Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Savoy Flower Shop - Torta Milanesa

I wrote about Savoy Flower shop's surprisingly good tacos a while back, and realized that I never posted the incredible sandwich I grabbed from there in December while walking home from Rittenhouse with 45 bags of Christmas presents. Breaded chicken on a mexican roll. Lettuce, tomato, refried beans, roasted hot peppers, avocado, cheese, maybe some mayo in there too.

Savoy looks like every other slightly dilapidated flower shop slash grocery in center city, except for the hand lettered signs for tacos and tortas. It's a one man kitchen in the back, and honestly I always expect my food to be sketchy because it doesn't seem like anyone else ever goes in there for anything. But it's always fresh and delicious and I'm blown away. According to the sign they also do hot dogs and cheesesteaks. Don't know if they are doing tijuana / sonarans but I'm sure I could just say "give me a hot dog with all the stuff on it". The lone cook is very friendly and happy to oblige your requests. Apparently they also have Tamales on the weekends.

I've actually noticed a lot of the south philly taquerias doing cheesesteaks / burgers / etc.. wondering if they are just american style or ?? My imagination sees steak sandwiches overflowing with pico de gallo, roasted jalepenos, queso fresco and sriracha...

Savoy Flower Shop
262 S 18th st

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sweet Dudes

When I moved to South Philly from Graduate Hospital, I admit I was bummed.

Trash tumbling around, no Sue's Grocery, no Pumpkin Market, No Rittenhouse Square Farmers Market to buy Asian Pear butter. But no more, thanks to Artisan Patisserie Boulangerie,Ultimo Coffee, Fond, and my weekly food fetish palace, Green Aisle Grocery!

All the things I love, small boutiques, specialized food products, small jars, home-madey lovey filled things and puppy friendly. It's my own tiny food porn fetish shop, and my favorite food porn peddlars Andrew and Adam. This is where I buy my weekly organic grassfed whole milk in a beautiful glass bottle and with joy spoon out the cream on top to eat with toast and jam. This is where I take home a tiny pint of hydroponically (spelling?) grown local heirloom cherry tomatoes, and smoked black peppercorns and this makes me more happy then new shoes ( well..maybe the same). They support local businesses and farms by carrying BBQ sauce from the Pub and Kitchen, Chili from Cafe Con Chocolate, Pumpkin Bread from Bibou, pear butter and canned peaches from 3 Springs Farms and so much more.

I know I probably sound like a food snob jerk.
Don't get me wrong I love a hole in the wall and I will eat probably eat a delicious chicken wing after I dropped it on the ground, but well designed bottles of delicious cucumber soda?

Take all my money.

Green Aisle Grocery

1618 East Passyunk Avenue / Philadelphia PA 19148 / 215.465.1411

Green Eggs Cafe

Why is it that I can't get breakfast on the weekends in this town because Philadelphians LOVE going out for breakfast! And there is a lack of breakfast places so they are always packed! Green Eggs Cafe opened in South Philly and is already full of people waiting for a shortstack. What's not to like? Clean comfortable, lots of daylight, cute Ikea plants on each table, and cute people. It's kind of like eating at a place your friends own, you overlook any flaws because you want it to do well and the food is yummy. So who cares that they are out of bacon or the fryer is broken. My Kobe Sliders were perfectly cooked and so good with the moist potato bun. It's rare to find a burger that's tasty without a delicious condiment oozing out of it, none was needed, it came with a quail egg and some truffle oil.

Carrie had a warm spinach salad that was very Penny Dutch and the warm bacon dressing was lovely.

Green Eggs Cafe
1306 Dickinson St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 226-3447

My House

Tonite we made Lemongrass Shrimp Coconut Curry and it cost us about 12 bucks for the 2 of us. It made me realize that I am crazy for not buying more seafood living in South Philly. I live by Ippolito's. I also live in an Indonesian Cambodian nieghborhood so all the asian bodegas always have 5 limes for a dollar ( or sometimes 10 for a dollar) and fresh cilantro and lemongrass. In fact coconut milk, limes, and cilantro cost me 3 dollars. So tonite's meal was courtesy of the fruits of my neighborhood.

I also wanted to share my secret rice shoveling ingrediant, deep fried red onions or shallots. This little container is why I look down upon the fried onion cans that go on green bean casserole. These fried goodies taste delicious, stay crunchy and I put this all over rice, ramen, and coconut curry. Even better mix this with crushed peanuts and limes, who needs anything else?

Ippolito's Seafood
1300 Dickinson Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147-6214
(215) 389-8906

Friday, January 22, 2010

Percy Street BBQ

#1 of this meal was the amazing Mac & Cheese. People go on and on about places having mac & cheese "to die for" and to me most of it tastes the same or is just kind of forgettable. Percy Street's mac & cheese had the perfect amount of moisture, no overcooked noodles, not too dry or greasy, or swimming in thin sauce. Perfectly seasoned, delicious cheese sauce (bechamel family, I think) clinging to every morsel, crowned with golden brown breadcrumbs, I would come back just for this.

On to the meat. This is apparently real-ish "Texas" BBQ, which I'm no expert on but which they explain means no spice rubs, just salt pepper and smoke, sauce on the side if you want it, ultra simple. The Pork Belly was amazing, ultra fatty creamy slices of pork that melt in your mouth. Great ribs, chicken, unfortunately they were out of sausage and rib tips. Brisket was a little tough for us, not bad, just used to brisket being more tender, and usually my favorite thing.

I was sort of wishing for a bigger variety of sauces, like Abner's or Fette Sau who have several sauces with different levels of heat as well as a few mustard / vinegar based sauces, but the simplicity here is also a good thing.

Also - amazing green bean casserole with fried onions, something I'm sort of scared of, makes me think of brown canned beans mixed with cream of mushroom soup, actually I don't know if I've even had green bean casserole before.. anyway, it was right on.

Great place to come with a group... The "Double Down" or "Lockhart" specials for the table are the way to go, you get a little bit of everything. Only thing that threw me off a bit was the sort of faux-rustic Crate & Barrel vibe going on, like they were afraid to make it look too beat up and scare away the lunching ladies from Ardmore.

I think a more comfortable, rustic dining room similar to Cantina, and less spouting-off-memorized-menu-description professional servers would lend some authenticity to the whole experience. Anyway in the end the food more than made up for any qualms I had about the decor.

Percy Street BBQ
900 South St.

For more about Texas BBQ, check out this documentary about the Percy Street team's research trip, and two great blogs that will have you ready to hop a train to Texas....

Percy Street BBQ Documentary
Man Up Texas BBQ
Full Custom Gospel BBQ

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I am certainly not the resident hot dog expert here on Drawing for Food, but since Hawk has yet to make his way up to Bark in Brooklyn I figured it was worth a post. Bark has been my go to hot dog joint since it opened last summer for a number of reasons. Their hot dogs are made upstate by Hartmann's, a beef and pork blend that is juicy, snappy, and a happily a little bit longer than their side toasted buns. The draft beer comes from Six Point, locally brewed and a steal at $4 a pint and $15 for a growler.

Great hot dogs and reasonably priced beer are all great reasons to make your way to Bark but my absolute favorite part of this place has to be the toppings. House made everything-pickles, oak aged kraut, chili, beans, and the best cheese sauce ever. Unlike other places in the city these toppings aren't meant to disguise subpar dogs, they're just there to enhance them.

With dogs this good you'd think that the sides would be an afterthought but the fries and onion rings are incredible. The fries are fat food thin but crisp, peppery and taste like real potatoes in the best possible way. The only thing I can say about the onion rings is that I didn't like onion rings before I tried the ones at Bark.

I guess the highest compliment that I can pay to Bark is that no matter the size of my party, I have never ordered less than six hot dogs. They're just too good.

474 Bergen St.
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Czerw's Kielbasy

So my friend gave me a pile of "Polish hot dogs" from what looks like the most amazing place in the world. Czerw's does everything old-school Polish style which is why people wait in line for hours for their Kielbasy and homemade pierogies - including a not-so old school but incredible sounding cheesesteak pierogi. Everything is made fresh & smoked right there on a side street in Port Richmond.

I haven't been there yet but every time I look at these photos I want to (thanks Tim). The "Polish Hot Dogs" were nothing like hot dogs, but amazing and reminded me of the smoked sausage my Pennsylvania Dutch grandparents always had on the dinner table.

Gigantic, spicy and super smoky, great for breakfast or cooked with saurkraut. If you wanted to break the rules of regional cuisine these would be great in gumbo, beans & rice, garnish for potato soup, basically anything that calls for sausage or smoked meat.

Czerw's Kielbasy
3370 Tilton Street
Philadelphia, PA 19134

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

George's Tripe Sandwich

I've walked past this place a million times but never tried it until a few months ago. Split a roast pork and cheesesteak with some friends and holy s#$% it was good, totally blew my mind.

If you order a roast pork he warms it up on the grill, bastes the meat and greens with the pork juices. Sharp provolone and a lightly toasted roll and you're ready to go. Cheesesteak was great too, good amount of meat but not so much it falls out onto 9th street. A good mid-sized steak somewhere between the smaller soft-roll style of Pat's and the massive Sarcone's-loaf style of Cosmi's and John's Roast Pork.

Anyway if you don't know they are famous for having an Italian Tripe sandwich which made it onto the PBS Sandwiches You Will Like documentary a few years back featuring Philly food guru Holly Moore.

I'm a big fan of tripe but until now had only eaten it Asian or Mexican style. So I went back last week for a roast pork & tripe combo with provolone, roasted long hots, hot peppers and onions, a monster of a sandwich. The tripe cooked in tomato sauce was super tender and the combination with the pork was out of this world.

Some guy drinking out of a paper bag asked me for change while I was ordering. But don't let the exotic atmosphere scare you away, or you'll miss out on some of Philly's best. There's another George's sandwich shop across the street, haven't been there & can't vouch for it, look for the one with the "sandwiches you will like" sign.

900 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA

Monday, January 11, 2010

Homemade Bitters

While brainstorming ideas for homemade holiday gifts (over drinks, naturally) we decided to forgo the usual boxes of cookies for something a little more exciting. After spending a successful summer infusing various spirits with fruits and herbs we decided to make our own bitters and bottle them for our friends for Christmas gifts.

Lots of fancy cocktail bars have been making bitters in house, infusing them with everything from rosemary to chocolate. They make a wonderfully aromatic addition to anything they are added to, lending a great herbal quality and pleasant bitterness.

After researching a few different recipes we got our shopping list together and made our way to the local new age herb shop. We picked up a few ounces of quassia, wormwood, and gentian, and the woman behind the counter mentioned that with this particular combination of herbs we were going to have some very healthy digestive systems. At the liquor store we purchased a bottle of overproof vodka insidiously named Devil's Spring and a bottle of rye to serve as the alcohol base.

Since mid December isn't the best time for produce we chose some Satsuma oranges, Meyer lemons, and tart dried cherries to flavor the bitters as well as coriander, fennel, cinnamon, cardamom, and a few other spices.

After gathering all of the ingredients together the rest of the process is fairly simple. The herbs and bittering agents are toasted until aromatic and the fruits and spirits are placed in sealed jars to infuse for a few weeks, and agitated every few days.

A few days before Christmas we opened the jars and sampled the bitters, mixing a few drops with sparkling water to get the full effect. They tasted pretty great, all of the herbs really came through, the Meyer lemon and vodka mix was clean and fresh and the rye and cherry version tasted almost like a Manhattan even without the bourbon and vermouth.

Once the bitters were bottled and distributed the fun part began. As it turns out bitters are a welcome addition to most cocktails, from gin and tonics to bloody marys, they even make cheap beer taste better. And the woman at the herb shop was definitely on to something, bitters do a fantastic job of settling your stomach after a day or two of overindulgence.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Got some Geotta for Christmas (thanks Jess) and now It's all gone. I would get some more but it's only available in the Cincinnati area.

If you don't know, Goetta is basically Cincinnati's Scrapple. Some might say it's better, but I would never take that position and insult my Philadelphia / Pennsylvania German heritage. Also German in origin, Goetta is pork and beef (including hearts and skins), combined with steel cut oats.

Cooked and served the same way as Scrapple, Goetta has more texture - due to the rough cut oats - and a stronger flavor. Don't be scared. It even converted a few Scrapple haters at breakfast the other day.

It's even prepared in the same way: boil variety cuts of meat on the bone with bay leaves and such for hours; remove meat and chop; cook grain in meat water; fold meat back in; form loaves. Maybe some celery or onions along the way.

Folks tend to look at Scrapple and Goetta as "gross" or "white trash" but really, It's a German terrine. There's even an annual Goettafest with German entertainment and Goetta Calzones.

Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 - the year in hot dogs

I ate a lot of hot dogs in 2009. Between combing coal mining towns of western maryland for obscure regional variations and cooking up batches of natural casing dogs shipped in from upstate NY covered in homemade cincinnati chili, a large portion of my life has been devoted to eating, cooking, writing about and drawing hot dogs. Check out this set on Flickr collecting some of the highlights of this experiment in hot dog anthropology so far.

2010 is going to be tough. Most of the hot dogs I want to write about this year are far away and require travel for first person research. I'd like to experience more hot dog variations in the flesh rather than just relying on other people's blogs or whatever. Wealthy hot dog enthusiasts or publishers are of course welcome to give me piles of money to travel the world in search of obscure hot dog variations.

Having "hot dog correspondents" is a big help as well. Anyone willing to send nice photos and detailed descriptions of regional hot dogs get in touch. I can't promise I will write about everything, but if you follow this blog or Serious Eats you can get a pretty good idea of what I'm interested in. The most I can offer in payment is a beautiful 11 x 14 giclee print of the finished artwork.

I actually eat less hot dogs than you might think. I try to keep hot dog consumption limited to research purposes and special occasions. When I'm at home drawing I eat things like Quinoa with kale and chickpeas.

get more hot dogs
2009 in hot dogs on Flickr
Hot Dog Of The Week on Serious Eats
Drawing for food- All posts tagged "hot dog"