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Memorial Day Weekend in Philly

5 o’clock came and work was finally over, it was a beautiful day out, 86 degrees, low humidity, hardly any clouds in the sky and I could not wait to get changed and go out on the town. If Philly had weather like this year round it would be San Diego, unfortunately we have about 3 days of that perfect weather called spring.

I headed over to Time Restaurant, Whiskey Bar and Taproom and ordered the He said, She said, which is made of Gin, St. Germaine, thyme simple syrup and peychauds bitters, the thyme was a great touch and gave the drink an elegant flavor. Gin is always a favorite of mine to start the night out on a spring or summer evening, it’s so light and refreshing. After I finished my first drink my friend met me at the bar and we ordered up two vodka martini’s with olives. As we drank these martini’s at the bar, with windows open behind us we listened to the music from the band playing in the corner, it really set the mood and made me realize, yes summer is here and it is time to have fun. After a couple more martinis we decided to order some food. We ordered the grilled octopus with white beans, nicoise olives, and fennel citrus salad, this dish was surprisingly amazing. Grilled octopus in my opinion is one of the hardest dishes to cook correctly and it was cooked spectacularly, beautifully charred on the outside with a nice smoky flavor but yet not too chewy on the inside. The nutty tasting nicoise olives, the mild licorice flavor and crunchy texture of the fennel and the booming tartness of the citrus meshed tremendously well with the grilled octopus and provided us with a great dish to start the evening. Up next came the Artisnal cheese dish, this plate of stankiness was nothing to sniff at, it was diverse in flavors and it really came together well to make for an excellent dish. The final two dishes we had for the night I was little disappointed in though, although I cannot blame them for the bone marrow because they had to accommodate for my friends nut allergy, I would rather have had them just give me the bone marrow plain than overpower the taste of such a delicacy with the citrus salsa they ended up placing atop of the dish. The shrimp ceviche was also a disappointment as it too was overpowered with citrus flavor so much so that you could hardly taste the shrimp at all.

VM                    GOS

Cheese                    BAnd

After dinner my friend wanted to check out a special event at Franky Bradley’s called Franky’s Foxes. Franky’s Foxes is a partnership between Franky Bradley’s and the temerarious Foxes, which includes some of the most talented drag queens in the city of Philadelphia. After grabbing some Lagunitas Pils from the bar I sat down in my seat when of course the first act was late to the stage and the host of the show had to stall, so who does she pick to help her stall, you got it, moi. As I walked up to the stage, I knew I was out of my element and she could obviously tell I was in over my head, first thing she says you know I called you up here for a reason right, at this point I think, I awkwardly giggled and she says are you straight?  And I said yes as everybody laughed, I realized that this was the first moment in a long time that the cat got my tongue and she sent me back to my seat. I tried my best, but I don’t think you will see me in any shows anytime soon. The show went on and it was extremely entertaining. As the show was winding down I ordered an old fashion to nip on and end the night.

DQ

Sunday was perfect, it was another low humidity, sunny and blue sky day. I decided to make my first trip to Spruce Street Harbor Park with a friend and it was marvelous out. We grabbed a few beers, sat on the deck and had a great conversation with a couple sitting next to us, whose grandkids were driving from Wisconsin to visit them the next day. Spruce Street Harbor Park is a great time for all ages and allows you to relax and drink beers if you can find an open seat. It really is one of the best attractions on the Delaware River.

Spruce

After a few beers we headed over to Gaslight, we ordered some more drinks, the west coast oysters and the chicharrones. The Gaslight has a fabulous atmosphere with windows that open wide and a bright white paint job plus it is in a great location, unfortunately the times I have been here before I have always wanted to like it but I have never been that impressed with the food. Since the last time I came though they had changed chefs and even though we only had some snacks I could tell by the freshness and preparation that this place may finally be on the way to meeting its expectations. The west coast oysters were delicious, so fresh, briny and creamy, it tasted like I was eating them directly out of the Pacific (except that they were clean). The chicharrones texture was exactly how I like it, crunchy, while the flavor was salty and with the addition of the lime and hot sauce made for a citrusy tang that was truly exquisite for a snack. Although I would have liked a little more heat from the hot sauce.

GL Oys                        GL Chi

Next up came Zento, we ordered some lychee martinis and a plate of the sashimi. The martinis were deliciously sweet as we sat outside and people watched. The sashimi was as expected, excellent and fresh. I am not one who eats my sashimi with too much soy sauce nor wasabi, so I really need the fish to taste fresh and this did.

Zento

After a long day of drinking in the sun, I decided to head home and take a nap and a shower and told my friend we would meet up again at Rouge later in the night for dinner. It was beautiful night, not too warm, clear skies people walking all around Rittenhouse square park, which was the biggest surprise to me because Philadelphia is usually desolate on Memorial Day weekend but since it has started to improve as a destination city this trend has reversed. After the long day in the sun with beer and liquor it was time for relaxation and I switched over to red wine. My friend and I ordered the tuna tartare to split.  This is the way you make a tartare, it was fresh and spicy, yet those flavors were not so overwhelming that it took away from the flavor of the tuna, they did what they were supposed to do, compliment the taste of the raw tuna and boy was it delicious.  After a few more reds, we ordered dinner I ordered the Rouge burger and my friend ordered the steak salad. The Rouge burger is on my top 3 list of burgers I have ever had, not to mention the frites that come with it are a great side to pick on throughout the meal. The nutty Gruyere, fresh tomato, juicy garlicky 12 oz of beef on top of a tasty challah roll, just thinking of it now makes my mouth water, it really is a must have in Philly, especially on a beautiful night overlooking such a gem of a park. My friend ordered the hangar steak salad, rare, and this was not a disappointment either. There was more steak than salad on this dish made up of mixed greens, grape tomatoes, roasted peppers, red onions and topped with a large scoop of Roquefort cheese and a balsamic glazed shallot dressing. The buttery texture and slightly salty, pungent, almost addictive aftertaste of the Roquefort married extremely well with the irony flavor of the rare steak and sweetness of the balsamic. After dinner we met some friends at Twenty Manning, which is another hot spot to check out on a beautiful night for dinner and drinks, for some nips to end the night.

TT

RB                                        SS

Memorial Day weekend was a 4 Tizzle experience. It was beautiful out and all of the spots I went to were relaxing and fun times.

Time – 3.5 Tizzles – Great band and you have to try the Grilled Octopus salad

Franky Bradley’s – n/a – Must see event and all I have heard is good things about their food so I have to check this out for dinner one night

Spruce Street Harbor Park – 4 Tizzles – Great atmosphere, wish they had more places to eat and buy beer

The Gaslight – n/a – must try the west coast oysters, have to give this place one more chance to win me over

Zento – n/a – sashimi and lychee martini were both must gets

Rouge – 5 Tizzles – Beautiful view, Burger and steak salad were both top notch

Twenty Manning – n/a – Happening atmosphere

Remember to enjoy the time you have on this earth.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!!!!!

Tiz Takes LA – The Aftermath

Waking up the morning after a wedding is always difficult, especially when you had a pants splitting, both literally and figuratively, good time the night before. The wedding was held at the Calamigos ranch, which was one of the most beautiful wedding venues I have ever seen. I had the fish for dinner which was a California Halibut and it was hands down the best wedding dinner I ever had, the texture and tempature were perfect. Congrats to my friends Erica and Tim and I wish you many happy years together.



When I finally was able to shake the cobwebs from my head, I realized I still had two full days left in Los Angeles and all I had left in my tank were fumes. Luckily for me though, as my brother said, my fumes are like a full tank for some others. My brothers, friends and I headed over to the Farmshop in Santa Monica for brunch. The restaurant had a very rustic feel meets Rich Kids Of Beverly Hills style to it and was actually a very lovely atmosphere. After about an hour wait, unfortunately all the smaller stores attached in the market were closed while we were waiting so were unable to look around too much, we were finally seated. I started off with the mimosa, gruet rose and organic orange juice, this drink just seemed so high society LA that I had to get it. The berry flavor that came from the rose overpowered the taste of the OJ which was fine with me, because it was delicious. To start off for the table we ordered the stracciatella cheese with saba, rosemary, toasted pine nuts and larder sourdough, the fried weiser farm potatoes with wild herbs, house made ketchup and aioli and the deviled eggs topped with smoke trout caviar and caraway. The cheese was mouth watering worthy, every time I see burrata or stracciatella on a menu these days I force myself to order it, the toasted pine nuts and larder sourdough complimented this dish seamlessly. While the potatoes were perfectly cooked, the star of this dish was the smooth and tart house made ketchup.  The best of all three dishes though was the deviled eggs with smoked trout caviar and caraway, the creamy eggs with the earthy caraway flavor was a great beginning but the crisp burst of salty fresh ocean flavor that shot out of the caviar and into your mouth was the ultimate treat. for breakfast I ordered the pastrami and poached eggs, the dish was delectable to say the least as I was not expecting to have such a great pastrami in Brentwood. After brunch we drove back to the hotel through the San Vicente Mountain range and took another well needed rest.





We gathered down in the hotel lobby and decided to take a Lyft to Fathers Office in Santa Monica for Happy Hour. Fathers Office was the exact opposite of every other place I visited, it reminded me of something you would find in Philly, the atmosphere was fun, very casual and no nonsense. If I were to move to LA, I would easily become a regular. By the way don’t order ketchup on your burger or ask for no buns, just take the buns off yourself this is not a gluten accommodating establishment, so please don’t bother asking. They have a huge rotating seasonal beer selection and a changing menu. One of the mainstays of the menu is the Fathers Office burger which some say started the gourmet burger trend in the United States. We ordered beers and the burger medium rare and split it three ways, the burger comes on a French roll with carmelized onions, Gruyere, blue cheese, smoky bacon arugula and a tomato compote. The burger reminds you of exactly what the Chef wants it to remind you of, a crock of French onion soup. The burger is juicy as can be, while the carmelized onions are as sweet as syrup and the bite of the cheeses makes this an overall fantastic representation of a gourmet burger.


After Happy Hour we met up with another brother of mine, a friend and Raouf Boudjakdji at the Tavern Restaurant. I like to joke that I am the most interesting man in the world but to tell you the truth Raouf may actually own that title. He was married to William Randolph Hearst’s granddaughter Millicent before she passed away in 2002 and he was the former Algerian ambassador to the United Nations in Genieva and to the Vatican where he became good friends with Pope John Paul II, so you can only imagine the interesting stories he has to tell. I ordered a glass of red wine and the table ordered the Spanish fried chicken to share as an appetizer. The Spanish fried chicken was delicious, the seasoning tasted exactly like chorizo and combined with the fried chicken was a great way to start the meal. For dinner I ordered the Norwegian Cod with coconut rice, carrot broth, kumquat sambal and peanuts. The coconut rice, carrot broth and kumquat sambal combined perfectly to make a spicy, sweet, citrusy flavor, that was truly appetizing, unfortunately for my tastes it overpowered the fish flavor way too much for me.


  
In the morning we headed over to Malibu and went to breakfast at the Malibu Farm Pier Cafe. This farm to table cafe had beautiful views overlooking the ocean, we had surfers to our right and dolphins straight ahead of us, behind us on the hills and all along the coast line you could see beautiful mansions that were one earthquake or tsunami away from being destroyed, but they were a gorgeous sight. I ordered the breakfast burrito which was filled with delicious fresh eggs, chorizo, rice, beans and tasty guacamole with a side of scrumptious right out of the ground earthy salty potatoes. I also tasted the Swedish mini pancakes with whipped cream and berries which reminded me of one of my favorite desserts as a kid, strawberry short cake, it was so light and fresh. After breakfast we did a little sight seeing around Venice beach were my sister-in-law as almost run over by a burglar on the boardwalk and some window shopping downtown in Venice. from there we headed to beautiful Hermosa beach and relaxed with a friend until it was time to head to the airport to get on the red eye and fly home.

  
 
   

Overall these final two days were a much needed relaxing  4 Tizzle experience. 

Calamigos  Ranch 10 Tizzle experience – atmosphere, weather, food, drink and music were all top 5 for wedding experiences

Farmshop 4 Tizzle experience – Must try the deviled eggs with smoke trout caviar

Farmers Office 4.5 Tizzle experience – Great beer, burger and people what else can you ask for

Tavern Restaurant 3.5 Tizzle experience – Food was good but the best part was the company I was sitting with

Malibu Farm Pier Cafe 4.5 Tizzle experience – Would eat breakfast on the deck here the rest of my life because of the view

LA was amazing and I hit up more locations in this trilogy than most people that live in the area, if you have the chance I would definitely suggest you spend time there.

Follow me on Instagram @SizzlebyTizzle and on Twitter @Turtle19820

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!!!!

Tiz Takes LA – Follow the Locals

I woke up from my nap in my new room at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, a supposedly haunted hotel where the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable have lived right along the walk of fame and across the street from the Chinese Theater. I was rejuvenated and I wanted to see my buddy who was now living LA. I went out to JR’s place in Santa Monica planning on staying there for a little and then coming home and making it an early night. We hung out with his dogs ate some pizza, watched the Clippers blow a huge lead and listened to a torrential down pour, which was weird since they were in a monumental drought when I got there. It was great catching up and after the game it was time for me to head back to the hotel.

  
I returned back to The Hollywood Roosevelt and it was pretty dead, I figured I would sit down at the hotel bar, which was a dark lonely place and have a few drinks before heading back to the hotel room for a good night sleep. I sat down and ordered a bourbon neat, the bartender was pretty much the worse bartender I have ever had, she was texting and furious the whole time I was there. Overhearing other people’s conversations at the bar was making me laugh though, it reminded me of my days in Washington D.C., but instead of people saying “I am the deputy Chief of Staff to Senator…”, the conversations would go “I am a co-producer for…(unknown film or TV show).”  I had paid my tab and was about to head up when these people sitting next to me asked me if I knew were the speakeasy “No Vacancy” was located. I had no clue, but I told them I’d go with them if they wanted to try and find it. They were all for it so me and my new friends were off to find “No Vacancy.”

  
As the cab pulled into a dark alley and I peered over the chain link fence I could see in the distance a neon sign on an old style Victorian house, once owned by Charlie Chaplain and later used as a brothel, that flashed No Vacancy, we exited the cab and approached the classic Victorian. As we were escorted through the back entrance through a hotel like corridor we entered the 3rd door on the left,  a Madame was there to greet us on her bed just as she said please enter, her bed moved and uncovered an entrance with steps to the basement, an adventure had begun. I went down to the bar and ordered the Royal Swizzle, fittingly I mused to myself for thy Royal Tizzle. The Royal Swizzle consisted of Atlantico Reservation Rum, Orange Liqueur, lime and orgeat syrup, topped off with a garnish of mint.  After the first sip, I knew this would be all I would be drinking the rest of the night, it tasted like an orange dreamsickle, one of my favorite treats as a kid and it got you pretty lit as and adult.  After a few of these I hit up the living room/dance floor and showed Hollywood how white northeast men like to dance, I think they were impressed or confused, not exactly sure, but I enjoyed it. There are a lot of hidden gems in No Vacancy, like photo booths and an upstairs bar and a side exit that lead to an outside grill. I ordered up the No Vacancy burger which was exactly what was needed. The burger was perfectly cooked and had a great smoky-char flavor with bacon, fresh tomato, lettuce, cheese on a bun. I felt like I was at an outside bbq as I was talking to these Swedes next to me about the NHL playoffs. As closing time approached I headed back to my hotel for the night for some much needed sleep.

  
  
I awoke from my deep sleep, checked my bags at the front desk, ordered an uber pool and headed over to the Grand Central Market. Grand Central Market has a fabulous variety of food stalls and reminds me a lot of Philly’s own Reading Terminal Market, both could learn a little from each other, but they are still both top notch. First stop was the Grand Central Liqueur store  where I bought a pounder of Modelo Especial. From there I headed over to Sticky Rice. Sticky Rice is a fantastic authentic Thai style bbq street food location. I ordered the grilled pork neck which came with a green papaya salad. The green papaya salad was made fresh to order right in front of my face with a mortar & pestle, it was an awesome site to witness as she grinded away to make sure all the flavors mixed together perfectly. The Modelo and fresh spicy papaya salad complimented each other flawlessly and was the ideal way to start the morning out. But what came next was even better. The grilled pork neck had the flavor of smoked ribs with a mystifying sauce that brought salty, sour and spicy together that made you want to lick the bowl after you were finished. After I was finished an headed over to G & B coffee which is located rightat one of the major entrances of the market and allows you to relax and sip on your espresso as you people watch on the outside street. While drinking the espresso I was told I had to try the burger at Belcampo meat Company, so I walked over there ordered a beer and a burger and dug in. I must say, while the burger was tasty the dirty ketchup was a little overpowering for my liking it had a very strong clove flavoring. I was talking to the lady next to me and she mentioned to me that I had to visit The Grove so after the burger and beers I ordered up an uber pool and headed out.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
The Grove is an outdoor shopping and entertainment complex, it was a beautiful day and I even had a chance to ride the trolley. It would be a great place to hang out for the day with family or friends, but I was not there for the shopping I was there for the historic farmers markets that is located inside The Grove complex. I sat down at E & B’s Beer and Wine for some drinks. I started off with a strong bow cider, as I started conversing with my fellow bar flys I realized these guys were regulars, some had only a couple teeth, some worked in The Grove and this is their lunchtime spot and some must have been sitting their since opening because they could hardly sit up straight and it was only 2 pm. The bartender was super nice and entertaining, not afraid to bust the balls of her regulars, she came over and gave us all a free glass of her red sangria to try, which by the way was delicious as well. Before I left to head to the wedding hotel I decided to grab some Brazilian meats from Pampas Grill and brought it back over to the bar. I ordered the Picanha, sirloin caps, and the sausage. The Picanha was delicious and melted in my mouth like butta, while the sausage was a little greasy for my liking and tasted more like a Bob Evans link than I expected. I finished my food and red stripe and headed out.

  
  
  
  
This spontaneous adventure was 4 Tizzle experience. No vacancy was a 4 Tizzle experience with a unique venue, awesome drinks and solid food it’s a late night location not to miss when in Hollywood. The Grand Cental Market had great diversity and food and was a 4.5 Tizzle experience while the Grove was a 3.5 Tizzle experience with some good food but was a little confusing on how to get around.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!!!!

Tiz Takes LA – The Koreatown Excursion 

LA, LA, LA what can I say, I came out to visit and fell for you like a one week crush. It was like I was the alcoholic and you were the fridge full of a variety of booze that I had to finish in six days, every morning I woke up, full, tired and hungover and decided the best idea was to follow the same pattern as the day before. Open the fridge grab the next bottle and continue on my journey down the yellow brick road.

  
1200 hours EST Wednesday May 13

This was my 33 rd birthday and I was supposed to be working, but due to some unfortunate circumstances I was unable to get to work so I got to the airport 8 hours early and hoped to get the 1:40 pm standby plane to LA. Luckily after some maneuvering and cutting of some red tape by myself I was able to change flights to the 1:40 pm flight. I was also able to drink for free at the Admirals club which is always a plus, I had about four beers there before I boarded and then ordered the Premium red wine, about 2 1/2 glasses of red wine as soon as we lifted off, after that’s I zonked out and woke up in LA.

  
1700 hours PST Wednesday May 13

My Koreatown excursion began when I found my cab, his name was Reno and luckily for me he lived in Koreatown and was able to give me a history of the evolution of Koreatown, from the spot RFK was killed to the LA riots, to the beautiful parks that used to be full of dead bodies from drugs until the up and coming hotspot it has become. I was staying at the The Shelter Hotel which I had found for $99 on the app Hotel Tonight, the place was a perfect spot to stay for a night except for the fact that I stayed in the handicapped room and the bathroom made me feel like I was in a prison. 

  
  
1900 hours PST Wednesday May 13

After check in, I headed out for dinner. I walked over to the Line Hotel where one of the restaurants owned by famous chef Roy Choi is located called Pot. To start the night out I ordered a bottle of the Chamisul Fresh sojo and a can of Hite. The soju had a floral, citrus flavor that allowed it to flow smoothly throughout the night while the Miller Light, oops I mean Hite tasted great and was less filling.  I had about 10 Hites throughout the night along with a few bottles of soju, this combination allows you to last for a spectacularly long night. First dish out was the Korean banchan which consisted of pickled ginger with jalapeño, a combination of sour and spicy flavors that really exploded in your mouth, some greens and kimchi with chili paste. 

  
  

After the banchan I ordered the Kimichi fried rice to start the dinner. This was hands down the best fried rice I have ever had, it tasted like it had salty pork in it but it didn’t, it was as simple as a raw egg on top of a mixture of greens, kimchi, toasted sesame seeds and Korean seasonings that all combined added up to tremounds amounts of umami. The spiciness of the dish was just right so that it did not overpower the sourness of the kimchi and the earthiness of the greens so that the dish came together both flavor wise and picturesesque like a Van Gogh original.

  
Up next came the Old School hot pot, the beautiful aromas of smell that came out of this dish instantly let me know I would enjoy eating it. The Hot pot  consisted of marinated ribeye, bulgogi, noodles, scallions and sesame. This dish brought together every flavor your taste buds can taste and made your mouth water for me, the fiery sour kimichi with the savory bulgogi, the nutty glass noodles and the sweet marinated ribeye was addicting to the soul.

  
2100 hours PST Wednesday May 13

After dinner I wandered over to Dan Sung Sa,  this is the perfect dive bar to sit back drink and share some food with friends. The bar reminded me of a set you would have seen on MASH, with vinyl records lining what reminds you of plywood walls with the food cooked on the grill located right inside the middle of the bar serving area. 

  
  
Luckily for me there was a huge table of people also celebrating a birthday so I decided to gander over and invite myself, of course I did not come alone, I came bearing soju, Hite, blood sausage skewers and bbq chicken skewers. Blood sausage is always an interesting gift to give to people you just met but these surfers seemed to enjoy trying something knew, it had a nice irony salty flavor with an oatmeal texture while the bbq chicken was a spicy and had a sweet ending. This is a place I could go every night and hang out with friends.  I sat there with my new friends until closing time laughing and drinking. On my way to the hotel I kind of wandered and got lost. Luckily for me some LA firemen wound up stumbling upon me. They were so friendly and we had a very compelling conversation before they were able to direct me in the the right direction to find my bed for the night.  Looking back what a birthday I had.

  
  
 800 hours PST May 14
Ugh, when I woke up my head felt like Hulk Hogan had been finishing me off all night with his flying leg drop off the top ropes. I knew I needed a quick remedy to recover and luckily I was in Koreatown, I headed over to Mountain Cafe. I ordered both the aboline porridge soup and the chicken ginseng soup. Both of these dishes are the perfect hangover cures, but if you have a cold I’d go with the Chicken ginseng. I preferred the aboline porridge that came with a raw egg yolk on top, I doused it in chilli flakes, chilli oil and jiangjorim (soy braised beef) then devoured it, meanwhile the most interesting chicken soup I have ever seen came out. it was just a whole baby chicken in a ginseng chicken broth and it was very good, not a must have unless your sick though.

  
  
  
1400 hours PST May 14

After wandering around Koreatown and a relaxing nap I headed over to my final stop of this excursion, Genwa. I ordered an ice cold glass of Hite and a soju and an order of the nutty salty delicious japchae to start the meal. This stuff was the real deal. After the japchae I ordered my bbq meats the prime galbI (marinated short rib) and  the beef tongue. With this order came out about 25 different types of banchan which were all interesting some were delicious, some not so much but it was still a great experience. Out first came the beef tongue, the tongue tasted like better version of a Burger King burger and to tell you the truth I would not be surprised if most fast food burgers consist mostly of low quality tongue.  But the star of the meats was no doubt the prime galbi which tasted exactly like eating a buttery prime rib right off the grill, ooooo so delicious. After I took my final nip of Soju and reflected on my excursion, I realized I had just had one of those experiences that I would never forget in my life. I called up an uber pool, by the way this is one of the greatest inventions ever and I hope pool service comes to Philly soon, which took me to my hotel for another long awaited nap.

  
  
  
  
Koreatown was a 10 Tizzle experience. Pot was a 4.5 Tizzle experience with great food but the only thing holding it back from a 5 was the atmosphere, while Dan Sung Sa was a 4 Tizzle experience with the best atmosphere you could ever hope for. Mountain cafe was a 3.5 Tizzle experience with great hangover cures and Genwa was a 3.5 Tizzle experience with a lack of atmosphere but the food to make up for it.

Must haves:

Pot: Kimchi fried rice and Old School Hot Pot

Dan Sung Sa: Hite and soju with anything off the grill

Mountain cafe: Aboline Porridge

Genwa: Prime Galbi

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!!!!!

Opa with a Cambridge Nightcap

Opa is a fantastic Mediterranean restaurant that allows you to experience some of the tastes of Greece from the heart of Center City Philadelphia. While Opa now hosts the Drury Beer Garden in their backyard, which is a fun time but always packed. I would rather have had Opa kept their outdoor dining seating instead of the beer garden because of the ambience you get from that area, but unfortunately they did not and the outdoor seating they have now is on a slant with a view of the parking garage, so if you decide to visit Opa I would suggest you sit inside for the best experience. Opa has just hired a new chef and he has introduced his own twists on their menu which overall I found to add to the excitement of eating at Opa.

 I started off the night with a refreshing Hell or High Watermelon from 21st Amendment. Even though I am not a huge wheat beer fan, on a warm night this beer is a great way to kick back and relax. For the rest of the night my friend and I downed a couple of bottles of the Klima Red. This wine is from the island of Crete and is a succulent berry flavored dry wine that I found to go down my gullet nice and smooth. To start off the night food wise we ordered off the small plates menu, we ordered the solines which is a dish of razor clams, with white wine and olive oil breadcrumbs. The razor clams with the white wine was perfect, the clams had a fresh sea taste while the white wine added a zestiness to the dish, unfortunately the olive oil breadcrumbs were not my favorite part of the dish, they did not ruin it but in my opinion it would be better without that addition. Up next came the smelts, flash fried with a side of grilled lemon. If you have ever had smelts these are a terrific version. These smelts are salty, crunchy with a fish yet mild flavor that goes seamlessly with a punch of the squeezed grilled lemon at the end. Smelts are such a simple dish, yet so delicious when done correctly. Next out came the stuffed cubanelle pepper with kefalograveria cheese and long hot relish. This dish was outstanding, the cubanelle pepper was cooked to leave a nice char on the outside but just right on the inside filled with the wonderfully delicious salty kefalograveria cheese (similar to a Pecorino-Romano style) that complimented the pepper without totally overwhelming the taste and the long hot relish at the end of the array of flavors that added a delicate kick to the end of this delicious dish.

  
  
  
After the small plates we decided to order the Melitzanosalata which is a charred eggplant spread, the marinated sardine and heirloom tomato on barley toast and the swordfish souvlakia over fennel salad from the grill.  I was not a huge fan of the bland charred eggplant spread, but the pita I spread it on was delicious. The marinated sardine and heirloom tomato on barley toast was a hit for my tastebuds, the saltiness of the sardines matched with the sweetness and freshness of the tomato reminded me of my youth when I would eat whole fresh tomatoes with just a little salt on each bite. I would rather have had the dish come on sourdough toast then the barley but it served as a solid substitute. My favorite dish of the night came next, it was the swordfish souvlakia. This was most likely the simplest and as usual that usually means the best, the Greek seasonings of oregano and lemon blended perfectly with the char of grilled swordfish and the refreshing fennel salad. Eating this dish on a kabob allowed me to close my eyes and pretend for just a second that I was sitting on a street in Greece enjoying some of their delicious street food.

  
  
To finish the dinner we ordered the Buttermilk Fried Rabbit. While the seasoning and crunchiness of the breading was flawless the rabbit was dry and chewy. The rabbit had a great flavor, it was gamey but not too gamey and I have a feeling that if  the rabbit meat was tenderized or braised beforehand the dish would be a hell of a lot better. On the other hand the bobota corn bread that came with it should be discarded all together, it tasted like they didn’t fully ground the corn meal and it was really dry and to tell you the truth difficult to eat.

  
After dinner we decided to hit up The Cambridge for a couple of nips to end the night. I had the Gaffel Kolsch which was nice and smooth and finished the night with a glass of Bulleit Rye Whiskey neat. It was a terrific way to end the night as we sat outside and finished the final nips of our drinks.

  
Opa was a 3.5 Tizzle experience but could easily be a 4 with a few minor tweaks. If you like traditional Greek street food, I suggest you visit.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!!!!

Opa is located at 1311 Sansom St

The Cambridge is located at 1508 South St

Dim Sum, Drinks and Cigars 

Waking up Sunday morning after a long day of drinking the day before I felt the need for food and some Hair of the Dog. If you have never had Dim Sum I suggest you try it hungover because it is an instant cure. I decided to check out the new offshoot of the New York classic Dim Sum location Nom Wah Tea Parlor.


Nom Wah is not a cart dim sum location as some are, rather their food is cooked to order. As soon as I sat down I ordered their $3 Yuengling special.  Then after looking at the menu I decided to start with the Shanghainese Soup dumplings. These dumplings were instant flavor, as soon as you bit into the dumpling the pork flavored broth coated your taste buds with deliciousness. Eating soup dumplings as an adult is the equivalent of eating gushers as a child, the best part is the surprising amount of flavor that comes out of that first bite. The soup dumpling is a such a simple yet flavorful dish, it’s a perfect morning treat.


Up next I decided to go with the fried dim sum sampler, which is a glorious fried platter of usual Chinese suspects. The fried bacon shrimp roll with a fresh shrimp taste at the beginning and a tasty bacon aftertaste, the fried pork dumpling, the spring roll with a delicious celery flavor, the original egg roll with a huge mushroom flavor, the fried shrimp roll in bean curd skin, the fried tofu (not my favorite) and to finish the sweet Sesame ball filled with lotus paste. This is a plate of decandent flavor, but I suggest you don’t eat it all by yourself because it may put you straight into cardiac arrest.


My final plate and if you go by yourself three is the max, I ordered my go to dish when I get dim sum, salt and pepper fried shrimp. Salt and pepper fried shrimp is not your normal shrimp, I throw each one of these delicious sea creatures fried in batter  in my mouth like popcorn, tail and all. Nom Wah is really  a great experience. Other great dishes I have had here in the past include the steamed spare ribs, house special dumpling soup and Chinese greens with oyster sauce. If you are looking for a fun non-traditional brunch to hang out with friends, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is a great choice.


After dim sum, I decided to meet up with my buddy at Cappelli Brothers Cigar Company. This is a great spot to hang out with friends, it’s Byob with a minimal corkage fee for anything you bring. My two favorite signature drinks they make which cost you $5 if you supply your own alcohol are the Mohawk which is Bourbon with homemade tobacco infused simple syrup, grenadine and basil and the Torpedo which is vodka with jalapenos, mint leaves, limes, simple syrup and club soda. They also have a great selection of cigars, vapes and flavored tobacco for their hookah collection.  We sat there and drank some mimosas,  signature mixed drinks and wine while watching the NBA playoffs and Phillies on the TV’s. If you like cigars drinks and a good time, this a great spot to hang out on a beautiful day.


After a few hours at Cappelli’s I decided to meet up with another friend at Franky Bradley’s. This new lounge/bar is a really cool atmosphere and I will be hitting it up again soon for food as well as more drinks. To end the day though I ordered some shiner bocks. After I had my final nip of shiner to end the night, it was time for me to head home.

This day was a 4.5 Tizzle experience.

Live Life and Remember don’t ever let your Monday ruin your Sunday!

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!!!

Locations:

Nom Wah Tea Parlor – 218 N 13th Street

Cappelli Brother’s Cigar Company – 211 S.13th Street

Franky Bradley’s – 1320 Chancellor Street

Han Dynasty and South Philly Barbacoa Fusion Dinner

The Han Dynasty is known as the Golden Age in China and if you have ever been to Han Dynasty you know it’s the gold standard of schezuan style Chinese food. I have ordered food from Han Dynasty many times before, it is an awesome place, you can order your food from spice levels 1 through 10. My favorites are the Dan Dan noodles, dumplings in chili oil, and any type of hot pot. It’s a great place to go with a large group so you can try as many things as you want. Han Dynasty was my introduction to non Americanized Chinese food and for that, I thank you Han.

  
But tonight was a different night, Han brought back an old employee who now runs the food truck South Philly Barbacoa with his wife. The food truck is looking to start a restaurant sometime in the near future when they are able to find the right place. But tonight South Philly Barbacoa took over Han’s private dining room and served all you can eat barbacoa and pancita tacos, Lamb consommé, nopal and onions and favs beans. When I decided to attend this event I was under the impression it was going to be more of a fusion than a takeover, so I was a bit disappointed when I figured out this was not the case, but at that point I thought who cares I’ll make my own fusion dinner and ordered my first of many Tsing Tao’s of the night.

   
First up came the Lamb consommé , this dish is made out of all the drippings from the 12 hour slow cooked lamb some cilantro, rice and chick peas. It is an absolutely delicious dish, the earthiness and saltiness of the consommé makes you want to lick the bowl clean, while the rice and chick peas give the dish a terrific texture and substance. 

  
Next up came the all you can eat tacos. I started out with the tacos traditional Mexican style with hot peppers. The slow cooked Barbacoa really brought out all of the flavors of the lamb meat, earthy, salty, spicy and oh so juicy and tender. It was really a mouthwatering dish and not to mention the hot peppers added a nice kick to the taco. After I tried the Barbacoa taco, I figured there was no way the pancita could be better, but to my taste buds I was so wrong. When I got the pancita, I asked Ben Miller (one of the owners with his wife Cristina Martinez) what it was made out of and without hesitation he said “the brains, kidneys, heart and testes, etc.”, all of this offal is stuffed together into the lamb’s stomach with spices and what you get out of it is an absolutely unbelievable tasting sausage. This was no doubt the best taco I ever had in my life and I couldn’t wait to go back for seconds. The pancita had everything I like in a sausage, salty, spicy, garlicky, and just all together deliciousness. Along with the tacos I had a side of nopal and onions. If you have never had this dish it tastes like a sweet sautéed garlic green bean dish with fried onions, it’s a great compliment side dish and even works as the filling in a taco.

    

  
At this point it was time for me to start mixing things up, so I mixed the Barbacoa and Pancita together and added chili oil to the tacos. The mixture gave the tacos a lamb flavored beginning with a beautiful punch of pancita saltiness and spiciness at the end. While the chili oil added an ass kicking to the taste buds after you finished. 

  
Finally after some lamb consommé, 6 tacos, and some nopal and onions I was stuffed full and satisfied beyond belief. I finished my Tsing Tao and got a nip of house tequila to end the night. 

  
This event was a 4 out of 5 Tizzle experience.

If you are interested in either of these places which I expect you are you can find Han Dynasty, aka HandyNasty, at 123 Chestnut St. and South Philly Barbacoa at 8th and Watkins on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!!!