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::eating out:: Cold Point Pub, Whole Foods Plymouth Meeting

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I recently had the opportunity to test out some of the new items that will be added to the menu at the Cold Point Pub in the Whole Foods Market in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. Admittedly, I haven’t eaten in the pub too many times. Since I’m not a beer drinker, and then I was pregnant, and then subsequently had a baby, we tend to order our food from the Prepared Foods section. I’m also going to blame the delay of the write up on the baby. What can I say…he keeps me busy.

The new menu debuts tomorrow, and the tasting was a test to perfect things. I can’t guarantee everything here will be available or exactly the same, but I will pick up a copy of the menu next time I go shopping and post it. I do hope to test out more items on the menu over time.

Let me start by saying the chefs at Whole Foods are great. Please don’t think that because it’s a grocery store they aren’t dedicated to preparing restaurant quality dishes. They are. These guys are creating the amazing menus you’re seeing at the Cold Point Pub and the Blue Route Taco Truck. While we were there, I tried to convince Harry (the chef I spoke to at the tasting) to follow his aspirations to go on Food Network’s Chopped. Hopefully, we’ll see him on there soon!

Now to the food. I have a big stomach, but I could have tested far more while I was pregnant ūüôā Since I only had so much room, my goal was to order an entree that would be the opposite of anything I would normally order. So I went vegan. Luckily, I snagged a photo of our taste-tester-neighbor’s mac and cheese, and my mom came along to help test some things out. Some of the dishes were the best of their kind. At least in my humble experience.

The new menu is FAR more extensive than it was. Appetizers, entrees, desserts. The mac and cheese was described as a bit bland by our new friend. If it has the right consistency, I’m ok with that, but I have a feeling, it will change up a bit. The mac & cheese on the BBQ bar has always been great. Don’t worry, I’ll happily test out the mac & cheese in the near future. The sweet potato fries were the best I have ever had. Maybe that’s because I’m not a sweet potato person, but I liked them. And they were that perfect in between of soft and crunchy. Yum.

Side salad? Check. Comes with Wholes Foods house-made Balsamic Vinaigrette. Have you never had their dressings? GO! NOW! Now, the salad has an advantage. It is late summer. Produce couldn’t be more delicious than it is right now.

The onion rings were decent. Sort of a standard beer battered onion ring, but not the kind that the onion completely pulls out when you take a bite. These were cooked perfectly. I was a little disappointed in the paprika aioli. But again, I’m hoping that will be adjusted a bit. My main criticism was that it was a bit bland. A bit too much of a mayo taste and not enough paprika. I can only imagine it would seem more bland if I was eating it while drinking a beer.

On to the entrees…

As I mentioned previously, I love the Whole Foods made dressings. The Caesar is no exception. My only complaint about this salad is the cold chicken. When it is listed as grilled chicken, I prefer it to be freshly grilled and hot. I’m not a fan of cold chicken in general though. Other than that, it was a perfect balance of dressing to beautiful romaine, grape tomatoes, and croutons.

Next up, my vegan adventure. Vegan Pulled Pork.¬†Honestly, I didn’t even know what seitan was before I got home and looked it up. It was good. Harry makes some AWESOME Carolina barbecue sauce. Seriously delicious. I need it to be described on the menu as just a Vegan BBQ Pork Sandwich though. When it said pulled pork, visions (?) of buttery, melt in your mouth, falling apart shreds of meat dance in my mouth… But I have had the pulled pork at Whole Food, I know it is good. I don’t need to taste test it. The vegan version was good. If I wasn’t eating meat, I would eat it again. If I want to go out and get something yummy on Fridays during Lent, I’m getting this. True to a BBQ sandwich, it was spilling over the roll creating a giant sweet + tasty mess on my plate. Meat lovers, you can’t deny…this doesn’t look bad at all.

My mom got the crab cake. The arugula and remoulade toppings were a great pairing with the sandwich. She was hoping for a lighter roll, but overall really enjoyed the sandwich. Not too much filler, and full of flavor.

My favorite part of the entrees was the cole slaw. I do not, I repeat, DO NOT like cole slaw. Nope. Never. Not happening. This was VEGAN! It was mayo-free. What don’t I like about cole slaw? It’s mushy. It’s picnic food that shouldn’t be. Something made with mayonnaise should not sit on a picnic table in the heat. Ew. It doesn’t help that I don’t like mayo. Vegan slaw, however. Crunchy. Tart. Perfect amount of vinegar and no fake mayo. I need to make some of this.

Most importantly…they have added desserts to the menu. A gelato trio, a cake pop trio, and apple pie a la mode. When I heard apple pie a la mode, I assumed a slice of the delicious apple pie you can purchase from the bakery. This was even better. Perfect size for two to share. The crust was thick, crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside, perfectly buttery without being too buttery. It and had soaked up the perfect amount of juices. The pie was fairly reminiscent of homemade apple dumplings. And not the crunchy baked ones, the steamed ones covered in sweet cinnamon sauce. Droooooooool. The more than generous scoop of vanilla gelato melts into the crumb topping to give it a bit of a saucy topping while still having just enough texture. Oh…did I not mention it was served, seemingly, freshly baked. I think I need to go get one of these right now…

Gelato trio… If you have never had gelato, crawl out from under that rock and discover Italy’s ice cream. Smoother, creamier, richer. Come eat it in a tiny chocolate dish. The dessert includes chocolate, vanilla, and the flavor of the week. Dessert garnish has always been a favorite of mine. I’ll never turn down a rolled stick of white chocolate.

Cake pop trio…¬†I’m typically not a fan of cake pops. The consistency bothers me. They always seem underbaked. The trio is planned to include Carrot, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and again the flavor of the week. We tested out Carrot, Key Lime, and Strawberry Chocolate. I’m sad to say for the most part, these were no different than my experience with other cake pops. Although…the Starbucks ones did not agree with my tummy at all… The carrot cake was the exception. So good. Perfectly baked.

The prices in Cold Point Pub are great. Comparable (if not less) than some of the items would be by the pound in the Prepared Foods section, the cake pop trio is $.03 more than if you bought them from the bakery. But $.03 seems cheap for table service, vanilla sauce, and some raspberries. Nothing is priced over $10 with most items either $6 or $7. If you need a cheap date, this would be an amazing option. And yes, I would totally go to Whole Foods for date night dinner.

::buy this:: Ciao Bella Cakes

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This past week was craziness. Packing, cleaning, anticipating…all while trying to live our normal lives too. Monday we had our anatomy scan. This is the doctors appointment where they do an ultrasound to make sure little Bean is growing properly and doing well. If you want, they’ll also tell you when you will be having a little girl bean or boy bean. I knew I wanted to know. I NEEDED to know. PTB could have gone either ¬†way. We didn’t have a preference, so it would be exciting either way. There wasn’t any room for disappointment.

Inspired by the internet, we decided the way to tell our families was to have a party. Since we are moving soon, it was a good excuse to have one last hurrah at our apartment before moving to the suburbs and “settling down”. I wanted to bake the color into a cupcake so it would be a secret from our guests until they bit in. Then PTB decided that’s how he wanted to find out too. I knew I couldn’t keep it from him for an entire week. And then, did I really want to try and clean up the mess of food colored cake batter before he came home one night?

This is when I needed to find a professional. I called quite a few bakeries in the area and only one seemed to really understand what I wanted. I’m not an icing fiend. I wanted batter piped into the cupcake, not icing after the fact. Stefanie Kitchner, the founder of Ciao Bella Cakes, not only understood, she seemed excited about it! This was exactly who I needed to be working with. So on Monday afternoon we went to the doctor. They put the answer in an envelope and I delivered it to Stefanie first thing Tuesday morning. I had to get it out of my hands!

Finally Saturday morning arrived. We went to pick up the cupcakes. Four dozen of them. We decided to open the little box and put them on a cupcake stand so that we could have some out while we explained to our guests what the plan was. I let Stefanie do her thing in terms of decorating, just letting her know I wasn’t crazy about a ton of icing. When i opened the first box I was a little panicked. All I saw were pink foils! We quickly realized there were also blue and gold, but mostly in the other box. Phew. The icing looked perfect, and the random sprinkles just made us smile.

Since we weren’t finding out yet, I can’t tell you about the cakes yet… So I will start with the icing. Oh my, that icing was amazing. When I had told Stefanie that I wasn’t crazy about icing her response was for white icing she usually does “vanilla buttercream. It’s super yummy! Not too sweet. Nice and light and fluffy. And lots of butter!”. I really could not describe this icing better. I got so many compliments throughout the day about the icing.

There were plenty of compliments on the cupcakes as well. And after eating at least 4 of them so far (thank goodness we ended up with extras), I can definitely stand my the moist perfection of the cake. YUM! Oh, and the big reveal that you’ve been waiting for? It’s a…..

BLUE!

I mean BOY! We are officially halfway through to our little boy bean.

Stefanie was amazing to work with. Incredibly easy going and she is very creative when it comes to wedding cakes, etc. She makes everything from scratch using high quality ingredients. No mixes, bases, or fake stuff. My kind of baker ūüôā

If you are in the Philadelphia area and need a custom baked good large or small, I highly recommend Ciao Bella Cakes. Be sure to check out Stefanie’s¬†website and be a fan of the bakery on Facebook! She can be reached at 267‚ÄĘ229‚ÄĘ0829

::summer love:: Happy Anniversary

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I am taking the day off today. ¬†I’m hoping I won’t be cooking. ¬†Today I celebrate 5 years of being married to PTB. ¬†That means five years of cooking more than just spaghetti with sauce from a jar. ¬†Five years of owning more than 2 pans. ¬†Five years of wanting to cook. ¬†Five years of being mrs ptb.

Thank you for encouraging me to do anything I want! ¬†It has been so much fun and I can’t wait for more ūüôā

::eating out:: By George! Pizza, Pasta & Cheesesteaks

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With all the time spent in Reading Terminal Market during the Philadelphia Comic Con, I got to enjoy tons of food that I had yet to try. I adore the Market.  But it is just not as convenient as all the food in our own neighborhood, so it requires a special occasion to make it down. One day when I am rich, I will make more of an effort to visit more often.

With all of us kind of craving cheesesteak goodness, we headed towards our usual spot Spataro’s only to find they were closed for the day!  The horror! Luckily after exploring a bit more, we found the back corner of the market. Neither PTB or I had ever been back there!  How had we missed this corner? With a huge neon sign guiding us overhead, we found By George Cheesesteaks and other Italian yumminess.

While we waited, I took a ton of pictures to remember everything I want to try in the future.

I’m not going to say it was the best cheesesteak I had ever had. I am not a fan of digesting animal fat at all, so when it is present in a sandwich, I cringe a little. Flavor-wise though, it was still a higher quality meat, and it was a well made sandwich. They had a huge variety, I went with the spinach, garlic, onions, and provolone.

The only other downfall to these sandwiches it the size. They are well over a foot long and about 4-5″ in diameter.

This was not a meal for one. At least not for me. Once I said something, the boys felt the need to prove me wrong. I would much rather split a sandwich and fries, but PTB doesn’t like fried onions on his cheesesteaks!

I will give George’s another try if the time comes. Overall, I was completely satisfied with the sandwich. I just wish I knew ahead of time it could feed an army. And it will take me forever to get through their endless menu and try everything. But they have tomato pie, so you know it’s good ūüôā


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::local flavor:: Tony Luke’s

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This past weekend, I joined some of the My Latest Distraction boys and spent my days and nights surrounded by geekiness at the Philadelphia ComicCon thrown by Wizard. ¬†I actually had a really great time, because despite the event’s name, there weren’t many for comic-related activities. ¬†We’ll be posting a ton of stuff about the weekend on My Latest Distraction, so please check it out!

One thing that these conventions do is connect the people and the “celebrities”. ¬†That term needs to be used very very loosely. ¬†On Friday, we arrived earlier in the day, and got to a bunch of people before the masses arrived. ¬†We did a short “interview” with none other than Philadelphia’s own Tony Lucidonio aka Tony Luke. ¬†Really, the interview consisted of one question. ¬†“Why are you here?”

He didn’t really know either. ¬†Apparently he is in a movie called The Nail which has gotten some attention. ¬†I had never heard of it. ¬†I gave him a card for Not Just Take Out so that he could feel like his time was well spent ūüėČ And I had my picture taken with him!

Now that I am writing this post though, I have to be honest. ¬†I have NEVER had a Tony Luke’s cheesesteak. ¬†I’m sorry. ¬†The only time I would really have the opportunity is at Citizen Bank Park and the line is so long! ¬†So, I guess they must be good. ¬†I’m told that they are very similar to the cheesesteaks from Jim’s on South Street. ¬†Those are my favorites! ¬†So, Tony, if you are reading this, I am very sorry. ¬†Maybe I will have one some day. I hope so! ¬†And when I do, you can be sure I will talk about it all over the site. If it does taste like Jim’s I am all for it!

I do have some issues with you, Tony Luke. ¬†You were nice and all, but how much do you need to push a product? ¬†Did the economy hit the “going out for a cheesesteak market” so badly that you needed to endorse something? ¬†You were in a movie, that had to have some sort of pay day. ¬†We walked by your booth later in the day Friday, and then again Saturday, and again Sunday. ¬†You weren’t there after the first visit. ¬†On Friday afternoon, I did see what you were there pushing though. ¬†This disappoints me beyond belief. ¬†And, ps, thank you for not mentioning it at all when we spoke to you.

Tony Luke, I know I am not your target market. ¬†Considering I have never eaten one of your cheesesteaks, I am certainly not the person who would be buying a microwaveable version of it. ¬†And, ok, so I have a food blog that is mostly about cooking, so again, I am probably not going to be microwaving a cheesesteak. ¬†But just the concept of this is so disgusting to me (please note: I don’t put meat in the microwave anyway). ¬†Why, Tony Luke, WHY?

I wanted to be informed before bashing you. ¬†You didn’t deserve a bashing. ¬†You were one of the nicest people at the ComicCon. ¬†So I went to your site, and I watched the video. ¬†It does make it seem a little less disgusting to me. ¬†I still won’t eat it. ¬†But I am happy to see that the recommended way of making this delicacy involved a stove and oven. ¬†Overall impression though? ¬†A microwavable meal shouldn’t require an nine minute video.

If you are Tony Luke, and you are reading this: ¬†I am sorry, I just had to voice my honest opinion. ¬†Thanks for being such a nice guy on Friday, and hopefully we’ll see you one day at your shop!

If you aren’t Tony Luke and you are reading this, I have two questions for you:

#1.  Have you eaten a microwaved cheesesteak?

#2.  Where is your favorite steak sandwich from?