2011 philadelphia vendy awards

2011 philly vendys
This past Saturday was the first annual Vendy Awards for Philadelphia! I remember attending last year’s Vendys in NYC, and they announced that Philly was going to have their first in 2011. Well, I never forgot and was certainly looking forward to this.

2011 philly vendys - gigi and big r
There were a total of 8 trucks nominated. The 8 trucks were: Cucina Zapata (Thai/Mexican), Gigi and Big R (Caribbean/American Soul Food), Guapos Tacos (Garces’s taco truck), King of Falafel (Middle Eastern), La Copine (Brunch), Magic Carpet Foods (Vegetarian), Sugar Philly (Desserts), and Sweet Box (Cupcakes).

the judges' table


Three awards were up for grabs on Saturday, the Vendy Cup, Best Dessert, and People’s Choice. To decide the winners, a large panel of judges included Mayor Michael Nutter, Chef Jen Carroll of 10 Arts, Chef Mike Solomonov of Zahav, Drew Lazor of Philadelphia’s City Paper, Brian McManus of Philadelphia Weekly, Jamie Shanker of Midtown Lunch Philadelphia, and Lindsay Lidge, wife of Phillies pitcher Brad Lidge and The Food Trust partner.

crispy mahi taco from guapos tacos


Lots of great food was served such as a soul food sampler from Gigi and Big R, a mahi taco from Guapos, falafel from Magic Carpet and King of Falafel, tacos from Cucina Zapata, macarons from Sugar Philly, and cupcakes from Sweet Box.

2011 philly vendy cup winners - gigi and big r


The winners were Gigi and Big R for the Vendy Cup, Sweet Box for Best Dessert, and Cucina Zapata for People’s Choice.

At last year’s Vendy’s I didn’t get to try some food since some trucks ran out. It happened again this year! I heard some great things about Sugar Philly’s salted caramel macarons and I had none of it. This just means I’m going to have to get over there on my own and get em!

I’d definitely like to see this event grow next year with more trucks and more food. I had an awesome time and look forward to next year’s!

All the proceeds of the Philadelphia Vendys benefited The Food Trust. The Food Trust is holding another Night Market featuring more Philly food trucks soon, go check it out!

Check out more photos after the jump:

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cooking: sauteed broccoli rabe


I’ve never had broccoli rabe in my life until I moved down to the Philly area. Down here it’s pretty popular, especially since it’s a key ingredient in (arguably) Philadelphia’s signature sandwich, the roast pork sandwich. The taste is somewhat bitter, but I like it.

In Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home, I’ve had his recipe for sauteed broccoli rabe bookmarked for quite some time, but just never had reason enough to try it. When contemplating what to make last night for today’s lunch, it finally hit me…chicken cutlet sandwich w/ sharp provolone, broccoli rabe, roasted peppers, and pesto.


Not that you need a recipe, but this was my first time cooking with broccoli rabe so I had to follow something…

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe
adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

-2 lbs. broccoli rabe, trimmed
-2 tbsp canola oil
-2 large garlic cloves, minced
-1 tsp crushed red pepper
-salt & pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. In the meantime, set up an ice bath in a large bowl and a cooling rack over a paper towel lined sheetpan.

Once the water is boiling, add the broccoli rabe and cook for about 3 minutes. Immediately drain then toss the broccoli rabe into the ice bath. Once cool, drain the broccoli rabe on the cooling rack.

Take a large frying pan and heat the oil over medium. Add the garlic and saute for a minute. Next, add the crushed red pepper, immediately followed by the broccoli rabe.

Using tongs, toss constantly for about 2 minutes. Off the heat. Season with salt & pepper.

Serve as a side or for use in other intended dish. I will post a photo to TwitPic soon of my sandwich!

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cooking: pickled red onions


I’ve only had pickled red onions one other time…at the 2010 Taste of the Nation – Philadelphia event. Fond served pickled red onions over a chicken liver mousse on homemade sourdough. Ahhhh. I want that NOW. Anyway, from that moment on, pickled red onions changed me…so. effing. delicious.

I bought Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home cookbook a few months ago but unfortunately haven’t used it. Finally, I got my ass off the couch, picked up a pickling jar, ingredients, and got to work with Chef Keller’s pickled red onions recipe.

Pickled Red Onions
stored in 1 quart pickling jar
adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

-2 med-large red onions (about 1 lb each)
-1 1/2 c red wine vinegar (I used Wegmans Chianti)
-3/4 c sugar

Prepare onions by trimming root and tops then peeling the outer layer. Next, half the onions and get rid of the whitish-yellow center part by making a v shaped cut.

onion x-section, get rid of that whitish-yellow part

Next, chop the onions longitudinally along the “lines” into 1/8″ thick slices. I’m aware my cuts below aren’t quite 1/8″…my knife skills need sharpening…no pun intended hehe.

slice into 1/8″ thick slices

Pack as much onions as you can into a 1 quart jar. You won’t be able to fit all of them in now.

pack as much as you can into the jar

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring often to dissolve sugar. Once boiling, off the heat and pour the liquid into the jar over the onions.


Once the onions start to wilt from the heat, continue to pack more onions in. I wasn’t able to fit all of the onions I chopped, but give it a try.

Let cool to room temperature.

Once cool, seal the top and toss in the fridge for up to one month.

Now, if I could only figure out what to use them with. I certainly won’t be making any chicken liver mousse anytime soon, nor would my version be any good…

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thanksgiving 2010


This year, I’m making a single dish since I’m celebrating Thanksgiving with a larger group, last year I celebrated with just my immediate family, so I made a ton of dishes.

I plan on making legit green bean casserole to bring up to the annual family gathering. The recipe I’m using is from Serious Eats. I’ve never made or ate green bean casserole, so I’m hoping this turns out well.

Here are a few preview pictures from my prep work. After the holiday I’ll be sure to post an update.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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cooking: lamb steak over polenta w/ oven roasted veggies


What to do when you’re feeling bummed out? Eat a great meal of course…or at least one that you know will make you feel better!

After work, I made a quick stop at Wegmans to pick up lamb sausage a lamb steak, and a couple veggies. I also attempted to try to find the Vosges Gianduja Bar to no avail. Wegmans please carry this variety soon please? It may be my favorite Vosges bar.

Anyway, during my drive home the dish came together in my mind. Serve the steak medium over polenta with a side of roasted tomatoes and mushrooms. Perfect.

Lamb Steak over Polenta w/ Oven Roasted Veggies
Steak serves 1; Polenta and Veggies serve 1+

-1/2 lb. leg of lamb steak
-vegetable oil
-salt & pepper

-1/2 c polenta
-1 c milk
-1 c water
-1/2 c pecorino romano, grated
-salt, to taste

Preheat grill.

Season steak with salt and pepper on both sides. Next, rub oil over both sides of steak.

Start making polenta.

In a saucepan, whisk together polenta, milk, water, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and shift the lid over so it’s cracked. Leave for 15 minutes.

Place the steak on the grill. You should hear a nice sizzle. If not, your grill is not hot enough. Close lid of grill. If you want to achieve grill marks, rotate the steak 45° after 2 minutes. After another 2 minutes, flip the steak over and repeat.

Once finished and cooked to your desired doneness (I was going for medium), set aside to rest, covered with foil, for about 10 – 15 minutes.

Whisk the pecorino into the polenta and mix well.

Place a serving of polenta on a plate, then top it with the steak. Serve with roasted veggies.

Enjoy!

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