There is nothing better than Springtime in an East Coast city. If you would have asked me a month ago, I would have told you Philadelphia was the worst place on earth, and you should never visit EVER. But that was just the cold, melting snow and me being tired of cleaning up road salt from my wood floors talking. This weekend was Philadelphia perfection. The sun was shining, there was no sports traffic and no one was drunk before 10 am dressed in green. The temperature was somewhere in between no jacket and “holy $h!t, I wish I had my jacket”. In other words, Philadelphia was the best place to be this weekend.
I feel this way about my city from time to time. I recently had a fight with Jamie, a lifetime Philadelphia resident-recently turned Jersey girl- about if I have lived in the city long enough to be considered a Philadelphian. She didn’t think I had because I get annoyed at people who think Wawa and Dunkin Donuts are establishments that should be visited other than when you’re coffee desperate or in need of a bathroom, and because I don’t care at all about Philly sports. But I’ve lived in this city for almost 5 years, I’ve lived in two different neighborhoods, almost been kidnapped by an Uber driver once, had our cars broken into 3 times and haven’t seen the Liberty Bell yet. Even Jamie had to admit I’m a real Philadelphian now.
Since we have a world-wide reading audience, we want to share the best-of the cities we know and love. So today we bring you the FIRST in our new series: TN Travels. Today’s episode is….
If you’re going to REALLY do Philadephia, I recommend more than 1 day, but let’s pretend you only have 1 day to spend. Here is what you should do:
Philadelphia has two Kimpton’s hotels: The Palomar and Hotel Monaco. Both hotels are in prime locations and you can get a great deal if there’s nothing too crazy going on in the city.
Head to Northern Liberties, wave hi to where I lived for 4 years and enjoy what I think is Philadelphia’s best brunch in the form of Southern-Jewish fusion at Honey’s Sit n’ Eat at 4th and Brown. Try something Mexican-inspired (I always get the Enfrijoladas and the Huevos Rancheros are YUM).
TN Tip: Get there early otherwise you’ll wait for a long time. If you don’t listen to me and there wait is long, walk north on 4th street to Poplar and eat at Cafe Chismosa. Tell Jugo I sent you.
I struggle recommending this, sorta. Philadelphia is home to AMAZING coffee roasters. I don’t think La Colombe is one of them, BUT… they are a Philly staple. They started here, their coffee is decent, affordable and is every where. The chain has since expanded into other cities, but they recently opened their headquarters in a neighborhood called Fishtown. The building is gorgeous. And the coffee they sell here is different than you’ll find in other coffee shops/restaurants across the city. Plus you can enjoy a pastry with your coffee after brunch.
(Not Coffee, but you get the idea…)
After your brunch and coffee, boutiques should be starting to open. My favorite place to browse boutiques is 3rd street in Old City. Hope in a cab or drive from Fishtown over to the oldest part (I think) of Philadelphia. Not only will you find awesome shops (I love Art in the Age, Philadelphia Independents and Vagabond), but you’ll be in the heart of our historic district. The Liberty Bell is close by, you can walk past Benjamin Franklin’s grave and throw a penny onto it (I think it’s good luck) and see this bad boy:
That’s Independence Hall the birthplace of Freedom, you idiots. I think…
Philadelphia is surrounded by water and the city is really trying to push peoeple to the smelliest side that borders the Delaware River. Race Street Pier is their first, good attempt to get people there. Take Race street towards the water and stroll along the pier, people watching for a bit. Plus you can wave hi to New Jersey!
I’ve never done recommendations like this before, but by now it’s probably early afternoon. I know you’re hungry for lunch- we’re getting there. But first, get ice cream. Why not? You’re on vacation. Franklin Fountain is a close walk from Race Street Pier and the servers dress like old timey soda-shop workers. It’s completely over priced but terribly delicious.
TN Tip: The wait can be upwards of an hour. I think I’m sending you at a good time, but if it’s really hot or at a normal-person-eating-ice-cream time, you might have to wait. Also it’s cash only.
Reading Terminal Market is an enclosed public market filled with interesting food-related shops and eateries. I honestly don’t eat there often, but when I do I go to Meltkraft Grilled Cheese. There are TONS of famous places for the meat eaters out there. I’m anti-touristy places for the most part, but this market is worth seeing. I love shopping here for produce, seafood and cheese!
Find your way to Ben Franklin Parkway and walk towards the Art Museum. It’s a decent walk, but oh-so-worth it on a nice day. You’ll see beautiful statues I know nothing about on your way and Logan Circle, where homeless people bathe. Try to enjoy it anyway:
Once you get to the Art Museum, I guess you can do the Rocky Thing. Makes for a good Instagram picture so people know where you are, at least.
If you still have energy, continue around behind the Art Museum. It’s beautiful and the OTHER river we border is there (The Schuylkill river- Skoo-Kill). Walk north along the water a little bit and you’ll come to “Boat House Row” where crew teams from local universities keep their boats. Lament how you didn’t go to a cool university that kept big boats in a cute house.
Head to Rittenhouse Square. People watch, and enjoy the music that’s bound to be there. Once you get bored, there is an awesome Anthropologie at the corner of 18th and Walnut. There’s also a Madewell right on Walnut. Get a Cocktail and a snack at Parc. Try to snag an outdoor seat.
TN Tip: Don’t eat a full meal here. Overrated. But it’s a great place to drink and people watch.
You deserve it.
There’s this neighborhood everyone calls the Gayborhood (you’ll see why) that has some awesome places to eat. If you’re planning ahead, try to get a reservation, but most places accept walk-ins. Check out the menus for Lolita, Barbuzzo or Little Nonnas and see what strikes your fancy.
While you wait for your table, you can usually snag a bar spot at Vintage Wine Bar for wine. If you want Cocktails, check out Charlie was a Sinner or Vedge. The Gayborhood is PACKED on a nice night which always makes for fun people watching/laughing when drunk girls fall in their too-high-heels.
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted from planning your day. You can wrap up the night with a cocktail at any of the above mentioned bars, but if I were you, I’d just go to bed!
You’ll notice I did not mention consuming a single cheesesteak or soft pretzel. That was intentional as I don’t recommend those things. This One Day in Philadelphia keeps you in the touristy areas for the most part. There are tons more things you COULD do that are touristy in one day, but this is kinda my quintessential perfect Philly day. And is almost exactly what I did this weekend!
There is so much more to say about my wonderful-for-now-until-it-becomes-too-hot-to-bare-city, but this will have to do. Let me know if you have any questions about planning a trip to Philly!
Have you seen the Rocky Statue? What about the Liberty Bell? Did you know Benjamin Franklin almost died from syphilis? #PhillyPhacts
The last few months have seen a slew of successful Darling events, from welcoming in new interns with high tea at the Langham Pasadena, to our most recent Issue No. 11 launch party, Bright Nights, held in downtown LA.
Join us as we relive the memories and share with you some of the spring’s favorite moments thus far.
Maybe we’ll see you at the next?
BRIGHT NIGHTS RELEASE PARTY
Written by Darling Intern Kelsey Herrington:
Thursday, March 26th was a magical evening at the Hudson Lofts in Downtown LA as we celebrated the release of Darling’s spring issue. Darling partnered with The Black Tuxto host an evening dedicated to celebrating the hard work and dedication that went into Darling’s 11th issue. The men sporting the Black Tux looked nothing short of dapper in their suave suits and coats. The air was warm and the streets were buzzing as guests entered through glass doors downstairs and went up to the loft.
A colorful wonderland of huge balloons, tassels, and other bright accents was created all thanks to PaperFox LA. The soundtrack for the night was provided by DJ Jessica Blackstock. Guests meandered as they sipped Art in the Agecocktails, wine from Amnity Vineyards, beer from Golden Road Brewery, and deliciously fun “jelly shots” from Ludlows Cocktails. There was no shortage of delicious drinks asKevita and delicious coffee concoctions from Compadresalso made an appearance. Guests raved about the almost too cute to eat Lette Macarons, adorable donuts from Donut Friend, and delicious chocolate from Ben Chic. From the rooftop, it was easy to stop and stare at the Los Angeles skyline as it sparkled. Guests had the opportunity to capture a moment in this enchanted space thanks to FlipBooth LA.
The talented photographers Christin Rose and Brian Tropiano also captured moments from the evening. Darling’s nonprofit partner, International Justice Mission (IJM), was also there to share their mission, which is “to partner with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.” Kara Elise curated a truly unforgettable evening where we celebrated Darling’s 11th issue and all the wonderful people who made it possible.
LANGHAM HIGH TEA
Written by Darling Intern Annie Ellis:
It is not often that we get a chance to leave behind the endless to do lists and overflowing inboxes to simply sit, converse, and sip delicious tea. Yet, the women of the Darling team stepped way from our desks for an elegant afternoon at The Langham Hotel in Pasadena. We recently welcomed a new group of interns to the office, so a celebratory brunch was in order, and the Langham was gracious enough to host us.
As we were welcomed into a beautiful and bright courtyard blossoming with springtime flowers, it felt as if we had been whisked away somewhere far from downtown Los Angeles. The freeway noises and blaring car horns melted away, and we were met with a refreshing peace and calm. For an afternoon we were given the sweet gift of time to simply breathe and be. After sitting down at beautifully arranged tables, complete with rosy teacups and plates, we were offered several different types of tea. Some were light and f lowery while others dark and strong. With so many unique flavors, there was something for each of us to enjoy.
“There is something deeply rejuvenating about slowing down to notice the often overlooked beauty in the things and people which surround you.”
As we tried each different tea, we were stunned to see towers of scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and colorful desserts placed in front of us. After eating, we enjoyed the sunny weather while exploring the grounds and soaking in our afternoon escape. There is something deeply rejuvenating about slowing down to notice the often overlooked beauty in the things and people which surround you. The tea and food were exceptional, but the sweetest part of our day at the Langham was the opportunity to learn a little more about each other and to be attentive to the stories and joys of the women we work alongside every day.
DARLING DINNER NO. 14
Written by Darling Intern Kelsey Herrington:
Thursday, March 12th was an enchanted evening in a cozy loft downtown where women gathered to enjoy the 14th Darling Dinner. Boo of Wylie West Creative transformed the already magical environment into an even more stunning and inspiring space. Candles flickered and a soft murmur among guests filled the room as Sarah of La Femme Epicurecreated delicious food using generously donated produce from Farmbox LA for the evening.
After sipping on lavender infused cocktails and pinot fromUnion Wine Company and munching on a delicious cheese platter, guests sat down at the giant gorgeous reclaimed wood table to enjoy the food. Citrus with rose water was served first to cleanse our palates, followed by burrata with beets and arugula, then duck fat roasted chicken. We finished the evening with orange blossom infused pavlova.
As amazing as the menu was, the real star of the night was the conversation. As with every Darling Dinner, there was a theme and a table question to spark intentional conversation. This particular evening’s theme was joy. We discussed what makes us joyful and how we can use what fills us with joy to ignite joy in others. This question encouraged an inspiring conversation of friends, family, work and passion. The talented photographer Andrea Patricia captured the evening with some stunning photos. Guests also left with a jar of unique Murray River flake salt from Australia. Kara Elise was generous enough to not only curate the enchanted evening, but also host us in her loft.
JEWELRY MAKING WORKSHOP
Written by Darling Intern Kelsey Herrington:
Last month, Darling partnered with Annie and Jen of Tribe of Dreamers to host the very first jewelry-making workshop. Kara Elise of Willow & Niche hosted the event in her magical loft downtown. Tribe of Dreamers empowers people to pursue their passion in an effort to spark a positive change in the world, much like Darling.
On this particular warm evening in Los Angeles, women gathered to mingle, eat, and make some awesome jewelry. Candles flickered as women sipped wine and they pounded, cut, and hammered away, creating beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces. As the evening came to an end, women left with not only three variations of a gold necklace and a leather wrap bracelet, but also full stomachs and full hearts.
Wondering about upcoming Darling events? Check out our calendar, here, to find out if we’ll be near you!
SNAPPY PEAR CIDER
April 09, 2015
This recipe was a collaboration of between the family on Thanksgiving. We were looking for a drink that the entire family would enjoy, and have varying degrees of potency. My mother bought ciders from whole foods, pear, apple and cranberry and we were going to mix them with dark rum. I came across Art in the Age while I was searching for some ideas on what to mix with the ciders decided upon ingredients I came across Art in the Age.
I had heard of Art in the Age before, as a hipster artisan liquor company they make historical liquors. Right now the selection includes Snap, Rhubarb, Root and Sage. So far I have tried Snap and Root. Snap is based on the old fashion taste of a ginger snap cookie, the real black strap molasses kind. My mother is literally obsessed with these cookies, so I knew we had found our replacement for the dark rum. She provided us some store bought ginger syrup and we enjoyed these throughout the day on Thanksgiving. By far, our favorite combo was with the pear cider.
For this recipe I made my own ginger syrup, since I wanted something a bit more potent in taste than the store-bought kind. Plus it’s almost never in stock, so it was imperative I learned how to make it myself.
Happy Thursday Y’all!
Add all your ingredients in a non-reactive pan (aka: a good solid stainless steel pan). Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Keep it on simmer for at least 40 minutes. Use a spoon and cool the liquid on the spoon when you think you are ready. Make sure it is nice and sticky but not too much that you can’t pour it. Remove and let cool. Store in a glass gar.
Fill large pint size glass with ice, add all ingredients, stir and enjoy! Try your own combos of cider like we did … I am partial to the pear, because it lets the ginger flavor come out, but the crab-apple is also quite good.
Spring has finally sprung and the GrogDog is enjoying the sunshine, daffodils, and traditional spring and Easter treats that have been used to celebrate the Earth’s renewal since humans discovered the miraculous egg.
While St. Patrick’s Day is all about the green, Easter and its companion non-Christian holidays clothe themselves in pastels – pink, yellow, blue, and green reflecting blooming botanicals. This year, enjoy a semi-sweet brunch cocktail that incorporates all the ingredients of a bright spring day full of promise: The Grand Royal Fizz.
The Grand Royal Fizz is ½ oz. orange juice, 1 oz. lemon juice, 1 tsp. sugar, 2 oz. gin, ¼ oz.maraschino liqueur, ½ oz. cream, and 1 fresh egg. Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake long and hard – you want to incorporate as much of the egg into the drink as possible, and enough air to give it a silky mouthfeel. Pour into a tall glass, top with club soda, and give it a light stir.
Note: I understand that people are wary of consuming raw eggs. There was a massive raw-egg scare a couple of decades ago and now every chain restaurant menu in the country warns against them. If you’re squeamish about drinking whole raw eggs, feel free to substitute 1 oz. of pasteurized egg white from a carton – but if you skip the egg altogether you’re changing the character of the cocktail substantially, and I can’t vouch for the result. In the interest of education, this article completely debunks the myth that consuming raw egg is a health hazard. (The egg-producing process is highly regulated and salmonella contamination rates, already pretty low except for the long-ago outbreaks that caused the seemingly unending hysteria, are hardly worth mentioning now.)
For those who prefer a less spot-on Easter cocktail but want to enjoy a zingy taste of spring, I offer the Pineapple-Mint SNAP Sour, a fresh, sweet/sour cocktail that features SNAP liqueur, “…a sophisticated organic spirit based on authentic folk history designed for people who know how to drink”.
This delicious ginger spirit was developed based on a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch gingersnap recipe by my drinking buddies at Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction cooperative (conceived byHendrick’s Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum creator Steven Grasse). You can find SNAP, along with its equally delightful playmates ROOT, SAGE, and RHUBARB, at many well stocked liquor stores, and cocktail recipes in addition to this one on their web site.
The Pineapple-Mint SNAP Sour is 1 oz. SNAP, 2 oz. fresh lemon juice, 3 oz. pineapple juice, and 5 mint leaves. Muddle the mint with the lemon juice, add SNAP and pineapple juice, stir, and top with club soda.
MARCH 23, 2015
I first discovered Art in the Age a little over a year ago when we were living in Toledo and I was recommended to try the Rhubarb Tea from the man at our neighborhood spirits shop. We liked it so much that we were obviously excited to try the rest of the spirits, and delve a little more deeply into the brand, which is obviously spot-on. Their distillery website can definitely tell the origins behind all four of their spirits better than I can, but they all derive from historical, herbal remedies which is fascinating to read about. They also have an array of great cocktail recipes that really help familiarize yourself with the unique quaff of their spirits. I highly recommend them, especially the Tiller’s Tonic and the Dark & Snappy.
While they all are so complex and different in their own right, one of Josh and my favorites is Root; it’s the adult version of Root Beer. Right off the bat, our favorite way to mix it is by their Root n’ Ginger recipe, which this recipe is based from, blended with one of my very favorite cocktails: a Moscow Mule. While it’s certainly on-trend, the mule is one of those tried-and-true drinks that always sounds good no matter the season or what mood I’m in and is almost impossible not to order if I see it on the menu. There’s something about blend of the zing of the lime and carbonation, mixed with the spicy ginger bite … man, I could go for one right now! I definitely love trying different variations of the drink (Mayan Mule, Kentucky Mule, Mezcal Mule …. etc.), so all of that combined led to what we call this in the Savage house: The Miner’s Mule.
Prepare yourself for a whole new world of Root Beer-y, gingery, zesty goodness! I like to add a splash of ginger ale for a little added sweetness, but it’s totally not necessary. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Miner’s Mule (Makes 1):
– 1/4 cup Root
– 3/4 cup Ginger Beer
– 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
– Splash of ginger ale (optional)
– 1 lime wedge
– 1 piece of fresh ginger, peeled
– Ice cubes
Combine Root and lime juice in a tall cocktail glass with the ice. Pour over the ginger beer (and ginger ale) and mix with a stirrer. Garnish with the lime wedge and the piece of ginger.
Alex Garfinkel comes bustling toward me – warm smile, hand extended. In a classic move, my editor and I rise at the same time and spill our wine…all over his white couch. You see, we like to make a strong first impression here at DNA; it comes naturally to us. This time, however, we fear the first impression we imparted pales in comparison to our overwhelming first impression of Balboa.
A loft-style space, airy and bright with skylights and decorated in a modern, earthy, southwest vibe, Balboa is Alex Garfinkel’s new venture. Philly knows Garfinkel well – a Le Bec-Fin and Lacroix vet who also spent time at Amada and Morimoto, his pop-ups and supper clubs have garnered a lot of well-deserved attention. This evening, he hosted Balboa’s first public dinner – a collaboration with his friend and 2015 James Beard Award Nominee, Hari Cameron. The two go way back, jokingly reminiscing about their time together in culinary school, teasingly debating who hit the books more. When Cameron first started conceptualizing his acclaimed a(MUSE.) in Rehoboth, Garfinkel lent a creative hand.
Collaborating again, the chefs planned an amazing evening; originally six courses, and expanded a few days prior to eight, the menu was a farm-to-table celebration of spring. Featuring Art in the Age’s Sage spirit, we were welcomed with a watermelon juice cocktail. Simple, clean, herbaceously verdant, and sweet without being cloying, it was a refreshing start to enjoy while grabbing our seats.
Eating at Balboa feels like being a dinner guest in Garfinkel’s own kitchen – watching him prep and work while casually chatting sets a relaxed ambiance. You feel the charming juxtaposition of being at a very exclusive event while at the same time eating at a friend’s house. Garfinkel, Cameron, and Cameron’s sous chef Chandler Schultz deftly and cheerfully maneuver around each other in Balboa’s smart, carefully-designed kitchen, their camaraderie infectious. Together, they assemble our first plate of the evening, beet brioche.
Mingling with the sharp bite of horseradish, the sweet beets share space on a buttery, toasted brioche round with creamy cagliata cheese and whipped orange oil, which imparts a soft, bright citrus note. The choice of brioche rather than a regular batard or baguette was a brilliant move, the sweetness from the bread complimenting the bite even further.
A puffed chicken “cracker” was the base for the next amuse-bouche, topped with an earthy, savory chicken liver and caramelized onion mousse. A gastrique made from Art in the Age’s Root spirit highlighted the caramelized onion’s sweet notes.
The next course ushered in one of the first tastes of spring, white asparagus, with a clever play on the classic asparagus and hollandaise sauce. Cameron and Garfinkel topped the asparagus with grated egg yolk, mustard, thinly shaved smoked shad, and mustard greens. The heat and bite of the greens, combined with the smoky brininess of the shad made for an assertive flavor combination.
Octopus was up next. Bound with squid ink, the tender terrine was complimented by lightly-charred green and yellow beans and a soulfully spicy, vibrant orange habanero sauce. A citrusy cucumber and octopus salad, dressed with freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice joined a savory, chorizo-studded rice cake and a bright parsley puree to further highlight the dish’s marriage of flavors and textures. Octopus can be extremely difficult to prepare, unfortunately often served as a chewy, leathery disappointment. Not so at Balboa – both octopus preparations on the plate were tender, flavorful, and a true sign of the respect these chefs have for their ingredients.
A bowl of quinoa and farro, topped with whipped crème fraîche, trout roe, and fresh sorrel was at once delicate yet confident, the soft creaminess of the crème fraîche cutting through the salty, orange roe. The sorrel lent an additional textural element to the gentle pop of the roe and the soft toothsomeness of the grains, all of which were resting atop a flavorful tea, made using the farro and quinoa.
Next came nettle ravioli on a small pool of creamy garlic sauce, the herb in the stuffed pasta gently mingling with a house-made fresh ricotta. A sweetly luscious peekytoe crab salad brought in a welcome whisper of the sea, while nicely melding with the flavors of the garlic chips and fresh spring onions that also accompanied the dish. Finely grated pork bottarga added a smoky, meaty finishing touch that brought a welcome, salty accent.
Probably my favorite course of the night, pressed pork, was a showstopper of flavors and textures. Using tail meat, Garfinkel and Cameron managed to create a slice of pork that was crispy on the outside yet smooth and creamy inside. Each bite, after its initial crunch, melted away. Charred cabbage, garlic chips, and sunchokes anchored the dish with freshness, while pickled mustard seeds added a textural pop of tanginess.
Rounding things out was a perfectly-cooked, swooningly-tender wagyu coulotte steak. The coulotte cut is a leaner one that’s actually the cap of a top sirloin; it’s a versatile piece of meat – so much so that Garfinkel joked about shaving up leftovers and doing a pop-up cheesesteak stand today. We’re poised and ready for that tweet. The beef was highlighted with broccoli three ways – the raw stalk shaved razor thin on a mandolin, the florets hit with liquid nitrogen and grated almost into a dust, and the remaining floret stems cooked crisp-tender. Earthy crimini mushrooms, sweet slow roasted carrots, and a hit of floral, citrusy heat from a dab of yuzukoshō gave the dish an abundance of flavors.
While we were finishing our steak, a quickly rolling, dramatic cloud of fog tendriled around our plates. Chandler Schultz had once again brought out the liquid nitrogen tank and was preparing a fresh mint granita for the upcoming palate cleaner. Accompanying the granita’s icy refreshment was a pleasingly tart rhubarb jam and fresh lavender. The colors popped, the flavors sang, and the mint paved its way toward another appearance in the dessert of the evening.
When the plates dropped, so did many jaws in the room, as Cameron explained the gorgeous confection we were presented with. Mint chocolate chip was a childhood favorite of his, and we at DNA would be eager to eat our way through many more of his happy childhood memories, as this dish was an absolute triumph. Looking almost as though the chefs unearthed a scoop of a freshly-budded spring garden, the dark, moist chocolate cake and cocoa crumb were spread across the plate like rich soil. Mint chocolate chip ice cream and a lighter-than-air mint meringue rested amidst this masterpiece, accented by various types of fresh mint and flowers, dots of chartreuse gel, and a crumbled chocolate ganache, which had also had its turn with the liquid nitrogen. It was the perfect edible springtime tableau and quietly reminded us of the evening’s theme, tying all the fresh flavors and textures together in a celebration of the season.
The evening ends on a soaring high, the chefs happily mingling with the guests. Cameron beams with pride as he shares with us that his wife is pregnant – they are expecting their first child, a son, in early July. We trade stories about cooking while baby-wearing, and he gleefully creates and devours a five-star “double down” sandwich of the wagyu and the peekytoe crab salad. Schultz enjoys some of the Sage and watermelon cocktail while fondly reminiscing with us about a(MUSE.)’s epic company holiday party this past year, which included cheesesteaks made from some amazing leftover dry-aged beef. Garfinkel warmly shakes hands and reminds us of Balboa’s upcoming events, in particular a fried chicken battle next week. My editor and I glance at each other, silently trying to figure out if there’s any way we can align our schedules again to swing what’s sure to be a crazy-tasty night. There’s rumored to be a golden chicken trophy for the victor…
Reluctantly, we head out the door, some of the last guests to leave. It’s nearly 11PM, and we’re coming off an eight course meal, but shockingly we both feel light, charged, caught up in the warm, happy, energetic vibe from Balboa. I wondered, going into the night, why Garfinkel wasn’t choosing to open his own restaurant, why he was choosing this style of venue to showcase his considerable talents. It’s clear to me now. You just don’t walk out of a restaurant feeling this way – alive, almost giddy with the experience you’ve had. It’s the feeling you get from spending an evening at a dinner party with good friends and amazing food – no one wants the night to end.
So, sit up and pay attention, Philly. Balboa only has sixteen seats, and we have a feeling that once the word is out, those chairs will become extremely coveted. Visit Garfinkel online to grab your spot while you still can.
This Old City boutique and exhibition space carries a nicely edited range of clothing, homeware, accessories, and gifts with representation from local designers and makers. But it doesn’t end there—the brand is also well known for a line of organic spirits with vintage flair. There are currently four flavors (with a fifth rumored to be on the way): Root (based on a Native American tea that was a predecessor of today’s root beer), Snap (as in ginger), Rhubarb, and Sage. You can sample all the flavors in the boutique or pick up a bottle from many liquor stores around town.
A Floral Inspired Brunch feat. Lavender Lemon French Toast
We sat picnicking in a sunny field, not far from the narrow streets, bordered by the cracking plaster of crooked old buildings. These little roads opened to the center plaza, where farmers had sold us apples as big as our heads, creamy, stinky cheeses, rustic breads laced with nuts and fruits, and a cheap bottle of wine that would keep a sommelier squawking for days. You wouldn’t recognize me in this sunny field.
Close friends are often shocked when they glimpse this stage of my life. My hair was dreaded and spindled down my back. My flowing fabrics and loose garments spoke to my pseudo-hippy stage, but beyond my looks, you wouldn’t recognize me because I was still such a baby in my food journey. Those picnics in the very quaint and serene Aix-en-Provence taught me to appreciate ingredients, the effects of soil and flowers, why a name can only be applied when a strict set of standards are followed. In a word, terroir.
When I glimpsed this green enamel bucket arrangement at Roxanne’s Dried Flowers, where I regularly style and photograph beautiful florals, I felt transported. I briefly returned to the narrow roads, crooked buildings, crackling plaster and bustling farmers markets of Aix-en-Provence. I returned to the centre-ville that taught me how bread, cheese, olives and wine tempt and lure me as much as an intricately prepared roast. In turn, the very provincial centerpiece inspired my brunch menu.
This easy side dish combines fennel, blood oranges, roasted red grapes and fennel greens with Pink Himalayan sea salt. Fennel is a staple in many provincial French recipes. Roasting the grapes adds an extra sweetness, and their shape mirrored the spherical Billy Buttons. The loose fennel greens added a color pop to match the green enamel bucket and the salal leaves.
When I set the table, I added a curly lemon peel garnish to each glass. The yellow peels picked up the yellow hues of the floral arrangement. For an inspired brunch cocktail, I invited guests to mix fresh-squeezed lemon juice, champagne, Art in the Age’s Sage Liquor and Royal Rose Lavender Lemon Simple Syrup, according to their flavor preferences. The tart lemon and sweet lavender mixed well with the herbal notes of the Sage Liquor to create a very fresh, spring drink. If you could drink in the hillsides of Provence, it might taste like this!
As a token for each guest, I created simple nosegays using the same flowers as the arrangement. This carried my floral theme to the plates and made a lovely parting gesture to my guests. When it came time to fill those plates with food, my main dish was a Baked Whole Grain Lavender Infused French Toast.
Pain Perdu, lost or wasted bread, the French call it, and aside from almond croissants, it’s one of my favorite French breakfasts. For my baked version, I served each portion with a dollop of homemade Lemon Lavender Whipped Cream and added a small sprinkling of loose lavender as a fragrant and flavorful garnish. As the morning progressed, with tart, herbal sips and sweet, syrupy, floral bites, part of me felt far, far away on a picnic in Provence.
Baked Lavender Lemon French Toast with Lavender Lemon Whipped Cream
About This Recipe: Baked French Toast is best when assembled the night prior to your brunch, which makes morning preparations a lot easier. I infused cream with organic lavender, which soaks the bread overnight. The longer you infuse the lavender, the better, so start that step early. I sourced my organic lavender from a Farm-to-Table expo, but you can find it in certain specialty stores. Be sure to buy food-grade, organic lavender to avoid flowers sprayed with pesticides. When I was struggling to find lavender, I had purchased Royal Rose’s Lavender Lemon Simple Syrup, which I used in this recipe, but alternately, you can make your own.
Baked Lavender Lemon French Toast
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon organic dried lavender flowers
3/4 cups organic packed brown sugar
1/2 cup organic, unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 large loaf stale whole grain bread, cut into 1-inch slices, crusts removed (or a mix of whatever bread you have leftover- I used 1 French baguette + 2 challah rolls)
2 organic lemons, sliced thin
5 organic/cage-free eggs
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon organic almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Lavender Lemon Whipped Cream (Recipe Below)
Pure maple syrup
Loose lavender for garnish
In a small saucepan, over med-low heat, warm cream and lavender for 5 minutes or until steaming. Remove from heat, top with a lid, and let cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Note:The longer the lavender steeps, the more flavor you’ll be able to draw, so do this step as early as possible.
In another small saucepan, over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, and maple syrup, stirring until smooth and sugar has dissolved.
Pour into 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish.
Arrange half the bread slices in a single layer in the baking dish, pushing the slices tightly together.
Arrange lemon slices over the bread layer. Top with remaining bread slices.
In a big bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Strain cream mixture through a fine sieve into egg mixture, discarding lavender; whisk to combine.
Pour evenly over bread.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or ideally, overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°; meanwhile, let casserole stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.
Serve hot, with homemade Lemon Lavender Whipped Cream and a light drizzle of pure maple syrup.
Lavender Lemon Whipped Cream
1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
1-2 Tablespoons Lavender Lemon Simple Syrup, to taste (homemade or Royal Rose)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form. Keep chilled until ready to use.
p.s: I received product and some compensation for this post, but all musings, daydreams, wanderings and opinions are my own. If you like the arrangement and florals I featured, visitRoxanne’s Dried Flowers for your own dose of lovely.