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March (snow-free) Maddness

February 26, 2010

Generally, March is no friend of mine. Its dark, dank, and the February snow is still here but just less pretty. That being said, this year any month that focuses on steak rather then snow is alright in my book. And this March, 8 Philadelphia’s steakhouses will begin offering up special prix fixe menus, Sunday through Thursday.

The three course menu is priced at $50 a per person, with each steakhouse offering up their own, signature dish. Call in advance to see what’s being offered up.

Union Trust 717 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106(215) 925-6000

The Prime Rib 1701 Locust Street, Phialdelphia, PA 19103(215) 772-1701

Palm 200 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102(215) 546-7256

Morton’s the Steakhouse 1411 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102-3115(215) 557-0724

Saloon Restaurant 750 South 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147-2944(215) 627-1811

Smith & Wollensky @ The Rittenhouse Hotel 210 W Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103(215) 545-1700

Delmonico’s Steakhouse at the Hilton 4200 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131

Tralalalala ~ Xochitl is now reopened!!

February 24, 2010

Let’s hear it for the return of Xochitl!

I’ve been frothing at the mouth at the news of the new, lower priced, more casual Xochitl thats reopening todayyyyyy! Its only been a few weeks since this Headhouse Square mainstay shuttered its doors to retool it’s concept (this after the Notorious S.T.A.RR stole away long time head-chef Dionicio Jimenez).

The refined style that Jimenez brought out of this spot has given way to a more laid back approach to Mexican glam, but I think this is probably for the best, considering new chef (an incredibly capable Lucio Palazzo) hasn’t really gotten up close and personal with Mexican cuisine yet. And Xochitl fans are the most dedicated of loyalists. Myself included, although I’ve already got plans to hit it up this weekend.

Robe-icide, Prt I

February 23, 2010
In my mind, robe-icide is the process of destroying fabrics in the feeble attempt to make something useless. Like a child’s robe. Particularly when there is no child out there willing to wear something as uncomfortable and disastrous looking as the robe that I am half way done putting together. But I’m sewing, and that’s the whole point. I shall learn to sew, I said, at some point even meaning those very words.

So at my sister’s suggestion, we’re our attending a two week Jo-Ann Fabric class, trying to get a handle on these complex sewing requirements (cutting…threading the damn evil wonderful sewing machine…sewing in a straight line) so that we can start to sew things at home. Thus far, I’m eyeing up the whole process with mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m excited to be able to add zippers and linings to my knitted creations. But on the other hand, I’m still my mother’s daughter. And my mother used all matter of ingenuity (iron-on tape, regular tape, staples) to avoid sewing whilst I was growing up. Reading the pattern has completely alluded me, and I’m completely unsure how much of this class has sunk in. The patterns read like Ikea instructions – anyone out there have any tips on getting this stuff to make sense? I’m not use to crafts totally and completely alluding me.
Despite ongoing grumblings while cutting, pinning, and eventually sewing, it was great! I’m still somewhat optimistic that whatever I come home with next week will, indeed, resemble a robe. And one way or another, my youngest sister will squeeze into this toddler size robe, and that will make it all worth it.
Amanda hiding behind showing you the mess me we made with the fabric so far.

Artic Char & Eating Like an Icelander

February 21, 2010

Maybe it was the endorphins, or maybe it was the adrenaline, or it maybe is my continued facination with Iceland, but this month’s Food & Wine mag resonated me at a time where very little tends to resonate – while I was running on the tread mill on a crazily crowded LA Fitness Saturday morning.

They had a great story by Jen Murphy on eating like an Icelander, and instead of being one of those fluff pieces echoing the tone of a Mediterranean Diet and how to eat like the French, this piece really dug into the food, rather then exhaulting a lifestyle. Its worth the read just for the details on the uniquely Icelandic way that lamb is raised, which causes it to consistantly be so delicious. Ditto on the Artic Char.

Orange & Rosemary Glazed Artic Char
serves 4

Sauce Ingredients

1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 sprig fresh rosemary plus 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, for garnishing
2 ounces heavy cream

2 ounces butter, cold and cubed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 orange segments
Fish Ingredients
4 (6-ounce) pieces arctic char, skin removed
Salt and pepper
1/2-ounce olive oil
2 cups cooked wild rice
In a sauce pan over medium heat add orange juice, white wine, orange zest and rosemary. Reduce to 1/2 cup of liquid. Strain and return to saucepot. Over medium heat whisk in the cream and bring to a low boil. Turn heat to low and whisk in cold cubes of butter. Remove rosemary sprig and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Tent with foil to keep warm.
In a skillet over medium heat add the olive oil. Season the fillets with salt and pepper, then add to the hot pan. Allow fish to cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Remove fish from pan and place on top of warmed wild rice. Add sauce around and over fish. Garnish with chopped rosemary and orange segments.

Feel Recession Proof with your Vodka and Caviar and your Bad Self.

February 18, 2010

Hudson Beach Glass, a wonderful glassworks studio in Old City, is hosting a vodka and caviar tasting next Saturday, February 27th. And I can’t go. But you all should go and STAT.

They’ve partnered up with Hansen’s Caviar, the oldest purveyor of caviar in the country, for this special evening of glass making. Nibble on caviar as Sean Gilvey creates special cordial glasses (pictured) for your shots of vodka.

Tickets cost $50 per person, and includes two handmade cordials to take home. The studio regularly charges $50 for the cordials alone, so this is a pretty sweet deal. And you have the option of being all formal and cool, or going the way of Tom Hanks in Big 🙂

You can purchase tickets online via Hudson Beach’s official website, call, or stop by the shop. Space is limited.

Vodka & Caviar Tasting @ Hudson Beach
Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Hudson Beach Glass Studio
26 South Strawberry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
(267) 319-1887

Ok Mom, if the Mayans are wrong, we’ll start with the babies.

February 16, 2010

If discussing contraceptives with mom is one of the most scarring moments of a teenagers’ life, it does a poor job to prepare you for the post-wedding discussion of when you may consider ditching them. Baby fever has hit my parent’s house. And as the oldest of three girls (and the only married one in the bunch), there has been an increased interest in lowering the average age at family gatherings (if you catch my drift). I knew my parents were losing it when I found out that there was a pack-n-play in our attic. That my mother had recently bought. From a neighbor’s garage sale on the premise that “it won’t go bad.”

And I don’t want to hear any “that sounds reasonable” reactions out there. It does not sound reasonable. Just like it does not sound reasonable to assume your daughter is with child because she mentioned a name in a conversation, which was then assumed to be a potential baby name (true story).
Regardless, because I am a benevolent and loving daughter, I’ll take some of the blame. Husband and I are in the process of looking for a new house (!!!) – we’re hoping to relocate from our “starter home” in the far (and feeling further every day) ‘burbs of Philadelphia, back to the interior of the city of brotherly love. To an actual spot where we’ll have every intention of staying put for the foreseeable future.

It’s been exciting and daunting (mostly daunting), and in the frenzy of it all, I may have mentioned that I’m considering the baby aspect of all the properties that we’ve looked out. For the first time in my life, I’ve been caught saying things like, “I love this old stone house, but I die trying to carry a baby down these stairs” or “We’re going to be doing so much more laundry – I want laundry hook-ups upstairs.”

Apparently, I’m the sole member of my immediate household that’s trying to be reasonable and smart and the voice of maturity (something to counteract the husband’s focus of “but where will I hang the flat screen?” “I don’t think the big speakers will work in this space.” *Clapping*”The acoustics just aren’t going to work for a media room.”)

But who knows. We’ve already been in and discarded 10 potential homes. At this rate, it may prove to be impossible to find a city house in a good area with modern entertaining areas, a large kitchen, media room, deck/outside living space, parking, with 3 bedrooms and over 2000 sq ft for our shoestring budget. And if that’s the case, all deals are off between me, the Mayans, and my mother.

If you can’t avoid the cliches, then I challenge you to fill your Valentine’s day with them to the brim :-)

February 15, 2010
Valentine’s Day in New York. 
I shall see your cliche and raise you a walk over the Manhattan Bridge, a quick stop in Chinatown for the Lunar New Year and an amazing dinner with another stellar couple at a tiny, 25 seater, French Bistro BYOB in Soho. 
Have we talked about La Sirene yet? With seatings every two hours from 1pm til 1am, this spot was hoping the whole day away. And we had an incredible time. 

I’m not always a proponent of prix fixe meals, particularly on holidays that are known for being about price gouging as much as they are about love and smooches.
Spicy Lobster Bisque
with Truffle Oil

Delicious – seriously – and warm and toasty. Exactly what we needed after waiting in the crowded entrance way, waiting for our table. Not what we needed after 10 minutes inside the packed dining room.
Baked Goat Cheese Tart

With Shallots, Truffles, Confit Grapes and Veil of 90 days Aged Swiss Cheese
So, I love this dish and all its cheesey goodness, but the husband ordered it so I had to make do with another incredible appetizer…


Steamed Mussels Rochelaise

Curried Spicy Broth White Wine, Thyme, Bay leaf, Onion, Touch of Cream and Apples
… o my god the sauce these mussels were in was out of this world. There were at least a dozen, and I couldn’t soak up all the juices  with the bread even if I tried. Who am I kidding, I totally tried.  

1/2 Dozen of Escargots Bourguignone
In their Shell, with Garlic, Parsley, Shallots, Bread Crumbs Butter Sauce
No one at our table got the escargot. Just because even amazing escargot is still escargot..

Seared Filet Mignon “Rossini”

Topped With Foie Gras ( Pate Style), Truffles, Port Wine Shallots Sauce

This is forever and always my favorite entree ever. They recommend eating the foi, filet, and crostini in a single bite to get the full sensation. I recommend eating this meal as often as possible. Everyone at our table got – and raved about the filet – and typically, I consider filet the most over rated piece of meat out there. But for those curious about the other dishes, I’ve had the Duck and Thermidor before – both are incredible. Just not smothered-in-foi incredible.

Seared Duck Breast

With Special Cherry Sauce Sweet and Tart “Montmorency”

Kassulet from Toulouse (upon Request of Regular Customers)

Duck Leg Confit, Pork Fennel Sausage, Slab Bacon and Kidney Beans
all Well Flavored with the Duck Glaze

John Dory Baked “Thermidor”

On a Bed of Spinach, White Sauce, Shiitake Mushroom, Shallots with Swiss and Dijon all Baked to Gratin

Raspberry Mousse Cake

with Almonds dough Drizzled with Chocolate
Floating Island
Meringue ( White Whipped Eggs With Fresh Caramel and Almond) Floats Over Vanilla Custard
With Hot Callebaut Bitter/Sweet Chocolate Sauce
Photo credits: Husband and his shmancy new camera