Quickie: Marathon Catering

I can’t believe it’s been 10 months still I started at Marathon. I’ve learned so much about how a family-run six-restaurant local chain with successful catering & private event departments functions and thrives. My role began as the Director of Sales & Marketing, but when our event planner left, I was tossed right back into the private events world and juggling many hats. There’s certainly pros and cons to every job, but I truly appreciate the times I get to let my talents shine. With the recent update of our catering menu, I had the opportunity to shoot some photos of the amazing food we deliver to Philadelphia businesses every day. Let’s eat!

Rise + Shine

Jay’s Hand-Cut Turkey Sandwich

 Market Salad

Sweet + Salty

I can’t speak of Marathon Catering & Events without a shout-out to my office ladies.
You bring (update: brought) sunshine into each of my work days! Thank you.

Marathon Catering & Private Events
215.561.0500 | www.eatmarathon.com/catering

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To Taste: Grilled Hoisin Chicken w. Truffled Mushrooms & Noodles

On Day 4 of my staycation between jobs, I whipped up an umami-packed dinner for Dre & me. On Day 2, I took an Asia Mart adventure with Sarah in search of fun ingredients for the meal. I try to be somewhat adventurous each time I go to an ethnic market, so I picked up some bunashimeji (aka beech mushrooms), fresh vegetable noodles, & a new jar of hoisin. The beech mushrooms are so tiny and too cute! I filled them out with sliced creminis and enhanced them with the depth of fresh thyme from my Slug City.

Bunashimeji, Cremini, & Fresh Thyme

I begin by sweating shallots with a bit of olive oil in a pan and added the mushrooms & thyme. I tossed them as they sauteed for about 10 min and finished it with white truffle oil. I love truffle. I love the smell. I love the taste. I LOVE TRUFFLE!

Truffled Mushrooms

While my mushrooms cooked, I heated an awesome new grill skillet that Sunshine passed along to me. I marinated some chicken breasts in hoisin, ginger, & soy and seared them for deep grill marks on both sides until cooked through. The noodles took a quick dip in boiling water and were a perfect pillow for a pile of savory truffled mushrooms. This may be one of my favorite dishes I’ve made… and 5 years ago you couldn’t dare get a mushroom near my plate!

UMAMI!

Grilled Hoisin Chicken w. Truffled Mushrooms & Noodles

Weekend Update: Italian Market Festival

After our Spring Patio Brunch, Kerry came to scoop Tom, Dre, & me to join her at the Italian Market Festival. 9th Street was alive with South Philadelphians, music, arts, &, of course, amazing food! We settled our brunch over a few beers and perused our snack options. Dessert was up first! The Italian Market has always had a battle of the cannoli between Isgro Pasticceria on 10th & Christian and Termini Bros. on 7th & Dickinson. This day, Termini Bros. wins with their fresh “filled to order” cannoli! The cream was a cool, decadent on a hot South Philly day.

Termini Bros. Cannoli - Filled to order with a smile!

Termini Bros. Cannoli

Making our way back down 9th street, we relocated the impressive Trompo of marinated pork for some tasty Tacos al Pastor. Again, “to order” service with a smile!

Trompo of Al Pastor on the Italian Market

The spiced pork was moist & tender and brimmed with flavor & depth. What I was truly impressed by, however, were the tortillas. Each order didn’t just call for hand-shaved pork, but also hand-pressed & fresh grilled corn tortillas. To top them off, literally, were fresh cilantro, mango, and salsas. Taqueria Los Taquitos de Puebla (9th b/t Ellsworth & Federal Sts.) “officially” wins best tacos in Philly!

Tacos al Pastor

UPDATE: Special thanks to Drew Lazor, of CityPaper’s Mealticket food blog fame, for the shout-out! Without you, dude, we wouldn’t be able to do what we all do so well.

Italian Market + Food Love = Al Pastor Lust

Quickie: Grande Order @ Taco Bell

A long night at work last night called for a late fast food run. Thank god for the late night Taco Bell/KFC on 24th & Passyunk so Dre could tempt his health with the Double Down and I could calm a T-Bell craving. As usual, the line was long and slow. This time, however, I could actually excuse it thanks to the amazing sacks of fast-food Mexican that hit the counter soon after. $83.16 + tax later, these dudes walked away with 42 soft tacos & 42 beefy 5-layer burritos. Cheers, men, but I feel sorry for any women you’re going home to bed to!

42 Soft Tacos & 42 Beefy 5-layer Burritos @ Taco Bell

Thanks to @MealTicket – CityPaper’s Food & Drink Blog – for the retweet!

Restaurant Rewind: Date Night @ Sampan

I love date night! On a Friday in early March (bear with me, I’m a bit behind), Dre & I made plans for dinner at Sampan, the new hot spot I’ve been dying to try.  We walked into the bustling restaurant early for our 930pm reservation and sat at the bar for some cocktails. First on the drink list, and my choice, was the Blood Orange Martini w. Gin, Lillet, & Blood Orange. It a great balance of sweet & tart, but I was really jealous once I sampled Dre’s crisp Yuzu Sake Martini w. Gin, Elder Flower, & Lemon Grass. So far, so good!

Dre noticed that there was counter seating overlooking the energetic open kitchen. The hostess confirmed that a twosome was about to pay their bill and seats would be opening up. SCORE! What more could a foodie ask for than to watch the magic happen (under great lighting,too!). We got to know the cold line chefs, Matt & Onna, along the way and oggled the food porn they effortlessly executed. I’m always refreshed by a culinary team so dedicated to their craft.

Tuna w. Avocado, Puffed Rice, Flat Bread, & Spicy Sauce

Earlier in the week, I met Michael Schulson, the man behind Sampan, at a Philadelphia Weekly sponsored panel discussion on “Chefs, Bloggers, & the Blogosphere.” After the event, Chef Schulson graciously indulged my request for some personal menu recommendations. I definitely took his suggestions seriously! While we waited for each of our 7 carefully selected dishes to arrive, we sipped Sampan’s monster cocktail, the Scorpion Bowl – 64 ounces of rum, gin, white win, & fruit juice. It was really tasty, impressively strong, & lasted through the whole dinner. Our first dish, the Edamame Ravioli was light, tender, & perfectly enhanced with white truffle oil.

Sampan's Edamame Ravioli w. Truffle, Shoot, & Sake Broth

I always like to try different interpretations of the famous Philly Cheesesteak and we really enjoyed Chef Schulson’s version. The braised beef was rich & savory, accented with crispy shallots & Sriracha’s perfect heat.

Philly Cheese Steak w. Bao Bun, Shallot, & Sriracha

Next, a contrasting plate of cool freshness arrived. Chilled poached lobster nuggets laid under a simple pico of flavor-packed chopped tomatoes & garlic speckled with tender black beans for a perfect intermezzo between savory dishes.

Lobster w. Black Bean, Tomato, Garlic

I love bulgogi, so the Korean BBQ Beef Satay was a no brainer. Double-enforced skewers pierced tender ribbons of marinated medium-rare short rib topped with traditional kim che. They were a bit too pink for Dre’s liking, but that just meant more for me to savor.

Korean BBQ Beef Satay w. Short Rib, Bulgogi, Kim Che

The following dish may have be my favorite & the most interesting. I was excited to see the flavor combination & presentation of hiramasa, a sustainable substitution for yellowtail, bacon, arugula, & a pear kim che. The menu may tell you what you’re getting, but in most instances not how you’d expect to get it. From the deconstructed spicy tuna (see the photo above of Ona preparing this dish) to the current plate in front of us, Sampan’s surprises always seem to please. I really loved this dish. Beyond the interesting plating, the flavor blend was spectacular. I took the time to include a morsel of each element on my fork for each bite. The clean hiramasa fillets, painted with a peppery arugula puree, were a flawless palate for smokey bacon and sweet & spicy pear kim che. The portion was impressive and I still could have eaten another plate!

Hiramasa w. Bacon, Arugula, Pear Kim Chi

Another interesting take on a traditional dish was Sampan’s Peking Duck. The tender duck meat was pulled & served with foam in a small glass jar. The accompaniments included julienne cucumber, shaved scallion, & tamarind pancakes to build your own Peking Duck soft taco.

"Peking" Duck w. Tamarind Pancake, Scallion, Cucumber

Our final dish was a last minute decision and a menu item I’d been eyeing since before we made reservations – the Wonton Taco. The wonton wrapper, crisped in the deep fryer into a perfect hard taco shell, was stuffed with spicy succulent rock shrimp balanced with blood orange & avocado. We were one of a few tables left & we scarfed them before I could snap a pic.

Sampan’s energy and delicious cuisine were a perfect setting for another amazing date night with Dre. I couldn’t imagine anyone else I’d want to “mmm & ahh” over an impressive dinner with!

Next trip to Sampan – bahn mi & homemade ice cream!

Quickie: Yogurt & Granola w. Blackberries + BLT w. Sriracha Mayo

Seeing that I work 6 day weeks for 5 weeks straight, I had to make the most of my one & only day off this week. Once I peeled myself out of bed after a much needed sleep session (interrupted too often by allergy/cold induced coughing fits), I knew I needed some fuel to get through the chores on my list. I set out for the kitchen on a quest for Sunday Brunch for 1. 15 minutes later, I came out with a bowl of Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla Yogurt topped with Cascadian Farm Oat & Honey Granola and fresh whole blackberries for the breakfast half of brunch.

Vanilla Yogurt & Granola w. Blackberries

A classic BLT with Sriracha mayo was a perfect match to complete my brunch couple. And so the rainy day laundry & cleaning & bloggin begins…

BLT w. Sriracha Mayo