Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Five Guys Burgers & Fries

For the second meating of Burger Club Philadelphia, created by the lovely Jess from Fries with that Shake, a group of 20 or so meat fans met at Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Center City.
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We took up about half the seats available for dine-in, and the staff was welcoming to the sheer number of us as well as our obsessive photography.

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Whether you're taking your food to go or eating in, your burger and fries are stuffed in a brown paper bag, the perfect vehicle for the the grease laden food you are about to consume.
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I adore a little smokey bacon on top of already gut-busting sandwich, so I got the bacon cheeseburger (which at five guys is 2 patties, if you want a single burger you need to order a "little" burger) with fried onions and pickles, and added my own ketchup later. This burger was a hot mess, in the most delicious sort of way. The bun was toasted, the cheese was melted completely, the onions were chopped and fried to the point of melt-in-you-mouth sweetness. It was a damn good burger.
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The fries are hand cut, the skin is left on, which is a truly admirable thing to do to a french fry in my opinion. Unfortunately, this order of fries was not as crispy as is typical at Five Guys. I chalk this latest experience up to a rare occurrence as every other moment I've indulged in a fry from this small regional chain, they were quintessentially perfect crisp french fries.

If you haven't had a Five Guys burger or fries yet, make it your mission some time this week. A little red meat does a body good, it does a mind even better if you're sharing that meal with some good friends.

Make sure to join Burger Club Philadelphia via Facebook and receive updates about future meatings and eatings!

Five Guys Burgers & Fries
1527 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Monday, April 27, 2009

We're doing it again! It's a few months away, but mark you calendars now for the 3rd Annual Rib Cook-Off. Saturday, September 12th, 2009 will mark the third time grillers from across the metro converge to cook up ribs and engage in two other categories of competition. Rib-Cook Off 055
More details to follow, along with an official website where entry forms, complete rules and sponsorship details will be posted.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Burger Club Philadelphia

My friend and running buddy, Jess, aka The Burger Baroness from Fries with that Shake, started up a great foodie group a while ago called Burger Club Philadelphia. The goal is simple, find the best burger in Philadelphia. The method is genius, meet up with other burger aficionados at some of the areas most well known burger establishments and consume with abandon.

The flagship meeting took place at The Good Dog. Tonight is the second get-together and I will be in attendance, ready to scarf down a double with cheese at Five Guys (1527 Chestnut Street).

Those of you with an appetite for a burger should come out to meet and eat with us tonight at 7pm!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Que Chula es Puebla

My neighborhood, and areas north of Northern Liberties, have gone through something of a Mexican food explosion (no pun intended) over the past year or so. Las Caszuelas opened up a sister location, Taco Riendo, which serves banging tacos and other traditional street food, while Cantina Dos Segundos and El Camino Real are lighting up second street with high-end tequilas and attempts at high-end food. During this time my go-to place for a decent burrito north of Washington avenue, El Ranchito, closed up shop much to my dismay. I was over the moon when I drove by El Ranchito's former location at 2nd and Master to see a Grand Opening sign for Que Chula es Puebla, and as soon as I possibly could I stopped by for a bite with one of my most trusted foodie friends.
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Before we had a chance to look at the menu or open the beer we brought along from The Foodery, a plate of chips smothered with traditional refried beans and crumbled queso fresco was brought to our table along with two salsas. Both salsas were good, if not a bit too pureed for my liking. The flavor of the green salsa was excellent, heavy on the lime and cilantro, while the red salsa was a bit spicier, with a hint of smokey chipotle.
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Guacamole was definitely a hit and full of flavor. Chunky guacamole is exactly what I like and this one totally satisfied. It was loaded with fresh tomatoes, red onion, garlic and fresh cilantro. Don't forget to order this as a starter as it compliments everything you could possibly order and they give you a huge plate of it!
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Carnitas tacos are prepared traditionally with chopped white onion, cilantro and plenty of fresh lime wedges for squeezing. The pork was very tender and tasty, but I'm used to carnitas being shredded pork, so I was surprised with the way the pork was cut, but the meat was plentiful and delicious.
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Flautas are freshly fried, not greasy in the slightest and filled with seasoned shredded chicken or beef, your choice. They're not shy about flavor at Que Chula es Puebla, and as you can see from the picture above, they're not skimpy with the crema or cheese either. Yum.
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Vegetarians should be happy with their choices at Que Chula es Puebla. The vegetable quesadilla was stuffed with a variety of fresh grilled veggies and served with vegetarian rice and beans.

They're not reinventing Mexican food at Que Chula es Puebla. The location and atmosphere aren't fancy, and neither is the food. But the food is good and inexpensive and it's far less effort for me to walk up 2nd street a few blocks for a decent burrito than make my way down to Washington avenue whenever I have a burrito craving. For simple Mexican food at more than reasonable prices, check out Que Chula es Puebla.

Que Chula es Puebla
1356 N. 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Que Chula es Puebla on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I rarely get a craving for a big juicy burger, but when I do, it's an insatiable kind of thing. Luckily, when the mood does strike, one of the best and freshest burgers available in Philadelphia is just about a mile walk from my house. The walk there and back is the perfect justification for scarfing one of these burgers and sharing an order of their killer hand-cut, skin-on, french fries.
Everything at Sketch is made fresh. The burgers are hand formed and never frozen. You can choose from the classic beef burger, the leaner bison, or the homemade veggie burger. (If you're feeling luxurious you can even upgrade to a Kobe beef burger!) On top of that you can get your choice of cheese (I'm partial to the horseradish cheddar) and a variety of sauces (I recommend the harissa aoili) and you can even add thick-cut applewood bacon. Burgers are cooked to order and are spot on in terms of doneness.
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When Sketch first opened, they didn't serve the delicious french fries pictured above, instead they were serving burgers in paper boats perched atop a mound of cheese doodles. Cute and kitsch, but apparently not what Philadelphians wanted with their burgers. The ladies of Sketch listened and re-vamped and now they serve incredible hand-cut seasoned french fries instead of the retro cheese puff. This particular basket was served with a side of wasabi dipping sauce, which was thick and rich (and vegan) while delivering a nice kick along side the fried potato goodness.
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I've always been too stuffed after a burger to indulge in one of their milkshakes, but every trusted source I know who has tried one has loved it. One of these days I may get an insatiable milkshake craving and I know just where to go to satiate it.

413 East Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
Sketch on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

Sometime in February, while cruising around the web, I found a simple little recipe for a peanut butter pretzel sandwich dipped in chocolate. I made them for my sweetheart and my friends for Valentine's day, as they all adore the salty/sweet contrast as well as the peanut butter/chocolate combination. I enjoyed the treats too, but felt they were a little too rich and chocolaty (wait, is that possible?).
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Since then, I've played around with the technique of making these little candies and the ratio of filling to pretzel to chocolate. My favorite iteration uses the square or round "checker" pretzels, a combination of brown and powdered sugar in the filling and a mere half dip in chocolate. This dessert is a crowd pleaser, I've yet to meet someone who can stop at just eating one! I made them for the most recent Philadelphia Food Blogger Potluck and my housewarming this past Sunday and they were a huge hit at both parties.

1 cup of peanut butter (creamy works best)
2 Tbsp softened butter or margarine
1/2 cup powdered sugar (you may need more)
3/4 cup brown sugar (you may need more)
1 bag good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60%)

Combine peanut butter and softened butter in a large bowl with a fork or whisk. Add the sugars and stir to combine. At this point if the filling will roll easily into balls without sticking to your hands you're ready to go. If not, add more sugar ( a little bit of each) until you reach a consistency that is easy to roll.
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Use a teaspoon measure, or a small cereal spoon to scoop the filling. Roll each portion into a small ball and set on a cookie sheet. I like to roll all the balls and then sandwich them between two whole pretzels. When all the balls are rolled and successfully sandwiched, stick the whole tray in the freezer for about half an hour.

Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat at 30-second intervals, stirring occasionally until completely melted. Remove the pretzel sandwiches from the freezer and quickly dip each half-way into the melted chocolate. Return to the try and repeat with remaining sandwiches. When all are dipped, return the tray to the freezer to set up completely. Store the sandwiches in the refrigerator until serving time.
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Makes about 45 sandwiches.