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Mash Files: Philly

Any time you arrive in Philly and get to head straight to a lunch at Amisyou know you are in for a good week, especially when you end that evening at  Zahov for dinner.   Tuesday morning I headed over to the Belgian Caféto start prepping for our Local 2 Ways dinner with an old chef and friend , Evan Seplow.  Famous for their Mussels, the Belgian did not disappoint. A full dining room of guests enjoyed Heaping bowls of citrus infused mussels along with the refreshing taste of Sorachi Ace.  The lemon verbena nuances of this farmhouse saison perfectly balanced the creamy bite of the mussels and the tart orange notes of the broth.  Local 1 was a welcomed companion to a pulled duck risotto with dried cherries and seared duck breast, accentuating the light fruit flavors of this golden Belgian Abbey Ale.   With many more courses in between, and a delicious sweet potato beignet with a snifter of Black Chocolate Stout as a finale, guests left feeling satiated and merry.

Slow Supper came early in the week and I jumped from the Belgian over to my Buddy Mike Sultan’s new food truck commissary to prepare for our feast at  Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Garden, withJonathan Adams of Rival Bros Coffee.  Our Ten previous Slow Suppers were situated in incredibly unique spaces,but this was by far the most awe inspiring.  This dynamic mosaic-ed visionary  environment is a true ode to the human imagination and spirit.  The energy surrounding this meal was incredible as family, friends, colleagues, and strangers dined in the most eclectic art space I have ever had the pleasure of hosting a dinner in.  The beautiful collages mirrored the array of dishes that we sent out, a mix of plated and family style courses taking inspiration from German beer hall cuisine.  Ravioli of pheasant and foi gras celebrated our Silver Anniversary Lager, and its artist created one of a kind labels where a perfect match for the decor, as well as the gamey, yet delicate filling of this handmade ravioli topped with pheasant skin cracklings, parley leaf salad, and creamy beer hollandaise.   The star of the show, however was a choucroute. This heaping dish of wonder, jam packed with homemade smoked sausage, boudin blanc, sauerkraut, and confit duck legs left our guests transfixed as they sipped their glasses of Local 2.

The dinners ended early in the week, but the adventures continued with an array of happy hour events at Time, including some rare beer samplings and a serious beer and cheese pairing with Rocco Rainone, an old buddy from Di Bruno Brothers.  New Jersey and Pennsylvania cheeses also graced our flat bread creations at Molly Malloy’s in their newly renovated home at the Reading Terminal Market courtesy of Valley Sheppard Creamery.   Chef Bobby Fisher executed the delicious cheese lathered flat breads that we had created that morning with a slew of local ingredients including double smoked apple wood bacon from Country Time Farm available at the Fair Food Farm stand at the other side of the market.  Reading terminal has a similar feel to the Magic Garden with a delicious and colorful mosaic of market vendors, prepared food items, Amish crafts, book stores, and an eclectic mix of locals, and tourists from all walks of life.

After an exciting week of Mash events I finally got a chance to relax on Wyebrook Farm with my master butcher pal Brian Mayer, and his family.  Brian helped curate Wyebrook’s diverse polyculture, butchery, and curing program with the rest of the staff. This historic property is a true testament to simple, yet sustainable animal farming practices, not to mention a majestic place to spend the afternoon. I ate amazing food in Philly all week long, (and cooked some too) but the best bite I took the whole week was a simply prepared burger with the most flavorful meat I have ever tasted. Here’s to the simple things Philly!

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