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Pizza Olympics

24 Jul

Finally, an Olympic sport I can participate in. Sponsored by the South Philly Review and held at the Penns Landing Caterers, the 6th Annual Pizza Olympics drew a huge and hungry crowd.


More than 10 local pizza parlors were represented in this amazing pizza party. For the ticket price of $15 a hungry pizza eater had the pleasure of enjoying slices from every one of them.

Let the eating begin…

The pleasant lads of Powelton Pizza, from whom I received my first slice.


Each parlor had their own twist-from Mexican to Greek, square or round, thick or thin crust. There was even a macaroni and cheese crust from the friendly folks at Flat Iron.


My favorite was the pizza from J&J’s of South Philly. This was authentic pizza. No gimmicks just great. And the wonderful staff made sure my pizza needs were met. I just had to look at a slice and it was mine.


What more could a girl want?

I went from stall to stall, desperately trying to try them all, although by the end it was approaching impossible to even look at another slice. Well, maybe not. There is something inherently attractive about a slice of pizza. But my stomach refused what my eyes craved. Others were able to go the distance…


At the end you could fill out the ballot for your favorites in several categories including crust, sauce, creative topping and overall best. I tried to be honest but my heart was won over by J&J’s. I filled them in for more than one category. If that was wrong, I didn’t care.

In the end, there are no losers at the Pizza Olympics. Just so much pizza, you have to dance (if you’re not too full)


Check out the South Philly Review site for more info…–267248211.html

Life of Pie

1 Apr

map6 Leesburg, VA

Yes, yes, yes! Whatever you think you will get out of an enticing looking place like this, you will. And more.

First, you’ll want atmosphere. You’ll want a place that not only sells pie, but embodies pie. And, if you’re the type of person, like me, who craves locally owned places with character, charisma as well spectacular food, your radar is always switched on for that hidden gem. Driving through Leesburg, VA on a wet Sunday morning, I was desperate yet hopeful. Like a shark in shallow water, I was ready to pounce. (ok, not exactly a shark but imagine the type of person you’d be if you woke up to the watery inefficacy of a hotel room coffeemaker’s coffee. Sharks are far less aggressive than the caffeine deprived) When I saw Mom’s Apple Pie Company, I nearly drove through the front window in my exuberance. When I went in an saw a ceiling covered in pie tins, I knew was on the right path.


After this you’ll want someone nice to sell you a pie (and coffee).  We were fortunate to be assisted by Mom’s delightful daughter Clancy.


Not only does she have a radiant smile, not only can she bake amazing cookies (I would have had a picture of one of her freshly made Monster Cookies if my companion hadn’t scarfed it down) but she can sing. I mean really sing. Not just top score on Rockband but really, really sing…

The Mom of Mom’s Apple Pie Company is also a marvel; vibrant, intelligent and passionate about what she puts into her pies.

Then you’ll want pie. Not any pie. But gorgeous pie. Not the kind of pie you buy in the supermarket that might look friendly enough but leaves you feeling disappointed afterwards like a blind date. These pies are the pies you’ve been waiting to meet all your life.


And not only are the pies gorgeous, but the owners grow the strawberries, rhubarb and blackberries that go into these pies.

See their website…

I would have had the blackberry pie, in fact I did possess a blackberry pie for the briefest of moments but gave it to my parents. They don’t share very nicely. I heard it was delicious.

Still, knowing the devious parentage I have, I bought my own individual slice…


I chose a slice of the blueberry crumb. The crumb had divine pieces of pecans mixed in. Happiness on a fork!

(For those who don’t like pie or who are just hungry, they also have cookies, quiche, cupcakes, breads and Buckeyes. I briefly tasted the peanut buttery heaven of one of their Buckeyes before above mentioned companion inhaled the rest of it.)

Don’t wait any longer. Stop passing by and not going in. Go in. Buy pie.

Don’t live in Leesburg, VA but want pie? You’re in luck.  Order online. Order now.




Double Dog Delightful – Retro Dog Dinner

7 Feb


It’s hard to imagine someone as thrilled as I to have a meal made from all those inglorious cookbooks from the 60’s and 70’s. And yet at Hot Diggity, the happening hot dog restaurant on South Street in the great city of Philly,  they made not only a meal from these recipes, but a stellar banquet of hot dog laden retro delights.

Appetizers to start…

1. Hot Doggities – tempting pieces of hot dog enrobed in cornflakes


2. Hot Dog Olives – olives stuffed with a cream cheese and hot dog mix

3. Glazed Hot Dogs – your favorite salad dressing (French, Ranch or Honey Mustard) on a hot dog


4. Cuke and Hot Dog Spread

IMG_2392 (tres magnifique!)

Salads followed…

1. In the Pink  Potato Salad – potato salad colored naturally with red beet juice

IMG_2394 (2)

2. Apple and Hot Dog Salad -a macaroni salad with…well the name says it all

3. PERFECTION SALAD – this was a work of retro recipe art – a medley of salad vegetables encased in a beautiful work of Jell-o.

You’ll need two photos to really feel like you’ve seen it properly

IMG_2397 (one of the top dogs explaining about this dream of a salad)

IMG_2398 (2) (up close and tempting – notice the attractive radish garnishes)

And now, the Entree….

Oriental Hot Dog Casserole – back in the 70’s Chinese food was all the rage for experimental housewives looking to add some foreign flavor to their meals. (this mostly meant adding water chestnuts and little those little corn cobs to your recipes) That this is also a casserole meant it was both easy to make and exotic!

IMG_2400 (2)(even the serving dish is retro!)

Specialty of the House…

Of course you want to spoil your guests when you’re having them over for dinner and the staff at Hot Diggity was no exception. This main dish was a wonder to behold…

Hot Dogs in Fruited Brandy Sauce (so impressive!)

IMG_2399 (2)  A luscious dish gorgeously presented.

And when you think you can’t eat any more, there’s always room for…


Berry and lime Jell-o Mold


Want some hot dog fun of your very own? Hot Diggity does more with hot dogs than you could ever imagine. See their website for more…

or go to their facebook page to check out their latest events…

Hot Diggity

20 Jan

Just a quickie…

You love the 70’s. You really love the 70’s cookbooks. And you super really love those wild 70’s recipes that use hotdogs. Then this is for you…


Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 at 8 pm

630 South St, Phila., PA


Can you resist such a stellar menu? …

First Course:
Glazed hot dogs
Hot “diggities”
Cuke and hot dog spread
Hot dog olives

Second Course:
Asian Hot Dog Casserole
Hot dogs in fruited brandy sauce

Third Course:
“In the pink” potato and hot dog salad
Hot dog apple salad

Fourth Course:
Citrus and berry Jello mold


More info and details for making reservations on these sites….

Burger Me

31 Aug

I’ve heard people say that they wouldn’t want to live out in the country. “Nothing to do,” they moan. And yet, time and again, its out to some small town where the exciting food festival action is happening. Not the big city, fancy festivals that are the rage for hipsters. I’m talking about the real people, real food, in your face festivals. Like the one I went to today…The 10th Annual Hamburger Festival in Hamburg, Pa. (where else?)


Crowds of burger fans flocked the streets…


Showing their allegiance to this great cuisine, from their apparel…


To their license plates…


This is a crowd that LOVES burgers.

When you see a sign like this, you know its going to be good….


And when you see a senior citizen going for it, you know this is more than you’re average festival. Go granny go…


We weren’t so courageous at the Smokey Bear BBQ stall, and opted for the less gastronomically challenging Grizzly…


The eyes of man overcome with burger lust… the Grizzly combines burger and brisket topped with BBQ sauce on a bun.

As for me, I was enticed by The Luther from Deitsch Eck’s stall. There was a long line but, like the top ride at the amusement park, it was worth the wait. Come to me you naughty bacon cheeseburger sitting provocatively on a glazed donut…


So many stalls, so many choices. Some of the others that I wanted to sample but was too full to do so…





But as full as I was, when I saw these sweet angels, I couldn’t say no. Want it…


Got it. Burger cupcake all for me…


And cute gets cuter. Need this too…


And when you weren’t eating you could watch others eat. The Hamburger Eating Competition was mobbed. Like the lions and the Christians back in Roman times, there’s something both sadistic and appealing watching grown men suffer…


(In 3rd place, The Hungry Hunks)

First place went to the Rednecks…


Pushing it in for the Hamburgerlars team…


But unfortunately a team member blew (the one on the right) and they lost. But the faces of the crowd are a treat…


This was the first time that happened at the Hamburger Festival in their 10 years. History in the making, and I was there to see it.

After that, somehow we couldn’t eat any more.  And so we let departed, letting the festival vanish behind us, like a mythical land enveloped in a fog of grill smoke. Until next year….


Best of the Wurst

22 Jul


(Blue buns?!?!?! Don’t let a hippie make your Wurst Fest sign.)


The Poconos Wurst Festival At Shawnee Mountain Ski Resort

So I went there thinking….What’s the wurst that could happen?

The jokes started in the parking lot with the family walking in front.  You knew they would. You knew you would.

The worst was not trusting this man when he said that his “Rapture” hot sauce was the hottest…


(that’s the sauce right there in the front. The one that says “Deadly” on the front and a guy fighting off ill-tempered scorpions). This one right here….


(picture from and many thanks to Torchbearer Sauces,

Many hot sauces will say how insanely hot they would like you to think they are. This one is insanely hot. Not at first. You’re able to get out a few sentences of how it wasn’t really that hot, and you’ve had hotter and blah blah blah until you’re mouth catches like a tinderbox, doused in gasoline, under a heat lamp, on a flaming grill with fifty blow-torches blowing at full force inside a raging forest fire. And then you’ve got to stick your wise-ass, flaming hot tongue in the nearest water ice…


Little Jimmy had a prime spot right across from the hot sauce tent. He was all too happy to assist the foolhardy in alleviating their misery. Thank you Saint Jimmy of the Watermelon Ice!

So not off to a great start.

But what makes everything better?


Like Kiffles from BabaNonnna…


My totally amateur, kiffles for beginners explanation… a sweet filling wrapped in pastry and dusted with powdered sugar. From the more traditional apricot and walnut fillings, to chocolate peanut butter and, my favorite, chocolate coconut. (I managed to snap up one of the last two…day getting brighter….)


A plethora of pierogies with a rainbow of filling flavors. There were  the savory fillings like cheese and potato, and sauerkraut. And sweet fillings; plum, blueberry, and strawberry.  Or have both with sweet kraut…


(from Bratek Deli, Garfield, NJ)

And then onto the wurst.  The “must have” of any wurst festival. And I chose the Bauernwurst (pork and beef seasoned with mustard seeds)…


With more mustard and, of course, kraut. (from The Alpine Wurst and Meat Haus, Honesdale, PA)

Food accomplished, on with the fun.

Starting with the “hard-core”-dion of the Chardon Polka Band


(There’s plenty to like about polka.)

This is the kind of polka band that polka was invented for. No, actually this is the kind of band that has re-invented polka and made it their own. Taken polka, got it drunk and made out with it in a dark corner. Left it breathless and wanting more.  The Chardon Polka Band had young and old up and dancing with their lively music and engaging style.


And if that weren’t enough fun, there was the dancing competition….


Dieter wins the crowd and the prize with his flowing locks, stylish hosen and slick moves.

And the Beer Stein Olympics…


Careful with that!!!


Getting sloshed for fun and prizes.

And finally the Hot Dog Pig Races…


What could be cuter than little pig? Nothing…


Run pigs! Run!

Food, beer and fun went on and on like a buffet of happiness…


If that’s the wurst….. oh, I just can’t finish this….

Night Market, West Oak Lane

21 Jun

The night before the first day of summer. A magical time.  Something is in the air. The smell of pizza…

…. and fried chicken, empanadas, plantains, cupcakes, ice cream, sweet potato pie andKoagies (Korean hoagies). For this one heavenly night,  food trucks converged on Ogontz Ave in West Oak Lane, Philadelphia. They lined both sides of the street for three city blocks. The weather was perfect as families, friends and amorous couples strolled happily along.  Let the joys of summer begin…

Roasted corn…


A tropical drink…


Something sweet for dessert…


(Little Jimmie’s Bakery)

Dancing in the street….


As the band played on…


A night to remember…


As the sun set on West Oak Lane…


Food, music and love. What more could anyone want?

In a Pickle

11 May

A rainy drive into the heart of Pennsylvania, past farms and barns, silos and antiques stores…


To the little town of Dillsburg….


An appropriately named place for a Pickle Festival.


As you would expect there were plenty of pickles to be had. A wide variety from Peter Piper’s PA Pickles ranging from the mild Bread and Butter pickles to Garlic XXX Hot …


Peter Piper is packing a pint of pickles

And also Pickle cookies….


No pickle flavor but pickle shaped sugar cookies liberally coated with green sprinkles.

And the surprisingly good Pickle Soup. The young lady serving the soup told us it was much better than we would think. She was right. (similar to chicken and vegetable soup with an added pickley bonus)…


And one very happy pickle…


The highlight of the festival was the Pickle Eating Competition, sponsored by local pickle makers, Dickie’s Dills….


I entered along with 11 other adults. 15 large spears were on each plate. I was not concerned about the $100 prize but desperately wanted the Pickle Eating Gold Medal. I started out strong. But eating pickles is no walk in the park. The teen to my right finished one, her face curled against the vinegar, her friends cheering her on. But she realized it was hopeless for her. She slowed her pace, taking the occasional small bite. I had a pickle in both hand, determined I was going to forgo chewing and simply swallowing. By my body wouldn’t let me. I chewed. I took time to wipe the vinegar dripping down my chin. But I pressed on. Until the man next to me snapped into action in the last minute, pushing pickles into his mouth.  He ate 10.5. I ate a pathetic 4.5 spears.

A few minutes later, the next group of adults started.  They learned from our failure and forged ahead, eating more, eating faster.  One man knelt down by his plate and ate without stopping. Pickle after pickle he was going for gold. After the 10th pickle his hands started shaking but he never slowed down. He had won this competition 8 times before and would win it again. While receiving his prize he explained he had been a Marine and while in service you ate what you had as quickly as you could, or you may not get a chance to finish it.

A pickle champion in action…


After the adults, the kids had their turn. These brave young ladies pushed on through the pickle and vinegar overload….


But win or lose it was a pickle party for all. Dance Pickle, dance!!!!


Resistance is useless

10 Mar

The promise…


The temptation…

2013-03-10_10-06-48_1 Donuts and chicken together at last! xoxoxox

The delivery…

fed2 vanilla, lavender donut

and more…

fed4French Toast donut. It is the sexy Brigitte Bardot of donuts, so much more sultry and seductive than the Shirley Temple-like offerings of Dunkin Donuts.

I was too early for the twice fried chicken. Unfortunately for me it had only been fried once when I got there. It sat there mocking me in all its golden crispiness.

A terrible tease!

Another reason to return.

Pictures from the sinfully divine Federal Donuts in South Philly

Chocolate, Candy and Coffins

25 Feb

A most unique event was held at the Bringhurst Funeral Home in West Laurel Hill Cemetery today.  A curious location for an event  which combined confectionery and local history with a hint of the macabre of  as one of the owners of Shane’s Confectionery, Ryan Berley, presented “Chocolate, Candy and Cough Drops”.


Did you know…the copper kettle is the icon for the confectioner trade in the same way the mortar and pestle is for the pharmacist?

007 The dapper Mr Berley

Philadelphia is home to many important landmarks in candy making history. Sitting in my pew in the chapel of rest I was treated to these delicious tidbits…

Governor’s Mill, established by William Penn (for whom Pennsylvania is named) in 1682 produced chocolate and mustard. (One can imagine the new hip combination)

The ports in the Philadelphia area receive 75% of all the cocoa beans that come into the United States.  A huge amount when you realize that the US produces more chocolate than any other country.

The Whitman Sampler is the bestselling candy box in the country. Whitman’s Chocolates was established in 1842 by Stephen F. Whitman at the age of 19. The cross-stitch patterns on the samplers were created by schoolgirls, collected by Whitman executives. Over 30 years Whitman had collected nearly 600 cross stitch samplers. (A selection of which can be viewed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

The first bubble gum was made in Philadelphia in 1906 by Frank Fleer. And was a disaster. Named Blibber Bubble, it was grey and had a tendency to adhere itself to the chewer’s face when the bubble popped. It was not unusual for gum chewers to use turpentine to remove the gum. In 1928 Walter Diemer, an employee of Fleer, created the pink Double Bubble, a much more popular and less sticky gum. It gets its pinkness from the teaberry, a fruit local to PA. The teaberry is also used to flavor Pepto Bismal. And for the epi-curious you can try a teaberry milkshake at Franklin Fountain (owned by Mr Berley)

And, speaking of ice cream, Breyer’s and Bassett’s ice creams also started in Philadelphia.  In the 1800s, Philadelphia ice cream was made differently than other ice creams in that it contains no eggs. At that time eggs were considered unclean. Today, the ice cream at Franklin Fountain is made in accordance to this old recipe.


(West Laurel Hill Cemetery is the final resting place for many famous names in food)

Philadelphia is also home to the early failure of Milton Hershey. Before building his famous chocolate factory, Milton Hershey made caramels in the late 1800s. At the time caramels were more popular than chocolate. Hershey invested in a new technology; “steam confectionery”.  It failed to catch on and he ended up penniless. It wasn’t until he went to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and was dazzled by the exciting new German chocolate making equipment that his luck started to change.

And William H. Luden created his famous cough drops in 1881 in the backroom of his father’s jewelry business in Reading, PA. (Ok, not exactly Philadelphia, but close enough)


It’s not the cough that takes you off, it’s the coffin they carry you off in.

The lecture was followed by a scrumptious chocolate tasting in the funeral home’s conservatory…


And fondue…(and who doesn’t love fondue)


For more information on events at Bringhurst Funeral Home, see their website…

Mr Berley looms large over all that is chocolate…