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A 'Cambodia Town' in South Philly?

An influx of Cambodian immigrants changes the face of South Philly -- should the designation become official?

On sunny weekend afternoons, in the shadow of an ornate, golden Buddhist temple, Mifflin Square in South Philadelphia is dotted with charcoal grills, chile-lacquered chicken wings, and thin-sliced fatty beef heavily seasoned with lemongrass sputtering over the coals. Women pound chilies, garlic, and dried shrimp to a paste to season the snappy unripe papaya for the lime-drenched salads they sell to passersby.

This is what some people call Cambodia Town, where these authentic street foods sell for $1, and where there's an effort afoot to make the title official. Though there are other places throughout the city that are rich in Cambodian culture - similar vendors sell snacks in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, and there's a new temple under construction in Southwest Philadelphia - the area around Mifflin Square is the heart of this community. Business owners, city officials, and Cambodian Americans think it's time to raise the profile of their culture - especially its bold, bright, and balanced cuisine.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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PHS announces three pop-up beer gardens for summer 2015

This year, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will install three -- three!! -- of their wildly popular beer gardens. The transformation of these vacant lots is fast becoming a Philly tradition. Check out the full scoop from Foobooz:

Last year's South Street beer garden will return to 1438 South Street. This season will feature "Bohemian flair" as designed by designer Karen Regan of Tallulah & Bird. This year, the South Street beer garden will include wooden trellis, container gardens, large palm and banana trees and Jack-in-the-pulpit relatives that will rise five-feet tall. The space will also offer public and private spaces, a first for a PHS pop-up garden. Look for beers from Barren Hill Brewery to be offered throughout the summer. Barren Hill will also work with Wyndridge Farm, creator of PHS Cider on an exclusive beer for the garden.

The South Philadelphia location has landed at 9th and Wharton, opposite Cheesesteak Vegas. The look here will be an urban garden with a "hipster vibe." Look for recycled bike parts and reclaimed wood. A splash of color provided by a wave of Gomphrena Fireworks will spice up the beer garden. The spot will offer bean-baggy furnishings and a return of the popular stepped stadium seating that was so popular on Broad Street in 2013. Food and drink will be provided by Royal Tavern and Cantina Los Caballitos and will also borrow from the Italian flavors of the neighborhood.
The third location will be in the courtyard of Three Logan Square at 18th and Cherry Streets. Sure to be a gathering place for

Comcast employees and other Center City office workers. This space is being designed by Sargenti Architecture, a local firm. The vibe here should be beachy with sand around the fountain and palm trees, honey locusts, whispygrasses and lush tropicals dotting the area. A wood deck, white furnishings and cabanas for lounging will make this an attractive spot during the day and after work. Food and drink will be provided by City Tap House across the street.


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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Philly exports its culinary legacy: Cheesesteaks, water ice, Wawa and soft pretzels

A couple Philly mainstays -- Rita's, Tony Luke's, Philly Pretzel Factory, Wawa -- look to take over the world.

The man intent on taking the Philly cheesesteak global saw a familiar sight from home on a recent trip to Florida: a Wawa.
The hoagie-making, coffee-brewing convenience and gas chain from the Philadelphia area is pushing hard into the Sunshine State, opening more than 60 stores since 2012 with another 25 planned by the end of the year.

Albie Misci, sales director at cheesesteak chain Tony Luke's, knows the idea.

He's helping take Philly's most famous culinary treat to Florida, California and even the Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain.

Other staples from the City of Brotherly Love, including its beloved soft pretzels and water ice, are also going global, as their Philadelphia-based purveyors aggressively expand into national - and international - chains.


Original source: Associated Press
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Paste Magazine drinks its way across Philly's craft beer scene

Paste highlights 10 Philadelphia breweries, including some of our favorites. 

Philly Beer Week is swiftly approaching, but if you cannot wait until May, quench your thirst at the storied pillars of Philadelphia’s craft brew scene any time of the year. Philadelphians are as proud of their beer as they are of monuments like the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House and the Rocky Steps. Nothing could possibly go better with a Philly cheesesteak than an ice-cold brew.

Original source: Paste Magazine
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Two Philly spots make GQ's top 25 restaurants list

Two local restaurants have earned a place of honor of GQ's list of the country's 25 best restaurants.

Laurel at #8: The room might well be a shotgun apartment: front door leading to a tiny area (seating twenty) leading straight back to an undersized kitchen. There's not much decor, save for a few black iron sconces and hanging lamps. The chairs are exceedingly comfy, the service attentive, the stemware pleasing—all enhancements to a BYOB dining experience with a style of cooking I loved back when it was called “modern French.” Yet the most stunning dish was pure Americana, catfish in a coconut-clam broth. Hard to imagine a kitchen in Philly accomplishing what the South has been trying to do for centuries: make catfish elegant. Chef Nicholas Elmi does it gracefully. His meat dishes are intensely flavorful, particularly duck magret and foie gras. Stylishness has come to East Passyunk Avenue, once ground zero for cheesesteaks, now fast emerging as Philly's premier dining locale.

Lo Spiedo at #24: Come here for a little history and a lot of meat. Lo Spiedo is located just inside the old navy yard, where the battleship New Jersey was built. Almost as sturdy is the reginette bolognese. “Too much meat,” I griped. “Marc Vetri knows what he's doing,” argued a friend. He always does. Here you'll find glorified Americanized Italian food, including a gutsy celery-root milanese sandwich. If vegetarians gave out medals, it deserves the Navy Cross.
 
Original source: GQ
Read the complete list here.

Dinner service grows at public schools

Schools serving an after-school snack or dinner is a growing national trend, and Philadelphia is at the forefront. According to The New York Times, the number of students served dinner or an after-school snack nationwide rose to nearly 1 million last year.

More recent research indicates while family dinners can be linked to fewer symptoms of depression, most of the other benefits seem to decrease when demographic and other environmental factors are taken into account. At a time when many families have hectic schedules, dinner at school could provide some relief, said Rachel Dunifon, a policy professor at Cornell University.
"If these meals help alleviate stress, it could actually be good and open up more time for families," she said.

[The Los Angeles Unified School District] currently serves supper to 75,000 students and plans to expand the program to about 150,000 over the next two years. School officials estimate it will generate $16.6 million in revenue, which will go toward expanding the program.

Other large, urban districts with dinner programs include Philadelphia and District of Columbia public schools. Wayne Grasela, senior vice president for food services, said the School District of Philadelphia now serves 4,500 dinners each day.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Legendary Bookbinders restaurant reopens under Iron Chef Jose Garces

A piece of Philadelphia history reopens under one of the city's culinary stars.

Garces has taken over the Old Original Bookbinders on Walnut Street after it closed in 2009. It’s now called The Olde Bar and it’s Garces 9th restaurant in the city.

“I wasn’t looking to open another restaurant in Philadelphia. I was just looking to do something special.”

The famous restaurant opened in the late 1800’s...

He adds, “Obviously this space has a lot of history, a lot of stories. We are nodding to that but we are also creating something that’s original.”

Bookbinders was known for its seafood and Chef Garces plans to keep it that way.

“Put a little bit of tarter sauce… King crab legs, poached lobster, poached shrimp.”

The drinks are paying tribute to the old restaurant too, offering drinks like the Clover club cocktail.


Original source: CBS Philly
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Philly's Madame Fromage tells NY Times about her fantasy Thanksgiving

The New York Times asked leading food personalities about their fantasy Thanksgiving meals, including Philly's own Madame Fromage.

What do some Americans want for Thanksgiving dinner? They want lobster. They want Alaskan king crab and West African peanut stew, Peking duck and pad thai, Neapolitan pizza and Brazilian feijoada. In some cases, they want any form of meat that doesn’t gobble: osso buco, rack of lamb, suckling pig. For Tenaya Darlington, who lives in Philadelphia and blogs about cheese as Madame Fromage, nothing would beat “a Raclette party: quick prep, followed by satisfying stink and a long supper around a warm oven,” she said.

Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia's Chinese immigrant community finds a use for the city's ginkgo fruits

That stinky menace, the ginkgo tree, has traditionally been used in Chinese dishes -- and foraged by locals.

On her way to get coffee the other day, Margaret Chin passed a female ginkgo tree outside Holy Redeemer Chinese Catholic Church at 9th and Vine streets and picked up two fallen ginkgo fruits from the parking lot.

She went home to Chinatown, cleaned off the fleshy pulps and let the nuts dry. Then she cracked the shells and added the meaty kernels to a collection in her freezer to be cooked in soup...

Helen Wen, a Northeast Philadelphia resident who came here from China in 1997, says her mother and mother-in-law have often picked the fallen ginkgo fruits from the ground. She believes in the health benefits of the nuts inside and eats them in congee, or rice porridge. Ginkgo nuts are good for one’s memory, kidneys and urinary tract, she said.

Wen said her mother, now in her 70s, used to pick up the fallen fruits in and around Chinatown. Last year and again this year, her mother went with a friend to scour for the fruit in Northeast Philadelphia.


Original source: The Associated Press
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South Philly's Gennaro's Tomato Pie named best pizzeria in the state

Thrillist's list of the top pizzeria in every state singled out South Philly's Gennaro's Tomato Pie -- aka heaven on earth.

Philadelphia’s got some legit classic Italian cred (as well as some innovative spots like Pizzeria Beddia and Pizza Brain), so this was a tough call, but we’ve gotta hand it to South Philly's relative newcomer Gennaro’s. It’s got a pedigree that can be traced from America’s first pizza joint (Lombardi’s, also one of Little Italy’s best), and serves up simple, awesome pies with whole-milk mozzarella and crushed tomatoes.

In other Gennaro's news, the primo pizzeria is moving to a larger location in Passyunk Square

Original source: Thrillist
Read the complete list here.

Camden once again has a supermarket

In a huge boon for food access in the city of Camden, a PriceRite Supermarket has opened.
 
Camden had been without a chain grocery for more than a year since the Pathmark on Mount Ephraim Avenue closed. PriceRite is the first supermarket to move into Camden in 40 years, officials said.

"One year ago, when Pathmark closed, it left many people doubting, could we relocate a supermarket to this same site?" Mayor Dana L. Redd said. "A promise made is a promise kept today. This project and others like it will be the catalyst for the Comeback City."

The store is owned by Ravitz Family Markets, a family-owned business in operation since 1968, which also plans to open a ShopRite in 2016 on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden. Ravitz owns five ShopRite stores in Burlington and Camden Counties.

Jason Ravitz described the PriceRite store as a hybrid of Aldi and Costco, with low prices and bulk items. Shoppers bring their own bags or pay 10 cents a bag, a cost Ravitz said would go toward keeping prices low. For the first few weeks, PriceRite will give out reusable bags.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philly restaurant earns "million dollar review" from Times of London critic

Times of London restaurant critic Giles Coren came to Philadelphia to film his TV show, Million Dollar Critic, for Canada's WNetwork. The winner of his five-restaurant showdown was one of this editor's personal favorites, Kanella. (Best brunch in the city.)

"Kanella is the sort of place I wish I could review every week: a buzzing local taverna on a lively city corner, people of all ages and ethnicities sitting at outside tables, simply decorated inside, full of laughter, friends and family, and charming staff serving a cuisine rooted deeply in a foreign culture rather than just ripping it off, with a deadly serious chef at the helm."

Original source: Foobooz
Read the complete story (and check out a clip) here.

Upcoming Fishtown restaurant earns 'Weekend Update' quip

Soon-to-be-opened Fishtown restaurant Girard Brasserie & Bruncherie and its no-tipping policy earned a decidedly un-P.C. joke on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update." Check it out here.

It's been a big month for tipping in Philadelphia.

Original source: Saturday Night Live (NBC)
 

'Finding your tribe' on review sites

A New York Times writer looks at the different travel-and-review sites, and emphasizes the importance of "finding your tribe." Yelp helped her find a hidden Philly gem.

When searching for a hotel or restaurant, you don’t want everybody’s opinion. You want opinions from people who share your taste and travel goals. But how to cherry-pick those travelers from the multitudes of citizen-critics on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Hotels.com?

...More often than not I agree with Yelp reviews. Take a recent afternoon in Philadelphia. Craving a Mexican snack yet deterred by unenthusiastic restaurant reviews, I ended up in the Italian market area in Bella Vista where inside the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Tortilleria San Roman, Yelpers advised picking up “dirt-cheap” hot tortillas, fried chips and, as one reviewer put it, “mean fresh green salsa.” Delicious — and I got to stroll through the market.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Reading Terminal named one of the country's great public spaces

Reading Terminal Market has been named one of the "Great Public Spaces" in the nation by the American Planning Association.

World-renowned as an enclosed public market, Reading Terminal Market is conveniently located in downtown Philadelphia. The market is situated in a complex of buildings formally known as the Reading Terminal Train Station, occupying the basement and ground floor of the building underneath the old train shed. The market is organized in grid system spanning 78,000 square feet (1.7 acres) and is home to 76 independent small merchants. All of the merchants are locally based, selling fresh foods, groceries, prepared meals, and merchandise. The market is easily accessible to residents and tourists via public transit facilities, including nearby rail stations, seven subway and trolley lines, bus stops, a Greyhound bus terminal, and over 50 bike racks on the perimeter sidewalks...

Over 6 million people visit the market each year, generating upwards of $50 million in annual sales. Because the vendor businesses are 100 percent locally owned, the market's revenues are recycled within the Philadelphia region. The majority of patrons live in the Philadelphia region, and tourists make up about one-quarter of the shoppers.


Original source: American Planning Association
Read the complete list here.
129 Food Articles | Page: | Show All
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