Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Only Elisson spends three days in the City of Brotherly Love - Philadelphia, Pee Ay - without tasting of a single cheesesteak hoagie, without a single nibble of a soft pretzel with mustard. But it’s not exactly as if I was starving myself.

To begin with, my main purpose in traveling to Philly was to help Elder Daughter with her relocation. This involved picking up a U-Haul truck in Washington, D.C., stuffing it with her furniture and miscellaneous personal possessions, driving it on up to her new home roughly 170 miles away, and then schlepping the aforementioned furniture and miscellaneous personal possessions in the front door of the new place.


I was all fired up for the task. Semi-literally. For we had eaten lunch in Silver Spring at Nando’s Peri-Peri, where I had snarfed down a serving of their extra-hot chicken livers, leavened only with a handful of pepper-encrusted nuts. Yowza!

When we turned onto Elder Daughter’s street, I was almost bullshit with fear... for the street was barely wide enough to allow the truck - a mere ten-footer - to slither by without taking out its mirrors on the numerous telephone poles or sideswiping the cars parked along the right curb. Elder Daughter handled the pilotage with aplomb; nevertheless, when we got out, my ass yanked ten pounds of upholstery stuffing out of the front seat from having been squinched up so tight.

Unloading the truck proved easier than loading it, and once we were done, it was simply a matter of finding a parking place on some other street and settling in for the evening. The previous occupants were kind enough to leave the recipe (and ingredients!) for a concoction called a Mercer Mayhem - bourbon, bitters, and sweet vermouth - and so we had a couple of nightcaps.

The next day, after repositioning most of the Daughterly Materièl, Elder Daughter busied herself with the task of painting her new room. But first, we needed some food. A short walk away we found Ida Mae’s Bruncherie, a fancy-ass name for a tiny neighborhood joint. We had come for pancakes, but something on the day’s list of offerings caught my eye...

Ida Mae’s Menu

Right there at the top! Chocolate Babka French Toast! Holy crap - these were my kind of people. Food perverts!

[No, I did not order the Chocolate Babka French Toast. I had come for pancakes, dammit, not a heart stoppage. But there will be a return visit.]

Later in the afternoon, after further adventures with paint, we grabbed an afternoon snack at Kraftwork, a local gastropub located a short walk away from Elder Daughter’s place. Beer was first on the agenda. She ordered a pint; I opted for a flight of four. To soak up the alcohol, we ordered up a cheese plate: a board with several tasty fromagey goodies.

Beery delight. Front, from left: Young’s Nitro Double Chocolate Stout, Mikkeler Black Hole Cognac Imperial Stout, Southern Tier Imperial IPA, and Boon Kriek Lambic. Rear: Southampton Double White.

Cheesy goodness.  Clockwise, from bottom right: Rogue Echo Mountain Blue with apple and honey, Humboldt Fog with sour cherries, Mad Tomme, Constant Bliss. Center: Parmesan flan.

About this time, E.D.’s roommate and her dad arrived, so we ran back to the apartment to help them. Another truck; more schleppage. We knew the drill.

Once all the furniture and miscellany had been carried in - including one mammoth sofa, the legs of which we actually had to saw off in order to get it through the front door - it was time to celebrate a Job Well Done. And also, incidentally, to celebrate my having completed yet another Trip Around the Sun... for it was, indeed, my birthday.

After downing a few beers at one of the local hole-in-the-wall establishments and watching the Phillies squeeze one out over the Cards in the NL divisional series, we all took a stroll to the El stop and caught a train into Center City, there to drop in at the Good Dog Bar, where I had the ridiculously indulgent Duck Confit Pot Pie.

Duck Confit Pot Pie
The Duck Confit Pot Pie at Good Dog. Could Rembrandt have painted a more beautiful pie?

Yes, you heard that right. Not some lame-ass chicken pot pie, but one crammed with tender, succulent duck that had been cured and cooked slowly in its own schmaltz for many hours, the ultimate in unctuous goodness. Holy shit, was it good. The twelve-year-old Macallan single malt that accompanied it wasn’t too shabby either... a pleasant birthday tipple, to be sure.

Was that enough? Oh, no, that was not quite enough. For just a few blocks away was Capogiro, home of the finest gelato I have ever put in my face... and there was no way I was leaving Center City without a taste. Chocolate malt, sea salt, and pistacchio Siciliano were just the ticket.

It would barely be worth mentioning the sandwich E.D. and I shared by way of a late breakfast (or early lunch) the following day, an Arista hoagie purchased at a tiny-ass hole-in-the-wall establishment called Paesano’s. It was slap-your-momma delicious - a perfectly baked hoagie roll crammed with roasted suckling pig tasty white meat with broccoli rabe, Italian long hots, sharp provolone, and natural jus - and at $8 the sandwich, the highest quality-to-cost ratio I’ve seen in about forever. It was hardly surprising to find that that very sandwich had been selected as being among the top ten restaurant dishes for $10 or less by Bon Appétit Magazine.

Now that Elder Daughter lives here, I’ll be a much more frequent visitor - next time, the Missus will join me - but we’ll be sure to block out some serious Eating Time in our busy schedule when we come!


Kevin Kim said...

A belated Happy Birthday to you, and best wishes to Elder Daughter as she embarks on the next phase of her journey.

Yabu said...

If you ever call my JuJu chicken pot pie, lame-ass, I'll have to kill you...after we drink the Scotch. No offense.

Elisson said...

Well, Yabu, my comment about chicken pot pies was intended more in the general sense... but your JuJu Chickum is gonna have to be serious to go up against that duck. I'm just sayin'.

Fiona Kathleen Hogan said...

Happy belated birthday!

And why does everything sound so delicious? I want that duck pie, thank you! :))

Claude said...

You speak of food with such poetic elan. Whenever you write a meal description, I feel that I am with another Cyrano de Bergerac.

In Act 1, Scene 1V, Cyrano uses his sword, to offer us, step by step, un magnifique duel. And his final, victorious words are:
À la fin de l'envoi, je touche!

You use your fork, with the same ardor, to prepare a marvellous feast. And your final, triumphant words always are:
À la fin de l'envoi, je bouffe!

Very inspiring. Merci, M'sieur Elisson. À votre santé!

Yabu said...

I'm serious about sharing some Scotch, and I'll take on that duck anytime.

Jim - PRS said...

Yo! The House by the Parkway is on the way to Philly too. Bonus!