Ugh, for the umpteeth time this winter, I am under the weather. I can't quite tell if it's a cold or if my allergies are out of control (quite possibly the latter, thank you spring), but either way, I've been feeling fairly miserable. Any time I am not completely upright, I'm filled with so much mucus that I can't breathe... so I've basically spent the past 3 nights up all night on the couch. Last light I even bailed on my quasi-reclining position on the couch around 3am and went upstairs to hang out with our new foster cat (see more below). I sat on a dog bed, petting the dog with my left hand and the cat with my right hand, unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep sitting cross-legged leaning against the wall, until my husband came in around 7am. Needless to say, I think I'm going to cancel our dinner plans tonight because I think I'd much rather spend the evening zoned out on the couch than trying to eat food I won't really taste anyway.
2) Russet/Farm & Fisherman/Serpico
Another busy week for us restaurant-wise -- four dinners out (one was medicore at Entree, so I'm not including it - but the company was great! So nice to catch up with you, Brian and Athas - let's get together again before you move!)
First up, Russet. My parents came out to visit two weekends ago, and at the last minute I changed our reservations to Russet (#39 on the Philly Top 50 list). I've been here once before with a friend, so it wasn't new to me, but my husband had yet to stop in, and I thought my parents might enjoy it more than the restaurant where I originally made reservations. It's a small, cozy BYOB, which (like everywhere else these days) focus on farm-to-table cooking with a regularly changing menu. The four of us shared an order of the gnocchi and the mushroom ravioli to start - both of which were excellent. It seems appropriate given the name, and I'd definitely recommend anyone get the gnocchi if you drop in. I will say that while we all enjoyed the food, the service was not quite up to par with the other restaurants we've been dining at lately. Personally, I'd always rather have excellent food and just okay service than the other time around, but a quick perusal of Yelp reviews shows that many other people disagree, so... if you feel that way, Russet may not be fore you.
Last weekend, we had an early dinner at Farm & Fisherman (#26 on the Philly Top 50 list) before heading to the symphony. It snowed all day and it was a treacherous 1.5 mile walk to the restaurant -- I'm not sure I've ever been so glad to arrive somewhere in one piece after all that slipping and sliding! Also a BYO, the restaurant was awarded the best Farm-to-Table Restaurant award in 2012... do you notice a trend here in all these restaurants? We really, really enjoyed everything we had here -- we started with the only thing that remains constant on the menu all the time -- the "bloody beat steak", which is essentially a giant roasted beet prepared like a steak. It was fantastic -- that earthy, rustic beet taste, served warm, caramelized on the outside, over house made yogurt -- even my husband really liked it, and he's not normally a big beet person. We split the risotto next (with arborio rice grown locally in New Jersey - who knew they grew such things nearby?), and then had the striped bass (me) and lamb (him) for dinner. The restaurant is located just a few blocks from the Kimmel Center and so many other theaters in the area, so it's perfect for a pre-show dinner -- highly recommended!
Finally, we headed to Serpico (#9 on the Philly Top 50 list) last Saturday. Serpico is billed as contemporary American fare, but it has a lot of Korean influences. In summary, we LOVED it, and you should absolutely go if you're in the area. We started with the corn ravioli, which were the perfect combination of slightly sweet from the corn, but a little spicy, and an order of the Korean fried chicken wings for my husband. I'm not really a meat eater -- I was a total pescatarian for 15 years and will now try bites of meat here and there, but I generally don't care for it. At my husband's urging, I tried a bite of the wings, and it's the only chicken I've had that didn't immediately make me cringe (I normally cannot stand poultry). Despite the chili paste, the sauce was sweet and flavorful, and the wings were perfectly crispy. My first (and likely only) chicken wing tasting was a success! For dinner, my husband ordered the duck breast, smoked in a traditional Korean manner, and I had a kimchi and tomato stew - perfect for clearing out the sinuses for the start of my allergy issues! We were so full, I wound up taking half the stew home afterward, and my Korean labmate was fascinated and wanted a full recount of our dinner, and promptly made reservations himself to go check it out.
3) March Madness
So, uh, anyone actually doing well this year? I... am not. I'm participating in bracket challenges for both my lab and the #DarwinsBalls charity tournament among the science crowd on Twitter, and... yeah. Not going to win anything this year. My dog also fills out her very own bracket every year (indicating which team she would like with a tap of her paw or nose), but she's not doing too well, either. Interestingly, she chose the same team to win this year as she did last year -- it appears our dog is a big Arizona fan.
4) Foster Cat
As mentioned above, we have a new four-legged visitor in our house. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on my food blog before, but I usually foster a few litters of kittens every spring/summer. For various reasons, I'm not able to do so this year, but we did take in a slightly older cat for a few weeks. He's been pretty stressed in the shelter so I'm hoping a little time in a home will help him chill out. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be as much of a dog lover as the shelter promised, so he doesn't get free run of the house yet since he keeps trying to sneak attack our dog. Hopefully they'll work out their differences soon. If you happen to know anyone in the Philadelphia area looking to adopt a cat, please refer them my way! "Jinxy" is somewhere in the 2-4 year old range, a male found as a stray in West Philly, and extremely playful.
We have a pretty busy day tomorrow, mostly full of errands. We're heading out to Lancaster to visit a friend we haven't seen since college, and since we'll be doing the trek way out to suburban-ville, we have a list of all sorts of places we want to stop (Target, craft store, Benjamin Moore for paint samples, Wegmans, etc). A friend of my husband's from medical school is in town, so hopefully we'll get to spend some time with him, and otherwise, it will be a weekend of pre-Passover spring cleaning. I thought we would dodge the Seder boat this year since my husband is on call all day both Saturday and Sunday next weekend, but when I threw out this tidbit when my parents asked what our plans were, they immediately responded with "No problem! We'll come to you!" -- and thus, I am now hosting Seder next weekend. I think most of the menu is pretty well planned, although I'm always looking for new and exciting desserts -- any suggestions?
Have a great weekend, friends!