
      • Cabbage - Lancaster County, PA
      • Red, White and Blue Potatoes - Lancaster Farm Fresh, Lancaster, PA
      • Fresh Basil (and it’s purple!)
      • Fresh Mozzarella - Mancuso’s Cheese Shop, Philadelphia, PA
      • Eggs

      Last week, we hit the point where every single dish or meal I ate was enhanced by some fresh CSA goodie.  Let me particularly rave about the Boltonfeta, which found its way into salads, pastas and my hand.  It was excellent!  Seek some out if you can; Greensgrow is pretty good about stocking the CSA cheeses in their dairy case for all to buy. Also, I think basil is my favorite CSA herb.  Not only is it nice to drop in all kinds of things, it makes a lovely little nosegay on your counter — makes your kitchen smell so summery!

      This week, I have reached the zen of CSA.  Whatever Bryan suggests sounds good to me.  He sees potatoes, he wants a roast chicken.  Sure, bring it on! Mozzarella and tomatoes for a pizza?  Love it!  I guess I’m saying I’m out of creative juices for using my basket. Except, of course, kimchi.  I love it, and I have no other real interest in cabbage. If it’s a total bust, I’ve lost nothing except possibly a layer of skin due to chili powder contact.  Please offer me your advice or your Korean mothers now.  I bet I need it.

      August 4, 2010

      The Politics of the Plate

      Like many of you who have an interest in food, I read lots of food blogs.  I love seeing different people’s takes on local restaurants, different dishes, things to try.  But my favorite food blog nowadays isn’t about the how-tos, it’s about the whys.  Barry Estabrook’s Politics of the Plate is, in short, about the ethics of what we eat. 

      Estabrook was a contributing editor at Gourmet magazine, and has written for all the biggies.  He won a James Beard award this year for his article about labor abuses in the Florida tomato industry.  From the obvious topics like overfishing and superweeds, to more esoteric choices like natural corks for wine bottles (he’s for them), his twice-weekly posts always make me think about the issues behind the food.

      Even if your RSS reader is oversubscribed in the food department, this is is not your typical food blog. I’d definitely recommend checking out The Politics of the Plate, or following Barry Estabrook on Twitter.

      July 26, 2010

      Greensgrow CSA Week 9

      When does the summer share hit its stride?  When I have a big bowl of stone fruits constantly on my counter!

      week 9

      • Shiro Plums  - Beechwood Orchards, Biglerville, PA
      • White Freestone Peaches - Beechwood Orchards, Biglerville, PA
      • Tomatoes - Linvilla Orchards, Media PA
      • Cucumbers - Lancaster County
      • Eggplant - Viereck Farms, Swedesboro, NJ
      • Basil - Flaim Farms, Vineland, PA
      • Yellow Onions - Lancaster County
      • Green Bell Peppers (a substitution for Jalapeños - Lancaster County)
      • Pasta - Superior Pasta, Philadelphia PA
      • Boltonfeta Feta Cheese - Hidden Hills Dairy, Everett, PA
      • Amish-style butter

      Bryan and I were at a fab wedding this weekend, so Bryce and Stephanie were kind enough to grab our share.  Stephanie offered to swap, and I happily offloaded my eggplant.  In return, I got 2 bell peppers, 4 plums, one tomato and two peaches.  When Bryan heard, he said, “I thought you like Steph.  Why are you taking advantage of her like that?”  Though she had a good reason (travel), I did feel like I was making out like a bandit on that swap!

       Gloria sent a sack of homegrown jalapeños today, so I didn’t have time to get too sad about this week’s substitution.  The bell peppers are headed for roasting, though.  Like Marisa, I’ve hit my limit on crunching through raw peppers for this summer.  Meanwhile, Bryan’s in CSA hog heaven — dill pickles last share (which inspired me to make my own pickles from the carrots and zucchini), and fresh cucumbers this one!  We may never kiss again.

      July 21, 2010

      Zavino Pizza and Wine Bar

      zavino

      I lived on 13th Street for 5 years, so I feel a warmth in my heart every time another great neighborhood spot opens.  I may not live there anymore, but it still feels like my own.  Zavino is a far cry from the greasy tables of Mama Angelina’s and the 13th St. Pizza counter of my day.

      caprese

      The menu has 4 sections: veggies, seasonal specials, meats and cheeses, and pizza. It being the height of the season right now, both the veggies and seasonal specials are wonderful.   They love to pair a vegetable with a fruit (as do I) and that is perfect at this time of year.  Most of the seasonal specials I have ordered involve mozzarella.  Last week, this was pillowy slices of burrata, for those days when fresh mozzarella isn’t quite indulgent enough.  If you are cheese resistant, the specials usually include at least one pasta dish daily, pizza specials, salads, and other little things they feel like sticking in there.  (all veggies $6, specials $6-$15)

      pizza

      (Kennett pizza.  I can only apologize for the quality of this photo; the light was fading.)

      The pizzas are my preferred crust type — not paper-thin, practically a flatbread; not overly-thick, “did I get a fancy Boboli?” — but a thin crust, with a nice bit of chew on the ends.  The oven is hot, hot, hot, as you will discover heading to the bathroom, so there’s a nice blackening bubbling going on with the crust.  All 3 pizzas I have tried have been lovely, but I think the Sopressata, with pickled onions, olives and Claudio’s mozzarella, is my favorite. ($9-$14)

      On my last visit, I also saw several of their meat/cheese/veggie tasting boards ($18) go by, and was regretful each time that I had not ordered one.  But, I’ve found that for two people, a veggie, special, and pie were the perfect amount of food. If you’re feeling ambitious, I did see several pizza fans finish off their own!

      They have plenty of wine choices, all available by the glass, and their seasonal cocktails looked tempting.  (Root beer float with ROOT and cream soda? Um, yum!)  But Zavino, you won my heart with one simple move.

      ,housemade soda

      This is one of Zavino’s tasty housemade sodas. It is $5, a perfect size for sharing, and available flavors vary by day.  The lemon-lime is wonderfully tart.  The strawberry had nice fresh strawberry flavor.  None of them are super sweet.  Trey Popp informed me (via Restaurant Club) that they even fizz the water in-house.  You know what stinks about being pregnant?  Ordering iced tea all the time.  You know who feels my pain?  Zavino.  On behalf of the preggie sisterhood, I thank you for your delightful non-alcoholic options. 

      Zavino
      112 South 13th Street
      Philadelphia, PA 19107-4532
      (215) 732-2400

      Zavino is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week; late-night Friday and Saturday.