Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bacon Sundae at Denny's

Even I don't think this is a good idea. Now I love me some bacon (especially the Amish bacon from Almanac) , and most pork products in general, but this has gone too far. Homer might be the only one that could handle this pile of calories in a glass - along with a portion of states below the mason dixon.

The Wendy's Baconator was the first step.

Then KFC went Doubledown on your ass and raised the bar to near cardiac arrest levels.

And now the Maple Bacon Sundae from Denny's puts all others to shame.  The description alone makes you want to go to the gym.

"Bacon makes a classic ice cream sundae even more awesome.  We start with maple flavored syrup, and a scoop of rich, creamy vanilla ice cream and then a generous sprinkle of our diced hickory-smoked bacon.  Add another sweet layer of syrup and vanilla ice cream topped with even more bacon and a drizzle of syrup."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Ever just get a hankering for mom's roast chicken? Did your mom never serve roast chicken? Sucks for you, because it's pretty much the best Sunday night meal ever. The weather is starting turn towards spring, but it's still chilly out there and the thought of roasted chicken and veggies filling the house with deliciousness was too much for me to say no to. So out to the suburbs and Wegman's for a roaster chicken and root vegetables for Sunday night dinner. 

I lifted this recipe from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) on the Food Network site. It's simple as can be, and comes out with golden brown crispy skin and juicy meat inside. As long as you are not shy about sticking your hand into a raw chicken (wash your hands well) this is a really easy meal to make that will impress your significant other, and anyone else that happens to be over for dinner. The best part is it only costs about $10 to make - $5 for the chicken, plus a few veggies, thyme & lemons. Enjoy! 

Roast Chicken


  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
  • lemon, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
  • Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.
Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Modo Mio

Thursday night was our semi-annual trip back to Modo Mio, where it all started. I took the fiancée there for our first date over three years ago.

We always go with the menu turista, and why not?  For $34 a person, you get an appetizer, pasta, secondi, and dessert. This is what restaurant week is supposed to be. This isn't a Steven Starr restaurant - people come for the food, not the "experience" or to be seen. The interior is sparsely decorated, but it's always busy, so make a reservation a few weeks ahead of time. They offer a Sunday pix-fixe (called Sugo Sunday) that might be our next visit. No menu, just lots of good hearty southern Italian food.

The waitstaff is incredibly well versed in the menu and always friendly. We've gotten the same server a few times now, and most have been there for a few years. No rookies here.

Forgot to bring the camera, so no pictures for this post. You'll have to just believe me that the food is this good. They also just updated the menu, so most of what we got isn't in the online version posted at their website.

The first taste was a chicken liver pate brucshetta with golden raisins that melted in your mouth and had a great balance of sweet raisins and earthy pungent chicken liver. The house baked bread is crusty on the outside and sweet and chewy in the middle. Served with seasoned olive oil and a dollop of sweet creamy butter that is a notion of what's to come.

Appetizers were a perfectly seared scallop that was oh so tender inside on top of braised short rib shreds and porcini with an intensely flavored reduction sauce. I had the crab & ricotta cake, topped with roasted sweet rep peppers and shredded pecorino. You wouldn't immediately think of crab and ricotta being a good mix, but the salt and creaminess of the ricotta goes great with flaky hunks of crab meat.

Next up was the pastas. They've updated the gnocchi with porcini mushrooms, peas and gorgonzola cream that was filling yet light enough to remind you that spring is here (despite the temperature outside). I got the fresh fettucini with shrimp, chick peas and spicy red sauce. This is also new to the menu. The fettucini noodles were house made and fantastic. The shrimp and chick peas were a great addition and the sauce was tasty, but kind of watery. This might have been the only misstep of the whole meal.

For our mains, she got the seared skirt steak with olives and mozzarella. Cooked perfectly, with a great contrast of flavor offered by the salty/briny olives and the rich mozzarella. I went for the braised veal cheek with shaved parmesan, fried egg & cauliflower that was heaven on a plate. The richness and fat of the veal cheek against the fried egg and parmesan is something to experience, not just taste. You might get emotional.

Dessert was tiramisu and a flourless choclake cake with mint pesto. We each loved ours - she the chocolate and me the tiramisu. I like chocolate, but usually prefer something more savory like cheesecake. The little morsel of chocolate cake was dense and rich though, and the mint pesto is one of the strangest and best additions I've seen on a dessert plate. It was like eating a girl scout thin mint, but you can't keep this in the freezer - or can you?

Free shots of sambuca cap off your meal. But no need to rush. They have a full espresso and coffee menu as well. We've never been encouraged to hustle out the door as you are at some other BYO's in the city. Just another reason that we keep coming back to where it all started. I was lucky enough to get a kiss after dinner that night, and it's been getting better ever since - her and Modo Mio.

Modo Mio
161 West Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19123
BYO.  Cash Only.
Tues-Saturday 5pm-10pm 
Sugo Sunday 4pm-8pm

Food Baby Rating: Twins!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dapper Dog - Shot Down

After the first bite of the reuben dog a few weeks ago, I have become an instant fan and supporter of the Dapper Dog cart, located in NoLibs at 2nd on Poplar. They are only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30 to 2:30ish, but that is prime time for what they are serving.

Back to that reuben dog - think of the best hot dog you've ever had, grilled on a flat top then topped with saurkraut, pastrami and russian dressing. Good. God. I'm sure the extra beers I had that night helped things, but that was probably the best dog I've ever had. The reuben was the special that night, but they also have some staples on the menu that I am looking forward to checking out soon.

Chicago - Topped with chopped onions, tomatoes, yellow mustard, peppers, and a pickle spear
Coney Island - Topped with chili, banana peppers, and shredded cheddar cheese
The Mack - Macaroni and cheese.  On the hot dog.  No kidding. 

They also advertise on the website that after 2am, you can get anything on a sandwich for $5. Imagine the possibilities that you're inebriated medulaa oblongata can come up with.

But now The Man is coming down on the Dapper Dog, saying that they can no longer be open past midnight. There is apparently a city ordinance that says vending carts can't be open between 12am-7am. This is not only ridiculous, but an insult to the institution of drunk food.

Please support Dapper Dog and show them you're love.  They will be open this weekend, but only till midnight.  Sign their petition.  Email Councilman Dicicco.  Let's get all democratic on this.  


A posting from their facebook page reads:

"The dapper dog will be open from 6pm till 12am friday & sat and we will have a petition please come out and support us." 
"If you would like the Dapper Dog to be opne past 12am fri & Sat voice your opinion to Frank DiCiccio."
OFFICE: (215) 686-3458

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fathom Seafood

The most anticipated thing to hit Girard Ave since the new Pathmark on second street (is that not open yet??), Fathom Seafood opened it's doors just a few weeks ago across the street from Johnny Brenda's. This is the newest addition from the unofficial fish monger of Philadelphia, Mike Stollenwork, who also runs Fish and Little Fish, so expectations are high.

More bar than restaurant, Fathom squeezes just over a half dozen tables around the main bar, which itself takes up more than half the square footage in the place. The tables are sizable four-tops though, made of thick marble or granite of some kind, and have comfy captain's chairs that make you feel like you're in command. The tables need to be big, because the menu setup means you're going to be ordering lots of dishes that need the real estate. Not quite small plates, but also not entrées, the menu at Fathom is definitely geared towards socializing with a few friends, having some drinks and sharing dishes. Calling it seafood tapas would be selling it short though.

The bar features a well thought selection of draft beers, aluminum & glass, along with some good specialty cocktails - the Salty Dog, which was basically a margarita with gin in place of the tequila, was a nice special.  The raw bar is stocked with clams, lobster, crab and tasty tasty oysters. We got a dozen for the table, 6 east coast and 6 west coast. That night the west coast were hamahama from Washington state with a great tangy briny flavor, perfectly shucked and ready to knock back.

On to the main dishes - we were celebrating a dear friend's birthday, so we decided to indulge a bit and order about half the menu. They bring out the dishes as their ready, so be prepared for the onslaught and be ready to eat. Cod pierogies with bacon and brown butter were first out of the chute, and although they sound a bit strange they were one of the best items on the menu. Huge chunks of perfectly rendered bacon gave the flaky cod inside the pierogies an excellent compliment. Fathom fries were a take on poutine, plus the addition of some flaky crab meat - the boys liked it, the girls not so much. The fried crab louie was another dish that was split down the gender lines. We liked the fried hunk of crab meat with the spicy chile mayo, but the ladies had other favorites.

The crab cake sandwich was definitely a hit. Big hunks of crab, broiled to perfection, on a nice soft potato roll hit all the right notes. Fried oysters were cooked pefectly, not a bit chewy and served with horseradish cream for a little bit of a slap in the mouth. The only item that didn't do it for anyone was the Jonah Crab Claws. The claws are served in a bowl, with butter sauce at the bottom, each at least an inch in diameter. From the outside they looked great, but the crab meat inside had a weird texture and didn't taste like something you see brought up on the Deadliest Catch.

By far the best thing on the menu was the lobster grilled cheese. Sandwiched between crunchy golden slices of sourdough and melty fontina cheese, this thing is worth the trip all on it's own. Also surprisingly good was the smoked marlin tacos with crispy onions and pickled jalapeño's. You could definitely taste the smokiness come through, and a dash of hot sauce brought it all together.  To finish up and put us over the edge we went with our servers recommendation on dessert and got the home made whoopie pies. Wow. Chocolaty sponge cake with fresh whipped cream inside makes for the ideal ending to such an epic meal.

Fathom is not a fine dining establishment, or even restaurant for that matter. It is a good neighborhood bar with an outstanding menu of fresh and tasty seafood items. I could do without the flat screens showing CNN over the bar, but I'm willing to overlook that for what the kitchen is putting out. Being only a 10 min walk from NoLibs, we will definitely be putting in our time at the helm. Yaaaargh!

Fathom Seafood House

200 E. Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125

FoodBaby Rating:  Triplets!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

$6 Pizza

We eat quite a bit of pizza. Generally not the stuff you get from a roving truck in Fishtown, but more of the good thin crust style that Philly is quickly becoming saturated with. Zavino, Stella & Tacconelli's are three of my favorites. Sometimes though it's nice to just make pizza at home for an easy and cheap dinner and not spend the $18 that these places charge for a pie. I present to you the $6 pizza, made at home in 20 mins. 

Conveniently enough, most supermarkets sell their own store made dough now - I picked up ours at Genuardi's for $1.90. Veggie toppings should run you no more than a dollar or two. We used mozzarella & goat cheese (because we put goat cheese on pretty much everything), and both are readily available and cheap. 

To make the best pizza, you're going to need a few pieces of equipment. First is a good wooden pizza paddle. We just got one a few months ago, and I don't know how we ever made pizzas without it. Next you should get yourself a good pizza stone. Don't ever use soap on this - it'll leave a funky taste of Dawn detergent on your next pie. A good pizza cutter is also helpful - check out the one I got for christmas from the fiancée! It's a little circular saw!  

Toppings for this weeks pizza included onion and yellow peppers sauteed in a little olive oil with some garlic and salt & pepper. You want to get the onions just barely translucent. Don't put the garlic in too early or it will burn. Pull the pan off the heat once the onions and peppers are done and allow them to cool.

Get your oven screaming hot - 500° or as high as yours will go. Place your pizza stone in the bottom third of the oven.  

Sprinkle your pizza paddle with a little corn meal, and spread out the dough. Use your fingers to work out any air bubbles (unless you like pizza blisters). Brush a little olive oil on the dough and sprinkle with some garlic powder. Add your sauce and toppings - along with the onions and peppers, we used mozzarella and some fresh goat cheese we picked up from Almanac market on 4th & Poplar (absolutely love that place - best cheese counter in NoLibs).  

Slide the pizza off the paddle (the cornmeal helps it from sticking) and right onto the hot pizza stone.  Bake for 10-12 mins, but keep an eye on it.  When the cheese is bubbly pull that bad boy out.  

Let it cool a few mins, then hit it with your pizza cutter and enjoy.  Mmmm....$6 pizza. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Krakus Market

Have you heard of this place? No? If you indulge in things Polish (kielbasa, pierogies, golomkies) then shame on you. Don't feel bad though - neither has anyone else in Philly.

Krakus is a traditional Polish market in Port Richmond.  So traditional that you will hear more Polish being spoken than English and you won't even recognize most of the random jarred vegetables.  Seriously, who likes pickled beets?  What Krakus does better than almost anyone is homemade pierogies - they've got two stand up freezers stacked with a half dozen varieties each.  Potato, sauerkraut, beef, potato & cheese, spinach, jalapeno, and even desert ones - strawberry & blueberry that are great with powdered sugar!

Their deli counter has a range of consonant filled sausage names - a few links of Zwyczajna anyone?  They are nice enough to give english translations and descriptions for those of us lacking on our Polski.  If you tell them what you're doing with the kielbasa (boiling, grilling, sauteeing)  they can even recommend something for you.  My favorite so far is the hot & spicy kielbasa Ostra.  

The neighborhood is a little sketchy, but give this place a try next time you're in the mood for some cheap ethnic comfort food.  Grilled kielbasa and pierogies?  Tak, proszę!

Krakus Market

3150 Richmond Street (at Allegheny)
Philadelphia, Pa 19134

Store Hours:
Closed Monday
9am - 7pm, Tuesday - Thursday
9am - 8pm, Friday
8am - 5pm, Saturday
10am - 2pm, Sunday

Seat's Taken

It's that time again for the Craft Beer Express.  Get on the bus and try to get a seat next to Jenny for this tour through the magical beer landscape of Philadelphia.

Twelve bars are participating this go-round, each with a different featured brewery or beer style.  We're starting at Johnny Brenda's for their stout brunch & smorgasbord.  From there it's on to Kite & Key for Bell's brewing (they don't make a bad beer), Sidecar for some IPA's, P.O.P.E for Slyfox & Dogfish Head and Devils Den for west coast ales from Russian River & Lagunitas.  Last but not least is an appearance at Brauhaus Schmitz for some bier and brats to put me down for the count.

$10 gets you a wristband that let's you ride the bus from bar to bar all day long.  You can buy your tickets up till 10pm tonight thru the CBX website, or at the door.  If you buy online, they will ask you to do will-call at whichever bar you plant to start at.  Hope to see some of my loyal readers out tomorrow.  HOORAY BEER!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Busy week means no time for blogging but also means I have to lots to write about - oh cruel irony. Quick dinner and some drinks last Thursday at Illuminaire at 23rd and Fairmount. While the fiancee was getting her haircut next door at Beehive, I had a few beers, watched the Flyers game and chatted with co-owner Gary Pennock who I know from my previous life in the steel selling game. Illuminaire is his full time job now and I have to say I'm a bit jealous.  Illuminaire is an Italian/mediterranean place with a focus on pastas and pizzas made in their custom made oven. Not quite as fancy as the imported brick oven at Stella, or the crisp crusts at Zavino, the pies here are a few bucks cheaper but still tasty and a make for a great rainy night with some antipasto and some good wine.

The restaurant features a sweaing copper covered bar, filled with locals on the night we visited, with a selection of about a half dozen beers on tap ranging from Stella to Sam Adams to Palm. The open kitchen is dominated by the gas fired pizza oven that lets you watch the magic happen right in front of you if you get a counter seat. Behind that is a meticulously designed dining area with beautiful wood floors and paneling and room for outdoor seating in the warmer months. Gary mentioned that they are planning on installing a second bar outside come this spring.

We started off the meat & cheese plate, nicely presented with some good prosciutto, kalamata olives, mozzarella, shaved parmesean, and a strange addition of gorgonzola crumbles that were tasty, but tough to eat.

We split a small pie with pesto sauce, sauteed onions and mushrooms and fresh basil. The pesto sauce tasted home made, and gave the crispy/chewy crust some great flavor mixed with the onions and mushrooms. A few slices were left over that sadly had no home since we were going out to meet friends after the meal.  Illuminaire is on our normal circuit for two reasons - 1.) I know the owner and 2.) It's close to her salon. But we've eaten there with friends on a couple occasions and they always ask "Why have we never heard of this place before?". They definitely could use some marketing help, but I think it's simply a solid neighborhood bar/restaurant putting out comfy Italian food and leaving the trendy stuff for the big boys. Check it out next time you're in the Fairmount neighborhood. They're also on the upcoming  Bunny Hop tour on Thursday April 21st - always a fun night if the weather is good.  

Food Baby Rating: One Baby - It's a Girl!