May 25, 2011

A table for two please

Some places were meant for first dates: low lighting, hushed atmosphere, and of course, impeccable food and service that won't drain your wallet. I love first date restaurants regardless of who you are dining with because the food never disappoints.

Located by 6th and Bainridge, the creperie is one 1 block south of South Street which meant it was the perfect ending after a long day of meandering and wandering.  The food was definitely on the pricier side but it also offered some of the best crepes I've had outside of Montreal. 
[Savory Crepe] Shrimp with Chives and Seafood Sauce 

[Sweet Crepe] Pears, Chocolate & Creme Anglaise
Creeping a little on the guests but look at that adorable couple by the window :p
11th and Locust. This place wins my vote for a first date, second date, whatever date restaurant. The moment I entered the place, I was in love. The restuarant is an amalgamation of an upscale farmer's market, cafe, bakery, wine shop and eatery. Basically everything related to food that I love all mixed into one.  In my opinion, Garces has officially won in the Garces vs Starr challenge.  We stopped by after a very filling in Han Dynasty for their adorable macarons but I cannot wait to go back for an actual meal. 

Full deli counter of cured meats, cheese, honey, and an entire array of balsamic vinegars including truffle oil and black raspberry.  Garces somehow also managed to finagle his own wine store right in the restaurant where you can buy the wine and drink it with your dinner [or lunch]. Prices are absurdly reasonable with a typical Riesling selling for ~$12/bottle. Apparently, the other restaurants in the area threw a big fit about Garces' personal wine store but I guess the protests weren't very effective. lol. 
Pastry counter with wide selection of desserts although I mostly focused on the macarons. 
We sampled one of each of the macarons: passion fruit, peanut butter & jelly, coconut, dark chocolate, salted caramel, and pistachio. I think my favorite was surprisingly the peanut butter & jelly since they it was so cleverly made. Half of the filling was grape jelly and half was peanut butter ganache with 1 purple side and 1 tan side.  Oh yea and in case that wasn't enough, we threw in a apple strudel which featured little cream puffs on top and a walnut filling center. 

May 17, 2011

Adventure Time

A very gluttonous lunch at Han Dynasty followed by macarons and apple strudel at Garces Trading Company meant I needed to do some major walking to work off my oncoming food coma. I had been meaning to explore more of South Philly so I decided to meander from 40th street and eventually ended up by 6th and Bainridge where I stumbled upon a quaint cafe called The Bean Exchange. The music selection was a bit awkward and sporadically switched from low key indie to angry rap to something that sounded like Spanish. Then I saw the Webster dictionary and Scrabble sitting on the bookshelf and decided I kind of liked the place.

One of these days, I want to come and just play scrabble for a whole day and indulge the nerd inside of me.

When I was taking pictures of the cafe, the barista told me that the place was haunted and to watch out for apparitions appearing in my Well fortunately, no spooky ghosts popped around the corner or out of the bar.

Best part about this adventure is that I found a creperie right around the corner to go to for dinner. Man on man I love summer.

May 16, 2011

May Flowers

A stroll around Pine Street and Locust Walk. Who knew there were so many flowers in so few little blocks?

Another Oldie but Goodie

Ever since I finally learned how to bake a perfectly chewy chocolate chip cookie without burning it (the secret is the baking time! who knew?)  I've been making this this peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I absolutely love chocolate and peanut butter together. Peanut butter brownies? delicious. Peanut butter filled pretzels? amazing. Peanut butter & chocolate ice cream? ok. you get the point. Anyways, I've been making these cookies since high school. Every birthday, snack day, whatever you name it, these are my go to cookies. I've modified the recipe by using different types of sugars and different amounts of peanut butter. I personally like my cookies with extra peanut butter but that's just me. Enjoy :)

Trader Joe's has a pretty perfect peanut butter, not very sweet and super peanut buttery. YUM.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (or in my case, the whole bag)
opt: 1 cup rolled oats

Cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugars. Then add the egg and vanilla.
Slowly add flour, salt and baking soda.
Chocolate chips!

Bake at 375 degrees F for exactly 8 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven.

Lined up (not so neatly) in rows :)

Now I just need to figure out how to package these and ship them without everything getting all smushed. Hmm.

May 15, 2011

Little Things

Life is full of wonderful little things that never fail to make me (or anyone for that matter) happy, and one of those little things is ice cream. Ice cream in any form is delicious but an ice cream sundae equal childhood happiness.

Located  next to the 2nd Market Street station, 1 block over from Han Dynasty and next to everything Olde City has to offer, Franklin Fountain has been an icon of the Philadelphia food scene since its inception in 2004. It is no surprise that the line we waited in stretched around the block because the ice cream is absolutely delicious.

The place is perfect from its old time radio to the servers in bow-tie to the homemade strawberry lemonade. The founders, the Berley brothers naturally took some of their inspiration from their mother who owned an antique furniture shop in Media. Check out their adorable website and blog.

[Lightening Rod Sundae] Coffee ice cream with a shot of espresso, chocolate covered espresso beans, white chocolate shavings, whipped cream and a pretzel rod. 

Another one of those little things that always makes me feel better is a really good cup of coffee. My roommate and I have literally lived in Capogiro for the past semester, and I have sampled almost everything from the perfectly foamy cappuccino in the cold month of January to the double shot iced latte in the heat of May during reading days (and of course everything in between). Here are some fun shots from the phone.

Sarah, the owner and founder, also has a very cute foodie blog you can check out here. I have this tendency of really disliking anything that turns into a chain or a franchise because the quality of the food and service always inevitably goes downhill. Fortunately for Capogiro, they've managed to keep everything pretty top notch even with three different locations.

An adorable teapot that they sometimes will serve your tea in. 

[double shot iced latte] the perfect way to start a day full of studying

The last little is more of a big meal but you should know by now how obsessed with brunch I am :) What makes brunch so perfect though is all of the wonderful friends you get to share it with. [and of course all of the yummy pictures of food I get to take]

[Hangover Pizza]

[Eggs Benedict] Hollandaise Sauce, Chorizo and Cheddar Biscuit.

[Almond French Toast]

[Steak and Eggs]
Find more brunch posts here and here. Home has been very relaxing and rather unproductive. My goals of cooking up a storm haven't really materialized but maybe that will change tomorrow...

May 9, 2011

Half way done!

It is official.  50% finished with college. WOW. But since I have already mentioned the sadness that is the end of half of college career, the big news is this blog post. I have been waiting to blog about this meal(s) for two weeks now. The first time, the lighting was really terrible and we were too hungry so I only got a handful of pictures. The second time, the pictures were slightly better and the third time, I was prepared and finally got some proper shots. Yup that's right. I have been to Han Dynasty three times since my last blog post. Some would call it obsessive, I just call it a really good excuse to eat really good food.

This has got to be one my favorite dishes of all time.
What can I say? It just happened that three different groups of people all suggested the same restaurant. I'm not going to argue when I get go to a restaurant where the spiciness is measured on a scale from spicy to more spicy. WIN. In my last blog post, I also promised myself to start taking more pictures and also getting around to starting a portfolio.  So the first step of that promise is to start using my Prime lens more often. I haven't been using it too much lately mostly because I seriously don't know how to focus the thing. BUT I think I am finally getting the hang of it. Maybe.

Meal 1: With the roommate and debate partner. On a random Saturday night, we ventured to Olde City and devoured four dishes in 30 minutes.

An array of SPICY.
[Mapo Tofu] Sadly not as spicy as it looks.
[Shui zhu yu aka water boiled fish] More like hot chili oil boiled...hehe. I remember eating this for the first time when I was in China with my grandparents. It was just the three of us, we ordered a feast and then promptly devoured just about everything.
[Garlic Sauce Beef]  I'm still not the biggest fan of bamboo but this dish made them tasty enough to eat :p

Meal 2: Lineage dinner with biggie, twin and little Lisa [yup, there's another Lisa in the sorority now].
[Cucumber Salad] Seriously need to find out what is in that sauce. Mission 1 when I get home is to recreate this dish.

[Wonton in Chili Oil] The key to checking to see if wontons are made well is by seeing how thin the skin is. The thinner the skin, the more pro the cook.

[Dan Dan Mian]. Ok, hands down best noodle dish in existence. Mission 2: Making this for lunch everyday.
 [Scallion Pancakes] Crispy and flaky
[Dry Pepper Chicken] As my Biggie said, this is one Bad ASS dish. SO salty and delicious.
[Walnut Shrimp] I don't think I have ever eaten shrimp so big.

Meal 3: The celebration of the end of Finance 203 with the case group. 8 cases and 80 hours later, we are still alive.

[Bok Choy, Shitake Mushrooms] Another amazing sauce, another dish to recreate.

[Dry Pot Style Chicken] With a medley of veggies including mushrooms, bamboo and celery all covered in dry chili peppers.
[Hot Pepper Style Lamb] Another moment of nostalgia. I actually hated the first time I tried lamb but my mom grew up in Northern Mongolia and basically lived off of lamb meat for 15+ years. So of course, it grew up me too :)
 And in case that wasn't enough, here are some more gratuitous shots to feast your eyes on. Enjoy.

Can you tell I really liked taking pictures of the Bok Choy? One last shot because I promised I would.

Aw aren't they cute? To the hardest working guy I know and the loudest guy I know =p. Thanks for a great semester and for being even better eating buddies.
Speaking of which, the continuation of this blog post is to come! Franklin Fountain will be next. Hurray to the beginning of summer!