Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Earth Bread + Brewery Loses Its Finest

Devastated is an understatement.

Good, bad, or ugly, social media means that you've access to a constant stream of news (provided you're plugged in, which of course you are because it's 2015), but it doesn't mean you're prepared for it. Last night, when Mrs. Gastro burst into tears next to me on the couch, neither of us were ready for the news of Bernard Ray's passing, especially at the hand of violence. If you knew him, you'll know that this is a terrible irony. If you didn't, it's a shame you'll never get to experience his disarming smile, his open arms, and the way he made you feel so goddamn welcome anytime you sat down for a meal at Earth Bread + Brewery.

Although we didn't know him outside of the restaurant, he leaves a lasting impression with me and my family and a giant hole in our collective hearts. 

This Thursday, January 8, Earth Bread + Brewery will be donating all proceeds from guest checks to his three young boys, daughter, and grandchild. Additional contributions are also welcome and can be given to servers or bartenders. Alternatively, if you can't make it, donations can be sent into the restaurant.

It's going to be difficult to walk through those doors Thursday, but I strongly urge you to do so. My deepest condolences to Bernard's family and to the Earth Bread + Brewery staff.  And to Bernard, rest in peace my friend. Your smile will never be forgotten.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Why Did I Eat This? A Cronut for the Rest of Us

Back in May of 2013, the world lost its shit over the Cronut, a pastry likened to a croissant-donut hybrid created by Dominique Ansel in New York City. Lacking both the time and the patience, I didn't bother to go out of my way to see whether or not it was worth waiting in a line of Shake Shack proportions. Hell, I didn't even try any of the clones that popped up locally. To be honest, I just wasn't that interested, and I prefer to keep my donuts and croissants separate, much like my quesadillas and burritos.

Fast forward to now. Ansel has released a cookbook so we can all fuck up his recipes at home, and Dunkin' Donuts has finally reverse engineered a way to bring shelf-stable Cronuts to the masses. Since the word "cronut" is trademarked (shoulda, coulda, woulda, "Flaming Moe"), Dunkin' is simply calling them "Croissant Donuts," and retailing them for $2.49. They come in their own nifty little box instead of being haphazardly thrown into a brown paper bag (cute touch), and while they resemble the iconic pastry, they aren't that different than Dunkin's regular glazed donut. The butter flavor tastes artificial, the layers of pastry dough aren't flaky, and the shellac of milk and confectioners' sugar slurry weighs the whole thing down. Simply put, it tastes like diabetes with a heart disease filling.

At some point in the future (provided we're not all dead because the world is horrible and full of horrible people), I hope to try the original. For all of you out there, I'd recommend doing the same and skipping this clone in favor of a few extra years on your life. Buen provecho.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mike Jerrick to Host "Ya Gotta Try This!" Food Festival

Mike Jerrick is my fucking hero and I want his job. He's also a board member for The Second Chance Foundation, a non-prof that raises money and resources for community organizations serving "at-risk" youth and their families. To assist with the fundraising, Mr. Jerrick and District Attorney R. Seth Williams are hosting the first annual "Ya Gotta Try This!" food festival next Thursday, October 2, from 6:30-9:30 P.M. at the Independence Visitor Center, because raffles and spaghetti dinners are stupid.

There will be 24 local restaurants featured alongside beers from Yards and an open bar from Southern Wine and Spirits, which makes the $50 worth it if you're a drunk like me. Plus, you get to see Mike Jerrick act all Mike Jerrick in person. Buen provecho.

Buy tickets and get more details here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Victory Brewing and Key Ingredient Market "Spread" Dip Distribution

Heady Topper: Hop Devil Cheddar Spread is one of three offerings from Victory and Key Ingredient Market

While day drinking is preferable, it's not always feasible. Thankfully, Victory Brewing has teamed up with Key Ingredient Market to provide a trio of cheddar dips and spreads that offer a good proxy, and after a successful test run outside the Philadelphia market, all three are now available at Whole Foods locations in Glen Mills, Devon, and Jenkintown, as well as Whole Foods across the bridge in Cherry Hill and Marlton.

And cheddar spread distribution isn't the only thing they're expanding. The brewery also announced they'll be building another brewpub in Leesburg, Virginia, also known as Phase 2 of their plan for world beer domination, an endeavor in which they plan to be, ahem, victorious. Buen provecho.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Old Standbys: Cin Cin Restaurant in Chestnut Hill

Pandiarrhea's Box: Takeout Hurts Sometimes

Chinese takeout was/is/always will be delicious. It's loaded with MSG and often fried and you get to eat it out of a cool box that supposedly unfolds into a plate. But it's also murder on the midsection, especially if the really cool box/plates are handed to you through bulletproof glass. Still, it's as American as racism and diabetes, and if you can find a place that's both cheap and high quality, you've got a great excuse not to cook.

My local is Cin Cin in Chestnut Hill. Although much more restaurant than takeout, they do a great job with the latter. It's great for when Baggage Claim is free on demand and you skipped dinner with the kids but started drinking and now you're hungry and you haven't had General Tso's Chicken in a while and since you're watching a romantic comedy you need an excuse for the tears you'll inevitably shed at the end of it (I blamed the dry peppers). Do you have a local? Or do you prefer to wait for a trek to Chinatown, licking peanut butter off a spoon in the meantime since you've removed your pants for the evening? Buen provecho.

Monday, August 18, 2014

All Things Ramen at CoZara Ramen Sundays

"My horned dome is always thinking about ramen burgers" - Satan

I know what you're thinking. What does Satan have to do with ramen? More specifically, ramen burgers? The answer is simple. Not a goddamn thing, but I'm pretty sure Satan is a huge ramen fan, and I suppose the whole ramen trend is still hotter than hell (there's your connection!). But enough about our cloven-hooved prince of darkness, let's shift our focus to CoZara in University City, where Chefs Zama Tanaka and Chris Paulikas have dedicated Sundays to the humble noodle, featuring a menu of ramen rarities like Ramen Burgers and Mazemen available from 2-8pm alongside their regular Sunday menu. Not sure how long this experiment will last, so I'd recommend skipping brunch next Sunday to go and try every dish. Buen provecho (oh yeah, and hail Satan).

(Full menu after the jump)

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Dark Side of Barbie's Beau

Sometimes the guitar comes out and the kids don't immediately tell you to put it away. And sometimes they even ask you to play a song about a Ken doll. When that happens, this happens, especially if you're friends with a gentleman by the name of Brad Podray, who was gracious enough to record me and this video and then overlay the two, the result of which is Ken's lament. Please enjoy!