Philadelphia's food bloggers are turning heads.
If there's one thing restaurantgoers and self-professed foodies are hungry for, it's more information about the city's BYO gems, wallet-friendly deals, organic farmers markets and most decadent desserts. And Philly's bloggers are up to the challenge of satiating that appetite.
Local food blog aggregator Foobooz provides all the necessary info for eating and drinking well in Philly, and doing it on a budget. Updated a couple times a day by Graduate Hospital resident Arthur Etchells, Foobooz rounds up the city's food and booze bargains, restaurant openings and closings, culinary events, reviews and news from local media outlets and heaps of other blogs. Etchells always has the inside scoop on the local food scene, courtesy of his popularity with PR professionals and "just being out and about," which he says is the best way to pick up news of deals and dirt.
Favorite local finds: Gastropubs like the Standard Tap, Grace Tavern and Royal Tavern; Rittenhouse BYOB Matyson; Sunday nights at Little Fish, where a five-course meal costs only $28.
Mac & Cheese
Taylor High's Mac & Cheese is food blogging at its most personal. Kind of like Sex and the City, but with edibles rather than orgasms. The vegetarian self-employed gardener lives in Wilmington, Del., but spends a ton of time in the city with her South Philly-dwelling boyfriend. All of High's recipes and restaurant reviews are strung into beautifully worded, faintly silly vignettes about her out-of-town trips, urban gardening adventures and family of fellow foodies. Her pretension-free reviews can be refreshingly biting and/or fawning, and her photos are absolutely lovely, well-choreographed temptations. High's vegetarianism never feels evasive or moralizing--only indulgent and delicious.
Favorite local finds: Maoz's garlic sauce; eclairs and Boston cream pies at Pink Rose Pastry Shop; Headhouse Farmers Market; frozen veggie citrus spare ribs from the Asian markets on Washington Avenue.
Elizabeth Halen's former roommate remarked she suffered from "foodaphilia," a fictional, cuisine-obsessed disease. So when doctoral student Halen moved to the Art Museum area and started blogging about her gastronomic escapades, it made sense to name the blog accordingly. The blog features unassuming but honest restaurant reviews accompanied by lush photographs of drinks, desserts, apps and entrees from a plethora of neighborhood and regional joints. A part-time dessert chef at A Full Plate Cafe, Halen (pictured at left) posts numerous recipes for ooey, gooey baked goods, such as her FlutterNutter cake and chocolate peanut butter cheesecake bars.
Favorite local finds: Flank steak sandwich with provolone and fried onions at the Bishop's Collar; fries with chipotle soy dipping sauce at N. Third; Las Cazuelas, where margarita mix is free if you bring your own tequila.
The Urban Vegan
The Urban Vegan reminds readers that eating mindfully doesn't have to mean eating blandly. Advertising director, book author and longtime vegan Dynise Balcavage was "sick to death of the assumption that all vegan food tastes like lawn clippings and is difficult to prepare," so she started the Urban Vegan, which is now up for "Best Food Blog" in the Blogger's Choice Awards. Her blog is less about preaching and more about celebrating the tastes, textures, colors and smells of eco-friendly food. Balcavage, who lives in the Loft District with her husband "Omniman," updates her blog frequently with all sorts of goodies: recipes, local restaurant reviews, odes to overlooked veggies and tons of colorful photos of her travels, meals out and kitchen creations.
Favorite local finds: Pacific Rim grilled tofu at Horizons; Vegan Treats' Oreo cookie cake at Govinda's Gourmet to Go; General Tso seitan at Su Xing House; Yerba Mat� at Remedy Tea Bar.
PhilaFoodie might as well be named PhilaWino--no harm intended. David Snyder, a lawyer who lives in Washington Square West, is one of the biggest wine snobs you'll ever meet, and you'll be glad you found your way into his sommelier presence. PhilaFoodie comments on reviews and news from local and national food media, includes exclusive interviews and updates from the Philly food and drink scene, and features in-depth reviews of Philly's higher-end restaurants, such as James, Osteria and Tangerine. But the highlight of PhilaFoodie is definitely Snyder's erudite musings on wine. Your inner lush will appreciate his suggestions for pairings at well-known BYOs and his anecdotal descriptions that employ all that lingo we neophytes will never understand ("The nose is not all that fragrant, though you can detect light notes of graphite, spices and green peppers").
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PW's Holiday Guide 2014