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Didjaeat? Live at Philly Podcast Fest!


DidjaEat? is delighted to have taken part in the 4th Annual Philly Podcast Fest!

Read a great writeup in the Spirit News!

Our guests included:

Kristen Herrmann– BenFM & WMMR DJ and Badass Roller Derby Girl!

Samantha Russell- Super Hilarious Sketch Writer, Performer & Sketch Team Director and Pickle Lover!

Aubrie Williams- Wickedly Funny Sketch Writer and Performer & Lover of Everything Food!

Listen now (or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Store and anywhere else you get podcasts!)

 

 

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A Chat With The Big Cheese of the Vendy Awards


Unless you have been living under a very large rock, you may have noticed that Food Trucks have exploded in popularity in the past few years. This Saturday at Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown, the 4th Annual Vendy Awards are back with a vengence to crown the best in Food Truck-ery in Philly! Tickets are still available and all proceeds go to The Food Trust (the gang that runs Night Market), a worthy organization that makes sure there is healthy food out there for everyone.

We had a little chat with Zeina Muna, the Managing Director of the Vendy Awards, to get some delicious facts on this fun event benefitting a worthwhile cause.

How did the Vendy Awards come about?
The Vendy Awards’ modest beginnings took place in 2005 in an East Village (NYC) garage with only a handful of vendors. The Street Vendor Project was a young organization and wanted an occasion to celebrate NYC’s street food and an opportunity to showcase the vendors we represented. Today, we have expanded across the country to include events in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Philadelphia!

How did you end up as Managing Director of the delicious Vendy Awards?
I have personally attended the Vendy Awards in NYC for the past 7 years. In 2011 I was lucky enough to be selected as a Citizen Judge to join the judge’s table to help pick the eventual winner of the 2011 NYC Vendy Cup! Needless to say it has been a thrill to be part of the organization and watch it grow – so when the opportunity came I put my name in the hat and the rest is history!

How did the SVP come to be as a part of the Urban Justice Center?
The Street Vendor Project joined the Urban Justice Center upon its founding in 2001. The Urban Justice Center has since operated as a collective of ten small projects that share common overhead costs and a common social justice mission.

Has there been an increased awareness to the plight of the vendor over the past few years with food trucks being so overwhelmingly popular?
Being a street vendor is a very difficult job – something that eaters of street food often do not know. Vendors are small business people struggling to make ends meet by working long hours, multiple jobs, and often in stressful conditions. Set up costs and maintenance are incredibly expensive and time consuming. To top that, there are often laws in place that are confusing or inconsistently monitored which can limit the availability of permits, where a food vendor can operate, and the health codes to follow.. In some ways, the rapid growth of street food has given people the impression that its easy to set up as a newbie – but the fact is its incredibly easy to have to shut down as well!

Are there plans to start new chapters of the Street Vendor project in the other cities in which the Vendy Awards happen, or are there
similar organizations out there?
There are no plans, at this time, but perhaps eventually! For now the goal is for these events to act as a fundraiser for local organizations in each city that have similar values to us.

Has there been a large growth in interest in the Vendy’s over the years?
Absolutely! Our audiences have grown and we are constantly getting requests to open in new cities. We have also seen a lot of our winners from prior years go on to grow – opening multiple trucks and even restaurants in some cases.

Finally, what is your favorite kind of food cart food, and what city do you think does it best?
I’d never kiss & tell! But in all honesty that is almost impossible to answer…. the quality, range, and quantity of food carts is so immense. Each chef has his or her own personal twist and each city has its own vibe and specialties. One of the best part of the Vendys is being able to try food from each truck, so that you are able to try a vendor you may not come across on your regular route, or give a shot to a type of food you wouldn’t ordinarily try. And every time I come to an event like this I am blown away by how exciting street food can be. They are all my favorites!

Stick Em Up For Mugshots Diner


I grew up in the neighborhood next door to Fishtown, and frankly, it has come leaps and bounds from where it was when I was a kid. Let’s just say teeth were optional back then. Anywho, there are so many new places to eat, it’s hard to even keep track of what’s opening. So when I heard there was a new diner opening, I had to check it out, because, man, I love diner food.

I Assure You, We Are Open!

I Assure You, We Are Open!

Mugshots opened, a bit behind schedule, in the 2424 building on York street. It’s actually not a free standing diner, it is on the first floor of the building, with office and artist spaces above it.

Hot Mess Hess went with me to get some dinner before we hit a local comedy show at Urban Saloon in Fairmount. And yes, we were HUNGRY.

Inside the Diner

Inside the Diner

Walking into the diner, I was struck by how clean, happy and bright the place was. Yes, they did just build it, but I am used to diners where the years of grime are part of the character. Plus, do you really hear the words “new diner” often? Nope. The motif of this place is, yes, mugshots. So the walls are littered with celebrity mugshots. I sat under Bill Gates. The booths are cool vinyl blue and yellow and really are reminiscient of 50’s diners without being too in your face Happy Days retro.

Pork Tostadas

Pork Tostadas

The menu was large but not too big, with interesting appetizers, which is always a favorite thing of mine. We decided on Pork Tostadas ($9) to share for an appetizer. They stack 3 shells and fill them with chipotle cream, sour cream, diced tomato, red onion, sliced cabbage, cilantro and pork. They were pretty great. The pork was full of the bbq sauce and it was really messy to eat, not that that is a bad thing. The waitress didn’t give us plates for it tho, so we got it all over the place. Looking back, we should have asked

Side View of Pork Toastadas

Side View of Pork Toastadas

for plates. All the ingredients were fresh, bright and delicious. There might have been some hand stabbing for the last few bites. It was nice to see a place understand that you can fry your own tortillas and not just grab them out of a bag.

I should mention here how nice the wait staff was. The plate thing aside, our waitress was really on the ball, and everyone who worked there was pleasant, but not in a stepford wives sort of way. Any questions I had about the menu were answered promptly, and when I asked about food she had not eaten, I was given a great answer of “I haven’t had it but *soandso* (pointing) did and they like it”, which I like better then I lie or a shrug with an “I don’t know”.

Reuben

Reuben

For our dinners, I got the Reuben Sandwich. The rye bread was nice and warmed from the melted cheese and there was a nice amount of delicious, medium cut corned beef (too thin and it disappears and too thick and you are chewing for 3 days). The cheese was, as cheese always is, delicious (it knows it’s role) and plentiful (sometimes when you order a Reuben, they skimp on the cheese). The kraut was basically out of the bag, but it worked with the sandwich. What I found peculiar was that the russian dressing was on the side. Normally on a Reuben, it’s on the bread, under the kraut. I just used all that was there and covered the whole thing before I dug in. Yes, it looked odd to me, but was still great.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Hot Mess Jess got herself her standard grilled chicken sandwich with mayo. A grilled chicken sandwich is a grilled chicken sandwich, there’s not too much you can do to pretty it up.

It’s a (not so) secret in the food biz to buy meats with grill marks that are frozen and then just warm them up either in the microwave or quickly on the flat top. That chicken seemed to me to actually have been grilled. It was also (yeah I had a bite) juicy and a thick piece of chicken. Even the roll was a bit toasty. Finally, I go out to eat with Hot Mess quite a bit, and we always ask for extra mayo (we ordered fries too, which I didn’t take a picture of because, well, fries are fries. They were hot, they were cooked perfectly, they were delicious) for fries. Sometimes that means a small shotglass of mayo. Sometimes that means they wheel out the 5 gallon jug of Admiration mayo (my fave but still a bit much). Our waitress brought us out a big dish for each of us. Gold stars for her!!

Oreo Cheesecake

Oreo Cheesecake

Finally, because we are gluttons, we had a piece of Oreo cheesecake. It was everything it says it is: cheesecake with Oreos in it. It was smooth, creamy and hit the spot.

Not to say it was easy to pick a dessert, apparently they make all thier desserts in house and they have a truckful! Pies, cakes, cookies, all sorts of stuff.

Desserts!

Desserts!

On our way out, we walked past, who I believe is the owner, who was visiting with all the tables asking if everything was alright, if they enjoyed thier food and stuff. When he asked us if things were ok, we told him yes, and then I asked him why the dressing for the reuben was on the side, that I found that odd even tho I still enjoyed it. He told me that they were finding that some people liked the dressing on there, and some people did not like the dressing at all, so they decided to just put it on the side. It was nice to see a place listen to thier customers, like the gang over at PYT.

Finally, our bill was about 35 bucks, which is acceptable for 2 people, in my opinion.

So, if you find yourself in Fishtown, check out Mugshots. The food is good, not too expensive, there is ok parking around the building and the owner is on top of stuff. Good stuff.

Here is thier new commercial, check it out!

Stoppin’ By The Memphis Tap


One of things I love doing in the spring and summer is stopping by a local bar for happy hour. One place I enjoy going is The Memphis Taproom, which, despite their claims on their website that they are in Kensington (and claims of being in Port Richmond on “Diners, Drive In’s and Dives”), is located in Fishtown on the corner of Memphis and Cumberland Streets. This irritates me. Fishtown is a neighborhood that has gentrified and no one seems to have enough brains to ask the people who live there (and I mean the original inhabitants) what neighborhood it is. Anyway….

We sat outside in their cool yard/beer garden and munched on hot dogs from thier very own truck, served by the very funny Steve Miller-Miller, but it started to get kind of cold so we relocated to the inside bar. We ordered some food and here’s the highlights.

Crawdad Donuts

Crawdad Donuts

First off we ordered Crawdad Donuts. They are described with “Jalapenos, green onions, shellfish nage”. A “nage” is a broth flavored with white wine, vegetables, and herbs, in which seafood is poached. The liquid is then reduced and thickened with cream and/or butter. In other words: it’s delicious without being too heavy. This nage hit the mark.

And it also has a ton of little bits of crawdads in it, which it was awesome.

I’m not exactly sure why they call them donuts, as I really thought that the texture was more of a beignet, but whatever, potato, potahto. these things were great.

Inside the Crawdad Donut

Inside the Crawdad Donut

As you can see, they have the green onion in the mix, which really gives the dough a nice tang. As I said above, I think the texture is more beignet-ish, and it soaks up the gravy like nobody’s business!

This is definitely not something I would have ordered normally and I’m glad I took a jump to give it a shot! For $9, it was totally worth it!

Crawdad Donut

Crawdad Donut

More of the Crawdad Donuts

More of the Crawdad Donuts

Beef and Onion Pasties

Beef and Onion Pasties

The second thing we ordered were Beef and Onion Pasties. A Pastie (pah-stee, not the stripper type pay-stee) is a traditional English food, basically it’s a little fried savory pie. It’s the official food of Cornwall, England and you can stuff them with whatever. These have short ribs in them and sit in a horseradish sauce & parsley sauce.

I have to say, I loved the sauce. It was a little creamy but the horseradish wasn’t ground down so much that you couldn’t taste the texture of the root. It also has a little heat to it, so the horseradish they used to make the sauce wasn’t too old. Here is a tip: you like horseradish but don’t like crazy heat? Let it sit in the fridge for awhile. It tends to lose it’s potency.

Inside the Beef and Onion Pastie

Inside the Beef and Onion Pastie

Anyway, onto the pasties themselves. Short ribs are things I can eat everyday for the rest of my life. The pairing of the horseradish and the short ribs was smart, because, at least in my family, we smear horseradish all over meat like that.

For once, I was smart enough to let something sit for a few minutes before taking a bite and burning myself, and I’m glad I did. The dough was nice and crisp, and not very greasy at all. The short rib meat inside was moist and delicious. If I had to pick something to nitpick about, I’d say that the pastie could have been filled more. there seemed to be a lot of empty space in there. Maybe put in some mashed potato, or some peas or something. For $9, maybe bulk it up a bit.

Overall, it’s not cheap but if you are looking for some food that is a little left of center to eat while celebrating the end of the week, hit the Tap. It does get super crowded after about 5:30 but if you can get there early, go for it.

Photo Essay: Greensgrow


Every Thursday and Saturday I work a table at the Greensgrow Farmer’s Market. Greensgrow is a working farm in Fishtown, full of local food, plants, garden stuff, chickens and really nice people. I like to wander around and take pictures of some of the offerings in the market. Here are a bunch of them. Some are in color, some in black and white and all were taken with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone 4. (Please click the pic to embiggen!)

baguettes

baguettes

Basil? I Think?

Basil? I Think?

Jalapenos

Jalapenos

green and red peppers

green and red peppers

various fruits

various fruits

friends! eggplant dip and arugula pesto!

friends! eggplant dip and arugula pesto!

figs hanging out

figs hanging out

cherry bomb peppers...waiting for youuuu!

cherry bomb peppers...waiting for youuuu!

hot hot hot peppers!

hot hot hot peppers!

eggplant convention

eggplant convention

Shhh...shallots

Shhh...shallots

heirloom tomatoes...lookin' good

heirloom tomatoes...lookin' good

the last lonely pumpernickel

the last lonely pumpernickel

cooped up watermelons

cooped up watermelons

Paesano’s


My friend Matt recently got a sweet new computer. I went over to take a look at it (it is sweet and…shiny) and, after much deciding we decided to go get some lunch (Johanna’a idea, good call!). Off to Paesano’s we went.

Paesano’s is a sandwich shop owned by the guys who own Modo Mio, an Italian place that everyone I know who has been there loves. I had never been there before and Matt described it as a closet that sells awesome food. I was in!

Paesano's Window

Paesano’s Window

Paesano’s is, indeed, an extremely small place. A small sandwich shop like you might remember from when you were a kid. Old guys smoking Lucky’s would hang out and talk about Roosevelt and you could come in and buy a water ice in the middle of the summertime heat. Well, there is no water ice and there are no Lucky’s, but there is a pretty good menu. At least, what we had anyway.

Wading thru the hipsters, we decided on a Daddy Wad for me and a Paesano for him. The guy behind the counter doesn’t particularly speak very good english and I am half deaf so it was fun ordering, and once I ecplained to him I wanted mayo on my sandwich, all was well (it does not come with mayo, but I wanted it. Must. Have. Mayo.). The wait was not too bad, about 15 minutes, then we got our sandwiches of gold and escaped to Matt’s air conditioned living room to stuff our faces with sandwiches, cokes and Patton Oswalt on the Roku Box.

Daddy Wad

Daddy Wad

I got the Daddy Wad, which is a classic Italian Hoagie with sharp provolone, hot and sweet peppers, arugula, lettuce, tomato and onion. When you order hoagies, the lunchmeat is usually very thick cut and laid on thick. These guys cut the meat pretty thin so that it’s not like biting into a loaf of bologna. The roll is fresh but not too chewy and even the arugula works nicely, giving it a fresh bite and separating it from the Wawa special (altho I love that too!).

Here is an inside shot:

Daddy Wad Insides

Daddy Wad Insides

They also use cheap mayo, of which I am a great big fan. Capicola, soppresata, mortadella and mayo. Yeah, I’m a fan.

What I didn’t mention was that Matt and I traded halves to I got to try the Paesano.

The Paesano

The Paesano

The Paesano is a hoagie with Beef Brisket, Cheese (sometimes provolone, sometimes ricotta, I guess it depends on the day), horseradish mayo (which I want to put on everything), a fried egg and a roasted tomato. I haven’t had meat that juicy on a sandwich in forever. Check it out!

Paesano Side Shot

Paesano Side Shot

This thing is a heart clogger, but you’ll go out smiling! Fried eggs on things is a new fad (“it’s the good morning burger!”) but I am all for it. The egg gives it that little extra bit so that you don’t feel so bad eating this fantastic bit of juicy goodness. As much as I liked the Daddy Wad, I think I liked the Paesano better.

What I liked about this place was the reasonable rate you pay for these sandwiches ($7), which might not look giant but will be with you the rest of the day, trust me. The place is very tiny (it was so small I couldn’t really take a pic, it was crowded) but they move along at a decent pace. I’d hate to be standing outside in the winter, but you can call in and then pick up, which is cool.

Will I go back? Surely! Will the parking get seriously crappy once the giant Pathmark next door opens? Oh yes. Will that stop me? Nah. Once a fat kid, always a fat kid. Eat up!

A Trip To Kraftwork


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.

Cheese Plate

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:

flatbread

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:

Ricotta Dumplings

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!

beercan chicken

beercan chicken

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.

burger

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.

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