Sunday, May 30, 2010

"meet the brewers" pub crawl, june 5

(above, at Lancaster Brewing Co. with head brewer Bill Moore)

In honor of Philly Beer Week, the City of Brotherly Love will allow beer fanatics to tip their pints to 10 days flooded with sipping celebrations. However, don't think the suburbs have shied away from stretching their sources to additionally host appropriately-timed, beer events.

Phoenixville premieres for their second year a "Meet the Brewers" Pub Crawl, held Sat., June 5 from 1 to 5 p.m. Structured around the comradeship of ten bars, restaurants and brewpubs, Mark Edelson, Director of Brewing Operations of Iron Hill Brewery, and Brian O'Reilly, Brewmaster of Sly Fox Brewing Co., with both of their perspective establishments participating, twisted some strings and planted a head brewer per location along of their tour.

"Phoenixville seems to make sense for a pub crawl, it already has two brewpubs," revealed Edelson. Together, Iron Hill and Sly Fox will cap the craft beer tour, with a shuttle traveling amongst the active locations throughout the four-hour allotted afternoon.

"Our crawl is different than just inviting people to come drink at our bars," he continued. "Each restaurant will feature a beer (or more) from the brewing company that is present at the place, and it's available by the actual people who brewed the beer."

The local hop-infused event will maintain residence amongst a majority of locations on the 100 and 200 blocks of Bridge Street, and then, journey to Kimberton Road for the Epicurean Restaurant and Sly Fox Brewhouse and Eatery. "There's a lot of places in town that have great beers. Pickering Creek Inn does a great job and of course, so does the Epicurean," he said. "There are so many great beer bars in town, and it has only become better since last year."

Edelson also confirms that the upcoming beer appreciation event is "more about quality over quantity. It's about meeting people from the brewery, and especially for people who enjoy good beer and the enjoyment of it."

"The event is also especially ideal for the element of people who don't want to go to Philly, it's perfect for this part of the suburbs," he suggested.

The active bars and breweries lineup is as follows: Baxter's at 101 Bridge, will host Stoudt's Brewing Co.; Bistro on Bridge, will host Yard's Brewing Co.; Columbia Bar & Grille, will host Lancaster Brewing Co.; Epicurean Restaurant, will host Manayunk Brewery Boxcar Brewing; Franco Ristorante, will host Weyerbacher Brewing Co.; Molly Maguire's Irish Restaurant, will host Troegs Brewing Co. and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Pickering Creek Inn, will host Victory Brewing Co.; PJ Ryan's, will host Flying Fish Brewing Co.; Iron Hill will feature their Tour de Hill with 15 to 18 beers from around various Iron Hill locations; and Sly Fox will feature the Philly Beer Week collaborative beer, brewed in Royersford a few weeks back, and the Standard Porter brewed for Standard Tap of Philadelphia.

"Last year was a raging success," Iron Hill's Director of Brewing Operations reveals. "It was a record day for us, and a majority of the crawl's 8 stops had record days, too." Edelson also confesses that he too will hop from one location to the next, just like last year, where he was floored to meet Guinness Brewery's brewmaster, who was stationed at Molly Maguire's.

Before you a grab a frosty pint and guzzle, Edelson, an experienced brewer and drinker, concludes with some advice: "You can come any time, as early as you want. However, around 3 p.m., the bars will start getting packed. Pace yourself and drink responsibility."

Also published this weekend in The Phoenix.

Friday, May 28, 2010

the freshest of breakfast at my favorite muffin

Living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, it is extremely rare to find a fresh-baked bagel haven that's survived amongst the swarmed sea of nearby Dunkin' Donuts. Better yet, if you are able to pinpoint a bagel cafe that also prepares customized cream cheeses to generously slather on your toasted roundsyou may be dreamin'!

However, Phoenixville's My Favorite Muffin (which surprisingly, is also a franchise) has become my saving grace for a legitimate, morning-time morsels. Their selection of freshly-baked, sweetly-tinged chewy bagels easily peak as the area's finest. 

Manned by the friendliest bunch, who excel at relaying the tantalizing tastes of each and every bite of their inventory, I opted for the Cinnamon Toast selection for my premiere bite. Smeared with a delicious heaping of honey walnut cream cheese (all of which are prepared on premises), my local breakfasts have never been better. Even B's choice, a crunchy Swiss Cheese and onion toppled with a cucumber dill cream cheese spread, was the perfect opposite of sweetened treat—and just as addictive.

As the name assumes, this local cafe captures the muffin in all of its forms, too, and if you like to skip the high-carb bagel when it comes to your morning eats, consider their top-notch mini-cake sensations. The choices are endless at My Favorite Muffin, from Boston Cream, Cranberry Nut, Blueberry Crumb Cheese, Cinnamon Bun, Deep Dish Apple Pie, Raspberry Cream Cheese, Chocolate-Chip, as well as many fat-free varieties, mini-muffins, and even, muffin tops, the thing called a doughnut is no longer necessary in my must-eat-now book.

And, I'd be silly to not mention their choice of several coffees isn't too shabby either, making this one-stop-shop now possessing, like the name suggests, my favorite muffins and bagels, by far!

My Favorite Muffin, 1130 Valley Forge Road, Phoenixville, 610-933-3393

Thursday, May 27, 2010

bechtelsville's hill billy bbq

Ever since late 2009, a tasty trove of upscale street food trucks have embraced the urban dining scene. Scouting through populated roads to sling their above-par handheld treats to anyone packing cash and abruptly swarming streets to battle out their ongoing turf wars, has consequentially made the world of mobile munchies seen in a brighter light.

However, street trucks haven't transition as easily onto the streets of the suburbs, which makes sense when considering the issue of foot traffic. But, that being said, that doesn't mean local vendors aren't attempting to push their delicious products on four wheels—even if it's a rare gig.

Every day, to work and home, or to wherever my lil' heart scoots, I pass Hill Billy BBQ. The grilling truck, located on Route 100 on the brim of Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, floods my local scene with the most glorious of smoked meats' smells, and it was inevitable that I'd grab some grub to-go in due time.

Of course, yesterday as temperatures slide in the 90-degree range, I decide to dine out in the beating sun and meet JR, the grilling mastermind behind the local barbecue joint. JR, who I wish to now crown the king of all mobile food trucks, crafts a delightful pulled pork 'wich (seen above, titled the Hill Billy Special), which he layers with homemade slaw, Thousand Island dressing and his special HB sauce.

The pleasing proprietor, who had his grilling bug sparked when his wife and daughter gifted him a barbecue set 7 years ago, prepares all of your deserved meaty marvels in his mini-eatery, including entire racks of ribs, beef brisket, grilled chicken, and of course, my adored pulled pork.

B opted for the choice of a half-beef, half-pork pulled sammy (seen above), which he dosed in JR's deliciously tangy sauce, which also offers the perfect combo of sweet and smoky. We couldn't help but also sample, at the least, one of local's sides, which was the bbq baked potato. Flooded with generous layers of  pulled beef, HB seasoned dust, HB bbq sauce, shredded cheese and sour cream, this nearby mecca of comfort food easily made me a barbecue addict—just after one delicious bite.

Hill Billy BBQ, Route 100, Bechtelsville, 610-662-4542, Thurs.-Sun., 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Monday, May 24, 2010

phoenixville's 'meet the brewers' pub crawl

Attention suburb-based beer connessoirs! You don't have to travel to the city to appreciate one of the finest, brew-crafted celebrations, but instead, swing by Phoenixville for an all-afternoon affair that's held in conjunction with Philly Beer Week.
The 2nd Annual “Meet the Brewer” Pub Crawl is approaching, to be held on Saturday, June 5th, 1-5 p.m. (This day's important — you hear! It's also my 25th birthday!)
The day's thirst-quenching crawl will host a slew of acclaimed brewmasters, with a majority of all participants being proudly from PA-based brewing companies. 

The beer celebration stations will be as follows:

Baxter’s @ 101 Bridge, hosting Stoudt’s Brewing Co., Adamstown, PA

Bistro on Bridge, hosting Yard’s Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA

Columbia Bar & Grille, hosting Lancaster Brewing Co., Lancaster, PA

Epicurean Restaurant & Bar, hosting Manayunk Brewery, Phila, PA and Box Car Brewing, West Chester, PA

Franco Ristorante, hosting Weyerbacher Brewing Co., Easton, PA

Molly Maguire’s Irish Restaurant and Pub, hosting Troegs Brewing Co., Harrisburg, PA and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA

Pickering Creek Inn, hosting Victory Brewing Co., Downingtown, PA

PJ Ryan’s, hosting Flying Fish Brewing Company, Cherry Hill, NJ

Iron Hill – Featuring Tour de Hill – beers from around Iron Hill

Sly Fox – Featuring Philly Beer Week collaborative beer and Standard Porter brewed for Standard Tap
Also important for y'all to note is, if you are eager to experience the fine selection from each brewery, it is obvious you may need a hand for transportation. Lucky for locals, a shuttle will be in motion between all sipping stops. 

Additionally, be sure to stay tuned, too, as I will publish a more elaborate feature later this week, which will include tons more information from the masters of our nearby beer frenzy!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

phoenixville's newest baker, iced by betsy

In a country with an inexplicable spread of cupcakeries multiplied conveniently throughout almost every town's borders, it comes with a complete surprise that Phoenixville had yet to debut its own local business booming with personal-sized morsels of cake.

However, striving to fill the delicious void for mini-cakes in our nearby neighborhoods is Betsy Gibbons of Limerick, who premiered Iced by Betsy three weekends ago at Phoenixville Farmers' Market.

Gibbons, a serious cupcake baker since late 2008, recently moved to Pennsylvania in October of 2009. Previously, Gibbons and her husband, Russ, wheeled their sugared inventory at Alpharetta Farmers Market of Georgia, a suburb based outside of Atlanta.

"I always loved baking, not as a business, but for pleasure," she confessed. "My husband and I moved to Georgia in September [of 2008] and since I was a teacher, I knew I had to find another way to express my creativity."

Continue reading 'bout Betsy's sugary-sweet baking journey here.
To conclude, a fine example of Iced's graduation cupcakes, now available for custom orders.

new holland brewing co. & calkins creamery's beer and cheese night


Gary Fry, owner of Craft Ale House, is confident that he, through the complex world of beer, can help you indulge in a hopped concoction ideal to your tastes.

Fry and his wife, Melissa, have maintained their beer fanatic business on Ridge Pike for over a year's time, and have continued to reveal that there is a beer for everyone, reiterating that there is "much more to beer than Coors, Miller and Budweiser.”

Since the couple is fond of all things found in a frosty pint, it is appropriate that besides offering top-notch gastropub fare and hard-to-find sips, they also host a slew of food and drink events.

Most recently, on Wed., May 19, the Frys invited Joel Armato of New Holland Brewing Company and Jay Montgomery of Calkins Creamery to premiere their beer and cheese flights to the evening's guests.

Armato of Phoenixville, working with Montgomery of Honesdale, sculpted a pairing promoting five of New Holland's most approachable samples aside five of Calkins' most diverse raw cheese pleasures.

New Holland Brewing Co., based in Michigan, promotes creative, artisan concoctions that are driven to improve everyone's beer experience. As a small microbrewery, currently only providing for 13 states, New Holland excels in crafting interesting blends, such as their El Mole Ocho, as seen at Wednesday's tasting.

Part of the High Gravity Series of the Michigan-based brewery, the rich liquid explores the flavors of the legendary central Mexico sauce while being ridden in cocoa, coffee and Pocono-grown chiles.

As a spiced sipping beer, El Mole Ocho paired beautifully with Calkins Creamery's Udderly Hot, a 60-day aged American Havarti produced with hot peppers. Calkins Creamery, based near Scranton, has been a mainstay of Craft Ale's cheese menu for over a year, as well as a regular provider for Talula's Table, the Fair Food Stand at Reading Terminal Market and Di Bruno Bros.

The aged, raw milk cheeses, with production led by Jay Montgomery's wife, Emily, are made using only the freshest milk possible from our very own herd of registered Holstein cattle” in several micro-batches that do not exceed 180 pounds. With over 16 varieties, the couple allows their natural creamy pleasures to be aged across the street from their farm, in the caves of Calkins Creek Vineyard.

Additional matches made for this week's local affair included New Holland's Golden Cap Saison with Calkins' Skinners Falls; the Mad Hatter IPA with a Welsh cheddar, Misty Morning; Poet Oatmeal Stout with a semi-soft brie, Noble Road; and, the Imperial Hatter IPA with a Montasio painted with olive oil and tomato, Lida Gold.

Next on the agenda for Craft Ale includes an “Iron Chef” competition, held Tues., June 1 from 7 to 10 p.m. The contest is sculpted around the art of homebrewing, where entrants are required to brew with a defined list of ingredients, plus a mystery ingredient (this month, honey), and then, bring finished product in for competition.

Craft Ale House, 708 West Ridge Pike, Limerick, 484-932-8180, Mon. - Thurs., 11:30 am - 11:00 p.m., Fri. - Sat., 11:30 a.m. - 12 a.m.

Also published here

Thursday, May 20, 2010

glorified bison at the burgery company

I would be remiss if I didn't decide to reveal my latest, crazed place of my burger-scarfing repertoire during National Burger Month. And, taking until the 20th of the month to offer you delicious words to munch on is because I am well, preoccupied celebrating one of the best months of the year (i.e. eating loads of all-beef patties).

But, as I am avid fan of always ordering medium-rare beef, my newest burger stop praises patties in many forms—think besides beef toward bison, elk, venison, pork, lamb, fish and veggie.

The Burgery Company, a counter-service burger joint on the brims of Route 100, allows for their customers to construct their most perfect composition. Yes, you may select one of their booming buns (titled after team mascots, the theme of this edible hub), but the most exciting aspect of this venture is their never-ending choices of all that may be pumped inside their fresh breads.

The bases—ranging from poppy seed to whole wheat—may be layered with smears of smokehouse mayo, roasted garlic spread, sweet bourbon sauce, Caribbean jerk, roasted pineapple sauce, and even, the Burgery's secret sauce. The meaty, generous marvels, which I've previously mentioned above, are always expanding, and have recently included the offering of a lemon-and-pepper seasoned ostrich burger.

And, if I couldn't say more, the tricked-out treasures that may be seen atop your medium-rare (their suggested cooking temp) round are mouth-watering, which include fried Anaheim chiles, oven roasted tomatoes, black-and-tan onion rings, sauerkraut, snow pea cashew slaw, as well as all the norm' classics.

The Burgery doesn't forgot your favorite fried, crunchy sides, either. Chow down on fried dills, sweet potato fries, tater tots, corn nuggets, psychedelic slaw, and of course, above par fresh cut fries.

Seen above, my constructed bison burger on a hearty, whole grain bun loaded with oven roasted tomatoes, bleu cheese, caramelized onions and bacon. My dining companion also opted for the delicious bison patty on whole grains, paired with cheddar cheese and crisp bacon.

The Burgery Company, 1458 Chestnut St., Emmaus, 610-966-9900. Mon.-Sat., 10:50 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Sun., 11:50 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

an extenstive dive into pa dutch dishes

PA Dutch is full-blown into my heritage's hearty blood, but who knew that the city of brotherly love would satisfying begin to sneak my traditional fare into their finely-constructed dinner options. From pig parts to pickles, fried dough to fritters, more and more eateries are serving PA Dutch dishes in ways both old-school and unexpected.  In Philadelphia City Paper's recent Dish magazine, out last Thursday on newsstands, I trumped 'round urban eateries to find out who's doing it best. Shall you share some bites, too? Here's where you should consider.

Monday, May 17, 2010

successful top chef stop in philadelphia

Coin me a complete food nerd, if you will, but I am a self-acclaimed addict for Top Chef. Hooked season after season, the majority of my television watching peeks only during these weekly cooking competitions, and I sadly, sometimes can't even slip into sleep if I am not up-to-date on who most recently packed their knives and went.

So, obviously in connection with my cheesy Bravo Network-specific obsession, I tend to jump at any chance to savor the flavors of my most beloved cheftestants. Most recently, I deliciously devoured Jen Carroll's roundup at 10 Arts, and when I caught wind that several other Top Cheffers were rolling into town, my tastebuds didn't skip a beat.

Lucky for me, my dear friend LeeAnne nabbed several reservations for the tasting tented outside City Hall today, and I obviously accompanied her as we skipped away to their noon session. Equally as awesome was the fact that the Philly spot on the recently-premiered Top Chef Tour landed the darling, petite chef team of Jamie Lauren and Nikki Cascone.

Whether you prefer Ms. Lauren's scallop-spiked enterprise or Nikki's fresh pasta-pleasures, neither suggests their on-air repertoires are truly what their cooking styles are about. Together, the females, both merely over five feet, prepared an almond gazpacho that had been pulsed from a grape juice-soaked sweet baguette. Finished with a smoked paprika-oil and topped with freshly-steamed clams, I can now proclaim that I have tested three examples of female-crafted excellence from celebs reborn on Bravo.

Their "soup," structured with a garlicky slur (Jamie is a confirmed garlic-addict), offered slightly-spicy slurps that were also suggested to be superb if paired with sausage. Easily concocted from a blend of soaked bread, almonds and olive oil, I now feel capable of capturing their simple, yet fantastic star-worthy staple.

After the friendly females demo-ed their light-heartened 'pacho, the now-kitchen stars allowed for a question and answer session, which included J's mention of her recently being awarded the honor of soon cooking for Pink. The public participation period eventually ended when the ladies dialed the egotistical Stefan on speaker phone, where he tip-toed around making any uncanny statements.

AND, in the midst of an afternoon peppered with an extreme Top Chef blabfest, I have to admit I am pretty pumped about the upcoming season, to premiere June 16 from Washington D.C. I hear the challenge where the fresh chefs embark on the eats of Washington Nationals Stadium will be a must-watch.