The Food Life: Fall 2016 Checklist

September 01, 2016
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Photograph courtesy of Mr. Lee's Noodles

’Tis the season for hearty charcuterie, warming spirits and the last of the ripe tomatoes we’ll get until next summer. Our must-taste-it list for fall offers distinctly local flavors for health nuts and candy freaks alike to enjoy.


Don’t let the name of this dish fool you—there’s no beef or meat of any kind here. This sandwich stars a thick slab of beefsteak tomato served on an olive oil brioche bun with pickled red onions, sprouts and capers. The tomato burger is a menu standout at Jose Andres’s recently opened fast-casual restaurant, Beefsteak, in University City. 3417 Spruce St., 215.898.5552.


Photograph courtesy of Blue Moon Acres

Trust us: These are nothing like the flavorless, Styrofoam-like rice cakes you ate in the eighties. Made from organic brown rice grown locally at Blue Moon Acres farms, these snacks are fresh, crisp and nutty tasting. They’re the perfect addition to back-to-school (or work) lunchboxes, especially when paired with some soft local cheese. Buy them at the Blue Moon Acres farms in Pennington, NJ, and Buckingham, PA; the Blue Moon Acres stand in the Stockton Market; and online.


Photograph courtesy of Bluebird Distilling

Warming brown spirits like bourbon seem just right for autumn sipping. Try this version from Bluebird Distilling, made in Phoenixville. This bourbon starts with a blend of corn, rye, wheat and barley and is aged in charred American oak barrels. Its smooth sweetness makes it a good bourbon to drink neat or mix up in your favorite cocktail. Visit the distillery at 100 Bridge St., Phoenixville, 610.933.7827.


Photograph courtesy of Salumificio Cicala

Traditionally, this dry-cured pork sausage is made in a small town in Italy, but chef and charcuterie master Joe Cicala, of Le Virtu and Brigantessa restaurants, is making his exceptional version right here in Philly. Along with several other cured-meat products, it’s now offered as part of the chef’s new charcuterie line, Salumificio Cicala. You can find it at Brigantessa, Le Virtu, Taproom on 19th, Martha and Green Aisle Grocery and at


It’s not for everybody, but the potent anise flavor of black licorice combined with salt is a candy classic—and those who love it really love it. Mueller’s Chocolate is a local specialist in this Scandinavian treat. The Reading Terminal Market stand carries five varieties of salty black licorice, ranging in texture from soft to crisp. 51 N. 12th St., 215.922.6164,


Photograph courtesy of Philly Grown

The scientific name for this pretty edible fungus is pleurotus djamor, and it tastes as good as it looks. The pink variety packs more savory, umami-rich flavor than other oyster mushrooms. The mushroom farm Philly Grown cultivates this and many other varieties of exotic mushrooms at its Feltonville growing facility. (The farm is inside one of the old Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews factories.) Philly Grown specializes in mushroom CSAs, which offer an assortment of mushrooms, including the Pink Oyster. Buy mushrooms and learn more at




If you’re exploring the Lehigh Valley on a chilly day this fall and a soup craving strikes, you’re in luck. Lee Chizmar, chef at Bethlehem’s acclaimed fine-dining restaurant Bolete, has opened a casual noodle shop in the Easton Public Market called Mr. Lee’s Noodles. The new restaurant specializes in ramen, the wildly popular Japanese soup that combines a rich broth with plenty of noodles and accents like pork or egg. There are hot and cold styles of the soup on offer at Mr. Lee’s; you’ll see traditional takes as well as inventive twists. For example, there’s a “Dutch Ramen” that features beef-and-mustard broth, pastrami, sauerkraut, caramelized onion and braised kale. Diners also have the option of building their own bowls of ramen according to their cravings. As at Bolete, the menu will be stocked with local produce and meat. It’s fast(er) food you can feel good about.

Mr. Lee’s Noodles
325 Northampton Street, Easton, PA (Easton Public Market)


happy family hour
Photograph courtesy of Primal Supply Meats


Even though she co-owns a string of craft beer bars in Philadelphia, Leigh Maida is rarely able to relax over a drink at the end of a tough day. As a mother of two (ages six and three), Maida has found that going to happy hour and taking care of her kids are activities that don’t mesh well. That’s why she decided to create a place where they do—at one of her bars, Coeur, just off the Italian Market.

“It’s in Bella Vista, a very residential neighborhood,” says Maida. “Not many people go from their Center City office building to happy hour at 8th and Christian.” But she suspected the many parents who live nearby would be tempted by an evening beer—if it were at a place where kids were not just tolerated but welcome. To that end, Coeur offers coloring pages and crayons to keep the young ones occupied while their parents indulge in some grown-up conversation. The pub also offers a few kids’ meals, priced at $5—think burgers or grilled cheese, with a box of milk—so the grown-ups don’t need to worry about making dinner. “Parents have been pretty excited about this kind of happy hour,” says Maida.

Family Happy Hour, Tuesday through Friday, 5 to 7pm

824 S. 8th St.


Photograph courtesy of Coeur


Heather Marold Thomason, formerly the butcher at Kensington Quarters restaurant in Fishtown, has launched a new business, Primal Supply Meats. It’s like an old-fashioned butcher shop for the Internet age. There’s no brick-and-mortar retail space. Instead, customers can join the “Butcher’s Club,” a subscription service that makes locally raised grass-fed and pasture-raised meats available for around $11 a pound.

Thomason does this by stocking subscription boxes with items like ground meat, sausage and other less expensive cuts. “There won’t be ribeye and strip steaks in these boxes,” says Thomason. Many of those luxury items will go to the restaurants Primal Supply Meats services. “It’s important for us to have both programs—for home cooks and restaurants—because it allows us to use the whole animal and keep a reasonable price point for the subscription services,” she says. You can add steaks, as well as eggs and other items, to your order à la carte, though. Customers can choose the size subscription that works for them—a small box averages 4 pounds, while the largest size goes up to 11 pounds. Prices start at $40 per week; there are six pickup locations throughout the city. To subscribe, visit

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