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I was going to talk about butter (and radishes, but mostly butter), but I’m holding on to that post for a bit out of respect for Cee‘s gall bladder.

But last night my belly dancing teacher asked me about a local restaurant, and I don’t believe I have talked about it here yet… so let me pull up details from the dregs of my deeply fallible memory.


I think I’ve eaten there twice. Possibly, though, there was a third time.

One of the times was for University City Dining Days (maybe 2005-ish?). I had an absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful dish with a mound of fragrant white rice, some baby green beans/peas of some variety… and something else. Heartbreaking because I remember biting into the rice and having it almost… but not quite… cooked enough. But it was so flavorful, I ate almost all of it, anyway. And I remember the beans (maybe they were snow peas?) not having had the strings pulled… possibly because the fresh sexy presentation had left them with their tops and tails. But they were also crisp and flawless and would have been amazing otherwise.

And the other time was just this past summer for brunch. And their brunches are rather legendary – with the restaurant always spilling over with happy people. There was a pitcher of orange juice for the table, and it was delicious freshly squeezed orange juice (but pricy). I ordered the french toast – it had a nice crunch as you sunk your fork into it (battered before frying, maybe – I don’t remember). It was generously dusted with powdered sugar and had a fruit compote that was very sweet, indeed. I ended up trading it, though, with a friend who had ordered the frittata with andouille topped with hollondaise sauce – it was too spicy for her. It wasn’t too spicy for me, and I quite liked it. The hollandaise was slightly off putting, but I think that might be my lack of sophistication showing – but it was almost like pure coddled egg yolks with hardly any other flavor… but I don’t usually have dishes with hollandaise because I find it too flavorful when made other places. And I do like egg yolks, so I’m not saying it was bad. Honestly, I think the best meal was had by my friends who just ordered eggs, toast, and bacon.

So this sounds like a bad review… and it kind of is. BUT – both times, even though they were both fairly busy, I had wonderful service. And the space itself it wonderfully West Philly. It’s entirely possible that the next time I do, it will be the most amazing time ever.

Invitation to dine

University City Dining Days are coming (July 26th through August 2nd.

I am free:

Friday, July 27th – 5pm-7pm
Sunday, July 29th

Since there are two restaurants I would like to try on the $15 list (Dahlak, which I know I like, and Vientiane, which is on my list to try), they are my first choices.

There are, however, plenty of second choices!

Anyone interested?

Moot – rabbit – Darfur talk – University City Dining Days

*a little background*
So you all know Lord of the Rings, right? And you know that gatherings of Ents were called ent moots, of course. Well, so, some friends of mine (all fans of the movies (books too, but we met on account of the movies) made by Peter Jackson. Those sure were some beautiful movies) used to have monthly gatherings so that they could cook for friends and have lively fannish dinner conversations. This is a post about one of those gatherings.


I love moot so much. I ended up sneaking into this month’s moot just because I couldn’t stay away (and needed to procrastinate a paper, but we won’t talk about that). And I love the hosts: [redacted], [redacted], and Molly (Cause, hah!, you live there, now!).

Okay… so the decision making process involved in going down there was a wee bit insane, but the great part of being there Friday night was going to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. I tell yah – next time I might bring a cooler. I have butter! Butter that has flavour and taste and infinite sexiness. I was lusting over the heavy cream, but it would never have survived the 2 1/2 hour drive in the baking sun. I did almost leave my butter behind, but I remembered before I got on the highway and before the other evil people stole it and turned it into sammiches.

So here’s where I brag about the awesome cookliness of [redacted-host] –

Lunch was around 2:30ish. Two kinds of pasta – carbonara and an awesome meaty & mushroomy sauce. OMG, I need the carbonara recipe – so good. With bread! A huge loaf of bread! And some of the butter of joy – and butter of garlic – and oil. but not all at the same time.

The ever-excellent mushroom schtuff in a pastry thingy
dill pancakes with lemon creme fraiche and lox
Savoury shortbread with feta and pesto
Shrimps on skewers (kinda scampi-ish)


And then there was dinner – which we all kind of looked at with only marginal interest because we had been slightly indiscreet at lunch, but still – so good!

Lil nut crusted goat cheese circles, salad-ish goodness, and more bread!

Poached salmon with an incredibly rich and orgasmic sauce (orange and saffron sabayon).

Then we voted to skip the chicken course.

Ices – it was a lemon ginger ice that started to burn after about four spoonfuls.

Dessert was mostly the marvelous fresh strawberries from the farmers market with fresh whipped cream and chocolate sauce (which [redacted-living with hosts] made to just the perfect consistency. But there was also bread pudding with caramelly nut sauce and a raisin sauce.

Wow… so full.


And then I came home and called up [redacted-ex] so that I could twist her arm into trying the “rabbit” I had thawed. Turns out that it most likely really is rabbit… an easier guess to make when I realized that the meat still had bones (argh!). The back legs were longer and more muscled than the front legs. If it were a dog, it would have had to be some kind of wee little thing like a Maltese or some such. Instead of trying to do anything civilized like cutting all the meat off, I just took it apart, grabbed the meat off the ribcage and then pitched those bones because they looked like they would have been awkward, and then split the spine in a couple points to make for smaller pieces. Then I made this recipe, Rabbit with Mustard Sauce, and I think it turned out quite well. My food aesthetics tell me that I probably should have made rice to put it on, but otherwise, all went well.

Cooking tip of the day: When you have to mix cornstarch with water, don’t fiddle around with a bowl and a whisk – just put the water and cornstarch in a small jar and shake.

So I saved the extra sauce because it was so tasty. What am I going to do with this rich mustard sauce (rich, wow, it tasted like there were egg yolks in it!)? My only idea so far is putting it over/in a mushroom rissotto.


Food for people in the area –

There is a dinner with speakers on Darfur

Will We Let Darfur Be the Next Rwanda?

The White Dog Cafe
June 20, 2005
Table Talk Dinner 6 PM

3420 Sansom Street
Call 215-386-9224 for Reservations

Honor U.N. World Refugee Day
Presenting speakers from The Darfur Alert! Coalition:

Dr. Jerry Ehrlich, a local pediatrician, who treated children in refugee camps in Darfur, Sudan with Doctors Without Borders will show slides and discuss life in the camps and children’s drawings depicting the brutality they survived.

Dr. Ibrahim Imam, a medical doctor, an immigrant from northern Darfur and a member of the Western Sudanese Association will provide historical context for understanding the genocide in Darfur and also discuss his experience as a medical examiner of massacre sites in Darfur .

Stephanie Nyombayire, a Rwandan and a student at Swarthmore College and an active member of Swarthmore Sudan and the Genocide Intervention Fund, recently traveled to the eastern border of Chad where 200,000 Darfurians have taken refuge. She will speak about genocide in Rwanda, what she witnessed in the refugee camps in Chad and Swarthmore’s 100 Days of Action Campaign. www.genocideinterventionfund.org

Rev. Isaac Miller, the rector of The Church of the Advocate and a founding member of The Darfur Alert! Coalition will describe the necessity of taking action now and specify what we can do to stop the killing in Darfur and get relief for the refugees.

Table Talks at 6 PM include a three course dinner, followed by the speakers and discussion from 7:30 – 9 PM. $38/person includes tax and gratuity. Reservations with advance payment required by giving a credit card number over the phone or by sending a check.
Senior citizens (over 65) and full time students: $30 with advanced notification. Student stand-by: Call between 4 – 5:30pm the day of the event for $20 dinner at 6pm.

Call 215-386-9224 for Reservations

Darfur Alert! a Philadelphia area coalition, focuses on the tragedy of the Darfur people, and alerts the community to act on their behalf.


Anyone want to join me for the University City Dining Days? There are several places on the $20 and $25 lists that appeal:

University City restaurants will participate in a special dining extravaganza Wednesday, June 23- Thursday, June 30, 2005. The promotion will offer three-course special dinners at the lower-than-usual prix-fixe prices of $20, $25 and $30 at various University City restaurants. Participating restaurants include:

Smokey Joes

Bubble House
Ecco Qui
Vientiane Cafe
World Cafe Live
Restaurant School
Zocalo Restaurant

New Deck (two dine)
Penne Restaurant and Wine Bar
Strikes Bowling Lounge (two dine)
White Dog Cafe

Prices are for dinner only and do not include tax, gratuity or alcohol. Reservations are recommended and should be made directly through the participating restaurant. For more information, visit http://www.ucityphila.org.