Posts Tagged ‘short ribs’

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.”

Lunch with the Mavens: Celebrating New Beginnings

January 30, 2010

For the second time in my life, I am part of an all-female workforce. Sure, we share our office with a male-dominated company, but we have our own separate culture and I like to think that it features Girl Power. So when Kate, Sarah, and I sat down at Village Whiskey today, I couldn’t help but notice that, in this bar where every stool was taken and every booth filled—we were the only women. Naturally, this had no effect on our good time.

I love starting at a new job because there are endless possibilities. You haven’t locked in a routine yet, and everything is new, interesting and fresh. This summer, the attorney I worked for asked me to read a pile of leases and then asked me how I liked it. I loved it! I had so much fun! She raised an eyebrow and informed me that clearly I had not been doing what I was told to do and that I should get back to work.

There are the new people to meet, with brains to pick that you haven’t ever seen before, new norms to get used to, new tasks that will someday seem mundane. But not today. Today, Village Whiskey, and Sarah and Kate, were all still pretty new to me.

Dish Thirteen: Short Rib and Cheddar Fries at Village Whiskey, 20th and Sansom, http://www.villagewhiskey.com/

I love Village Whiskey’s little square white tiles, intimate booths, worn mirrors, and eclectic music. The menu was interesting, soul food with a twist. The fries would have been incredible on their own, fried long for a deep crunchy crisp, but the heaps of tender, flavorful meat and melted cheddar put them over the edge. I couldn’t help myself from finishing almost a third of the plate (why does the gym close early on Fridays, cruel world?) before begging my comrades for help. Kate had the pickled beets, which were sweet and tangy, with a salty, complex olive tapenade, and Sarah’s burger with egg, while slippery and difficult to eat, was well worth the effort, with a tart, vinegary undertone that was really pleasant. It was the perfect warm, filling lunch for a Friday afternoon to celebrate new beginnings.