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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.

::eating out:: Blue Route Taco Truck, Whole Foods Market, Plymouth Meeting, Pa

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Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview of the Blue Route Taco Truck at the Whole Foods Market in Plymouth Meeting. Being that I love tacos, and I love free food, I couldn’t deny it. I even cancelled plans with friends. Yup, I am a horrible friend when it comes to free food. Consider that my blogger disclaimer. I did not pay for this food. But, if I am willing to admit I am a horrible friend, you can also trust that my opinions of the free food are my own. So enjoy ūüôā

Pulling up to the Whole Foods, you might expect to see a taco truck in the lot. You would be looking for a while. This taco truck is on the roof! For a whole different perspective on the truck and some thoughts on the concept itself, head over to My Latest Distraction. I made PTB go along with me and he shared his thoughts on the “food truck”.

I’ve been excited about this truck for the months and months that it was sitting outside the store just waiting for the crane to hoist it to its new home at the Rooftop Cafe. The team that joined together in creating the menus and recipes for the truck were invested in the idea from start to finish. They visited Philadelphia and New York on a “tour of food trucks” to bring that grease truck feel to the newest part of their prepared foods family. A little thing I learned while there, this is the only Whole Foods to have a taco truck, and one of only 3 to have the burgers! Man, those are some good burgers.

The 3 Chris’s were our hosts for the evening. It was nice being able to easily remember the names of all the chefs! We have had Chris and Other Chris help us in the store before. Third Chris (not necessarily in photo order) is seen but rarely heard ūüôā They are all great guys and were amazing hosts answering any and all questions we had and visiting the tables in between order prep. The same friendliness you get from all the Whole Foods employees when you shop there was a clear part of this truck experience. A friend recently had her first Whole Foods experience (I like to convert people). When she told me about it her exact words were “I never smiled the entire time I was in a grocery store!”

Unlike a mobile food truck, the cab has been converted into an order window/cash register. While some may not like that this is different from a “real” food truck, I like paying with plastic as I rarely carry cash. The menu is short and sweet, and if they don’t have a beverage you want from the truck, try to remember to buy it downstairs first and bring it with you. Tacos are $2.50 each or 3 for $6. Cans of beer are available for $2.99 along with soda, tea and water.

Ordering is done in a similar fashion to the custom burgers inside. Pick up a slip, fill in the quantities you would like and put your name at the bottom. The slip does note that they will make no ingredient substitutions. To keep things quick, this makes sense and I would much rather have it on the order slip than have a cook yell at me. Once your order is ready, they will call your name. Easy enough. The beer list is obviously not as extensive as the options in their pub, but there was a decent variety and I was happy to see Phoenixville’s Sly Fox Brewery represented. I haven’t had my first post-baby drink yet though, so I stuck to soda and water. Oh – and I know I haven’t mentioned this before. The 365 Sodas are awesome. They are made with natural cane sugar and so yummy. The Black Cherry Soda is my favorite, but it might just be because it is clear. One issue I had with the menus was a bit of a discrepancy on Figi Water listed as $1.39 on the paper menu but $1.89 on the board.

Onto the food! While the guys do have the full store at their disposal for whatever they may need, all the ingredients are prepped on the truck. I love that all the ingredients are the same items I would buy in the store. Although, they may change later in the Summer as they are hoping to grow their own jalapenos and cilantro on the rooftop. I went down the menu in order trying each of the tacos, before I got to the vegetarian option I had snuck onto the truck for some pictures and saw the veggies being grilled…I couldn’t wait to get to that one!

First up Carne Asada with Queso Fresco (above left), Yellow Spanish Onion, Cilantro and spices. All the tacos were served in soft shells. The spices on the carne asada were great. The beef was tender and delicious. Overall, it was a people pleaser taco. Not too season-y, not too bland, simple but delightful.

Next, Pork Carnitas with Tomatillo Sauce (above right). This salsa was fresh Tomatillos, Yellow Spanish Onion, Jalapeno Peppers, Cilantro, Green Onion and Lime juice. This was probably both of our favorites. PTB is typically not a pork fan, but he couldn’t resist the kick of the jalapenos in the salsa. I concur. The pulled pork was beyond tender and juicy. The salsa was chunky and cold and had the perfect bit of heat from the peppers. mmmmm

The next taco on the list was the Tecate Fish Taco with Chipotle Mayo. If you have ever paid attention to the “About Me” you know I don’t eat fish. But for you, I did. Just the tiniest bite. The nice thing was that this beer battered Haddock fillet was not fishy at all. Topped with a Curtido Slaw consisting of cabbage, carrot, lime and cumin, this taco reminded me of the Kimchee Quesadilla at Tyson Bee’s (post coming soon, I swear). Decent, but definitely not the taco for me.

PTB was sure the next taco would be his favorite. It wasn’t. He liked it, but it wasn’t as good as he was hoping it would be. Spiced Chicken Taco with Pico de Gallo. It certainly did look delicious. We are typically huge fans of the Pico de Gallo that Whole Foods makes. Consisting of tomato, yellow Spanish onion, cilantro, jalapenos, and yellow bell peppers, it is colorful and tasty. When we buy small containers of it to bring home, we go through it almost too quickly. Maybe the jalapeno in this batch was a little too bland for our tastes. Overall, the taco was good. The chicken was nice and juicy, but the pico was maybe too sweet for our tastes. I would say this is a taco anyone could eat and enjoy regardless of their taste for heat.

The last taco on the list was a vegetarian option: Grilled Vegetables with Black Beans and Jicama. This came in a close second for my favorite. And depending on the day could have possibly come in first. Notice, I got a second Carnitas along with the veggie to try and compare side by side. The vegetarian taco is filled with yellow Spanish onion, summer squash, red & yellow bell peppers, jalapenos, black beans, and topped with jicama and cilantro. The grilling spices used are so yummy and give an amazing flavor to the taco.

Some tacos were double shelled, others were not. According to Chris, this was something they were learning as they built the menu. Some just were too juicy to be handled by one shell. I would probably suggest double shelling in general. The only one that didn’t seem to need it was the fish.

I will definitely be going back to the Blue Route Taco Truck. At $2.50/taco I can’t resist. I have had a horrible tendency to grab some pulled pork and mashed potatoes on my way out of the store from the prepared foods section lately. It turned into a leftover habit from pregnancy. But at $7.99/lb… that is an expensive “snack”. Tacos may have to replace that habit ūüôā

The Blue Route Taco Truck will debut this Friday, April 15th, during a day-long grand opening starting at 12pm. The truck’s menu will feature the five unique varieties of tacos pictured above. Ice-cold canned beer, soda, and water will also be available to wash it all down. Don’t miss the opening day festivities that will feature a 5-piece Latin Jazz band, maraca painting for kids and giveaways. No rain is scheduled and the high is 63. Sounds kind of perfect to me!

Whole Foods Market Plymouth Meeting is located at 500 West Germantown Pike at the Plymouth Meeting Mall in Plymouth Meeting, Pa 19462. Be sure to check them out on Facebook or follow on Twitter to keep up with all their latest offerings and specials. I’m personally looking forward to hearing about possible new offerings on the truck. There were rumors of tortas and fresh made chips and guacamole on the rooftop last night…Only time will tell!

Oh, and how could I not include this adorableness? Ben was a little jealous of the tacos getting all the attention from the camera. Look at him making eyes at me. Seriously.

And now that you have read one of my longest posts ever, go check out¬†My Latest Distraction‘s article about the concept of a food truck on a rooftop.

::promo:: Weleda products 30% off at Whole Foods Market

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I had a baby! He is finally here and he is AWESOME. I was in the hospital from Wednesday to Saturday at the beginning of the month and missed one of my favorite things. The Whole Foods One Day deal (every Friday). The particular Friday I was indispose with a newborn the special was pound cake for $1.99. YUM!

My favorite Whole Foods Market in the Philadelphia region (yup, I’ve shopped at all of them…) is the Callowhill store. It’s tiny, but they have everything I want, a great produce department, the BEST meat counter in the region, and ALL the products I want in the grocery department. They also have an amazing marketing team who interact with their customers on Facebook and Twitter. The team was sweet enough to send me a pound cake at the hospital AND a Weleda Baby Care Kit!

With my cloth diapering, homemade baby food, and organic cotton clothing/bedding, some of our family and friends think I’m a little bit of a hippie… I like to think I am raising my baby closer to the way I was raised. I am so happy that Whole Foods sent over the Weleda Baby products! They smell amazing and I got to try a brand that I had not even heard of previously! The baby product are all natural and free of any synthetic fragrances, colors, and preservatives. Best of all Bean loves them.

Whole Foods is all about baby this month. I love that this happen to fall on the month that our baby joined us. They have posted a Whole Baby guide and they are offering 30% off all Weleda produts all month! Not just for babies, Weleda offers a full line of natural sin care products as well. Be sure to take advantage of this great sale to try out some amazing products!

::summer love:: Red Pepper Pesto for Two

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You would think in the Summertime when it is super hot out, the last thing someone would want to be doing is working in the kitchen. I don’t quite get this though. ¬†Summer is one of the best times to be in the kitchen. Think of all the fresh produce! You have to have that oven up pretty high to bake fresh fruit pies!

It’s odd though, I do understand it when it comes to dinner. ¬†I am willing to spend hours in the kitchen for a fresh baked pie. ¬†Slaving away in the heat, sun shining in. ¬†It makes that summer night so much better! ¬†Oh! ¬†Speaking of pies! ¬†Cherries are a one day deal today at Whole Foods for Cherryfest! ¬†$1.99/lb!! I am on my way there right after this is finished! ¬†Yummm! ¬†So yes, I will let my oven sit on for an hour to have a perfect cherry pie…. but dinner time… that’s a different story. ¬†For some reason, by dinner time, the kitchen is the last place I want to be. ¬†This may explain my recent Summer slump. ¬†I need a grill slash a place to live where we can have a grill. Oh! And a nice place to eat dinner outside while we’re at it. ūüôā

This meal is perfect for those nights. It only takes as long as the pasta takes to boil, and the rest of the time you are pulling ingredients out of the fridge. Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking for Two.

What You Need
Step One
1/2lb pasta (I like using a pasta that will hold the sauce)
Step Two
3 cloves of toasted garlic, minced
2-3 large jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme (stems discarded)

This is going to go really fast.  Pay attention.  Start the pasta in salted water.  Blend all step two ingredients in a small food processor until smooth.

Reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Stir sauce into pasta, using cooking water to adjust consistency.

Yup.  You are already done.  Homemade sauce, in less time than the pasta took.

::cooking for two:: Harissa Spiced Chickpeas

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One of my favorite things about learning to cook is that I am no longer afraid to screw things up. ¬†If it goes too badly, we’ll just order something. ¬†It isn’t the end of the world. ¬†This of course is made easier by only cooking for the two of us. ¬†There is less wasted if I mess up, and less people to worry about pleasing. ¬†I was so excite about this recipe since my Long Nights and Log Fires is mostly recipes for crowds and this one is simply for two. ¬†It was a great easy meal (one pot!) during the cold winter in Philadelphia since I adapted it to fit what I had on hand, but I don’t think I would be opposed to it now that it is warmer out.

Really, it is just a new mixture of the same base ingredients I know and love. ¬†Onion, garlic, beans, tomato, spinach. ¬†Anything “spiced” falls into the category of “things we think we would like”. ¬†Harissa and Haloumi, however, were two items neither of us had ever heard of. ¬†Among the many different searches, I was told Harissa was anything from Greek to African. ¬†Haloumi is a Greek cheese. ¬†This dish is supposed to be Moroccan. ¬†I’ll go with overall it is a Mediterranean dinner. ¬†And based on this, how could you not enjoy it during the summer months? ¬†I just imagine the Mediterranean to always be blue seas and bluer skies. ¬†Ahhhhh…. Summer. ¬†I watch too much TV.

What You Need
Step One
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
medium red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Step Two
1 Tbsp harissa
1 can of chickpeas, drained (garbanzo beans)
1 can diced tomatoes
Step Three
5 oz. Halloumi cheese, cubed
big handful of spinach leaves (~8-10oz)
Step Four
salt & pepper
juice from 1/2 lemon
fresh grated Parmesan

In a medium saucepan heat the oil over low heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened.

Stir in all step two ingredients and increase heat to medium/medium-high.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add in step three ingredients and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes.  Season to taste and stir in the lemon juice.  Serve immediately topped with fresh grated Parmesan.  Naan would go great with this dish as well to help soak up any bits of sauce leftover.

Serves: 2  Cost: $4/serving