Posts within the 'Views' Category


End of an Era…

Friday, June 28th, 2013

mlrg-2004

The year was 2003. Though blogs existed, the term was hardly a household word. Citysearch ruled for local restaurant information.

One day, I drove past a new restaurant that had just opened. I made mental note of the name and looked it up online when I got home. Nothing. Nada. Not even one reference to the place on the entire internet. Though Citysearch did a decent job covering Philly back then, one would be lucky to find an address for a restaurant in the ‘burbs. The Philly papers hardly ever mentioned the suburban restaurant scene.

My frustration sparked an idea. I was eating out at least 2 or 3 times a week, and often trying new restaurants as soon as they opened, so why not share those experiences with the world? I started writing reviews, and once I had a few, the Main Line Restaurant Guide was born. I didn’t even get a unique URL – just put it on a subdomain of a music site I was running at the time – because I didn’t expect much to happen with it.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one frustrated with the lack of information about Main Line restaurants online. The site was an immediate success. Traffic poured in from Google with people eager for content about the happenings in their neighborhood. (This was years, remember, before “hyper-local” was a trend, and sites like Patch existed.) Though the site was simple and text-only, it offered content that filled a void. People posted their own reviews of local restaurants with astounding regularity. (Early on, I was receiving these comments via email and manually posting them to the website – unthinkable today!) Eventually, as it continued to expand, the name was changed to Main Line Dine, a bonafide URL was purchased, and we attempted to join the growing “food p0rn” movement with some mouthwatering photography.

Though at one point Main Line Dine was ahead of its time, the simple logistics of a one-man operation – I was lucky to have a few other great contributors through the years, but none stuck around for too long – made it difficult to keep up with the likes of AOL’s Patch, Yelp, and other sites now cranking out restaurant news. (Apparently Citysearch still exists too!) Along the way, another thing happened. I grew older, started a family, and stopped going out to eat as much. These days, once a month seems like an indulgence.

Although family and work obligations are part of the reason for this change in behavior, there’s one other more important factor: restaurants aren’t what excites me about the local food scene anymore. It’s not that there aren’t great restaurants out there doing great things – it’s just that they seem to be fewer and further between these days. And, if you’ve ever attempted to sustain a business that doesn’t make very much (any) money, you know that excitement and passion are tantamount to success.

For that reason, I’ve decided to stop supporting Main Line Dine. Frankly, it’s a decision that should have been made years ago, but I’d felt obligated to nurture this being that I’d created, and had trouble letting go.

Don’t despair friends, for as they say, when one door closes, well you know the rest. I still am passionate about local food and sharing that with you, the readers, commenters, fellow food lovers. And, there’s this groundswell of small, artisanal food producers that’s been slowly growing over the past few years that does excite the heck out of me. Farmers Markets seem to be popping up in every town, and they’re not just for farmers anymore. You’ll find bakers, coffee roasters, meat curers, hummus makers, and other food of all sorts, all made with love, in small batches, and with local ingredients. In my humble opinion, this is where the exciting, innovative stuff is happening in the local food scene, and what I want to talk about, read about, write about.

So while it is the end of the road for Main Line Dine, I am still around. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter, where I will continue to comment on the local, national and international food scenes and share my magazine articles and other writing. And please check out the wine blog I co-founded, Pennsylvania Vine Company, which focuses on the PA consumer.

I will simply leave you with this: Eternal thanks to all the great readers, commenters, likers, etc. that have supported this site over the years.

Bella Oliva Olive Oil Shop Coming to Wayne

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

olive oil shop wayne pa

An olive oil and vinegar shop called Bella Oliva is coming soon to downtown Wayne, next to Gryphon Café. Though details have yet to emerge, one would imagine a similar concept to A Taste of Olive in both West Chester and Ardmore.

Interestingly, though WC and Ardmore both also feature a Carlino’s, there really isn’t a good place in between to get a decent bottle of EVOO or aged balsamico, so this should be a nice addition to the scene. Hopefully they’ll be strict about their oil provenance, as EVOO fraud is rampant in Europe.

Speaking of which, if you’re interested in Olive Oil, or food in general, I highly recommend checking out Tom Mueller’s book Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil. It’s a fascinating history of “liquid gold” and account of the modern day problems facing the industry. Would make a great foodie gift!

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That Food Truck Trend

Monday, October 1st, 2012

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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Beer Buy: Old Forge T-Rail Pale Ale

Friday, August 31st, 2012

old-forge-t-rail-pale-ale

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).

Gilmore’s… Adieu

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

There’s been a lot of hubbub about the closing of Gilmore’s in West Chester this week. The restaurant was once considered the class of the western suburbs by many diners, so its closing is probably the Main Line equivalent of Le Bec Fin closing (and yes, Peter Gilmore worked at LBF for many years). The thing that so many others seem to be afraid to say, however, is that it was past due. Gilmore’s was a dinosaur from another era, and was no longer a relevant player in the local restaurant scene.

Reading between the lines of Peter Gilmore’s comments after the news came out, it’s obvious that the restaurant’s financial results back up this assertion. Though they had a reputation for being a tough reservation, sellouts were far less common over the past few years. Gilmore tried gimmicks like adding small plates, and offering a discounted mid-week prix fix menu to get more people in the door, but nothing could save the business.

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The Great Pesto Challenge

Monday, July 9th, 2012

pesto

Pesto. It’s one of the great summer treats. Fresh, pungent basil from the garden, mixed with garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and a liberal amount of EVOO. Traditionally, of course, it’s used as a pasta sauce, but it also works great on grilled chicken or fish, swirled in dipping oil for bread, as a sandwich spread, and surely many other creative methods.

Nowadays, of course, one doesn’t need a herb garden to get pesto. It’s available in the supermarket year-round, both in the uninspiring jarred form as well as a somewhat better fresh format. In addition, we’re lucky enough to be blessed with quite a few excellent Italian specialty stores in this area, that almost always offer up their own fresh versions. Pondering this one day, I wondered: who makes the best? A taste test was the obvious and inevitable result.

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PLCB Pick: Terranoble Carmenere Gran Reserva 2009

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

terranoble-carmenere-gran-riserva-2009

I love wines with great stories. Does a great story change what is in the glass? No, of course not. But it can change how you perceive what’s in the glass, just how who you are with, where you are, or what you are celebrating can change your perceptions.

The story of Carmenere is a particularly interesting one. One of the “original six” Bordeaux grapes (from Médoc specifically, considered by some to be a Cab clone), it all but died out after the double-whammy of the European Phylloxera plague in 1867 and a susceptibility to coulure, a condition where grapes fail to thrive after a particularly rainy, wet season.

In fact, the grape was widely considered to be extinct until the 1990s, when it was discovered in Chile. It turns out that cuttings of the plant were imported to to Chile in the 1800s, but it was mistaken for Merlot. In 1994, however, a French oenologist found otherwise, showing conclusively that it was indeed Carmenere.

Now, Chile has embraced the grape as its very own, especially considering the fact that other big wines in Chile: Cabernet, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, etc. are not indigenous to the country.Though Carmenere is grown in small quantities in Italy, the US and France, Chile is leading the way with this particular varietal.

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Local Farmers Markets

Sunday, May 6th, 2012
east-goshen-farmers-market-tomatoes

The big news on the Farmers Market front this spring was the announcement that a new, year-round, indoor market will be opening sometime soon in the former Borders Bookstore in Rosemont. Building owner Steve Bajus expects 25 to 30 vendors, open Thursday-Saturday, plus some additional vendors that’ll be open six days a week. For more details, check out coverage on Patch and in Main Line Media News. If you’re interested in joining the market, more info is available at Bajus’ site.

The developers suggest that a fall opening is possible for the Rosemont Farmer’s Market, but keep in mind that “possible” in developer-speak typically means “improbable”. (I’d bet on early 2013.)

In the meantime, here’s a listing of currently open local Farmers Markets:

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Local Cookbooks: Lamb Shanks with Herbes de Provence

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

lamb-shank

Local Cookbooks is a feature at MLD where we share a recipe from a cookbook with local ties. Have a cookbook we should consider? Let us know.

Although Corked & Forked by Keith Wallace lists this recipe under the “Winter” section (not surprising as it is, after all, braised meat), we thought it’d make an interesting late-spring alternative to lamb roast (a popular choice at Easter, no?) Though it is certainly a hearty dish, the sauce is outstanding and this is one of my favorite cuts of lamb when slow-cooked to perfection.

To go with this recipe, Wallace suggests a Pinot Noir from the Eola-Amity Hills region of Oregon, which he calls “one of the greatest wines produced in America”. Interestingly enough, this is the pairing that Wallace gets most excited about in the entire book (each recipe has a pairing), calling it “so beautiful that your tongue may sprout wings and fly to heaven”. We tried 2008 Stangeland Pinot Noir Vermeer Vineyard, the only Eola-Amity Pinot we could find at nearby state stores, but unfortunately it was sub-par (the winemaker was quite heavy-handed with the oak), so there were no tongue wings for us.

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Beer Buy: Great Lakes Doppelrock

Monday, March 26th, 2012

great-lakes-the-doppelrock

Trying to crown the best American craft brewer would be a thankless, somewhat pointless task. With so many different styles, and so many individual tastes, it’d be impossible to placate everyone. That said, if the main characteristics were consistency and balance, Great Lakes would have to be near the top of the list. Every beer from the Cleveland-based brewery is well-made, achieves a remarkable balance between malt and hops, and is wonderfully tasty.

Though I have yet to have a bad Great Lakes beer, if pressed to pick a favorite, it would likely be The Doppelrock, a Spring Seasonal / bock offering. Like others from Great Lakes, this brew manages to pack a huge amount of malty love, hoppy goodness and alcohol power into a smooth, stunning beer that never seems off-center. The malt brings loads of chocolate, caramel and nutty sweetness, but there are just enough hops on the finish to even things out. Despite it being close to 8% abv, the heat is barely noticeable. This is everything great about a traditional Spring bock, “amped” up in truly American style (hence the dueling guitars on the label).

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