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GDSwamp's Profile

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Best oysters? Oyster happy hours?

Scratch that. Seems Sutton's Parlor has mysteriously closed in just the last few days.

Jul 16, 2014
GDSwamp in Philadelphia

Best oysters? Oyster happy hours?

Thanks all for great suggestions! I'm now waffling amongst a few nice-sounding options. Also: one place that's mentioned on Yelp but didn't come up here is Sutton's Parlor. Has anyone been, for oysters or otherwise? I feel skeptical but I'm not sure why...

Jul 16, 2014
GDSwamp in Philadelphia

Best oysters? Oyster happy hours?

Thanks lingua. I do know about the Oyster House and I'm just wondering what else is out there.

Jul 15, 2014
GDSwamp in Philadelphia

Best oysters? Oyster happy hours?

Wife wants oysters for date night and I don't blame her. I don't think of ours as a great oyster town, but I also feel like I haven't tried very hard. Two questions that may have different answers: who's got the best, freshest oysters? And who runs a nice oyster happy hour? We like West Coast varieties and choosing from a long menu of different regional options is fun, but on the other hand we're just as happy if a place is offering just one or two selections that reflect the careful choices of a knowledgeable staff.

Jul 15, 2014
GDSwamp in Philadelphia

Anyplace to watch Wimbledon?

I had a notion I could watch Wimbledon at The Dandelion with a Pimm's cup, but I guess they don't have TVs. Anyone know someplace that might work?

Jun 26, 2014
GDSwamp in Philadelphia

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

I didn't see any.

Dec 15, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

Great NY Noodletown ginger-scallion sauce - makeable?

There's not much good evidence to be the least bit scared of MSG, unless you're scared of a possible mild headache if you happen to be one of the people that gets those when they eat that.

On the other hand it looks like there's reason to worry about some hoisin - specifically cheaper brands that use hydrochloric acid to speed up the fermentation process:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3-MCPD

So there's an argument for investing in higher-end slow-fermented hoisin.

Dec 13, 2013
GDSwamp in Home Cooking

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

Ugh. PA is insane. Every search directs only to "Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board" - the central gov't agency in Harrisburg.

Dec 13, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

Oh! okay I'll take a closer look.

Dec 13, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

That'd be a great idea, coasts, except wine-searcher points you to online stores, many of which won't ship to PA, because it's technically illegal to do so.

And by "technically illegal" I mean "it's illegal, which is so absurd that I feel obliged to add the word 'technically' as a qualifier."

Dec 13, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

Great NY Noodletown ginger-scallion sauce - makeable?

Been awhile since that post. My memory is that the resulting sauce was very good but didn't quite have the "How is this so effing delicious?" quality of the NYNoodletown version.

Since then I've bought some MSG crystals - you've reminded me to try out making this again and stirring in a little of the magic monosodium at the end.

Dec 13, 2013
GDSwamp in Home Cooking

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

That's a perfect analogy, and the head butcher is the cranky clerk who thinks you're a Philistine (but does know some great music).

The story is more detailed than anyone wants to read about here - for instance, the kid who I was initially talking to about my meat purchase was very sweet, and did his best while shuttling back and forth between me and the butcher to keep everyone happy. (And consequently he was visibly uncomfortable when the butcher and I started talking to each other over his head).

Anyway. C'est la vie. I'm going to a vegan restaurant tonight.

Dec 12, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

I've gone back and forth on this. I'm 100% certain that the Meat Hook butcher thought that I was the one being a pain, and that what I took to be his bad attitude was, from his perspective, justified frustration.

That said, every other person I dealt with that day was so remarkably kind, he really stood out in contrast. And the fact is he didn't take the time to figure out why I was persisting about the filets - which was that I'd been led to believe I only needed to buy a whole one and I'd be okay - and instead jumped right to the assumption that I was "some idiot."

So, meh. Probably won't go there first, on the rare occasion when I'm meat-shopping in the 'burg.

Dec 12, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

thanks!

Dec 12, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

Thanks toof. My wish for you is that when you say, "I haven't bought wine in that price range in a while," you mean that you've graduated to exclusively higher-end drinking.

Dec 12, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

Thanks Tt, this is good information. I wish PA stores had the kind of selection where you could go in looking for a particular bottle and stand a snowball's chance of finding it. But good to have ideas in mind, just the same.

Dec 12, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

Thanks coasts!

Dec 11, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

sgordon, I'll say the same thing I said to sugartoof (below) - if you're willing to name any of those $30 bottles you're liking right now, please do. I need all the wine help I can get - not just for this particular dinner, but in general.

Dec 11, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

sugartoof, if you feel inclined to mention any of the $25 gems, please do. Here in Philadelphia we are still stuck with state-run wine stores that feel like old-time Eastern Bloc food dispensaries. I am not a wine expert and neither is anyone working at any of those stores, so good advice is always in short supply...

Dec 11, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

Thanks so much, all, for your good advice and your recommendations. Just in case anyone's curious here's a brief run-down of where I went and what I got:

beef: I stayed in Williamsburg the night before my shopping day so decided to try to knock out the meat buying there, so as to cut down on the perambulating-with-shopping-bags in Manhattan. Stopped first at The Meat Hook - a cool shop with undoubtedly good meat (aged at least three weeks in-house) but the butcher wasn't so nice (to me). First he told me that he had filets (I decided to make a very traditional filet au poivre) but could only sell them as whole tenderloins, because he had begun reserving whole loins for holiday orders. I left but then found a friend who was willing to go in with me on the whole loin, so I came back. But now, suddenly, he decided he wouldn't sell it to me anyway. "I told you - those are for holiday orders." "You mean they're not ready? They're not aged yet?" "They're for. The. Holidays." I was annoyed at this point so I said. "Okay, I'd like one whole loin for Christmas - and hey, I'm going to pick it up early. Today!" He wasn't amused. I bought some of the house bacon anyway. It was delicious.

The butchers at Marlow and Daughters, by contrast, were total sweethearts. They age their meat forever and I watched the young butcher break down the swathe of steer containing my loin on a steel table at the back of the shop. We talked about how filet is not either of our favorite cut, but he wasn't snotty about my choice to get it anyway, and he had good basic suggestions for prepping and cooking the meat. Everyone else in the shop was totally lovely as well. Bought a couple cheeses and some Ben's cream cheese.

Total for the entire Chateaubriand portion of the loin (about three steaks-worth): $45. I also needed one short rib which was about $9.

Next stop was SOS Chefs on 2nd and B. Never been before and now I know this is the most dangerous store in the world, in terms of my future retirement savings. The proprietress treated me like I was Thomas Keller, dragged me around the store giving me tastes of their various vinegars and honeys, crushing italian oregano under my nose, tearing open vacuum packed bags of Iranian pistachios and foie gras in order to get me the tiny amounts I needed to cook for two people. I was amazed at her generosity to a plain-old home cook. Bought ten different things (chanterelle and black trumpet mushrooms, pistachios, thyme honey, birch vinegar, bottarga di muggine, fresh sansho peppercorns, a few other things) and left with a couple other items she gave me just because she thought I should have them.

Total was about $100, which was cheap for what I got, and not all of it went toward my limit - some of the things I bought were just for me.

Union Square Greenmarket: again, this shop was marked by the kindness of the people I bought from. The lady at PE & DD Seafood put a fat scallop in my hand and told me to eat it so I'd believe her that they didn't need any washing to be grit-free. At Flying Pigs (best pork in the world) Mike's adorable son and daughter helped me find the sausages I wanted. The Windfall Farms stall looks a little precious, with its ordered tubs of pristine microgreens, but the people working there were handing out generous tastes of everything, and the farmer wasn't kidding when he said that his frost-sweetened carrots and radishes were like candy (better than candy). I got my salad elements there for about $8.

Bought a bunch of other stuff around the Market - some for the dinner (ratte and Orzette fingerling potatoes, sunchokes, treviso radicchio, chiles, brussels sprouts - at various booths, about $15 total) and some for myself. Even with the insane crown, a totally brilliant two hours.

Last: wine. Ended up at Discovery Wine Shop on the lower east side (wanted to stay in the neighborhood so I wouldn't have to re-park) and ended up telling the women working that evening about my bet and my agenda for the wine. They got very into my project and spent a lot of time with me, debating bottles and bang-for-buck ideas in the $40-$60 range. Again, it was just striking how nice they were and how thoughtful. Ended up with a '98 Morgon and an '04 Barbaresco, plus a couple other things I couldn't not buy. Both were delicious. Delicious. About $90 for the wine.

So that was that for NY. I picked up my last items back here in Philadelphia at DiBruno Brothers (our Dean and Deluca, more or less), where I have to say I got more good treatment and good advice. Go Philly.

The meal turned out beautifully and I have to say that although I lost the bet, and consequently had to foot the bill, I'm glad that was how it turned out.

For anyone still reading and still curious, the menu was:

Antipasti:
charred shisito peppers with dashi salt
Jasper Hill Farm Harbison
La Quercia Tamworth prosciutto
New Zealand thyme honey
persimmon
dried california Blenheim apricots

bay scallop crudo with meyer lemon-chive vinaigrette and blood orange

braised short-rib ravioli with brown butter, sage and Grana Padano

Warm mushroom salad (oyster, black trumpet, chanterelle, beech) with braised pistachios, pickled sunchokes, watermelon radish, microgreens, sweet lime vinaigrette.

Filets, sansho-peppercorn au poivre
Robuchon potato puree
roasted brussels sprouts with fish-sauce viniagrette and bacon.

Cocktails (something with blood orange and gin and a few of those fresh peppercorns) by my indulgent wife, dessert (milk-stout cake, mocha buttercream) by a nice friend.

That was that.

Dec 11, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan
7

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

Thanks mitch, that's helpful. Good to know that they still match that description. Thanks also for the other pointers. I'm so glad to know Blue Moon is still going strong (their website is out of date so I was a little worried).

I don't know Sherry Lehmann or Morell's (heard of both, haven't been). Is one of those more service-oriented than another? I am of the "don't know wine but I know what I like" variety, so I think I'll need a little more help than Astor provides. I'm also interested in any smaller corner places that people especially like, on the wine front. Here in Philadelphia we are still stuck with the Eastern Bloc-style state stores, so it's been awhile since I talked to a nice, obsessive wineseller.

Dec 05, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

Joan I do realize that I could spend $125 on meat alone at Lobel's (I'm not planning on buying a 4 lb. roast like the one you linked to, but still). That's part of why I'm polling the boards. There has always been a debate about whether Lobel's meat is "better enough" to justify the price vs. other good butchers in the city. My go-to in the past - for dry-agd meat that was comparable to Lobel's at a somewhat more reasonable price - was Ottomanelli. But that was awhile ago.

So you've hit the crux of my question, which is about where people go these days for the best-possible quality without too much of a hype-based markup.

For some things there's no way to get one without the other - it may be that all the best butchers in the city are charging $40/pound and up these days. But that's why I'm asking.

Dec 05, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

I lost a bet and now I need to cook the winner a brilliant meal: best sources?

Dear NY hounds:

I lost a weight-loss contest with a friend, and the loser's prize is to cook one meal for the winner, spending $250-$300 on ingredients and wine.

It's an amount of money that can feel like a lot (I'm a grad student) and then turn out to be not that much, especially at NY prices. But I'm planning to buy a few standout ingredients and a bottle or two of excellent wine, and then hope my cooking lives up to the investment.

I have one day (this coming Saturday) to shop in the city (I live in Philly now). Can folks help me get to the best providers for my shopping list? I moved away in 2005 and my old favorites may not be best bets any more. I need:

A butcher (Lobels? Ottomanelli?) for an outstanding piece of dry-aged beef.

A wine shop where the staff are knowledgeable and helpful and will be interested in pointing me to the best of the $30-$70 bottles.

A fish market where I have the best chance of being pointed to the freshest options for a crudo I'd like to make (does Blue Moon still sell at the Grand Army Plaza market on Saturdays? Is there a comparable provider at Union Square?)

A market where I might have a chance at fresh porcinis, truffles or other harder-to-get fungi at an optimal quality-to-price balance.

Help?

Dec 05, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan
1

Anyone buy from the Flying Pigs Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket?

Best pork you'll ever eat.

(and don't trim off the fat. It's amazingly flavorful. Leave it on and with a little salt/pepper/herbs you don't need anything else).

Sep 29, 2013
GDSwamp in Manhattan

fresh (rendered) lard?

Haven't got it yet. But I'd imagine he's likely to have any of the above.

May 07, 2013
GDSwamp in Philadelphia

fresh (rendered) lard?

They've got it! Closed today but tomorrow I'll be good to go. thank God for Sonny (and more proof that the people who don't buy there just because he's a little moody are missing out).

Butchers up and down the Italian Market told me no one asks for the stuff, which is a shame because rendered (non-hydrogenated) leaf lard is amazing for baking and frying, and is on the healthy end of the cooking-oil spectrum (not true of the solid, hydrogenated lard you can get in the supermarket):

http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/l...

You can get it in butcher shops and pork stores in NYC but I guess demand in Philly is still dragging behind the food science. Although it's also possible that supply is dragging behind demand. The butcher at Cappuccio's told me, with perfect pretzel-logic,

"We don't stock fresh lard - nobody wants it. That's why we have the blocks of solid stuff. And now everybody wants fresh lard!"

May 07, 2013
GDSwamp in Philadelphia

fresh (rendered) lard?

Alright Bigley, I may check that out, thanks. My hope is that Sonny D'Angelo sells some as well, so I can pick it up before the weekend.

May 06, 2013
GDSwamp in Philadelphia

fresh (rendered) lard?

Does anyone know of a butcher that definitely sells fresh, non-hydrogenated lard in Philly?

Lots of places have the blocks of solid hydrogenated stuff, but I'm looking for plan rendered lard that's semi-liquid at room temperature (and better for you).

I tried a bunch of the butchers in the Italian Market today and no one had it, but some of the main sellers are closed on Mondays....

May 06, 2013
GDSwamp in Philadelphia

Philly’s best short-order cooks, lunch counters, one-$ spots? I’ll start with McNally’s.

Sounds good. I will check it out.

Apr 21, 2013
GDSwamp in Philadelphia

Philly’s best short-order cooks, lunch counters, one-$ spots? I’ll start with McNally’s.

Another addition, just discovered today (by me, but recommended by Holly below): The Street Food Philly truck.

This afternoon tried their braised pork tacos with frizzled shallots and some kind of salsa and some other sort of greens and (maybe) pickled onions - $6 for two well-stuffed soft tacos that were just freaking amazing. Maybe the best tacos I've had in Philly. And just, aside from any sort of ranking, delicious food.

33rd and Arch, next to Rival Brothers coffee truck which is seriously good coffee. That intersection on the Drexel campus has a small-parking lot's worth of promising food trucks, but I'm not sure I can try any of the others until I eat my way through Street Food's menu.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Street...

Apr 17, 2013
GDSwamp in Philadelphia
1