Dinner at Catch 54 (Selbyville, DE)

Every year for the Fourth of July, my family shuffles into the Lexus and goes up to Sea Colony, a small condo community located in between Ocean City, MD and Rehoboth, DE. A lot of my family on my mom’s side also have places around the area, so the week is a bit hectic for all of us as we go around seeing everyone. Obviously, since I’m a twenty-one-year-old recent college grad, I’m expected to both have a job and a serious boyfriend. My count on both of those things has pretty much been zero since birth, so my family’s extra worried about me. My conversations with everyone pretty much went like this:

“We should set you up! Irani??”

“No, I’m not really into Persian guys. I like my guys lanky and with no distinguishable ethnicity.”

Instead of realizing that I meant emaciated guys that are as pasty as vanilla ice-cream, I received this in response: “So, what do you think about Indian guys?” It’s not that I’ve never found a Persian guy or an Indian guy attractive, it’s just that I tend to like my guys pretty darn white. It probably has a lot to do with the hordes of hairy Persian men I grew up with, but I’d rather not get into the psychological implications of my type and would prefer to steer this blog back to food….

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Although we spent quite a bit of time going out to restaurants with various family members, my mom promised me that I would get to choose one place during the time I was there. This almost didn’t happen, which meant I almost threw a fit and cried like a five-year-old, but all was eventually well and I quickly opted for one of my longstanding favorites, Catch 54.

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This restaurant, owned by the formidable restaurateur Matt Haley, is heavy on the seafood, and with its beachy, shack-like exterior, it was certainly created with location in mind. Several years ago, the original Catch 54 burned down; it was a bit lower key than this new one, but I was happy to see it come back in any capacity. However, I’m not the only one who knows the joy that Catch 54 can bring into any belly, so we had to wait an hour before we were seated. I didn’t mind though because while I normally thrive off of new foods and continually try and push my culinary boundaries, this spot provides me with what I’m looking for at the beach: simple, good food that reminds me of summers spent picking crabs and nervously swimming in the ocean. For the quality of seafood here, the wait is generally worth it as long as you’re prepared. It’s non-existent though in the summertime, so if you don’t like waiting and can enjoy beach towns in October, check it out then.

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Luckily, the bar area is fairly large, so the night we went this year allowed us to snag a high top and start in on the booze portion of the evening while we waited. I decided to try a Lemon Drop Martini, which was citrusy, strong, and perfectly refreshing for the summertime. This was a part of my very general effort to try drinks besides gin and tonics and red wine when I go out, and I would say this flavorful martini was a nice way to kick this effort off. For the younger people in our group, this spot had a number of specialty bottled sodas that my sister and her friends loved. Although I’m not a big soda drinker (unless it’s part of a mixed drink), there were some combinations that even I would be tempted to get, including Strawberry Basil Chili and Lemon Berry. Of course, I think they’d probably taste even better with a shot of something in them, but I’m sure I’d enjoy them on their own as well. 

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After our wait, we were seated upstairs in one of the many booths, and since we were still nursing some drinks from downstairs, we quickly perused the food menu to decide on some appetizers. The one thing we always get when we dine here are the Crab Claws. As a devoted Marylander, I love crab claws, and the ones here are a perfect snack to prepare you for the rest of your meal. Doused in a healthy shake of Old Bay and served with a tangy mustard/mayo sauce for dipping, these claws are every Marylander’s dream and half the reason why I refuse to eat crabs outside of Maryland and Delaware.

One other appetizer we tried was the Raw Oysters, which can be ordered in any number, though our table just opted to order two of each type they had. Both the crab claws and the oysters come from the raw bar downstairs, which means that they are not served at the same time as appetizers from the kitchen. This time, however, they did take a little bit longer than usual to come out, so one of the impossibly attractive servers there threw in an extra oyster for us. Even though only two of us were partaking in them, we definitely appreciated it, especially since the extra oyster was the size of my hand. There wasn’t a bad one in the bunch, though  I do generally prefer the really salty ones to the sweet, supple varieties. 

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Outside of the raw bar appetizers, we also tried the Deviled Eggs and the Shaved Brussels Sprouts. The eggs came with lump crab and bacon chips which added a bit of meatiness to this rich, tangy appetizer. It accompanied our other, lighter appetizers well by adding a deeper dimension to our choices as a whole. The Brussels sprouts, highlighted through the inclusion of pistachio, pecorino, and a honey vinaigrette, were light, crunchy, and packed a lot of flavor into each bite. These appetizers were on point and though they were all a little different, they each categorized the feel of beach food and weren’t too heavy to turn us off of main entrees.

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On this particular evening, I ended up opting for someone else’s definition of homey food and ordered the Seafood Gumbo, which is a staple dish I’ve always wanted to try. I was just a tad bit hesitant to order it because though I enjoy trying new things, I haven’t really heard many good things about okra. I decided to take the plunge though, and I’m very glad I did. I’m a bit odd because if we were talking about liver or tongues or something along those lines, I would fearlessly jump in, but throw a new veggie my way and I’m all kinds of freaked out.  After visually analyzing the okra from all angles, I hesitantly put one piece up to my mouth and chewed. I don’t think I could eat a ton of okra, and it’s certainly not something I’d want all the time, but I didn’t have the adverse reaction to it I was expecting.

While I didn’t mind smoky veggie that was the basis for this gumbo, the star of this dish was the fried oyster on top. The buttermilk fried oyster that sat on top of the plate like a king was incredibly decadent and left me wishing everyone fried everything this way. All the seafood was flavorful and added additional texture and salty, ocean flavor to the gumbo, but of course another necessary element was the grits. Although I know grits are just as polarizing as okra, I’ve loved grits for as long as I can remember. The grits of this gumbo were cheesy and thickened every bite to create a truly hearty meal.

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Though there were a number of entrees at our table, the other one I feel the need to highlight is the Crab Mac-n-Cheese. I am extremely picky about my mac-n-cheese because, much like a martini, it’s either really great or the most terrible thing you’ve ever eaten depending on who makes it. With white cheddar, mustard, and celery, this mac-n-cheese was creamy and sparked to life on my tastebuds. It also included cracker crumbs, my number on requirement for this popular food, because they transform a good mac-n-cheese into a great one. It added just a touch of texture to an otherwise soft dish and made it all look deliciously golden brown. This was another heavier dish on our table, but it was also one that was worth trying out despite the summer heat.

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Others at our table ordered everything from a Cod Sandwich to a New York Strip. There are dozens of options for people looking for either lighter meals or more substantial ones, and I have yet to hear one bad thing about any dish at this establishment. After finishing our dinner, I did the one thing I never do, I didn’t order dessert. On the rare occasion when I’m too full for dessert, I still tend to nibble on something sweet before I go to bed, but I was so fulfilled by this meal that I didn’t crave anything when I was done. I think that, more than anything, is the biggest testament to the phenomenal food this restaurant consistently churns out.

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There are tons of exciting places around the Maryland and Delaware beaches, but Catch 54 has had my heart for years. Matt Haley is the Stephen Starr of Delaware, but unlike Starr, all of his restaurants impress and they’re a choice I never regret making. If you’re looking for fresh seafood, good service, and summery cocktails, make an easy choice and stop by Catch 54. Catch 54 on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bar, Beach, Cocktails, Food, Restaurant, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Extra Virginity

I recently went into Barnes & Noble, something I should never do because all my disposable income goes there…and by income, I mean the money I still get from my dad, birthdays, and graduations because I have yet to find an internship that pays. Either way, I went into the bookstore and dropped a lot of dough on a handful or two of books, one of which was about olive oil. If you told me a few years ago that my favorite book of the year would be about olive oil, my Harry-Potter-reading, John-Steinbeck-loving self would have called you a crazy Muggle. The book is called Extra Virginity, a title which I initially thought was witty, but which also led to an unpleasant encounter in Rittenhouse with a guy who thought I was reading a whole different kind of book.

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Awkward, uncomfortable encounters aside, I loved pretty much everything about this book. I’ve never been one who was incredibly passionate about olive oil. I didn’t particularly care if it was placed on a table to dip slices of Italian bread in, and I certainly didn’t think it was a topic that warranted a substantial book. Tom Mueller proved me wrong though, and introduced me to a history that is as long and complicated as most religions. His prose is, as cheesy as this sounds, as smooth and balanced as the topic he’s writing about. While he may get a bit overly flowery at times, he is so moved by what he writes about that he can’t help it. Mueller doesn’t just focus on the olive oil of one specific time, but really delves into the history of this little pitted fruit, from its regal past to its deceitful present.

Throughout the novel, the past and present are perfectly blended together to provide readers with a clear picture of the life olive oil has led. It was so important to Ancient Rome that there were strict regulations against marketing any olive oil as superior to what it was, and Mueller crafts the trajectory from then until modern times well. There were checkpoints, a labeling system, and a host of other provisions in Rome guaranteed to cut down on crime and protect both person and product, but while there are olive oil laws now, how many people truly think of it in the terms of crime? Besides a handful of girls who swear by using olive oil in their hair to make it shiny and luscious, there aren’t too many people left who think about bathing their body in golden oil or drinking it like it’s a necessity for life. The state of the market today hasn’t led to better olive oils and a demand for true extra virgin, but rather bankruptcy, lawsuits, and even more shockingly, suicides.

Mueller utilizes personal story after personal story to illustrate how the people who are making true extra virgin grade oil are losing out to companies that can pass low grade oil blends off as superior. With strategic marketing, hordes of lawyers, and low costs for consumers, deceitful olive oil conglomerates are strong arming small family business out of the market, and people around the world have no idea that they’re being bamboozled into buying something fake. Olive oil is not like wine; no one tweets about a really good bottle or Instragrams a picture of proudly drinking it alone, but it’s something that is just as good for you as a glass of red wine. It might not give you the boozy, clam, warmth that you get from a few glasses of wine, but there was obviously a reason why it spread across the world and the Romans protected it so much in the past. After putting down this book, I doubt I’ll ever look at olive oil the same way, and I’ll scrutinize that ‘extra virgin’ label a bit more harshly next time I’m in the store.

Even though I loved a vast majority of the book, there was one section that I need to critique a bit. As someone who studied abroad in Rome, I thought his prose about Testaccio was a bit funny. If I was reading this as someone who was a Rome virgin, I would totally want to visit Testaccio and feel the crunch of ancient amphorae beneath my feet, but as someone who spent months living in the city, I think Testaccio is the plague of Rome. It’s gross, seedy, and someplace that I have no desire to return to after a club experience that included walking into a bathroom featuring a vomit filled sink and skeevy Italian guys who clawed at anything with curves. I’m definitely more of a happy hour, brunchy, wine sipping kind of girl, and Testaccio offers none of that. It might be historically significant, and it might be built on piles and piles of the vessels that carried truly amazing olive oil in them, but I think it’s also one part of Rome where the modern has really stomped out the history.

Testaccio aside, there are some amazing sections in this book, including one at the end on how to buy true extra virgin oil. Here are some of my favorite quotes from both Mueller and the people he interviewed, and if these don’t have you thinking of olive oil in a new way, then I don’t know how else to convince you:

-”If it says Dom Perignon 1964 then that’s what’s in the bottle, not last month’s Beaujolais Nouveau…But olive oil labels all say the same thing, whether the bottle contains a magnificent oil or this schifezza….”

-”He shook his head, as if unable to believe his eyes. ‘Extra virgin? What’s this oil got to do with virginity? This is a whore.’”

-”Once someone tries a real extra virgin — an adult or a child, anybody with taste buds — they’ll never go back to the fake kind. It’s distinctive, complex, the freshest thing you’ve ever eaten. It makes you realize how rotten the other stuff is, literally rotten.”

-”Oil is already there in the olive, if only we can coax it free.”

I picked up Extra Virginity at the perfect point in my relationship with food; if you’ve read any of my recent blogs about Food, Inc., the Tristram Stuart TED Talk, or pretty much any other review I’ve done, you’ll see that I’ve become really enthusiastic about knowing my food. Olive oil may be more of a luxury good, but it’s another one that has been ruined by the mass markets of today. Mueller cares about this product a lot and has devoted a large portion of his career towards getting to the bottom of the world of olive oil. His message, his passion, and his hopes are all clear from start to finish. You’ll come away from this book cringing every time you pass clear plastic bottles of urine-colored olive oil, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll become obsessed with all the little ingredients that go into your food. I have doubts that the world of olive oil will change any time soon, but Mueller’s book did change my relationship with this fruit juice…something which might just have to sadly be enough for now.

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Linner/Dunch at Agno Grill (Philadelphia, PA)

Is anyone else bothered by the fact that we have a word for that iffy time in between breakfast and lunch, but not one for the gap between lunch and dinner? I am, and it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. However, I still can’t decide between linner and dunch. I use linner more often than dunch, but dunch has a really nice, powerful sound to it. If you don’t think I’m the most ridiculous person in the world for having strong opinions are linner/dunch, then you’ll probably enjoy this post about my lidunch (option 3?) at Agno Grill.

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The process at Agno is fairly straightforward, you pick your base, which can either be Salad, Black Rice, or a gluten-free Wrap, and then you build up from there with a protein and veggie toppings. I’ve tried all the bases at Agno, and I have to say the only one I really enjoyed was the salad. I appreciate how the restaurant makes their food gluten-free and vegan-friendly, but I just couldn’t get over the gummy, waxy texture of the gluten-free wrap.  Also, as a Persian girl, I can say that the owners may be promoting Mediterranean food, but their rice was worse than some of the American attempts I’ve tried. I’ve found that it’s safer to stick with lettuce when I go because, honestly, how can you screw that up?

While the bases make me want something a little more, some of the toppings that I’ve tried have been pretty good. The ones I’ve come to love are the Marinated Artichokes, which add a nice mild lemony flavor to the salad, and the Salmon, which is served cold, but doesn’t taste like it’s been sitting around for hours. The one big issue I have with the place is that most of the other food is way too salty and leaves me craving a gallon jug of water. I tend not to salt anything post-cooking nor salt anything at a family dinner table because every once in a blue moon I try to be health conscious. I don’t miss the copious amounts of salt put on food by others once a plate’s in front of them and Agno’s food is so salty that I hardly want to see salt ever again after leaving. Although the two I mentioned above aren’t too bad on the salty scale, most of the other options are.

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I don’t hate Agno Grill, but I don’t love it either. With a mix of yummy options and lackluster ones, as well as employees that are all over the spectrum of friendliness, Agno is decidedly better than its sister restaurant, Pure Fare, but still could use some tweaking before it’s a place that I would want to visit often.

Agno Grill on Urbanspoon

Posted in Food, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Restaurant, Seafood, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

TED Talk Review: Tristram Stuart

I follow a pretty interesting food blogger who calls herself cityhippyfarmgirl, and recently she posted a YouTube link to a TED Talk by Tristram Stuart about global food waste. I took her advice and plopped myself down for fifteen minutes to watch the video, and now I feel the need to pimp it out on my own blog.

While I think the whole farm-to-table movement is a lot a bit of a gimmick, and I could never give up eating a nice piece of meat with some potatoes drowned in butter in favor of a raw diet and juice cleanses, I have become pretty passionate about knowing where your food is coming from and where it’s going. This was essentially the topic of Stuart’s TED Talk, and I learned so much about the global food waste problem during his fifteen minute talk.

Like most people, when I think of food waste, I think of food that’s left on a plate or that goes bad before I have a chance to eat it, but it’s so much more complicated than that. Potatoes, lettuces, and other produce are often just thrown away for aesthetic reasons, a topic that I knew a little about after reading Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire. However, reading about it as part of a course at Temple and seeing pictures of hundreds of pounds of wasted produce are two different things. Who cares if a potato isn’t the right color or has spots? The only reason why consumers supposedly won’t buy these goods is because they’ve been conditioned not to. People eat hearts and kidneys and brains because they taste good and are nutritious, not because they’re really pretty.

Another part of his talk that I found compelling was his discussion of how we waste tons of produce because we don’t properly know how to keep it fresh and healthy. Stuart demonstrates this particularly well with a shot of romaine and the different ways to keep it in a home, from just sticking it in the fridge to treating it like a plant. Although I don’t know why anyone would want to extend the shelf life of romaine, it was a pretty impressive element of his discussion nonetheless.

Stuart’s points are more layered than anything that I’ll talk about on the blog, but if any of the aspects of this issue that I brought up in my own post caught your attention, than watch the link below and be prepared to soak up a lot of research and information on this topic. When you have fifteen minutes of free time, I would definitely recommend sitting down and experiencing Stuart’s TED Talk on food waste. It’s not just the U.S. and the U.K. that are wasting huge amounts of food; it’s a global problem, one that a fifteen minute video can only just start to scratch the surface of.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWC_zDdF74s

 

Posted in Food, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

I Went to London, And All I Got Was a Lousy Sunburn (London, England)

Happy 4th of July! I know most of you probably aren’t reading blogs today…although the weather here at Sea Colony has left me stuck inside, but I couldn’t pass on the irony of posting my last U.K. blog on this holiday. If you have time today, curl up with a cup of tea and enjoy this post; if not, feel free to read it when your mind isn’t set on hot dogs and fireworks.

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So, full disclosure, the title of this post is a bit of a lie. Unless this is your first time reading my blog, you know by now that my belly was treated pretty well in the U.K., but this title should give you an idea of just how darn warm it was while I was over there. My great-aunt had sent me an e-mail about three days before we left saying that it was really cold and raining every day, but lo and behold, I brought Philly summers with me when I landed. Except for one rainy morning, it was sunny, warm, and just a tad humid, which meant that I spent a shockingly large portion of my trip outside. I also spent a lot of time sweating in the warmer clothes I brought in anticipation of miserable weather, but you probably don’t want to hear about that when I’m about to talk about food.

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When I was in London, my time outside was split between walking around huge parks like Primrose Hill and finding time to sit down and inhale vanilla soft-serve, which was almost always presented with a Cadbury chocolate flake in it.  I don’t know why we don’t do the flake here in the U.S., but U.K. people clearly understand soft-serve better than we do. Does anything sound better to you than some cool ice cream garnished with a creamy chocolate flake and served in a chocolate-dipped cone? Personally, that sounds like Heaven to me.

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Outside of London, I spent my days exploring Beaconsfield and the nearby towns, either on my own or with my family. I got to see rowing competitions, castles, and a bunch of other things that you don’t normally come across in Philly. The public footpaths were especially great for the warm days because they were usually just shady enough to protect me from the  powerful sun, and they were also a lot of fun to explore.

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It felt like there were hundreds of paths, each with its own personality. One would take me right out to the train station, while another would allow me to go deeper into the woods and inhale the scent of deep green land before I came across horses and other livestock grazing in the area. For a girl who spends most of her time surrounded by pavement and high-rises, it was a bit of a welcome break….although I probably could have done without the manure that inevitably permeated the air with its scent as well.

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The one time that I was almost always outside was breakfast time. I’ve spoken a bit about the lunches and dinners we had in Beaconsfield in my first U.K. post, but I skipped over breakfast a bit. I’m really not much of a breakfast person; however, my great-aunt was having none of that, so I ended up nibbling on things each morning.

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The most important part of my breakfast was the tea. After realizing how much stronger I preferred my tea to hers, Aunt Irene gave me leave to just take my own teapot and fill it up the way I wanted to. Since my first few breakfasts involved tea decorated sparsely with tea leaves, I appreciated this quite a bit.

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I would quickly put my tea together by scooping a hefty spoonful of loose-leaf tea right out of its little canister into the teapot, and then let it steep for a few minutes after pouring the scalding water into my individual pot. Since I don’t enjoy burning my tongue first thing in the morning, I let the tea sit for a while as I put together the rest of my meal.

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Normally, my breakfast consisted of a medium-sharp cheddar cheese, a crumbly blue cheese, and a selection of butters and homemade jams paired with croissants. Since I think cheesemongers essentially have the best job in the world and I can’t imagine anything better in life than making mine about cheese, I tended to go for the cheese options over the butters and jams, but I still tried a little bit of everything on the table. In between just slicing off hunks of cheese and eating them on their own, I slowly grazed on a croissant. I particularly enjoyed putting the homemade jams on, which were made with berries and other produce from Aunt Irene’s allotment. With just a little bit of butter and jam, the croissants were perfect for a light, sweet morning treat.

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If I wasn’t too hungry, I chose some of the fresh fruit lying around the home. As a Persian girl, I grew up surrounded by fruit. My dad, and most of the other Persians I know, eat fruit all day long. It’s like the Persian tea, culture unless you eat it before dinner, after dinner, and a handful of other times throughout the day, you’re not really Persian. Frequently, my dad will request fruit before we go out for a meal and if I tell him that he should just wait until we leave, he always says “fruit isn’t food, it doesn’t fill you up.” I’m not sure I totally believe that, but either way, if I wasn’t hungry for much breakfast, fruit was a great thing to eat to keep from filling myself up.

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I don’t think I’ll ever be much of a breakfast girl, but if I was, I think I’d like it more this way than the traditional American way. I don’t want a super heavy breakfast; I just want to sip on some strong black tea and nibble on some fresh food while I wait for a bigger, more exciting lunch. I’m still half-asleep in the mornings, so the last thing I want to do is be smacked in the face with scents of sausage and bacon, and then have to choke down some scrambled eggs. My motto for the morning is ‘the simpler, the better,’ and I think my mornings in Beaconsfield were a perfect way to practice it.

Posted in England, Farm-to-Table, Food, London, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lunch at Good Stuff Eatery (Philadelphia, PA)

So, I recently decided that I didn’t feel like a big enough jerk after standing in line for a free sushi burrito, and I thought that in order to really cement my jerkiness, I would stand in line for another restaurant opening. Last week, Good Stuff Eatery opened its first location outside of D.C. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a small chain run by Spike Mendelsohn, a Top Chef alum, and his family. I’m always on the search for a good burger, and since I’m a bit of a shame-filled Top Chef lover, I thought that I would stop by on opening day to see all the excitement. The family behind this chain obviously knows how to work a crowd and how to employ social media perfectly. With promises of prizes that included a cruise, free milkshakes, and cookbooks, there was a decent line of people outside before the eleven a.m. opening.

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I was standing behind a couple of girls who started fangirling the second that Spike came out. It was pretty clear that a nice majority of the girls (and probably some of the guys) were just there to see Spike and squeal over his good looks. This pretty much epitomizes the whole ‘celebrity chef’ thing that I just don’t get. I don’t watch Top Chef to root for the cute guys, and I don’t eat at a restaurant because I want to hook up with a chef; I just want to eat some amazing food and not worry about how many times a chef’s been on No Reservations. If I dream of making love to anything, it’s a chocolaty dessert, not man-candy in the shape of a chef.

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In this day and age though, I guess I can understand the importance of celebrity. It doesn’t make your food any better, but it does get the much needed publicity out there to the masses. Spike knows how to play this up extremely well. In between taking selfies with people, he was going around shaking hands and videotaping some of the highlights of the day. His cheeky attitude is present everywhere from the shirts his staff wear proclaiming that they’re making the best burgers around to the signs on the wall that say it’s so fresh you’ll think it’s Amish. Spike and his family understand what it means to run a business that stands out these days, and it seems like they’re doing it well. I probably would have been more impressed if he made the Steakhouse Burger that I ordered, but I think most of the girls preferred the selfies…he is, admittedly, pretty good looking.

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Though I had to wait about ten minutes for my burger, I didn’t mind because I managed to snag myself some free monthly milkshakes and chitchat with the guy who won the cruise. When I did get my food though, I made an immediate beeline for the second floor, which provides ample seating for people, and dug right into my choice. My burger was cooked to a pretty solid medium-rare, but if you want something more well-done, then you are free to request another temperature. I did think it was pretty funny when I came across pictures and tweets from people who were complaining about the ‘raw’ meat. I’m not really sure when medium-rare became raw, but I just hope that no chefs adopt this sort of outlook towards meat because I think I’d rather become a vegetarian than eat my burgers and steaks well-done.

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This particular burger was topped with roasted cremini mushrooms, onion straws, swiss cheese, and tangy steakhouse mayo. I could have done with a few more mushrooms on my burger and the onion straws could have had a bit more crunch to them, but I think overall, it was a pretty good lunch decision. I think the quality of the meat was the real star, but I’m willing to give the different burger toppings another go before I’m disappointed. For extra hungry people, the burgers may be on the small side, but if you pair it with fries, or fries and a shake, I don’t think anyone will be leaving hungry.

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I anticipated needing a little bit more than just a burger, and after debating a bit between the Onion Petals and the Sunny’s Handcut Fries, I ended up ordering the fries. These fries were crispy and had just the right amount of sea salt on them to make them delicious. I hate it when I get fries that are overloaded with salt and lead to me downing multiple glasses of water, and thankfully, Good Stuff knows the perfect fry to salt ratio. I heard chatter about some sort of dip bar for the fries, but it was so packed that I never got to check it out. Luckily, they were good enough on their own; however, I will be on the search for this elusive bar the next time I’m in.

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It was a bit of a madhouse, and I’d like to come back again sometime so I can see what this place is like on a normal day, but I expect good stuff from Good Stuff. The same day that this burger place opened, I heard that another one of their restaurants, We, the Pizza is coming to Philly, so I’m looking forward to trying that out, too. As much as this may not seem true, I’m not super into gimmicky things, but I’m glad that I stopped by on opening day…even if I did have to stand through some cheesy speeches with a bunch of fangirls.
Good Stuff Eatery on Urbanspoon

Posted in Event, Food, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

More of A Day at Harrods (London, England)

Not too long ago, I posted the first part of my adventure at Harrods, with particular emphasis on my lunch at The Steakhouse. While Mamanie and I both agreed that we’ve been more impressed with other steakhouses, we weren’t quite ready to give up on Harrods yet. So, after getting ourselves together and making our way out of the main dining area, we moved onto other sections of Harrods, which obviously included their other food-friendly rooms as well. As we peeked between the hordes of people purchasing food to check out pork pies and wine-infused cheeses, we knew that our food experience at Harrods wasn’t quite over yet. This point was brought home when my broke, post-college kid ears perked up to two magic words: Free. Samples. 

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I’m almost positive that I’ve been slowly developing spidey senses for free samples since birth, and once I hit college, the powers came out in full force. If the hundreds of resumes I’ve sent out this month don’t turn into at least one job, I think I’ll do some Ph.D. research on this phenomenon. Of course, Pecorino with Truffle Honey is a little more intense than the frozen chicken bites they hand out at Sam’s Club, but it was twice as appreciated for this reason. The honey stung your taste buds right away, and if you’re still with me after that shameful joke, I will let you know that it made me think about pecorino in a completely different way. Normally, I just grate my pecorino over some arugula or experience it when I’m fortunate enough to come across cacio e pepe, but pairing it with honey and eating it on its own was pretty new to me. These hard, salty cheeses aren’t something I seek out outside of toppings for salads, pastas, etc., but I think that I’ll be experimenting with them a bit more now.

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Realizing that I needed to get out of that room before I dropped some significant money on something I probably couldn’t even bring back into the U.S., I dragged my grandma through the store and up to the second floor to explore The Tea Room. I’ve never taken to coffee because I just don’t understand why people would willingly spend money on something that tastes so nasty, but I’ve pretty much always enjoyed black teas. This might just be because I grew up in a Persian household where chai is served at all hours of the day, but whatever the reason, I jumped at the opportunity to try out some legit English teas.

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We were seated immediately, and I quickly opened up to the list of options for tea to give myself plenty of time to decide. Since my grandma is more of a coffee person and quickly chose the Cappuccino, I knew that I needed just enough tea for one. A fair warning to anyone who ever decides to stop by The Tea Room though, the Pot of Tea for One actually equals four solid cups that will have you running through the nearby gift store to find the restroom.

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The tea I opted for in this fairly large portion was the Afternoon Special Blend. It was just the right balance between being robust and sweet that I was pretty happy and didn’t need to add anything else to it. However, that didn’t mean that I was going to turn extra goodies down.

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What I really was looking forward to was the Sticky Toffee Pudding that I begged Mamanie for. When I was in the U.K. last summer, I ate this treat everywhere I could find it, but this one was, I’m sorry to say, pretty gross. In case you’ve never read my blog, I am a devoted dessert girl. When I hear people like Anthony Bourdain say they have no love of dessert, my chocolate heart melts a little bit. While I love all my duck hearts, and sheep tongues, and pork belly, I think that dessert is essential for life on earth. However, if I was given desserts like this pudding as a child, I, too, would probably not know the joy that sweet treats can bring into one’s life. This was overloaded with ginger and filled with dates which seemed to both make the dry cake even drier and add an odd flavor to the dessert. This was a far cry from the sticky toffee pudding I had in Kilarney that had led to me begging my friend Emily for a second one and I was pretty upset that it was the only time I got to experience it this time around.

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Although the sticky toffee pudding was essentially one huge dessert fail, the small Forest Fruit Eton Mess was incredibly pleasing. This fruit compote was perfectly tart with raspberry meringue, but was also balanced out well by the rich Chantilly cream. It was much smaller than the sticky toffee pudding, but I would have gladly had more of this choice. Raspberries are my favorite fruit, but I’d imagine this dessert would taste good with pretty much any kind of compote in it. It was a great summery dessert, and considering how toasty London was when I visited, it was perfect to cool my grandma and I off a bit, too.

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Overall, I have less to complain about with The Tea Room compared to The Steakhouse, but since I was essentially born to eat stick toffee pudding, I was a bit more disappointed with my meal here. I enjoy a good meal, and definitely don’t mind dropping a nice portion of a paycheck down for a fantastic meal, but the food at Harrods just doesn’t match up with their prices. I guess most people come for the experience and Harrods can easily get away with the prices they charge from the clientele they attract, but I had better meals at Pret than I did here. Harrods will never be my first choice for a meal, but with the prices they’re charging, I don’t think one customer means all that much to them anyway.

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