Fall Food and Drink Guide

The food news—from Twitter deals to Garces’ latest—to fill you up this season.

By Beth Lesko
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 15, 2009

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Photo by Kris Chau

The Wine School (2006-2008 Fairmount Ave. and 227 Market St. 800.817.7351. vinology.com) is like an Ivy League fraternity and classroom rolled into one. Where else can you get an education in food and wine pairings, taste the difference between Irish and English beers and take Wine 101—a class about wine basics—to impress your friends the next time you go to Tria ? The Wine School and its brother, Philly Beer School , offer a full roster of fun and boozy classes throughout the fall at both their Fairmount and Old City locations.

The mod kitchen theater at Foster’s Homeware (399 Market St. 267.671.0588. shopfosters.com) provides a fun atmosphere for learning kickass cooking techniques (think: Morimoto-style knife skills) as well as recipe tricks. Examples include how to make authentic tomato sauce, secrets to the perfect cake and tips on handling your own salami. 

Williams-Sonoma (The Bellevue, 200 S. Broad St. 215.545.7392. williams-
sonoma.com) offers demonstration-style classes that allow students to sit back and learn. You can sign up for the entire series or pick from classes like Bistro-Style Supper, Hors d’oeuvres for a Wine Tasting and Fall Celebration. All classes include samples of the dishes and printed recipes to take home. 

Friday Night Flights at Ristorante Panorama (14 N. Front St. 215.922.7800. localwineevents.com) are wine classes disguised as social mixers—with snacks. These weekly happy hour wine tastings, held every Friday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. feature tasting flights of six to eight wines highlighting a specific theme, region or importer. The wines are paired with cheese and hors d’oeuvres. Panorama’s wine director and sommelier William Eccleston and a guest winemaker lead interactive discussions and sipping. Advance reservations are recommended as the events often sell out. 

Cheap Eats

Restaurant Week (centercityphila.org) continues today through Fri., Sept. 25, with a little break over the weekend. Over 100 city restaurants are offering $20 three-course lunches and $35 three-course dinners (minus tax, alcohol and gratuity). As a sign of the apocalypse, many parking garages are offering discounted parking. Take advantage of both deals! 

Chef David Katz has added a lunch special at Mémé (2201 Spruce St. 215.735.4900) that’s even more down-home than his already rustic menu. On Thursdays, for 11 bucks, David is dishing up two pieces of his crispy, savory fried chicken; fluffy homemade biscuits; a dash of his secret sauce (it’s hot!) and a tall, cool Miller High Life, iced tea or lemonade. Two dollars more will get you two seasonal sides like potato salad or cole slaw. David dreamt up this meal when he thought, simply, “I love fried chicken. Everyone loves fried chicken.” 

The Pita Pit (1601 Sansom St. 215.564.1080. twitter.com/phillypitapit) wants to reward you for all the time you spend Tweeting about what you’re eating. Join Pita Pit on Twitter and get weekly deal alerts for free cookies and drinks, discounted pitas ($3 lunch!) and news about their current artist-in-residence. 

This month, Jose Garces turns the downstairs at Distrito into The Cantina at Distrito (3945 Chestnut St. 215.222.1657. distritorestaurant.com) featuring a new menu with items under $10. Geared toward local students and neighborhood diners who want to grab drinks and snacks rather than a full meal, the menu includes a variety of tacos, 
Mission-style quesadillas, inexpensive margaritas, Mexican beer specials and a new special cocktail menu. Upstairs at Distrito will remain dinner as usual. 


Also on the Garces front, Jose rolled out the premium whiskey barrels with the recent opening of Village Whiskey (114 S. 20th St. 215.665.1088. villagewhiskey.com). Set at the corner of a newly established culinary quarter just off Rittenhouse Square, Village Whiskey features an extensive whiskey collection, speakeasy-era cocktails and Garces’ take on American bar snacks. To soak up the serious booze, diners can order savory housemade cheese puffs, a ground-in-house Angus beef burger with a side of duck fat fries in cheddar sauce, or the very cute and tasty house-cured pickles that come in its own mini Mason jar. 

In October, Midtown Village will have Zavino (112 S. 13th St. 215.732.2400), an Italian pizza kitchen and wine bar headed up by chef-partner Steve Gonzalez and featuring crispy pizzas from the wood-burning oven, seasonal pasta dishes and charcuterie. Zavino will serve until 2 a.m., classing up and paying tribute to the neighborhood’s late-night vibe. 

The villagers in Midtown are also awaiting the next offering from kickass eatery entrepreneurs and all-around cool couple Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney. The ladies are leaning toward Mediterranean and it’s sure to be as fab as their Bindi , Lolita , Grocery and Verde . Special Events

Local food writers Tara Desmond and Joy Manning recently released Almost Meatless , a cookbook encouraging people to eat local and eat healthy without committing to complete vegetarianism. On Sun., Sept. 20, Sean and Kelly Weinberg of Restaurant Alba (7 W. King St., Malvern. 610.644.4009) host a four-course dinner event using local ingredients and recipes from the book. For $65 per person (plus tax and gratuity), diners get the full meal and a signed copy of the book. A wine pairing is available for an additional $25 per person. 

Support the Headhouse Square Farmers Market (Second and Lombard sts. 
headhousemarket.org) by attending A Toast to Pennsylvania Wine, Cheese and Chocolate on Thurs., Oct. 15. The event will feature a dozen local favorites including Chaddsford Winery , Betty’s Tasty Buttons and Birchrun Hills Farm . 

Farmers Markets

Vegan diva Christina Pirello simmers on the demo stage at the City Hall Farmers Market (City Hall Courtyard, farmtocity.org) 
on Wed., Sept. 23, from noon to 1 p.m. This free presentation showcases both the market’s and Christina’s commitments to health and local eating. 

For your last-minute cranberry and sweet potato needs, six Food Trust farmers’ markets (Broad and South sts.; Cliveden Park, Chew Ave. and Johnson St.; East Lancaster, 308 E. King St.; Haddington, 52nd St. and Haverford Ave.; Northern Liberties, Second and Poplar sts.; Schuylkill River Park, 25th and Spruce sts.) will be open the day before Thanksgiving. Markets are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or until vendors sell out. ■

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