March 29, 2011

drinking outdoors

One major complaint I've always had about Philly is the lack of outdoor seating at bars and restaurants. I remember visiting Montreal and seeing tons of places for al fresco dining and drinking - and we certaintly have a longer stretch of warm weather than they do! But as I was putting this list together of places where you can enjoy a cocktail AND an outdoor seat, the list ended up being fairly lengthy. I think the problem is the number of seats available. If you can't grab a seat by 5 or 530 during the week, you're out of luck. Luckily, I have an advantage since I don't currently have a job (or unluckily, depends on how you look at it).

As I was doing some research, I found this list that Uwishunu posted. It's a pretty good list of restaurants/bars that offer outdoor seating, but I have a few additions:

University City

1. Biba Wine Bar


I have yet to try this place out but if it's anything like Tria, I'm sure I'll love it. The deck is under construction as we speak and should be done any day now...and will seat 12 lucky people.

Rittenhouse Square

2. Vango


They have a cool rooftop bar (one thing we are DEFINITELY lacking here) and there's a DJ on the weekends and gets pretty dance-y...which I like. And as you can see, there are pretty awesome views.

1. Twenty Manning


I love this place - the food is good, it's well designed and has that cool, neighborhood-y feel to it. Plus, under the awnings are spritzers that will spray you lightly with water to keep you feeling cool on those hot Philly summer days.

1. Tequila's


This photo doesn't show it, but when it's nice out, they put tables and chairs along the front of the building. There isn't room for many, but it's a nice spot to sit. The food here is also delicious and the margaritas are even better! They have a pretty good happy hour too.

Midtown Village/Gayborhood

1. Graffiti Bar at Sampan


I've been to Sampan a few times but haven't yet tried out their backyard bar. It looks cool - and at least I know the food and drinks are good.

1. Raw


I almost forgot about this place until Eric reminded me! I've only eaten here once but I remember the tuna tartare was really good. The courtyard is really nice also - and pretty spacious. I definitely need to hang out here more often this summer.

Bella Vista

1. Creperie Beau Monde


I had to to include this place - the crepes here are delicious and the bar upstairs (L'etage) used to be my favorite dance place in the city. The music is still pretty good, but it's been feeling really young lately. Or maybe I"m just getting old...

1. Bistro La Minette


This is one of my favorite restaurants in Philly. The food is incredible and in the summertime they play French movies in their courtyard. I think there are some outdoor seats in the front of the restaurant as well.

Northern Liberties/Fishtown

1. Silk City Beer Garden


Haven't been yet, but sounds good to me! It's the only beer garden in Philly right?

Anybody have any other suggestions??

March 28, 2011

colorful flatware

There are so many options for beautiful flatware but I think my favorites are the ones with some color. I tend to love plain white plates - they're simple and modern and goes with any sort of table setting - but I love the idea of using bright flatware to add a little fun. Here are three options that I love:

1. Sabre Frosted Acrylic Flatware Untitled-1

Aren't these gorgeous? The colors are so beautiful and I love their shape. The style of them remind me of the ghost chair - a simplified and modern version of something ornate (and you know how much I love ghost chairs!). The only downside is that you can't get a full set of flatware - no knives available :(

2. Pandora Design Deluxe Plastic Flatware


These come with knives, so you can set a full table with them. They come in a variety of translucent colors - I really like the purple but I also love the clear (I know, not a color but aren't they nice?). They would be great for a fancy picnic...but at $120 for a set of four, they definitely are NOT disposable.

3. Ladies and Gentlemen Superior Servers


I love these. I first saw them in either Martha Stewart Living or the Oprah magazine (yes, I read those and am not ashamed) and my first reaction was "I can make these!". And I still think I can, but haven't been able to find the right flatware to paint. I've searched vintage stores, thrift stores and thought I hit the jackpot at Fishs Eddy where they had a whole table of 99 cent spoons, forks and knives. But none were exactly right - what I like about the Ladies and Gentlemen flatware is how thin and flat the handles are and they have just the right amount of frilliness. So my search continues. I was also thinking I could spray paint the handles, but does spray paint come in fun colors like that?

March 24, 2011

momofuku fried chicken dinner

So, when we were in NYC this past weekend, we went to Momofuku for their fried chicken dinner. And it was amazing. AMAZING. This was my second time having this meal and it was even better than I remembered. Good thing this isn't in Philly because I could seriously have this once a week. Which would not be good for my health or my figure. Remember when I raved about the Korean fried chicken at Meritage? Well, this is even better than that. This is what you get: two whole fried chickens, one southern style and one korean style, mu shu pancakes, long spicy peppers, baby carrots, red ball radishes, shiso leaves, bibb lettuce, four sauces and an herb basket. And all of that for $100. It's enough food for 8 people - we had 8 in our party and had leftovers! - so that's less than $13/person! What a bargain!! However, you always get the same amount of food whether you're a party of 8 (which is the max number of people you can have) or a party of 2. Though, I wouldn't complain about having to take chicken home because it's just as good leftover - even for breakfast:) If you guys are bigger eaters than us (I was a bit disappointed we couldn't finish the chicken - I expected more from our group!), there are plenty of other dishes you can order off the menu. Good thing we only ordered a pork belly bun for each of us...although at the time I wanted about 5 of them. Don't they look good:


I love pork belly. Some people complain that it's too fatty...but that's what makes it so good!! The star of this meal, though, was the chicken:


The Korean style chicken was on the left side of the plate and the southern style chicken was on the right. What makes it Korean or southern? The Korean chicken is coated with this delicious sweet and spicy Korean sauce and the southern chicken is seasoned with Old Bay. Both kinds are delicous but I couldn't get enough of that Korean sauce! I wish there was a bottle of it I could buy.

If you find yourself planning a trip to NYC, you really need to try this. The only thing is that you have to plan ahead. It is REALLY difficult to get reservations. Although you don't need reservations for Momofuku (by the way they only serve this at the Noodle Bar), you do need one if you want to do the fried chicken dinner. The first time we went, we could only get an 11:30 PM reservation. This time around, there were three of us that tried to get reservations and the earliest dinner timeslot we could get was at 10PM. Oh, and you need to make the reservation exactly a month in advance (all done online - you can do so here) and if you don't log onto the site at exactly 10AM to do so, you most likely won't get anything. Except for maybe a lunch reservation - they're less popular. Sounds crazy? A little. But totally worth it!

March 23, 2011


When I lived in Rittenhouse, I probably ate at Tampopo at least once a week. Man do I miss those days. The food there is SOOO good and really affordable. I know they've raised their prices over the years (I think its been about 8 years since I lived in that area) but you can still get a meal there for less than $10. That's pretty rare these days. The food is a mix of Japanese and Korean and my favorite thing to get is their hot and spicy beef bento box. It comes with either white or brown rice (I love white rice so that's what I always get), edamame, and your choice of either broccoli, gyoza or egg cake. I've gotten the gyoza everytime but I just read a description of the egg cake and it sounds pretty delicious: a layered Japanese omelet seasoned with soy sauce and fish sauce. YUM. I know I've gotten some of their other dishes there - like the fresh tuna bi-bim-bob which is tasty - but almost every single time I've gone I've gotten the hot and spicy beef. When something is that good, it's hard for me to try something new! I do have to say that their steamed dumplings aren't that great (although the deep fried gyoza is very yummy) and I really didn't like their sushi that much - although I don't see the sushi anymore on their menu. But overall, I highly recommend this restaurant. Definitely worth a try!

hot and spicy beef bento box

hot and spicy tofu bento box - this is what Eric always gets since he doesn't eat beef and doesn't like their chicken as much

March 22, 2011

daily candy deal


All week this week, Daily Candy is highlighting businesses along Passyunk Ave and up first is 1600 Below Vintage. In case you forgot, it's my favorite vintage store in Philly! And I'm so excited it's getting some recognition. I can't go in without finding something I want, whether its clothing, a purse, jewelry or something for my house. And the deal Daily Candy is running this week is awesome - get $100 worth of merchandise at 1600 Below for $50! Pretty sweet, huh? They're also having a prosecco party on April 9th at 6pm - hope to see you guys there! Check out the Daily Candy deal here.

photo: daily candy

March 21, 2011


...also known as ABC Carpet and Home. Eric's band played a show in NYC this Friday so we decided to make a weekend out of it. And ABC Carpet was at the top of my list of places to check out (besides Momofuku for the fried chicken dinner, but we'll talk about that another time). You can easily spend a couple hours at ABC Carpet - its HUGE. It actually takes up 2 buildings, but one was just rugs which we didn't go into. The building that we did visit had six stories of home accessories, furniture, lighting, rugs, etc. There's something for everyone - whether your style is contemporary, traditional or vintage. It really is a one stop shop for all things long as you can afford the prices. Although I did notice that some of the glassware and tableware on the first floor was pretty reasonably priced. I think it was my favorite floor - everything was beautifully displayed and it felt so pretty and romantic. Here are a few of my favorite vignettes:






I loved these pieces. The legs look like carved wood, but they are made completely of metal. They're gorgeous.


How cute is this lamp? Although I feel like I could make something similar out of some vintage materials...


March 18, 2011

shop for a cause


I used to be a DEVOTED Forever 21 shopper, but haven't purchased anything from them in a while...but today might be the day to change that. If you've been meaning to donate money towards the relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan - Forever 21 will take every dollar you spend on their website today and put it towards that cause. Pretty awesome right? Go here to start shopping!

March 17, 2011

is it mojito season yet?

Mojitos are hands down my favorite cocktail. They're a little bit sweet, a little bit sour and so refreshing! They're good anytime of the year, but best served when you are outdoors enjoying the sunshine. I swear Eric and I have one almost every single night during the summer. It's not quite that time of year yet, but we decided to start a little early this year!

Aren't they pretty? This is how I make them:

1 lime (cut in half, and one half cut into quarters)
1 shot glass of white rum
1 shot glass of simple syrup
seltzer water/club soda
a few leaves of mint (4 or 5)

Squeeze the half of the lime in your glass and throw out the lime. Squeeze the 4 quarters of lime into your glass and throw them into your glass along with the mint leaves. Add the rum and using a muddler, mix/muddle everything together. (If you don't have a muddler, use the back of a spoon.) Add simple syrup and finish off with club soda (and ice if you have it), stir and enjoy!

Tomorrow is supposed to be 72 degrees here in Philly - perfect weather for a mojito!!

March 16, 2011

meatball subs


If you read this blog, I'm sure you've heard me mention Smitten Kitchen before. If not, and you love food, check it out ASAP. She has awesome recipes and takes beautiful photos of her food. This is another recipe that I found on Smitten Kitchen and it is seriously amazing. One of my favorite things to make and eat. It's a pork meatball sub with carmelized onions. Yum right? Believe me, it tastes even better than it sounds! The first time I made it, it took FOREVER - only because it makes a ton of meatballs and I didn't start cooking the onions until the meatballs were almost done. The second time I made them, it took about an hour which isn't so bad. It's definitely worth the time and effort. And if you are in the Philly area, you have to eat them with Sarcone's bread - incredible.

Here's the recipe:

Yields about 24 to 28 2-inch meatballs


The baguettes or seeded sandwich rolls you’ll use for your sandwiches (see Note above for how to estimate)
2 pound ground meat of your choice (I used pork but have in the past used beef, veal, chicken, turkey or a blend thereof)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
Olive oil
4 cups prepared tomato sauce (plus extra if you like a lot of extra sauce)

Caramelized onions
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups coarsely shredded Gruyère

Make the meatballs: Split your rolls almost the whole way through, leaving one side attached. Scoop out some of the roll to create a channel for the meatballs to rest in. Grind the bread you pulled out in a food processor or tear it into minuscule bits. You will need 1 1/3 cups or 2 3/4 ounces of fresh breadcrumbs for the meatballs. If you’re not making subs, you can get this same amount of breadcrumbs from 2 to 3 sandwich bread slices. Set rolls aside until later.

Place the fresh breadcrumbs in a large bowl with 3/4 cup warm water and all of the meatball ingredients except for the olive oil and tomato sauce. Combine with a fork, breaking up clumps of meat until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Form mixture into 2-inch meatballs are arrange on a tray. I find wet hands make it easier to form meatballs without them sticking too much.

Heat a generous slick of oil (few tablespoons) in a large saute pan with a lid. Brown meatballs in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan or nudge them before they are nicely browned or they will stick and you’ll leave delicious meatball bits in the pan. These meatballs are soft, so use a gentle hand. Transfer meatballs to a paper towel-lined tray and continue until they are all browned.

Discard the oil and heat your tomato sauce in the pan. Add the meatballs, cover the pan and simmer them on the lowest heat possible for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

Caramelize onions: While the meatballs are simmering, you can cook the onions. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, sprinkle with salt and a little pepper and cook until they’re tender, sweet, and a deep golden brown, stirring occasionally. This takes me about 30 minutes.
**This part does take a while, so I like to start them when you start browning the meatballs**

Assemble subs: Arrange meatballs with sauce in the hollowed-out roll(s). Drape caramelized onions over the top and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Place subs under a broiler or in an oven at top heat to melt the cheese.

February 22, 2011


Sampan is one of several new restaurants that have opened up on 13th Street in the Gayborhood AKA Midtown Village in the past couple of years. The first time I tried it was during the Midtown Village Festival this past October (when I debuted my sumo wrestling skills) where I tried their pork belly banh mi that was delicious. I went back a couple months later for some drinks and some small plates and really enjoyed it, so I knew I wanted to go back for a full meal. I finally had a chance to do that a couple weekends ago with Karen and we had a great time! The space feels very hip and cool - something you'd find in NYC. I thought the decor was nice - nothing super special but it was nice to have a space like this in Philly. It felt different. And young.

image via

image via

They also have an outdoor area in the back - called the grafitti bar - I will need to check it out when it gets warmer!

image via

Karen and I did the tasting menu which was only $35/person that night (because it was the night before Valentine's day - yep I had two Valentines this year, Karen AND Eric) but usually its $40/person which is still a fantastic deal. It was sooooo much food - you get to choose 6 plates (they're all small plates) from the menu plus dessert. We started with some drinks:


I can't remember what kind of cocktail Karen ordered, but I tried one of their sake flights. Loved it. Our first dish was the Korean short rib satay. Yum, it was one of my favorite dishes of the night.


We had meant to order the shrimp dumplings but somehow got the edamame dumplings, but I'm glad we did because they were soooo tasty:


Tuna rice cracker (I think that's what these were...):


Crab wonton taco:


Korean fried chicken - good but not as good as Meritage's or Momofuku's which I will be having again in a month!!!


Kim chee fried rice:


Broiled sea bass:


At this point I was STUFFED but I still ate all of my dessert:


Aren't they adorable? One was butterfinger flavored and the other was twizzler. Yummy.

February 21, 2011

fashion week street style

Hello hello hello! I've been pretty busy lately and have been totally slacking on my blogging...but I'm back! First things firsts, New York fashion week was last week! I love seeing the new looks that come down the runways during fashion week, but even better is seeing the street style. People definitely step it up during that week and I've been looking through blogs to find my favorite ensembles. Enjoy!

image via garance dore

image via who what wear

image via because i'm addicted

via harpers bazaar


via harpers bazaar

via harpers bazaar


via harpers bazaar

via refinery29

via refinery29


via refinery29

February 2, 2011

dinner by eric

Before I started to enjoy cooking, most of our meals at home were made by Eric. He's definitely the better cook - I'm not afraid to admit it! It's actually really nice and probably much nicer for him now that I cook more often and he gets a break once in a while.

Gnocci is one of his favorite dishes but I've never been a huge fan. But recently I've been enjoying it more and I realized that its not that I don't like it, it's just that I don't like it as an entree. It's great as a side or an appetizer, but just too much if it's my entire meal. This weekend he decided to make gnocci for the first time using Giada's recipe and it turned out SO DELICOUS. Especially with the seared scallops he made to go with it. YUM.


Sweet Potato Gnocci with Sage Brown Butter (modified from Giada's recipe)


For the Gnocchi:
2 pounds sweet potatoes
2/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup for the work surface

For the Sage Brown Butter:
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
20 fresh sage leaves
freshly ground black pepper
For the Gnocchi: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Pierce the sweet potato with a fork. Bake the sweet potatoes until tender and fully cooked, between 40 to 55 minutes depending on size. Cool slightly. Cut in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Mash the sweet potatoes and transfer to a large measuring cup to make sure the sweet potatoes measure about 2 cups. Transfer the mashed sweet potatoes back to the large bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, salt, cinnamon, and pepper and blend until well mixed. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough in a ball on the work surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal balls. Roll out each ball into a 1-inch wide rope. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces. Roll the gnocchi over the tines of a fork. Transfer the formed gnocchi to a large baking sheet. Continue with the remaining gnocchi.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the gnocchi in 3 batches and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the gnocchi using a slotted spoon onto a baking sheet. Tent with foil to keep warm and continue with the remaining gnocchi.

For the Brown Butter sauce: While the gnocchi are cooking melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted add the sage leaves. Continue to cook, swirling the butter occasionally, until the foam subsides and the milk solids begin to brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cinnamon, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Careful, the mixture will bubble up. Gently stir the mixture. When the bubbles subside, toss the cooked gnocchi in the brown butter. Transfer the gnocchi to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Seared Scallops


Olive oil


Season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil and cook scallops til brown. Simplest recipe ever.

We also had a bottle of wine that I've passed by numerous times at the liquor store but never tried (this bottle was a gift):


It was really good! Pleasantly surprised. Will definitley get this bottle again!