First Look: Aqimero

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How do you know when you’re on a vacation? Somebody opens the door for you, smiling, and shortly thereafter, somebody else brings you a cocktail. Something refreshing. There are craggy oysters and pink shrimp resting in ice, awaiting some future destination, and there are palm trees in abundance.

At Aqimero, the new Richard Sandoval restaurant in the Ritz Carlton, its clear that that vacation-style hospitality is on the menu.

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First Look: Bait & Switch

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Let’s get one thing straight: there’s no truly regional seafood tradition in the Mid-Atlantic. Sure, Barnegat Bay has it’s scallops, the Chesapeake has its crabs, and Atlantic City has a completely different kind of crabs, but when it comes to seafood that you eat, Philadelphia sits squarely at a crossroads of traditions. South of here there are soft shells and Old Bay, fish fries with hush puppies. Up north? Clambakes, lobster rolls, and chowder. Even if Fishtown’s namesake comes from shad fishing, it’s a tradition as present in our city lives as Long John Silver, himself.

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First Look: Ai Ramen

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When’s the last time you were in a food court? Riding the escalator up through the Shops at Liberty Place felt, for me at least, like a trip back in time. Breezing through the air-conditioned chill past Express and J. Crew, I half expected to arrive on the second floor squarely in front of Border’s Books, The Limited, and Bath and Body Works. Once I had shopped ’til I dropped, suddenly that 90s movie mean girl with shopping bags slung over her arms, I’d take a break in one of the Sharper Image massage chairs or snack on an Auntie Anne’s pretzel or the candy-sweet orange chicken from Panda Express.

Fortunately (and despite what current fashion trends might indicate), this isn’t the 90s. And there are better things to eat now at the mall.

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First Look: South Helm

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Cooking is hard.

It’s hard because it takes incredible skill, talent, and tenacity to climb the ladder of the kitchen. It’s hard because it requires long hours in an uncomfortable working environment for not a lot of money. And it’s hard because kitchens are a powder keg of both ambition and stress. But one reason that it’s hard, not as visible as those above, is the fact that cooking the same dishes over and over again is just boring.

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First Look: Morgan’s Pier, Summer 2016

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Who says you can’t go home again? Jim Burke is proof that you can go home and you can do so with a brewski in hand. The Burkes are back in town following a stint in New York, and Jim is happily installed under the blue skies and multicolored umbrellas of Morgan’s Pier for the summer. Fans will remember he and Kristina Burke at the mention of their Bella Vista restaurant, James, that they closed back in 2011. The pair is cooking up their next move, and in the meantime he’s putting an Italian spin on his Morgan’s Pier offerings.

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First Look: Jansen

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There’s nothing new about scallops, lemons, capers, and parsley. It’s a plate full of beige, ecru, and green as tame as Pottery Barn. Fortunately, David Jansen’s scallops are just as pleasant as the catalog-worthy interior at your Aunt Susan’s house. Seared golden and seasoned beautifully, they sink slowly into a puree of cauliflower punctuated with jewels of preserved lemon and parsley leaves.

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There’s A Pretty Cool Farm Dinner Happening At Kensington Quarters This Weekend

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If you’re living off the land, what do you do when overwintered vegetables—potatoes, carrots, turnips—begin to dwindle before the new crops in the field are ready to eat? You get creative. This period, called Spring Famine, or Sechswoche Noth (Six Week Privation), its Pennsylvania Dutch name, is the theme of a seven course menu this Sunday, May 22nd, at Kensington Quarters. It’s a collaboration between chef Steve Eckerd and farmer Alex Wenger from Field’s Edge, a research farm in Lancaster, PA. In a moment when “local” peas, rhubarb, and strawberries appear on “seasonal” menus long before they arrive at area farmer’s markets, this meal will instead showcase sustainable eating with ingredients that actually reflect the Midatlantic right now.

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The Dirt: What To Get At The Farmers Market This Weekend

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The April showers have arrived a little behind schedule this year, unfortunately. But despite the drizzle, another seasonal farmer’s market is coming back on line each week. This weekend the Swarthmore Farmer’s Market opens back up, as does the Dickinson Square Farmer’s Market on Sunday. Next Wednesday is the return of the small but mighty Fountain Farmer’s Market on East Passyunk, and Roxborough welcomes the return of the Gorgas Park Market a week from today. Ramps are almost done for the year, but rhubarb is going strong and you’re sure to find these and lots of other spring favorites no matter which market you frequent.

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The Dirt: What To Get At The Farmers Market This Weekend

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Between Kentucky Derby festivities, Brauhaus Schmitz’s Maifest and the South Street Spring Festival, there is no shortage of excuses to be out and about this weekend. But before you start pre-gaming for tomorrow’s Philly Taco Eating contest, remember that Sunday is Mother’s Day, and you’ll want to be just as prepared to celebrate your mom as you are to stuff a pizza-wrapped cheesesteak down your gullet. Rain or shine, farmer’s markets are on tomorrow for Fitler Square, Rittenhouse Square, Clark Park, Chestnut Hill, and Bryn Mawr, and Headhouse is a go for Sunday. Asparagus, greens, rhubarb, and radishes are abundant, so stock up and cook something nice for yourself or your mom.

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First Look: The Dutch

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Johncarl Lachman and Lee Styer are going Dutch on Pennsport’s hottest new daytime destination. The pair’s sunny new collaboration, located in the space that briefly housed Andrew Michaels’ Fourth & Cross, is cozy yet contemporary, as natural a fit as though it had been custom built for them. While their collective endeavors of Fond, Noord, and Neuf are much beloved destinations for candlelit dinners, breakfast and lunch are the offerings at The Dutch.

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