With everyone else headed back to school this week, we got to thinking. You know what we haven’t done in a while? Gotten together with the crew from COOK and planned out a new semester of their COOK Masters program.
For those of you who maybe haven’t heard of this before, here’s how it works. The COOK Masters program is an intensive, nine-week professional course that meets once a week (generally Mondays, though a couple of Tuesdays as well) for personal instruction in basic and advanced cooking techniques taught by some of the biggest names in town. We’re talking Peter Woolsey from Bistrot La Minette (and La Peg) doing sauces, Heather Thomason from Kensington Quarters showing you how to break down whole pigs, Vedge’s Rich Landau educating you on the basics of vegan food. No, seriously. Rich Landau–one of the best and most respected vegan restauranteurs in the country. And he’s going to hang out with you for an afternoon to talk about cooking with vegetables.
And the best part? It’s all free.
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In case you haven’t noticed, everyone is going back to school right now. Colleges, high schools, all those other schools full of tiny people with giant backpacks. And in order to smooth the transition between the carefree days of summer and all this nonsense with books and #2 pencils, Jake’s Sandwich Board in University City is offering some killer back-to-school deals (and something to do with some guy with a goofy hat who’s coming to town at the end of September).
Cheap sandwiches, right this way
Menu testing at Volver | Photos by Joni Nimrod
A couple weeks back, we got the chance to bop over to Volver and sit in on one of their menu testing sessions for the new season. It was a pretty cool experience (read: super-cool, and basically one of my favorite parts of this job–getting to witness the way chefs think and work when they’re not in the thick of service), and also represented our first look at what the menu at Volver might look like in this new season.
Well now, with the scheduled resumption of service set for Wednesday night, we have the full menu for you to look at.
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Illustration by James Boyle
I remember doing the numbers for an essay a while back and counting something in the neighborhood of 80 notable restaurant openings during 2014. This was just places we knew about, opened by known chefs or talented newcomers, expansions of successful enterprises, or big-money additions to the scene. Eighty of them, give or take a few.
That’s a lot of restaurants, I recall thinking. Probably too many.
The city’s restaurant scene was expanding at a rate that was unsustainable. It had been for months, maybe years. And all of us out there who keep track of such things knew the bubble had to burst soon, because the Philly restaurant biome was all out of whack. Every city has a carrying capacity for restaurants — a kind of ideal balance between available tables and people willing to fill them — and our scene had suddenly become far too rich. There were more seats than there were butts to fill them. Read more »
To my mind, there are basically two ways to become a bona fide beer expert.
Method One is to spend a lot of time drinking. A lot of time hanging around barrooms talking with other aspiring experts (read: drunks). A lot of time befriending and talking to people a lot smarter than you about barley pop in all its myriad variations. You should drink basically everything that’s put in front of you–from the worst mass-market brews to the best craft beers you can convince someone else to buy for you. And then, after years and years of haunting the long oak and learning everything you can about beer and brewing and the history of both (it might help if you read a couple books, too), go online, find a picture of a Harvard diploma, Photoshop in your name and the necessary details to make you a Certified Master Of Beer, then print that sucker out, frame it and hang it on the wall.
Congratulations. You’re an expert. You got your education the same way I did–haphazardly and blurrily.
Method Two, on the other hand, is a bit easier, a bit cheaper and a whole lot faster…
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One of the biggest complaints about COOK has nothing to do with my constant (and HILARIOUS) excoriations of the crowds at Open Stove for not loving Barfly and Strange Brew (two of the best drinking movies EVER), but the fact that tickets for the best classes are often sold out before most people even get a chance to register (hence our monthly sneak preview posts).
But now, you all have nothing to complain about. Because right now, there are some awesome September classes that still have seats available because, you know, its the end of summer and kids are going back to school and people have other things to worry about than getting the chance to talk about ice cream (and other desserts) with the guys from Big Gay Ice Cream.
Anyway, here’s the good stuff that COOK has left right now:
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Things have been going so smoothly at Bud & Marilyn’s now that an actual opening date has been chosen, that owners Marcie Turney and Val Safran have now…decided to change the date again.
But wait! This time it’s good news. They’re actually opening a day early (meaning tomorrow), and have opened the books for reservations starting right this very minute.
Not excited by this? Jeez, Buzzkill. What do we need to do to get you excited about this? Show you the opening menus? Tell you about the late night beer, shot and cheese curd deal?
Because we have all that, too…
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No, this is good news. This is responsiveness and trouble-shooting. Though I wish it’d happened sooner, this is Mitch Prensky and his crew getting the message that their biscuit sandwiches at Scratch were pretty much impossible to eat without the biscuits crumbling to pieces, and attempting to do something about it.
Prensky’s explanation, right this way…
Over the past few days, we’ve been getting you all the information we can on a couple of big-name openings coming to the neighborhood–Bud & Marilyn’s (from Marcie Turney and Val Safran) and Bar Bombon (from Nicole Marquis). As of this morning, we’re able to provide more specifics. And hit you with some very good news.
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I love outdoor movies. I grew up spending weekends slowly asphyxiating inside my parents’ old Fiat at one of the last, true drive-in movie theaters around, watching the mosquitoes bashing themselves stupid against the glass of the windows that must NEVER be rolled down, watching some of the classics of the late 70’s the way god intended: through a smudged windshield and a fog of my father’s pipe smoke, soundtracks piped in over a tinny, terrible window-mounted speaker. Star Wars, Jaws, Hooper–I saw them all at the drive-in, a double-feature almost every weekend during the summer.
So obviously, I have a weakness for movies shown al fresco. And the folks at Clark Park in University City must suffer from the same affliction, because they’re running a whole series of free outdoor movies starting this weekend. There’ll be food, drink, ice cream, special events. And we have all the details right after the jump.
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