That Food Truck Trend

Ka'Chi Food Truck at Night Market Philadelphia

As the last major food truck event of the year approaches – Philly’s Night Market, October 4th in Chinatown – I can’t help but think about food trucks as a trend in the culinary world and how they will continue to grow as influencers in our suburban communities. The idea of food trucks in general, of course, doesn’t really jive with suburbia. These guys need plentiful foot traffic to survive – especially when they’re serving less than mainstream cuisine, which many often do – and thus are typically located in urban areas.

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Tired Hands Brewing Company, Ardmore

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Put simply, Tired Hands Brew Cafe is one of the most exciting local openings in recent memory. It didn’t bring big city pedigree like White Dog Wayne, nor did it bring the hype of Xilantro. So why is it exciting? Because it’s a downright cool place that, unlike those other two, is also the type of place you want to visit every weekend. It’s comfortable, but modern and extremely well-designed (chalkboards! exposed beams! exposed brick!). You can go with your buddies. You can go on a date. You can bring the kids. And every time you go, there’ll likely be different beers on tap and different food on the menu.

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Beer Buy: Old Forge T-Rail Pale Ale

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Though my favorite pale ale remains Victory Headwaters, Old Forge’s T-Rail – brewed somewhat nearby, in Danville, PA –  is another worthy of consideration. It’s got all the markings of a classic pale: light caramel malts bring a touch of sweetness, while forward (but balanced) hops create a crisp, refreshing finish, perfect on a warm day.

It’s also worth noting the value on display here; a sixer of 16oz cans – that’s right ladies and gentleman, pounders – is only $10.49 at Wegmans. Cans, which were once considered to be the sign of cheap swill, are making a comeback. New lining has been developed to prevent the can itself from imparting flavor, and the better seal and complete protection from light (beer freshness’ foremost enemy) actually make cans the superior vessel to bottles (ProTip: pour either into a glass). As such, more and more craft brewers are distributing in cans (though pounders are less common).

Mi Pais, Malvern (Frazer)

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Calling all people who subscribe to the overstated, but no less true theory that bacon makes everything better: report to Mi Pais in Frazer and order Colombian bacon, stat.

This stuff is ridiculous. Think of a normal lardon of bacon, but super-sized, with a crispy exterior, and moist, fatty interior, and you have a sense of the  awesomeness at play here.

Not being all that familiar with Colombian cuisine, we put ourselves in the hands of our friendly server (who is, I am guessing, also an owner). He suggested the Cazuelita Mi Pais ($8) as a good introduction to the cuisine. “Its not too heavy, he told us. It has grilled steak, choirizo, and Colombian bacon, as well as beans, rice and plantains.” Who were we to argue with this logic? After all, he hadn’t suggested the larger version ($11), which also includes a fried egg.

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Frecon Farms, Boyertown

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Saturn peaches from Frecon (via Facebook)

Having become familiar with Frecon Farms through their participation in the East Goshen Farmers market, we decided to take a drive to the actual farm for Peach Jubilee, a seasonal celebration of the succulent summer fruit. That, and the word that they make hard cider.

To be perfectly clear, Frecon Farms is a hike from the Main Line, up 422, then 100, and will take at least 45 minutes, depending on your starting point. (It’s just down the road from the Tiki Bar in Earlville, if that helps.) It is a relatively pleasant drive, however… we even saw a school bus on cinder blocks in someone’s front yard!

Upon first glance, after a long drive, the Frecon storefront can be deflating; it doesn’t look like much more than a small, roadside farm stand. Looks, of course, can be deceiving. Behind the subdued exterior lies a veritable culinary playground, featuring fresh produce, gourmet items, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and even wine, mead and hard cider.

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