Hey ladies and gents, care to see what FPA has been up to this past Spring? We hosted some absolutely amazing events and we hope that you enjoyed them as much as we did. Let’s check out our Spring roundup and you can find more photos on our Flickr page.
This Spring we heard stories about families, fame, inheritance and much much more! Our popular slams culminated in the Summer Grand Slam on May 25 where we crowned Caitlin as the best storyteller in Philly! The Grand Slam was hosted by funny man Doogie Horner and everyone feasted on delicious Sweet Lucy’s BBQ before the slam went down. I don’t know about you, but we had the best time chowin’ down and listening to all the Out of Place stories!
For our Slam Nation event we joined up with PIFA and brought some of the greatest storytellers to the Kimmel Center on April 26! One of our most popular storytellers, R. Eric Thomas, hosted the big show while storytellers such as Elna Baker, Laura Packer, Adam Wade, and Giulia Rozzi delighted us with stories about their “Worldy Possesions!” Big shout outs to all our storytellers, PIFA, and the Kimmel Center! We had a blast, didn’t you?!
Boston v. Philly
On April 15 we headed over to the Free Library and threw the gauntlet down against Boston’s Massmouth storytellers. We heard all about our slammers Experiments and even though Boston storyteller Jim Stahl won the competition with his hilarious story about a homemade rocket and a false eye, Team Philly came out on top overall! The slam featured Philly favorites such as Marla Burkholder, Michael McCarry, Bernardo Morillo, and Michael Minard! I can’t say I’m surprised Philly came out on top with such a stacked team!
At our latest Edible World event we sat down with Chef Gabrielle Hamilton. She’s a writer and James Beard-winning chef of New York City’s Prune and on April 3 she shared her new memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef at Philly’s very own, Pumpkin Restaurant. One of our most delicious events this spring, FPA feasted on brunch prepared by Pumpkin’s Ian Moroney while former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Rick Nichols introduced Chef Hamilton and her journey through kitchens, french creperies and the University of Michigan writing program. Flying Fish Brewing Company provided beer for the brunch and we were all left feeling quite satisfied, if not a little bloated!
Sad you missed out on these events? Don’t worry, we have plenty more for you this summer and at our Festival in the fall! Visit our calendar for upcoming events.
- Laura Reeve
Then check out these pictures from Tuesday’s Edible World Food Tour, Behind the BBQ with Rick Nichols. Thanks to Rick and all of our participating tour stops: Esposito’s Porchetta, 1601, Izumi, Los Taquitos de Puebla, Paesano’s, and Percy Street BBQ.
Find more photos from the tour on our Flickr page.
Last Thursday’s crazy storm cleared just in time for our Edible World: The Spice Necklace event in Chestnut Hill. However, we still moved the event inside the Chestnut Hill Hotel, which offered a respite from the oppressive heat. Things didn’t cool down too much inside, however. At least not once Claudette Campbell’s homemade hot pepper sauce hit the tables, enhancing our doubles and stew chicken with a tangy kick. Luckily, nobody seemed to mind.
Guest author Ann Vanderhoof charmed (and possibly inspired?) our audience with her tale of leaving her life in Toronto behind to sail the Caribbean with her husband, sharing her adventures with homemade “island Viagra” and the mishaps and rewards of catching your own crab dinner. Questions came one after the other as people wanted to know about Ann’s favorite dishes (oildown and buss up shut), what it’s like living in close quarters on the sailboat with her husband (they seem to get along abnormally well!), and how she was able to meet so many people so easily (admiring mangoes was key). We all fell in love with Claudette, the chef behind family-run Calypso, first for her delicious Trinidadian fare and then again when she shared stories about her cooking and background. The phrase of the night? “A little bit of this, a little bit of that,” the mainstay of pretty much all of Claudette’s recipes.
We were joined by special guest Rick Nichols – host of our next Edible World Food Tour in August, Behind the BBQ, and the reason why we discovered Calypso in the first place – who couldn’t turn down another chance to taste Claudette Campbell’s cooking. The meal included doubles; her Tanti Slaw (“coleslaw with a kick,” she says); a beautiful salad of greens, sliced avocado and cherry tomatoes; stew chicken (my personal favorite); fried plantains; peas and rice; veggies; and her special pound cake, ever so subtly imbued with fresh lime. Claudette doesn’t over spice her food on purpose, but if you like a bit of heat then her hot pepper sauce will be your new best friend. If you haven’t already enjoyed Claudette’s food, head to Calypso immediately (Chestnut Hill Farmers Market, 8229 Germantown Ave). Tell her that First Person Arts sent you.
Photos clockwise: Claudette Campbell, Ann Vanderhoof, a tray full of doubles. All by Mia Aronson.
Today resident foodie Mia Aronson (once a pastry cook at Le Bec Fin before entering the world of Razorfish) gives us an inside look at next week’s Edible World menu and shares another recipe from Ann Vanderhoof’s memoir, The Spice Necklace. Check out Mia’s last adventure in Caribbean food here.
Ann Vanderhoof passes on some Trini (Trinidadian) wisdom in her book, The Spice Necklace: My Adventures in Caribbean Cooking, Eating, and Island Life- “Cold water, slight jelly coconut, and doubles will fix anything.”
Whether or not you’ve got something ailing you, a taste of Calypso’s doubles (tender fried dough around a savory chickpea filling with a healthy dash of homemade hot sauce) is worth a trip to the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market. At the next next Edible World you can meet Vanderhoof, hear about her travels, and eat a fabulous dinner from Calypso that starts off with… you guessed it… doubles.
While reading The Spice Necklace the Tassa Chicken recipe caught my eye but seemed too time consuming for a weeknight meal. A couple quick revisions solved that problem and made this one pot dish a great addition to my regular rotation. This is a flavorful, spicy curry with a touch of sweetness from raisins and mango chutney. If you’d like to follow my shortcuts and have your meal on the table in under an hour, substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the chicken pieces, which cuts the cooking time by 10-15 minutes, and season the chicken early in the day and leave it in the fridge. I wasn’t able to easily locate West Indian curry powder, but the regular curry powder I had on hand tasted pretty good!
4 bone-in chicken quarters (about 3 lbs)
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp West Indian curry powder
2 onions, cut in eighths
4 medium tomatoes, cut in eighths
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp raisins
1/2 cup whole peanuts
1/2 cup sweet mango chutney
1 tbsp tomato paste
1. Cut the chicken into pieces at the joints, and season with the garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside for at least 1 hour.
2. Heat the oil in a large pot, add the curry and cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring to avoid burning.
3. Add the chicken pieces, and stir well to coat them with the curry mixture.
4. Add the onions, tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 50 minutes until chicken is tender and sauce has thickened.
5. Stir in raisins, nuts, chutney and tomato paste; cook for a couple minutes more to blend flavors and heat through.
Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.
- Mia Aronson
Claudette Campbell (pictured) is preparing an awesome meal for June 24th’s Edible World: The Spice Necklace. Imagine sitting outside of the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market, enjoying stew chicken and pound cake while guest author Ann Vanderhoof reads about Caribbean treats and travels from her upcoming memoir, The Spice Necklace. Sounds like a sweet summer night to me!
We just got the menu from Chef Campbell and here’s the scoop…
Appetizer – “Doubles” (“Spiced chick peas inside two pieces of a bread like thing – it’s delicious,” says FPA volunteer and resident foodie Mia Aronson.)
Entree and sides- Stew Chicken with peas and rice, fried plantains and a tossed green salad
Dessert – Pound cake
Drink – Strawberry Mango lemonade with fresh cut-up fruit.
In yesterday’s New York Times, Alida Becker reviewed Vanderhoof’s upcoming book and made one criticism, “Vanderhoof’s curiosity about the food and (lots of) drink on the islands is appropriately all-consuming, but attempting to retain even a fraction of the information she uncovers about sapodillas, nutmeg, sorrel, passion fruit, conch and the seemingly endless array of other Caribbean edibles can be a dizzying experience. Try too hard and you may collapse with something resembling the buzz from Jah Daniel, the moonshine she tracks down in Dominica, ‘flavored with a generous fistful of ganja.’” Luckily, at Edible World: The Spice Necklace, you’ll get some help courtesy of Vanderhoof herself and Chef Campbell’s cooking.
Jah Daniel’s buzz not included. Sorry about that.
Photo by Mia Aronson.
Guest blogger and new First Person Arts volunteer Mia Aronson has an eclectic past: after years working as a pastry cook at Le Bec Fin, she moved into finance and operations with Razorfish. She’s bringing her foodie experience to the First Person blog where she’ll be trying out Caribbean-inspired recipes from upcoming Edible World guest author, Ann Vanderhoof. First up? A sweet and sour summer drink ideal for a sweltering day like today. I could go for one right about now myself (though I would probably add a splash of vodka to mine!). Salud! – Karina
Philly’s hot and humid Memorial Day weather was the perfect reason to test out a refreshing drink from Ann Vanderhoof’s soon to be released memoir, The Spice Necklace. The book is about Vanderhoof’s travels around the Caribbean with her husband on a 42-foot sailboat, with frequent stops to eat and learn about delicious local food and drink.
I am a huge fan of lemon and lime drinks. Margaritas, Mojitos, the lemonade from Nam Phuong in South Philly, Schweppe’s bitter lemon — I love them all. So it seemed a natural first choice to try Vanderhoof’s recipe for LLB (Lemon Lime Bitters), a drink she describes as “reminiscent of a lemon-lime soda, but with an adult edge…”.
The most difficult part about making the drink was finding the bitters. Rick Nichols wrote about the 2009-2010 shortage of Angostura bitters in his Inquirer column in March of this year. I’m not sure if the shortage is still going on, but I had to go to three PA Wine and Spirits stores to find it. After finally tracking down the bitters, the rest of the drink was easy. Whip up some lemonade, squeeze some lime, add the bitters, and stir up a cold, thirst quenching drink that will be my citrus beverage of choice for the rest of the summer.
A few food equipment and ingredient tips. The citrus presses pictured here are part of my “must have” cooking gear. I even cart the lime squeezer around in my suitcase if I’m headed for the beach. Nothing beats fresh squeezed citrus, and these are easy to use and get all the juice out. Pop half a lemon or lime in the press, cut side down, and squeeze the handles to get every last drop. They are available at pretty much any store that sells cooking supplies. I’ve been using organic agave nectar (a steal at Costco when they have it in stock) to sweeten my lemonade lately, but you can also use sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil then cooled) or plain sugar in a pinch. And if you want to save some time, I imagine that no one would be the wiser if you used a good quality store bought lemonade and a squeeze of fresh lime.
Do-It-Yourself LLB (Lemon Lime Bitters)
10 – 12 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
2 cups lemonade
1 cup soda water (club soda)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 slices of lemon or lime (for garnish)
1. Shake the bitters onto the insides of two tall glasses.
2. Add ice and swirl until the glasses are evenly coated.
3. Add half the lemonade, soda water and lime juice to each glass. Stir and garnish with lemon or lime.
Makes 2 tall drinks.
Want to learn more about Ann Vanderhoof’s travels and recipes? Come meet her in person at Edible World: The Spice Necklace on June 24 at 6pm at the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market. Tickets are $35 and include a meal from Calypso.
- Mia Aronson
How far have you traveled to get an obscure culinary specialty? How much trouble did you get into? And was it worth it? We all know that even a trip for a cheesesteak to Pat or Geno’s can provide an excellent story.
Ann Vanderhoof – guest author of our June event Edible World: The Spice Necklace – had dozens of food adventures as she sailed the Caribbean, plucking fresh nutmeg, eating oregano-infused goat straight off the farm and tracking down the best moonshine the islands had to offer from underground stills. Now, we want to hear YOUR “Foodie on the Road” adventures!
Edible World: The Spice Necklace is June 24 and we’ll be showcasing your stories on the First Person blog in the weeks prior to the event. Just send them to me at kkacala[at]firstpersonarts[dot]org and definitely include a photo!
Then, come hear Ann’s tales live and enjoy a meal of roti, pelau, curry chicken and more from Rick Nichols’ fave Calypso at Edible World: The Spice Necklace! Get your tickets here!
I might have to write about the just caught and freshly fried fish I enjoyed in Lebanon… or maybe the first time I ever had pizza with an egg on it in Italy… or my road trip down south a couple years ago when some of the best fried chicken and cornbread passed my lips. So much good food out there. I can’t wait to be driven to hunger by your stories!
Before this weekend’s Edible World: Sunday Supper and Family Lore, meet our guest author, Suzan Colón!
Over the last few years we have all been so concerned with getting through this recession that it has been difficult to reflect on the many ways it has affected our lives. My home state of Michigan has seen unemployment more then double over the last two years. Though reading this grim statistic could lead me to think otherwise, not all of the recent changes have been negative. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported a rise in the volunteer rate among people with full time employment, and community colleges surveyed by the American Association of Community Colleges reported a rise in enrollment last year from 2% to 27%.
Many people are dealing with their job loss by reinventing themselves professionally. They face the hard times head on by “putting up soup”, the motto of author Suzan Colón’s charismatic grandmother. I recently spoke to Ms. Colón about her book Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times and about the changes she has made since being laid off from her dream job at a magazine in 2008. Prior to our conversation, I did not exactly lack for hope that the stories I had heard of personal reinvention were true, but it was inspiring to speak with someone who so clearly has embraced the changes in her life brought about by the recession.
Suzan told me that there are two types of challenges, those you take on by choice and those plopped in your lap, which you then have no choice but to take on. Suzan stated that she knew getting laid off was a possibility, and this knowledge gave her a chance to plan for such an outcome. She said that accepting her position was a large part of moving forward, and that it gave her the resilience to deal with the challenges and explore opportunities presented by her new situation.
Our conversation led me to consider how in my own life I am often been dragged towards change, usually by forces beyond my control, kicking and screaming. I seem to willfully forget each time the surprising discoveries I make when walking into a foreign situation. I asked Suzan if she was able to find unexpected pleasures in her life resulting from her job loss and she unhesitatingly replied, yes, cooking. Suzan’s family tree is overflowing with chefs, but she never found the time to learn how to cook. An overbooked schedule led Suzan, like many of us, to resort to eating out for most of her meals.
Shortly after being laid off, Suzan, at her mother’s urging, rediscovered her nana’s recipe folder, tucked away in a cardboard box in the basement. The next few months were spent testing these family recipes on her husband, who she sympathetically claimed was at her mercy, and then documenting the experience. Suzan immersed herself within this new life and emerged after a few months with a wonderful book, Cherries in Winter, and a much better chef. She claims that the culinary breakthrough finally came when she prepared her grandfather’s specialty, Chicken Pie à la Mississippi. Upon tasting the first bite, Suzan’s husband exclaimed rapturously, “This is the best thing you have ever made.”
As someone whose passion for family history is paralleled only by a love of food, I find Suzan’s journey through her family’s recipe book undeniably absorbing. Cherries in Winter generously shares this journey with readers, and makes me long for a Sunday supper around her family’s table. I asked Suzan for a preview of what such a supper would have been like, and she said that her grandfather would have made a simple, well-prepared meal of potatoes and corned beef. The scene would have been a raucous one, with everyone gathered around the table laughing hysterically.
This Sunday, First Person Arts is inviting visitors to more intimately experience a meal with Suzan Colón at our event Edible World: Sunday Supper and Family Lore. Suzan will join us for dinner at Bridget Foy’s restaurant; she will be reading excerpts from Cherries in Winter as guests enjoy a special menu based on her family recipes.
Speaking with Suzan and hearing her stories has encouraged me to look at the ways the recession impacted my own life. I recently returned to school with the hope gaining new direction, and searching through boxes in my family’s own basement resulted in the discovery of old text books from my fathers attempt at professional reinvention during the recession of the 1970’s. Dealing with challenges becomes an exercise in expansive thinking. This Sunday, I will enjoy listening to Suzan share a book that succeeds not because it offers readers an escape from the current economic crisis, but rather because it suggests that there is a possibility of accepting it and responding to it.
- Sarah Crawford
This Sunday, April 11th, Bridget Foy’s will be creating a special 3-course menu for Sunday Supper and Family Lore, based on our guest author Suzan Colón’s family recipes. Plus, all diners get a complimentary glass of wine! At $35 ($30 for members), it’s a better deal than Restaurant Week!
Course 1: Split Pea Soup with grilled ham and frizzled leeks
Course 2: Cadillac Meatloaf with bacon, mashed potatoes, and asparagus with Crimini mushroom gravy
Course 3: Apple Cake with spiced pecans and nutmeg whipped cream
For vegetarians, they are offering Tomato Fennel Soup and Eggplant Napoleon with provolone, broccoli rabe, and roasted peppers in a marinara sauce.
Buy your tickets today! (Advance reservations are strongly recommended as only a few tickets will be available at the door.)
In anticipation of our April 11th Edible World event, Sunday Supper and Family Lore, the First Person Blog will feature the stories and family recipes of Philly food personalities in the Family Recipe Series. Click here to see our other foodie recipes.
Felicia D’Ambrosio is a part of the Meal Ticket team, the elite food blog at City Paper. For First Person Arts, she shares a longstanding family recipe (and her mother’s lust for danger!). What I love best about this post is that Felicia and her mom got together and made a batch of boilo, this highly alcoholic, citrus and spice drink, specially for the piece. It doesn’t sound like it was such a trial though. As her mother describes it, “Just a lovely mother-daughter afternoon making hooch!”
Boilo, The Coal Miner’s Cure-All
More than just its throat-soothing, influenza-defeating properties, what my mother likes best about Boilo is the danger. “I found an article that said making Boilo was the number-one cause of house fires in the anthracite-coal regions of Pennsylvania in the thirties,” she practically bubbles. A simple mixture of oranges, lemons, ginger ale, honey, cinnamon and caraway hit with eye-watering amounts of moonshine (we used Everclear grain alcohol, lacking a still of our own), Boilo is akin to a hot toddy on steroids.
Intuitive cook that she was, my great-grandmother made her Boilo without a recipe. It was up to my great-aunt Joan to write to her second cousin Joseph Ciokajlo for more information. Joseph passed along a recipe he’d gleaned from a New Philadelphia grandmother that does use lemons – an exotic item in Depression-era Mt. Carmel – but none of the fancy spices my mother finds so unlikely. Despite the name, no boiling happens, as that would evaporate away the microbe-killing booze. As for the danger element, I heartily recommend keeping this project far from open flames, as Everclear or any high-proof alcohol is extremely flammable. Pouring the booze carefully into the pot, my mother looks positively giddy. “Just a lovely mother-daughter afternoon making hooch!” she exclaims, then adds her second-favorite quote from her stash of Boilo lore. “At this point in the recipe, the Boilo may explode.”
Nazdrowie to that.
- Felicia D’Ambrosio (Felicia.DAmbrosio@citypaper.net)
(from “a New Philadelphia grandmother”, as written by Joseph Ciokajlo in a 2003 letter to Joan Wright, née Ciokajlo, adapted by Felicia D’Ambrosio and Catherine Giacobbe)
1 Liter bottle good-quality ginger ale
1 heaping tsp. caraway seeds
6 sticks cinnamon
1.5 quarts honey (local preferred)
1 gallon Everclear or 100-proof whiskey (Four Queens suggested in original recipe)
Equipment: 2 big pots, one with tight-fitting lid; cheesecloth, juicer/reamer, colander, funnel, clean dishwashing gloves
Halve and juice all of the oranges and lemons into the stockpot that has a lid. Throw the rhines (sic) into the pot, along with all of the juice, pulp and seeds. Solids will be strained out later in the process.
Place the stockpot over medium heat and add the liter of ginger ale, caraway seeds and cinnamon sticks. Pour in all of the honey.
Allow the mixture to come to a simmer – when it foams, give it a good stir. Cover pot with lid and turn the heat down to medium-low; allow mixture to cook at a bare simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
Place a colander in the second large pot. Pour the hot juice-honey mixture through the colander to strain out the big pieces.
Wearing the dishwashing gloves and working carefully (the rinds are very hot), squeeze all of the pulp and liquid out of the rinds through the colander. Discard eviscerated rinds and rinse the colander.
Move the colander over the original pot and line it with cheesecloth. Pour the mixture through the cheesecloth to catch any remaining solid bits or seeds. You may need to scrape the cheesecloth with a wooden spoon to press the liquid through. Gather the cheesecloth around the remaining solids and squeeze hard. Discard solids in cheesecloth, and return the strained mixture to low heat.
Here is the dangerous bit: Working carefully so as not to splash (Everclear is extremely flammable and cannot come into contact with open flames), pour the gallon of grain alcohol into the pot. Despite the name, DO NOT BOIL.
Warm the mixture through gently for just a few minutes and then remove from heat. Using a ladle and funnel, decant the Boilo back into the gallon Everclear jug.
Stopper the jug and store in the pantry, or use it to fill smaller glass bottles or jars for gift giving.
Serve Boilo warm by placing the jar in a gently simmering pan of water with the lid off; the water should come three-quarters of the way up the jar. Remove from the pan with tongs and serve straight up in shot glasses.