Tag Archives: Philadelphia

Jersey Girl to Philly Girl

29 Nov
It’s true!  We moved!!!
Back in May that is.  Yes, quite some time has passed.  I never would have thought that it would be so much work, time, and effort getting everything together.  From refinishing our floors to decorating, it has been a fun yet busy adventure.
It took me long enough, but here are some photos of our house!
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Entrance to the house, then living room.
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Dining room.
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Kitchen and downstairs bathroom.
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My favorite part of course, the kitchen!
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Desk area, pantry and basement.

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Backyard.
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Upstairs bathroom and guest room.
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Office.
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Our room!
Now that we’ve been in the house for six months, I finally feel like we are settled.  We love living in the city!  There is always something to do and we’re right in the middle of the hustle and bustle.  Yet where our actual home is located, it is quiet and homey.  It is the perfect location for our current lifestyle and we couldn’t be happier.

Table 31

29 Oct
Dine at Table 31, located in Philadelphia’s Comcast Center, and you’ll experience a unique fusion of traditional Italian food meets contemporary steakhouse.
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Whether you sit down for a drink at their trendy bar or stay for a cozy taste of grandma’s kitchen meets upscale swank, Table 31 is where you want to be.
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On the night that Jay and I dined at Table 31, we were greeted by an outgoing and knowledgeable server, Justin.  He told us about the restaurant, their menu, and their chef, Chris Scarduzio.  After learning that the grew up cooking alongside his Italian grandparents and had won several awards for his culinary achievements, we knew were in for a treat.
The dining room is dimly lit and romantic enough for couples, yet perfectly classy for a night out with friends or a business client.  No matter who you are with, you will be taken care of.  Especially if you ask for Justin.
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We began our meal with a few beverages.  A glass of sauvignon blanc for me and a beer for Jay.  And in true Italian fashion, some San Pellegrino.
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After meeting the General Manager, he not only made us feel welcome, but explained that the chef would be sending out some of his signature dishes.  He also explained that the menu had recently changed and there were a wide variety of items to chose from.  You can try something as casual as a salad, sandwich or pizza, or more sophisticated such as a steak or piece of fish.
To start, we had some crusty bread with a sundried tomato dipping oil.  I loved the tanginess of the tomatoes with the richness of the oil.  Definitely could eat that on anything!
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While it was mentioned snails being a popular item that is not on the menu, we politely declined.
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Of course until we were given our first course.  We saw two pieces of thick, buttery bread.  As we’re digging in, I saw mushrooms and a creamy mushroom sauce. I’m eating the earthy mushrooms, tasting rosemary, fresh herbs.  Something…a little chewy, thick and wait, oh yes, that is a snail.  My first, and probably last.  Not because I didn’t enjoy the flavor.  The sauce was fantastic and I am a huge fan of mushrooms, especially atop great bread.  Just the thought is so hard to get over!
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Next, we tried the homemade cavatelli.  Delicate pasta in a garlic, pancetta, and crushed marzano tomato sauce.  The pasta was so light and delicate with each bite we took.  And the sauce, silky and almost soup like, was perfectly balanced with tomato and pancetta.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, we tried sea scallops over a lobster cous cous.  I loved how creamy the cous cous was and the large pieces of lobster were fantastic paired with the scallops.  The worst part about this course?  We were so into the dish that I didn’t even photograph it.  Rest assured, it was memorable and one I would try again.  It was also the first time Jay ever tried lobter or cous cous.
Then came time for the dishes that we ordered.
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Jay’s 8 oz NY strip steak with house cut fries and garlic butter.  The steak was very tender and he gobbled the fries up noting that they were crispy, perfectly seasoned and paired well with the steak.  And by the way, this was the first time Jay tasted steak.  Yes, I know.  He said it was the best he ever had.  And then cleared his plate.
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I enjoyed one of the specials, cod over the lobster cous cous, topped with an arugula salad.  The cod was tender, flakey and melted right into the cous cous. I enjoyed the fresh salad and the different textures as I was eating.  But really, how could you go wrong with perfectly cooked fresh fish atop lobster?
By the time dessert was even a thought, we were stuffed.  We considered getting a praline and chocolate treat, but alas the last had been taken moments before we asked.  Honestly it was for the best because another bite of food may have left us too stuffed to move
Our experience at Table 31 was one to be remembered.  From tasting snails, having many food “firsts”, to being treated like royalty, one thing is for sure… we will  be back. 

Garces Trading Company.

2 Aug
What’s your favorite type of restaurant?  Italian?  Chinese?  Barbeque?  If you asked me, I’d have to say a unique blend of components where you can sit comfortably, share with friends and try a multitude foods.
Garces Trading Company is all of those things.  A place where you can relax for brunch, enjoy a leisurely dinner, or even take delicious pieces of your meal home and create it in the comfort of your own kitchen from their market area.  Whether you enjoy bread and bakery items, meats, or cheeses, you can find it for sale under the same roof as this delicious eatery.  Best of all?  It is a byo!  So you can either purchase wine from the shop or simply bring it from home.
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Yes, you can try these oils (and vinegar) with house made bread!!! You simply go up with little cups and try as much as you please.  The table favorite was the truffle oil.
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For an appetizer we started with baby artichokes…preserver lemon, honey, dates, walnuts.
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Simple, yet delicious.  Although I don’t think I’ve ever met an artichoke I didn’t like!
A selection of meats and cheeses.
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Endive salad…sevilla orange, bucherondin, golden raisins, anjou pears.
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This salad was perfectly light and delicious!  The more I try endive the more I love it.  The bitterness went perfectly with the creamy cheese, crunchy pecans  and sweet fruit.
My Dad tried lyonnaise salad… duck confit, poached egg, bacon lardons, mustard vinegarette. 
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And while this dish looked beautiful, it was definitely not anything I was brave enough to try!
We all tried a wide variety of entrees.
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Sauteed chatham cod, leek gratin and potatoes over roasted pepper puree.
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For my entrée I had the funghi pizza, maitakes, royal trumpets, taleggio and black truffles.  Thin, crunchy crust, covered in melty cheese and a variety of mushrooms… I’d have to say this may have been one of the best pizzas I ever had.
The main event of dinner though…
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Deep dish pizza with house smoked bacon!  It takes 40 minutes to cook and is a massive meal.  How big you ask?  Well let’s just say Jay, my brother and brother in law shared the pizza. There was still some left over.
The pizza was so ooey gooey that we laughed as we watched them eat it.
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There was literally a string of cheese that connected their plates.  Lady and the tramp style.  It kept us laughing for awhile.
And finally, as the grand finale I had to try some dessert.
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Holy decadent chocolate dessert.  Yes, we all had a few bites.  Yes, we were still laughing about the cheese. 
And yes, you should visit.

Herbivoracious & R2L.

16 May
Last week was filled with many “firsts”. 
1.) I visited R2L in my beloved city, Philadelphia.
2.) I met Michael Natkin and scored a copy of his cookbook, Herbivoracious.028
3.) Really connected with the views of someone who is a vegetarian.
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Michael is currently on a book tour for Herbivoracious and we were lucky that one of his stops was in Philly!  My good friend Wendy set the event up and it was not only tasty but really fun.
Throughout the evening we had the opportunity to try a variety of vegetarian dishes prepared by R2L.
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Based on the appetizers alone, let alone the view… I will definitely be back to visit!
Most importantly, we tried Michael’s grapefruit and avocado crudo, which was made with grapefruit, avocado, chervil, capers, olive oil, salt and pepper.
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What a refreshing, simple, yet sophisticated dish!  I could definitely see myself making this for guests this summer with a glass of wine, sitting outside as fireflies surrounded us. 
In between bites I chatted with friends and even had the opportunity to discuss Michael’s book and his travels.  We were all shocked that he wasn’t going to be in Philadelphia for more than a few hours!  If you have a chance, definitely check out his site and his recipes.  His stories are interesting and his dedication to good food and a humane lifestyle is admirable.
As for Herbivoracious, it is filled with gorgeous recipes, even more beautiful photos and creativity that will have you turning page after page!

Restaurant Week: Amada

3 Feb
There’s something magical about a week (or two) where you can go to a city’s best restaurants, eat a multitude of fantastic courses, and pay only $35 a person.  I call it a dream come true, or Restaurant Week.
Unless there is some kind of really important event holding me back, I always make it out to try at least one new restaurant for restaurant week.  It is just too good of an opportunity to pass up!  This year I was lucky enough to snag a reservation a month in advance for Amada, which I have been dying to try!!
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Not only was I excited to experience this foodie paradise and Jose Garcias’ brain child, but also to share the experience with Jay, my good friend Beth, now a food blogger (her blog is Its Good to be the Cook) and always a foodie, and her boyfriend Dahv.  There is just something about going out to eat with a true food lover and actually dining with people that “get it”.  Especially when you are frantically taking pictures of food before everyone dives in.080
Before we begin, let me give you a quick summary of Amada.  During any day of the week, diners can enjoy Spanish style tapas, inspired by the Mediterranean.  Having tasted tapas style restaurants in Spain, it is a very unique and different dining experience.  If you decide to visit, you can also try the suckling pig, which needs to be pre-ordered 72 hours in advance.  Garcias really makes every dish something you’ll never forget, using flavors that will be sure to make you return time and time again.

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During restaurant week each diner has the opportunity to order 2 first course tapas, 2 second course tapas, and a dessert.  So between the 4 of us there was a whole lotta tasting going on. 
So sit back, grab your fork and knife, and get ready to salivate. 
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Sangria:
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When dining at a tapas restaurant and the house drink is sangria (flavors are seasonal), you just have to taste it! 
Its Good to be the Cook: as a new wine drinker, I went with the Blanco Sangria. It was loaded with chunks of apples, pears, and oranges. It was sweet and so easy to drink. What was really interesting was there was a small sprig of rosemary floating on top.
All I Eat Food: I tried the Tinto, Spiced Red Wine with Orange, Apple & Cinnamon.  It was perfectly sweet and refreshing yet warmed me up with each sip!

First Course

Its Good to be the Cook: My favorite first course was the Garlic Shrimp. The shrimp dish is served in a little ceramic pot which is cooking the shrimp as the server brings it out to the table. Needless to say, the shrimp were PERFECTLY cooked- something I rarely do well. The broth was super garlicky and had a little kick with some red pepper flakes in there too.
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All I Eat Food:  I was actually surprised by the croquetas de jamon and how amazingly flavorful they were!  They were crispy on the outside and soft and savory in the middle.  I’m pretty sure there was mustard mixed in with the ham, which made it a little spicy!  Then it was served on top of a red pepper spread, which I was wishing there was more of!

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Its Good to be the Cook: the Serrano  Ham came with a side of Bread, Cornichons (those itty-bitty baby pickles), French Dijon, and Caperberries. Caperberries were basically giant capers so they paired really well with the sweetness of the Prosciutto-like Serrano Ham.

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All I Eat Food: Unlike any cheese you’ve tried at a restaurant, garrotxa cheese came out on a board with garlic dulce de leche, bread and sliced apple.  Yes, garlic dulce de leche!  This dish was simple yet the flavors all came together for a serious party in your mouth.

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Its Good to be the Cook: The Serrano Ham dish just wasn’t enough ham for us, so we had to choose the Melón Con Jamón plate. Not only does this dish RHYME, but it tasted fantastic! It is unusual for fruit to be the star of a dish, but this melon gave this jamón a run for its money! I was not suspecting such huge, fresh, juicy chunks of melon, let alone the sweet sauce that was drizzled on top. Sweet and salty is my favorite combination and the balance of the two were just perfect in this plate.

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All I Eat Food: Escalivada was fantastic.  It came with small toasted pieces of bread spread with creamy, tangy goat cheese and roasted veggies. I’m a sucker for roasted veggies and the eggplant was phenomenal!!

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Its Good to be the Cook: With all the protein we had ordered, Dave suggested we get something green… and green it was! The Ensalada Verde dish was a chopped green salad with asparagus and avocado. It was light and delicate but loaded with flavor.

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All I Eat Food: The tortilla espanola was probably the most unique dish we tried.  It was a small cake that had the consistency of a tamale and polenta.  It was very dense but once you took a bite it was creamy and buttery.

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Can you believe that was only the first course!?!  Yes I know, crazy.  Go ahead, go find yourself a snack because you’re starving and get ready for course( s) number 2!

Second  Course:

It may be hard to believe that we were still up for tempting our palates after all those delicious tapas, but in true foodie fashion we were ready for more!!
Its Good to be the Cook: The Madre e Hijo makes the ranks of one of my favorite chicken dishes EVER!!  The chicken was perfectly juicy, tender, and loaded with flavor.  What makes this dish even more special is that the chicken breast is locally farmed, which is true of many ingredients at Amada.  And what a great idea, putting a fried egg on top!  MMM!

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All I Eat Food: The chicken brochette was a decision that we kind of guessed about but it was a great addition to our meal.  I enjoyed the simplicity of the chicken and how perfectly it was grilled.  And of course I enjoyed the lemony sauce it came with.

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Its Good to be the Cook:  We just couldn’t resist trying both flatbreads… the Gambas Con Garbanzos Coca was so light and crispy!  The presentation of this flatbread with shrimp, chorizo, & garbanzo bean puree was simple yet colorful, with the shrimp cooked in a bright green pesto.  The unexpected cheese that wasn’t described on the menu looked so good that I had to break my month of “No-Cheese” diet to have a small piece.  It was worth it!

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All I Eat Food: The other flatbread we tried was Costillas de Ternera Coca, beef shortrib flatbread with horseradish, parmesan and bacon.  I’m a huge fan of flatbread because who doesn’t like crisp little bites topped with savory toppings!?  This reminded me almost of a cheesesteak with the meat and cheese and then the hit of horseradish at the end really left your taste buds dancing.

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Its Good to be the Cook:  The group thought this dish sounded so good that we decided to order TWO of the Lubina Al Pescador: a roasted Sea Bass with potatoes, arbequina olives, served with preserved lemon and salsa verde.  This plate was a great example of why Sea Bass is always my favorite fish!  I loved the light, fresh flavors that the lemon and salsa brought to the dish. 

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All I Eat Food: We had to sneak some more veggies in somewhere so we tried the setas a la plancha, or seasonal wild mushrooms.  I’ve been ordering mushrooms everywhere I go lately and these did not disappoint.  I loved the different textures and earthy flavor mixed with the zesty-ness of the sauce.

 

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After we enjoyed the plethora of tapas, we all saved room for dessert.
The choices were:
PASTEL DE CHOCOLATE
Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Ice Cream
& Chocolate-Hazelnut Caramel
or
CREMA CATALANA
Vanilla Custard, Caramel Veil, Ginger & Pine Nut

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Naturally I chose the Pastel de Chocolate.  I was so thankful that the portion size was small, although I probably could have ate everyone’s dessert at the table…it was that good.  The chocolate cake was rich, topped with the velvety ice cream.  My favorite part was the hot fudge-like sauce on the plate and the chopped hazelnuts.  I’m a true believer that chocolate and hazelnut should be the new chocolate and peanut butter.
While pictures may be worth a thousand words, I hope that our tantalizing meal descriptions made you feel as though you were right there dining with us during restaurant week.  And if you’re feeling like you missed out, then join us next time.  The more the merrier.  Because the more people dining with us… the more dishes we will get to try Winking smile 
Have a great weekend!!
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