FEASTIVAL Is the Best Annual Food Event in Philly

Four Chefs

While there are many great food events and outings in town each year, the annual Audi FEASTIVAL unquestionably stands out as one of the top highlights.  Since 2010, Philadelphia’s top chefs have been coming together to produce a culinary feast to benefit the FringeArts, which presents cutting-edge, high-quality artists creating art “without any curatorial barriers.”

This year’s FEASTIVAL is scheduled for Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 7 p.m. at Penn’s Landing, 1 North Delaware Avenue on the waterfront.  Over 75 restaurants and bars are participating.  About 1,000 people are expected to attend, and they will be treated to both the food and the artistic performances under the tents.

This past Monday, at COOK, FEASTIVAL held an early preview of the offerings from some of Philly’s best chefs: Peter Woolsey of Bistrot La Minette, Chris Paulikas of CoZara, Jason Cichonski of Ela and The Gaslight, and Nicholas Elmi of Laurel. Continue reading

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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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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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Pizzeria Vetri: Newcomer Among Best Neapolitan Pies in City

Pizzeria Vetri exteriorOpening night of a new restaurant can be extremely busy and not truly indicative of a typical night.  Throw in the additional factor of Marc Vetri opening up his new pizza restaurant, and you would think there was the potential for all-out chaos.  Fortunately, while the crowds came in droves to the public opening of Pizzeria Vetri at 1939 Callowhill, the night ran as smoothly as possible for both customers and staff.

Pizzeria Vetri is by no means a large establishment.  It seats about 35 and has no bar at which to hang out while waiting for your table.  What it does have, however, is a check-in system, in which the hostess accurately gives you an expected wait-time and then automatically texts you when your seats (not necessarily table) are ready.  So, getting news of a one-hour wait at 7 p.m. wasn’t the worst news, as I just went one block over to Kite & Key for a drink during the wait.

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Philadelphia Taco Crawl of July 2013: Delicious Tacos Found Throughout City

El Jarocho al pastor tacos

On the heels of the highly successful Philadelphia Pizza Crawl of December 2012, it was time to plan another food crawl.  Cheesesteaks and pizza were already done.  The next target: tacos.

The taco scene in Philly is diverse and spread out.  Some of the best known Mexican establishments in town are the Stephen Starr and Jose Garces restaurants in Center City and University City, but many of the true gems are the “authentic” South Philly spots that are, regrettably, largely unknown to the average Philadelphian.  In fact, there are fantastic taquerias to be found all throughout the city.  The Philadelphia Taco Crawl of July 2013 sought to sample some of the best taco spots in different neighborhoods.

  • Basics – Sample six of the best Philadelphia taquerias on a Saturday in July.
  • Objective – Follow up on the Pizza Crawl and experience the great tacos the city has to offer.
  • Specific stops – Honest Tom’s Taco Shop, Cantina Los Caballitos, Taqueria Los Taquitos de Puebla, Restaurant Taqueria El Jarocho, La Calaca Feliz, Taco Riendo.  All have received recognition as being among the best places in town to get tacos.  They also provide a good mix of “Americanized” and “authentic,” casual and more formal, BYO and bar establishments.  Bonus points for “unusual” offerings.  Not making the cut but meriting consideration were spots such as El Vez, Distrito, Loco Pez, Taqueria La Veracruzana and Taco Loco.
  • Logistics – With Crawl stops in University City, South Philadelphia, Fairmount and Olde Kensington, walking would be impractical.  Originally, we considered renting a bus or trolley.  Instead, we went by bike, car and even bus between long distances, while walking between stops two through four.  Just like the Pizza Crawl, we also collected $20 up front for the cost of tacos and some drinks, while everyone was responsible for their own alcohol and additional orders.  Calls were placed in advance to each location to ensure they were open and able to accommodate large groups.  At each stop, we’d order enough for at least one taco per person, and we’d sample unique or specialty offerings where possible.

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The Vendy Awards: Philadelphia Street Food’s Biggest Day

Calm before start of Vendy Awards

There aren’t too many ways to better spend a sunny June Saturday afternoon in Philly than outside at a park overlooking the Delaware River while sampling dishes from the best food trucks in town.  Such was the case this past Saturday at Penn Treaty Park at the third annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards.

The Vendy Awards are the “Oscars of Street Food.”  They were originated in New York City by the Street Vendor Project  and expanded to Philly in 2011.  The Vendys allow the best of food trucks to be recognized, all while raising money for The Food Trust.  Attendees buy one ticket for the event and have all-you-can-eat access to all the food trucks as well as good beer and water.  Fifteen trucks competed for the coveted Vendy Cup, the Best Dessert, the People’s Choice and the Tide Stain Eraser’s Messy yet Tasty Awards.

Folks who arrived by the 2 p.m. start had their choice of trucks to hit up before the lines started forming.  It wasn’t long before the Vendys were a sea of people snapping photos of their food, devouring them and going back for more samples.

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