Tuesday, September 25, 2007


The cafe I bake for is hosting a Rib Cook-Off. Contestants and Eaters are wanted.

If you feel like your rib recipe deserves a gold star, swing by A Full Plate Cafe and pick up an entry form.

If you don't feel like cooking but love to eat, come down on Saturday, October 13th and join us for an eating extravaganza. 10$ at the door gets you samples of the contestants ribs (first come first serve) and access to a buffet of A Full Plate's delicious side dishes, including our famous Mac & Cheese.

Questions? Call Shannon or Liz @ 215.627.4068

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

El Ranchito, Part II

Last time I dined at El Ranchito we were one of two tables and they were out of guacamole. The rest of our food was amazing, but I feel I can really gauge how much I like a particular Mexican food establishment once I've tasted their guacamole. Another visit with my roommates in celebration of my safe return from Alaska satisfied a guacamole craving.
El Ranchito 006 (1)
I wasn't a huge fan of the cheese on top of the guacamole, but I'm tempted to sum it up to a garnish error. The guacamole at El Ranchito was delicious! Garlicky and not too smooth, it was a great consistency, not thin and runny but not so thick that it broke the chips.
El Ranchito 006 (4)
I tried the shredded beef flautas. Corn tortillas filled with beef and fried until crispy. My flautas came topped with Mexican crema, a cheese similar to sour cream, but a little thinner in consistency and less tangy. I really enjoyed the flautas and the accompanying rice and beans.
El Ranchito 006
Alison ordered something similar to what I ate upon our last visit, so I neglected to take a picture, but Liz ordered a Chimichanga, which looked delicious, no? You know what else I love about this place? They serve every meal with fresh lime wedges to squeeze over the entree, the rice, the beans, or whatever part of your meal you feel needs a little zip.

We all really enjoyed our meals, drank two bottles of white wine and came away with a bill of less than $25 for our three huge dinners.

Go to El Ranchito, I'd like to see the place with a few more filled tables!

El Ranchito
2nd and Master
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Alaska State Fair

One of the events I was most looking forward to on my trip to Alaska, was the State Fair.
Fair Sign
Because of the extended daylight hours during the summer months, farmers around the state are capable of growing very large, sometimes record breaking vegetables. But when we first got to the fair, we were all starving and made getting a snack our first priority.
Chip Close up
It only took us about 3 minutes to notice other people carrying around these plates filled with huge portions of homemade potato chips and another 2 minutes to decide that the three of us would share a plate. The potatoes were spiral cut and then packed into a fryer basket. When turned out onto a plate, the chips retained rectangular shape of the basket, and were a perfect golden brown. They were delicious, hot and slightly oily from just being pulled out of the fryer, a sprinkle of salt clung perfectly to the chips.
Reindeer Hot Dog
It was part of my food quest while in Alaska to try as many local eats as possible. So, when I saw a booth by Indian Valley Meats selling reindeer hotdogs, I just had to try one. Worlds better than a regular pork hotdog, this one was in a natural skin, so it had that little snap sound when I took a bite and came on a soft steamed roll.
Huge Zuc
After our snacks, we were ready to enter to the agricultural exhibit and check out the world's largest veggies. This looked like a zucchini to me, but apparently it's a Marrow, which is closely related to the zucchini, but is known for it's ability to grow the size of a watermelon. This one here weighed 81.45 pounds. Apparently, marrows don't taste like much and are often stuffed with a meat filling in order to give them some flavor.
Huge Turnip
This turnip weight nearly 20 pounds!
Huge Beans
And these were some of the largest beans I'd ever seen. The one furthest back on the stand was over a foot long.
Huge Cabbage
While not a record breaker, this 56 pound cabbage was prominently displayed in the center of the ring.
World Record Kale
This kale weighed in at 84.7 pounds and actually is the new world record holder. Way to go Scott Ribb, who grew this beast.
Elephant Ear Powdered Sugar
Needing more sustenance after touring the huge vegetables, we stopped by a booth selling elephant ears. Megan and Kyle shared one covered in powdered sugar.
Elephant Ear Cinnamon Sugar
I settled on an elephant ear with cinnamon sugar, but even after forcing some on my friends, I couldn't finish it all. What a shame. It was truly delicious though, and a cup of hot chocolate was the perfect accompaniment as the sun was setting and it was getting a bit chilly outside.
State Fair
We couldn't leave the fair without going on a ride, so I bought us tickets for the Tilt-a-Whirl. Here we are getting ready for the spinning to start. We're all lucky we didn't lose our chips and elephant ears in the process.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Siam Lotus

Liz and I hit up her favorite Thai place in the city on her night off from the cafe.
Siam Lotus (1)
Mostly because we're both big fans of their style of peanut sauce, we ordered the chicken satay with cucumber salad. Unfortunately, this order was overcooked, but this was only the first time this has happened to me at Siam Lotus.
Siam Lotus
As usual, Liz ordered the Kang Dang. Chicken with string beans, basil, Thai eggplant and red curry paste in coconut milk. This dish is the only reason that I recognized Thai eggplant in the Culinary Bee Quickfire Challenge from Top Chef a few weeks back.
Siam Lotus (2)
I have a few favorites on the menu, but I venture beyond that comfort zone on occasion. On this recent visit I ordered the Kang Masamun Kai. Chicken with masamun chili paste, potatoes and peanuts in coconut milk. The sauce was incredible, and the chicken was moist, but I wish it had more veggies, or at least one that was green.

Both entrees, an appetizer, a mixed drink, and two glasses of red wine came to just under 60 dollars.

Siam Lotus
931 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Between 9th and 10th

Phone 215.769.2031

Siam Lotus on Menupages
Siam Lotus in Philadelphia

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wild Alaska Berries

Well, I'm back from a much needed vacation. It's taken me a few days to upload all the pictures, weed out the bad ones and try to bundle them into relevant posts for Foodaphilia. I figured I'd start with my favorite Alaskan food adventure, wild berry picking.
valley with rock
I was pretty much blown away by my surroundings every time I looked around. And really, who wouldn't be?
Hatcher's Pass (17)
We drove on the Old Glenn Highway through Palmer and then up to Hatcher's Pass, a narrow and winding gravel pass through the mountains, until we reached a gorgeous valley strewn with patches of wild blue berries.
Bag of Blueberries
We picked and ate and ate some more. The sky transformed from clear and blue to dark and stormy and back again over the hours we spent sitting and picking. When we were satisfied with the amount of berries we'd saved to bring home, we made the short hike back to the car, and the long drive back to Anchorage.
Raspberries (1)
I was staying with my friend Megan and her husband who are lucky enough to have a wild raspberry bush growing in their backyard. I rose early the next morning, picked fresh raspberries for breakfast and decided to use both the raspberries and blueberries to make a homemade dessert for my hosts.
cobbler (3)
I've posted my cobbler recipe here before, so I won't repeat it in this post, but I did cut the recipe in half and baked it in a round cake pan because that's what I had at my disposal.
cobbler (4)
The berries were super sweet and juicy, making a delicious cobbler all by itself.
cobbler (1)
But a scoop of ice cream never hurt anything, did it?