The Great Downtown Philadelphia Chocolate Chip Cookie Project

(UPDATED, 4/11/12) I’m a big fan of lists, especially ones that have rankings or otherwise note the best of a particular category.  It’s not too difficult to find countless roundups and surveys that espouse Philadelphia’s best restaurants, hoagies, pizza, hot sandwiches and, of course, cheesesteaks.

But you know what category of food in Philadelphia has not had much in the way of rankings or listings?  One of my favorite snacks: the chocolate chip cookie.  Sure, chocolate chip cookies are not exactly the first thing people think of in terms of Philadelphia food, but the great thing about them is that they’re so widespread.  Bakeries, coffee shops and even fast food restaurants all make chocolate chip cookies, with some more notable than others.

To say which cookie is the best in the city isn’t an easy task.  Everyone has different qualities they enjoy in a cookie, and there’s not really one perfect cookie.  Similarly, a cookie may be absolutely phenomenal but may also be prohibitively expensive.

So, after some research, word of mouth, personal experience and some aimless wandering, I tried out cookies from sixteen seventeen spots (a Sweet Sixteen (with one play-in) , if you will) within the Philadelphia downtown area with the potential for being among the best chocolate chip cookies in the city.  Just like the NCAA Basketball Tournament, I’m not guaranteeing that these selections are the fifteen best cookies in the city, but I can tell you that some or many of the best, along with my personal favorites in the city, are among them.  I tried to stick to mostly local spots, but truthfully, some chain locations had some great cookies I couldn’t ignore.

The additional superlative rankings are relatively self-explanatory and very scientific.   Continue reading


Size Does Matter: Analyzing the Size of a Pint Glass

You’d think there was a simple answer to a simple question: How many ounces are in a pint glass?  Not only is there not one answer, but there are at least THREE legitimate answers, as well as perhaps at least another realistic one.

Typically, bars in Philadelphia that serve beers on draught do so in U.S. “pint” glasses.  These glasses are mostly cone-shaped (“conical,” if you will), and chances are, a beer drinker has at least one or two of these at home.  They are widely attributed to hold 16 fluid ounces.

Some other bars, particularly Irish bars (such as Fado) and English pubs (such as the relatively-new Dandelion) pride themselves on their larger Imperial pints, which are marketed as 20 ounces.  Oftentimes, they bulge out near the top (either “tulip” or “nonic” in shape) and are noticeably wider or larger than the U.S. pint.  There is a catch to the size.  While the U.S. pint glass is measured in what we know of as U.S. fluid ounces, the Imperial pint is measured in imperial ounces.  Using the American system, they hold a slightly lesser amount, at 19.2 U.S. fluid ounces.

So, that’s three legitimate answers: 16, 20 and 19.2.  But are they actually realistic?  Using a 16 U.S. fluid ounce can of Yuengling Black & Tan, I filled up the U.S. pint to see how much it would hold.  The glass held all 16 ounces, but the liquid was all the way to the top with no head.  I can’t even remember the last time a bar served me a beer that went all the way to the top with no head.  More commonly, you have a little leeway up top to prevent spillage and allow for the foam.  As a result, the realistic answer then is that you usually get about 14-15 ounces in a U.S. pint glass.

Guapos Tacos Starts Feeding Hungry Public

Guapos Tacos

Jose Garces can pretty much do no wrong.  From his roles as executive chef at both Alma de Cuba and El Vez in the Starr Restaurant empire, to his initial Spanish specialty restaurants of Amada, Tinto and Mercat a la Planxa (in Chicago).  From branching out to the Peruvian/Cantonese fusion cuisine of Chifa to his Mexico City-inspired Distrito in University City.  From his whiskey bar venture of Village Whiskey to his BYO/wine store hybrid of Graces Trading Company.  From his elevation to Iron Chef America to, most recently, his domestic-centric JG Domestic.  The public (specifically, Philadelphia) flocks to and eats up just about anything in which he’s involved.

So it should be no surprise that Guapos Tacos, his latest venture in what is already a hot trend of food trucks, would debut for the public at13th and Chancellor last night to much anticipation and demand.  Guapos had previously done industry-only events and private servings for Garces Restaurant Group employees.  Announced only one night before its inaugrual public appearance, Guapos had over 30 people were eagerly waiting in line by the time it starting serving at 10:30 p.m.

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