Waterways of North Carolina

Unlike TN, North Carolina has boat technology.

The not entirely fake state of affairs in North Carolina.

Borders

North Carolina is a southeastern state on the coast of the United States. North Carolina or North Cackalacky to the exceptionally red of neck, rests lazily on top of perennially inferior South Carolina.

Angel Oak Charleston, South Carolina

This oak gives great tree, in Charleston, SC.

In regards to South Carolina BBQ, seriously South Carolina, mustard in the BBQ sauce? Really? There are far superior BBQ sauce ingredients readily handy like ground up glass or Al Roker ass juice. Secondly, football, South Carolina’s University Clemson suffers from the disillusion that they’re better at football just because their roided out felon buff shrines to HGH of a football team at Clemson beats NC teams ninety five percent of the time. Never mind that a degree from Clemson is not even worth the paper it’s printed on. Unless it’s swimming pool management, Clemson has an exceptional SPM program.

Clemson’s proud football alumni also have the unique distinction of most graduates who have previously graduated from shiv making at state pen. If they’re so good at football, where’s the pro team? Once again North Carolina proves it’s on top. In much touted made up studies, 9 out of 10 scientists agree that north is on top of south and the one who disagrees, has a degree from Clemson. Further evidence that South Carolina actually prefers being on the bottom is South Carolina’s Senator Lindsey Graham’s confirmed bachelor “accent.”

Atlanta Sky Line

Heart or rectum of the south?

Georgia also borders North Carolina’s southern edge in a universally understood subservient manner. North Carolina has not been on talking terms with Georgia as any state with cities so easily burned to the ground can never be trusted. Sorry Georgia you’re the weak link of the south. Just ask Wisconsin, they haven’t talked to Illinois since Bartman’s cow kicked over the lamp that burned the city of Chicago down and distracted the Cubs from winning the pendant, again. Sorry Illinois, you’re the weak link of the north.

Tennessee

Elvis has left the building.

To North Carolina’s west is Tennessee. Known as the road to Nashville, that’s exactly what it was until Elvis famously took too many shrooms and had Memphis built for his amusement. For seven absinthe filled days Elvis and a developer, attempted to recreate Disney’s It’s a Small World Ride, with a soundtrack stolen from black people, the result was Memphis. This demented little project came in over a million dollars over budget and three months past the deadline as it took two months just to hose all the vomit off of the sidewalks.

On the Northern border of North Carolina lays Virginia. Virginia is for lovers, is their state motto, which makes this uninhabitable hell hole sound a lot more livable than it really is. With an average low temp in the 20’s in the winter and average humidity laced highs of 86 degrees in the summer, their climate is best described as unlivable.

Known also as the president state because 8 presidents have come from Virginia, this phenomenon is really just evidence of how unlivable Virginia is. Essentially no one can afford to live in Washington DC, but Virginia’s stark dystopian hell-scape makes real estate affordable. Would you want to live in a neighborhood populated entirely by politicians? I know I wouldn’t, but really I would. That was my impersonation of a politician.

Population

North Carolina can be divided into 3 distinct regions. Charlotte is the most populous, the 9th most populous city in the country and 2nd only to New York in the size of banking centers in the U.S. The Research Triangle Park or RTP is in central North Carolina and includes the capitol Raleigh, home of Duke, in Durham and Chapel Hill home of UNC. Outside Charlotte and The RTP the populace is diverse as a bowl of vanilla ice cream with no toppings and 85% of the residents speak Donald Trump in the home.

Wicked Weed Brewery Asheville, North Carolina

Wicked Weed 145% ABV, Quadruple IPA, subtle hints of oak and malt with undertones of pretentious, caramel, douchebaggery.

Exports

Pork is one export of North Carolina, like Iowa, only interesting and with fewer ethanol subsidies. Tobacco is the biggest export of North Carolina, because smoking makes you look cool. With all that smoking going on North Carolina knows the most appropriate accompaniment to smoking is drinking. With somewhere between 70-80 permitted breweries, North Carolina is taking care of all your smoking and drinking needs.

Not to mention the Moonshine. Driving in a circle really fast is the end result of North Carolina’s moonshine culture. When the federal government started taxing alcohol, ungovernable Scottish, Irish, and Scotch-Irish settlers ran to the Appalachian Mountains. Once there they hid amongst the trees, distilled alcohol and made out with their attractive cousins. Live in the woods, getting drunk and not paying taxes… Those people were heroes, except um, of course, the inbreeding thing.

Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do ya’ do? Central North Carolina is also home to the Triangle Research Park. Originally the RTP was created as a partnership between Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill and NC State as an opportunity to give NC state students a chance to comingle with students who have money. The RTP is now one of the biggest tech hubs in the United States and exports 100,000 unemployable, tattooed and bearded hipster baristas with butt hurt distorted world views and gender studies majors throughout the country every year.

Climate

Like Virginia the climate of North Carolina is nearly intolerable. With ball sweat crushing humidity and median temperatures in the high eighties in the summer. Not to be outdone winter is nipple hardening cold in the winter at least until late afternoon when it will reaches 50 degrees again. Think you’ll enjoy that when you get done with work for the day? Hahaha you’re fucked, by the time it’s 5 PM, it is dick shrinking cold again.

There are seven different microclimates in North Carolina, unlivable, humid as ass, mountaintop cold as fuck, a hurricane just stole your baby, I can’t see shit in these valleys, my shoe melted onto the blacktop and I stepped outside and now I got a Jew fro. North Carolina also enjoys the distinction of the only climate so effed up that it’s the only place in the world where the carnivorous plant, the Venus Fly Trap grows.

Food

North Carolina produces terrifying and disgusting food, not found in the rest of the United States. Sweet potatoes, collard greens, turnip greens, okra, butterbeans and the wickedest food in the world, kale are all produced in North Carolina. To make all of these horrifying foods edible, North Carolinians add pork, to everything. In some communities, people still eat pickled pigs feet. Likely, to confound white people.

Pork Butt

You’ve never had fake cheese on smoked pork? For shame.

As you are now aware pigs are a thriving factor in Carolina, from production, to farming, processing, to sales, North Carolina leaves BBQ beef to other states. North Carolinians know it’s only BBQ if it’s pig. Whole hog or pork shoulder depending on the part of the state you live in. A contentious subject in North Carolina, BBQ has torn more families apart than a Trump candidacy.

In the east where the pork is most prevalent BBQ is defined as smoked pork topped with vinegar, taste, is the pork still edible? If so add more vinegar. Soon the stench of vinegar assaults your sinuses and puckers your face until you have to your lips surgically removed from your tonsils, congratulations, you’ve just made eastern NC BBQ.

Outer Banks Eastern North Carolina

Outer Banks NC surf culture with a southern accent.

On the western front North Carolina BBQ is a pig of a different color. Once again this Q is smoked pork, but Lexington style Q as western NC Q is called has vinegar in the sauce, but it is mixed with, tomatoes, tomato paste, or ketchup. This little additional sweetness brings the vinegar in check and offers a more balanced approach to Q. You know like they do in almost every other notable & not so notable BBQ states across the nation. If not the world. Notice, that North Carolina doesn’t use mustard in the Q like South Carolina does, because although they might like BBQ to pucker your face like unsweetened lemonade, North Carolinians are not insane.

Mountains of Western North Carolina

That’s why they call ’em smoky. No it’s not Denver.

Immigration

Rural and inner city North Carolina have very little in common until you mention cheap labor. Looking for a produce picker, or back of house service industry employee who doesn’t speak Spanish in the home? This would prove to be futile, like Diogenes of Sinope hopelessly wandering the earth looking for an honest man.

Totally, not made up fact: in some rural NC counties, as much as 50% of the population speaks Spanish in the home.  Yet we both know that is not the result of a bilingual public education. Does this contradict what I said earlier about rural NC is as diverse as vanilla ice cream…. Blah, blah, blah? Yes of course it does, I told ya’ this is my impersonation of a politician. Now I’ll tell ya’ that green is blue and water isn’t wet.

The nutshell

So educated readers, that was my comprehensive, if not entirely true state of affairs in the state of North Carolina. Stay tuned for more made up states when we write about the Soviet People’s Republic of Massachusetts. Until then there will be more food and fun in Chapel Hill we’re eating not quite Asian when we go to Jujube, thanks for reading and may the odds be ever in your flavor. –Pot and Pan Handler

 

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Carolina's Phoenix, Arizona

Carolina’s the taste of industrial.

Welcome worldly readers, to the Pot & Pan Handler’s obscure blog Carolina’s edition. Carolina’s is Phoenix Arizona’s quintessential taco dive or taco divine, at least from our point of view. Handmade tortillas put this restaurant on Phoenix’s map, but only for locals in the know, because Carolina’s is off the beaten path. We not only found Carolina’s but we ate the shit out of it, and can’t wait to do it again. Here’s how we got there…

Since my parents knew we would be in Phoenix for a few days, they asked their neighbor Louis. Oops, excuse me for a minute. (Hey, Louis, sorry if I’m spelling your name wrong, the subject never came up yo). Louis, is a Phoenix native, my parents rightly figured he would have a finger on the pulse of Arizona cuisine. He told us to go to Lolo’s, it was good. He also told us to go to Carolina’s, it was great. http://www.carolinasmex.com/

The intersection of out of and the way

Out of the way, or in an industrial area, are pretty polite ways of saying, Carolina’s is in the hood. There’s a reason there are bars on the windows, right? But, don’t let that stop you from going, if there is anyplace worth putting away your Purell sanitized, pristine, touristy sensibilities, Carolina’s is it.

Some say the religion of BBQ (in the south, BBQ is a religion, often contentiously so) was the first to integrate. Carolina’s is like that. Everybody eats there; you’ll see custom tailored, Wall Street power suits, construction dudes, cops, doctors, rappers, men, women, gay, straight, white, black, brown, taco bell employees, super heroes, and Manuel while there. Yeah, that’s right, Manuel… Everybody.

Carolina's hand made tortillas Phoenix, Arizona

Menudo. Nothing says legit Mexican like tripe.

House paint and cinderblocks

Inside and out Carolina’s is minimalist. Not minimalist in a hipster, linear, modern, Danish, juxtaposition of form and function approach. Instead Carolina’s minimalist manner is a means to an end, just enough to get the job done. There is nothing fancy here. The staff is minimally aware of your existence. They are a humming machine of industry. You are just another cog in the wheel of efficiency and you are expected to order as such. Order the Machaca tacos, quickly and get the fuck out of the way, serve yourself from the fountain soda machine and grab a bunch of napkins you’re going to need them. Don’t forget the hot sauce either; it’s as delicious as the tacos themselves.

What’s that fickle reader?  Reconstituted, dried, Mexican spiced meats aren’t your thing? Fortunately Carolina’s serves chicken tacos too, on the same banging, handmade tortillas. What’s that, dear reader? Are the chicken tacos on banging house made tortillas as good? We’ll possibly never know. The machaca tacos are the pinnacle of taco supremacy. I would vote for them as president if possible. Especially this year. If you go, don’t even ask; Carolina’s doesn’t have a cruelty free, organic, free range, locally sourced soy, tofu, vegan, faux meat equivalent. Try to order something like this and they’ll look at you like you are a stupid dick and rightfully so.

Carolina's Interior Phoenix, Arizona

Luckily you can’t taste the interior.

Meanwhile at Carolina’s

They call my name and with resolute indifference I’m handed hinged foam containers. We retire to a table in the sparsely decorated dining room. The screamingly yellow walls wail, one of the few times I can remember hearing a color. We open our containers and find perplexingly perspiring machaca tacos. When you lift these tacos, they drip, drip, drip a continuous rivulet. At first I find this unsettling, it continues to drip and laughs at my discomfort.

Drippy Machaca Tacos on Banging House Made Tortillas

Drip, drip, drip.

Once picked up Carolina’s tacos are an exercise in commitment, as putting it back down would result in it getting all wet again. The incessant dripping continues and there is now a pool in the hinged foam container. No worries, reader. Once you’ve tried the machaca taco, you don’t want to put it down anyway. The tortillas are light, airy and put the grocery store equivalent to shame. The slightly spicy beef, is juicy with reconstituted beef juice and various terrifying Mexican spices, and the crisp lettuce brings a fresh crunch to the lunch equation. Well worth the out of the way drive.

Machaca Tacos @ Carolina's Phoenix, Arizona

Machaca tacos on banging house made tortillas.

We devoured 1, 2, 3… 4 machaca tacos, each one dripping a full flavored broth and their delicious house made hot sauce. When the tacos were gone, I held the hinged container by the corner, let the delicious machaca perspiration pool in the opposite corner, and ate the shit out of it with a spoon. Yum. Served with better than average industry standard, unmemorable sides of rice and refried beans. Carolina’s is a machaca mecca, nothing fancy, but it don’t have to be fancy to taste good and Carolina’s drippy flavor perspiration tacos on banging house made tortillas taste pretty fricking good.

Machaca tacos on hand made tortillas @ Carolina's Phoenix, Arizona

Rice & refried the industry standard. Yay cheese.

Coming soon: we’re back home and we get not quite Asian at Chapel Hill’s Jujube, Asian food with southern ingredients, we’ll see ya’ there. May the odds be ever in your flavor- The Pot and Pan Handler

Five Napkin Lunch @ Carolina's Phoenix, Arizona

A five napkin lunch & empty hot sauce. A solid life decision.

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Lolo's Scottsdale, Arizona

They had us at chicken.

Lolo’s Chicken & Waffles, because, chicken & waffles.

Welcome hungry readers to the Pot & Pan Handler’s ineligible blog edition: Lolo’s. Phoenix, Arizona’s answer to the question everyone asks, where do you get chicken and waffles? You can’t be in the Southwest without simultaneously occupying the American South and the American South knows fried chicken and waffles. Leave it to the South to find a way to make waffles worse for you, albeit with delicious results, oh well, when in Rome. http://loloschickenandwaffles.com/

Welcome to Lolo’s, P.S. you’re late.

An Arizonian, made us aware of Lolo’s, after which we scoured the intertubes with our google hats on and found a location and time that suited us for chicken & waffles at Lolo’s. Ha Ha! Upon arrival the joke is on us, underneath the painted hours, was a cardboard sign taped to the glass in the door. The hand scrawled marker read: Our website tricked you bitches, now piss off, ya’ shites. But somehow they word it more appropriately, New Summer Hours, We Regret Any Inconvenience. Bullshit. The leering staff makes it abundantly clear, they not only don’t regret, but actually relish any inconvenience.

What'cha Taco'n about Willis

Fuck, we’re old.

What’cha Taco’in About Willis.

We went and got tacos, because tacos are fuckin’ good, especially when there’s a salsa bar, various pickled vegetables and roasted fresh jalapenos. That’s what we found at Taco’s Jalisco, however, dear readers, that is a different post.

L-O-L-O, Lo-lo’s take 2

We went back to Lolo’s the next day for lunch, hoping those bitches wouldn’t change the hours again as soon as they see us pull up. The joke’s on them. Our bland rental car from Tight Sphincter Car Rentals is so unassuming they never see us coming and they have no time to change their hours before we enter. Clean modern lines, with the appropriate amount of reclaimed barn wood, or at least something that looks like it and markets well with focus groups. A glaring sign inside says Lolo’s just in case you’ve forgotten where you just entered. Or perhaps they’ll soon put up another cardboard sign that reads, New Summer Name, We Regret Any Inconvenience.

Lolo's Phoenix, Arizona

Didja’ remember?

We’re quickly led to our seats and served iced tea in Mason Jars, because, that’s easier than personally calling each and every patron a biscuit head, cousin humper. In fact they even serve… Kool-Aid, again in Mason Jars. It seems to me reminiscing about drinking Kool-Aid from an old jar, is counterintuitive. Instead of celebrating the past, celebrate the now, when you can afford something that’s not Kool-Aid in a jar. However, who are we to judge. We acknowledge we are biscuit heads, and start sipping from a jar.  Because however corporate this place is they still have a full bar, with beers on tap, sipping on a mason jar suddenly seems perfectly plausible.

Lolo's Mason Jars, Phoenix, Arizona

I wonder what my attractive cousin is up to.

Chicken & Waffles

We order Lolo’s chicken and waffles, after all that’s what they’re known for. Though we do get a salad as well, because nutritional content. As much as you can’t make friends with salad, you can’t live on waffles & fried chicken alone. Well, you can, I suppose, as long as you supplement it with copious amounts of nutritional Red #4 found in Kool-Aid.

Shortly our food arrives and it’s suitably American, easily enough food for 4 people, a value, some would say. The chicken is a revelation, the exterior is crispy, yet tears away easily in heavenly crisp, bites, the interior a cloud saturated with flavor. Y’know, competent fried chicken, when it’s right, it’s always good. Lolo’s does it right.

Lolo's Chicken & Waffles, Phoenix, Arizona

If fried chicken is on the same table as a salad it qualifies as health food.

Waffles; in Kenny Shopsin’s book Eat Me he refers to pancakes as hoe cakes. Claiming they’re slutty, as they taste fuckin’ great, but offer no nutritional value, therefore pancakes are inherently bad for you. I don’t know if Lolo’s read this memoir but, their waffles remind me of this claim. These waffles are textbook we’ve definitely had better, but these waffles remind us of most waffles we’ve ever had, outside a couple of amazing outliers. Think Ihop, Waffle House or Perkins, these waffles are good, mostly because you don’t have to make them, that and syrup.

Speaking of syrup; here’s Lolo’s faux pas, pancake syrup. Lolo’s chooses to eschew the industry standard maple syrup in favor of high fructose corn syrup, caramel colored predator drones of “pancake syrup.” However, Lolo’s also includes something soooo tasty, we can overlook this minor flaw, in anticipation of, wait for it… JALAPENO BUTTER! Smooth, spicy, delectably creamy and worth overlooking the slovenly, overlooked flaw of no maple syrup. Barely.

Jalapeno Butter, Lolo's, Phoenix, Arizona

Butter will never be the same.

That of which, will win you no friends.

Then there was the matter of Lolo’s salad. In so many of these corporate family restaurants with, the salads are oft overlooked. Limp lettuce served with a quartered, walk-in ripened, sliced 2 days ago, sad, tasteless tomato, maybe a couple of indifferent red onion slices. Don’t forget the obligatory cuke slice, and factory made crouton. Lolo’s don’t play that game.

The salad we got was refreshing, a spring salad of field greens, goat cheese, strawberries, candied walnuts and grilled chicken breast. Okay it’s not a menu shattering dynamic feat of gastronomy, but it is a little sweet, a little sour, a little bitter, a little creamy, with a crispy textural counterpoint, and competently cooked chicken. When you’re talking salad, this is a perfectly serviceable combination and we enjoyed it as such.

Lolo's Spring Salad, Phoenix, Arizona

“You can’t make friends with me.” – Salad

Desert was out of the question, we’re surrounded by dessert after all, a lot to take in and rather filling, especially after drinking out of a mason jar.

Coming soon: we take you to Carolina’s in Arizona, for flavor perspiring, five napkin, machaca commitment, tacos on slamming house made flour tortillas. Until then may the odds be ever in your flavor. – Pot and Pan Handler

 

 

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Barrio Cafe Phoenix, AZ

Welcome to the Barrio Cafe. Vatos Locos forever.

Welcome lowly readers, to the Pot and Pan Handler’s blog Barrio Café edition. Barrio Café is where we learned what comida conchinga is, enjoyed a signature dish originally created by nuns and find that Mexican street food by any other name will taste as sweet. Get in the low rider, because we’re going to the Barrio, destination, Barrio café. http://www.barriocafe.com/

Barrio Cafe Lowrider Graffiti, Phoenix, Arizona

All my friends own a low rider.

Perennially Familyiar

Our family holds a family reunion every year. This reunion is an effort to fight the grisly reality that we as people have a mortality rate of 100%. After years of only seeing one another at funerals, someone said: “Well, hell, if we’re going to force ourselves to see each other, we might as well all be alive.” And with that totally made up statement the annual family reunion was born.

When my parent’s turn came up, it was official, we were going to one of the hottest states in the nation; Phoenix, Arizona. As a direct result of my parent’s residence is in one of the coldest states in the nation, they choose instead to live in the desert, at least during winter. We went last spring & spent 3 days feeding dozens of people 2 times a day. We also learned a lesson; if you are cooking for 60-70+ people in a residential kitchen, it can feel like you’re cooking with an E Z Bake Oven and a Fisher Price, My First Cooking Pot, but that’s a different post.

When we heard we were going to Phoenix, the first place that came to mind was Barrio Café. I had once seen Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza on Food TV’s Diners, Drive In’s & Dives and took notice.  Though it’s true they go to some funky, eclectic, unusual and tasty restaurants on that show. However, rarely are the Chefs in these funky restaurants, James Beard Award Nominated and Chef Esaparza is. Four times she’s been nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef Southwest. That’s right four times, she’s part chef, part gangsta and all boss.

Barrio Cafe, Phoenix Arizona

Just in case you forgot where you are.

Barrio Cafe Graffiti Phoenix, AZ

I’m not sure if I have enough tattoos to get in.

Barrio Café

Barrio Cafe Graffiti, Phoenix, AZ

Hair so smooth, black as coal, wait that’s just paint.

Lesson one of the Barrio Café edition: take time to admire the graffiti murals outside. Graffiti is an oft overlooked art form, it’s usually free, and it never stops to appreciate itself, Barrio Café is no exception. Once inside we were quickly seated and our drink order was taken. A margarita and something near and dear to our hearts, the love child of a Bloody Mary and beer, a Michelada were ordered.

Barrio Cafe Graffiti, Phoenix, Arizona

Get on & ride, Barrio Cafe style.

Urban Art Barrio Cafe, Phoenix, Arizona

Barrio Cafe keeps it street by bringing the urban art inside, featuring local artists.

Barrio Cafe Michelada, Phoenix AZ

Barrio Cafe’s beer makes love to a Bloody Mary. MMMMmmichelada.

Soon our drinks appeared, alongside fresh bread and an olive tapenade. The margarita is a textbook rendition, the Michelada is exceptional. Spicy tomato juice and beer served in a glass rimmed with chili powder, I wish I was drinking one right now. The airy and light fresh bread and tangy olive, roasted red pepper and oil mixture are a nice accompaniment to the alcohol. But then again, what isn’t?

Barrio Cafe, Esquites, Phoenix, Arizona

Food truck food w/out the pesky truck.

We were still hungry. Fortunately at Barrio Café there’s an app for that, appetizers, we decided on Barrio Café’s take on elote or esquite. Mexican street style corn, refined, instead of leaving the corn on the cob slathered in mayo, Barrio Cafe, removes the corn from the cob and roasts them in butter. Mixing the kernels with lime, chipotle cream, cilantro and queso fresco. Served with chips on the side, this is no taco truck elote. For that we thank them.

Salad Barrio Cafe, Phoenix, Arizona

What are you looking at me for? You can’t make friends with salad.

Appetizer two: salad, though it may be true that you don’t make friends with salad, it does help ya’ keep a waistline. Barrio Café’s salad was tasty, not overlooked like in many restaurants, and it’s with a powerful fundamental relief that I tell you they do not put salads in a fried burrito shell. Simply mixed greens with diced tomato, dried cranberry, lightly dressed and garnished with queso fresco, it’s light and refreshing and palate cleansing. A refreshing second course but… STOP! It’s entrée time.

Barrio Cafe, Pork Tacos, Phoenix, Arizona

Not as good as expected, not bad, just not good.

Truck U

Tacos, who doesn’t love a good freakin’ pork taco? We bet an accomplished chef like Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza knows how to make a great fuckin’ taco. Wrong. Like the obligatory and overlooked chicken dish at your local steakhouse, these tacos are only on the menu because stupid gringos like us expect them.  “What do you mean you don’t have tacos, I thought this was a Mexican joint.” This chant would become a constant litany if they did not have tacos, but you can get tacos at a taco truck. When you’re at the Barrio Café, stick to the specialties, this is a Chef driven restaurant after all.

Barrio Cafe, Chiles en nogada, Phoenix, Arizona

Barrio Cafe Chiles En Nogada wish I was here.

Chiles En Nogada is such a specialty. The predecessor of Chile Rellenos, Chiles En Nogada was first created by Puebloan nuns in 1861 to celebrate the colors of the Mexican flag. Easily, Chiles En Nogada is my favorite Mexican dish of all time and Barrio Café did not disappoint. If you take my recipe for Chiles En Nogada and multiply it by sparkly unicorns with rainbow juice and garnished it with brilliance, you’re in the ballpark. Barrio Café took my favorite Mexican dish in the world and made it better. Far better.

The roasted poblano pepper is piquant and stuffed with a spiced chorus of chicken, apple, pear, dried apricot and pecans. This well stuffed pepper blooms on a bed of almond cream is reveling in the traditional Mexican flag colored garnish of queso fresco, cilantro and pomegranate seeds. The resulting flavor explosion dances across your tongue, a sublime culinary Mexican hat dance. This dish is sweet, salty, savory, spicy, creamy, zesty, tongue stimulating, and subliminally provocative peppery brilliance. When we eat that dish again, it won’t be soon enough to suit either one of us.

Barrio Cafe, Comida Chingona T-shirt, Phoenix, Arizona

Barrio Cafe; new T for dessert.

Barrio Cafe, T-shirt, Phoenix, Arizona

Barrio Cafe T the upper backside.

We had eaten far too much to entertain dessert, so we got a Barrio Café T-shirt. Comida Conchinga it reads; roughly translated this means, bad ass mother fuckin’ food. Exactly.

Coming soon: we’re still in the southwest with our stomachs focused on Chicken & Waffles, when we go to Lolo’s, same bat time, and same bat channel. Until then, may the odds be ever in your flavor- Pot and Pan Handler

Lolo's Phoenix, Arizona

One of the few places, where waffling isn’t a bad thing.

Artist Colton Brock, Phoenix, Arizona

Wanna keep it street @ home? Here’s the Phoenix artist featured when we were there.

 

 

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Maple citrus pork sausage sweet potato

Maple, Citrus, Pork Sausage Sweet Potato, garnished with New Mexican Hatch Chilies.

Okay glorious readers, welcome back to the Pot and Pan Handler’s hedonistic blog; sweet potato edition. I don’t know whether it was because I grew up in the Midwest, or because sweet potatoes were just not in my parent’s culinary quiver, but I grew up not knowing what the hell a sweet potato was. I had no idea that they grew in the ground. Literally, I thought they came from a can, cloaked in cloyingly sweet corn syrup that we were forced to eat on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The memory of which promptly faded and we would spend the rest of the year happily pretending sweet potatoes didn’t exist.

Southern Charm              

That was my outlook on sweet potatoes until I worked in a Q restaurant that served sweet potatoes. All day long we’d bake those things off and serve them with a little giant dollop of butter and brown sugar. YUM. We immediately became fans.  However, like all things the beginning is only the first step.

Then we moved south o’ the Mason Dixon Line and sweet potatoes are everywhere. Like hangers in a closet, they seem to multiply. They’re at the farmer’s market, megalomarts, grocery stores, roadside stands and served as the ubiquitous sweet potato fries in restaurants throughout the south. I dare you to try to stay away from them. I trust you’ll find it quite impossible.

With that in mind, as I left the grocery store last week with sweet potatoes in tow, I wanted to do something more sophisticated with the humble sweet potato than dollops of butter and sugar. So we made maple citrus and pork sausage sweet potatoes. Sweet, savory, & porky, an easy hand’s off, but tasty side dish. Sure to be liked whether you’re a man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, republican or democrat. That’s sweet potato why.

Maple citrus & pork sausage sweet potatoes

Here’s how we made it so you can make ‘em too.

You will need:

2 small sweet potatoes, feel free to double, triple or half this recipe, one potato per diner.

3 Tblspns cooked, ground pork sausage (if you want to omit, feel free, it’s none of our business how much sausage you take, that’s a conversation for your cardiologist, or pimp, we’re not that close.)

1 Tblspn Maple syrup (like it sweeter, add more or less sweet, add less.)

Juice from ½ orange

Wrong OJ

Wrong OJ, but thanks for noticing.

1/8 tspn fresh ground nutmeg

1/8 tspn ground cinnamon

Salt & Pepper to taste

Garnish with green chiles

You will do:

Wash & dry sweet potatoes, pierce with a fork several times and bake in a vessel, in a pre-heated 350-375 degree oven until soft.

Sweet Potato

Caution: Contents may be natural

 

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Nicely baked.

Maple Citrus pork sausage sweet potatoes

Got Pork? Now it’s done.

Remove sweet potato innards & combine with butter, pork, maple syrup, orange juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt & pepper. Taste, does it need anything else, is it sweet enough, enough pork, need more OJ? If so add more if not continue. Place combined mixture back into empty potato skins, place back in oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove, garnish with desired amount of green chilies, eat & repeat. You’ll definitely want to have this again sometime before next year.

Maple Citrus Pork Sausage Sweet Potato garnished with green Chiles

If you don’t have fresh chilies, you can still use the kind from a can. G-M-YO that’s good.

Coming soon: Comida Conchinga @ Arizona’s Barrio Café, same bat time, same bat channel, we’ll see ya there. Until then may the odds be ever in your flavor.

Barrio Cafe

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Mace's Crossing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The entrance sign stopped us from trying to enter via the window.

Mace’s Crossing back dat time up

Welcome back inebriated readers to the Pot & Pan Handler’s malicious blog, Mace’s Crossing edition. Mace’s Crossing is the building that time and the health department forgot and the story of an underdog. Seriously, besides that president douche in Hunger Games who doesn’t like an underdog?  As an American male with ketchup in my veins I enjoy the story of an underdog. To illustrate, Mace’s Crossing is in Philadelphia home of the Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa. The movie Rocky comes in as one of the greatest underdog stories of all time. So without further ado here’s the story of Mace’s Crossing. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maces-Crossing/111537325553835

Rocky Statue outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Art Museum

Spoiler Alert: Rocky loses. Oops, too soon?

The building that would one day become Mace’s crossing was built sometime in the 1870’s as a carriage house. There it stood on Cherry Street. Decades went by and the little carriage house served a variety of purposes. Soon city development and the famed Benjamin Franklin Parkway cut a swath of redevelopment all around the little carriage house that could. It still stood. Although every other property was replaced with city property, institutes, museums, parks, libraries, statues, squares, monuments and good intentions. Gentrification before it was cool throughout the early 20th century.

Mace's Crossing in the shadow of the Windsor Apartments Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mace’s Crossing in the concrete and glass shadows of Lord Business.

Nothing personal, it’s just business, LORD, business.

Then the luxury apartments happened, the Windsor, luxury suites and apartments for the business elite. With shopping, restaurants and bars all tucked in a quaint little box wrapped with a bow. Or giant palatial monolith wrapped with concrete, if you can see. The developers of this skyscraper wanted the little carriage house or at least the tiny little place on earth that it occupied. The owners said no. And in a rare display of drive by integrity, justice took a break from the miscarriage and allowed the little carriage house to stay.

1975

In November of 1975 the Sex Pistols had their first show. Californians were pretending to be someone else at the 8th annual Comic-Con. And in Philadelphia brothers James and Robert Bernard bought the little carriage house. One year later they opened Mace’s crossing and started slinging burgers and beers. 50 years later they’re still slanging burgers there today, in the little carriage house that could. Same bat time, and same bat channel.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Sightseeing Tours

A Double Decker bus that’s not a food truck yet somehow.

Tour Guide if that is your real name

My relationship with Mace’s cross began when I took a Double Decker bus tour, you know the type, you can hop on or off at various tourist attractions and the ticket is good for two days. Before I hopped off of the bus, the tour guide, made me confront my own mortality, ruined Rocky, slandered cheese steaks with cheez whiz, and recommended Mace’s Crossing as the purveyors of the best burgers in Philadelphia. https://www.philadelphiasightseeingtours.com/

Tour Guide Philadelphia's sightseeing tours

I gave up running for lent or something.

Mortality confrontation; it turned out this tour guides claim to fame was he’s one of the little kids who ran up the steps behind Rocky in one of the most iconic images in the franchise. Nowadays he is no spring chicken, and his appearance would suggest that any run up a flight of stairs, will be about as likely as his access to foods that aren’t fried.

Ruining Rocky; after this confrontation of mortality, he told us how Sylvester Stallone only ran up 11 stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum and a stunt double took over and ran up the rest of the steps.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Art Museum Steps

11 steps up Sylvester Stallone took a nap. Italian Stallion indeed.

Slandering cheese steaks with Whiz, he preached; “Cheez Whiz is one molecule away from plastic.” “Not a healthy choice.” As if fatty steak on a white roll with provolone is an otherwise healthy choice. Seriously, everything is one molecule away from being something else and Cheez Whiz is the remedy to an otherwise dry cheese steak. Besides that, a lecture on health from someone who has limited access to foods that aren’t fried seems counter intuitive. http://potandpanhandler.com/philly-cheesesteaks-cheez-whiz-evolution-3-24-2016/

Cheese Steak with Cheez Whiz

This is how you cheese steak.

As the tour bus passed Mace’s Crossing the tour guide mentioned that they have the best burger in Philly.  When pressed about dining choices he said; “There are so many excellent local restaurants in Philadelphia, there’s no reason to go to chain restaurant, the local joints are better.” Finally, an opinion he stated in which I agree. Maybe I will check out those burgers.

The Next Day

It was time to get touristy, and my bus ticket was still good so I took it back to a different tourist attraction. The tour guide was a different dude. When asked about dining options he waxed poetic about the Chili’s, Applebee’s, Hard Rock Café and other corporate ilk, except when talking about burgers. When it came to burgers he said Macy’s Crossing has the best in Philly. When an absolute localvore and a corporate shill can agree on where to get burgers, those burgers are probably pretty damn good. I knew where I’d be going when I got off this tour bus.

Mace’s Crossing

I went back to the hotel to get the Pan Handler, as unashamed burger whores, we had to go. Once we got there we walked in to find Mace’s Crossing is almost as dusty as it is small. Our entrance is punctuated with the wet sneeze of a cocktail server. We take our seats and glance around, what struck us at first as dusty, upon closer observation is dirtier than just a little dust, it’s kind of dirty. Taking a brief pause between sneezes the cocktail server takes our order, cheeseburger, fries, a side salad and a bowl of chili. https://www.yelp.com/biz/maces-crossing-philadelphia

As the server walks away she intersperses our order with a couple more healthy sneezes. “Achoo!” “Achoo!” Fortunately for everybody involved she never washed her hands, whew, because that’s not disgusting at all. I made that last part up; it was not only disgusting, but a health department violation to boot. Eventually Sneezy McSneezeface brought us our order, again, without washing her hands first.

Cheeseburger at Mace's Crossing Philadelphia. Pennsylvania

Mmmm sneezy.

The food

Liberally topped with cheddar/jack cheese the burger was good. Not great, certainly not the best in Philly, but better than a fast food burger, if that’s your barometer. The fries were rubbish, poured out of their very finest plastic bag into a fryer. Mace’s Crossing didn’t even bother to add salt perhaps feeling a liberal dose of sneeze was enough seasoning.

Salad From Mace's Crossing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mmmmm dirty.

The salad; was a garden variety textbook overlooked restaurant side salad with a little onion, carrot, tomato and cucumber. I wouldn’t complain except the salad was literally dirty.  Unwashed, this lettuce still had soil from the ground it was grown in clinging to it. Mace’s Crossing’s chili on the other hand, was exceptional. Mad seasoned it tasted of chili powder, meat and comfort. Topped with a little perfunctory onion and a generous amount of cheese, that bowl of chili is the one thing that we’d go back to Mace’s Crossing for.

Chili from Mace's Crossing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This chili is excellent, comfortably sneezed.

Just kidding, we’ll probably never go back to that filthy, sneezy place. Which is too bad, with Mace’s Crossing’s history as the little carriage house that could, we wanted to like that place. Oh well, next time we’ll get burgers at the Good Dog Bar, but that dear readers, is another post.

Coming soon; our travels take us to Arizona, where we go to the Barrio and are introduced to Comida chingona at the James Beard award nominated Barrio Café. http://www.barriocafe.com/

Barrio Cafe, Phoenix Arizona

It’s a comfortable dry heat, just kidding it’s hot.

 

 

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Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you can’t remember where you were going.

Welcome informal readers to a Reading Terminal Market filled Pot and Pan Handler’s blog. This is where we will discuss the finer points of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Reading Terminal Market. Yeah, I suppose you figured that out already, but search engine optimization demands that the phrase Reading Terminal Market be repeated, over & over because the internet thinks you’re stupid.  Reading Terminal Market, oops, did it again.

Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia, Pennsylvavia

Here’s how it looks from the top off a bus.

What can you find in the Reading Terminal Market?

That’s a trick question, yo. A better way to phrase this question would be; what don’t they have at the Reading Terminal Market? A comprehensive list would take hours to read and even longer to write. Instead I’ll focus on a few of our favorites, you’re sure to enjoy. If not, then this post is free. So let us begin.

Dinic's Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Raab, I’ve never liked that kid.

Dinic’s

Ah ha Dinic’s is the first place we ever went to inside the Reading Terminal Market. Quite by accident, Reading Terminal Market just happened to be across the street from our hotel. Once inside it wasn’t long until we saw Dinic’s. You see, Dinic’s was touted by the Travel Channel and Adam Richman as having the best sandwich in America. Pork, provolone and broccoli raab served on cheese steak bun. This sandwich would be really good except, it isn’t. The bitter broccoli raab is overpowering at least for this particular sandwich, it is literally the only thing you can taste. Overkill. Best sandwich in the nation? Not even the best sandwich on their menu. Their brisket sandwich on the other hand is divine. Unctuous, delicious, hand carved, fatty brisket served on a cheese steak roll, what’s not to like? http://www.tommydinics.com/

Miller's Twist Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

$0.00 Pot & Pan Handler

Miller’s Twist

Philadelphia is celebrated as the cheese steak capitol of the nation, and plenty of those are available in the Reading Terminal Market. However, we would argue that the Philadelphia soft pretzel is Philly’s true contribution to culinary greatness. No one does them better than Miller’s Twist, where once again you’ll see Adam Richman’s mug promoting Miller Twist’s take on this Philadelphia classic. Miller’s twist in Reading Terminal Market does more than pretzels, pretzel dogs, cheese pretzels, chicken and cheese steak pretzels, dessert pretzels, even breakfast pretzels all take a bow center stage. How do they taste? Light, airy, salty, goodness, it would be difficult to find a tastier pretzel, even in Philly.  http://www.millerstwist.com/

Miller's Twist Pretzels Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We got a stunt double for the action shot.

Condiments a pretzel

Okay, it’s a non-starter, everyone loves neon yellow processed fake cheese with a soft pretzel. To argue otherwise would be sacrilegious at worst and stupid at best. However, there is one thing overlooked in this equation, mustard. Soft pretzels are essentially white bread and cheese sauce is deliciously fatty a match made in heaven. However a proper balance is necessary in all food equations and this is no exception. Like pickles on burgers, mustard on hot dogs & slaw on BBQ pork, acidity is a necessary yin to the fatty yang, for this reason, we recommend Miller Twists whole ground mustard along with your pretzel and cheese sauce. We guarantee that you will thank us for this sage advice, if not this post is free.

Fake cheese and stone ground mustard Miller's Twist Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

How to make a Jackson Pollock: fake cheese in 2 oz. portion cup.

Bacon 1732 Meats Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Of course you like bacon.

1732 Meats

Where pork fans meat, hand cured heritage breed meats from our family to yours. This is how they describe themselves on their website.  They had us at cured. Do you like bacon? If so, you’ll love this place. When we were there they had 9 different kinds of bacon. Seriously, they have other cured meats as well; basically they have everything, except the oink. When in Philly, it’s where we go to meat too. http://www.1732meats.com/

Bacon

I commissioned a Chinese company to do this caption & you can no be telling the different.

Bassett's Ice Cream Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Whoa, that ice cream is really, really old.

Bassett’s ice cream

In almost every city in America, there is a similar place, the ice cream shop that all the locals call the best ice cream in the world. There’s one reason for this, unlike many megalomart ice creams and others of their ilk, these places like Basset’s still use… wait for it… CREAM, instead of hydrogenated shelf stable oils, whaaaaa? Yeah, I know, right.

Bassett's Vanilla Ice Cream Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Vanilla, sort of like plain white bread with a glass of water for dipping.

Started in 1861, Bassett’s moved into Reading Terminal Market when it opened in 1892, they’ve been there ever since. Bassett’s is in fact, America’s oldest ice cream shop; they must be doing something right. Oh yeah, they are, ice cream, and it’s as delicious as one would believe an ice cream joint that’s been around this long to be. http://bassettsicecream.com/index.php

Sausage Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

No one knows how the sausage is made, we just assume that it happens.

Chocolates Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Nothing says tasty like black lung chocolate.

What else?

I’ll leave you with a brief list of other stuff you can find at the Reading Terminal Market.

Arts, candy, cheeses, crafts, produce, more candy, soft drinks, teas, coffee, gyros, Peking duck, pizza, seafood, a world of chocolates and much, much more. If you’re ever in Philadelphia, whether, you live there or are just getting touristy The Reading Terminal Market is an historic, fun and busy place to kill a couple of hours eating, shopping, snacking and gawking.

Fish at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Reading Terminal Market

Something smells fishy, must be election season.

One note of caution, the Pennsylvania Dutch both Mennonite and Amish are the proprietors of many of these shops. They have a rather strict adherence to the biblical commandment “Thou shalt not make unto thyself a graven image.” As such as a sign of respect for their beliefs, restrict any photography to the market and products available, but refrain from taking any photos of people especially if they’re in the traditional dress of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Reading Terminal Market, oops, did it again.

Cheese at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Reading Terminal Market

Oh thank god, it’s cheese, it smelled like a locker room for a minute.

Coming soon; we’re embezzled by tour guides and experience the place where progress and the health department forgot. Mace’s Crossing, we hope to see you there.

May the odds be ever in your flavor. – The Pot and Pan Handler

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The Cow & the Curd Food Truck Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Cow & the Curd eating our curds, no way.

The Cow & the Curd say cheese, you’re trucked

Welcome back infrequent readers today, we’re talking curd, The Cow & the Curd, Sprechers and Ranch dressing. A Midwestern trifecta, in an unlikely place, all wrapped up in a little truck. Have you ever had a cheese curd? There are two kinds, first there’s the squeaky, raw ones, which are actually a byproduct of making cheese. Tasting similar to a waxy cheddar they are popular in the Midwest. You can find bags of cheese curds in grocery stores, butcher shops, farmer’s markets and convenience stores all over Wisconsin and Minnesota.

***Today’s not so interesting fact: they’re called squeaky because when bitten, sometimes they squeak against your teeth… Gasp, I know right. ***

Inversely there’s the fried cheese curd. Essentially the same thing only battered and fried. As fried foods tend to be in America, these are more popular. Consequently fried cheese curds are found not only in the Midwest but in county and state fairs and festivals the nation over. Philadelphia’s The Cow & the Curd food truck is such a place, bringing fried cheese and other Midwestern flavors to the City of Brotherly Love. http://www.thecowandthecurd.com/

It is a bright Philadelphia morning. The coffee in our hotel is undrinkable. Somehow managing to be watery and viscous at the same time and bearing no discernible coffee flavor, it tastes like black Jello water. Thus every morning begins with a trip down the block to Square One Coffee. Today was just like every other, until I got outside the hotel. Hoping no one will talk to me before I’ve had at least one cup of coffee, I flee the hotel. Automatic pilot set, I turn the corner and… the entire street is shut down and several food trucks are setting up shop. It’s too early for street food, but I made a mental note to come back for lunch.

The Cow & the curd accolades Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Do you remember way back when? The Cow & the Curd accolades.

Lunch

As fascinating as drinking a coffee, reading the paper and taking a shower are, I’ll still spare those details and we’ll fast forward to lunch. We’re in line at The Cow & the Curd food truck. They had us at fried cheese, but they also have Sprecher’s Root Beer, and chipotle Ranch dressing. As former Wisconsinites we are drawn to Ranch dressing and fried cheese like moths are to light.

The Cow & the Curd like many food trucks are serving up legit foods, without all the pesky overhead and unnecessary frivolities, like seating and restrooms. With that in mind we take our cheese curds, chipotle ranch and Sprecher’s Root Beer back to our hotel room.

Sprechers Root Beer, Chipotle Ranch & Cheese Curds from The Cow & the Curd food truck, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sprecher’s, Fried Cheese and Ranch a Midwestern trifecta.

The cheese curds from the Cow & the Curd are different than any we’ve had before with a cornmeal batter. Not better, not worse, just different. It would seem, to me, a bit vapid, to debate the finer points of fried cheese. These cheese curds definitely pass the all-important stretch test and taste good, as fried cheese does. The Ranch is an appropriate ranch, not from a bottle, but a little more chipotle couldn’t hurt. Sprecher’s Root Beer… Man, it’s been close to 15 years since we’ve had one of those. They still taste like sugar.

Cheese Curds from The Cow & the Curd food truck Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mmmmm fried cheese. Don’t tell my cardiologist.

Cheese Curds @ The Cow & the Curd in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania passes the stretch test

These curds pass the all important Jeni Eats stretch test.

Coming soon, we get in touch with our softer side, explore Reading Terminal Market and rediscover an old favorite, Miller’s Twist soft pretzels at Reading Terminal Market.

May the odds be ever in your flavor. – The Pot & Pan Handler

Yuengling Pennsylvania Beer served on a map of Philadelphia

For no reason here’s a can of Yuengling served on a map of Philly.

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Bellini Grill Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Paparazzied. Pot & Pan Handler strikes.

Welcome readers to a Bellini filled rendition of the Pot & Pan Handler’s nomadic food & travel blog. Today we get a surprise text and find ourselves in an upscale Italian restaurant in Philadelphia, where they’re making their own pasta, we’re on board, and so we ring that Bellini. Fuggedaboudit.

Text please:

We’re on the streets of Philly, Downtown near the Gayborhood, when the Pan Handler’s phone buzzes.  A colleague, wants to know, will we join them, for dinner at Bellini? Bellini, eh, never heard of it, but he assures us that, they’re making their own pasta. As we are known pastafarians, this restaurant demands to be investigated. Ten short minutes later, we are greeted, like family; by the Maîtres’ De with an Italian accent so thick it almost seems stereotypical. As do the cheesy murals. http://www.bellinigrill.com/

Mural Inside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Bellini

Umh, look, there’s a fat baby in your dress.

“Well-coma, well-coma, my-a good-a friends-a take-a da seat-a, anywhere-a’ you like-a.” “Whatta can-a I get-a for-a my-a new-a friends-a to-a drink-a?” We order Laff & Hoegarden on tap, and settle in to make pressing dinner decisions. Soon the waiter descends on us cloaked in an accent if anything, thicker than the maître’ De. Again, like the maître’ De, the server treats us more like beloved family, than four strangers from the Philadelphia streets.

Flex those mussels

We started with a mixed green salad, garnished with grated carrots, topped with shrimp all lightly dressed in vinaigrette. Simple and refreshing, typical, exactly what you expect when ordering a mixed greens salad, outside the Midwest… Not enough freakin’ cheese but otherwise a worthy start, and after that, things got better, real quick.

Shrimp Salad at Bellini Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Less blurry in real life, or is it?

Comforted by the more than friendly staff, I let my guard down and order mussels in wine sauce. Though I’m well aware in many restaurants, if you order mussels, you might as well say: “I’ll take the petri dish for one, please.” However, the staff at Bellini is so professional they put me at ease, and for this I’m thankful. The mussels are divine. The wine sauce is buttery, creamy and just a little bit acidic, that acidity takes a bite out of the otherwise too rich sauce and reins it in, resulting in sauce perfection. Encouraged, we look forward to the next course.

Mussels Bellini Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Our mussel beach.

Pasta Luego

As I’ve mentioned the service at Bellini was exceptional, I rarely mention such things, but they treated us like royalty. It made me want to demand they change their unit of measure to the length of my foot. Maybe next time. Nevertheless, the real reason to check Bellini out is the pasta. Rustic, house made, real deal, light and airy pasta that would be, an absolute pain in the ass, if not an impossibility to replicate at home. That’s the reason to check out Bellini, or any Italian joint for that matter. If they’re not making their own pasta, they’re serving you the same dried, sad, factory pasta, you already got at home, plus a 100% surcharge for boiling it for you. That doesn’t happen at Bellini. Don’t let that happen to you.

Bellini’s fresh pasta courses arrive. Crab stuffed raviolis distended, with crab meat; four ravioli stretched at the seams that threaten to burst. Liberally smothered in vodka, tomato, cream sauce, these ballooned raviolis, are decadent with crab, though delicate, the crab pairs naturally with the sauce, a willing partner that’s never overshadowed.

Crab Ravioli Bellini Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mmmmm…. Blurry.

Bellini’s other pasta course we ordered is a simultaneous play on surf & turf, and chicken piccata. Lightly fried chicken breast with crab meat, enveloped in caper, wine sauce, that’s liberal with butter. Served with artfully prepared zucchini and carrots, that somehow doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. A comforting dish, like the ravioli, it is decadent, without overwhelming you with cream. The subtle crab is a surprising and welcome addition to this play on chicken piccata.

Bellini's Crab & Chicken Cacciatore Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Crab? Piccata be kidding me.

Dessert?

No, thank you, as staring at these cheesy murals has left me quite full. Instead, we went to some trendy hipster bar that cards everyone who looks like they maybe under the age of 160. Then, they poke our junk with a wand, presumably to make sure we’re not smuggling in a beard trimmer, as it would appear they make the staff and clientele equally uncomfortable. All of that, just to sit in a leather chair and pay twenty dollars for a cocktail from a giant mustachioed dude, who clearly hates our guts. But that, dear readers, is a different post.

Mural at Bellini Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Datsa da spicy meatballa

Coming soon; we find a slice of Wisconsin cheese, in a Philadelphia food truck, until then may your glass be ever full and the wind be at your back. – The Pot & Pan Handler.

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Federal Donuts Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Coffee, Donuts, Chicken, almost as good as Beer, Bacon and Boobies, almost.

Federal Donuts

Welcome to a Federal Donuts filled Pot and Pan Handler post from the city of Brotherly Love. Today we’re talking something near and dear to our hearts… Donuts. Specifically Federal Donuts, whom have the unique distinction of serving another of our guilty pleasures, fried chicken. Two foods that fall into a unique category of foods we rarely eat because we enjoy them too much and they’re decidedly not good for you. But if you can’t enjoy a donut on vacation, when can you enjoy a donut?

Located at 1632 Sansom Street Philadelphia, PA  http://federaldonuts.com/main/ Federal Donuts is just a couple blocks away from our hotel, and it’s morning, why not get a donut and some coffee? The grey streets are bustling with crowds of, delivery drivers, well dressed business people, the destitute and pigeons. Weaving my way through throngs of fat, huffing, diabetic pigeons, I eventually find myself at Federal Donuts.

Take a number

Federal Donuts, the name itself evokes images of Government bureaucracy. Will I have to take a number and wait in a long, DMV-esque line of frustrated citizens? All that line waiting, only to be directed to another line when I finally reach the front, eventually of course resulting in a sheaf of forms to fill in triplicate.  This in order to register and pay excise taxes on a donut that will arrive 6 to 8 years later after verification of my credentials and assessment of my individual donut needs…

Federal Donuts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Like a pride flag, Federal Donuts come in many colors.

These thoughts soon proved unfounded. Upon entering Federal Donuts is small, antiquated and more than a little quirky with ancient turn of the 18th century, school house, seating. They have a small donut menu, consisting of about a dozen varieties of cake donut and the aforementioned fried chicken. There’s a glass case that displays their wares underneath the cash register that basks in the glowing aura of their, wait for it… DONUT MACHINE! This culinary marriage of gastronomy and industry leaves me with a sweaty upper lip, efficiency, beautiful, starkly naked, efficiency. It’s like watching profits make love to tax breaks. It’s getting hot in here.

Seating at Federal Donuts Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

FedNuts seating is not for the ample bottomed.

The hypnotic perpetual motion of the donut machine hums a lullaby of industry that is reminiscent of Midwestern county fair mini-donut trucks. Like the nomadic Tom Thumb donut truck factories that circle the Midwest like vultures in the summer months. Systematically, spewing freshly fried donuts the Federal Donuts donut machine hums and a friendly employee takes my order for a cinnamon, sugar donut and a large coffee.

Federal Donuts, Donut Machine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Hot, Naked, Donuts.

Mmmmm…. Donuts

Messy with a liberal dusting of cinnamon and sugar, these cake donuts are light, and airy, deceptively so. With a small suspension of disbelief, I could imagine that this buoyant pastry is healthy. Nothing this tasty is healthy, an unfortunate fundamental truth. However served with cake donuts constant companion, large coffee, Federal Donuts is a more than exceptional way to start your day. Their delicious cake donuts, find themselves as one of only 2 cake donuts in our donut top 10. Next time, we’ll try the chicken, if only to get a glimpse of that donut machine again.

Cake Donut at Federal Donuts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Eat Me.

Federal Donuts Donut and Coffee Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Donuts best friend… Large coffee.

Coming soon: our Philly adventures continue, we class up this joint when we go to Bellini for upscale Italian in a stereotypical atmosphere. Datsa da spicya meataballa- the Pot & Pan Handler

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