Me Thinks This Pork Belly Sandwich be Good Enough for a GUEST POST!

porkbellysandwich

Ahoy! Guest post on the horizon! Taking the December reins is Chris from the awesome blog- This is a Hot Jam. It’s a smorgasbord of street art snapshots, Tastykake reviews, inventive recipes, and brainy book write-ups. (You probably don’t have to guess that the Tastykake reviews are my favorites.) He’s come here to give my readers a little 411 on pork belly sammies, and maybe you’ll even a little something about the mating habits of pigs…Take it away, Chris!

 

Travelling the high seas is an extremely risky venture. Besides the obvious dangers–rough waters, a fierce squall, mutinies, krakens, scurvy, falling off the edge of the world, the drunken first mate who keeps crawling into your bunk to, er, mate–seafarers also had to worry about running out of food. One solution to this problem was to seed islands with mating pairs of pigs. Sailors would drop off a few animals as they passed and the swine–much like the aforementioned drunken first mate–would immediately get down to business. By the time the shipped passed the island again on its return voyage, there would be a plentiful supply of delicious pork to feast upon. Of course, even a landlubber like me can appreciate some succulent, fatty pork. This sandwich is made with smoked & crispy pork belly, cole slaw and pickled green tomato. Its damn near perfect and I can say without hesitation that its my favorite sandwich of all time.

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I’m Soon to be an Old Salt with Me Soup Dumplings!

dumplings

Okay, this title might be a bit misleading. It was technically my first time having soup dumplings, but I absolutely loved them, and am now going to eat them at every opportunity. And while I’m being honest, this Chinatown haunt is a little shady, but it’s well worth darting through the obstacle course of crackheads on 11th street to get there. Our server quickly (and thankfully) targeted us as outsiders, and suggested dishes that white people normally like. We said, “Sounds good to us.” and accepted the whole lot. Every dish that came out was more delicious than the last. But these soup dumplings particularly stood out. After they were placed on our table, our server gave us a little demo on how to eat them. You basically pick one up from the top with your chopsticks, and place it on your soup spoon. You then bite off the tip of the dough, suck out a little juice, and then shove the rest into your mouth. Boy, oh boy, were they good. Delicate dough filled with an amazing, tender, pork meatball and incredibly flavorful broth with hints of ginger, garlic and that slight soy sauce sweetness. They’re out of this world. Exactly what I want to be eating on a chilly Saturday night. And we left gleeful and stuffed, with minimal soup stains, for $17 a person- including tip.

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Me Buccaneers Love these Beer Battered Green Beans!

friedstringbeans

I’ve been kind of obsessed with these green beans ever since I first had them a few weeks ago. I followed up my initial brunch visit to this 13th Street bar, with a dinner visit the following week. I insisted on getting them again, even though there were so many other delicious-sounding items. And if I went today, I’d insist on getting them again. I think it’s the surprise freshness of the green beans that make them so wonderful. I expected that they would be kind of soggy or mushy, but they weren’t. They snap in your mouth like a fresh green bean should. And the batter is super light. Crispy, and not overly greasy at all- like a really good french fry. The roasted garlic aioli is the perfect accompaniment. They come out piping hot, so you appreciate the cool dipping sauce, and the creaminess is so good with the crunch. And who doesn’t want roasted garlic on everything? (Always want.) If I’m being honest, these remind me of a dish I had, and loved, at T.G.I. Friday’s years ago. (I’m a sucker for nostalgia.) But I probably won’t see the inside of a Friday’s anytime soon, and I much prefer the rest of this upscale bar food menu.

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Me Thinks This Grilled Cheese be Good Enough for a GUEST POST!

grilledchees

Yarrr! Time for another guest post! My Blogger Bestie- Vinny, from Zen and Potatoes, is seeing if the second time is indeed a charm. In exchange for this prestigious honor, I only request this grilled cheese… once a week, every week, for the next year. Take it away, Vinny!

In the ever changing and increasingly tumultuous Philadelphia restaurant scene, some places start out with a flash, burn brightly for a short time and then go dim, never to be seen again.  Other places can maintain their f(l)ame and continue to go year after year.  A great strategy for this is to continue to have a rockin’ specials list while at the same time maintaining a tried and true set menu.  This Bella Vista establishment wrote the book on keeping people happy with their creative approach to dishes.  This grilled cheese features smoked gouda, provolone and goat cheese on thickly sliced, grilled buttered bread.  Where on earth did I find this wonderfully revamped comfort dish for the ages?

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Me Thinks This Vegan Frozen Yogurt be Good Enough for a BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY!

veganfroyo

In celebration of my 25th birthday tomorrow, and the bountiful loot I am sure to receive, I wanted to share some of the wealth with my loyal readers. This frozen yogurt is out of this world. I am by no means vegan, (see: foie gras burger) but I am absolutely obsessed with this fro-yo. My love affair with this vegan treat started a few months ago. One of me besties and I were strolling down 21st street, after a trip from Tampopo, when we saw a woman emerge from one of the restos with the most delicious looking frozen yogurt we had ever seen. So obviously, we went in to see how we could get some of our own. We talked to this incredibly sweet woman, who after multiple trips back I now know is the owner. She gave us the whole run-down of their fro-yo system. Basically, they have a pretty frequently changing rotation of seasonal flavors. Everything is homemade using fresh, natural ingredients. Most are vegan, but some are made with regular organic yogurt. Including the pistachio, which is pictured, and was incredible, I’ve also had flavors such as pumpkin, vanilla bean, and chocolate coconut. (Tasted just like a mounds bar!) They make the vegan varieties with almond and cashew milk or brown rice milk, and they’re sweetened with maple syrup. They’re creamy, flavorful and decadent. Every single flavor I’ve had has been wonderful. You absolutely do not miss the dairy. AND, for something that tastes so incredible, a large portion comes in at a surprising 168 calories. And if you happen to be lactose intolerant, you’re gonna be extra pumped. I just can’t get enough of it.

Think you know where this booty? …..Well leave a guess in the comments, any comment will do. On Monday morning, I will randomly select someone to win a $10 gift card, graciously donated by the owner. That’s enough for two of these beauties!

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Throw Down Jacob’s Ladder and Lead Me to the Papri Chaat!

chaat

Sh*t just got real. I don’t know what I’ve been doing all these years without chaat in my life, but what barren, cheerless years they were. Like I’ve said many times previously, most of my favorite kinds of foods have lots of different flavors and textures and allow me to get a little of everything in each bite. Well, insert chaat. For those of you not in the know, chaat is basically a traditional Indian food-truck snack. It can take many, many different forms, and usually involves some sort of little crunchies. I happened to be walking around West Philly this weekend with one of me besties, when she spied a new restaurant. We both squealed with joy when we realized this was the chaat shop we had heard so much about. Me bestie, being Indian and all, was well versed in the language of chaat and recommended that I get the papri chaat. The owner was beyond friendly, and artfully prepared my chaat with a whole lot of TLC. It started with a base of black and white chickpeas and boiled potatoes. Then that was topped with three or more layers (I lost count!) of things like chunks of fresh mango, fried crisps, onion, cilantro,  radish, and dried cranberries, with yogurt, mint sauce, tamarind sauce, raspberry sauce, blueberry sauce, and lots of spices drizzled in between each layer. It was then finished with what I can only describe as spicy trail mix. Cashews, almonds, dried banana chips and crunchies, all with a kick of heat. I know it sounds like a weird mix of flavors, but believe me, it’s amazing.

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Mitts off Me Steak, Salami, Fried Onion, Extra Cheese ‘n Special Sauce Sandwich!

meatsandwich1

Yes, this sandwich also has tomato on it, but it doesn’t deserve a headlining spot because it’s completely superfluous. So.. I had to trek out to the ‘burbs to get this Philadelphian delicacy. Yeah, maybe I could get one at ballpark, but I needed an original- made by the masters. And let me tell you, the adventure was worth it. This sandwich is a borderline monstrosity. It’s a cheesesteak on steroids, but so incredibly delicious. I can still taste it’s lingering grease from last night, but otherwise, I’m not even sure if this picture would be appetizing. You need to taste it for yourself to believe. Lets break down the sandwich. It starts with a super-soft, fresh kaiser roll that’s been grilled on the inside. The roll is then layered with a slice of American cheese, thinly sliced grilled steak (cheesesteak goodness), smoky fried onions, the aforementioned unnecessary tomatoes, another slice of American cheese, wonderful thick-cut grilled salami (The salami gets crispy and sweet, kind of like pork roll), a healthy dose of their special sauce (very similar to Thousand Island, just like every other special sauce), and yet ANOTHER slice of cheese. Finish that off with the rest of the bun, and you’re good to go. Perfection. If you want to make the journey, I would recommend getting 1.75 sandwiches. After all, “It’s the perfect amount.”

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Yarr! Me Topman Spies a Huevos Racheros in the Distance!

huevos

Man, oh man, do I love these huevos rancheros. They are my number one, go-to hangover brunch. It’s delicious and hearty. (And surprisingly vegetarian.) Just greasy enough to keep the feelings of death at bay, but not greasy enough to make you feel like you need to lie down afterwards. This No-Libs bar being but a dubloon’s throw from me first mate’s apartment doesn’t hurt either. I think the secret to the incredible-ness of these huevos is the hidden corn cake. It’s the foundation of this Mexican delight, and I could eat about a dozen of them. It’s basically just corn bread, but topped with stewed pinto beans, two sunny-side up eggs, fresh pico de gallo, mountains of melted cheddar cheese, sour cream and avocado, it really seems like something special. And to further promote this special dish, if the chef is in a good mood, he’ll even give you an avocado smiley face. It’s like the grown up version of the Friendly’s clown sundae. With a good portion of crispy potatoes on the side, this could probably be used as the cure-all for anything, hangover or not. Earache anyone??

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Smartly, Me Lad, and Grab that Lobster Mac and Cheese!

lobstermac

I think this Center City restaurant’s new slogan needs to be, “Come for the View, Stay for the Lobster Mac.” For reals, this lobster mac and cheese was on point. Thick, tender rounds of pasta filled with an incredible cheese sauce and wonderful, plump pieces of lobster. Yes, there’s lobster on this. Yes, lobster makes everything more fancy and delicious. But it really was the cheese sauce that put this dish over the edge for me. Truthfully, I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like, and I think it’s impossible for something to be too cheesy. This big-time chef must share my sentiments. The sauce was thick, and creamy, and kind of gritty too. Not gritty in a bad way, gritty like you know there’s mountains of real, delicious cheese melted into that sauce. I don’t want more cream to cut the natural grit, I want more cheese to cut the cream. The pasta is the perfect shape to catch all of that cheese, and hey- if there’s also a piece of lobster at the end of that bite, I’m all the more happy. All-in-all, fantastic meal, but when you’re finished, you might want to take the stairs.The thirty seven flights of stairs…

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Ye Swashbucklers be in fer a Treat wit this Roasted Chicken Banh Mi!

chickenbanhmi

Sometimes I think it’s weird how happy food makes me. Shouldn’t I be this jazzed about something more significant? (World peace anyone?) But when I try something that is so obviously spot on, it’s paradise. When the first bite of this banh mi hit my lips- I had a serious feeling of euphoria. Lets break this sandwich down. It starts with a great short roll. Crispy but not cut-the-roof-of-your-mouth on the outside, cushy on the inside. Then a mayo sauce with just a hint o’ spice. Cucumber slices, cilantro and pickled cabbage follow, and are then topped with the most tender, juicy roasted chicken meat that I’ve potentially ever had. Thoughtfully added are tiny bits of stock jelly that are wonderful little pops of intense chicken flavor. And see that kind of strange looking black flakes? Don’t worry, it’s not a trick. That’s a piece of chicken skin that has been roasted to crispy perfection and kindly placed atop your sandwich. If I had no shame, I’d like to swap out a side of their kale chips for a pile of these. Yes, this is nothing like the Vietnamese classic, but it’s a damn good sandwich. Give yourself a Halloween treat, and stop by this Rittenhouse joint today.

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