Paesano’s – Philadelphia, Pa

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Paesano's - Philadelphia, PA

Whenever I visit a new city for the first time, I often peruse through Yelp to get a sense of where to eat. I imagine that most people would have the same thought that we had – Philly Cheesesteak. The problem is that my girlfriend is a vegetarian and I am not. But she wanted to try a veggie version of the cheesesteak, so I decided to put it out there on the boards: Where is the best place to get both a vegetarian and meat philly cheesesteak? Well, it sparked a little debate, a whole lot of suggestions, and the comparison a comparison to DiFara’s Pizza in Brooklyn.

The best recommendation was from Brad “scold penguin every day” P.:

“Eric, please don’t get another cheesesteak on your way out. In fact, please forget cheesesteaks altogether. They hardly represent the vibrant, powerful Philadelphia food scene. If you want a great sandwich, go to Paesano’s.”

Unfortunately Philly cheesesteak, for better or worse, do represent Philly. whether they like it or not. I did not take his advice to skip the cheesesteak. We had one, it was good, but forgettable in the evening when we took Brads advice and went to Paesano’s. The bottom line is that Paesano’s could easily represent all that is unique and wonderful about Philly in one, single, savory bite. If you find yourself even remotely close to Philly, please make a beeline to this place, immediately! My girlfriend had the vegetarian Giardina – Roasted Eggplant, Roasted Fennel, Caramelized Peppers & Onions, Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Pesto and I had The meaty Arista – Roasted Suckling Pig, Italian Long Hots, Broccoli Rabe & Sharp Provolone. Pictures below.

Paesano’s
152 W Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19123
267-886-9556

Paesano's - Philadelphia, PA
Paesano’s offers a few small seats and an open kitchen so you can watch them create.

Paesano's - Philadelphia, PA
Ask for your sandwich toasted and heated!

Paesano's - Philadelphia, PA
Giardina – Roasted Eggplant, Roasted Fennel, Caramelized Peppers & Onions, Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Pesto

Paesano's - Philadelphia, PA
Arista – Roasted Suckling Pig, Italian Long Hots, Broccoli Rabe & Sharp Provolone.

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Apple Picking at Fishkill Farms – Hopewell Junction, NY

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Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

A few weeks ago we took a trip upstate to Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, NY to do a little apple picking with some fellow Brooklyn family, as well as some visitors from Switzerland. We scored a bag of Macouns, Golden Delicious and a few other juicy, sweet and tart varieties. We had a really great day, ending it back in NYC – Jackson Heights, Queens, to be exact, for Indian food. My only regret was not photographing the apple cider donuts. they were so amazing that i just scarfed them down too quickly without thinking. Once we returned a promptly made an apple pie. We sat on those apples for several weeks eating them when we could. But we had a large bag and a few inevitably ended up as compost.

Here are some pics from our farm visit. My cousin jake is an adorable subject, isn’t he?

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

Fishkill Farms -  Apple Picking

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Federal Donuts – Philadelphia, PA

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Federal Donuts - Philadelphia, PA

A few weeks ago I started piecing together components for a stereo system for a record player. I really wanted to get an old Marantz receiver. You can find some vintage ones online that have been refurbed with LED lights but the problem with those old receivers is that they are incredibly expensive and if one component dies on it, you’ll end up with a $500 paperweight…although a Marantz receiver wouldn’t even make a very good paperweight. I bought a new, but decent one and found a couple of 1970′s floor speakers to go with a turntable that I found off of an old fashioned street ad. Turns out that the record player won’t play 45′s correctly, so i’ll be replacing that soon too. I paid $20, so I’m not too horribly broken up about it.

The problem was, that I didn’t have any records. Not one. But I remember playing my dad’s white album when I was a kid. Earlier in the summer there was a Brooklyn Flea record fair at Smorgasburg so I looked into it and it turned out that they weren’t doing another one in NYC this year. BUT they were doing one in Philly – Yes, the Brooklyn Flea – Philly exists. I figured, that alone might be worth the trip. But we’d also have to kind of eat our way through philly too. So we headed out early on a sunday morning with the hopes of finding some great albums. First we made a bee line to Federal Donuts who we heard makes an amazing fried chicken and donuts. We were not disappointed. And it turns out that Philly is a really awesome city! Check out some photos from our trip there. Amazing! We can’t wait for our next trip. I cannot believe that I’ve lived in NYC for 10 years and this is my first trip to Philly – it is only 2 hours away.

Federal Donuts
1219 S. 2nd street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Federal Donuts - Philadelphia, PA
Federal Donuts South Philly Storefront

Federal Donuts - Philadelphia, PA
Indian Cinnamon & Vanilla-Lavender donuts

Federal Donuts - Philadelphia, PA
Sticky Bun Fancy Donut

Federal Donuts - Philadelphia, PA
Banana Cream Pie Fancy Donut

Federal Donuts - Philadelphia, PA
Chili Garlic Fried Chicken Wings

Federal Donuts - Philadelphia, PA
Donut & Fried Chicken

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2 Fabulous Cookbooks and other things photographed By moi!

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As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted in quite some time. That has little to do with interest and so much to do with having been pretty busy not only shooting two cookbooks but picking up a fair amount of photo work. First, I had a really awesome 10 page travel story on Sri Lanka come out in Sweet Paul Magazine for their summer issue. You can view it online here. It’s a great subscription, if you don’t have it already.

SweetpaulSriLankaStory

Second, the first cookbook I shot and the first to come out this fall, Robicelli’s: A Love Story With Cupcakes by Allison Robicelli, now has a cover. It will be out on October 17th and if you’d like to pre-order it, you can do that here

robicelliscover

Finally, the second cookbook I shot this year, Brooklyn Chef’s Table by Sarah Zorn, also has a cover and a release date of November 5th. You can pre-order it here.

BCT_Cover

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Hey, Where Were The Long Lines? – Googa Mooga 2013

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Update: Googa Mooga just announced they are releasing more General Admission & VIP tickets today at the box office. So if you can handle a little rain and want to get in, head on over to Prospect Park. Kool & The Gang is headlining today guys!

Update #2: Nevermind. They just cancelled Googa Mooga over a little light rain. This really sucks for all the vendors, especially after a somewhat disappointing first two days. sorry that I didn’t have a chance to finish shooting it.

I’ll get to the food in a bit, but let me start by saying that attendance seemed WAAAAAYYYYYYYY low this year. From an attendee standpoint, this is a good thing, from a vendor standpoint, this is really bad. And next year means far fewer vendors will be inclined to have a booth there, even though they added additional vendors this year over last – an issue they thought would help remedy the problems of long wait times this year. This clearly wasn’t really an issue last year.

From an attendee’s point of view, this event was much improved over last year. The setup on the right of the main stage was set up differently. They moved the row further from the stage and put a row behind the other. Last year, lines for food ran into the stage area where people were watching the bands play. They were unruly and ran wildly through the field. This year, that was better, again for attendee’s. For vendors on that side, they seemed a little lost in the stagger especially over the vendors on the opposite side which was setup exactly as it was last year. Still though, the crowd was incredibly thin this year. Perhaps because of the weather? Perhaps because of the added day? Perhaps because the venue cut attendance from last year?

But from what some of the vendors were saying Saturday, Friday’s turnout wasn’t really that great either. At least not from a food sales perspective. Saturday was ok, but not great. Not what they were told to anticipate for by event organizers. On vendor I spoke with told me that the organizers told them to prepare for 4000 units to be sold over the 3 days. By the end of the second day they’d only sold a little over 1000 units. And this was a vendor that had far more press for the event than most other vendors.


GM-BeforeAfter The top photo was taken from 2012. Lines stayed pretty swamped all day long. The bottom photo is the line (or lack there of) from this year.

I’m not saying that this event is only successful if starving masses have to stand in line for 2 hours for a hot dog. But what I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with a little wait. 20 minutes wouldn’t kill anyone and hell, how long would you wait on a Saturday afternoon for a table at brunch?

I’d like to chalk it up to just being a shitty day and hopefully Sunday would be better. The forecast for Sunday, though, is worse that what today was. It would be nice however, seeing as GoogaMooga obviously has everything buttoned up quite nicely this year, if they’d would open up General Admission to more people tomorrow. I didn’t win tickets during the lottery, however, my girlfriend did. So I’m curious how many others out there they turned down. I’m sure the vendors are curious too.

IMG_9696 More importantly, I want to know what the deal is with this guy?

From the outside looking in, this festival was pretty great today. The music was non stop on two large stages, there was no wait for most places, the bathrooms were slightly cleaner and there was plenty of room to move around. Here are some highlights from day 1.


The Crowd at Googa Mooga

The Crowd at Googa Mooga

The Mamacita Arepa from Caracas
The Mamacita Arepa from Caracas

Whiskey Bread from Gwynnett St
Whiskey Bread from Gwynnett St.

The Egg Begley Jr - Egg Sandwich with kale and pesto yumminess
The Egg Begley Jr.

Lobster from The Lobster Place
Grilled Lobster at The Lobster Place

Lobster from The Lobster Place
Grilled Lobster at The Lobster Place

Jerk Chicken from Ms. Lily
Jerk Chicken from Ms. Lily

Arancini from Eataly
Arancini from Eataly

Arancini from Eataly
Arancini from Eataly

Arancini from Eataly
Arancini from Eataly

Ribs from Joe's Pub
Ribs from Joe’s Pub

The Crowd at Googa Mooga
Googa Mooga Crowd

Pork Belly Tacos from Colicchio & Son's
Pokr Belly Tacos from Colicchio & Son’s

Lamb from Back Forty
Lamb at Back Forty

Backstage at Collicho & Son's
Backstage at Collicho & Son’s

Justin Warner & George McNeese from Do Or Dine
Justin Warner & George McNeese

Foie Gras Jelly Doughnut from Do Or Dine
Foie gras jelly doughnut from Do or Dine

Chef at Maison Premiere
Chef at Maison Premiere

Grilled Oysters at Maison Premiere
Grilled Oysters at Maison Premiere

Grilled Oysters at Maison Premiere
Grilled Oysters at Maison Premiere

Rabbit & Snail Paella

Rabbit & Snail Paella

BBQ
BBQ at Googa Mooga

Pork & Cheese Sausage from DBGB
Pork & Cheese Sausage from DBGB

Pork & Cheese Sausage from DBGB
Pork & Cheese Sausage from DBGB

Duck Corndog from James
Duck Corndog from James

Garbanzo, Brussels Sprouts & Cabbage from Rosemarys
Garbanzo, Brussels Sprouts & Cabbage from Rosemarys

Garbanzo, Brussels Sprouts & Cabbage from Rosemarys
Garbanzo, Brussels Sprouts & Cabbage from Rosemarys

Kimchi with cold sesame soba noodles from Mother In Law's Kimchi
Kimchi with Cold Sesame Soba Noodles

Lobster Roll from Luke's Lobster
Lobster Roll from Luke’s Lobster

Foie Gras Hot Dog from Prospect
Foie Gras Hot Dog from Prospect

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Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Macarons

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Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Macarons

So yesterday my dining room was set up as a photo studio/DIY macaron assembly station. I made the sea salt buttercream first, using this recipe with the modification of extra salt (because it should be really really salty!). For the macarons, I made some variations as I wanted the cookies to be more than just colored brown. I wanted to them to taste like chocolate.

So when you are looking at a macaron recipe, you’re all like “What, this is so simple! Why I am I dropping 2 dollars a miniature cookie on these things?”

Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Macarons

You won’t understand until you’re making the cookies, unfortunately. The process needs to be slow and it needs to be done delicately. Neither of those things are my style…I tried really hard and while they taste great and look beautiful, they are not as light and flaky as they should be. They should be more brittle to the touch and they shouldn’t weigh a ton – which means that I should have been able to make a lot more cookies. However, I did get the “foot” that macaron makers always talk about. The “foot” should be thicker, I think. Regardless, unless you are a professional french baker, you aren’t going to scoff at these things.

Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Macarons

For the Sea Salt Caramel Buttercream (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

½ cups Sugar
½ cup Unsalted Butter, chilled
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, room temp
¼ cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 cup Powdered Sugar

The caramel (steps 1-3) can be made up to two weeks ahead of time. Complete the buttercream by following step 4 on the same day that you make the macaron shells!
1. Heat sugar on medium high heat. Stir constantly with a whisk as the sugar begins to melt. Once the sugar begins to boil, stop stirring, just swirl the pot a few times. Keep the pot above the heat to prevent burning the caramel.
2. As soon as all the sugar has melted and becomes a dark amber color, add in the 3 tablespoons of butter and stir until melted. Take the pan off the heat and wait for 3 seconds before pouring in the cream slowly and whisk until smooth.
3. Stir in sea salt. Let it come to room temperature before using it to make the buttercream. You now have salted caramel! The caramel can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Let it come back to room temperature before using it with the buttercream.
4. When ready to make the buttercream, mix the salted caramel in a mixer for about 3-5 minutes — you will notice it becomes lighter in color. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of butter. Then add in powdered sugar and mix until fluffy, scraping the sides occasionally.

For the Macaron Shells:
3-⅝ ounces, weight Egg Whites, From About 3 Eggs, Aged 1 Day At Room Temperature
1-⅞ ounces, weight Granulated Sugar
4 ounces, weight Almond Meal
7 ounces, weight Minus 5 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
5 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder For Color
1 teaspoon Sea Salt For Garnish

For the Macaron Shells:
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on medium high speed until foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, but do not over beat.
2. Sift almond meal, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder into a bowl. The cocoa powder is optional for color — if you don’t want to use it, add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar to replace it. Add this mixture into the meringue. Fold together using a spatula just until incorporated. Try not to use more than 50 strokes/folds.
3, Transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe small rounds onto baking sheets prepared with silicone mats or parchment paper. Sprinkle some sea salt on top of each shell for decoration. Let the shells sit for 30-45 minutes for the surfaces to dry out a bit. Bake at 300°F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pans for a moment. Transfer shells to cooling rack once they are cool enough to touch.
4. Match shells up in size. Once cooled completely, pipe the buttercream onto the bottom of one cookie, and sandwich another on to of it, pushing the filling to the edges. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

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Bourbon Vanilla Root Beer Float

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Bourbon Vanilla Root Beer Float

It is sunday, which is a sad day because it means the weekend is over. But never fear. Might I suggest a Bourbon Vanilla Root Beer Float to ease your pain?

We’ve been madly in love with these flavors from Steve’s ice cream and today we decided to pair the bourbon vanilla with Boylan Root Beer. Turns out the combination of vanilla, bourbon and root beer work really well together. Next time, I’m going to add a shot of bourbon to the root beer as well. Not that you need a recipe b/c a root beer float is the easiest thing in the world, but foodgawker won’t post the photo unless there is a freaking recipe…so thanks foodgawker, for the extra 3 minutes of work!

Bourbon Vanilla Root Beer Float (makes 2)

Tall glass, chilled in the freezer
2 pint Steve’s Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream
2 bottles Boylan Soda
Straw & Spoon

Start by pouring 1/3 of the bottle of cold Root Beer into a glass, add a scoop of ice cream. Fill the glass 3/4 with soda, then top with ice cream. Stir and enjoy. Add a shot of bourbon to really enjoy!

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African Peanut Soup with Collard Greens & Crispy Tofu

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African Peanut Soup.jpg

So I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for a few days. I’ve had many African Peanut Soup and I love them all. Some of the recipes I’ve seen incorporate collard greens, others swiss chard. Some not any greens at all, which doesn’t sound fun. I made this really simple but love the slight bitterness of greens against the saltiness of the peanut which also provides just a touch of sweet. A lot of recipes call for brown sugar or sugar, but I think its perfectly balanced to omit it and just go straight for the real natural flavor. A little crispy tofu, chopped minutes and a finish with sea salt, makes it perfect. Hope you agree.

African Peanut Soup
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 quart vegetable broth
2 medium carrots, diced
1 bunch Collard Greens, chopped
1 cup peanut butter
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp finely chopped peanuts (for garnish)
sea salt
Sriracha

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cook 5 minutes or until they begin to sweat. Add spices and stir. Add vegetable broth, carrots and collard greens. Cook for about 30 minutes until the carrots are fully cooked. Add peanut butter and coconut milk and pulse with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender (careful, HOT!) and blend until there are no more chunks. Pat dry some tofu and fry on medium heat on all sides until crispy, put tofu on top, finish with peanuts and sea salt and maybe a little Sriracha.

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Low Carb Asian Recipe – Vietnamese Salad with Pork & Shrimp

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Vietnamese Salad with pickled veggies, pork and shrimp (Bahn Mi Salad)

This has been the week of crazy cravings. My regular go to on cheat day is a Bahn Mi and a bubble tea. This last cheat day, I got drunk and forgot, stumbling home from the bar only to stop at some sub par pizza place to soak up the alcohol (Hey it’s cheat day, i can do what I want…don’t judge me!).

So I’ve been thinking about all the things that add up to make a bahn mi. Meat, butter, mayo, french bread, pickled vegetables, Sriracha… I knew I could do something similar in a salad – a low carb asian recipe that tastes similar to a vietnamese bahn mi.. Yes…I can, as it turns out. I used romaine lettuce. I don’t know if that is bad from a culinary perspective, but it worked for me. Perhaps you want to try boston lettuce, so that you aren’t the butt of every vietnamese chefs’ jokes. I then sauteed some garlic with pork and chopped shrimp. To pickle the veggies…well, I really couldn’t pickle them. Instead I just let them soak in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, water and salt, plus a little stevia to sweeten the deal and then finished cooking the meal. The pickling brine that I made ends up making a nice little dressing once you add a little soy sauce and sriracha. Check out the recipe below.

Vietnamese Salad with Pork & Shrimp

1 pound ground pork
1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned & chopped into small pieces
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 large carrot, julienned
1 seedless cucumber, juliened
1 bunch green onion, roughly chopped
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp stevia
2 cups bean sprout, drained and washed
1 head romaine, finely sliced
3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
chopped unsalted peanuts for topping
sesame oil
soy sauce

Prepare the quick brine by mixing vinegar, water, salt, and stevia together. Add cucumber, onion, and carrot, cover with a paper towel and set aside while cooking. Heat a saute pan on medium high heat, add the ground pork and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to break it up. Add the shrimp and stir for 4-5 more minutes. Add the soy sauce and mix until well incorporated. Remove from heat.

On a large salad plate, assemble a layer of lettuce, then a layer of the meat mixture, then a layer of the pickled vegetables. drizzle a little of the vinegar mixture over the top, followed by a little soy sauce and sesame oil. Then a little drizzle of sriracha, to your taste. Voila, salad complete!

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