Category Archives: beer
There were many events at the AC Food and Wine Fest this year. The Blues, Brews and BBQ event was hands down the best one! Even tho it was, no lie, 900 degrees out and this thing was held in the parking lot across from the Showboat Casino, even tho the guys using smokers and grills made it 200 times hotter and even tho the big tents were no help from the heat, it still was a blast!
Yes, there was a band and yes, there was a lot of beer. But hey, I went for the BBQ!!
First up was Devil’s Alley. They are a, surprise, bar and grille in downtown Philly at 19th and Chestnut Sts. Chef Brian Fidiam come with a something offbeat, but still awesome! Spicy Dry Rub Wings. Now when I say these things were moist, tender and delicious, believe me. I ate, well, I coulda put their kids thru college. Let’s just leave it at that!
Next up was Smokin’ Betty’s, a place down at 11th and Sansom sts, in downtown Philly. They brought their signature Riblets. Now, some of you might remember places like Applebee’s who would have all you could eat riblets. these are not that! Not that! Not even close! The sweet sauce mingles with the porky goodness and the fat disintegrates right as it touches your tongue. Again, I think I ate a whole table’s worth.
Also, I cannot go much further without a shoutout to some neighbors of mine I ran into and went to a few events with! Maureen is a huge fan of the blog and her kids (All grown up now. I am so old!) love going to food events. Also, a shoutout to Brigid’s boyfriend Joe who bought a 5 gallon oak barrel in which to brew beer inside! I want to see how that turns out! They also kindly showed me some of the more awesome things I’m writing about today! So, hats off to Joe and the Ramseys!
Paula Deen was big and loud at the event and she cracked everyone up. As you can see in the picture, she’s lost a bunch of weight, as has Michael. She was really loving talking to the crowd, got onto the topic of her Diabetes and having to eat better and lose weight. Her son Bobby has been helping them eat better (and she plugged his show “Not My Mama’s Meals”, in which he remakes some of her recipes in a way that won’t kill you…as fast), which has helped with the weight loss, but she didn’t put a big shine on the whole thing. She basically pined what we all feel, that weight loss is hard and sometimes you just want that donut, but you gotta stick to it. Sometimes tho, have that donut! Am I saying Paula Deen, Queen of Butter, was being realistic? Yes, I am! Good god, anything is possible I think.
Paula also brought along her Braised Beef Brisket. I have never actually tasted anything she has made (or, as it was probably at this event, supervised the making of), and this brisket was pretty fantastic. It had a great crust on it and the sauce had a kick but with a smokey backend. It was right on!
This little puppy melted the socks right off my feet. Local Smoke BBQ brought their world-famous Smoked Jalapeno Poppers. When I saw the sign, I was intrigued. However, I have a problem with Jalapenos these days. You see, I’m getting kind of old and certain things just, well, tie me up into knots. They turn my body into a festival of terror. I actually start twitching when I see seeds sometimes. Once I was assured there were no seeds, I dug in and wowza! A hollow Jalapeno stuffed with a cream cheese and pulled pork filling, wrapped in dry-rubbed bacon and slow-smoked to perfection & served with BBQ ranch dipping sauce. Pop that sucker right in your mouth and your eyes immediately roll to the back of your head. You need to sit down. The layers of flavor melt all over your mouth. These things are a National Treasure. These things should be on every tv show in the land. These things are amazing.
Tyler Florence was in attendance at the fest as well. He brought up Paula and then later came out and mingled amongst the sweaty unwashed. When I say this guy was the nicest fellow I have come across, believe it. I approached him, told him my blog name and said maybe he should check it out and he repeated it back, and said he would. I got the feeling from him, well, he just might. He then asked if I wanted a picture and I snapped one of just him and then he insisted we take one together (of which I will spare you of because we both look like we just climbed out of a pool). I felt bad for him, he was wearing that chef coat and he was soaked all the way thru. But he stayed and took more pics, talked to people, signed autographs and all. I know they all get paid to be at these things but the guy is a trooper (and just as cute in person as he is on tv).
Zac Pelaccio is a world travelin’ dude. He’s written a book called “Eat With Your Hands” and pushes that exact idea: to get into with your food. He also owns 2 restaurants: Fatty Crab and Fatty Cue. This guy knows what’s what.
Zak was working with Amstel Light and made a Pork Burger with Twig Farm Goat Cheese, Citrus Mayo, and Onion Jam served on a soft rye burger bun.
It was juicy and very well seasoned. However, I am not a fan of goat cheese. I keep trying and trying but no go. The Ramsey’s really liked it tho, it seemed. I really wanna visit one of Zak’s places tho, they sound amazing. You can order a half pound of deep fried bacon!!
The biggest, brightest part of the day was from Dinosaur BBQ! I didn’t think it was the same one in Harlem, from which I have heard many fantastically awesome things from people I know. They didn’t mention that on the menu, they just mentioned Newark. Turns out, it was! And oh my dear mother of all that is good and holy on this planet and the next, this thing was transcendent.
Look close at the meat, you’ll see the smoke ring. Look closer and you’ll see how juicy that meat was. Look again and see the amazing sauce they laid on there. I walked away looking like a toddler who fought a plate of spaghetti and I did not care. Not one stinkin’ bit. It was that good. I was sweaty, tired, and covered in bbq sauce and it was some of the best BBQ meat I have ever had. Unreal. UNREAL.
Whew! So that was the Blues, Brews and BBQ event! I left there seeing BBQ everywhere I went. I should say that two of my favorite beer companies were there as well, Anderson Valley and Pyramid Brewing! Check them out when you get a chance, you will not be disappointed!
Thanks to the AC Food & Wine Fest crew for having me and thanks to Joe & The Ramseys for hanging out! It was a blast and I can’t wait for next year!
I really want to like the Grey Lodge. Super, super badly. I hate going downtown to drink and I am not particularly in love with the jackass hipsters in Fishtown either. I also do not mind the northeast too much, so it is a decent change of scenery sometimes. So, when I had heard of this place a long time ago, and realized it is next to my dentist (oddly enough), I was kind of excited.
This place is a bar on Frankford Ave in Mayfair that stocks, what can only be described as, a shit ton of beers. In the cooler they have your regular array of Boddington and other recognizable overseas beers (for those who pay attention to this sort of thing). But they have, on tap, a great rotating selection of beers that range from local PBC to California microbrews to everything in between. They also offer them in different sizes so you can just have a smaller glass of a beer and then have a few different ones as opposed to one giant beer. They have done their homework and it shows. They even have a nice selection on their second floor, which could have gotten the shaft and had the usual Coors, Bud, whatever sucks crap.
I had arranged with one of the managers to reserve some space upstairs for a reunion, and the guy I talked to (Patrick) was super awesome, incredibly accommodating and professional. When we all showed up, everything was exactly like he had promised, and everyone had a really good time.
My problem is the staff behind the bar and the food. First off, this was not my first time at the bar. I had been there before, in the middle of the afternoon. The place had 4 people in it and a very short, young looking girl. She wasn’t too interested in taking my beer or food order, which annoyed me. Then when the cheese fries came out, they were limp and not fried very well. Mushy, would be a good word to describe them. But! It was the middle of the afternoon, so I cut the kitchen some slack. But if you don’t want to be at work in a service job in the middle of the afternoon, please do not take it out on the customers.
The second time I was there, I strolled in around 6:30 on a saturday. It was dead, but there was a lineup at the bar watching the ballgame. When I popped up on the barstool, the bartender literally sneered at me from behind his bushy beard and took my order like I was asking him to pick fleas off my cat. Again, I was annoyed. When I paid the fellow and he got his tip, he seemed relieved, which I thought was bizarre.
Later on, I moved upstairs and there were 2 women behind the bar that were nice, quick with the beers and food orders and tidy with the bar. I ordered my food and it arrived quickly.
I got the Lodge Steak (Fresh-sliced ribeye with cheese sauce, roasted pepper mayo, and Genoa salami). I wanted to get the Surf and Turf Cheesesteak (fresh-sliced ribeye with cheese sauce and marinated shrimp) but honestly, it sounded a little too good and I didn’t want to slop myself up in front of people I had not seen in forever (that can wait for next time).
Anyway, it came in a basket and I was a little bit excited. I love cheese sauce (I have said many times, as my friends can tell ya). The meat was kind of chewy, the mayo was nonexistant and the salami felt like it was right out of the prep area and onto the sandwich with no grill action or anything (it was cooked, as you can see in the pic by the black marks on the edges but I think not long enough for the thickness of the meat).
It was the most disappointing thing I have eaten all summer. I had such high hopes, that maybe I ruined it for myself, that no one could meet my expectations? I don’t know. Perhaps.
I want to love the Grey Lodge. I love the beers. I even like the decor (they had a cool Okocim metal sign upstairs!) and it is a very clean bar with ample room for darts. The bathrooms have glass collages in them! The management are very nice people! But the food…I just can’t get with it. I’ll be back Grey Lodge, maybe we can make it work then!
After a long and kind of boring day at the farmer’s market, I enlisted my friend Mary Kate (of Ida Mae’s Bruncherie) to go get some food at this new bar/restaurant Kraftwork on Girard Ave. I was expecting this place to be huge, but in actuality, it is the size of a regular corner bar, which, honestly, surprised me a bit. Even tho it was a Saturday early evening, the place was full, but we managed to score some seats at the bar. We had two people (one girl who I assume was the hostess/waitress and the bartender) both ask us where we would like to sit and thier attitudes were great. It irks me when you walk into a crowded place and the hostess gives you attitude.
The decor is interesting. The tables surround the perimeter and you sit with others. Besides that, there are seats at the bar, with sturdy, not crappy bar stools (also a pet peeve of mine). While the hipsters were aplenty, the staff was nice (even if super busy), but we never had to wait to get drinks, food or anything else. It is, however, super loud, I am guessing from the acoustics. The place is barebones, plenty of room for voices to bounce around.
There are landscape printed excel sheets on the bar for you when you sit down, with all 25 beers on tap mapped out for you. What is really awesome, is that there are two columns, the regular list, and then a corresponding column with the beers that will replace them right away when they kick the keg. Talk about planning! Most places would either just replace the line with another keg of the same or have to wait for something to come in and replace it with. Very cool. Even funnier is that they have a ton of neat beers, but they also have PBR on tap. A nice nod to the hipsters in the area.
We were both starving so we started with the Cheese plate.
While it was super loud, and we couldn’t really hear the guy who brought it out, the cheese plate was pretty kick ass. In the middle was some kind of creamy parmesan. The one with the candied almonds I think was a sort of soft stilton and the one with the thinly sliced apples and honey was a very, very blue cheese. We didn’t catch the others except for that the one had some sort of soaked cherries (which were great) and the other had finely chopped olives (also awesome). The cheese is served with sliced garlicy flatbread:
Mary Kate said that she thought they used the same flatbread to make a delicous Flatbread Pizza Margherita. It went perfectly with the assortment of cheeses, and we hoovered it down quickly.
While we ate the cheeses, our appetizer came out, the Ricotta Dumplings:
Please note that they come with 4, but we both speared one before I managed to dig out the IPhone 4 to snap a pic. They were creamy, with that parmesan nuttiness, and sitting on a nice roasted red pepper Harissa sauce. It was semi-spicy and a little kick to the dumplings. The greens were a wilted swiss chard, and had a great almost olive oil taste.
I ordered the Beer Can Chicken. It came with fried long hots and onions with sharp provolone. The star of that plate tho, was the red cabbage and apple slaw!
The slaw, of which I kind of thought would just be a vinegary slaw, was spicy in a slow burn kind of way, and we both thought it was great. The beer can chicken was good, chopped pretty small and it congealed with the provolone pretty quickly. It was on a brioche bun that was just big enough, so that you did not feel like you were getting a bun that happened to have some meat on it. It had a lovely aged provolone, but it could have used a sauce. I ended up putting a big forkful of the slaw on my sandwich, which made it tad bit juicier.
MaryKate really dug her burger.
It came with 2 year old Grafton cheddar, butter lettuce, carmelized onions and a bacon onion jam. She was pleasantly surprised that you could really taste the bacon all the way thru it. The fries were slightly garlicky but not overwhelming. The dipping sauce tasted like a stone ground mustard with some mayo and another secret ingredient we couldn’t place, but I am guessing is sugar. Overall, another winning dish.
They had a bunch of great sounding desserts (I hear the chocolate tureen is fantastic), but we were both too stuffed to order.
From the easy going and friendly staff, to the great (but not overwhelming!) food selections, to the wide variety of beers (and a few very cool looking cocktails!), to the reasonable prices for what you get, I’d say Kraftwork has their proverbial shit together, and I would definitely go back.