Restaurant Rewind: Varga Bar w/ Sunshine

Easter came & went and I’m finally resurrected from the blogging dead. Between a full hardrive and an external crash, I was graciously interrupted by a perfect vacation to Miami with Dre. I’m back in Philly now with some catching up to do, so here goes!

In early March, Sunshine suggested meeting up for dinner snacks at Varga Bar. I’ve been wanting to give it a try and surely looked forward to catching up with one of my favorite people. There was some Yelp! drink special going on so I went for the Cadillac Margarita & Sunshine chose the Renegade Root Beer, both $4 apiece.

Soon after our cocktails arrived, the waitress presented a marble slab with 5 cheeses & accoutrements. I’ve blanked on the specific cheese varieties, but I know we had (2) raw goat cheeses, a goat’s milk sharp cheddar, a creamy blue, and a gouda that was definitely not a gouda (but still delicious!). The platter included pairings of garlic dolce de leche, some other dolce de leche, bourbon honey mustard, grapes, granny & gala apple slices, & a fruit relish. We each had our favorites and surely appreciated the server who graciously brought us a 3rd plate of baguette.

Next up, a tower of crisp fries topped with melted white cheddar, parmesan, & tender jump lump crab. With or without the peppery homemade ketchup, they were quite tasty. Overall, the service & ambiance were ok, the food was good, & the company was certainly great!

Cheese Plate & Jumbo Lump Cheese Fries - Varga Bar

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To Taste: Homemade Apple Butter

In a gluttonous haze, we forgot to buy a jar of Apple Butter on our trip to the Amish Country. It’s apple season, so it seemed reasonable enough to channel my PA Dutch roots and make a batch of my own. I bought a variety of apples and was amazed by my fully intact thumbs after peeling them with a paring knife. Quite proud of myself, actually!

Golden Delicious

I referenced one of my favorite recipe sites, 101cookbooks, as I appreciate their dedication to an honest approach to cooking. After boiling the apple down in apple cider and a whirl in my Grandma’s 1970s era Cuisinart, I had fresh applesauce. Once chilled, each bite tasted as crisp as all the apple pieces I sampled along the way! I returned the majority of the applesauce to the pan with lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, & the remaining liquid. After 2.5 hours of reducing, stirring, & a delicious scent, I had a worthy batch of Apple Butter for Dre & Lexi to enjoy! I’m actually not a fan, but sharing such a warm, delicious treat with the people I love makes it all worth it.

PA Dutch Apple Butter on an Eggo

PA Dutch Apple Butter
adapted from 101cookbooks – Apple Butter with Carolina B.

  • Apples – cored, peeled, & cubed – I used (1) lg Empire, (3) med Macintosh, & (3) med Golden Delicious
  • Apple Cider – about (2-3) quarts – enough to cover the apples in a large saucepan
  • Sugar – roughly (1) cup – probably good with brown sugar, too
  • Lemon Juice – from a 1/2 lemon
  • Cinnamon – a few dashes to taste
  • Nutmeg – a few dashes to taste, though I hate to admit I didn’t use fresh ground
  1. Simmer apple cubes with enough cider to cover in a large saucepan. Skim layer of foam as cider reduces.
  2. Once tender, transfer apple to blender or Cuisinart with a slotted spoon and puree to desired texture. Spice now or leave plain for applesauce.
  3. Return applesauce to saucepan and simmer on med-low for say… 1.5-2.5 hours, stirring regularly.
  4. Once thickened to a rich brown color, spread on an English Muffin and enjoy!