t says: In my last post, I did forget the other adsz adventure we went on: the suckling pig at Amada!
Amada’s suckling pig was fantastic. If you’re only in Philly for a limited amount of time (e.g. for school, residency, fellowship, whatever), I highly recommend you do this at least once before you leave. It is true that Jose Garces is no longer as cool as he once was, but it’s good to know that when the fame goes away, his crew has the skills to pull of a damn fine looking pig like this.
(and yes – the head is mandatory if you have the option: the cheek meat is incredible).
t says: There’s seemingly a lot of grown to cover with this month’s post. With so much to tell you about, where do I begin?
The gang (you know: g + t + a + v) also got together for an outing at Sbraga. Not having gone since our previous “Kia Cadenza Experience”, it was good to give the restaurant another go … you know … to see what it was like when a car manufacturer wasn’t paying for the meal …
Now, we initially made the reservation because they were boasting a “lamb dinner”. Sadly, when we showed up, they had none available – somehow having sold out despite it only being Friday night. Sorry Sbraga – gotta get on top of stocking that fridge! Before we go on, I do want to give props to the service there – our server was very nice and accomodating – so good job on that! Between his attentiveness and the funky music, how could we go wrong?
There are pictures of our main dishes, as well, but the picture quality was terrible, as the restaurant got darker and darker. Turns out, if you show up with three bottles wine for four people, you’re in for a nice, leisurely dinner during which the sun will set, and nighttime takes over. Where did the 3 hours go? I’m not sure that any one of our third dishes (that’s right – I forgot to tell you: each dinner is a soup, three savory courses, and a dessert!) really showed us something lifechanging, and did border on “fussy”, but we do like that chef tries out all different manners of execution, from a homely puddle of pasta, to smears of sauces on plates. The desserts could use a little re-tooling – I mean, I liked that mine tasted exactly like Trix cereal (v swore Froot Loops), but I’m not sure if that’s really going to compete with the likes of finishers like Talula’s Garden. All in all, a very nice meal, and a restaurant we wouldn’t hesitate to try out again.
SO WHAT’S BLUE?
t says: As a wine-snob-wannabe, I’ve done a lot of wine-studying, wine-browsing, wine-tasting, and wine-philosophizing. Be that as it may, the challenge of “oh, just go and pick out a wine for dinner” is still not easy. I like to walk up and down every aisle, peering at labels, reading shelf-talkers, pulling up cellartracker reviews and hemming/hawing over what it “might” taste like. It’s a complicated wine world out there, with a lot of “opinions” floating around. Who do you trust? Here’s a good post on the topic, written by who I think is one of the most trustworthy critics out there, Jancis Robinson:
t says: So it turns out MacDonald’s might be serving breakfast throughout the day.
That rocks, because I’d always preferred their breakfast options to the rest. I have fond memories of sitting in the car after swim practice, with the scent of chlorine in the air, grasping those bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuits with my pruned fingers, trying to prevent the inevitable self-destruct sequence that the biscuits go through the second you take your first bite. It was during the “2-for-$2” campaign (that’s right! $2!! That’s like back when gas was < $1/gallon!), and life was good. I have ended the lives of many-a-biscuit. Actually, I’ve eaten so much MacDonald’s (breakfast and not) during my childhood that not a day goes by where I don’t thank my genetics for seemingly preventing any obvious untoward health effects. While it’s highly unlikely that I’d eat at MacDonald’s with any real frequency today (seriously – I probably had it in an airport once a year ago), I do like knowing that a greasy, stomach-filling sandwich can be had at any time of day.
But if you read the headline, it seems that there will be a split – some places offering biscuits, and some McMuffins. This is a classic g versus t debate. g sides with the McMuffin – feeling that the biscuits are too greasy, and the muffin more resembles a food that she would actually enjoy eating on the day-to-day. My side: that’s the point! It’s hedonistic, it’s daring (I mean, it’s obviously so bad for you that you should get a blue ribbon just for surviving!). It’s a special occasion food! Like eating a slab of pork belly or foie (that’s right: MacDonald’s biscuit = crumbly foie). Live a little! (just not too much).
So I wonder what we’ll see at our local Mickey-D’s. We’ll check it out once … for the sake of the blog …
t says: We’ve had a pretty month since coming back from London – the summer is flying by! We need to play a little catch-up.
t says: Every now and then you hear about something devastating and have a severe negative reaction: sadness, anger, regret. These emotions are often appropriate, following things like national/international tragedies, losses of family, etc. But every now and then, they sneak up and ninja you at times you didn’t expect. For example – it’s like when you trade in your first car – I mean who cares – it’s just a car! It didn’t matter yesterday, when you used your foot to kick your door closed because your hands were full. And you were so excited today, when you bought a new car! But I’ll never forget the few seconds of remorse that flashed into my mind as we left the dealer, never to see our trusty ‘ol red-orange-burgundy-colored S40 behind ever again [even though we were driving away in a newer, better car!]. Sometimes I still look for her …
Well, today is one of those days:
Pig BYOB extraordinaire, Cochon, has closed.
For those that don’t know, Cochon was the classic “Philly BYO” in the truest sense. It was small. It was homely. Chef cooked spendidly, but stayed out of the spotlight. Prices were incredibly reasonable, often in the low-20’s. Portions were incredible. You always felt like you were “getting away with something” when you ate there – like how could it be that you had such a great meal without spending $50 per head?!
That said, I recognize that g and I haven’t been to Cochon in years – 2013 according to our blog. Of course, we still recommended it to everyone, but we just hadn’t made it there ourselves. I guess we, like the rest of Philly, forgot about it. Damn. Had we lost our way? Maybe we got caught up in things like “craft cocktails”, “beer gardens”, and “tasting menus”. We sought out the hot new restaurants with narrow niches, like Pho and “plant-based” cuisine. “Interesting wine lists” made us tolerate the non-BYO-tariff. “Celebrity chefs” came from New York and/or television cooking shows. Meanwhile, the Solomonov, Vetri, and 13th Street empires continue to grow, proving that success-begets-success. The Philly dining scene has certainly lost its Scrappy-Doo attitude, nowadays far closer in resemblance to Fred[dy Prinze Junior].
So let’s to take a moment to reflect on the Cochon:
It all started in 2009 for us. (Cochon apparently opened in 2007, though).
There were pork shoulders and tenderloins and everything inbetween (want “the fish?” or “the duck?” – it probably had pork in it).
But of course, the memories that will get me just a little choked up will be those of the BRUNCH:
The Elvis French Toast and Those One-Inch-Thick Pancakes (sometimes with chocolate!)
So yes, we at adsz will mourne the loss of Cochon. While I am sad they didn’t have a celebratory “Cochon is closing week!” where undoubtedly the adsz would have dropped everything to attend one last hurrah – perhaps it is better this way, leaving us with the fond memories of dining with mimosas/wine in hand, raising a glass to how lucky we were be together, eating [there].
t says: Aaaannnnndddddd … we’re back! Time to bring us up to date:
Overall, we liked Le Chabannais. The food was good, but in my opinion, it lacked some of the boundary-pushing “greatness” of Le Chateaubriand. g made the case that they would probably shape up in the upcoming months to begin introducing some of the experimentalism that made the original so much fun. The service was also still “figuring it out”, which is appropriate for Day 3 of opening. But I will say – the “wine guy”, who basically became our server because we talked to him so much, was EXCELLENT. Don’t get me wrong, our “actual” server (i.e. the one we had who took our order and our bill) was great, too, but that wine guy was the one who played us like a fiddle. If anyone at at Le Chabanais is reading this, the one who we loved was the skinny , dark haired guy with thick black glasses, from Southern France with a French accent. Give that man a raise. He was accomodating and friendly and complimentary in a way that was the perfect combination of youth and professionalism.
In summary, our time in London was pretty gosh-darn awesome. We encountered lots of great food, did a lot of shopping, and had a blast with our friends. If it just wasn’t so expensive of a city, we might head back sooner rather than later!