after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Happy Anniversary [To Us!]

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t says:  Four years ago, we (g & t) went on our first food-centric outing with a & v.  We chose Modo Mio, as we heard about this “great tasting menu option” … and it was FABULOUS.  Fast forward 4 years, and here we found ourselves: four friends, with a helluvalotta good food and stories.  And guess what: Modo Mio is still killing it:

November 2014, Friday Dinner, Party of 4.  The challenge of the evening was: “who could eat the most eggs?”  You’ll see what I mean in a second …

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My appetizer was the chestnut crepes.  It was amazing.  To this day, I couldn’t tell you what was in it, but I was amazed.  I remember thinking to myself, “this  is kind of like breakfast … but boy am I happy to have it now at dinner.”

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There were lots of fried eggs topping a lot of the dishes.  Consequently, we have no idea what was under each …

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And here’s another fried egg!  We swear the things under the fried eggs were great.  one was a lasagna, while another was a “special appetizer” featuring some other vegetable concoction.  Darn.  I wish we wrote down notes …

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Another special, this wrapped up thing included a variety of veggies and meats that I remember wishing they would have put together with a normal noodled pasta (or something thicker like a lasagna noodle – but overall, the flavors were spot on.

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I remember that v got the papparedelle, which included mushrooms and chicken liver.  The pasta and chicken livers were both fantastic – we hope that the mushrooms were acceptable to v.

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No wait … THIS was the lasagna … right?  No?  I’m so confused …

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gnocchia and shortrib … classic …. delicious.

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My pulled pork was “like  a roast pork sandwich …”.  Except even better.  I don’t know how they treated it, but it was so incredibly savory and sweet at the same time – but not like a “sugary” sweet.  Gawd – is there any animal tastier than pig?

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ah, yes – a steak hides underneat that egg.  g demolished it.  it’s always good here – but don’t think something like a refined piece of meat cooked perfectly medium rare, meant to stand alone – this is a fixed-up piece of meat with a ton of additions.

 

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a went for the veal as his main.  It was one of the best veal parms I’ve ever had!

You know – I know we’re light on details – so sue us.  But know that the meal was fabulous.  The price was right (did I mention it was BYO?)  And we’ll go on recommending it friends and family alike … just so long as they bring us with them when they go …

 

Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 November 2014 at 12:42am

i’m … so … ashamed …

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t says:  I was cleaning out the pantry the other day, and look what I found.

4 bags of chocolate chips ... kinda ...

4 bags of chocolate chips … kinda …

Why on earth would someone require so many chocolate chips?  I’m not sure.  I mean, I am known to eat a few chips from time to time when I need a hit of something sweet … and somehow I managed to have three open bags at once … with an unopened one “just in case”.  I’m going to say that it’s because our pantry is just soooooo big that I couldn’t keep track.  Sounds plausible, right?  Right?

(I think I have a problem.)

Written by afterdinnersneeze

18 November 2014 at 1:00pm

Posted in Happenings

Preach on …

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t says: sometimes, someone just hits the nail on the head:

http://m.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/michael-pollan-paleo-diet-inquiring-minds

Written by afterdinnersneeze

15 November 2014 at 1:06pm

Posted in Happenings

knead bagels – like a caterpillar waiting to pupate

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t says:  Sooo, I was a little bored-and-hungry after work the other day, and, having read all about the coverage on foobooz, decided to venture on out to Knead Bagels.

November 2014, Thursday Morning, All by Myself.  It was a quaint little operation they had going on there.

a several-person operation

the counter-person in action …

Now, there is some be some sort of bohemian anti-efficiency clause in Philadelphia – like you can’t open up a cool-but-quick place to eat – it must be the least efficient, most confusing process ever.  Now, I realize that this was only their secon day open, however, I foresee an operation very similar to Spread Bagelry and Rotisseur.  You go in, place an order; they work on the order, and then when it’s ready, it comes back out to you.  Simple, right?  Kinda.  But this arrangement is fragile.  Take Spread for example – you walk in and place an order.  That order gets put in line while some suer-cool dude with his hair tied back takes his sweet time cooking eggs whilst singing along to whatever’s playing on overhead.  But of course, your order then needs to be proof’d by the person who took your order before it goes out … but that takes away from her ability to continue taking orders … oh and did I mention the pick-up and order-taking occurs at the same place?  The result is a giant cluster-storm, as the line extends out the door.  Oh – and because the customers tend to be quite the self-entitled Rittenhouse type, the idea of a “line” eventually breaks down and it’s a free-for-all with people huffing-and-puffing, rolling their eyes, coppin’ ‘tude, and placing orders out of turn).  If only Spread’s bagels weren’t so damn good, I would have written them off a long time ago (btw – be careful – their inefficiency at keeping track of fresh vs. not-fresh bagels means I got a super-stale most-likely-day-old one – I would have gone back to exchange, but the ginormous line of Lululemon gear and tight-jeans made me too self-conscious about creating too big a scene).  Ok, so we’ll see if Knead Bagels also has the same systems issues.  I will say that Rotisseur, after many-a-months, did manage to streamline their operation – they can keep up with the lunch rush without issues now – so there is some hope!

Now, as for the bagels.  What did I think?  Well, I tried the togarashi-scallion-lime as well as the black-sesame-kimchi.  You know – I can say they were “ok”.  The flavors were great!  But ultimately, I was underwhelmed.  I couldn’t figure out why.  So I thought: these flavor combinations are something that I’d expect in a small plate of some sort at a restaurant – not a huge bagel.  Consequently, to have the staying power to last through a full bagel, balance is more of an issue.  While they were tasty at first (probably because of the novelty), I grew a bit tired of them after a few bites – there’s just something about having that much cream cheese that was distracting.  If only there was a way to put more flavor in the bagel, and let the cream cheese be more of an accent.  For example, what if instead I had a scallion-onion bagel with togarashi-lime cream cheese?  Or a garlic-kimchi bagel with a sesame spread?  I don’t know if it can be done, but if it could, I’d totally get those again.  Now, there is a bagel that was on my radar that needs to be sampled because it sounds awesome (spiced apricot, lemon-goat-cheese spread) – so I’ll be back.  We’ll see how they fair on round 2.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

14 November 2014 at 12:59pm

all done at aldine? … or just gettin’ started!

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t says:  So, the gang had the chance to hit up Aldine during their opening week.  There are lots of opinions amongst us, so we’ll do this round a little differently.

October 2014, Party of 4, Friday Dinner.  

re: Location/Ambience:
v says:  are we allowed to ding them for burger.org’s ugly sign underneath?
t says: no, that’s not fair.
a says:  well, one thing is that it was really dark in there!
t says: what are you – like 60?  j/k.  I will agree with you – none of the pictures turned out!
a says: and it was a little “cold” in there – not very homey.  But what was good was the space between tables, and the big windows – but of course it was night, so it’s not like sun was coming in.  maybe they were going for “sexy” and “modern.”
t says: it did come a long way since the times of Noche.  I’d be interested to see how that space evolves as they find out how they’re going to run things.

re: Menu:
a says: the menu was stupid – totally stupid.
t says: it’s true – while grouping items into “vegetarian,” “meat,” and “fish” sounds like a good idea, there really is no indication of how big or small each dish might be.  Like, for example, the carrots dish was larger than the rabbit dish.  I think Serpico might do it better.
a says: as I said, the menu was stupid.  tell us a little more.  knowing “Duck. Quack. Water. Salt” is not helpful. and the prices gave no indication to a plate’s size or presentation.
g says: and it was hard for people to tell us exactly how much to order.
a says: yea – three dishes a person is a total up-sell… unless you are unlucky enough to get three small dishes by accident – but how would you know?

re: Food:
a says: both of my dishes were solid (rabbit rillette, and sunchoke soup), but nothing quite blew me away
g says: but my carrots were really good! and i think my cappeletti may have won me the meal.
a says: I feel like if his “shtick” is being inventive, he could have taken more risks.
t says: my dishes were also pretty good (pork belly and squid, the duck breast), but nothing crazy.
v says: the portion sizes were erratic – mine had three medallions, and yours was the whole duck breast
t says:  the wine was really good.
a says: yea – nice and food friendly – the white Bordeaux had good rubber.
t says: their red wine list looked a bit weak – so we brought our own.  Of course, they messed up and told us $25 corkage on the phone, but then charged us $30 (but fixed it).

re: Service:
a says: the service was kinda cold.
g says: i dunno if she was “cold” – she was friendly, just not so knowledgable that we would find her helpful.
a says: but for example, the wine service was nonexistent!
t says: that’s true.  We did pay corkage on one bottle and we did buy a whole other bottle, and they didn’t pour our wine once after the initial pour!
g says: i think they need to tweak the experience overall — i am sure with more staff training they will be able to guide customers to a better dining experience, from navigating the menu to smooth food and wine delivery to the tables.
a says: if Aldine and Townsend came together, that would be a good restaurant.  the atmosphere and service that Townsend had would have been nice here.
g says: You know – the server (minus that one girl we didn’t have) seemed a little nervous and unsure.
t says: yea – they’re probably still working out the kinks – maybe it’ll get better with time.

re: Overall:
a says: back to the food: I think they want to be Fond – good food, good service, very chill, no pretentiousness, but this place doesn’t do that.
g says: I think they can get there!
a says: I’m not damning them to hell – this is just what happened!  Cuz, like, the overall atmosphere they were trying to give was one of high service, high quality, etc … but in the end didn’t quite reach the expectations they allude to!  oh, and the menu: it’s garbage!

So there we go – a lot of voices, no pictures, and just the raw, uncut, real deal review.

Oh!  I found the photos!

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the duck breast in all its glory!  a sizeable amount for sure!  flavors were pretty good, too – probably the best dish of our dinner.

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chocolate mousse, coffee, peanut.  it was ok, but the “butter[cream] sundae” was better – more textures and flavors.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

1 November 2014 at 2:55pm

Posted in in Philadelphia, Restaurant Reviews

Tagged with

disagreeing about knives

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t says:  I’m a fan of kitchen cutlery.  And so I was interested in seeing what Eater says about them in their recent “Savvy” videos:

First off, I apologize because this guy is kind of a tool … but I do applaud some of his knife choices (and some of the knife brands in the video!).  I’d have to say that in general I agree with what he has to say, but in an era where people are contemplating buying knife sets, I feel like his video might lead someone down the path for a whole “knife set” which is unnecessary.  For instance, after watching that video, I could see someone thinking “well, if I need four knives, and this set has 7, I might as well just put up with the extra 3″.  No!  Bad!  Futhermore, I disagree with one of the knife choices, so I am going to just lay it out for you the way I see it:

1)  Chef’s Knife:  Yes, it’s mandatory.  Yes, it has to be large.  Yes, it has to scare you for the first two weeks you use it.  If it doesn’t, then it’s likely not long enough (unless you’re already used to a chef’s knife of 8-10″ in length).  To give you an idea, 9-10″ knives are the norm for prepwork in professional kitchens, while 8″ knives [in some patriarchal, sexist societies] are referred to as “ladies’ knives”.  Of course, I refuse to propagate that stereotype (*stares down at his tiny-for-a-man hands*).  Anyways, the glory of the chef’s knife is versatility.  You want it to be large enough to do an occasional rock-chop (personally I don’t like rock-chopping because it destroys edges, but it’s so sexy when you see it on the Food Network, right?), push-cut, and slicing.  At the same time, it shouldn’t be SO long that you feel like you have no control over where the tip is in space (which actually is more related to your grip than knife size).  Corollary: santokus can count as chef’s knives.  While they make me sad, even I got caught up in “the three virtues” bullcrappery when they hit the market circa 2005.  I don’t use mine anymore, but it was such a pricey knife that I can’t part with it.

2)  Paring Knife:  I agree – the paring knife is essential as well.  It’s great for in-hand work, as well as occasional fruit slicing (although I’ve been known to pull out a giant 9″ knife to cut a single carrot …).  Long live the paring knife – the thinner the better.

3)  Slicing Knife?  Really?  Why?  How many of us are going to be slicing raw fish or filet roasts?  And even if you were, what is the likelihood you’d be doing that vs. slicing a loaf of bread?  a hard crusty baguette?  That’s right – forget the slicing knife – go for the bread knife.  And it doesn’t even have to be a fancy bread knife.  Under $75, all bread knives are the same (now, if you want to spend more than $75, there are some very specific superior-to-others bread knives out there).  Could you use a bread knife for the raw fish and meats as well?  Maybe, but I’d rather use a chef’s knife for those – it is one of the reasons why your chef’s knife is long to begin with, right?!

4)  Utility / “Petty” Knife: fine … if you insist that you need something to trim some meat, or just to cut a random piece of something, and you don’t want to pull out a chef’s knife, you can get one of these.  Just hide it when the company comes over so this way they can think that you, too, cut a single apple with your chef’s knife.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

30 October 2014 at 12:28pm

Posted in Happenings

g & t meet MTL

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t says:  We visited MTL for a super-long weekend and it. was. awesome.  We ended up airbnb-ing a super-great little apartment in Le Plateau, which was perfectly located for exploring the supposedly hip area of town (we could tell by the graffiti and 20-30-somethings that it was hip).  And while we didn’t hit up every tourist-obligatory destination (e.g. we skipped Old Montreal entirely), we pulled off a nice mix of chillaxing, eating, and touring, the former two of which , resulting in the following photostorm:

Absent is a photo of the Ramen we ate on our first night there.  While definitely not particularly Canadian, Ramen-Ya’s slurpable broth definitely hit the spot after a seemingly endless car ride (for some unknown reason, it took us 10 hours to get there!  Only 8 for the return …)

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We visited Le Couteau Cafe.  French for “the knife” (and given my affinity for knives, how could I not go there?), Le Couteau was FABULOUS.  It is probably the best cafe we’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting (Paris, Vienna, US).  You know you’re at the right place if you see a giant knife on the outside of the building …

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… meanwhile, on the inside, it was nothing more than just a very well done cafe.  Nothing was at all that crazy-exotic or over-the-top – it just had great coffee (we brought some back for a), great pastries (omg the pistachio croissant has changed my life – I will never eat an almond croissant ever again – and g nearly lost her mind with the strawberry turnover seen above), great service, and a tasteful assortment of minimalist decor.  If we lived in MTL, I’d live around this coffee shop just so I could go there every day.  For real.  Don’t test me.

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… here is that pistachio croissant (and cortado) I raved about … pictures do not do it any justice at all.

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We went to the super-famous Schwartz’s for some “smoked meat” sandwich.  It was good … but I can’t say that it was impressive.  It was essentially the same as you’d get from a Jewish deli.  I have no idea why people are so ga-ga for this thing.  It’s meat and bread.  No amount of seasoning/cooking will make it “to die for” – it’s certainly NOT worth waiting in line for.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad we went – but I have no intention of ever going back again …

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Above is the menu for Joe Beef (and some random stranger).  None of the pictures of the food turned out, so I’ll just say my piece here …  Joe Beef is VERY over-hyped.  It does not serve the “best food in the world”, or whatever accolade that Dave Chang put on it.  Sure, it serves “good food”, but “best” is a tough superlative to attach; it’s good raw ingredients, done very nicely, and with a dash of “extreme”.  For instance, the steaks are huge.  Foie is everywhere.  They use off cuts of meat all the time.  So … it’s like [what I think would be] a chef’s dream come true: good ingredients, done in a not-fussy manner, but done very well, and served in a very friendly, bar-like environment.  Unfortunately, Joe Beef is less a gathering place for locals, rather a tourist attraction for people looking to get that stupid Foie Double-down (google it).  So what did we eat?  g went for “Lobster Spaghetti” … and despite my previous rant, I now have to admit that it blew her face off.  She initially said “gee, this is huge – I’m totally taking some of this home” when it first hit the table, and then she took a bite, and then she completely blacked out for about 15 minutes, and when she came to, her pasta was gone.  And it was a HUGE dish.  It had 1.5 lbs of lobster on it!   I did sneak some, and it was quite tasty – not like elegant, complex or anything like that – it was just straight-up “good” – I’m not a huge lobster fan, so I didn’t also lose control, but I can see how some people might (g chimes in: i feel a little ashamed – i mean – how did I eat it all?).  It’s rare for g to eat herself into a stomachache, so this is pretty high praise for Mr. Beef.  As for me, I asked the server for “something piggy” – and he instantly responded “go for sauerkraut” … so I did.  Despite not having anything piggy in the title, it features two cuts of pork and two giant sausages.  It was quite solid – it was like something out of Cochon’s playbook – once again – my socks remained on my feet, but I was net-happy with what I got.

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We did Fairmount bagel despite everyone saying St. Viateur was better (Fairmount was closer).  The fun was that while walking there, I witnessed three females beat the crap out of a male after a disagreement while exiting a cab.  I have no idea if they were Canadian or not (they weren’t yelling in French which makes me think not), but it was a sight to see!  And to watch the natives spring into action: cars pulled over and guys jumped out to restrain the one dude so he wouldn’t hit back.  Cops were called (and showed up in urban camo pants and bullet proof vests! Montreal cops are serious … no Mounties though …).  It was crazy!  … The bagels on the other hand, weren’t crazy; delicious, yes, crazy, no.  But it definitely allowed me to see where Spread Bagelry is getting their inspiration from. A nice start to the morning (even if I was wishing it was a pistachio croissant instead …).

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This blurry picture is from the Big in Japan Bar (not to be confused with Big in Japan Restaurant).  This bar is super-awesome.  It’s a little stupid as well (unmarked door … you know … to add to its exclusivity … even though anyone can just walk in) … but more awesome than stupid, as it had a pretty cool setup for a bar and featured Japanese whiskey!  While it only had three or so available, and none of them were all that rare (all were available in the US, and none older than 12 years), it was still a great experience to be sitting down at a classy bar, enjoying my whiskey, and pondering the pre-paid bottles they had hanging from the ceiling (patrons can “buy a bottle” and they’ll save it for them, to have whenever they come back to the bar).  Now if only they had Taketsuru 17-year …

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Dinner at Bouillon Bilk was SENSATIONAL.  We loved it.  While not particularly “Canadian” or “French” in cuisine, it was superb flavor combinations, cookery, and service.  Maybe the one drawback is we would have preferred a slightly more interesting bread than what was provided (it was a little anemic for our taste).  However, whatever points they lost on bread, they more-than-made-up-for with that Bourgogne I drank.  It happened to be from Guy Amiot et Fils – the winery we happened to visit when we were in Beaune!!!  It was everything Bourgogne should be: light-to-medium weight, some snappy fruit up front followed by a nice evolution of savory/dirty flavors afterwards, and a mouthwatering acidity to prepare you for some more food or drink.  Loved it.  Would buy it by the case if it were available here.

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This is a “dumpling” topped with mushrooms, fruit, corn, and other various things.  It was like an Asian dumpling, but take every possible flavor and make it more pronounced, but at the same time, balanced.  Like even if I had all these ingredients on hand, I doubt I would ever be able to strike the balance of sweet (from fruit and corn) with the savory.  I would have eaten three of these … and trust me … I love bashing crappy wonton-wannabes, which this was not.

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Tuna amuse.  They lose points for presenting an amuse on a GIANT plate.  That’s pretentious and stupid.  Don’t do that.  They also lose points for it being larger than one bite.  BUT … they instantly gain it back because this was perfect, and I was happy I had a second bite left after my first.  I had no idea what was in it but damn they nailed it.

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And then g had the crudo (g says: surprise!)  This yellowtail was nicely done, with great textures put in there (there was some kind of foamy cracker and some gel).

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The “veal dish”, which was a special, rivaled the best thing I’ve eaten in the past few months (which was Fond’s Pork Belly).  Perfect sweetbreads.  Perfect veal medallions.  Perfect greens.  Perfect gnocchi.  I died and went to heaven.  And then I took a sip of the aforementioned Bourgogne, and then I went straight to hell, because to taste that good must be the work of the devil.  Drawback?  I have none.  In the background was g’s fish.  I completely forget what she ate, as I blacked out like g’s experience with Joe Beef’s lobster spaghetti, so anything g said during that time, I can’t remember …  Oh, and did I mention that they gave me a non-serrated steak knife!  Hooray!!  I mean, it could have used a sharpening, but at least it shows that someone is taking pride in their work so as not to force me to tear it apart with jagged points.  Very nice.

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So I was too full for dessert.  But how could we not have dessert on our last night in MTL?  C’est impossible!  So I went with the “yogurt”.  This was crazy.  It was like everything I want a yogurt parfait to be: bold fruit, smooth yogurt, and candy (those little petit-four-ish things were like currant candies).  Those white chocolate pieces added another flavor which somehow fit seemlessly – and I hate white chocolate!  It was as if Bouillon Bilk could do no wrong …

Believe the hype of Bouillon Bilk.  Yea, there are some yelp tourists, but even the Canadians are dying to get in.

And then, on the morning we left, we visited Guillaume boulangerie, which had a great assortment of baguettes and other baked goods.  Definitely a place we should have used more often during our trip (it’s one of the top three baguettes in MTL!).

Finally, here are some random other photos:

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we thought about getting a this shirt … but it was more than $5 …

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Japanese paper (for origami) store … with an origami grasshopper hanging outside!

 

Written by afterdinnersneeze

26 October 2014 at 8:27pm

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