Saturday, January 19, 2013

Waiting for Breakfast

I'm not an egg person for breakfast. But I love grilled cheese and I love sausage. Which means I can't wait until two of the newest lunch stands at the Reading Terminal Market start offering food for the barely-awake set.

Valley Shepherd Creamery hopes to open their panini machines for breakfast sometime in the near future, but not quite yet. Right now you can't get a grilled cheese until 11 a.m.

Same goes for Wursthaus Schmitz. I'm told their sausage sandwiches are quite tasty, but I haven't been by at lunchtime yet. Still, I think bratwurst on a roll is a great wake-me-upper.

A third new lunch vendor, Keven Parker's Soul Food Café, has a waffle maker, but that's for chicken and waffles at lunch.

Speaking of breakfast, I regularly buy whole bean mocha java from Old City Coffee and enjoy it most mornings at home. But as much as I enjoy it, and the coffee Old City brews on premises, my fav coffee for sipping on site at the RTM is the java from Flying Monkey Bakery. IIRC, it comes from Vermont Artisan Coffee. Hardly local. But then again, when's the last time you saw a coffee plantation in southeastern Pennsylvania or South Jersey?

Eating Place Owner in Coma

Samuel “Junior” Esh, longtime owner-operator of Dutch Eating Place and Lancaster County Dairy, was seriously hurt in a fall last Sunday while playing football with his church youth group, Reading Terminal Market General Manager Paul Steinke reported earlier this week.

Esh hit his head hard on a concrete floor and is hospitalized with a serious head injury at Lancaster General Hospital. Doctors performed surgery on Monday afternoon to relieve swelling in his brain.

"Reports are that it went well.  We are told that he will remain in an induced coma for the next 8 days to give his brain time to heal," wrote Steinke.

You can view a You Tube video of Junior preparing home fries here.

Broccoli Rabe Crisis - Part 2

Broccoli rabe can be had, but it's expensive. The wholesale price has nearly doubled, ranging from $50 to nearly $70 for a 20-pound case; it's usually about $32-35, reports Jimmy Iovine of Iovine Brothers Produce in the Reading Terminal Market. He isn't carrying it at all right now, because the wholesale price translates to a retail price of $3.99-$4.99 a bunch. It usually retails for $1.99-$2.99.

Joe Nicolosi of Dinic's at said he couldn't obtain rabe at all for a day or two, and now he's paying upwards of $65 a case. Joe tried red Swiss chard as a substitute, which he said worked well, though it's more sweet than the slightly bitter rabe. But since spinach is also dear these days, along with other vegetable crops from Southern California's Imperial Valley and Arizona growing areas, the chard may have to do. Although he hasn't tried it yet, Joe is thinking about cooking chopped Brussels sprouts with pancetta as another roast pork topping alternative.

Italian To Mexican

For a few decades now, some of South Philadelphia's Italian neighborhoods have been recolonized by other ethnic groups. Mexicans have staked their claim to a number of areas, as a visit to the blocks of Ninth Street south of Washington will attest.

Over at 8th and Watkins, a long-time Italian bakery is trying to span both worlds.

Las Rosas bills itself as both Mexican and Italian. I tried a sesame-seeded Italian bread (long style) and enjoyed it. The Las Rosas loaf is on the light side, more like Sarcone's than Frangelli's, with a nicely crackly crust. I also sampled one of the Mexican pastries and savored that as well: a small sweet pastry filled with guava paste.

Most recently the shop was DiGiampietro Bakery, a short-lived try by Danny DiGiampietro in the business. Danny, who still owns the building, went back to his day job of jobbing Sarcone's breads to sandwich shops like DiNic's. His bakery, in addition to making very fine hoagie and steak rolls, did a very nice pizza, too. Before Danny took over, it had been an Italian bakery under different ownership for decades.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Broccoli Rabe Crisis!

Greens in better days at Dinics

That's how the U.S. Department or Agriculture describes the drought-ravaged market for broccoli and broccoli rabe in the winter growing areas of Southern California and Arizona. The bitter green adorns many Italian-style roast pork sandwiches in Philadelphia.

It's hardly available at any price, and is likely to stay that way for four or five weeks, Iovine Brothers Produce was told by its primary supplier.

And that puts purveyors of the sandwich like Joe Nicolosi who operates Tommy Dinics at the Reading Terminal Market with his father in a quandry. Should he use another green, like Swiss chard? Or perhaps Chinese greens? Or maybe just forget about it until supplies in reasonable quantities resume.

With crowds expected to swamp Dinics beginning next weekend with the opening of the Philadelphia Auto Show across the street at the Convention Center, Dinics doesn't want to disappoint its cutomers. But there may be no choice.

Creamery, Soul Fooder To Open This Coming Week

Staff at Valley Shepherd Creamery fits in some training Saturday before stall's opening

Eran Wajswol and Jamie Png
KeVen Parker's Soul Food Café will be serving up food starting Monday in the former Delilah's space at the Reading Terminal Market. Two days later Valley Shepherd Creamery plans to begin selling cheese, cheese sandwiches and accompaniments.

Parker, proprietor of Miss Tootsie's on South Street (he can't use that name at the RTM because Marion Iovine D'Ambrosio already has a claim on Tootsie's for her salad bar), built the stall in record time. There's still more work to be done, but he told RTM General Manager Paul Steinke he'd be open Monday. That should give him enough time to work out at least some of the kinks before the auto show crowds descend next weekend.

Both Parker and Valley Shepherd owner Eran Wajswol received their certifications this past week from the city health department.

Valley Shepherd won't begin cheese-making operations at the stall for another week or so, according to Wajswol's on-site cheese-maker, Jamie Png. But the full range of cheeses made at the creamery in Long Valley, N.J., will be available, along with paninis. Helter Skelter, a raclette-like cheese seen at the bottom right of the photo of Wajswol and Png, will serve as the base for three of the sandwiches.