Sep 2006

Crepêrie Beau Monde – Philadelphia

August 12, 2006
Cuisine: French, Desserts & Bakeries, Other

624 S 6th Street, Philadelphia 19147
At Bainbridge St

Phone: 215-592-0656
Website: www.creperie-beaumonde.com

Appetizer: Escargot with garlic butter, crostini and bread

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Entree I: Saumon Fume Buckwheat Crêpe – Smoked Salmon served with roasted leeks & creme fraiche

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Entree II: “Rich Man’s Egg McMuffin” Buckwheat Crêpe – eggs over easy with ham and goat cheese

Dessert I: Sweet Crêpe Special – Filled with peaches, blackberries, a ginger creme anglaise, and topped off with vanilla ice cream

Dessert II: Wheat Crêpe with Bananas and Dulce de Leche

Earlier this week I was reading the Astronomer’s travel journal from his trip to Europe and started craving crêpes, especially since the Astronomer thought that the crêpes he enjoyed in France were on par with the ones served at Crêperie Beau Monde in terms of taste and authenticity. I think that food tastes best when I’ve been craving it for a couple of days.

We started off our feast with some escargot with garlic butter, crostini and bread. I was hoping the escargot would be served inside their shells, but sadly those preparations are only executed outside the US. The crostini and bread were excellent vehicles for dipping and consuming the escargot.

For our savory crêpes the Astronomer ordered the Saumon Fume, while I ordered my all-time favorite combination of eggs over easy with ham and goat cheese. Both crêpes were spectacular. The crêpes were a good size and expertly filled with the perfect amount of each ingredient. The crêpes themselves were made of buckwheat flour, as is traditional in the region of Brittany. It always surprises me how crêpes manage to fill me up even though it seems like very little food.

For desert the Astronomer ordered the sweet crêpe special of the evening which contained peaches, blackberries, a ginger creme anglaise, topped off with some vanilla ice cream. I ordered my favorite dessert combination of dulce de leche with bananas. While the special was tasty, I adored my sweet crêpe more. There’s just something about ripened bananas accompanied by a caramelized sauce within a crisp crêpe that gets me every single time.

Crêperie Beau Monde has been a constant in my restaurant rotation since Swarthmore and remains a favorite today. The Astronomer and I have dined at Beau Monde at least four times together, maybe five. We love this place.

Beau Monde on Urbanspoon

Sep 2006

Ajia Japanese Fusion – Philadelphia

September 16, 2006
Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi

3131 Walnut St, Philadelphia 19104
Between 31st & 32nd Street

Phone: 215-222-2542
Website: none

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Round I: All U Can Eat

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Round II: All U Can Eat

Three friends and I went to Ajia this evening for the All U Can Eat Sushi offering priced at $21.95 per person (tax and tip not included). This was my fourth visit to Ajia and my third time doing the All U Can Eat special. As always, Ajia did not disappoint. My eating companions and I gorged on a ridiculous amount of sushi:

  1. Sweet Potatoes
  2. Salmon Avocado
  3. California Roll
  4. Philadelphia Roll
  5. Salmon Skin & Cucumber
  6. Boston Roll
  7. Tuna Avocado
  8. West Roll (Smoked salmon, cream cheese & scallion)
  9. East Roll (Salmon, avocado, cucumber)
  10. Spicy Tuna Roll
  11. Spicy Salmon Roll
  12. Rock N Roll (Spicy tuna inside wrapped around avocado)
  13. Kani (Crab Stick)
  14. Tofu Skin
  15. Surf Clam
  16. Ika (squid)
  17. Tako (octopus)
  18. Tuna sashimi
  19. Salmon sashimi
  20. Yellowtail sashimi
  21. Spicy Crunchy Tuna
  22. Spicy Crunchy Salmon

The sushi rolls were of high quality fish and were not overly stuffed with rice. The sashimi pieces were very fresh as well, but unfortunately were accompanied by rice. Oh, fillers. My personal favorites are the shrimp tempura roll, inari sashimi (tofu skin), Philly roll, and crunchy spicy tuna and salmon.

We did not keep track of exactly how many rolls of each kind, but I assure you that it was well worth our paying price. I left completely drunk off mercury poisoning. Whatta feeling!

Service at Ajia is usually pretty horrible. Luckily the evening we went was fairly quiet so service was pretty decent. Note to self: avoid Friday nights, go early Saturday evenings. The waitress was quite militant about us finishing our sushi before ordering more. I don’t remember them being so adamant about the whole ordeal during my previous visits, but I guess that’s how it goes with an All U Can Eat special.

I crave Ajia every couple of months, so I’ll definitely be returning for another sushi fest soon.

Ajia Japanese on Urbanspoon

Sep 2006

Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes – Maya Angelou

About: Throughout Maya Angelou’s life, from her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, to her world travels as a bestselling writer, good food has played a central role. Preparing and enjoying homemade meals provides a sense of purpose and calm, accomplishment and connection. Now in Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, Angelou shares memories pithy and poignant–and the recipes that helped to make them both indelible and irreplaceable.

Angelou tells us about the time she was expelled from school for being afraid to speak–and her mother baked a delicious maple cake to brighten her spirits. She gives us her recipe for short ribs along with a story about a job she had as a cook at a Creole restaurant (never mind that she didn’t know how to cook and had no idea what Creole food might entail). There was the time in London when she attended a wretched dinner party full of wretched people; but all wasn’t lost–she did experience her initial taste of a savory onion tart. She recounts her very first night in her new home in Sonoma, California, when she invited M. F. K. Fisher over for cassoulet, and the evening Deca Mitford roasted a chicken when she was beyond tipsy–and created Chicken Drunkard Style. And then there was the hearty brunch Angelou made for a homesick Southerner, a meal that earned her both a job offer and a prophetic compliment: “If you can write half as good as you can cook, you are going to be famous.”

Maya Angelou is renowned in her wide and generous circle of friends as a marvelous chef. Her kitchen is a social center. From fried meat pies, chicken livers, and beef Wellington to caramel cake, bread pudding, and chocolate éclairs, the one hundred-plus recipes included here are all tried and true, and come from Angelou’s heart and her home. Hallelujah! The Welcome Table is a stunning collaboration between the two things Angelou loves best: writing and cooking.

Sample of recipes: cornbread, potato salad, lemon meringue pie, minestrone soup, red rice, buttermilk biscuits, banana pudding. Good ol’ Southern comfort foods.

My thoughts: I found this cookbook to be fabulous for a number of reasons. Firstly, Maya Angelou is a fantastic storyteller. Her short vignettes are colorful and rich in personal history. I appreciated her candidness throughout the book. Secondly, her recipes are not complex and as a result require very few ingredients. As someone who is a minimalist in the kitchen, I can appreciate a short ingredients list. Lastly, Maya Angelou prepares very humble food; nothing extraordinarily ambitious like, say, a vegetable mousse terrine! Oh, and the pictures in the book are excellent as well. I look forward to trying many of her recipes, especially the chocolate éclairs and the tripe.