As Old Man Winter’s icy hands strangle the last bit of life left from a greenhouse-gas warmed autumn, our extended growing season comes to an end. If you listen closely you can hear foodies faintly weeping over the last of their local, organic, humanely raised vegetables. Well, fear not food fans, for many of our city’s chefs have made like the ant rather than the grasshopper and preserved some of the best produce for the winter stretch so you don’t have to. And most are worth braving the cold for.
If You’re a Winner
The newest Iron Chef’s latest spot, Village Whiskey (114 S. 20th St. 215.665.1088), has some of the best pickles in the city. Choices like cipollini onions and white anchovies, truffle lemon artichokes and local red and golden beets are served in glass canisters and accompanied by black olive tapenade, whipped ricotta and toasted sourdough drizzled with olive oil. They’re truly a champion pickle purveyor. P X
If You’re Old School
During World War II, Alberto Vargas got many GIs’ engines going like a P-51 Mustang with his pin-up girl paintings. Varga Bar (941 Spruce St. 215.627.5200), named in his honor, has renditions of his famous work on its walls, a ton of craft beer on draft and a tasty batch of mixed vegetable pickles on the menu including red peppers, cucumber, onions, capers and, our favorite, beets. B
If You’re Born Again
The properly named Resurrection Ale House (2425 Grays Ferry Ave. 215.735.2202 ) rose from the ashes of a derelict building to become much like the rest of the Graduate Hospital neighborhood it sits in—an excellent example of Philly’s urban renewal. There’s a lot a great food and drink to have here, but we suggest a Belgian sour and a plate of their pickles that on last visit were dill cucumber, sweet bread and butter, kobocha (Japanese pumpkin) and carrot served in shot glasses. P B
If You’re Mixed Up
The name of the newly retooled Meritage (500 S. 20th St. 215. 985.1922) is borrowed from the American name for the traditional Bordeaux grape varietal blend. The menu under the guidance of new chef Anne Coll blends Eastern flavors with Western sensibilities. On her snack menu, Chef Coll delivers with a sour yet sweet pickled vegetable plate made up of the expected carrot, cauliflower, small onion and the unexpected okra and daikon radish. W
If You Want the Real Deal
We’ve written these guys up before for the alchemy-like magic they exude over all things pickle but it would be a shame if that stopped us from mentioning them again. AJ Pickle Patch (12th and Arch sts. readingterminalmarket.com) should be considered a metropolitan treasure. Their crisp green tomatoes, cucumbers three ways and sweet beets make us wish we’d grown up Mennonite. T
If You’re Into Technology
With the rapid degradation of written communication in modern society, we at Field Guide believe that food reviews will soon evolve into simple, straight-forward text message shorthand. So we thought we might be one of the first in our medium to embrace that inevitability with our review of the pickled vegetables at MidAtlantic (3711 Market St. 215.386.3711): WTF. Need more? The turnips were rock hard, the cucumbers were astringent and the mushrooms were as flaccid as Bob Dole before Viagra. B
Wine with Mexican Food? Sí!