29 December, 2010


Walking past the now defunct Spaghetti Warehouse (I was sure that it would be the next ironic place for people to go for cheap drinks, alas) I saw one of them bright orange liquor license placards in the window. The name on the transfer read "Union Transfer LLC." Couldn't find anymore info on teh intertubes, but I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the new owners do something a little more interesting than a family feedbag establishment. Perhaps the building could be restored to its former usage as a farmer's market; or perhaps a brewpub could take advantage of the ample space and high ceilings. Lord knows that Spring Garden east of Broad needs something. Let us pray.

UPDATE: Union Transfer LLC shares a registered address with 4 Corners Management, the company behind such establishments as Lucy's Hat Shop and the assorted Drinkers Taverns. So Spring Garden east of Broad will be getting something ... just probably not something interesting.

16 December, 2010

Tonight: DBBD Firkin at Fork n' Barrel

Holy crap! This collaboration between Dogfish + Del Borgo + Baladin sounds amazing! I'll let the folks from Fork & Barrel tell the rest of the story:
We have one of 5 FIRKINS that came into the country from Italy. This is a special collaboration brew between dogfish head, baladin, and del borgo. It is a sample of what is to come (March) in the brewpub in Manhattan called EATALY. $6 a glass.
Oh and they're also doing a food drive for Philabundance. 
Nice! Now I need to check the bus schedule out to East Falls...

Check out the rest of the details after the jump.

01 December, 2010

Luna di Miele

I was married on October 16th. The next evening my wife (still feels novel to type that word) and I boarded a plane to Rome. We spent two weeks in Italy traveling by train and bus. We ate our way from Rome to Turin (where we somehow survived a seven hours long gorge-fest at Slow Food's Salone del Gusto); from Turin to Bologna; Bologna to Montella (including a marathon lunch prepared by Amanda's relatives); Montella to Abruzzo; and finally from Abruzzo back to Rome. We encountered so much good food/beer/wine/hospitality. Here are some pictures (food/beer/wine related) from our trip. Cheers!

18 November, 2010

Brew Masters of the Universe

A friend sent us a heads up about this new show, Brew Masters, on Discovery Channel. Here's the description from the website:
Join Sam Calagione, craft beer maestro and founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, as he and his partners in suds travel the world searching for exotic ingredients and discovering ancient techniques to produce beers of astounding originality.
Kind of makes it sound like it will be a cross between Ace of Cakes and No Reservations. I'll definitely be tuning in!

Brew Masters premiers this Sunday, November 21 @ 10 PM on the Discovery Channel.

15 November, 2010

Belated Weekend Review


Got in some late season wiffle ball on a glorious Saturday afternoon then biked over to Johnny Brendas for their "Wet Hop Rodeo." Had a Weyerbacher Harvest Ale, a Brewworks Harvest Ale and a Troeg's Wet Hop. Then a drunk girl from the craft beer express knocked our outdoor table over (glasses and all). Check please!

New Job Celebratory Brunch for the Wife at Amis - Buffala ricotta bruschetta, carbonara, raviolo all'uovo. Washed down with a Victory Yakima Glory (Black Double IPA). Not the best choice for a breakfast beer but tasty nonetheless. Then we accepted a random invitation to Mazowsze at the Kimmel, which was described to me as the Polish version of Riverdance - though that is a little unkind to Mazowsze. It was pretty amazing. The show featured colorful costumes, acrobatic dancing and an impressive 15-piece band that played selections of music representing the different regions of Poland . After that we went home and did laundry and cooked Spaghetti all'Amatriciana (because the pork jowl in the carbonara wasn't enough) with guanciale from La Quercia. Num nums.

13 November, 2010

An Open Letter to Fork & Barrel

Dear Fork & Barrel,
I want to live behind your handsome bar. I'll find a dark corner (there are so many thanks to your abhorrence of electric light) and I won't bother anyone. I can even scrape the wax drippings from the many candles off your floor and bar. I think all that wax scraping will leave me with a terrible thirst, so naturally I'll have to have some of your amazing and rare draft selections (Grado Plato Strada Felice, IT; Porterhouse Oyster Stout, IR). And I hope you won't mind if I have some salt potatoes while I'm at it. Those whole roast spuds with the bleu cheese mustard dipping sauce are addictive. Anyway, let me know when I can move in.
Awaiting your reply,
Malachy Egan

Fork & Barrel
4312 Ridge Ave
Philadelphia 19129

09 November, 2010

Khyber Pass Pub Preview

Last night the brothers Egan were fortunate enough to score an invitation to a preview of the Khyber's newest, most southern-fried incarnation. Walking up 2nd St. we saw the old black and white Khyber signage being removed.

Upon entering the newly re-renamed Khyber Pass Pub it appears as though not much has changed. Still the same old beautiful bar with lots of great craft beer tap handles. It's a little cleaner and the bathrooms have (mercifully) been made over and now feature locks and functioning plumbing.

Really, it's when one turns the corner and enters the old performance space that the work that Steve Simons and co. put into the place becomes apparent. The long narrow room features banquettes on both sides and beadboard wainscotting. The formerly flyer'd over windows have been cleaned and the woodwork repainted. The new wood floors and the roughly finished tables looked fantastic in the dimly lit room. The space still feels a bit raw - the tin ceiling may yet get a paint job, some of the light fixtures were not installed - but overall it's remarkably inviting given its prior state. (Check out Mealticket's pictures from last night as they remembered to bring a camera that is not also a phone. Whoopsie Goldberg)

While perusing menus, we snacked on bacon fat popcorn with cajun spices. The glistening popped kernels packed some heat and were well salted. This brown bag snack might rival the truffled version from chef Mark McKinney's sister kitchen at the Royal Tavern.

We tried a few things from the regular menu as well. The fried chicken was far and away the favorite. The salty, crispy skin concealed some incredibly moist, succulent meat, and the collard greens were a surprise hit with a generous amount of smokey bacon. We also tried the gumbo and the fried oysters, which were solid choices.

Needing something sweet to counter all the fried food, we tried three desserts: chocolate pecan bread pudding (a must-have), bourbon-maple creme brulee (as awesome as it sounds) and vegan red velvet cake (a little dry with overly sweet icing).

Some beer highlights from a really interesting and diverse list of taps:
  • Ballast Point "Even Keel" - A generously hopped session ale. Maybe the most memorable beer of the night. Incredible grapefruit/citrus aroma, juicy and herbal (notes of hibiscus) and wonderfully refreshing.
  • Two Brothers "Heavy Handed" - A delicious harvest ale. Hoppy, straw colored with a nice foamy head. A nice counterpoint to the spicy bacon-fat popped kernels.
  • Dock Street "West of Center" - On hand pump. Due to the malt character of this dark brew we mistook this for a bitter; but according to Dock St. it is a ("Not-So") Pale Ale. Great beer for a blustery, rainy Monday.
  • Philadelphia Brewing Co. "Harvest from the Hood" - Neither overly sweet nor hoppy. Well-balanced with a roasted malt character. Possibly the best beer PBC has ever put out.

Overall the Khyber felt like a comfortable extension of the Royal Tavern in appearance, food and vibe. We look forward to trying more of the menu and seeing how the beer program develops.

Thanks to the folks at the Khyber for hosting and treating us.


The Khyber Pass Pub
56 S. Second St.
Philadelphia, PA

08 October, 2010

Night Market Fever

Checked out the Night Market at Tasker and Passyunk. It has been written up here and much hyped throughout the philadelphia food blogoverse. I'm not as down on the outcome as some commenters seem to be. While I definitely think there is room for improvement (serving size, price point, lines, running out of booze/charging too much for booze) there was also so much good to take away from it all. Most impressive: the mass of people what came out on a school night for an event that focused on promoting local food businesses. The walk from the BSL to the Sinatra fountain felt a little like the walk from AT&T Station (nee Pattison) to Citizens Bank Park (minus the corporate sponsorship). One final thought: The Food Trust should make this a regular event. Great European cities have outdoor night markets all year - even through the winter months. We can do it too! Philadelphia obviously wants - NO! NEEDS - more night markets.

07 September, 2010

baking with beer yeast

Martin Lersch at Khymos.org has a cool post on using hefeweizen yeast for bread-baking. It's inspiring me to get back to baking, now that fall is approaching. Martin found that beer yeast didn't change the flavor of the bread in any appreciable way. I think I'll try substituting some fermented beer for the liquid ratios in my next loaf -- I'm thinking rye bread made with our rye pale ale.

02 September, 2010

crawl before you walk

My friend Lou (not Barlow, see infra) and I are doing a little beer-focused bar crawl through Philly tomorrow. I may or may not send twitter updates. Keep an eye on the widget to your right. (Prediction: like this blog, updates will start off strong and then become sleepy.)

If all goes according to plan, we will find ourselves at Johnny Brenda's in time to enjoy the last of their Pils Picnic before heading upstairs for Wye Oak (below, covering the Kinks) and Lou Barlow.

08 August, 2010


At Whole Foods today, I noticed some lovely slabs of fresh pork belly in the butcher's case. Since they rarely carry fresh belly, I took this as an omen that it was time to cure some bacon.

The pork was from Simply Grazin' Farm in Hopewell, NJ. The skin had already been removed and the belly cut into smaller slabs, but the overall quality of the meat and the lean-to-fat ratio looked ideal. (You'll have to take my word for it, because I forgot to snap a photo of the pork after I unwrapped it.)

I used the savory bacon recipe from Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn (a version was published in the NYT a few years ago).

My pantry and garden yielded a few additions to the basic recipe. Pictured above, clockwise from top left, are coriander seed, herbs (thyme, bay leaf, rosemary), black and pink peppercorns, dry cure mixture (kosher salt, sugar and pink salt), garlic and brown sugar.

I toasted the coriander seeds and peppercorns prior to cracking them with a mortar & pestle. The fragrant coriander reminded me of Froot Loops cereal when I cracked the seeds.

After crushing the garlic and tearing up the herbs, I mixed all of the cure ingredients with the pork belly in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag, shaking the bag until the meat was well-coated on all sides.

It will cure in the fridge for the next week or so, at which point I will smoke it over apple or pecan wood. Something to look forward to...

16 July, 2010

Handmade Memphis

i'll be selling some wares at "thee most righteous" memphis taproom's handmade market this saturday from 11am - 3pm. the taproom is located at memphis and cumberland streets in the richmond section of philadelphia. if you've never been they have some awesome food and a great/ever changing beer selection. buy art & drink beer. thats a good proposition for a saturday.
hope to see you there!

12 June, 2010

Go on, you deserve it

You and your liver have been working hard for Beer Week. You should treat yourself to the Three Pigs in Blankets on the Memphis Taproom's brunch menu: hearty pork sausages robed in puff pastry, served with spicy house-made maple mustard. So good.

It don't hurt that their No-Repeat Beer Week is still going strong... beers on today include Lost Abbey Serpent Stout and Coronado Idiot IPA, both worthy pairings with the aforementioned pigs.

21 May, 2010

Rumours and sundries

Amanda and I went to Girard Avenue's Kraftwork for lunch last monday. We happened to sit next to the owner, manager and head chef as they were discussing how to get a 2-bell review out of Laban. Judging on the quality grub we lunched upon I don't think that will be too difficult. The "BL...Trout" was awesome, 'specially if you love rainbow trouts like I do. The Lefthand Polestar Pilsner paired perfectly. ALLITERATION!

For Papa Egan's 65th we went whole hawg and got bbq pulled pork and chicken from Bebe's BBQ in the Italian Market. On Sunday, Austin and I waded through a sea of humanity (also known as the Italian Market Festival) to the 9th St. shop. While we were waiting for our 4 (!) pork shouders and 5 (!) whole chickens (way, way too much for a bunch of yanks but so damned good) we were treated to complimentary pork sandwiches and this delicious tidbit: Bebe's is getting in on the food truck game. They've purchased an old Tastykake truck and are in the process of tricking it out. No word yet on when/where it will be rolling.

Also, we've been steady brewing some damn good beer. We supplied some of our Pale Ale and our Coffee Stout for an event at a local urban farm. The brews went over pretty well and we're hoping to do a couple other parties or events this summer. Next up is a Thai-inspired wit beer. Its our first time adding spices and fruit to the mix. Hope it turns out!

19 May, 2010

A Serious Burger

Resurrection Ale House is justly celebrated for its top-notch beer list and its inspired kitchen. But on a menu full of ambitious bistro fare, the hamburger stands out for its simplicity: a beef patty on a challah bun with pickled red onions and, if you want, Swiss cheese. A generous pile of fries sits alongside, flanked by a ramekin of curry ketchup. Compared to some other burgers around town, this plate is audacious in its austerity. No fancy bacon. No mushrooms. No lettuce or tomato.

And this burger doesn't need any of that stuff. It's so damn good, just as it is. The beef is clearly of high quality, even if Resurrection doesn't brag about its provenance on the menu, and perfectly cooked to order. The cheese adds richness, the bun is pliant but sturdy enough to sop up the juices, and the pickled onion brings the finishing touch of sour depth. The fries are nicely cooked. The curry ketchup -- I need to find a recipe. It's addictive.

With a Lagunitas WTF and Bell's Oarsman to wash down the burger, I was in heaven on my last visit. This is indeed a Serious Burger, worthy of your consideration.

17 April, 2010

16 March, 2010

New brew

Over to the right, we've added a section to the sidebar listing our current beer production. Chronicling our homebrewing was ostensibly the whole inspiration for this blog, but for some reason we haven't written about it much.

Anyway, on Sunday we brewed a 10-gallon batch of a "SMaSH" (single malt and single hop) beer, made with 20 lb. of Crisp Maris Otter 2-row pale malt and 6 ounces of Willamette hops. (Thanks to Suburban Brewing for the idea.) As always, ingredients were purchased from John Reynolds at Brew Your Own Beer.

Original gravity was 1.055 and we are expecting final gravity of 1.013 for 5.6% ABV. I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up higher since we were a little short in our pre-boil volume. We are using White Labs 007 Dry English Ale yeast (reusing the yeast cake from our previous brew), pitched at 64°F. Ambient temperature in my basement is closer to 60°F, so it should be a clean tasting beer without many fruity esters.

We plan to keg and force carbonate this beer, which should be ready for drinking around April 10.

09 March, 2010

All you food bloggers

Bourdain's "Obsession" episode last night: I thought the bit on food bloggers was spot on. Equal parts sardonic bemusement, ironic distance and feigned-reluctant attachment. In other words, classic Bourdain. I know it was one of those cheap compilation episodes but I enjoyed it.

I feel like I oughta be tweeting this. Isn't that what all the kids are doing these days?

08 March, 2010

When things should work but don't work

That's the work of ... the PLCB.*

I don't have a lot to say about the Memphis Taproom/Local 44/Resurrection Ale House raids, that hasn't already been said. You should read what Joe Sixpack said here, what Lew Bryson said here and what Bryan Kolesar said here. And, of course, I can't forget the estimable Mr. Jack Curtin's Liquid Diet post on the topic.

So in case all, like, 19 of you haven't heard about this already -- check out those links above, and revel in the glory of Pennsylvania's Kafka-esque bureaucracy.

If you read this Brog you know that we are big fans of what Brendan & Leigh are doing at their bars. Although we don't know Brendan & Leigh except as satisfied customers of their fine establishments, we wish them the best.

* Apologies to the Evens

04 March, 2010

Meet me in Manhattan

What does one drink when he come homes from work and there's no cold beer in the fridge?

Jim Beam Rye, Tribuno vermouth, Angostura bitters, twist of lemon.

I would be much obliged if you, gentle reader, would submit recommendations for rye and vermouth in the comments, for I am new to this drink.

01 March, 2010

Pinocchio's Beer Garden

Our friend Geoff sends word of a new bottle shop in Media, PA, boasting over 500 varieties of beer. Pinocchio's Beer Garden boasts labels such as Abita, Affligem, Allagash and Avery -- and that's just the A's!

Located on Baltimore Pike in Media, it's on my way home from work and dangerously close to Zac's Hamburgers. Looking forward to checking it out.

Pinocchio's Beer Garden
131 E. Baltimore Pike
Media, PA 19063

27 February, 2010

Two Things. Things that are books. Two Books.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson

Two great books by Swedes to enjoy in this, our most Nordic of winters.

Actually, technically Tove Jansson was a Swedish-speaking Finn. She's also the creator of those awesome Moomin characters. The True Deceiver is a short but engaging work about art, the creative process and basic human interaction. Jansson creates an incredible amount of tension with very little. Read this book now, while there's still snow on the ground.

Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo similarly ratchets up the tension but in more of a noir-ish detective novel style. I won't ruin anything of the plot for you. Suffice it to say that I've already read the sequel The Girl Who Played with Fire and hope my fiancee quickly finishes the third and last installment (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) soon. Also, it made me want to drink endless cups of coffee and eat lots of sandwiches. But what doesn't?

I learned of both these books on the awesome radio show "This is the Modern World" with Trouble on thee most essential WFMU. Check it out sometime. You will be rewarded with great recommendations and, also, bird sounds.


05 February, 2010

What We're Reading: The Big Machine

This post from Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic is only tangentially related to food (specifically food systems and obesity), but like most of his writing, it's well worth reading.

03 February, 2010

Catching up

Autumnal hiatus turned into winter break. It's snowed a bunch of times since we posted anything here.

We've been thinking that the tag line above --on the brewing, drinking and culture of beer-- is too limiting for the things we want to talk about. Not just beer, but food, wine, pop culture, music and so on. So we're working on some changes that will hopefully open things up a bit creatively, and get us posting more than once a quarter. More to come on that soon. We've also added comment moderation because we've been getting some spam.

That said, we've been brewing some pretty great beer recently. We brewed a Belgian dubbel in October that was ready for Christmas, but tasted pretty rough -- lots of alcohol heat without much body. It's smoothed out nicely in the last few weeks as the malt has come forward. It should taste even better in another month or two.

Our last beer was a rye IPA, pictured above. We clogged up our plate chiller on brew day and I was afraid the resulting emergency measures would compromise the beer. But it turned out great, with a huge nose from being dry-hopped with several ounces of Amarillo.

My one problem with both of these beers is lack of body, which I think is due to not hitting the right mash temperatures. I'd been using a cheap remote thermometer, and it's probably just not accurate enough for brewing. So that should be an easy fix.

We'll be drinking the dubbel and rye on Sunday, as we get together with friends to play music in the afternoon before cooking up some great food and retiring to watch the Superbowl. This has become a bit of a tradition the last few years and we'll document the proceedings here.

Here's to a new year of brewing, drinking and eating well.