Posts Tagged ‘gnocchi’

Christmasy surprises, one after another

December 14, 2010

Dishes 207-8: Fish and Chips at the Whip Tavern, 1383 N. Chatham Road, Coatesville

Cheese and Potato Tart at the Marshalton Inn, 1300 West Strasburg Rd, West Chester

Whip Tavern fish and chips = minor food coma

Full-bellied, we drove into the town of Marshalton at dusk, after a full afternoon of puttering around Bucks County in search of horses, goats, grain silos, and the Whip Tavern. (Check, check, check, and check!) The Marshalton Inn was our last stop before heading back to Philly for an action packed Saturday night.

A block from the Inn, there was a park centering on the ruins of a historical stone building iced in white Christmas lights. Parents milled around the crumbling fireplaces, where fresh crackling fires had been lit; boys and girls played tag, cutting off white-haired revelers stopping by the sweets table for cookies and a Styrofoam cup of hot chocolate. Tim parked behind a silver pickup which had evidently been holding, until recently, a very large Christmas tree—and directly ahead, we saw its precious cargo: the town tree. We climbed out of the car and up the embankment where we were absorbed into the small crowd. A tall woman with glasses smiled warmly. “Are you two new in town? I haven’t seen you before.” We explained that we were just passing through, and she nodded, “Wonderful! Well, you’re just in time, we’re about to light the tree. The carolers will start any second now, go get some hot chocolate before they begin!” We wandered towards the fold up table loaded down with three by eight feet worth of cookies—sugar, chocolate chip, fudgy, store bought and homemade, rum-soaked—and were nearly overwhelmed by the choices. The tree flickered on for a second, reminding us to hurry up, and we each picked a cookie and a cup of hot chocolate before heading back towards the excitement. The choir finished God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and then everyone counted down together… four… three… two… ONE… and cheers erupted from the crowd as the tree lit up, beautiful against the night sky.

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Dishes 209-11: Beer Battered Dill Pickles at Memphis Taproom, 2331 East Cumberland St

Sausage Pizza at Tacconelli’s, 2604 East Somerset St

Fried Shrimp at Sid Booker’s, 4600 North Broad

In light of the recent and escalating violence in Kensington, I have decided to forfeit the two dishes located in this neighborhood, at Memphis Taproom and at Tacconelli’s. For the same reason of safety I am also going to forfeit Sid Booker’s famous shrimp by Temple.

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Dishes 212-4: Asian Eggplant at Thai Basil, 653 Haddon Ave, Collingswood

Short Ribs at Nunzio’s, 706 Haddon Ave, Collingswood

Gnocchi at Sapori, 601 Haddon Ave, Collingswood

I recently walked into a seminar several minutes late, as the instructor was in the midst of a rant about how North Jersey is so different from South Jersey and it should really just secede, because South Jersey doesn’t want to associate itself with North Jersey anyway. I had no idea the feeling was mutual. GOOD. Make fun all you like, at least we have all our teeth and don’t wear elastic waist jeans to the bar.

Tim is from a faraway place where the North/South Jersey divide doesn’t even register on the radar. So while I didn’t want to look petty by talking trash, I’d honestly rather eat a can of Crisco than cross the BFB. Thankfully he is insistent and goal-oriented and managed to drag my ambitions to the surface through a heavy quagmire of ingrained regional pride. “These three restaurants [Thai Basil, Nunzio’s, and Sapori] are all close together, what do you think about hitting those tonight?” I hesitated. He started again. “Or not, we don’t have to. But you only have two weeks left for all these, we should get a couple tonight.” I squirmed like a first grader who had been hoarding crayons in her desk. Not Collingswood… the South Jersey restaurants have been delicious, but they’re so farrrrr, out in the burbs- whyyyyyyy…  “Okayyyyyy. Okay. Ok. No really, it’s fine.”

White lights wrapped around the lollipop trees lining Haddon Ave and lit the driving rain to almost cheerful levels. Lights arched across the street, spelling out “Season’s Greetings!” welcomed us to the quiet downtown of BYO’s. Thai Basil was hushed, jarred occasionally by the ringing laughter of a small group. Nunzio’s no longer offers short ribs on the menu—“Would you like something else?” “Maybe, what’s good?” “Oh, we have a great rack of lamb.” “I don’t think so, thank you.” “The veal chop, perhaps?” “Um, no thanks.”

 Two blocks down, Sapori hosted an intimate Christmas party of stylish women with highlighted black hair in different age-appropriate styles; two men, willing captives, looked on with amused smiles. The stone walls encircling the restaurant lent an unexpected coziness; feeling a strange glow from someplace within my chest, I looked at Tim. “I think—you know, this place is nice.” He agreed enthusiastically. The carrot and butternut squash purees served with the bread were so light and seasonal, and the atmosphere so friendly. “And—it isn’t that far from the city, after all.” No, no it isn’t, he agreed. “I kind of—wouldn’t mind coming back.”


Previously, on “love to eat”

October 25, 2010

Previously, on “love to eat”…

Dishes 154-159: Gorgonzola gnocchi at Hostaria da Elio, 3rd and South

Steamed dumplings at Mustard Green, 2nd and South

Breakfast Taco at Honest Tom’s, 33rd and Arch most of the time

Breakfast Foccacia Sandwich at Morning Glory, 10th and South-ish

Thai Chicken Taco at Coup de Taco, 40th and Locust

Spicy Tofu Chow Fun Noodles at Koja, 38th and Chestnut

Lauren and Claudia met again after a long absence and many missed opportunities, to sample the gnocchi at Hostaria da Elio, much to the chagrin of their gravelly voiced waitress, who would much rather be waiting on the other tables in the miniature restaurant, because they were all empty. Her favorite kind.

Later, Lauren and her fellow Mavens, Sarah and Molly feasted on the scrumptious steamed dumplings of the fine Mustard Green as they plotted to overtake the ghoulish terrors of the Eastern State Penitentiary.

Tasty and portable!

They vanquished the insane prisoners with the Maven sense of humor and their new comrades, engineers from the land of Chalfont of the province Pennsylvania. The following day Lauren voyaged to the Main Line, stopping in University City upon return for nourishment and rest. The kindly king of Drexel offered servants to bathe her feet and rub them in oils, but she declined in favor of a breakfast taco at Honest Tom’s. She wondered wistfully if she made the wise decision, but it was too late to change her mind.

Dishes may be much smaller than they appear.

Our heroine rested her well-traveled stomach for a day before joining her mysterious male companion on a trek to Morning Glory, to evaluate their renowned sandwich of foccacia and breakfast. Both travelers found it quite satisfactory; after the meal, they took particular glee in a bumper sticker that appropriately read, “OINC”.


Fall festivities were to be had; MM prepared potables while a new friend assembled cupcakes to resemble spiders. (Recipes upon request.)


Today Lauren ventured again to University City to eradicate the last straggling U-City grease trucks on her hunt: Coup de Taco, which translates to “Stroke of Taco” in English, and Koja, which may mean something in French. She enjoyed these tidbits in the glow of sunshine and high SAT scores before re-mounting her subterranean steel steed, to spirit her back to the beating heart of the City of Brotherly Love.

Look! There, in the distance, those of the League of Ivy!

Spicy Tofu Chow Fun Noodles

Girls’ Night = Carbfest 2010 = How to Have a Meeting 101

August 26, 2010

Girls’ Night: Gnocchi at Le Castagne, 19th and Chestnut,

MBA students need to have dinner with me and my girlfriends. We hit every matter of business systematically, deviate minimally, tease a little, gossip a lot, and leave with a full belly and a plan of action.

Tuesday’s cast: me, Colleen, Aly, and Colleen’s high school friend, Lauren. Boy matters are first, naturally; we proceed around the table in a clockwise fashion and each provide an update. This round is typically peppered with questions that keep the conversation moving at a rapid clip. Next up, recent sightings of mutual acquaintances, particularly if especially pleasant, awkward, or unexpected. Then, upcoming events of note. By this time the meal has arrived, and we take a moment to gush about the food.

om nom nom

Ohmygod. The gnocchi at Le Castagne is legendary, and for good reason! Aly and I shared the spinach-infused variety with light parmesan sauce; each little gnocchi had a delicate cheese crust on one lucky side, I tried to eat as slowly as possible to make the flavor last. And I’ve been trying to rationalize going back multiple times in one week—actually, Aly just texted me that she’s having the same feeling!  

After admiring the good eats, we revisit any unresolved matters, make decisions on upcoming events, and share miscellaneous news. Then the usual battle of dessert vs. Capogiro; and in one short meal, we have addressed, divided, and conquered. Eat your heart out, Jack Welch. We’ll be eating our gnocchi.

Noble and Estelle, sitting in a tree…

April 25, 2010

Dish 76: Chickpea Fries at Noble American Cookery, 20th and Sansom,

Noble American Cookery has an interior design twin across town, in Café Estelle. (I bet you thought I didn’t have a yenta bone in my body. Well, take this. I’ll be the for these establishments. Noble, meet Estelle. Estelle, meet Noble. Awww, their names even sound cute together.) Both have light slate blue walls, exposed, clean-looking ductwork, dark wood accents, and a lighter feel than that description would allow. Maybe you get breakfast at Estelle if you live in the condos above it (Cheers for loft conversions!) and then later in the day, after your slightly edgy self gets out of your straightlaced moneymaking occupation, decides he needs a class of wine, he stretches his bounds and heads over to Estelle West- I mean, Mr. Estelle- I mean, Noble.

I didn’t get a chance to peek upstairs last night, but photos on the website show the second floor of Noble to be a stunning skylit space, striking white-painted brick walls, the familiar slate blue cushions, and dark-varnished rafters. Noble’s culinary dominance is demonstrated by the exquisitely to-the-point menu. Dani, Tracy and I sampled the chickpea fries and shared the garlicky wilted spinach, the gnocchi, and the veggie burger, with its sour beets and buttery patty. The chickpea fries are the size and shape of frozen mozzarella sticks, an inch square by maybe four inches long; they arrive standing up in a tart tomatoey compote that breaks up the smooth flavor of the chickpea paste, but we were left wanting for another layer of flavor, maybe a salty hard cheese. The gnocchi are also unusual—I had never seen gnocchi that had been toasted, creating two crispy sides on each niblet.

Clearly the name does not do them justice. Admire the glory.

The darkness of the room, each table lit by a tiny candle, creates an intimacy in the open, airy space. The style of the staff is eclectic and tasteful, fresh and hip with a distinctly classic flair; the hostess wore a filmy floral one-piece palazzo pantsuit while the men wore jeans, dress shirts, and vests, and we wondered who the clientele would be. We saw twentysomething rehabilitated former frat boys and a cool-looking pair of middle aged couples on a double date—more diverse and a bit older than the twentysomethings at Estelle, but then again, there is something classically appealing about the younger woman.