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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cadillac's Culinary Challenge - Philadelphia

Philadelphia (King of Prussia to be exact) hosted the first stop of Cadillac's Culinary Challenge 2011.  This event took place over a 2-day period -- May 21st & May 22nd.  The challenge pitted two chefs against each other in a cook-off with the winner decided by a panel, and/or crowd participation.  The object?  Win over the crowd by making the predetermined dish the favorite of the group.  Our chefs?  Chef David Burke (on the left) known for being the recipient of several culinary awards, a restaurateur, and gracing television shows such as Iron Chef America.  His opponent?  Our hometown favorite chef of City Tavern fame, Chef Walter Staib, who is a multi-award winner and culinary journeyman in his own right. 

As a side note, Chef Walter blends two of my favorite subjects, food and American history.  He tackles both worlds exceptionally well as profiled on the PBS program, A Taste of Historyand at his restaurant located in historic Old City.  As most of you are aware, this foodie/beer geek is a huge follower of the local beer scene.  The mere mention of Chef Walter wouldn't be complete without the nod to his bringing us The Ales of the Revolution through Yards Brewing.  Washington's Tavern Porter is one of my favorites of the style.  I've pitched the idea to various members of Yards' staff over the years of aging all of these beers in bourbon(or another spirit) barrels ala The Whiskey Rebellion.  Maybe some day.
Chef Walter prepares his dish, Chicken Napoleon a la Jefferson.  This dish was an Angel Hair Pasta Frittata topped with wilted dandelion greens and Chicken Doree.  This was a very interesting dish.  I wouldn't have thought to have pasta come in the form of a frittata but it worked.  The dandelion greens were a nice touch with the earthy, sweet and bitter flavors melding with the savory chicken.  Delicious! 

Prior to the event, Staib taunted Burke by saying, "You're in Philadelphia now. We're going to teach you a thing, or two." Both completed dishes would soon tell the tale. In any case, I was taught that I enjoy pasta with eggs.

To the left is the Chicken Napoleon a la Jefferson prepared by Chef Walter Staib.  This dish was inspired by favorite foods and ingredients of Thomas Jefferson. 
Chef David Burke shows off some of the sliced Portobello mushrooms, which would become the mushroom chips to accompany the open faced Cheese Steak made from 55-day dry-aged beef, aged provolone, and french fried onions.  The beef alone was worthy of an applause.  I was pleased to have tried it.  According to Burke, his group owns the flow from farm to plate with this beef, as they own the cattle.  This was a nice treat and if given another opportunity to experience a greater portion of this finely aged beef with either a nice red wine, or an appropriate beer, I would do so in a heartbeat with the cash in hand!
So, who was the winner of this event?  I believed both dishes were very well done.  I would've been pleased with either dish but that beef simply won me over.  There was a tangy bbq and fig-like sauce atop the beef that held those crunchy onions on...that kind of did it for me too.  The tasting panel outnumbered me and one other voter in favor of Chef Walter's dish.  Home court advantage?  Maybe.  Chef Walter's dish was worthy of the win and I look forward to getting a chance to revisit his wonderful meals at The City Tavern.
Be sure to check out other stops across the national, 13 stop tour on the facebook page, or go to the homepage of  Cadillac's Culinary Challenge Tour.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cadillac Culinary Challenge today(5/21) and tomorrow(5/22) at KOP Mall

Chef Walter Staib of Philadelphia's City Tavern will be cooking off against restaurateur, and recipient of several cooking awards, Chef David Burke of New York.  This is part of the Cadillac Culinary Challenge, Saturday, May 21 to Sunday, May 22, at the King of Prussia Mall (outside of Lord & Taylor).

The weekend's events will benefit Share Our Strength organization, which fights childhood hunger in America.

"I truly believe in what Share Our Strength does. It's such a good cause, and the funds actually go to local organizations that help feed children," Staib said.

Everyone is invited to attend to watch a lively cooking competition between two talented and renowned chefs. Guests will sample the finest of cuisines, then they will compare the luxury and performance of Cadillac to its challengers from BMW, Lexus and Mercedes. It's all here at the Cadillac Culinary Challenge Test Drive, presented to you by Cadillac and its culinary partners.

Test drives run the entire program time and culinary demonstrations take place at 11:30am, 2pm and 4pm. Seating is limited to a first come, first serve basis.

The culinary battle will pit Chef Burke and Chef Staib as Burke presents a nouveau Philadelphia dish and Chef Walter Staib will be demonstrating an 18th Century Philadelphian dish,
Chicken Napoleon a la Jefferson, a dish inspired by Thomas Jefferson's known favorite foods.

"Thomas Jefferson is well known to be one of America's first gourmands, and this dish combines many of his loves, including dandelion greens and pasta. Jefferson brought the first documented pasta maker to America," Staib said.

After each cook-off, guests will be treated to each chef's dish and choose a winner. Each tasting will be hosted by a special guest emcee from Bon Appetit Magazine. There will be raffles for $50 City Tavern gift cards at each event, as well.

In addition, there will also be a Twitter Contest where people will Tweet recipes, which will be judged on content...the winner will receive a cookbook from Chef David Burke.

I will be in attendance during the Sunday session.  See ya there!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2011 Philly Beer Week Preview

I was pleased to be one of the selected invitees of Philly Beer Week's 2011 Preview at the Four Seasons Hotel, which will serve as PBW's home base during the happenings around town.  What can one expect to find at the Four Seasons during all of Philly's finest fermentational festivities?  Information on the events, some souvenirs, and local area brewers who will act as your beer guide in the With Love Beer Garden.  There will also be select food items created from local beer. 

PBW's Executive Director, Don Russell, aka Joe Sixpack, initially got involved with creating Philly Beer Week in 2008 because " was good for the city."  According to Russell, "It says a lot about (who) we are as a city."  With the finest selection of beer, venues, breweries represented, and brewers to be on-hand, this 10 day-long festival is enough to satisfy both the amateur beer enthusiast, as well as the well versed beer veterans. 

It's no wonder many other organizers from other cities have reached out to Russell to find out the keys to a successful City "Beer Week" event.  I think we're all content knowing that Philly is America's Best Beer-Drinking City.  If they want to know what it's about, they should come check it out for themselves.  In fact,
members of have organized their annual, Summer Gathering in our great city this year to coincide with the beginning of PBW.  Coincidence?  Nope.  Those guys are pros and know what's up.

The organizers have both a twitter, and facebook account and keep thirsty beer-lovers in the loop of the latest and greatest.  In addition, there is a smart phone app available for both the droid and iphone.

If you haven't experienced Philly Beer Week yet, be sure to check out the website for one of the hundred-plus events that will be taking place.  If you've experienced PBW in the past, this year is sure to be one of the biggest, and baddest in PBW's brief history.  With so many wonderful events taking place this year, it will be hard to decide where to be and what to attend.  Decisions, decisions...time to start taking those extra days off that you don't know what to do with, folks.

Be sure to check out one of the Hill Farmstead events that will be taking place during Philly Beer Week. I'll be on hand, along with Brewer/Owner, Shaun E. Hill.  On Friday, June 3rd, we'll be at Capone's around 11 am for some rarities, along with samplers(for purchase) from select Hill Farmstead bottles.  Later that night, we'll be headed to Eulogy around 6 pm.
On Saturday, look for us at Hawthorne's for a beer and cheese pairing with Jasper Hill Farm from 5pm - 9pm.  Special draft treats, along with some more samplings(for purchase) of bottles.
On Sunday, our beer will be featured at Tria - details to follow.
Monday, June 6th concludes our representation from Hill Farmstead with a wrap-up at Monk's starting at noon.  Expect some very special treats to be unleashed for our conclusion at one of Shaun's favorite beer bars!

In parting, Bruce Nichols, one of the original founding members of Philly Beer Week, and longtime advocate of bringing better beer to Philadelphia will be missed this year.  Don Russell said, "I'll be committed to drinking Bruce's share of beer this year!"  Cheers, Bruce.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sly Fox (Phoenixville) - The Running of the Goats May 1st, 2011

A crowd of thousands converged upon Phoenixville yesterday in joyful celebration of the annual Bock Festival & Goat Race held at the Sly Fox Brewhouse.  So, what's all the hubbub about goats, and beers, you ask?
Bock in German means "goat", or ram.  So, what the hell does that have to do with beer?  It is thought that "bock" was a spin from the strong beers brewed in Einbeck, Germany.  The southern German accent sounded like "Ein-bock".
Lots of German style beers on tap, including Hefeweizen, Helles, Pilsner, Doppelbock, Eisbocks, and of course Maibock, which is the "May" Bock to celebrate spring.  Plenty of grub, including soft pretzels, and German sausages.

These two handsome fellows here give each other the stare before race time.  They thought about ramming skulls, and tangling horns before the owners reeled them in and got them set to run. 

On your mark...                           
The Emil Schanta Band performs Oom-Pah tunes with brewmaster, Brian O'Reilly watching the goats line up for the next heat of the race.  Zicke Zacke, Zicke Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!
Sly Fox's Corey Reid wheels out the first keg of the Maibock to be named after the winner (ended up being Peggy Maibock).  This particular keg (a firkin) is tapped by using a portable spigot via insertion of a mallet.  The beer is then poured by gravity.  Alle natürliche bier...yummm.

Go, goats, go!  These cute critters ran their fuzzy little hearts out.  No running for me.  I stuck to the beer.  This is the reason I look forward to the start of May every year.  Ein prosit zum Sly Fox!
Sly Fox's Website

Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wing Man Bar and Grill (Pennsburg) - Hot Wings

The texture is of a crispy wing with a crusty shell that keeps in the succulent, juicy chicken pieces.  It almost seems a tad overdone but it grows on you.  Crispy, nearing flaky but with an appealing crunch.  These could be perceived as bordering "dry" on the outer shell but inside is a delicate sweetness that is reserved for   those who enjoy wings.- 3.5

The sauce is one of the best components of this wing.  Not overly hot but certainly hot enough.  This flavor is actually in the middle of the heat spectrum according to Wing Man's menu with flavors such as Suicidal being hotter and "Tough Guy" being the hottest offering.  - 4

The flavor is like Franks mixed with a butter and buttermilk sweetness in the background...could be coming from the crispy crust too but it all plays together.  Nice chicken punch atop the melding of hot sauce and crispy skin. - 4

The edibility is really good.  Like I said, there's some heat from the pepper sauce along with some sweetness from the breading and juicy chicken all coming together.  I could hang out here all day long watching sports and eating these tasty wings.  I should actually attempt it at some point.  - 4

Overall, I'm looking forward to getting back into these wings.  If it were a closer ride, I would be there several times per month.  I'm happy for the locals but bummed for me for not having easier access.  It's not too far of a ride but 80 minutes round trip is a sacrifice at the end of the day.  Is it worth it?  You bet.  Check out the wings from Wing Man Bar and Grill when you're traveling North of Green Lane Reservoir, or Red Hill.  - 4

Total Score: 3.9/5

The beer:  Sam Adams Noble Pils
look: 4.5

smell: 4
taste: 3.5
feel: 3.5
overall: 3.5
Appears a transparent gold with a had of pillowy white fluff that slowly fades. Scattered chunks of white lacing are clinging all around the glass.
Smell is of pungent herbs, citrus, flowers, perfume, and wet hay.
Taste is of the aromas with a sweet biscuit and herbal blast being the key features of this beer.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, semi sweet, spritzy, and dry.

Man, this could be an actual beer lover's destination if they wanted.  These guys are only using the order guide from A/B and Origlio, so you'll find some Magic Hat on draft, and Sam Adams with a few Victory brews in bottles.  If only...If...only.

Wing Man's Website

Wing Man Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon