It’s not a restaurant, per se, though you will likely end up having some amazing dishes. Nor is it, despite the suggestive name, a cooking class, though you do receive many of the recipes for the meal.
So what exactly is COOK, the small, window-filled, yet blinds-drawn space at the corner of 20th and South Rittenhouse? Essentially, it’s a kitchen-classroom featuring demonstrations by some of the city’s best chefs. Instead of having to serve full restaurants, the chefs are cooking private meals for 16-20 “students”. For attendees, one of the biggest draws is to be able to interact with the chefs, as they tell the stories and reasoning behind the dishes.
Curiosity (and rave reviews from friends who’ve been) finally convinced me to give COOK a try. What better way to experience COOK than to pay homage to my Filipino heritage with “A Filipino Feast With Lou Boquila of Audrey Claire, Hosted by Drew Lazor?” The night was certainly one to remember. Here’s the recap of exactly what goes on at COOK.
I believe it was Marie Antoinette who once said, “Let them eat Tastykakes.” Or maybe that was just the Marie Antoinette impersonator during the Storming of the Bastille re-enactment during Philly’s Bastille Day celebrations of years past. Regardless of whoever said the quote, we should heed the advice.
Tastykake, of course, is a Philly original, serving wonderful baked products for close to 100 years. Sure, it merged out of necessity with Flower Foods, Inc., but that doesn’t mean it changed any of its recipes to its krimpets, kakes and pies. And one of the best things about Tastykake products is that you can incoporate them into other foods, such as milkshakes, ice cream and blended alcohol drinks. Thanks to the good folks at The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (Visit Philly) and Foodspotting, I had the opportunity to take part in an “Eat Up” tour of various Tastykake-inspired dishes throughout the city.
On a perfect weather night last October, the first ever Night Market in Philadelphia took place in the Passyunk Avenue neighborhood. With the combination of good weather, terrific participating local restaurants and the city’s most popular food trucks and other street food vendors, the Night Market was an unbridled success. Tons of people walked around a great neighborhood and sampled many wonderful eats.
The second edition took place this Thursday night, in a special Philly Beer Week edition. Moving on to a different neighborhood, Night Market was held at a large parking lot on 39th and Market. Not quite the same as Passyunk Avenue and having a little bit of the feel of attending a church-sponsored fair in my youth, but that’s neither here nor there. Despite the oppressive 90 degree heat, droves of people still came out (at least until the much-needed rain fell around 8 p.m.).
Playing off the success of the fall’s edition, this effort featured large does of taco trucks and other mobile vendors though, in contrast to the first one because of the location, not much in the way of establsihed neighborhood restaurant stands. The big hits were the Philly debut of Nomad Pizza, which makes handmade Neapolitan-style pizza in its mobile brick oven (at a reasonable $9-10), taco trucks (Honest Tom, Guapos Tacos and Chris Taco Stand all had huge lines), and beverage stands (Made in the Shade Lemonade and the Blockley Beer Garden had big business thanks to the weather). What was not as as hot? Hub Bub coffee didn’t exactly have people waiting, and the multiple cupcake trucks (Sweetbox Cupcakes, Jimmies and Sugar Philly) may have oversaturated the cupcake market.
Overall, the second Night Market was a good event, especially considering the weather, but it definitely was a notch down from the success of the fall event. There were a lot of attendees, but some of the lines were insane. It’s a great idea, similar to the likes of the Rittenhouse Row Festival and other neighborhood fairs. In addition to taking place in actual real neighborhoods (maybe Chinatown, Headhouse Square, etc.), perhaps it actually needs more high quality vendors (and beer stands) to alleviate the lines.
In my months of training for my marathon, I have learned one indefatigable truth: drinking a lot of alcohol on the night before a long run is quite detrimental for your performance.
Sure, there are the typical circumstances that generally accompany consumption of a few drinks, such as possibly being out late and having less sleep. Then, there are the other adverse physical effects. Alcohol, of course, is a diuretic, which leads to dehydration. It causes the body to lose fluids quicker, impairs performance and makes those long runs even tougher. By extension, drinking alcohol also significantly increases the rate of urination. There have been times I’ve gone out on long runs (after a night of drinking) and had to stop to use the restroom multiple times.
Not surprisingly, most articles providing advice on running marathons generally discourage drinking on the night before the race. At the same time, many runners are used to drinking beer or wine on almost a nightly basis. It can certainly be done. Witness former U.S. Olympic marathoner Deena Kastor, who used to drink a glass of wine before races, including before her bronze medal performance. Hey, if it’s good enough for an Olympic bronze medal, it’s good enough for me. If nothing else, it would help calm the nerves, and, after all, you shouldn’t stop what you have been doing all throughout training right before the marathon.
With that said, it appears to be ok, for those who are used to drinking wine or beer, to have ONE (and only one) glass of wine on the night before the race, particularly having it early in the evening with dinner. Accompanying the drink with adequate water afterwards is also for the best. Of course, if my performance during the race is below par or if I end up having to stop for restroom breaks multiple times, I also then have a built-in excuse.
If I was opening up a new bar/restraunt in Philadelphia, it would have most of the qualities of Kennett, the recently-opened establishment at 2nd and Christian at the old Lyon’s Den. It’s tough to find fault with a place that hits all the current hot trends in the food and beer world.
Small plates? In the words of Charlie Sheen, “Duh!” Farm to table and locally sourced food? Of course. Pizza? Yep, in a wood-fired oven, no less. Burger? Three different varieties, including lamb and veggie. Craft beer? 16 taps and 13 bottles worth, including such top beers such as Founders Breakfast Stout and Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald. Cocktails? A full page on the menu.