Have you ever noticed the thing that happens this time of year? All at once, chefs around town seem to be unable to tolerate another turnip or stand another second of squash. Suddenly, magically, favas, peas, and rhubarb start appearing on menus, even if they haven’t quite made it to the farmers’ markets yet. The idea of what spring vegetables are doesn’t quite match the local timeline, and though these spring lovelies have yet to make their debut there are, creeping in to market, sure signs of the changing season.
Helm, the Old Kensington BYOB from chef-duo Kevin D’Egidio (recently at Stateside), and Michael Griffiths (former sous chef at Fork), is set to officially open tonight. For the past few evenings the pair have been cooking dishes from their first menu for friends and family, and based on our first tastes, these dishes are going to be an easy sell even to folks who aren’t related to them.
We’ve got the menu, a look at the interior and plenty of pictures, all after the jump.
“Kraft. Terrible Kraft. A single slice of processed cheese product individually wrapped in plastic. Seven districts rebelled against the mass-produced, imitation yellow squares of government-mandated disgustingness. Grocer warred against grocer in an all-out battle for cheese supremacy until, from the ashes rose a new era. We swore as a company of mongers we would never forget the tragedy of yesterday’s cheese. And so it is decreed that every month, one young monger and one member of the Philadelphia food community will offer up their culinary delights to the fine people of this city in tribute, as a reminder of our delicious generosity. This is how we remember our craft. This is how we feed you darn good food”
Swathed in sequins and delivering this half-somber monologue, cheesemonger Leslie Uhl stole the show on Sunday as DiBruno Brother’s answer to Effie Trinket, mistress of ceremonies at the first ever Monger Games. Inspired by Suzanne Collins’ series of books-become-blockbusters, The Hunger Games, the event was filled, to the delight of fans (myself included) with clever references to the books.
Yesterday’s snow was, hopefully, winter’s last hurrah and today means blue skies and farmers setting up tables in the lingering slush. The first days of spring still look very much like winter, but like the crocuses beginning to appear, there are a few green signs that the season really is changing. Here are a few to add to your market basket.
Back in January, the stand that formerly housed Border Springs Farm lamb changed hands, landing in those of the butcher who was already running it. When he took ownership, Nick Macri re-christened the shop La Divisa Meats.
His first move was to add some variety to the case, so in addition to Border Springs’ lamb, the shop now offers pork from Hamburg, PA-based Country Time Farm and grass and milk-fed veal from Birchrun Hills Farm in Chester Springs, PA. Why is this great news for Philly eaters? Because they needn’t plan a trip all the way to Kensington Quarters to access fresh cuts of local, pasture-raised meats butchered with care. Additionally, Macri’s culinary background means that, even though his dry-cured salumi won’t be ready for a bit, he’s bringing some serious interest to charcuterie and adding ready-to-cook options for those looking for convenience. Here are our picks for new meats to add to your grocery list next time you head to Reading Terminal.
Anybody see folks in shorts this week? Flip-flops? While it might not be so nice out yet as to warrant such fashion choices, that’s what a shred of warming weather does to us this time of year. It’s like we go crazy with relief at the confirmation that winter is finally beginning a retreat. Just as it’s not quite weather for short sleeves yet, you won’t see much change on the tables at the farmer’s market–except for a few delicate additions–but what can change this weekend is your outlook. Instead of suffering through another week of root vegetables, think of this as their last hurrah and a final few weeks to enjoy the warming foods of winter.
We could have given them liver and a nice glass of Chianti to see what dishes they’d come up with, but Adam Ratmoko and Sean Korcal had it made from the start.
The theme of the 35th edition of Open Stove at COOK was “Celebrate the Movies”, a nod to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Flower Show. And when I say “a nod” I mean a direct rip-off, in the most flattering way possible.
Honestly, can you blame us? The contenders for the evening basically wrote the theme themselves. On one side of the stove, Adam Ratmoko was assisted by Joe McConnell, both representing team Strangelove’s which shares a name with Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film. On the other side, Sean Korcal took lead, assisted by last month’s Open Stove contender, Geno Betz, both from Bardot Cafe, itself named for French film ingenue, Brigitte Bardot.
After a doozy of a snow day and piles of slush still lingering, the weekend ahead–with projected high temperatures above freezing and a sunshine-heavy forecast–is going to feel downright balmy. Since we’re sure you’ve already binge-watched enough Netflix and eaten enough calories for the weekend before it has even begun, tomorrow should be an excellent day to stretch your legs and head down to the farmer’s market…
By now, we’ve all pretty much given in to winter. We’ve settled for the idea that it’s just going to be cold and slushy forever and we’ve lost all hope of ever seeing a tomato again. But just when we’ve given up, we get a little reminder that it won’t always feel like this outside. Tomorrow, February 28th, is National CSA Sign-Up Day! Though summer, and even spring, still seem ages away, farmers are already beginning preparations for the season ahead. So get a jump on the season and sign up for one of our favorite CSA’s. That way, when you bundle up to pick-up the following tomorrow at your winter farmer’s market, you can do so while daydreaming of tomatoes.