the food trust night market 2011

Last Thursday, The Food Trust held their second annual night market. This year, it was held in University City and featured a beer garden for Philly Beer Week. Several food trucks and vendors lined the perimeter of the parking lot while the beer stands and other restaurants had tables in the center.

smoked kielbasa

I showed up an hour from opening and several food trucks/vendors already had some pretty long lines. The pops and sis waited in the line for Guapos Tacos, the longest line there, while I wandered around to find some other stuff to try.

blt hot dog

The Dapper Dog‘s menu caught my eye and I immediately waited in line as soon as I saw their menu. I ordered a BLT hot dog with spicy mayo and smoked kielbasa with jalapeno relish & spicy mayo. Both of these were pretty damn good.

Tyson Bees had a good line forming as well. Later on in the evening I was able to enjoy a pork belly bun during the torrential downpour.

chipotle short rib tacos

Thanks to the pop and sis, I did get to try Guapos Tacos. Don’t hate on me too much, but I thought they were just alright. The green chile chicken left me hanging as I felt that it needed much more. The carnitas and short rib tacos were quite delicious though.

carnitas tacos

I heard that last year’s was pretty hectic and vendors even ran out of food. I think the night market was organized pretty well this year. If the thunderstorm didn’t come, I would have been able to hang out and eat a lot more! I’m definitely looking forward to next year’s.

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2011 top chef tour – red bank, nj

Last Thursday, the 2011 Top Chef tour came to Red Bank, NJ’s Marine Park featuring Chef Jen Carroll of 10 Arts by Eric Ripert and Chef Kevin Sbraga, winner of Top Chef Season 7. The event featured activitites such as Buitoni pasta sampling, Castello cheese sampling, an interactive smell/aroma test, and a meet and greet with both chefs.

jen’s brined chicken breast

The main draw of course was the quickfire competitions. There were four total and I was lucky enough to be able to judge the first two. The main ingredient for the quickfire challenges was chicken, voted by Red Bank locals on the Top Chef tour Facebook page. The chefs could use any part of the chicken they wanted and were allowed to bring one secret ingredient. Kevin decided to go through the competitions without a secret ingredient while Jen brought a homemade vinegar. Jen made a brined chicken breast while Kevin made a curried chicken thigh. Both chefs made delicious dishes and it was tough to choose a winner. Guests were also able to try both dishes thanks to students from French Culinary working in the back!

kevin’s curried chicken thigh

The set up of the competition was pretty awesome. Two cooking stations were placed on a platform in the center, with the judges’ table in the middle and rows of seats placed on both sides of the platform. Joining me at the judges table for the first quickfire competition was Chef Ariane Duarte, the “cougar in the kitchen” from Top Chef Season 5 and the chef/owner of CulinAriane in Montclair, NJ. For the second quickfire, Chef Nicholas Harary of Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, NJ, joined me at the judges’ table. The first quickfire went to Kevin and the second went to Jen.

introducing the cougar in the kitchen

Huge thanks to Fred Haug of BravoTV and Amy Cao of Foodspotting for the awesome opportunity to judge the first two competitions!

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2011 top chef tour

Image from Bravo

The fourth annual Top Chef tour started last month. This tour stops at several cities and features rotating cheftestants from previous seasons. Each stop will have two chefs compete in three Quickfire style competitions. Foodspotting has also teamed up with Bravo this year. For each city on the tour, there is a respective guide. Be sure to follow and spot some food to earn the Top Chef Tour badge!

I tried to make it last year to the Philly stop but just couldn’t free my schedule. This year, I’m lucky to be one of the judges for the Red Bank, NJ stop on the tour! The Red Bank event will be held this upcoming Thursday, the 26th at the Marine Park and will feature Chef Kevin Sbraga, NJ native and Top Chef Season 7 winner, and Chef Jen Carroll, Top Chef Season 6 cheftestant and Chef de Cuisine of 10 Arts in Philadelphia. Tickets are completely free but are first come, first serve on the day of and limited release for pre-registration online. If you’re looking to score some pre-registration tickets, keep checking the site during the days leading up to the event. The times for the competitions on Thursday are 10.30 am, 12.00 pm, and 1.30 pm.

Hope to see you there!

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pyt cupcake smash

Philabundance’s Cupcake Smash cupcake competition was held at PYT last Saturday. PYT is known for it’s wild and crazy burgers and each contestant/team was asked to create a cupcake inspired by PYT’s menu.

The judges consisted of PYT’s own Tommy Up, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Michael Klein, Shmitten Kitchen’s Anna Goldfarb, and Phrequency’s Leah Kauffman. Felicia D’Ambrosio of Federal Donuts emcee’d the event too.

team totes adorbs

roscoe’s delight, by team totes adorbs

Team Totes Adorbs, consisting of Allie Harcharek and Mikey Ilagan, served the Roscoe’s Delight, a chicken and waffle cupcake consisting of a maple vanilla cake topped with cayenne maple buttercream, onion-sage fried chicken, buttermilk waffles, applewood smoked bacon “sprinkles”, and a bourbon maple syrup glaze. Damn, that was tasty. This one could certain serve as a meal. It was pretty filling and all the flavors were pretty well defined. I also may have had two of these…

dad’s girls – 1st place amateur division

cannoli cupcake by dad’s girls

Dad’s Girls served a cannoli cupcake! It had moist cake, sweet ricotta, chocolate, (I believe) chopped pistachio, and a piece of cannoli shell. This was pretty delicious too. They ended up winning 1st place for the amateur division.

jim belushi by jimmies cupcake co.

Jimmies Cupcake Co. took home first place in the professional division for their Jim Belushi, a spiced tomato cupcake with a pistachio shortbread lemon bar baked inside topped with a caramel cream cheese icing and a piece of sesame brittle.

I consumed a ton of cupcakes last Saturday. Probably not the best preparation for the Broad Street Run, but it was surely an awesome time!

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2011 flavors of the avenue

Last Saturday was Flavors of the Avenue, East Passyunk Avenue’s annual food festival. I attended for the second time and it was great. The tent had it’s tables lined around the perimeter with several local restaurants. This year, it felt a little less crowded, in a good way since I was able to go around more and try a lot of stuff.

chicken curry waffle from chhaya

Chhaya served a chicken curry waffle which was one of my favorite things served on Saturday. It had lots of flavor and the waffle was light and airy.

the team from plenty

Plenty was serving three different sandwiches and I tried the chicken one. It was pretty good, but I wish I tried the tasso ham sandwich. Unfortunately, they were waiting for more from the restaurant at the time and I totally forgot to come back to the table. I’ve heard some great things about the tasso sandwich.

biscuits & gravy from green eggs cafe

mamma maria serving up sausage marinara over polenta

Mamma Maria served some tasty sausage marinara over polenta. At the preview, she offered penne in a gorgonzola sauce that was fantastic. This is definitely one of the places I’ve gotta check out.

The buttermilk biscuits in sausage gravy from Green Eggs Cafe were also delicious. Now if they only served mini-kitchen sinks at the event…

spring pea soup from fond*

dark chocolate coconut brownies from fond*

*Photos taken at preview event.

Fond served a chilled spring pea soup with sumac yogurt and a dark chocolate coconut brownie. They were also some of the best things I ate on Saturday.

Events like this always remind me that there are a lot of great places to eat in south Philly and I need to get down there more often.

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