Open Stove XXIV: Not Very Mexican At All

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If life was fair, we’d all be living differently.

That’s what I would’ve told our contestants last night before they started cooking, had I had the chance. Partly because saying that and walking away would’ve been creepy, but mostly because it would’ve been rock-solid advice. If things remained consistent in our Open Stove events, then it would make sense that the theme of the 24th Open Stove, on May 5th, would be Mexican food. I mean, every time we’ve done a theme, it has been in congruence with the surrounding date, month, or season. For God’s sake, one team had been there only two months before, for an event near St. Patrick’s Day, and we threw Guinness and Irish whiskey at their faces.

So, of course, they’d anticipate a Mexican theme. But Jason Sheehan (the Open Stove ring leader) gets bored quickly, and last night, he didn’t even bat an eye when he shouted “Chinese-American fusion!” at the Mexican-ready and “I’ve only ever cooked French” teams.
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Stephen Starr Is Making News In Philly And Washington D.C.

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Leading off the news today, Starr’s D.C. outpost, Le Diplomate, got a big, wet, sloppy kiss of a write-up in the Washington Post. Roxanne Roberts gushed about the place (and about Starr), talking about the famous people who’ve come through the doors (Michelle Obama, Newt Gingrich, Joe Biden, etc) and Starr’s history.

For us, the most interesting stuff was about the restaurant itself and how it has quickly become one of the hottest addresses in a city full of very hot addresses. Here’s Roberts:

The bistro is the brainchild of Philadelphia restaurateur-impresario Stephen Starr, who made his fortune correctly predicting what audiences want — and even he’s surprised with the success of the Marais-inspired mob scene, his first foray into Washington. It’s not a power spot in the traditional clubby, steak-and-martini sense, nor the only French restaurant in the city.

But the guy from Philly guessed that Washington was primed for his meticulously detailed brand of theatrics. It’s not just about the food, or the wine, or the bread. What we want is an experience, this time a two-hour trip to Paris complete with crusty baguettes, steak frites and naughty pictures in the bathrooms.

Nice, right? But that’s not the only news on Starr today…

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Talula’s Daily Reviewed

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Late Summer Farmstead Collection | Photo by Courtney Apple

Trey Popp says it’s a shame that Talula’s Daily’s chef Scott Megill’s dinner was interrupted by a sales pitch.

But somewhere before dessert and the individually tailored cheese course, our cheerful waitress broke the enchantment of Aimee Olexy’s ode to homespun coziness by delivering what you’d have to call a sales pitch. Everything on the table, she divulged, was a product for sale by Anthropologie.

Two-and-a-half stars – Good to Excellent

Philadelphia Restaurant Review: Talula’s Daily [Philadelphia Magazine]

Talula’s Daily [Philadelphia Magazine]

More Details on Talula’s Daily

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Back in September we reported that Talula’s Garden expanding with Talula’s Daily. Then in April we snapped a photo of the construction site and gathered a few more details. And now we have a little bit more info, as reported by Philly.com. Talula’s Daily will open in mid-July as the less-expensive, more relaxed version of Talulas’ GardenTalula’s Table sous chef Scott Megill will take the helm at the new restaurant, which will offer sit down options as well as on-the-go sandwiches, cheeses, and pastries. The hours for the 22 grocery will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Then, after 7 p.m. the restaurant will serve a $50 four-course menu that will change each month, highlighted by a cheese cart that will roam the restaurant.

Talula’s Table expanding on Washington Square [The Insider]

About Last Night: Marshmallow Peeps and Moonshine

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Last night was another one of our Open Stove Nights at COOK–a night where we brought together incredibly talented chefs from some of the best restaurants in the city, put them up in front of a crowd of their adoring fans, and then tried really hard to make them cry.

This time around we had Scott Megill from Talula’s Table out in Kennett Square and Matt Broeze from Russet in Rittenhouse Square. Both places are lovely, restrained examples of the modern farm-to-table style of cookery, where talented kitchens turn out beautifully composed plates utilizing nothing but the best, freshest and most local ingredients. As such, we figured that the proper way to honor such dedication to terrain and terroir was to offer them a spread of secret ingredients that were also local.

So local, in fact, that they came from just a few hundred feet away from the COOK kitchen.

From the 7-11 right down the street.

So what happens when you make dedicated, farm-to-table chefs cook with barbecue potato chips, 7-11 coffee, Tostitos queso dip, corn nuts, marshmallow Peeps, Froot Loops and squeezable grape jelly? Check out the snaps from COOK photographer and Friend of Foobooz, Yoni Nimrod collected below and have a look for yourself.

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Talula’s Garden Expanding With Talula’s Daily

So this is one of those weird things… It feels like it has been forever since we’ve written anything about Talula’s Garden, the Aimee Olexy / Stephen Starr project over on Washington Square that got one of Philly mag’s highest rankings ever when Trey Popp reviewed it back in August of last year. And when we were writing about it with some regularity, it was all because of the revolving door Olexy seemed to have installed in the kitchen–running through three exec’s in four months.

But then things cooled out, the kitchen righted itself and, suddenly, there was nothing more to say. We knew the place was good. We knew everything was ticking along smoothly. And no one really wants to read a post entitled “Everything At Talula’s Garden is Just Swell.”

We knew that what it would really take to get Talula’s Garden back onto the radar was some kind of big news. Something huge happening over there that would shake up the game. And lucky us, that’s just what we found in our inboxes this morning…

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27th Annual Kennett Square Mushroom Festival

This weekend, the surprisingly gigantic 27th Annual Kennett Square Mushroom Festival will take place. It all starts tomorrow with the community parade but September 8th and 9th is where the real fun(gi) is. With celebri-chefs, cook-offs, and vendors galore (like Talula’s Table) selling mushrooms in every form known to man, the mile-long Mushroom Festival will have something for everyone – including the National Fried Mushroom Eating Contest. Because that’s a thing.

Read on for highlights of the festival schedule »

Food News at Be Well Philly

Our healthy living companions over at Be Well Philly have some news that you food lovers need to hear. There will be a new Honeygrow on the Main Line and an Heirloom Tomato Festival in Glen Mills, but more importantly global warming may cause future chocolate shortages.

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Talula’s Table Availability Tomorrow

Usually you have to make a reservation for Talula’s Table a year out but tomorrow, there is a rare availability for their Farm Table dinner. One complete party of 8-12 guests has the chance to try their new 8-course summer tasting menu at 7 p.m. sharp . If you happen to have 7-11 friends free tomorrow night then get on the horn and call up Talula’s Table at 610-444-8255.

See the full (and very pretty) menu for tomorrow night »

Bells Ring for Five

Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel’s just got his wings.

Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Two quotes about bells, that sum up two distinctly different reactions to Craig LaBan’s resetting of the eating landscape in the region.

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