December 2016: The Month in Tom and Holly

Life in Philly

Winter came a few weeks early with some very chilly weather, but luckily it warmed back up a little for the holidays. I finally switched out my short-sleeved shirts for long-sleeved shirts in my closet.

First snow, December 17
First snow, December 17

On the way home from my work’s service award luncheon, I stumbled upon the AMOR statue, which came to Philadelphia for the Pope visit last year and may now be staying permanently. Until recently, it had been at the Art Museum, but now it’s on the Parkway near Sister Cities Park.

The best thing for sure to happen this month was Star Wars Rogue One! We saw it on opening night at the Prince Theater, and then again over winter break. On opening night there was this great Star Wars themed brass band, Wookiedelphia, playing in the lobby [video]. We really loved the movie and both put it pretty near the top of all Star Wars movies.

Wookiedelphia
Wookiedelphia

I didn’t take too many festive Christmas photos around town this year, as they look the same as usual, but here’s a picture of Mister 1801, with Tom’s reflection in the window.

Mister 1801
Mister 1801

Birthday

I had a very nice birthday week. We started a little early by having a BYOB dinner at Cafe Lutecia.

Cafe Lutecia
Cafe Lutecia

The night before my birthday, I left work early, and we went out to dinner at Hungry Pigeon, preceded by cocktails at Southwark. The food and wine at Hungry Pigeon were outstanding, and we had a nice cozy table by the window with lovely Christmas decor.

Hungry Pigeon
Hungry Pigeon

On the day of my birthday, Tom cooked for me all day. We started the day by going to the farmers’ market as usual. For brunch, we had egg pancake rolls. In the afternoon, we had a nice wine & cheese snack. For dinner, we had Taiwanese beef noodle soup, slow roasted carrots over coffee beans, and gougeres for dessert.

Birthday summary
Birthday summary

The day after my birthday, we met up with Tom’s family for brunch at In Riva. Although it was too cold for sitting outside, it was still a nice view, and we had delicious appetizers and brunch dishes.

In Riva
In Riva

Christmas

We made a bunch of delicious food for the holidays. For Christmas Eve, we made Eggy Puds for brunch, and for dinner we had a Sicilian seafood stew (with halibut, salmon, and scallops) and squid ink linguine (with shrimp and clams).

Eggy Puds
Eggy Puds
Christmas Eve dinner
Christmas Eve dinner

On Christmas Day, we went out to Parc for breakfast. For dinner, we made a Zuni Cafe roast chicken along with bread salad for the drippings, and roasted carrots with an orange glaze.

Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner

The day after Christmas, we went up to Fox Chase to see family and had prime rib, bourbon mashed sweet potatoes, fig & blue cheese salad, gougeres, and grilled asparagus.

Day after Christmas Dinner
Day after Christmas Dinner

Tom and I exchanged some delightful gifts. We will certainly be baking bread and making preserves in the new year thanks to some of these cookbooks!

Christmas gifts
Christmas gifts

Unfortunately there were two downsides to this Christmas. One, I was sick with a cold the entire time and couldn’t taste anything. Two, due to the late start to this semester, I was stuck grading papers the entire time. I finished the last round on Christmas and turned in grades the next day. I wasn’t able to start tasting food until Wednesday the 28th!

Christmas greens
Christmas greens

Winter Staycation

We had the week off between Christmas and New Years and made this into a low-key mini-staycation. Our goal wasn’t to go very far, but to visit some favorites in the neighborhood, go to some museums, see some movies, and perhaps try a few new places on the way.

For movies, we saw Moonlight and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (again).

For museums, we went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the Mexican Modernism exhibit, and the African American Museum of Philadelphia for the i found god in myself exhibit, on the 40th anniversary of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls…

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
African American Museum of Philadelphia
African American Museum of Philadelphia

We visited some old favorites, including Cheu Noodle Bar,  South Gate and Cafe Lutecia.

Breakfast sandwich at Cafe Lutecia
Breakfast sandwich at Cafe Lutecia

We tried some new places, including Banh Mi and Bottles, Friday Saturday Sunday, Philip’s Steaks, and Brewery ARS.

I had a bowl of pho at Banh Mi and Bottles, which I wish I could say more about, but despite all these jalapeños I was not able to taste anything that day due to my cold. I’ll need a do-over!

Banh Mi and Bottles
Banh Mi and Bottles

Friday Saturday Sunday quickly became one of our new favorite places. We had maitake toast, carrot confit (carrot yogurt, burnt coconut crumble, fermented salsa verde), and roasted potato gnocchi. We enjoyed wines by the glass with our food, and then finished with some of their tasty cocktails.

Stigmata cocktail at Friday Saturday Sunday
Stigmata cocktail at Friday Saturday Sunday

Our cheesesteak adventure involved a long walk down to Girard Estates. After walking around the neighborhood, we hit Taproom on 19th for a beer, then headed to Philip’s Steaks. The cheesesteaks were totally up my alley (sliced, not chopped), with thick cuts of beef. We tried one regular cheesesteak and one “old fashion” with roasted tomatoes and long hots. We took our steaks to Brewery ARS to try this brand new small brewery. They had 3 beers on tap, all of which were excellent. We look forward to trying more of their beers as they are able to expand their production.

Stephen Girard Park
Stephen Girard Park
Philip's cheesesteaks and beer at ARS Brewery
Philip’s cheesesteaks and beer at ARS Brewery

On New Year’s Eve, we stayed in, went to the farmers’ market and the gym, and had leftovers. Tom baked his first batch of bread, and I started my first batch of preserves!

Tom's carrot bread
Tom’s carrot bread

Farmers’ Markets

We only took one farmers’ market picture this month but this is pretty representative:

Dining In

It was another great month of cooking tasty recipes, besides those already mentioned above:

Breakfast tostada, because why not
Breakfast tostada, because why not
Almond crusted flounder with vanilla sauce; cider-braised delicata squash
Almond crusted flounder with vanilla sauce; cider-braised delicata squash
Chicken adobo and garlic fried rice
Chicken adobo and garlic fried rice
Five Peppercorn Halibut
Five Peppercorn Halibut

Dining Out

We met some friends up in Fishtown, which gave us an excuse to re-visit Sancho Pistola’s for some delicious tacos. On the way back, we also tried City Diner for a chill place for some late night drinks. On my last day of work before the holidays, Tom had the day off so he met me for lunch at JG Domestic, which was one of our holiday traditions when we used to work together in University City.

Grilled cheese & red pepper soup at JG Domestic
Grilled cheese & red pepper soup at JG Domestic

I’ve already mentioned Friday Saturday Sunday above in our Winter Staycation, but I’ll mention it again here because it was definitely one of the best meals of the month!

DIY

We had some leftover apple cider after Thanksgiving, so I tried leaving it out to make hard cider and apple cider vinegar, per the instructions in Wild Fermentation. Both turned out OK but I didn’t think it was worth the trouble to do it again.

Fermenting cider
Fermenting cider

From my new Preserving Italy cookbook, I made a batch of oil-preserved butternut squash with mint, which I look forward to trying. I also started a batch of bitter citrus marmalade, thanks to a bunch of backyard fruit my dad sent me from Arizona.

Oil-preserved butternut squash with mint
Oil-preserved butternut squash with mint
Citrus from Arizona!
Citrus from Arizona!

Books

After a few months, I finally finished Kitchen Confidential. Meh, I like Anthony Bourdain, and there were a few interesting chapters, but I thought most of it was obnoxious.

Once I finished teaching for the semester, I read The Fifth Season, which I had wanted to read for awhile. I had a hard time starting it (actually I had tried to start it months ago on the Kindle version and couldn’t do it on my phone so I bought it again on paper), but once I got to a big reveal that brought the storylines together, I was sold and really enjoyed it. I do want to read the sequel, but I’m not in a huge hurry, just because I don’t think the same narrative technique that I enjoyed so much can work again.

To finish up the year, I started reading the graphic novel The Legend of Wonder Woman, which I am enjoying very much so far, thanks to Tom for getting it for me for Christmas!

StitchFix 

These photos are from last month’s Stitch Fix – we didn’t get a chance to take photos in time for my November post, so here they are, a bit belated. This was my first time with a new stylist. I kept three items: a burgandy sweater, a black pencil skirt, and a green-striped blazer.

RD Style Kara Cowl Neck Sweater and Lysse Abrie Pencil Skirt
RD Style Kara Cowl Neck Sweater and Lysse Abrie Pencil Skirt
Tart Salma French Terry Blazer and Lysse Abrie Pencil Skirt
Tart Salma French Terry Blazer and Lysse Abrie Pencil Skirt

On SuperPlus Eats

Our Staycation blog posts are finally up! Start here for the Staycation 2016 index.

Last Month’s Update

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