Monthly Archives: June 2014

Taqueria Feliz, Manayunk

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Taqueria Feliz 

Category: Mexican
Neighborhoods: Manayunk, Roxborough

4410 Main St
Manayunk, PA 19127
Phone: (267) 331-5874

4/5 stars

After eying some of the delicious looking food at this place in passing, I went for dinner here with some friends. Overall, although the service was on the slower side and the waitstaff on the arrogant, pushy side, the food definitely met my expectations, if not exceeded them.
After reading others’ reviews, it seemed like this place was either inconsistent with their food or peoples’ opinions/preferences varied a lot.
Upon being seated, our waiter asked if we wanted any drinks to begin with and when we told him we needed a minute to decide, he disappeared and didn’t return for more than ten minutes.
Basically, this is the kind of place where the waitstaff asks you if you want more chips (for example) making it sound like it’s a free refill when you already have paid for the chips and salsa (which many Mexican places serve on the house). Additionally, when we ordered them, the waiter asked if we wanted guacamole with them too, again making it sound like it almost comes with it when it’s actually $10 on the menu. They also push you to get drinks.

However, the food was very impressive!
The tortilla chips had just the right amount of sea salt and tasted very homemade. The salsa was pretty thin, but decent (Just don’t expect to find your chunky style salsa).
We shared the watermelon salad, which consisted of cubed watermelon, jicama, pepitas, avocado, mint leaves, arugula, with achiote vinaigrette, which was spicy and slightly sweet. Everything seemed very fresh in the salad, but it was on the spicy side for me. The sweetness of the watermelon helped tame the spiciness though.
For my entree, I ordered the chicken tinga tacos. This was 3 corn tacos with pieces of chicken marinated in chipotle, pickled cabbage, avocado, queso fresco, and crema (sour cream). These were very flavorful and it was an interesting combination with the pickled cabbage. The chicken was well cooked and it was not overly oily or salty. I also tasted my friend’s brisket tacos, which were made up of cubes of brisket topped with scallions and salsa de arbol. This was excellent as well, although a tad fatty on some pieces.
This restaurant also has a lot of atmosphere, bright and colorful with a nice cultural vibe. It was definitely on the louder side though, mostly due to the bar (it was a Friday night so it might have been more crowded than usual).

Overall, great place, would definitely return!

*Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures, but there are lots of photos on yelp if you’re curious what the food looks like!

 

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Earth, Bread, & Brewery, Manayunk

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Earth, Bread, and Brewery

Categories: PizzaBreweries
Neighborhoods: Mount Airy, Germantown

7136 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19119
Phone: (215) 242-6666

3/5 stars

My first experience at Earth, Bread, and Brewery was definitely better than my second which is why I’m rounding up to 3 stars instead of 2.
It seems like this place is just very inconsistent. Since my first time here was a year ago, it’s hard to remember specifics, but I think we had friendly, good service, and our pizza (whatever the special was that night) with figs, balsamic, goat cheese, etc was pretty good. I don’t remember it being excellent but the crust was good and the toppings created an interesting combination.
On the other hand, my second experience was a little ridiculous to say the least. We ordered two pizzas and two salads. We ended up ordering the Asian Kale Salad and the Avocado salad with dressing on the side. Unfortunately, the waiter confused the two dressing orders and put the wrong one on the side. When politely informed of his mistake, he shrugged it off and didn’t offer to take it back. The kale salad was very fair, the dressing being extremely salty and spicy. Imagine kale dressed in soy sauce and chile powder.
The other salad was flavorful and unique and had a decorative presentation (as pictured below), but had too much dressing.

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So after we got our salads, it was forever until the pizzas finally came out. I have no idea what took them so long because we ordered two more pizzas to go (to take to a friend’s house) when they came, and those came out within 10 minutes.

So the pizzas…
We got their “Earth” pizza which was tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, roasted onions, basil, and arugula. I enjoyed this pizza for the most part. The crust was nice and thin, but had some black spots on the bottom of the crust. Their crust is pretty good, but not excellent, it’s very light, but not much depth to it. The toppings were fresh and flavorful though.

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The other pizza was the special which was herbed ricotta cheese, grana padano cheese, Swiss chard, basil, roasted onions, and a tomato basil vinaigrette drizzled on top. For me, the Swiss chard overtook the pizza completely and the bottom of the crust on this pizza was totally black!
In my opinion, it’s unacceptable to bring out a pizza that’s black on the bottom. We were nice enough not to send it back (especially after the waiter’s rudeness with the salads), but should have nonetheless.

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So not the best experience, to sum it up, slow service, mistakes by the waiter, and very burnt crust. Would probably not go back.

Vedge, Philadelphia

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Vedge 

Category: Vegan, Vegetarian
Neighborhood: Washington Square West

1221 Locust St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 320-7500

4.5/5 stars

Vedge has been on my go-to Philly restaurant list for a few years now. It’s been raved about everywhere, from magazines to newspapers, to TV shows. This vegan restaurant excels in not only their presentation, but also transforms the experience of eating vegetables. Vedge elevates the vegetable to the status of meat, without intending to imitate it. Instead of making the vegetable into something it’s not meant to be, the cooks at Vedge bring out the vegetables’ diverse qualities in flavor and texture, creating elegant masterpieces that you don’t want to ruin by digging in with your fork.

So now onto the actual food! The suggested amount of plates to order is 3 per person, but my friend and I decided a total of 4 would be plenty for us. The menu is divided into three main sections with the first comprising of cold plates mostly in their raw form. The second section lists hot plates, which are a little heartier and have larger portions, and the third section is called the dirt list, items that are cooked for the most part but smaller portions.

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The first dish we ordered was the Wood Baked Sweet Potato Hummus with two types of sliced bread (multigrain and grilled white bread with olive oil) along with pickles and pickled jicama rods. They actually give you quite a large portion of hummus, but not quite enough bread and pickles to dip into the hummus. The bread and pickled items were very tasty. The bread tasted fresh and the pickled jicama was especially tangy with a strong bite. The hummus had a smooth texture and a very smoky flavor. We didn’t expect this extent of smokiness, but if you like “smoky”, then this hummus is right up your alley!

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Our second dish was the Roasted Rutabaga Salad. This was my favorite. It was presented beautifully with the leaves of the rutabaga, grilled shiitakes, and crushed pistachio making up a salad dressed in a little olive oil, and 4 large thin bright yellow slices of rutabaga emerging from underneath with some roasted bits of onion sprinkled along the long edge of the plate. I loved the surprise of a crunch of pistachio in the salad with the delicious mushrooms and fresh leaves. The rutabaga actually had a caramelized onion flavor and were crisp and delicate. The onion complimented the rutabaga well as well as the greens.

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Our next dish was Brussels sprouts that were shaved and grilled with a smoked mustard dressing drizzled on top. The Brussels sprouts were well cooked and flavorful and the mustard dressing was light and fresh, bringing out the Brussels sprouts even more so.

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The final dish was the Seared Hearts of Palm. This was presented as one whole heart of palm in the middle, with chopped hearts of palm next to it, and topped with Calabrian chile salad. The salad consisted of halved cherry tomatoes and chile peppers with a light vinaigrette. In a pool around this were black lentils that had a rich undertone, encircled by a rim of green Harissa puree. This dish was also well prepared, the hearts of palm were crisp and flavorful, the lentils well cooked and slightly rich with the Harissa blending in to add a delicate flavor. The child salad was a bit on the spicy side especially if you got a tiny pepper. But the waitstaff were very quick to ensure our water glasses were always full, so that helped wash away the spiciness.

The service also was extremely fast. Almost too fast! Our food came out in less than 10 minutes after we ordered, might have been five.
We were presented with the dessert menu after we finished our meal, which by the way was the perfect amount for the two of us. The desserts were all items that combined sweet and savory flavors, but more adventurously than usual.
Overall, I would highly recommend Vedge. It’s a great place to go whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore!
However, you’ll usually have to make reservations pretty far ahead of time if you’re looking to eat at prime dinner hours (6-8pm) range. Or you might be able to snag a reservation that someone cancelled (like I did) a few days before!

Blueberry Cake

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While at the farmers market yesterday, I spotted the quarts of plump beautiful blueberries at the fruit stand and became very excited because this means blueberry season is here at last! I love baking with blueberries and have so many recipes, both old and new to experiment with that are waiting patiently in my recipe binders.

Today I decided to share with you my favorite recipe for blueberry cake. This is a old cooking light recipe that hardly needs any tweaking. It’s perfect to make with local fresh picked blueberries and has a wonderful lightness to it, making it perfect to eat for breakfast, a snack, or dessert! There are bursts of blueberries in every bite and the cake itself lends a tender and moist crumb with a delicate flavor. Once you have one piece, you’ll keep wanting to cut off just one sliver more. It’s just that good. And unbelievably simple too!

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Blueberry Cake

Yield: one 9-inch cake, with about 8 servings

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 oz)    CIMG6387

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

scant 3/4 cup granulated sugar

6 TBP butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 1/3 cups low-fat buttermilk

cooking spray

1 1/2 – 2 cups fresh blueberries

1 TBP turbinado sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch round baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.

3. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 min). Add vanilla, egg, and egg white, beat well. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition.

4. Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with about half the blueberries. Spoon remaining batter on top; sprinkle evenly with rest of blueberries. Then sprinkle turbinado sugar on top. Bake for 40-50 min, depending on your oven, rotating front to back half way through baking. When toothpick is inserted in the center, it should come out with a few moist crumbs or clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack and then remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Adapted from Cooking Light 2008 

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