Category Archives: Food

A trip home…Just the Menus

Intentional appetite and jealousy inducing post…

I recently was back in San Diego for 3 days to see my family & friends.  Here are the three meals I ate at home.  The scary/amazing part: this is fairly standard behavior as Dad loves to spend 3-4 hours per day in the kitchen.

(attached images of menus, everything made from scratch, including the sorbets)

Philadelphia Restaurant Recommendations

Although I haven’t been in Philly long, I’ve been impressed with the food scene.  I’m a huge fan of the BYOB concept – it reduces the cost of dining out fairly significantly.  That being said, I am not out much given my renewed status as a student.

Philly restaurants I enjoy:

  • Audrey Claire – lovely little corner restaurant around Rittenhouse.  Have only partaken in two meals here, but like any respectable restaurant, the menu is rarely the same whenever I pass by.  Don’t really understand the categorization under ‘Greek,’ feels more French/Cali neuvo to me…
  • Pumpkin – A quaint little place (6-7 tables?) with a very dynamic menu by a chef that’s not afraid to try new pairings.  Excellent meals here, except for the fact my expensive beers were not given back to me after my meal (small quibble, but they owe me $20).
  • Garces Trading – A very French bistro-feeling charcuterie with heavy Spanish and Italian influences.  Wonderful selection of important meats and cheese to choose in parings plus a respectable mix of tapas style dishes: tartare, duck salad, gnudi, and a huge cheese & meat menu including one of my favorite meats: Jamon Iberico de Bellota.
  • Hann Dynasty – Hard to find decent, authentic Chinese food, and Hann Dynasty delivers some of the best Szechuan food I’ve ever had.  The Dan Dan noodles and spicy cucumbers are must haves.  Other than that, the ordering off menu is usually the way to go.  Bring a hungry group that can handle a decent amount of spice.
  • Tria ­– another of the somewhat over-played wine bars…but I’ve been pretty happy with the small tapas dishes that I’ve had there.  Great little salads and flatbreads accompany the other delicious bites (don’t go too hungry though).
  • Monk’s Café – Mussels.  That’s the reason to go – great broths, craft beers, not too much else to write about.

Albeit, I’ve sampled only a small portion of the restaurants in Philly (due to budget and time constraints), but please, share your favorites in comments below.

(I have had much more experience dining in NYC, Seattle, Boston, San Diego – happy to share my spreadsheets on each, but the further back I go, the less likely the accuracy)

Jamon Iberico de Bellota

Upon our most recent visit to Spain, we were introduced to Jamon Iberico de Bellota.  For the uninitiated – the finest aged pork in the world, sliced paper-thin.  “Prosciutto on crack.”  It’s woody, buttery flavor and smooth texture is appropriately addictive.

Apparently these unique Spanish hogs are identified by their black hooves (pata negra = black legs).  After being fed corn and barley when they are young, they are released to roam oak groves and eat a diet chiefly comprised of acorns (where they derive their nutty flavor).  The meat is then aged for 3-4 years.

At around $99/lbs or ~$2-4K per leg, it ‘ain’t cheap.  Besides bribing my flight attendant buddy to bring me a hunk as Connie’s last Christmas present (yes, you read that right), it is incredibly difficult to find due to do import restrictions (recently relaxed a bit).

The only two places I have been able to buy it (periodically) in the states:

  • Di Bruno’s Brothers in Philadelphia
  • Murrys’ in NYC

Why Food?

Like many self-proclaimed foodies – I enjoy a good meal…

Only slightly more compelling, while working in San Diego during college, I finagled my way into a role as a professional food critic.  A tricky proposition when I was not legally able to drink…

Originally, my love for food spawned from my parents, both well respected in the kitchen.  They had started a small catering business to help them through their graduate studies, and never stopped refining their craft.  Dad still spends a couple hours a day in the kitchen and is a long-standing member and past-president of the San Diego Wine and Food Society.  He never fails to entertain guests with a multi-course meal, menu and all.  Mom has always been the unsung hero with quite a few specialties of her own, yet not as mindful of the fanfare.

To make it more tangible (and tasty), dishes prepared during my recent visit home:

  • Panko-crusted abalone with a mango buerre blanc
  • Hand-made butternut squash, sage and amaretto pasta
  • Petit Filet Mignon stuffed with fresh basil & garlic
  • Apple-butternut squash tom kah gai soup
  • Blackberry and anise sorbet

All that being said, admittedly, I am no expert – please feel free to point out any inaccuracies found on my site.  Regardless, I hope this section gives you some ideas and inspires you to try something new or give me suggestions!

Caption note: (Lame pic was both from a time when I had more (and cooler) hair and when I was building my own restaurant review website in San Diego, the others are my parents)