Rhuby at AITA

During September’s First Friday I popped in at Art in the Age to see the new show by the Reverend Michael Alan’s new show – a collection of drawings that eventually influenced the design of the AITA’s Rhuby label. Not yet able to find a bottle on the shelves, I was delighted to try this new spirit (I’ve only been waiting for months!) In 1771, Ben Franklin sent our nations first botanist, John Bartrum* a packet of rhubarb seeds from Britian,and America had a new, sourly delicious crop. Bartrum, smart man that he was, concocted a “garden tea” rhubarb, beets, carrots, lemon, petitgrain, cardamom, pink peppercorn, coriander, vanilla, and pure cane sugar. This early beverage is the inspiration for Root. Below you can see a slightly fuzzy photo that illustrates these influence.

If you haven’t tried Root or Snap, previous liquors in the AITA organic spirits line, it’s difficult to explain their dense spicy/sweet flavor profiles. On a simple level, though, I’d say that Root is most like bourbon, Snap is most like rum, and Rhuby is most like gin – crisp and vegetal with a touch of spice. AITA was serving it with tonic, but I made sure to try some on the rocks, just so I could tell you about it; s unmixed flavor, of course. Have you tried Rhuby yet? What are you drinking it with? AITA has a few ideas….

*If you haven’t been to Bartrum’s Garden, a treasure in Southwest Philadelphia, you really must get yourself there.


PHS Pop-Up Garden and Square 1682


In partnership with Philly Homegrown, PHS created a beautiful pop-up garden in the formerly empty lot at 20th and Market. Just look at all the beauty next to those boring skyscrapers! You’re welcome to pop-in on Wednesdays and Thursdays and spend some time in the garden.

The garden will stay up until October, then come down for the winter and pop-up in a new location next Spring! I stopped by for a short workshop on vegetable growing. These Wednesday workshops are free and easy to squeeze in over your lunch hour:
• August 4: Gardening Odds and Ends — Fabulous Containers
• September 1: Edible Landscapes — Growing Beautiful Food
• September 22: Edible Landscape — Planting and Harvesting

After the workshop I popped over to Square 1682 with some fellow food writers. Along with five other local hot spots – R2L, , Table 31, Sampan, Barbuzzo, and Paradiso — Square 1682 has agreed to use ingredients from the pop-up garden in special dishes whose proceeds benefit City Harvest, PHS’s program that provides fresh produce for underserved Philadelphia residents. Pictured above is petite salad with little gem lettuce, pickled vegetables, and a honey lemon dressing.

But this is the dish that melted my heart: Pesto Marinated Burrata with yellow pickled beets, endive, frisee, dried apricots and cranberries, and a sherry vinaigrette. I’d love to visit again some day and try their famous vegetable tasting menu!

Square 1682 on Urbanspoon

Foodbuzz 24 X 24: Congolese Dinner Fundraiser for Women for Women International

I received a small grant by Foodbuzz.com’ s 24 X 24 program. Every month the site gives 24 food bloggers $250 to organize some sort of dinner party or food event, and all the events take place on the same day of the month. I wrote a proposal to host a dinner fundraiser for Women to Women International, an organization that helps women in war torn countries rebuild their lives, and their families. I was delighted to win, but then just had two weeks to organize!

I spent yesterday afternoon cooking a humble Congolese meal (with a little Egyptian thrown in) and then some lovely folks came out to eat and make a donation. Some other lovely folks, who couldn’t make it to the dinner, donated to my Firstgiving site online, and all together we raised over $1000. Awesome! It was a great night.

pictured above and below are: peri-peri muffins, a spicy, buttery, peanut-y muffin popular in West Africa; Kushari, an Egyptian dish of rice, macaroni, lentils, tomato sauce and fried onions; Collard Greens, popular across Africa (and, of course, the Southern US); Congo Moambe, a peanut butter and tomato with nutmeg, chili, garlic and onions served over rice.

Since 1993, Women for Women International has directly assisted more than 153,000 women and approximately 655,000 family members have benefited from its programs. Women for Women International has distributed nearly $42 million in direct aid and microcredit loans since 1993. If you want to learn more about Women for Women International, and how you can get involved, see their website at: http://www.womenforwomen.org/.

Congolese Dinner Fundraiser for Women for Women International

Congolese Fundraising Dinner for Women to Women International
March 26th, 2011
6:30 – 8:30 PM
Kelly Writers House
3805 Locust Walk
Phila., PA 19139
RSVP: veggicurious@gmail.com

Hello blog buddies!

I’ve been given a small grant by Foobooz.com’s 24 X 24 program to host a dinner fundraiser for Women for Women International, an organization that helps women in war torn countries rebuild their lives, and their families.

I will be cooking a humble traditional Congolese meal (in honor of the amazing work that WfW does with Congolese rape and violence victims) and am asking guests to make a donation ($10 +) to support Women for Women International. Through your donation, women in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovinia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo, Rwanda and Sudan receive:

– direct aid for food, medicine, clothing and schooling

– microcredit loans and access to other economic opportunities

– rights awareness and leadership education

– job skills training and

– emotional support from the exchange of letter through the Sponsorship Program

You’re invited to this event! If you would like to attend, please send me an RSVP (so that I cook enough food!) at veggicurious@gmail.com. If you can’t attend, but would like to contribute and support this fundraiser and Women for Women International, you can do so safely and easily here:

Since 1993, Women for Women International has directly assisted more than 153,000 women and approximately 655,000 family members have benefited from its programs. Women for Women International has distributed nearly $42 million in direct aid and microcredit loans since 1993.

Donating through this website is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to support my fundraising efforts. Women for Women will send you a notice of donation for your tax purposes. Women for Women International receives high marks from Charity Navigator for meeting or exceeding industry standards for nonprofit organizations.

You’re Invited! Philly Bites radio show audience

As part of my job at the Kelly Writers House, I produce a live radio show that features 5 writers and one musical guest. The show, hosted by Michaela Majoun, tapes live at the Kelly Writers House and airs the following week on 88.5WXPN. Monday’s show features some exciting local food writers, and you’re invited to sit in studio audience! Just RSVP to wh@writing.upen.edu.

Monday, October 25, at 7:00 pm, LIVE at the Writers House tapes a new episode called PHILLY BITES! Five local restaurant reporters and culinary critics will discuss the savory bits of their craft in a mouthwatering broadcast, topped off with a performance by Philly musician John Francis. Come be part of the studio audience for this tantalizing talk!


LIVE at the Writers House Presents:

a passionate and delicious reading by food writers



and musical guest

Monday, October 25, at 7:00 PM in the Arts Café
Kelly Writers House | 3805 Locust Walk
RSVP to wh@writing.upenn.edu – this event is free & open to the public


LIVE AT THE WRITERS HOUSE is a long-standing collaboration between the Kelly Writers House and WXPN FM (88.5). Six times annually between September and April, Michaela Majoun hosts a one-hour broadcast of poetry, music, and other spoken-word art, along with one musical guest, all from our Arts Cafe onto the airwaves at WXPN. LIVE is made possible by generous support from BigRoc. For more information, contact Producer Erin Gautsche (gautsche@writing.upenn.edu).

After graduating with a B.F.A. in film and television production from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, KIRSTEN HENRI spent the next several years working in the front of the house at several of New York’s leading restaurants. She returned to her native Philadelphia in 2003 and started her career in food writing, as a columnist and later as restaurant reviewer for Philadelphia Weekly, before moving on to work with restaurant website Foobooz. In 2007, she was awarded a scholarship for “Food Writing Passion” by legendary cookbook author James Peterson, which makes her feel guilty since she doesn’t cook at home all that much. Most recently, she was the editor of the Philadelphia edition of New York magazine’s food blog, Grub Street. There’s nothing she won’t eat or drink, although she’s not a big fan of scallops.

BRIAN FREEDMAN is a food and wine writer, wine educator, and food and wine consultant. He is a contributing writer for John Mariani’s Virtual Gourmet, contributing food and drinks writer for Philadelphia Style Magazine, contributing writer for Where Magazine and the annual GuestBook, wine columnist for Affluent Magazine, contributing writer for Sommelier India, and wine specialist and resident blogger, at http://www.UncorkLife.com, for Wine Chateau, one of the largest online wine retailers in the world. He is also currently the restaurant critic and drinks columnist for Philadelphia Weekly, Suburban Life Magazine, and South Jersey Magazine.

As a reporter, DREW LAZOR has covered hard news, sports, education and arts. But he hit on a true passion when he began writing about food for the Philadelphia City Paper as a college intern in 2005. Since then, Lazor has parlayed an arbitrary assignment – a food news beat column called Feeding Frenzy – into a fulltime position overseeing all the dining content that appears in CP. (He’s also the paper’s Web editor.) He launched Meal Ticket, City Paper’s food blog, in October 2008.While most of his work these days deals in all things edible, you can occasionally catch Lazor writing about movies, music and the Internet for CP and a handful of other publications.

FELICIA D’AMBROSIO is the Community and Marketing Manager for Yelp.com in Philadelphia. She spent the last three years writing the food beat for City Paper, as well as blogging daily at City Paper’s food and drinks blog Meal Ticket. Monk’s Cafe, Village Whiskey and Capogiro Gelato all figure into her resume, and she feels equally at home expediting, pouring drinks or bouncing troublemaking trolls out into the street (digital or flesh-and-blood). You’ll find her planning remarkable monthly events for her Yelp Elites, spreading the word about Yelp to Philadelphians and connecting with the community both online and in the real world.

COLLIN KEEFE is the editor of the blog, Grub Street Philly. The local writing vet worked for Woodshop Films/Scrapple TV, PW, Profile Public Relations and City Paper before taking the reins of the blog from Kirsten Henri.

Raised in a Pennsylvania farming town, JOHN FRANCIS started to show his musical gifts at an early age. The Gospel and Folk music of his upbringing happened on Sunday mornings in the choir, and at home gathered around the family piano. The son of musicians and ministers, Francis grew up playing music with his parents in that little country church. Drawing on the deep well of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Folk, and Country, John Francis conjures the spirits of his eloquent brand of songwriting. His live shows range in dynamism from pin-drop intimacy to all the spitfire of a raucous chicken-wire barroom and a big-tent revival all rolled up in one. In October of 2005, Francis independently released the critically acclaimed “Strong Wine & Spirits”, with the single, “Heavy, Heavy Love”. The record garnered extensive radio play in the North East. Early in 2006, the song was in the top ten most played on Philadelphia’s WXPN for three months. The regional success of ‘Strong Wine…’ paved the way for Francis’ feature story on ABC News, and a featured performance on XM’s ‘Live from the Loft’ in New York City. This led to several sold out shows at well-known venues, “Tin Angel”, and “World Café Live”. Francis has just finished his 2nd full-length record, “The Better Angels,” produced by John Carter Cash, in the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, TN.

Jelly Donut

I would just like to say that I went to the Pennsylvania Dutch festival at Reading Terminal Market, and I ate this fresh, homemade jelly donut, and it was amazing. AMAZING, like a totally different kind of donut that put all other donuts to shame. Slightly crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, pumped full of sugary jelly and still warm from the fryer. Yum.

Get the Goods and help the Hungry

I love Support or Strength, which supports programs that fight childhood hunger across America. This Saturday the 17th, perhaps before you hit-up a great Earth Day celebration, stop by The Full Plate Cafe in Northern Liberties and pick-up some goodies baked by local bloggers for a good cause. Mama Gautsche’s Zucchini Raisin cookies are making an appearance, as well as all kind of less-healthy delectables.