Meat and Cheese

The cooler months are perfect for dry curing; humidity and temperature is much easier to control. The weather started changing recently in Philadelphia, so to celebrate I hung my first prosciutto of of the season. I mixed up the dry rub this time; running rosemary, black peppercorns and truffle sea salt through a round in my mortar and doubling the amount of rub used on previous ducks.

Claire and I took the prosciutto down earlier today and made a meat and cheese plate featuring the duck and joined by seared foie gras and sweetbread sausages, a truffle infused cow’s milk cheese, cumin infused cheese and a very garlicky cow’s milk cheese.

I made use of the meat slicer that Claire got me for Christmas, slicing the duck a little thicker than DiBruno’s usually does for a more solid bite.

As the fall progresses, I’m going to start experimenting with fermented cured sausages; until then… I’m going to enjoy the rest of this duck!


El Vez Philadelphia

I’ve had mixed experiences at Steven Starr’s El Vez. Located on the edges of Philadelphia’s gayborhood (a word my iPhone auto-finishes apparently) it dangerously teeters on the verge of style over substance, with a decor of honkey-ized kitschy Mexicana and generally small portion sizes.

Yesterday my little Chef and I were wandering around looking for a spot to grab lunch after she finished work at the bar and before I came on and we decided to give It another chance.

It was as stylish as I remembered; with Starr’s usual mix of tattooed or preppie waitstaff and it’s clever round, center of the restaurant bar decorated with a shiny spinning lowrider bicycle. But would the food provide the substance as well as sustenance?

We started with a made to order tomato free truffle’d guacamole that for it’s price was a very ample appetizer; so much so that we were able to bring more than half of it back to the bar in a to-go box. The truffle flavor was probably truffle salt or oil for the most part, but there was a fair amount of black truffles in a tapenade on top that added a nice pungent/vinegar taste to the dish.

For our entree we picked the taco sampler platter. The choices included fried tilapia, rare beef, marinated chicken, sea bass and a shredded pork, each with their own unique sauces and garnishes. As far as samplers go it was worth the cost ($22) but some of the flavors didn’t really go well with each other; on their own they would have been fine, but the sweetness of the pureed sauce on the sea bass mixed with the spicy/tanginess of the tilapia clashed a bit. It lived up to it’s function, which is to expose you to the various menu items and for once I found that the portions matched the price tag.

Overall, I still think that El Vez is style over substance, but I had a much better experience than previous visits.

El Vez:
Appetizer: 9/10
Entree: 7/10
Price: $$