Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New York Times T Style Magazine: Philly’s Hot ‘Cause It’s Fly, You Aint ‘Cause You Not

A nice little piece in this Sunday’s T Style Magazine, their annual Fall Women’s Fashion preview.
Recently dubbed the sixth borough, the City of Brotherly Love is fast shedding its second-tier status. The Second and Third Street corridors that stretch from Old City to Northern Liberties have been cleaned up. This once-scruffy blue-collar neighborhood known more for its heroin dealers than its hipsters is filling up with Pilates studios, shiny new condo towers and underground fashion and design boutiques.
Hot Philly in the New York TimesWe love this piece (except maybe for that heroin barb). Sure, it’s just a one-pager in a hefty fashion mag, but the eyeballs seeing it are exactly the ones we need to adopt a new impression of Philadelphia, one different than the stereotypical perception of it as the home of Rocky and the Liberty Bell and nothing else. (Hey, we love Rock… and history too, we just know there’s a lot more if you’re willing to open your eyes.)

Moreover, they even included Arsenal, a hot new addition to NoLibs that’s only but a few months old — muy bien.

Hot Philly [New York Times T Style Magazine]

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In Praise of Philadelphia’s Delicious Tap Water, and Its Totally Negligible Carbon Footprint

the consequence of hyperhydration

New York City has a new campaign, NYC Water — Get Your Fill, aimed at getting New Yorkers to buy less bottled water and, to instead, fill their water bottles with good old city tap water. Tap water? Yes tap water.

Campaign materials promote tap water as “cool, healthy, zero calories, zero sugar, clean, and good on the go.”

Why spend money on such a campaign? Well, for starters:
New York's water is the envy of municipalities everywhere. It is one of just five major American systems whose water is so good it needs little or no filtration, saving energy and chemicals. (The others are Boston, Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Seattle.)

The system is self-sustaining from rainwater stored in reservoirs. Gravity takes it downhill to the city, where pumps are unnecessary in all but a few neighborhoods.

New York water is quite pure, requiring little chlorine, and low in minerals, giving it a clean taste.
And then:
Compare that with a bottle of Evian from France or a bottle of Figi from the Pacific islands.

To get to a store shelf in Chicago, for instance, a bottle of water from France must first travel more than 5,000 miles on ships and in trucks. And because water is heavy, transporting it requires a lot of fuel.

ABC News crunched the numbers — taking into account mileage and fuel requirements — and found that even before you drink that one-liter (or a 33.8 ounce) bottle of French water in Chicago, you've already consumed roughly 2 ounces of oil. And that doesn't include the oil used to make the plastic.
The point is that despite the fact that “four out of five plastic water bottles end up in landfills,” the brunt of environmental impact occurs before you even open it — “more than 90 percent of the environmental impacts from a plastic bottle happen before the consumer opens it.

So that brings us to Philadelphia, where the tap water just recently won an Honorable Mention in a national taste test of municipal water sources, besting 78 other locales.

That’s pretty impressive.

Meanwhile, if you choose to get your recommended eight glasses a day from bottled water, you could spend up to $1,400 annually. The same amount of tap water would cost about 49 cents.
So, obviously, it makes sense economically.

And, basically, we think we all should be drinking a lot more tap water and a lot less bottled water. And we’re going to look toward Philadelphia restaurants to help push the envelope/trend.

(Actually, maybe Mayor Street is in the mood for one more ban before he's done…)

tap water served at restaurants
DON’T bother asking for Fiji, San Pellegrino or any other designer water at either Incanto, a restaurant that opened in San Francisco in 2002, or at Poggio, which opened in Sausalito, Calif., two years later.

All their water comes out of the tap. It’s filtered before it reaches the table, but it’s from the public water system, just the same.


These two Bay Area restaurants were pretty much alone in kicking the bottle habit until Alice Waters, the godmother of things organic, sustainable and local, banned bottled still water at Chez Panisse in Berkeley last year and started serving only house-made sparkling water this year. Then the press took notice. Now other California restaurants, like Nopa in San Francisco, are following suit. Even an ice cream shop — Ici, in Berkeley — has jumped on the non-bottled-water wagon.

And now, with a little push from Ms. Waters, an important New York City restaurant is coming on board.
What’s up Osteria? Water Works? You guys want to dance?
Dr. Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, the environmental advocacy group, said there is no reason to believe that bottled water is safer than tap water, though there can be problems with either. The public water supply is much more stringently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency than bottled water is by the Food and Drug Administration. The E.P.A. requires multiple daily tests for bacteria, for example, with the results available to the public; the F.D.A. requires weekly testing, which does not have to be reported to the agency, to the states or to the public.

“The rationale for buying bottled water is a fantasy that has a destructive downside,” Dr. Solomon said. “These companies are marketing an illusion of environmental purity.”

Her organization has calculated how much carbon dioxide — a major greenhouse gas — is emitted during the transportation of bottled water imported from France and Italy, the two largest exporters to the United States, and Fiji water, which travels much farther. Together they account for 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent, Dr. Solomon said, of the yearly emissions from 700 cars on the road. She called that “a significant contribution to global warming, and fundamentally an unnecessary one.”
bottled water's enormous carbon footprint

Tap water, folks
it's the nectar of the gods.

A Battle Between the Bottle and Faucet [New York Times]
In Praise of Tap Water [New York Times]
Fighting the Tide, a Few Restaurants Tilt to Tap Water [New York Times]
The Unintended Consequences of Hyperhydration [New York Times]
Water, Water Everywhere, but Guilt by the Bottleful [New York Times]
Ditching Bottled Water to Go Green [ABC News]
The Nectar of the Gods [Philadelphia Daily News]

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Eating The Illadelph: the Truffled Egg Toast at Tria

the truffled egg toast at Tria in philadelphia[ Were going to try something new here with another semi-regular ETI feature but this time about menu items of particular note. First up — pure crack. ]

First sampled in the LES, truffled egg toast is at once luscious, elegant and simple. It’s an undeniably delicious snack that can be enjoyed in the morning, early afternoon or evening.

Thus, we were understandably pretty ecstatic the first time we saw the Truffled Egg Toast on Tria’s menu. And after having it a dozen or so times since, we have only confirmed our earlier suspicions — it’s fucking delicious.

If only Tria was open for Sunday brunch because the Truffled Egg Toast is pretty much the perfect brunch treat. But that's only a minor inconvenience as it certainly warrants ordering a little later in the day.

Which brings us to another thing about Tria on Sundays — their masterful take on Sunday School (the terrifying name aside.) Every week, they feature a different wine, cheese and beer, each at half off the regular price. You can't go wrong
it's a great way to try new beers and wines, and how can you not love cheese?

And now that Tria has just opened its second location in Wash-West, it’s time to take advantage.

So, to recap, the Truffled Egg Toast at Tria. Amazing. Sunday School at Tria. Similarly crunk. Tria’s new location at 12th and Spruce. Boom-city.

(This menu item has also inspired us to post our first MP3 link — it’s an oldie but a goodie.)

God Only Knows - The Beach Boys [ MP3 ]

Tria [ Official Site ]

[ Photo via ]

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

In Praise of the Amazing Delicacy that is Beef Jerky

beef jerky so tasty it will make your dookie twinkleHere’s a restaurant trend that we can definitely get behind.
There is clearly a jerky renaissance under way. At Café Rouge in Berkeley, Calif., the executive chef, Marsha McBride, is making jerky from slices of Niman Ranch chuck and beef bottom round, and from unused meat off carcasses from Chez Panisse. Ms. McBride seasons her meat with brown sugar and cayenne, dries it for four hours, and serves it at the bar on butcher paper. "It's perfect with Scotch and martinis," she said.

Across the bay at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, Taylor Boetticher, a co-owner of the Fatted Calf, an artisanal charcuterie, sells paper cones of jerky (at $25 a pound) made from organic grass-fed Marin Sun Farms bottom round that has been cut against the grain in long slices. Smoked over cherry and mesquite wood, and dried in a convection oven, it gets its flavors from organic blackstrap molasses, Jim Beam bourbon, and salt and pepper.

delicious-ass beef jerkyAt the Westbank Grill, a restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyo., the executive sous-chef, Laurent Méchin, has wrapped seared scaloppine of foie gras in buffalo jerky that he smokes and dries using a kitchen dehydrator.

"Jerky is a perfect meat product nobody gives much credit," Mr. Méchin said. "It’s low in cholesterol, high in protein, has zero fat and is extremely flavorful. Aside from the salt, nothing is bad for you."
You said it brohan.

Beef Jerky has been a fave here at The Illadelph since we used to enjoy some damn fine renditions at the local BP come summertime in the mountains.

Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to find a decent piece of b-jerky in the two-one-five. Don’t even front with the stuff they sell at Wawa or A-Plus — if it’s individually wrapped, it’s shite.

That’s right, quality, mass-produced jerky comes unwrapped and is sold in an air-tight jar with three dozen or so other similarly-delectable pieces. (It’s vacuum packed for shipping and then put into the jar by a store/bar employee for retail.) Does this allow for the possibility that someone else has touched your piece of beef jerky once you retrieve it? Sure, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

We used to get said goods delivered to us here on special order from the backwoods of PA… but, alas, that well has since dried up. (Trackside, oh how we miss you so.)

Thus, of late, we've been without quality beef jerky. Even the promising-looking jerky at Trader Joe’s disappoints once you take a bite. (If only Bob and Barbara’s was still producing the goods.)

So what Philly chef will come through and be the first to offer high-end Jerky on their menu? Danny Stern boasts a venison cheesesteak at Rae and Rae looks like it might be a good candidate. But we think Ansill might beat him to it. Come on — bone marrow crostini? Boar prosciutto? Our money is (rather safely, one might assume) on Dave Ansill.

Have at it yall.

For Epicures, a New Take on Jerky [New York Times]
Chew and Chew Again: A Jerky Renaissance [New York Times]