A Night at Laurel, the Hottest Restaurant in Philly

LaurelSo what exactly is a dinner like at Laurel the hottest and toughest table in town.  Is it really worth the ten week (as of April 24, a midweek July 9th, 9:00 p.m. reservation was the earliest I could locate) waiting period?  To find out, I fortunately made a reservation when the waiting period was only seven weeks (for a midweek 8:15 p.m. dinner) and had dinner this past Tuesday night.  It was quite the experience.

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Small Breweries Getting Closer to Opening in Philly

IMG_2671The number of small breweries with Philadelphia city limits is due for a welcome increase. Saint Benjamin Brewing Company in Olde Kensington is hooking up electricity and equipment. The three barrel nanobrewery should begin beer production in late May, in time for Philly Beer Week. Meanwhile, out in Brewerytown, Crime & Punishment Brewing Co. has its space hosting some special events and is scheduled to officially open this summer.

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Los Angeles and Philadelphia: A Food Comparison

Langer's DeliPizzeria Vetri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last time I was in Los Angeles was almost thirty-three years ago, which was well before my formative eating years.  Back then, there was no appreciation for barbecue, Neapolitan-style pizza, pasta made from scratch, smoked meats, and so forth.

So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to my recent trip to Los Angeles.  Knowing all about the famed food scene in town, I carefully did research of what hot food spots I should target.  My primary resource was Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold’s comprehensive and fantastic list of the 101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles.  I also caught the recent AskMen.com piece naming the country’s ten best sandwiches, including two from Los Angeles.  Given the desire to “carb load” on the night before a marathon, I planned to hit up a top notch Italian restaurant.  The final guideline?  After much thought, I did not want to go to Spago or another expensive prix fixe spot, figuring that there were plenty of other outstanding, more affordable spots.

And what did I find?  Two observations: 1) There is plenty of amazing food in Los Angeles, from casual to high end places, and 2) some Philadelphia restaurants are just as good as those LA restaurants though there are just many more options in the City of Angels.

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Philadelphia Pizza Crawl of March 2014: The Search for Newer Pizza

Pizza Crawl 2

It had been fourteen months since the epic Philadelphia Pizza Crawl of December 2012. Over seven months elapsed since the Philadelphia Taco Crawl of July 2013. People were getting hungry, and it was time for the food crawl planners to plan the next outing: Philadelphia Pizza Crawl 2: The Search for New Pizza. There is so much good pizza in this city the only logical thing to do is have a second crawl to try the best of the best.

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Half Marathons: What Price Glory?

It’s well reported that half marathons are the fastest growing distance race in the country.  The training is nowhere near as arduous as that for a full marathon, and yet many participants still get the satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment.  Best of all, there are plenty of half marathon race options.

Within Philadelphia city limits, there are now four road half marathons: The Love Run, Oddyssey Half Marathon, Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon and Philadelphia Marathon Half Marathon.  Additionally, there are  three trail half marathons in Pennypack Park: ½ Sauer ½ Kraut, Sloppy Cuckoo and Oktoberfest 13.1.

Different races have different prices.   Runners expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $140 for most marathons.  So what’s a reasonable amount to pay for a half marathon?  And how do the Philly halves compare to other nearby races?  Here’s are the prices for the road races:

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A Primer on Relevant Pennsylvania Growler Fill Laws

Southern Tier Pumpking in Victory growlerA couple of months ago, I was with friends at Tired Hands Brewing, an excellent small brewery in Ardmore.  Because of its small size, Tired Hands does not yet distribute to stores, so its beer is essentially only available at the brewery.  After having lunch and enjoying a couple of beers, one of my friends attempted to fill his growler, purchased elsewhere, with one of the Tired Hands beers on tap.  His efforts were unsuccessful.  Tired Hands informed him that because his growler had a label from a different brewery, it could not, under Pennsylvania law, fill up his growler.

Everyone knows that Pennsylvania has a convoluted set of beer and liquor laws.  It’s no surprise that there are several laws pertaining specifically to growlers.  Different bars and breweries have their own policies relating to growler fills (some have no problem filling up growlers from other breweries, others do).  Here are the relevant rules I’ve found: Continue reading

Running in Bicycle Lanes From Runner’s Perspective

In the past few years, the City Bicycle laneof Philadelphia has done an admirable job adding more bicycle lanes throughout Center City.  These lanes, in theory, promote the safe coexistence of bicycles, motorists and pedestrians.  In streets with bicycle lanes, bikers have to stay in the lane and off the sidewalk and traffic lanes.  Vehicles have to also stay out of the bicycle lanes.  And pedestrians are free from bikers riding on the sidewalk.

In reality, of course, it’s not that simple.  As city bicyclists know, bicycle lanes are often occupied or blocked by construction, delivery trucks or parked cars.  The Complete Streets Bill, passed by City Council last year, explicitly prohibits parking in bicycle lanes and increases fines for bicycle violations to $75 (from $3).  Of course, the City also has a long-standing tradition of allowing cars near religious institutions to park in the bike lanes on weekends, particularly if they have pamphlets from those institutions on their dashboards.

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