Adventures in Eating & Cooking
I’m a huuuuge CooknSolo fan (owners of Zahav, Dizengoff, Fed Donuts, Percy Street), and finally got to try out their new restaurant – Abe Fisher with fellow Dizengoffians, Miss Cosmo and Mr. Nemo. If life were a Monopoly game, CookinSolo has bought out Sansom Street and built a ton of houses/hotels. They have Abe Fisher & Dizengoff door-to-door with Federal Donuts right across the street, thus making Sansom one of the fewdiest place in Philly. I think other smaller fewd places with business acumen have caught on, trying to ride on the ripples of savory broth that CookinSolo had stirred up in. Anyways, back to Abe Fisher – a homage to the immigration & evolution of Jewish cuisine!
Complimentary Rugelach makes things fun! Bite-sized stuff are so cute~ and these little savory ones came in a silver antique box. Rugelach are traditionally a sweet affair – usually rolls of raisins, walnuts, fruits preserves, and anything sugary. It was clever of Steven Cook & Mike Solomonov to stuff thin slices of pork and other savory-stuffs into warm dough. The result was an Eastern-European-style pigs in a blanket! So good, I was tempted to ask for more…
The Chopped Liver was fantastic, well worth the price ($10). This was basically the Eastern European version of French pâté. Not surprisingly, pâté had its roots in Athens, Greece more as a survival means (meat preservation) than indulgence. Today, we eaters love to indulge in fancy pâté with its bold, rich flavors. Abe Fisher’s was no exception! The chopped liver spread was thick, savory, with the innately husky flavors of liver shining through. The sweet chopped stir-fry onions (which usually make me gag) added a wonderful dimension to the rich pâté. And don’t even get me started on that hunk of toasted, thick rye bread. That bread was substantial, providing a strong base to lay the liver mortar on. Its exterior was lightly crisp, artfully toasted to make that “kkkkk” noise when one bites in. Yummy!~
The Salmon Gravlax sounded a lot better on paper than it actually tasted. I mean, I won’t ever say no to cured salmon and latkes, but Abe Fisher’s take might have been a tad too modern for me. Having grown up in a Jewish neighborhood and tasted homemade savory, soft, potato-stuffed latkes, I couldn’t get used to the EXTREME CRUNCH of these latkes. These actually tasted more like Babystar Crispy Asian Noodle Snack. Don’t get me wrong – I totally used to inhale a bag in a few hours (and probably still would if I get my hands on a pack). I just did not expect my latke to have such a Jewish-Asian noodle identity crisis! The gravlax (not to be confused with the beloved Pokemon) was pretty plain and bite-sized. The combination with cilantro-spring onion cream cheese is classically a good one, but not a very interesting one. I expect my salmon to be embody the subtle yet natural taste of fatty fish (as in sashimi), have a deeply aged/smoked flavor (as in lox), or be spiced up with savory seasonings (as in grilled salmon). Unfortunately, the gravlax did none of the above for me.
I love croquettes and I love broccoli rabe, so I really wanted to love this Croquettes with Broccoli Rabe… But it was really quite unmemorable. The sauce was pretty tomato-ish, but the croquettes nothing special. If anything, the broccoli rabe was well roasted in garlic. Nothing beats Italian-style broccoli rabe though, which this was not.
Bite-sized Corned Pork Belly Reuben were delightful! We missed Miss Ratatouille for not taking the fourth piece and struggled dividing it amongst three people. We all had that polite “no you should have the bigger piece” thing, while secretly wanting to eat more!!!! Because these little piggies packed quite a flavor. “Corning” pork belly instead of beef resulted in a much more tender and juicy meat. It was a perfectly proportioned amount of meat, which I tend to find overwhelming in classic Eastern European sandwiches. (I love Hershel’s East Side, but go into a meat coma pretty quickly.) This corned pork laid atop a bite of bread, rolled into a blanket of melted Swiss cheese. Sprinkled with a bit of dill for a unique aftertaste that surprisingly lifted the dish. Yummy!~
It’s pretty amusing how many different ways one can call meat rolled in egg, flour, and breadcrumbs. Nearly every worldwide cuisine has its own variation of this dish. Europeans (particularly on the Eastern border) seem to like the name “schnitzel.” It does really roll off the tongue. No wonder why it’s one of Maria’s favorite things~
And along with that, these Veal Schnitzel Tacos have become one of my favorite things. Whether it was the use of quality-veal for the schnitzel, the addition of freshly pickled veggies, anchovy mayo, or likely all of the above – somehow the combination was perfect. The meat was so succulent, gently sprinkled with rustic breadcrumbs. The cabbage and radishes were pickled in the same manner as Zahav’s salatim, adding fresh tartness to the dish. This was balanced out by a light mayo. If one decides to pay a visit, then these tacos are a mandatory affair!!
Another traditionally sweet dish, the blintzes were made to accommodate duck meat and foie gras. These Duck Blintzes were made with skillfully prepared duck confit (dark leg meat) and more liver (the foie gras). However, the sour cherry sauce tasted out of place. Although, I commend CooknSolo on their creative efforts, I think they pushed a bit too far with the blintz. These definitely weren’t bad… just too experimental. (I liken this to the new Linkin Park album that came out 2 years ago.) The taste of cherry and intense sourness blended with the duck in a strange way… I also tasted a strong underlying spice used in the cherry sauce. As for the fava beans – I’m just glad none of us had G6PD-deficiency!
Dessert was excellent: Sour Cream Panna Cotta with blood orange reduction, preserved kumquats, and cute little lemon curd meringues. I loved the combination of fruitiness and “cooked creaminess.” The panna cotta was intensely rich, almost a little too decadent… but the orange reduction and overall built-in tartness really balanced this out. I also enjoyed the teeny meringues (that look like white chocolate chips) as they burst in my mouth like little lemon bombs!~