Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Much thanks to Jaime-Lee for bringing me back a 6 pack of Moxie from Vermont. If you don't know, Moxie is an ancient soda that tastes sort of like medicine and is these days only found in New England. A lot of people hate it (including New Englanders) which of course makes me like it even more.

The flavor is sort of like Dr Pepper mixed with cough sryup, or something in the bitters family, a relic from the days when soft drinks were sold at drug stores as cure-alls and tonics. Moxie was advertised as a cure for "paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia"

They tamed the taste down a few years ago so what you get today is basically watered down sellout Moxie. But its still good, and awesome to cook with. Moxie pancakes, Moxie tempura batter, Moxie chili, Moxie BBQ sauce.. the possibilities are endless.

Wikipedia: Moxie
2010 Moxie Festival - July 9th & 10th

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Artist Series: MR. ROB SATO

Rob Sato does not stop drawing. It actually gives me a huge complex about drawing. Why aren't I drawing all the time too that I too need a special compartmentalized side satchel to hold my travel watercolor palette and brushes and various pens????? Then I look at his art and feel somewhat worthless and hide to eat my feelings. So with that introduction here is the amazing art of Rob Sato, eater, cook, drawer, and friend to Drawing For Food.

SweetBonesDeck--painting of Sweet Bones on skateboard

SweetBones--sketches for broken arm drumstick ice cream cone

Satobites-imaginary food from my sketchbook

Ako with our dinner from the other night:
Sea Bass with miso marinade,
Tamago (japanese omelet)
brown rice,
avocados and pickled ginger.
DiscountBurgers--stickers I found that look like burgers
BurgerFolk--sketchbook image

Ako with Thai Iced Coffee

DFF: What is your favorite dish your mom makes?

RS: Rum Cake.

DFF: What do you snack on for art deadlines?

RS: it used to be whiskey. When my body couldn't take it anymore, I had to switch to almonds, bananas and water.

DFF: Do you make better art hungry or full? Why?

RS: Reasonably well fed is what works. Being too full makes me nod off over my work. A few times I've come-to with my face planted in a painting, drool pooling, and an unintended paint stroke streaking across the surface. I also fall into time warps after I eat where I suddenly become aware that I've been lying on the couch for hours reading or watching movies. On the other hand, being hungry causes panic, pacing, frantic snacking on weird food and long stares into the fridge. This can then lead to being overly full on snacks instead of simply preparing a decent meal. Every so often hunger mixed with creative blockage will drive me to the following menu, consumed in a near-zombie state wandering back and forth between the kitchen and the studio-- It usually starts with a handful of nuts, then maybe a strip of beef jerky, soon a hand plunged into a box to eat cereal dry, more nuts, a bit of chocolate, an apple, a bag of baby carrots, cheese melted on toast, bites of cold gray dinner leftovers directly from the tupperware, a spoonful of peanut butter, a fried egg with more toast, more chocolate, just biting cheese directly off the block, a longing look at any alcohol in the house then maybe a beer, all the bananas, the remainder of the package of beef jerky, a few spoonfuls of ice cream, a cup of coffee in an attempt to shake it all off and calm the frenzy. Then a dreary, stupefied drawing session or an unintended, unsatisfying, guilt-ridden nap.

DFF: Wheres your favorite place to eat?

RS: With Ako, on our porch.

****DFF: coincidently this is one of Kris Chau's favorite places to eat too...

DFF: If you could cut up and eat any artist in history to absorb their strengths and talents who would it be?

RS: This was a tough question. After much thought, the final and obvious choice is Leonardo Da Vinci. Absorbing him would deliver a massive load of skills and knowledge which I could mix with my own visual taste and pursuits. He does seem like he would taste pretty awful though. I'm not exactly sure why, but I'm imagining a combination of dust, dry burnt bread and bad, foul smelling cheese. The first artist that comes to mind who seems like they might actually have tasted good is Picasso. He reminds me of a cartoon drawing of a glistening ham. I've just disturbed myself.

And here is a recipe from Mr. Sato:

Chicken and Fruit Curry

2-4 tablespoons oil (canola, vegetable, peanut, or butter all work--amount varies depending on how greasy you want this)
2 medium onions, chopped
3 apples chopped into chunks (fuji or gala tend to be the least mealy, but all seem to work OK)
1 banana chopped into chunks (you can also use papaya or mango, or go with just apples but I prefer the banana)
1 cup tomato, diced
1 to 1 1/2 lbs chicken meat, cubed (about 2 breasts, or 4 cutlets, or 3 -4 thighs)
2-3 tablespoons of curry powder
1/2 cup yogurt (optional)
hot pepper (optional)
soy sauce to taste, at least a tablespoon
handful of chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

1. Heat up the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or skillet that you are able to cover

2. add the onions, stir occasionally, cook until they become soft, 5-10 minutes

3. lightly salt the onions and then add the curry powder, stirring into the onions until they are fully coated with the powder,

4. add the chicken, the fruit, tomatoes and hot pepper (if desired)and mix them into the onions

5. pour the 1/2 cup of yogurt over the mixture (if desired)

6. cover the pan and cook covered for 8-10 minutes

7. check to see if the apples have softened, if not, it will need a little longer to cook

8. once the apples are soft, uncover and raise the heat to medium-high. cook until the mixture thickens slightly, another minute or two.

9. add the soy sauce and continue cooking for one minute

10. taste, adjust soy sauce if necessary

11. Serve over white rice, season with a spoonful of fresh yogurt, the cilantro, and mint

you're done.
serves 3-4

Friday, June 11, 2010

Michael's Deli - Double Philly Surf & Turf

Another stop in my quest to eventually eat every Philly Combo (aka Philly Surf and Turf) in the city. If you don't know, the Philly Combo is an old Philadelphia hot dog variation that consists of a hot dog and a potato-fish cake on the same bun, usually with mustard and onions, sometimes garnished with pepper hash.

At Michael's Deli at 4th and Wolf - an unassuming South Philly corner store with video poker and a kitchen in the back - this is the only way to get them. 2 smashed fish cakes, and 2 split hot dogs on a hoagie roll, with mustard and onions.

The result was better than I expected. The fish cakes were fresh (not too fishy) and Dietz & Watson dogs were decent. The roll was nothing to write home about, and the option of pepper hash would have been nice to add some moisture to the sandwich. But overall a success.

A tiny South Philly corner store with juice, cigarettes, and a few dusty groceries, walking in you might be surprised that they even serve food, let alone a giant menu with a zillion different hoagies, cutlets, burgers, hot dogs, wings, breakfast, pasta and even pizza. I don't really understand where they keep all the food.. maybe a kitchen or walk-in freezer in the basement?

The cheesesteak we also tried was just OK, but some of the concoctions on the menu have me curious enough to go back.

• Animal Farm
Big pile of Chicken breast, cheesesteak, bacon, cheese, onions...

• Brontosaurus Burger
3 burger patties served with fried onions, swiss, american, and mozzarella cheese.

• The Stray Dog
3 hot dogs on a large italian roll with fried onions, relish, saurkraut and mustard.

• Pizazz Pizza
Another obscure Philadelphia classic. Pizza with American cheese, tomato slices and sweet peppers.

Then for breakfast there's scrapple and eggs, pork roll, creamed chip beef, baloney & egg. And everything is cheap as hell.
Check out the crazy menu here (with music!) -

Michael's Deli
4th & Wolf

more fish cakes and pizzaz-

Drawing For Food - Fish Cakes from Gus's Cart and Bubby's Brisket
Drawing For Food - Nicky & Pete's Famous
Hot Dog Of The Week - Philly Combo
Meal Ticket - Outside The Box (Pizzaz at the end of the article)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Han Dynasty

Everything that you've head about this place is true. First of all, it's incredible. Authentic Szechuan in the middle of Olde City's douche-fest. And yes, it's face-numbingly hot. Hotter than anything any of us have ever eaten in Brooklyn, or China even. The owner Han is both super friendly and super hilarious. He told us how every other Chinese restaurant in the City is bullshit, because the food has no flavor, and his chefs are straight from Sichuan Province.

There is also a Gringo menu of General Tso's chicken and all that, but Han will tell you not to order it, it's there for the unadventurous. He sent us to Eulogy to pick up beer before our meal (it's BYOB, and Eulogy is happy to recommend beer based on what you ordered at Han) and passed out Chinese cigarettes to us out front after our meal.

Beef & Tripe in Chili Oil
WOW. The hottest I have ever had, cold tongue and tripe - both super tender - swimming in chili oil, and dotted with szechuan peppercorns, numbs your entire mouth, but so god damn delicious.

Spicy Cucumber
Great side, helps cool you down, at least until you get the wave of heat from the chili oil. But so addictive.

Dan - Dan Noodles
Brutal heat. Tossed in a firey paste tableside. LIke everything else here, just on the edge of bearable heat, but so good you keep going.

Rabbit Dry Pot Style
Oh yeah. Terrific. Watch out for the bones, but no big deal. This is the real thing.

Lamb Cumin Style
This was my favorite. Lamb stir fry with Szechuan Peppercorns, whole dried chiles, and tons of cumin. Not as spicy as some of the other dishes, but still mouth numbing.

Chicken Long Hot Pepper style.
Stir Fried chicken, garlic, longhots. Awesome.

Garlic Seafood.
Mixed seafood in garlic-chili oil. Last dish to come out, by this time I was drunk and my whole mouth was numb.'

If you've thought about eating here but haven't made it yet, get on it! One word of advice- the portions are BIG, and also because they are so hot, you aren't going to finish the whole thing. 1 entree for every 2 people, and a side or 2 would be plenty. We took home half of our food, and it was even better the next day.

And if you bring someone who doesn't like adventure or spicy food, make sure you get at least 1 thing from the Gringo menu, or just let them fill up on rice - because the Szechuan dishes are not for the culinarily challenged. By the way, it's also a really nice place, and the service is fantastic.

Han Dynasty
108 Chestnut
(also 2 locations in the suburbs)

New Hot Dog Blog in town

Our friend Mike recently tipped me off that his girlfriend Cathy has started a brand new hot dog blog, "Don't Buy All The Hot Dogs" (apparently a 30 rock reference? sorry folks, I don't watch it.) featuring two fashionable ladies scouring Philadelphia for delicious hot dogs.

The first post in Johnny's Dog house in Wayne (I've never been.. already a step ahead) with some great photos and a thorough descriptions of the dogs. Great start, can't wait to see where they go next!

check it out:
Don't Buy All The Hot Dogs

Drawing And Food

Serious Eats asked me to draw something up for their reusable Baggu shopping bags. You can win one if you go over to their facebook page and tell them what you made for dinner. I'm pretty sure they will also be available for sale in the near future.

• more here

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Memorial Day - Pork Roll Double Meat Dog, and Chau's Strawberry Pie

I've been on a sort of Pork Roll kick lately, after trying the "Jersey Burger" at 500 degrees. I always try to keep some on hand for pork roll eggs benedict, perfect size and so god damn good, I don't know why it's not on the brunch menu of every gastropub in town.

For last week's Hot Dog Of The Week post I went recipe style for Memorial Day with the "Pork Roll Double Meat Dog" despite having never actually made one. It's as much a Philly hot dog as it is Jersey, with the split and grilled dogs, grilled onions, club rolls and american cheese.

Memorial Day I gave the Pork Roll Double Meat Dog recipe a whirl, adding cheese wiz and mustard to the mix, and holy crap they were delicious. The addition of wiz really brings it all together. You can't see it in the photos but it's under the American with the onions.

Along with the artery clogging pork roll hot dogs, there was Tomato Pie from Sam's Italian Market, and Chau's amazing Strawberry Pie. Also a questionable Hawaiian pork roll, pineapple and swiss cheese hamburger experiment, and Jello Shots.

Wawa Challenge

Serious Eats asked me to sample a mess of Wawa breakfast sandwiches for this recent article rating the country's best fast food breakfast sandwiches. They crowned White Castle's breakfast sliders (made with real, fresh eggs!) as the king, but Wawa's Ciabatta Melt received an honorable mention.

Here's some of the other sandwiches we tried. Overall the ones made at the sandwich counter (Ciabatta Melts, and the Philly Steak Egg and Cheese Hoagie) were far better than the heat lamp baked "Sizzli's".

• Junior Ciabatta Melt
The mini version of Wawa's Ciabatta Melt, pretty affordable at only $2.89. I wanted to try one without meat to really taste the quality of the eggs. They look and taste like real scrambled eggs, and they aren't microwaved, instead they are frozen and "rethermalized". However they do it, much better than those scary discs you get at Dunkin Donuts, or even on Wawa's own Sizzli's.The Ciabatta rolls are great, and they really overstuff these suckers.

The best part is, because it's Wawa, you can add ANYTHING on to your breakfast sandwich. Tomato, turkey, ranch dressing, whatever they've got. There's even a button, when creating your sandwich on the computer, to "add italian hoagie" to your egg and cheese. Sounds like an adventure. I didnt have the balls to try it.

• Pork Roll Egg and Cheese Sizzli
My Jersey-born girlfriend took the first bite. I asked her what kind of cheese it was. "American, of course! What did you think it was going to be, Gruyere?" As if anyone would have the audacity to put anything other than American cheese (or Wiz) on a slice of pork roll.

Other than that, a pretty lame sandwich. The bagel was tiny and pretty dry, probably from sitting under the heat lamps for 6 hours. And the scary egg disc was no comparison to the delicious, fluffy "rethermalized" eggs of the Ciabatta.

• Sausage Egg and Cheese Pancake Sizzli
Ripoff of Mcdonald's Mcgriddle but not as good. Nice packaging though, and much better than those scary microwavable shrink wrapped sandwiches that you would get at a 7-11 or a gas station.

The state of Wawa inside the city of Philadelphia is kind of scary. It looks like there's only 6 left. There used to be one on every corner. And the quality here is always a crap shoot. I used to eat Wawa hoagies all the time - only thing open at 2am after work - and never understood why anyone in Philadelphia (with real Hoagies around every corner) would ever eat them unless they had to. Stale bread, totally unbalanced sandwiches with hardly any meat and too many vegetables, or more cheese than meat, or so many pickles that the whole sandwich dripped in pickle juice.

But if you go to the Suburbs or Jersey, Wawas are like palaces. The size of a grocery store, with 8 registers and people lined up 10 deep for sandwiches.

Read More-
Serious Eats - Taste Test: The Best Fast Food Breakfast Sandwiches