(Non) Green Eggs and Ham

Deviled eggs came into my life only a few years ago. They weren't exactly a Brooklyn staple. Maybe I had them twice when I was growing up. After moving to PA, they showed up at many family functions, and social gatherings. They even appear on tables when they don't go with the other foods. Over the summer I attended a party where grilled meats and vegetables were served. There were deviled eggs on the table. I prefer them as an hors d'oeuvre or with other finger foods. I never thought I would aspire to own an egg plate. Now that I do, I couldn't wait for a reason to make some deviled eggs. The weekly Sunday football buffet would do just fine. The secret to a delicate, light filling? Grating the yolks through a microplane and going easy on the mayo. I am not a purist so I like other things in my eggs. Truffle, shrimp with pepper relish, curry, and ham with horseradish make appearances.

Grated yolks. This yellow snow IS safe to eat.

Ham snow. Can't wait for that conversation at the office... "What did you do last night?" "I grated ham finely with a microplane!"

The finished product with some ill cut ham for garnish. Had I thought about it beforehand, I would have cut all the ham in the shape of diamonds, like the one on the left, middle row.

I have perfected my hard boiled egg technique thanks to Sara Moulton. Place eggs in cold water with lots of salt. Slowly bring to a boil. The moment it begins to boil, turn off the heat. Cover. Let stand 7 minutes. Cool under running water, peel immediately. This yields tender whites, perfectly cooked yolks and not a spec of green sulfur ring around the yolk.

Born in the U.S. of A.

"Too few people understand a really good sandwich." - James Beard

The Cheesesteak BLT Club @ Vesuvio's

The bread was a cross between focaccia and a Kaiser roll. Grilled filet with caramelized onions, provolone, bacon, lettuce, tomato and sriracha mayo. Incredible. Deserving of it's title, "Best Sandwich in America" bestowed by the Today show. Served in a small, unassuming bar attached to a restaurant. Salty, sweet, spicy, beefy, crispy, cheesey. The recipe for the perfect husband and sandwich.

Vesuvio 736 S 8th StPhiladelphia, PA (215) 922-8380


Fond of Ficoco

It was so good my sister in law Kari emailed me about it. When she's this excited about something I know it's good. During my next Whole Foods jaunt I had to buy Ficoco. I had a suspicion and I was correct, it's from Dalmatian, the makers of the dried fig spread I love with cheese, also available with orange. Made in Croatia, it's yummy figs with pure cocoa.

So, what can you do with it? Eat it on gelato. Sandwich macaroons. Dip madelines in it. Add it to a muffin as a surprise center. Layer a cake with it. Stuff French toast. Make thumbprint cookies. Swirl it in ice cream while still churning. Add a dollop to spicy mole for duck. The list goes on, but the bottle doesn't, so stock up!

Ficoco on silver dollar pancakes. Great for eating with your hands on the sun porch with coffee.


Shola. Snack Bar. Solid.

It was one of my most eagerly anticipated meals of this year. It lived up to my expectations. I did not take photos. When dining in a group amongst Phil A. Dining, whose photos make those in Art Culinaire look like stick figures, you don't haul out your 4 year old outdated digital camera. You also don't steal someone else's pictures, so here is his photo recap of the dinner. I recommend opening it in another window so you can reference back and forth.

I started with a wanamaker cocktail. Snack Bar is known for it's inventive drink list so despite the fact I knew I had a tasting menu with wines on the way, I had to start big. Bourbon, cider, the butterscotch was understated but overall a great drink. The amarena cherry garnish tasted a bit past it's prime though.

First course: carrot ginger soup with coconut froth and peanut praline. Very enjoyable. Praline was a great foil to perfectly smooth soup. Served pretty hot in a pretty shot glass. I wasn't thrilled with the pairing, a champagne cocktail with basil seeds. Basil seeds? The thought progression... "Basil leaves don't have seeds. Oh, seeds that you would start a plant from!" While they had a slight basil flavor the passion fruit seed texture of goop around the seed coupled with their deer tick size meant they were stuck in your teeth for a good 20 minutes. Food 1 pairings 0.

Second course: Scallop 'choucroute' of fennel and apple with yuzu miso glaze. The scallop was cooked perfectly and the yuzu miso the perfect compliment. I did have a bit of sea grit on the scallop, but my favorite Bartendrix mentioned it might be some mystery seasoning, so Shola gets a mulligan for that one. Katie is much more familiar with his food than I. The La Cala Vermentino with it was pleasant and crisp, terrific with the apple and fennel. A healthy pour for a tasting menu. Food 2 pairings 1.

Third course: Skate wing torchon, nicoise flavors. Interesting and unusual, yet I don't need cornichon puree in my life. Red pepper vanilla gelee was quite inventive. Fried capers always please. And nasturtium leaves were a nice touch. Points for preparing skate in an unusual way and shape, but not one for the scoreboard. The viognier was wonderful with the gelee. Food 2 pairings 2.

Fourth course: kobe beef culotte, oxtail gyoza, parsnips and chanterelles. Wow. Yum. Not much to say. I'm glad philadining confirmed this was prepared sous vide, as I was hoping to encounter some on this night. It is a signature technique of Shola's. I was a bit confused by the wording, "culotte" as in split skirt. The cut of beef wasn't a skirt steak. Maybe a short cut? I'm all for creative wording but this one was lost on me. Oxtail is the new short rib. Bargain cut gaining notoriety with chefs. With good reason. Part of eating out is having something you wouldn't make at home. Who braises something for many hours anymore (besides me)? Spoiled me wanted to gild the lily and beg for white truffle on this dish. Great Valley Zinfandel was a great pairing. Stood up to the kobe without overpowering. Food 3 pairings 3.

Fifth course: epoisses with fennel mostarda, shitake soil and pumpernickel crisp. One of the best of the evening, requiring minimal preparation. The cheese was perfectly room temperature and perfectly ripe. It's pungency paired with shitake earthiness had me moaning for quite a bit. The Coteaux du Layon had just the right amount of sweetness to balance the funk. I hope Katie or David McDuff can shed some light on the varietal and other info of the tasty beverage. Food 4 pairings 4.

Sixth course: apple in forms, black sesame struesel, white chocolate. More moaning. Lovely. Crisp. Fresh. Cool. I could go on and on. The green apple granita was more similar in texture to a sorbet, but that's nitpicking. The white chocolate sabayon was velvety on the tongue. Black sesame for a touch of savoriness and compressed apple with chartreuse was a fun addition. I hear Quentin Tarantino in Death Proof, "Chartreuse, the liquor so good they named a color after it." This was the only dish I saw Shola eating himself in the dining room. The pairing however, did not fare so well. Acrid. Deplorable. Yuck. Warm sake with lemongrass and some other flavor I forgot while trying to suppress the memory of this. Suggested fix: chilled sake with elderflower. Food 5 pairings 4.

Seventh course: caju lime marshmallow and fried chocolate. Where was my graham cracker? Wonderful creation. I should have assumed there'd be a geyser of chocolate when I bit into it, but after a long day I wasn't paying attention and my shirt got a big taste! Caju lime marshmallow with a spicy peanut butter would make a killer nouveau fluffer nutter.

My first Shola dinner. My first time out with my dining crowd in a long time. First time meeting many eGullet regulars. A terrific night. Special thanks to I Call the Duck for coordinating a reservation for 11 in a small space.


Birth Day Week Month

I like my birthday. A lot. My husband says that will end next year when I meet the numbers "3"&"0" but for now I get to plan plan plan some tasty happenings. The festivities begin tomorrow night when I'll attend a guest chef dinner at Snack Bar featuring Shola of Studiokitchen. I've admired Shola's food for a long time. While I've discussed products and food with him, this will be the first time I've eaten his food and I've been anticipating this since I made the reservation a month ago. This is a birthday present to myself. Since I've used the gourmet meal budget on the Shola dinner, for Saturday night, the actual day I arrived on this Earth I'll keep it simple. It's a toss up between eating some cheese steaks at Jim's on South Street, a place Paul and I went often long ago, or trying the sandwich at Vesuvio's, the cheese steak BLT (I will hold the T) recently named best sandwich in the country by the Today show. Afterwards we'll listen to some jazz at Chris's Jazz Cafe and maybe we'll hop over for some gelato at Capogiro afterwards. Listening to live music at a small club and sharing a nibble or a cocktail is what you evolve to when you outgrow your club phase. There really is nothing like live music.

Some past birthdays:

When I turned 21 we went to brunch at Aquagrill when I lived in NY. I had a crab and asparagus omelet and saw Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman at the table next to us. I giggled that his feet didn't touch the floor when he sat. After I got us lost on the subway after a few mimosas, we ended up seeing the butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. It was a great day. That same birthday I discovered ganache, chocolately love. The pastry chef at Picholine, Deborah Racicot, made a two tier chocolate cake with candied oranges and ganache.

My Sweet 16 was very small scale. While most other girls at school had elaborate parties at a catering hall I had a 7 ft hero sandwich in my living room. I tried not have a party at all, but Mom wouldn't let me, she was very excited. She saved up every penny she had for that party. She even made the requisite for Brooklyn chocolate lollipop favors in a mold that had a heart with a big 16 in the middle. I bought the cake. I paid $1 per strawberry to have them dipped in chocolate and placed all around the outside. When I picked the cake up, the bakery forgot to dip the strawberries. To fix it they dipped the berries that already had apricot glaze on them in chocolate. Because of this the chocolate never hardened and I was angry. I still have ill feelings toward Savarese Bakery in Brooklyn on New Utrecht Avenue. One of the presents I received at that party was a tray of chocolate covered strawberries so I guess I made it well known how much I loved them.

I'm not sure how I want to welcome 30 next year. The most decadent meal of my life? Brunch at Lacroix? Maybe I'll head out to brunch in NYC to see if Danny DeVito has gotten any taller.