Short Ribs and Shiraz Dinner

Normally, I would be writing a restaurant review. It’s been several months since I have posted an original recipe of my own. Because my fiancé and I have a wedding to save for, you will be seeing many more home prepared meals on my blog. This meal is a simple, Korean-Asian style dinner, with a little bit of spice.

We bought the short ribs from our favorite meat and poultry vendor, Giunta’s Prime Shop. Located inside the historic Reading Terminal Market, the staff are super friendly, and have an amazing selection of meats, pork and poultry.

Once we got home, we prepped and marinated the meat for three days. The marinade consisted of salt, white pepper, Allepo pepper, dill weed, paprika, smoked paprika, chopped serrano peppers, chopped garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mirin sauce, dark soy sauce and teriyaki sauce.

When we finally were ready to cook the meat, we used our cast iron grill pan. It gave it a wonderful sear on the outer part of the meat, but we kept the inner temperature at medium rare. For our side dish, we had snap peas. We used the sauce leftover from the marinade to cook the peas. Everything was delicious, if I do say so myself.

With a good meal like this, you need a good wine. Luckily, we had the perfect wine. It was a 2017 Shiraz from Rose Ridge Winery, located in Riverina, Australia. How did we come across this particular wine? Glad you asked.

A few weeks earlier, we went to a wine and chocolate event. There were dozens of vendors giving out samples of various wines, ports, chocolates and desserts. One of the best wines we tried was this Shiraz from Direct Cellars. We also got to meet their wonderful representative, Meredith Magoon. She was so nice and told us more about Direct Cellars. They are a wine club that deliver top notch wines to you every month. The difference with them, is that they find wines that you can’t find in your local state store. This way, you will experience something new every month. Other great perks include their replacement bottle guarantee, and customers can earn free wine. Please visit the link above to find out more.

We met up with Meredith again a few weeks later for lunch. We talked more about Direct Cellars wine, food, and of course, more wine. She also teaches yoga to small groups. So if you’re looking for a good yoga instructor, and want to enjoy some great wines afterwards, be sure to look her up on her Instagram account.

Our wonderful Korean short rib dinner was everything that we hoped it would be. It had the Asian taste we wanted, and the Shiraz paired perfectly with it. The wine had a nice dark color, and a bold, spicy taste. I’m so glad we met Meredith and stayed in touch! We’ve only tried the one wine from her and Direct Cellars, but so far, they really delivered. I can’t wait to see what they have next.

 

 

 

Cellar Tasting and Dinner at the Rittenhouse Hotel

This past Sunday, the Rittenhouse Hotel hosted a wonderful wine tasting in their beautiful ballroom. Guests got a chance to savor wines from over 50 vineyards. We did our best to try them all, but in the end, we fell short. Overall, the wines we did sample were very good. Some of our favorites were a couple of 1995 Poco do Lobo wines from Portugal, and Moet champagne.

The hotel also provided plenty of bottled water, and a nice charcuterie spread with various cheeses, fruits, breads and crackers. It was a great respite when one needed a wine timeout! Patron tequila was also represented, and their margarita was amazing. We also tried their Reposedo tequila neat, and it was so good. It had a smooth, smoky, grassy finish. This was one tequila that I could drink straight.

After the wine tasting, we headed over to the hotel’s restaurant, Lacroix, for a incredible dinner. Since we had reached our wine limit for the evening, I ordered a Kir Royale cocktail, and Eric enjoyed his Patron margarita so much that he got another with dinner. We started with oysters on the half shell that were delicious. They were cleaned and shucked perfectly.

We next ordered the ceviche, that was made with orange, carrot, kohlrabi, and mint. It was so light, flavorful, and a fantastic mix of color and freshness. I ordered their soup of the day, which was a cream of rutabaga. It was amazing. It had a perfect creamy consistency, and was seasoned beautifully.

For our entrees, I ordered there steak frites, which was a beef filet, and served with bordelaise sauce and pomme puree. This may have been the best steak I have ever had, and I have had some really excellent steaks. It was cooked a perfect medium rare. The sauce and pomme puree were the perfect accompaniments to this wonderful steak. Eric ordered the scallops, served with Spanish octopus, chickpeas and crispy rice. It was amazing. The scallops had a wonderful sear, and they were cooked textbook perfect. Both entrees were simply stunning, and this may have been one of the best dinners we have ever had.

Since it was my birthday, we kept it light, but ordered the pear panna cotta. It was served with an apple compote, vanilla, and poppy seed. It was delicious. As an added surprise, the restaurant brought out for me a wonderful treat, with “happy birthday” written in chocolate.

If you ever get a chance, you must go to Lacroix for dinner. The food was absolutely amazing. The service and attention to detail is among the best in the city. Everyone was so pleasant and friendly. It’s one of the reasons why the Rittenhouse Hotel is one of our favorite spots for food and cocktails. They also have live jazz music downstairs outside their other bar, the Library Bar. Make sure you read my articles about the Rittenhouse!

 

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company: Speakeasy and Mezcal!

If you are a fan of speakeasy bars, The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company is a place you need to check out. The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company was a front for America’s largest alcohol running ring during prohibition. Alcohol is alive and well here, and the cocktails are among the most creative and delicious you will find anywhere in the city.

This place is a personal favorite of ours. The low lighting, candlelit tables, excellent service, and amazing cocktails are reason enough to love this place. We were here last week because they were launching a pretty big event. The speakeasy bar in located on the lower level the building. The upper level used to be a tiki bar but it’s now a mezcal bar!

If you have never tasted mezcal, you don’t know what you are missing. It’s different from  tequila in many ways. Most noticeable is the taste. It has a much more smokey taste. But more on this later. We arrived about an hour before the mezcal bar opened, so we had to wait at the speakeasy bar. I know. Poor us. Seriously though, this place is now the best of both worlds!

Eric commented that he felt that he died and went to heaven. We love speakeasy’s, and now there is a mezcal bar as well. I see what he meant! I started by ordering a drink similar to the Minutiae, but with the flavor of lemon meringue. It is a particular favorite of our bartender Chris. This drink was absolutely delicious and light. Eric ordered, “Ain’t Even Olde Timey”, which is made with calvados, cognac, amaro abate, allspice, lemon, ginger, and a whole egg. It was wonderful and was the perfect cocktail to order on a chilly night. The cognac, allspice and ginger reminded us of the holidays.

We still had time to kill, so we ordered another round of drinks. I got “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, which was made with Nutella washed Rittenhouse rye, averna and Grand Marnier. Eric ordered “Daddy’s Medicine”, which was made with angostura, rye, benedictine, lemon and ginger. Once again, both drinks were fantastic. Who would have ever thought to wash rye with Nutella? The creativity level of the cocktails at the Franklin Bar is really amazing. Well, it was finally a little past six o’clock, so it was time to head up to the mezcal bar!

Their mezcal bar is still a work in progress, but it’s progressing nicely. The space is much smaller than the speakeasy but it’s still cozy and quaint. There were still tiki decorations throughout but the staff assured us that they were coming down in the next week. While remnants of a tiki bar remained in the decor, the menu was anything but. It was all mezcal and it was beautiful. At the time we were there, they had around 30 or so mezcals available, but they were hoping to increase that to round 70 over the next few weeks.

We started off by ordering the “Sadaukar”, which was made with Espadin mezcal, abano, averna and Jamaican jerk bitters, and “Whispers of the Old Gods”, made with Espadin mezcal, green chartreuse, Dolin blanc, lime and egg white. Both drinks were delicious. We just loved the smoky flavor of both. They were well balanced and so full of spice and flavor.

During the Franklin Bar’s mezcal bar launch, they were offering free food that paired perfectly with the drinks. We ordered the street style fruit plate, that consisted of watermelon, mango, papaya, cucumber with salt, lime and chili. We also tried their guacamole, that was made with avocado, chicharron, lime, salt and salsas on a fresh tortilla. Finally, we tried the Mexican street corn, made with fresh corn, Mexican crema, lime, cojita cheese and chili. All the food we tried was delicious. We really loved the street corn! The sweetness of the corn, mixed with the crema, lime and chili was so good. I have a feeling that this dish will be their most popular one.

We decided to order one more round of drinks before calling it a night. We got the “Oaxacan Old Fashioned”, and the “Mexican Firing Squad”. The old fashioned was made with Espadin mezcal, blanco tequila, demerara and mole. It was smooth and smoky, and the mole just elevated the flavor. The firing squad, was made with Espadin mezcal, blanco tequila, lime, pomegranate and molasses. It was fantastic. The sweetness of the pomegranate and molasses just balanced the smoky flavor of the mezcal and tequila perfectly. I loved it!

If you love mezcal and tequila like we do, you have to visit the Franklin Bar and give them a try. Just like the cocktails downstairs in the speakeasy, the mezcal drinks are just as creative, and just as delicious. We now have the best of both worlds in one place. Thank you Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company!

Giuseppe and Sons: Authentic Italy on a plate!

It’s always exciting to try a new restaurant. We have heard so many good things about Giuseppe and Sons, so we were happy to finally be going. It was a visit long overdue. The restaurant has two floors. The top floor, which is at street level, is where you can go have a casual lunch, and buy a cannoli or two. But not just any cannoli. A world famous Termini Brothers cannoli. More about that later.

We went downstairs to their stunning, more formal dining room. The downstairs restaurant is big and roomy, but has that speakeasy flair to it. The low lighting and decor just add to the charm. It’s cozy and relaxing. We easily spent about two hours eating dinner, and we didn’t want to leave.

The dinner menu is fantastic. The pasta, cheeses and breads are made fresh daily, and it shows when you taste them. We decided to order the chef’s tasting, which consisted of several plates. You may come here hungry, but you won’t leave hungry! We started with the arancini and buffalo mozzarella for our appetizers. Both were delicious! The arancini was lightly breaded and fried, and cooked perfectly. The tomato sauce was to die for. It was amazing. The buffalo mozzarella was so smooth and creamy. It just melted in your mouth.

Our next course was their caesar salad. It was simple, classic, and perfect. It had just the right amount of dressing and croutons. We also ordered a side dish of roasted peppers. It was fantastic. It was served with olive oil, lemon, and roasted garlic. The roasted garlic was cooked to perfection and acted like a paste that we smoothed over the peppers. It was awesome!

Next up was pasta! We ordered the linguine and clams in a red sauce. It was served with garlic and parsley. It was so good! The pasta was cooked perfectly. The clams were steamed perfectly. This was one of the best pasta dishes we’ve ever had. The flavor of the clams and clam juice, mixed with the red sauce and pasta was delicious. It was old world Italy on a plate. It made me feel like I was eating at a seaside resort. To compliment our wonderful food, we decided to get a full carafe of wine. The wine was delicious. It went perfectly will all our food, and it was offered at a great price.

Our two entrees were the chicken milanese and the veal cheeks saltimbocca. Once again, both dishes were simply amazing. The chicken was pounded thin, and topped with chopped tomatoes, basil, and red onion. The combination of flavor was wonderful. The veal cheeks were wrapped in prosciutto, and served with veal jus. Folks, let me tell you. This was absolutely delicious! The cheeks were so rich in flavor, and the prosciutto added a little bit of salt to balance the taste. It was stunning.

Last, but certainly not least, was dessert. We split a wonderful Termini Brothers cannoli. If you are from Philadelphia, you know what I’m talking about. If you are not, let me just say that the Termini Brothers are an institution. They have been around since 1921, and their desserts, pastries, and cannoli’s are the best in town. Giuseppe and Sons restaurant is a collaboration between Termini Brothers, Michael Schulson and his wife, Nina Tinari. Schulson and Tinari also own several other restaurants in Philadelphia.

I am fully convinced that it is impossible to have a bad meal here, and that’s just after one visit. The food was fantastic. It was fresh, homemade, authentic Italian cuisine. The staff were super friendly, and our server, Selena, made us feel so welcome. Giuseppe and Sons is definitely on our “Best of Philadelphia” list. I highly recommend you give them a try. We will definitely be back!

 

 

 

Art in the Age: Bartender takeover with Nathan Weigert

Art in the Age is a wonderful home bar supply shop, that also has a tasting room in the back of the store. When you walk in, it is a feast for the senses. There are unique spirits and bitters everywhere. If they don’t have what you are looking for, it probably doesn’t exist. They also provide educational workshops, tastings, and home mixology training.

Speaking of tastings, just a few days ago, Art in the Age opened their doors, and bar, to one of the best mixologists in the city, Nathan Weigert. It was part of their January wellness drink focus. Nowadays, there are so many pre-made mixes for cocktails to make our lives easier and simpler. But honestly, you’re really not saving that much time and money. It isn’t that difficult to use all natural ingredients when mixing cocktails. Trust me when I say, you will taste the difference. Nathan showed us this evening, how easy it was to use real flavors, and what nutriments came with these flavors. Who could turn down healthy cocktails?

The event was free, all you needed to do was RSVP. You paid for whatever you had to drink. There were four delicious cocktails on the menu, all created by Nathan. We tried all of them and they were fantastic. My favorite was the Antioxmo, or Antioxidant Cosmopolitan. It was made with goji-infused Powderhorn Vodka, Von Humboldt’s Tamarind Cordial, lime, pomegranate (sweetened with pomegranate molasses), and macerated goji berry garnish. It was so good! It takes the cosmo to another level. The goji berries and pomegranate just intensified the flavors. It will be hard to drink a regular cosmo again.

Eric started with the Stonefruit Sour. It was made with Kinsey Bourbon, AITA Apricot Rye Whiskey, lemon, peach, almond milk, honey syrup, and dried apricot garnish. This was his favorite. The bourbon and apricot rye whiskey kept the drink perfectly balanced. It was delicious. You see the ingredient list? It’s not that difficult to make, and it’s good for you!

The other two cocktails were equally delicious, and were packed with nutrients that are good for you. There was the Snappy Gin Fizz that was made with Tamworth Garden Gin, a pea/arugula/mint puree, lemon, ripple pea milk, aquafaba, soda, and a snap pea garnish. It was so good. Never hear of ripple pea milk? Neither had we. Nathan told us you can find it at Whole Foods, and you could use it in a variety of cocktails, like a milk punch for instance.

For you Kentucky Derby fans, he also created a Green Julep. It was made with rye, green apple, celery, lemon, honey syrup, cinnamon, and a celery green garnish. This really spoiled us when it comes to julep’s. We would love to be drinking these come derby day! And you know what, why can’t we? Again, the ingredients are simple and can be found at any grocery store. We’ll give it a shot and let you know how they turned out.

Simple, nutritious, and flavor were the themes of the evening, and Nathan hit it out of the park. All his drinks were amazing. He truly loves what he does, and it shows in his cocktails. He is also super friendly! No matter how busy it got, he was always checking on the patrons, asking how they liked their drinks.

We care so much today about the food we eat, we should also care about the cocktails we drink. If you’re one of those that purchases pre-made mixes and powders, please stop! Yes, they are quick and easy, but full of chemicals and preservatives. Take another look at the ingredients Nathan used in his cocktails. They are not that hard to get, and the cocktails are not that hard to make. Don’t be intimidated when making cocktails. Experiment, but most of all, have fun. It might take you a few minutes longer to make a drink with all natural ingredients, but your body, tastebuds, and friends will thank you for it.

 

 

Porta: Hello and goodbye

It had been awhile since we had dined at one of our favorite restaurants in Center City, Porta. They are known for their Neopolitian pizzas, and they are delicious. The pizza ovens were built and imported from Naples, and trust me when I say, you can taste the difference. The ovens cook at a much higher temperature so the pizzas cook much faster.

I highly suggest you go during their happy hour, which starts at 4pm, if you are sitting at one of the bars. Yes, they have two wonderful bars. We like sitting at the smaller bar that you will see when you first walk in. It just seems cozier, and more quant to us. They always have four featured cocktails on the happy hour menu, and wonderful food specials. They include, a meatball slider, fried polenta, fried mozzarella, and a “Many Thanks” slider. All of the happy hour food specials are delicious. You will absolutely fall in love with their mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, which are home-made everyday.

I started with one of the cocktail specials, the “Song of Solomon”. It is made with Bulleit rye, vanilla syrup, lemon juice, fig puree, black pepper, and a lemon twist. It was fantastic. Such a complex, yet wonderful compliment of flavors that just worked so well together. Eric ordered the “Family Orchard”. It was made with Sailor Jerry spiced rum, Applejack, mulled syrup, apple butter, and black walnut bitters. It was so good! The perfect cocktail for a chilly winter evening.

Our good friend and general manager, Taylor, told us of a new appetizer item that we had to try. It was their acorn squash, which was fire roasted, and served with house made ricotta, Calabrian chile honey, extra virgin olive oil, and ciabatta. Folks, this was beyond amazing! It was absolutely delicious. We ate the entire squash, skin and all. The honey and ricotta tasted so good with the acorn squash. When you go to Porta, this is a must. Thank you Taylor for treating us to this wonderful appetizer!

We decided to try something new that we hadn’t had before, the filet mignon carpaccio. The dish consists of thinly sliced filet mignon, arugula, Piave, and cracked black pepper. It’s simple, light, and fantastic. The filet mignon is placed on top of the arugula. You get the the bitterness of the arugula, the wonderful texture of the filet, and the taste of the Piave cheese all together. It is delicious.

When at Porta, you have to order a pizza. We got our favorite, the “Italian Stallion”. It’s made with San Marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, gorgonzola, house-made Italian sausage, and long hots. Do you see why it’s one of our favorites? It has the right amount of heat and flavor. It’s a pizza you definitely have to try.

Along with our wonderful pizza, we ordered two more cocktails. I got the “Queen Nadine”, which is made with Bulleit rye or Bombay Sapphire gin, Fernet Branca, blood orange juice, and powdered sugar. Eric ordered “What Time Is It Now”, which was made with Hudson Baby bourbon, ginger liqueur, pear puree, agave, thyme, and candied ginger. Both drinks were amazing. We love how creative the cocktails are at Porta. They put a lot of time and effort into them and it really shows.

Unknowingly, this was a bittersweet visit to Porta. We learned from Taylor that she was transferring to Porta’s North New Jersey restaurant in a couple of weeks. We were so sad to hear she was leaving but also very happy for her. She’s from that area and was looking forward to going home. She has done an incredible job at the Philadelphia location, and we have no doubt that she will be just as successful, if not more, in her new endeavor. We promised that we’d take a trip up there and see her. Good luck Taylor! We’ll miss you!

 

 

Criollo-Leaving New Orleans with a bang!

The day we dreaded was finally here. It was time to go home. But, we were determined to have one more incredible breakfast before leaving. It was recommended to us to try Criollo, located inside the Hotel Monteleone, which also houses the Carousel Bar. The breakfast’s that we have had so far have been nothing short of hearty and filling. This one was no different. It was excellent.

The restaurant is beautiful. When you walk in, it’s open and spacious. We were warmly greeted, and seated right away. Eric ordered a mimosa and I ordered the Bloody Mary. Both were delicious. My Bloody Mary was spicy and very flavorful. We’ve noticed that in New Orleans, Bloody Mary cocktails come with fried okra. It’s something you don’t see here in Philadelphia.

For our entrees, I ordered the Criollo omelet, which had andouille sausage, asparagus, and provolone. Eric ordered the same omelet but with wild mushrooms, manchego, and andouille sausage. When the plates came out, we were amazed how big the portions were. They don’t skimp on food here! Both were absolutely delicious. They also came with a croissant and a side of breakfast potatoes. Neither of us could finish our plates! Our server, Edna, was so nice. She has been working at the restaurant for 30 years. Actually, everyone on staff here were extremely nice. That’s one thing we miss about New Orleans, how pleasant, friendly, and outgoing everyone we met were.

Breakfast was wonderful, but it was time to head back to our hotel, collect our bags, and head to the airport. This was one of the best trips we have ever taken. The food, cocktails, shops, and people, especially the people, were amazing. If you want a great vacation that is inexpensive, has perfect weather, great food, great drinks, and the people are the nicest you will ever meet, then go to the French Quarter. We can’t wait to go back!