Thursday, May 31, 2012


The most joyous time of the year for beer aficionados arrives in Philadelphia in less than 24 hours. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 5th Annual Philly Beer Week, a 10-day celebration of the city's rich diversity and rampant enthusiasm for the brewer's art. Excitement for this year's festival has been building for weeks, thanks to the well-timed pre-publicity and very active presence of the participants and the organizers of PBW.

Several helpful and terrifically useful articles dropped in the Philly papers today, the best by Don Russell (aka "Joe Sixpack" in the Philadelphia Daily News), who also acts as Executive Director for PBW, full of tips and suggestions for maximum enjoyment of the week's festivities. The Inquirer's Craig Laban chimes in with a look on the rapidly growing beer scene and the several small breweries and brewpubs opening in the 'burbs.

But I'll tell you what my main resource for scoping out the what's-what of PBW will be: Jared Littman's brilliantly ambitious website, where Littman will track - and preview - the tap offerings for every participating bar and  restaurant during the festival. Not only is the website easy to navigate, it's very easy to read, even on a smartphone (which may become a factor the further one explores each day's events).

Here is how Littman himself describes his format for Philly beer Week:

This is what we're going to do:   During Philly Beer Week, from June 1-10, we are going to post the tap lists for the current  and following day right here -- BOOKMARK THIS PAGE!  We are also going to post lists for particularly appealing future events.  To make this service even more valuable, we have included the descriptions of the beers (where available) so that you know what these new beers are.  We already posted a whole bunch of tap lists for June 1 and June 2, and we will post more everyday so please check back.  Please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our blog, "Tap Talk," where we will be highlighting exceptional tap lists and events.

I think this website will make for a stress-free week of beer in and around Philly.  Now all that remains is the drinking--and sheer enjoyment--of the best beer-drinking city in America.  I hope I'll see you out there. Let's enjoy a few together!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Green, Green...

The most beautiful words of the Spring: "the farm in Pennington is now open."

And with that, the farm season at the Honey Brook Organic Farm in Pennington has begun. Our first pickup for this year was Sunday, and it was an impressive first day haul: a huge bunch of leeks, 4 enormous heads of curly green leaf lettuce in shades of deep green and chartreuse, a pound of baby bok choy, a pound of dark green, spicy arugula and SIX pounds of spinach.

Do you have any idea how much SIX pounds of spinach can be?

The farm was buzzing with eager members when we arrived on Sunday after church, everyone standing in line to sign in for the season and receive their fluorescent pink ID badges, milling around the counters filled with all of the greens we'd be taking home that day, kids playing out on the lawn under the giant gnarled tree and on its branches. It was a great first day, bursting with enthusiasm.

When I got home I bagged everything as quickly as possible for the fridges, trimmed and julienned the leeks for quick grilling next to the London broil I planned for dinner. Much of the leeks ended up sprinkled atop mashed potatoes, a nice little garnish. One of the giant heads of lettuce and a big fistful of arugula made more than enough salad for dinner, along with rainbow grape tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and chick peas.

On Monday, I knew I had to start utilizing the spinach and searched online for a recipe for "chicken and spinach". Here's what I selected, from

Bowties with Chicken and Spinach



Units: US | Metric


  1. 1
    Boil the pasta until done.
  2. 2
    Meanwhile, cook the chicken in oil over medium-high heat.
  3. 3
    Add the onion, red pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper with the chicken.
  4. 4
    Continue to cook and stir 5-7 minutes until chicken is almost cooked through.
  5. 5
    Add the broth and spinach then cook until spinach is wilted and chicken is done.
  6. 6
    Combine chicken mixture with hot drained pasta and toss well.
  7. 7
    Top with cheese and parsley then serve.

    It turned out to be a great recipe. I had twice the amount of boneless chicken breast, so I just doubled up all of the ingredients.  Sophie wisely chose tomato-carrot farfalle, which we had on hand in the pantry, for the bowtie pasta and it really made for an attractive dish.  I amped up the garlic a bit, and used about a pound and a half of the spinach. Simple, full of spring/summer flavors, and it used a quarter of the spinach. Now I need to figure out what to do with the rest of the spinach.

    Any ideas?

Saturday, May 19, 2012


One of the hallmark food events in Mercer County takes place this weekend, with the 37th Annual St George's Greek Festival in Hamilton, NJ, on he grounds of St. George's Greek Orthodox Church. It is a huge, loud, music-filled, laughter-washed, joyous weekend of food, dancing, Greek beer, wine, retsina and ouzo, but most of all, authenticity.

The weekend is a quick and almost seamless immersion in Greek culture, tradition and society, but it's the food and people that draw me there every year. If you want to know what pride looks like, step up to the buffet line set up for lunch and dinner in the school gymnasium and carefully watch how your servers dish up your food. It is with a love and care rarely seen outside the home kitchen, and that is really what sets apart this festival from other ethnic festivals in the area. The elder members of the church do all of the cooking (and you can see them in the easily visible kitchen fussing over their respective dishes). The food, to me, is of the highest quality imaginable, and at ridiculously low prices. Moussaka, Pastitsio, Souvlaki (made with filet mignon!), flawlessly roasted, lemony chicken, garlicky shrimp and huge roasted lamb shanks are just a few of the entrees served at prices as low as $10, topping out at $14. And that includes golden,roasted potatoes, rice, tomato-sauced green beans, feta-flecked salad, rolls. Additional sides of spanikopita (spinach pie) and trikopita (cheese pie) and stuffed grape leaves are also available at a nominal charge. No skimping on food here.

At three different locations there are tables selling all manner of Greek pastries and breads, and another table selling Greek comestibles, like Greek oregano, bay leaves, coffee, feta and kasseri cheeses, grape leaves, olives, meatballs and other savories. It's a foodie overload. There's also a flea market set up in various classrooms of the adjacent Greek school, a bar with Mythos beer, Greek wine (including one labled "My Big Fat Greek Wine"), retsina (a wine made from pine tree resin, actually quite refreshing and crisp) and ouzo, the licorice liquor with which you absolutely must toast the evening and the people of St George's.

 And I almost forgot the outdoor grills, where you can snag a big, soft Greek pita stuffed with souvlaki (inexplicably made from pork instead of lamb, but still quite tasty), or gyro meat, that composite, spit roasted meat sliced paper thin and doused with garlicky,cucumber yogurt sauce called tzatziki, along with tomatoes, onions and lettuce. Two gyros were MY entree of choice last night when I stopped at the festival with the kids and the Queen (more on her later). Those gyros are STILL the best gyros served in all of Mercer County, and I just wish it wasn't just for 4 days in May. You have two days left to experience this fantastic ethnic celebration. Don't miss it. Get yourself to the Greek!

 St. George Greek Orthodox Church
 1200 Klockner Rd. Hamilton, NJ
 Sat: 11;30AM-11:30PM
 Sun: 12 Noon-6:00PM