Monday, May 23, 2011

CSA: Week 3

Another week, another CSA post.  This week's half-share was much bigger:
  • Romaine lettuce (I gave this away -- too much lettuce for me)
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Red mustard greens
  • Kale
  • Pea tendrils/sprouts
  • Scallions
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • The most amazing bunch of mint I've ever smelled
Tonight I already sauteed the red mustard greens (greens only, no stems) with mild Italian sausage and made a nice sausage sandwich (on an Abruzzo seeded Italian baguette) with some bite, based on this recipe.  My plans are to do a stir fry with the mushrooms, scallions, and maybe the pea sprouts, a salad with the remaining lettuce, and roast the kale to make kale chips.  I am not sure what to do with the mint -- a mint pesto with lamb, or perhaps a few mint juleps?  I doubt I'll finish all these vegetables before they go bad, unfortunately.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

CSA: Week 2

This past Monday, I picked up my second half-share of vegetables from the Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA.  This week's batch consisted of:
  • Bok choy
  • Pink radishes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Spring garlic
  • Curly parsley
I already used the spring garlic (substituting it for normal garlic) and some of the curly parsley to make a variation on the classic spaghetti aglio e olio con peperoncinoToday, I am trying a fresh spring kimchi salad recipe from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative CSA Recipe GroupI opted to add less fish sauce, use sambal oelek instead of chili powder, and I used Granny Smith apples.  The salad looks pretty good in the mixing bowl, so I am cooking white rice at the moment and soon I'll know if it tastes as good as it looks. 

Update: The salad was delicious!  I ate it with steamed white rice, because otherwise it is quite salty and spicy, but it tasted a lot like kimchi, just fresher and more vibrant.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Community Supported Agriculture

I became interested in community-supported agriculture (CSA) shortly after reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma (which I highly recommend to anyone that is interested in learning more about their food, which should be everyone).  The idea behind CSA is that you, as the consumer of a farmer's goods, pay in advance for produce and other agricultural products, and you receive a share of whatever the farm is producing at that time, i.e., seasonal produce.  The farms are local (thus cutting down on the energy costs associated with transporting food across states, nations -- even oceans) and often organic, so you can feel good about the people you are supporting and the quality of ingredients you are receiving.

I joined the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative CSA because I wanted to support local farmers, and because I thought the highly variable contents of each week's delivery would force me to eat more fruits and vegetables and learn to cook with a wider variety of ingredients.  The cooperative includes 75 Lancaster County farms, and the CSA subscription runs 25 weeks, until late October.

This past Monday, I received my first share (right now it is only vegetables, fruits will start appearing later), conveniently dropped off at the CHOP building on 35th and Market:
  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Pink radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • White mushrooms
Now, I've eaten a lot of arugula, bok choy, and white mushrooms in my day, but I only occasionally eat rhubarb (almost always part of some strawberry rhubarb dessert) and radishes, and I've never cooked with either.  So far this week, I've made a salad with arugula, roasted rhubarb, radishes, and goat cheese, tried stir-frying radishes and radish greens, and made another stir fry with the bok choy.  I really enjoyed the radishes, the bok choy and arugula were of very high quality, but I am undecided on the rhubarb.  I have quite a bit left, so I froze the remaining stalks, and I think I might try making a traditional dessert out of them.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Top 5 Philly Restaurants

Over the last ten and a half years, even though I've been away, I've had many occasions to dine in Philadelphia.  I've eaten at some of the fine dining establishments this city has to offer, and I finally feel like I can give a solid top-something list.  Note that these are all fine dining establishments -- places like John's Roast Pork, Paesano's, and the Nanzhou Hand Drawn Noodle House really belong in a different conversation, though you could argue they are every bit as awesome.

1. Vetri: I said pretty much everything I wanted to say in my blog post.
2. Morimoto: I have been there three times, once for lunch, twice for dinner, and I always had the omakase.  The cool decor, the fact that I loved watching Masaharu Morimoto on Iron Chef (the original Japanese series), and fusion-style Japanese cuisine really made this restaurant for me.  Memorable dishes include Kobe beef served atop foie gras, amazing yellowtail sashimi drizzled with hot oil and soy sauce, and some sort of crazy addictive chocolate malt sauce (I can't even remember the rest of the dessert).
3. Fountain: Visited once with my brother, contemporary French cuisine prepared and served with care.  The one dish I remember involved salsify cream, and since then I have been obsessed with salsify.
4. Zahav: Israeli haute cuisine?  Yes please!  The pomegranate-marinated lamb shank was killer.  So were the salatim and hummus.
5. Tinto: I've not been to Amada, but Tinto had amazing tapas.  Most recently, I really enjoyed their duck montadido.

Some of my favorites that finish just outside the top 5 and probably could be exchanged with Tinto or even Zahav: Osteria, Amis (Marc Vetri's other two Philadelphia joints), Distrito, JG Domestic (two other Jose Garces restaurants), and the reinvented Philadelphia institution Fork.

I am looking forward to trying Amada in June, and hopefully Bibou and/or Barbuzzo (Philadelphia's current restaurant darlings) in July, so this list may change -- or expand.