They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But there are certain words with the ability to paint a mighty robust picture themselves. “Lobster” is one of them. Just speaking it conjures up images of special occasions, beautifully dressed dinner guests, and elegant, sophisticated tables. None of that need be the case, of course, to enjoy lobster, but your guests will be thinking it anyway, making your dinner party memorable before anyone even sits down. Executive Chef Jim Nuetzi proposes stuffing lobster with scallops, shrimp and a little Parmesan, along with adding some fresh herbs to lighten up the flavor. This is a wonderful dish for a celebration. And your guests will be impressed just seeing it come to the table.
Serves one as an entrée or two as a mixed grill
1 lb Lobster (prepared) 1 each
Clarified Butter 2 oz
Bay Scallops 6 each
Bay Shrimp 6 each
Kosher Salt 1/2 tsp
Heavy Cream 1/4 Cup
Parmesan, Grated 2 Tbsp
Freshly Chopped Tarragon 2 tsp
Freshly Chopped Parsley 2 tsp
Panko Bread Crumbs 1/4 Cup
Butter 2 Tbsp
Using a large sauté pan, warm the clarified butter over medium heat.
Add the scallops and shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.
Season with the salt and add the heavy cream.
Simmer for 2 minutes and add the cheese.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Fold in the lobster claws, knuckles, fresh herbs and refrigerate until ready to use (up to one day in advance) or proceed to step 7.
Place the stuffing into the lobster (this will fill the cavity and cover the tail).
When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 400° F.
Melt the butter in the microwave (30 seconds for most microwaves).
Combine the melted butter with the bread crumbs and top the stuffing with the bread crumbs.
Bake the lobster until the bread crumbs are golden brown (7-10 minutes).
Foobooz came out with their 50 best bars in Philly list and our local favorite, Jeremy Thomson’s Khyber Pass Pub craft beer bar came in #1. With their signature authentic New Orleans style Po’ Boys and the best craft beer draft list in town, the Khyber Pass Pub’s atmosphere, history, food and drink make it an easy choice for the best spot in Philly. Check out the rest of the top 50 list from Foobooz as there are some bars we love: Tria, Kraftwork, Village Whiskey, Sidecar, Bob & Barbera’s, Ranstead Room, Grace Tavern, Ressurection Ale House, McGlichey’s. Oh yeah, and the Hulmeville Inn? For real? It brings a tear to my eye that my local Bensalem stomping grounds, where this amateur drinker came to age as pro, the Hulmeville Inn, is now getting serious respect for being craft beer specialists. Of course, back in the day when I lived in Bensalem, they used to have Millier Lite specials, not Russian River on tap. You have no idea how many skeezers I took home because of those Miller Lite specials. Not to mention, my brother is still banned from the Hulmeville for reasons that we cannot discuss. Any who, check out the top 50 bars in Philly and congrats to the Khyber Pass Pub for being the best bar in Philly. The kid Jeremy Thomson is on fire.
#1 Khyber Pass Pub
#2 South Philadelphia Taproom
#3 Standard Tap
#4 Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.
#5 Memphis Taproom
#6 Pub on Passyunk East
#7 Good Dog Bar
#8 Varga Bar
#9 Farmers Cabinet
#10 Pub & Kitchen
#12 Johnny Brenda’s
#14 Monk’s Cafe
#15 Tria Cafe
#17 Village Whiskey
#18 Jose Pistola’s
#19 Royal Tavern
#20 Sidecar Bar & Grille
#21 Teresa’s Next Door
#22 Brauhaus Schmitz
#23 Bob & Barbara’s
#24 Percy Street Barbecue
#25 Prohibition Taproom
#26 Grace Tavern
#27 Stogie Joe’s
#28 Oyster House
#30 Devil’s Den
#31 Grey Lodge
#32 Nodding Head
#33 Locust Rendezvous
#34 Ranstead Room
#36 Hulmeville Inn
#37 Resurrection Ale House
#38 Earth Bread + Brewery
#39 Cantina Los Caballitos
#41 Frankford Hall
#42 Continental Midtown
#43 The Corner
#45 Chick’s Cafe
#48 TJ’s Restaurant & Drinkery
#49 12 Steps Down
#50 Silk City Diner
The Pho Takeover of America: Phở’ing it up in Virginia
By Joon Lee
It’s your typical Saturday or Sunday around lunch time. Trying to subdue your hangover, you need something to replenish your body after a hard night of Busch lager, Jim Beam and a pack or two of Marlboro Reds. Here in the great metropolitan area of Washington D.C, we drinkers like to wake up, call our peers to regroup and flock to a local restaurant and satisfy ourselves with a nice bowl of pho (pronounced fuh), a traditional Vietnamese rice noodle soup.
According to Wikipedia, this dish may have originated in the city of Hanaoi, Vietnam, which opened its first restaurant in the 20s. However, over the course of decades, pho has crossed over to many different countries, including here in the states. Even today, number of pho restaurants is rising rapidly as its cultural and popular influence among major metropolitan areas have become monumental.
As a long resident of Northern Virginia for the past nineteen years, I’ve had the privilege of Pho exposure at the age of thirteen. It’s a bit of an acquired taste for some. A few are reluctant to try initially due to its strong scent of cilantro, basil and other unfamiliar garnishes that surround a typical pho joint. And in some cases, one might not even enjoy their first ever bowl.
But then comes that one rainy day. You’re feeling hungry and subconsciously telling yourself, ‘I can definitely go for some pho right now.’ And that’s when it all starts. Obsessing over the delicious hot bowl of broth, noodles, and sliced beef (or shredded chicken) along with bean sprouts and chopped up green onions, lemon grass, and thin sliced onions, you’re never looking back to that life you once lived without the greatest hangover remedy you’ve ever witnessed.
The aura of a typical pho restaurant is quite simplistic yet unique. Pho 75 in Falls Church, VA is one of the original Pho restaurants stateside that is very traditional and hasn’t changed a bit since my first visit back in 1996. Often, I’ve waited in line at this place, but seats are imminently available and service is rather speedy. Imagine a cafeteria with row after row tables with customers constantly coming and going. The restaurant exudes a heavy scent of cilantro and Thai basil that’s readily apparent soon as walking in. Hung up on the walls are old photos of Vietnam, its villages and people. This atmosphere gives an imaginary sense of nostalgia almost as if you grew up in a Vietnamese farm in the 70s. The subtle sound of folk music is heard in the background and you get that calm feeling before your delicious bowl is served.
Most menus in all pho restaurants are similar. They’re categorized by a numbered list of beef combination noodles (phở bò). At pho 75, no. 1 entails parts of beef including eye-of-round steak, brisket, flank, soft tendon, and bible tripe. Rest as you would imagine, would have less of a combination, so you can pick and choose what part of beef you want in your broth. For those who that prefer chicken can order phở gà instead. Once your order’s been placed, it’s not long until the hot steamy bowl is present in front of noggin and thereon, it’s fifteen to twenty minutes of ecstasy.
Served with pho is a plate of fresh bean sprouts, sliced jalapeño peppers, lime wedges and basil. Traditionally, they’re served as optional toppings to your soup that could further enhance and spice up your broth to its next level. Residing at a table are your different sauces and seasoning, but the two predominantly added to your noodle are hoisin sauce (contained in a squeeze bottle) and Sriracha sauce. The combination of the two creates magic that goes very well with the rice noodle.
To top things off, one can order Vietnamese style iced coffee that’s usually served with a single cup aluminum filter on top of a small tea cup filled with condensed milk. Once the coffee fully drips to completion, it can be stirred to combine the milk before pouring onto a cold glass of ice. As a black coffee guy myself, this would mark the only time I’d ever drink coffee with anything but just coffee. It’s that good.
Pho 75 has branches throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Philadelphia. If you live anywhere near the DC Metropolitan area and have not tried pho, shame on you. It’s worth a kick. As for your out of towners, if you ever frequent any of the aforementioned areas, don’t be shy to Google ‘pho restaurants’ on your smart phone. The experience, good or bad, will be worthwhile because once you’ve been pho’ed, there’s no going back. It’s a lifelong commitment.
Minutes Outside of Washington D.C., Virginia Locks it Down with the Gooldaegee Honey Pig
By Joon Lee, Amy K. Haight & Matt Goldstein
Great Korean BBQ outside of Korea is difficult to find but the Honey Pig in Annandale Virginia is the most authentic Korean BBQ you can find on this side of the Pacific Ocean. The Honey Pig, or Gooldaegee, design the Korean BBQ style food to compliment the Soju, a Korean spirit much like vodka but sweeter with about half the alcohol. With a casual laid back atmosphere and the main grill in the front of the restaurant, the walls are pasted with Korean posters, a style straight out of Seoul.
Each table has its own grill with the waitress / cook laying the meat down right in front of you. The warmth of the personal table grill is comforting and the aroma from the sizzling meat extremely enticing. To start, our native Korean host ordered Charmisoul Jinro Soju with Cass Korean lager. The Cass lager is much like the classic American lager, Budweiser, simple, crisp, light and refreshing. This type of lager is perfect for mixing with Soju, as many Koreans drop 1 shot of Soju in each glass of beer. However for this meal, we drank the beer and soju straight.
For starters we had the egg soup, bean paste tofu soup, spinach and kim chi, all studs and all spiced appropriately to compliment the soju. For the main course Joon ordered the pork belly. With two different style cuts, the waitress first grilled up thin round cuts, which looked like a cross between bacon, prosciutto and cappicola. Very red in color, the thin slices of pork belly grilled to a beautiful grey. The thin slices are fatty on one half and meaty on the other. The flavor is a cross between bacon and roast pork. It’s absolutely outrageous. The second style cuts of meat were thick and long, basically like the biggest and thickest pieces of bacon we’d ever seen. This cut is a three layer style with one part skin, one part fat and one part pork. The meat on this cut is thick juicy and flavorful.
One of the great parts about having the grill on the table and serving your self is that you can let the meat cook as long as you want. So towards the end of the meal, the last few pieces were perfectly crispy. All in all, this is one of the best meals we ever had and a must try for any fan of Korean food, let alone Korean BBQ. Not to mention, the price is just right, almost every entrée on the menu is $12.99. This is one of the best meals you’ll ever have less expensive than almost any restaurant. Bottles of Soju are $10 and double bottles of Cass are $6. We would eat here again and again and again, just like Joon Lee has been doing since it opened.
The strip on Germantown Ave in Mt Airy Philadelphia is starting to pop. With McMenamin’s Tavern, the Earth Bread and Brewery, Umbriah, and the Wine Thief, there is no need to look further for a downtown style food and drink at an excellent price. The Wine Thief’s happy hour is absolutely ridiculous. $3 glasses of wine before 6 pm. Really? $3? When was the last time you had a glass of wine for $3? We don’t even understand how they could possible make money at that rate. As well, the wines they serve for happy hour are usually right off of their own wine list, which is always reasonable and selected well.
The wines featured for the happy hour we attended recently were the Bodegas Callia Malbec from Argentina and the Table Leaf Chardonnay. The Malbec was crisp, full flavored and slightly dry. For $3 per glass it’s a steal. You might be able to find this bottle for about $10 in the store, so if you’re looking for a malbec to not break the bank, give it a try. The Chardonnay was solid, perhaps not as crisp as we were looking for, but still very drinkable. And again, at $3 per glass, it’s still a great deal.
We started with the Pita Nachos with ezpazote, black beans, & avocado salsa. Excellent! It’s a must try. Then we had the Mac N’ Cheese appetizer (a special that was not on the menu that night, but we spied it on someone else’s plate and it just looked so good we had to order it.) Normally we wouldn’t order a 2nd appetizer in place of a meal, but when I saw the dish, it really wasn’t a choice. Then we had the homemade veggie burger. The burger patty was literally put together by hand in the Wine Thief kitchen. It was interesting, unique and tasty, and it was served with hand-cut fries that were delicious.
And if the awesome menu and outrageous wine bargains weren’t enough, the nightly viewing of TJ Hooker at the Wine Thief will keep us coming back. It may be the best part of the night. Forget sports; the clothes and haircuts alone on this classic 80s show can keep you in a conversation for the entire dinner, not to mention the cameos by some old school actors.
On side note, we also read some great reviews about the fried chicken and meatloaf, which we are definitely trying when we go back. All in all, we had two appetizers, a veggie burger, and four glasses of wine for a total of $35. The Wine Thief has excellent food and drink for an excellent price and we’re already planning a return trip. Also, when it’s not happy hour, the prices at the Wine Thief are still very reasonable. There were about 4-5 glasses of wine for about $7. It’s worth a try at anytime.
Mike Isabella received his formal chef training at The Restaurant School in New York, taking classes and cooking at some of New York City’s greatest restaurants. After New York, Chef Isabella made his way to Philadelphia where he worked at Alma de Cuba and then several Stephen Starr restaurants. Most recently, Chef Isabella was the executive chef of Jose Andres’ Zaytinya restaurant in Washington, DC. Chef Isabella recently appeared on Season Six of Top Chef and was the runner-up finalist on Top Chef All-Stars.
120 Chicken Wings, deboned
3 quarts Buttermilk
10 lbs All Purpose Flour
½ cup Salt
¼ cup Pepper
½ cup Coriander
1. Let the chicken soak for at least an hour in the buttermilk.
2. Combine the flour with salt, pepper and coriander.
3. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and coat with the flour.
4. Fry at 350 degrees until cooked through.
5. Remove and drain on towel.
6 cups Peanuts, ground fine
8 cups Coconut Milk
1 cup Ginger, sliced
½ cup Garlic
½ cup Sambal Chili Paste
½ cup Soy Sauce
1 cup Knob Creek Bourbon
1 cup Glucose Syrup
1. Sweat the ginger, garlic and sambal chili paste by heating over medium-low heat until
the ginger and garlic are softened and translucent in color.
2. Stir in the Knob Creek bourbon, soy sauce and glucose.
3. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil, let steep for 1 hour.
4. Strain and bring back to a simmer.
5. Add the ground peanuts and cook on low for about a half hour.
3 bunches Celery, cut on the bias, ¼” thick
2 cups Rice Wine Vinegar
1 cup Sugar
3 cups Water
2 bunches Thai Basil, thinly sliced
1. Bring the vinegar, sugar and water to a boil.
2. Cool down and pour over the celery.
1. Toss the chicken with the peanut glaze and serve with pickled celery.
It was not that I was surprised that there was a brewery in such a small town, it was that the beer being made at Auburn Alehouse was as good if not better than other brew pubs in more brew prolific towns. Auburn California is usually known, by the people who don’t live there, as the stop on the way to Tahoe from Sacramento. It’s a small quaint town with a country feel. It wasn’t the place I was expecting to find an amazing brewery on my short weekend trip.
The Northern California brewery and restaurant has a broad and impressive range of beers on tap. Including but not limited to, an Oatmeal Stout, a sessionable Brown, Pilsner, Lager, Oktoberfest and enough hop centric beers that would put a smile on any hop heads face.
The Auburn Alehouse has only been open a handful of years and has taken home more than a few awards. Which includes a Bronze medal for their Gold Country Pilsner at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010. Their Fools Gold is a “Pale Ale with a Punch” , a hoppy pale ale at 7.8% ABV 50 BU’s, it is not a typical Pale Ale which I thought was brilliant and insightful. It was also served on Nitro while I was in town which also is not typical of a small town shop. Gold Digger is a clean crisp IPA at 6.7% ABV 70 BU’s it is an amazing beer brewed with Magnum, Simcoe and Chinook hop varieties, with a late addition of Dry hops. The fact that this small town brewery even had an Imperial IPA was the first thing I noticed when I walked in. The PU-240, named after the Isotope essential for nuclear grade weapons is their “Weapons Grade Ale”. At 8.0% ABV 100BU’s, this hop bomb Imperial IPA has just enough Alcohol to complement the huge hop flavor. Brewed with Summit and Galena hops then double Dry-hopped with Simcoe, Columbus and Nugget hop varieties. I highlite the hoppy beers cause those are my favorite styles but every beer I tasted, and I tasted them all, was top notch and deserving of a review.
The Auburn Alehouse ties the brewery and restaurant together seamlessly with its shinny 10-barrel brewing system peering over the restaurant and bar through its tall glass walls like Optimus Prime for beer geeks ready to come alive when a patrons beer is low. On the wall above the bar are a few dozen growlers from other breweries around the country that have been collected by employees and loyal patrons who want to share their beer explorations with the brewery and town. Also with an outside patio, great food and occasional live music this beautiful rustic brick and mortar walled brewery is a place I wish was closer to home.
With the growth of the craft beer industry it is becoming more common for small breweries to produce not just beer with more flavor than the macro-brew aluminum can, but actually produce great beer. This quality over quantity production is a reflection of the craft beer movement right now and brewers knowing that with the right ingredients, care and knowledge they can make just as good of beers as anyone else, anywhere else. This competition forces innovation and is great for craft beers palate.
If you find yourself in the Auburn California area or on your way to Tahoe on I-80 make sure you stop by the Auburn Alehouse for lunch and stock up on some 22′s or a growler for the road. If you bring them a growler from your town maybe they’ll trade ya.
Support your local brewery and search out someone else’s local brewery and give it a try.
Mike Isabella received his formal chef training at The Restaurant School in New York, taking classes and cooking at some of New York City’s greatest restaurants. After New York, Chef Isabella made his way to Philadelphia where he worked at Alma de Cuba and then several Stephen Starr restaurants. Most recently, Chef Isabella was the executive chef of Jose Andres’ Zaytinya restaurant in Washington, DC.. Chef Isabella recently appeared on Season Six of Top Chef and was the runner-up finalist on Top
24 1lb Lobsters
Corn Nuts, crushed
Chive, sliced very thin
1. Poach the lobster in water for 3 minutes.
2. Pull out and ice down.
3. Take lobster out of shells and cut into portions (½ oz rounds).
BOURBON POACHING LIQUID
2 cups Knob Creek Bourbon
2 cups Water
½ cup Shallots, sliced
¼ oz Thyme Sprigs
4 lbs Butter
1. Mix together Knob Creek bourbon, water, shallots and thyme and reduce to 1 cup over
2. Strain liquid and put back on the heat and mount the sauce with butter.
1 Case Yellow Corn
1 quart Mascarpone
¼ cup Grade B Dark Maple Syrup
1. Juice the corn kernels with a vegetable juicer.
2. Place juice in a pot and bring to boil.
3. Make sure to have a whisk and rubber spatula handy, then whisk the sauce until it starts
to thicken. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir until it comes to a boil.
4. Remove from heat and cool to room temp.
5. Whisk in the mascarpone and maple syrup and chill.
1. Slice the lobster into ¼ inch medallions.
2. Spoon corn sauce into spoon and top with medallion.
Oktoberfest, it’s that time of year again. If the Germans know anything about beer, than they sure know something about meats. For those of you that live in the Philadelphia area or even New york/New Jersey for that matter I encourage you to visit Illg’s Meats in Bucks County Pennsylvania. You can even pick up some of Illg’s delicasies at the Apple Valley Farm stand in the Reading Terminal in Center City Philadelphia.
According to the Illg family, “Ernst came to America in 1952 and settled in the Brewerytown section of Philadelphia, at 29th and Master Streets; a good neighborhood for lunch meats and sausage. German, Irish, Polish and Jewish people. They liked our meats. So business exploded. And all we had was a little rowhouse-in front, the store; in the middle, the icebox; in back, the sausage kitchen; upstairs, the family. So we moved to Chalfont. We took over a store from a butcher who was American but with German parents, so he had a few German items. We just put our items out, and all of a sudden we didn’t know where all these people were coming from. It’s not just people from Germany like these meats, you know. It’s people from Poland, from Russia, from all over Europe. We even make Hungarian sausage. We’re Germans, but we make it. And we make it good.”
I grew up eating the lunch meat, brats, sauerkraut, and butcher cuts from the Chalfont store. But comfort food has kind of been my go-to cuisine and nothing takes me back to my childhood better than some basic ole’ fashioned Wiener Schnitzel.
Basically, its merely a fried breaded veal cutlet served with a lemon wedge.
The Winer Schnitzel Recipe:
1 lb of fresh veal cutlets from Illg’s Meats tenderized and pounded flat
1 cup of UNSEASONED bread crumbs
1 cup of flour
Splash of milk
2 tablespoons fresh parsley flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons of butter
First pound out your veal cutlets. Next, mix some fresh ground pepper into your flour and set aside.
Beat your eggs with the milk and set aside. Mix your parsley with the bread crumbs. Next you will be breading your cutlets by dipping each cutlet into your flour mixture assuring that the entire piece is coated and shake off any excess flour. Next dip it into the beaten eggs, and finally dip the cutlet into the bread crumb mixture. Repeat this process for each piece. Heat your cooking oil in a large skillet. Once hot, add the butter until that melts and begin frying your breaded cutlets until golden brown on each side.
Once each side is fried set aside on a paper towel to drain any excess oil. Squeeze a lemon wedge on your Schnitzel and serve with a lemon wedge and parsley garnish.
Really, Wiener Schnitzel is an Austrian dish, but culturally, its close enough. It is also tradition to serve your Wiener Schnitzel with parsley herb potato wedges and a parsley garnish. I would pair this bad boy with this years Whiskey Goldmine Oktoberfest Champion Spaten Oktoberfest!
The Illgs Store by the way, is at 365 Folly Road, Chalfont, PA is open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Tuesday through Friday and from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday. “Tell people to call (215-343-0670) before they come, and I will give them directions,” says Ernst Illg.
Summer is but a few short months, so one must strike while the season is hot. Doing just that, Executive Chef Jim Nuetzi has created a recipe for a picnic-perfect salad featuring fresh tomatoes and sweet watermelon in their summertime prime. It’s a unique combination of flavors and textures made more remarkable by the addition of crumbly feta cheese. It’s a dish that can only be created to perfection in summer. (And is somehow even more delicious when enjoyed outdoors.) Ingredients(Serves 10)
Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, halved
Grape Tomatoes, halved
Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes, seeded and diced 3/4″
Seedless Watermelon, diced 3/4″
Red Onion, peeled and finely minced
Seeded Cucumber, diced 1/4″
Red Bell Pepper, seeded,and diced 1/2″
Chives, thinly sliced
Freshly Chopped Cilantro Leaves
Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
Blended Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Feta Cheese, crumbled
Combine all ingredients except feta in a large stainless bowl and toss gently to combine. (The salad may be prepared up to 4 hours in advance.)
Just prior to serving, gently toss in crumbled Feta Cheese.
Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.